Monday, November 28, 2011

Best BoLd & CoLoRfUl (and DaRinG) Rooms of 2011

These are the ones I'm always kind of partial to and have a special affinity for.  I used to feel like I should kind of apologize for that a little bit but...that's kind of the opposite of the point right? 

It's more fun to be bold and not apologize.  ;) 

Love all of these! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Best White Rooms of 2011

Well, as we're winding down towards the end of the year I'm going to be emptying my color files from this computer and giving you the best of the year.  Hopefully I'll have a new computer in the next month or so and I'll be retiring this one from being the spot where all the folders are contained.  I love this computer but it's so old it can't even be upgraded anymore! 

I'm also thinking of doing a tab of some sort on the side bar so that It's easier to search through and find rooms of a specific color.  There are labels and that should work too, but recently I've had two people ask me about finding a specific photo of a specific room and it might be easier to find them that way.  We'll see.  Trying to make things a little more intuitive.  My number of visitors per month just continues to go up. 

The Best White Rooms of 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Being Grateful

I've totally lost track of what day I am on in the gratitude days.  Which is not to say I have not been grateful every day - I have totally paid a lot of attention every day to hundreds of little things I am grateful for:

A car that works
Green lawns
Kind People
My math tutor
Doves & Lovebirds
Phoenix Weather
My bed
the list goes on and on and on...

In fact, when you start thinking about it I am grateful for so many things, it's kind of crazy that we lose track all the time.  That list obviously gets reallllly long and includes some pretty silly things, like silver jewelry cleaner. I was cleaning a necklace the other day and thinking about how amazing it is that they make a cloth that just shines up my silver.  Enough people just have silver sitting around that there's an industry who's sole purpose is to keep it SHINY.   I mean we have thousands of things in our modern society that make our lives better, and simpler and easier and more convenient than any other time in history!  Why we don't focus on this more is a bit of a mystery.

When life is really challenging or difficult, it is hard to focus on all these things.  We tend to focus on the one big thing that is going wrong - or the dozens of little things that are going wrong.

I have that list too - I can give you a list pretty quickly of all the things in my life I wish I could change, am working on changing, wish I had the money to change, or wish would fix themselves.  I have regrets and sadness and some pretty big disappointments.  I could, and sometimes do, focus on that stuff.

But my goal is to not do that.  And more often than not, if you remind yourself of that frequently enough, you can really focus back on what really important.  And even better than just focusing on what's important (your family, your friends, your good fortune in whatever areas you happen to be fortunate - which is unique to YOU), it also helps to focus on the little things - like what an amazing plethora of options you have just at your local grocery store.

Sometimes life is so hard that even trying to focus on that requires a great deal of energy and is very hard to sustain.  When that happens, I highly recommend you get to the source of that unhappiness and see what you can do to work on it and alleviate it.  Counseling and/or medication can do wonders to help when nothing  else seems to be working.  We probably should acknowledge that more I think - that sometimes, just focusing on what you're grateful for might not be quite enough.  And I'm very willing to let people know that I personally am a big believer in counseling and I really think there should be no stigma attached to it.  In fact, I think it's very brave, and very pro-active on the part of an individual who seeks it out and makes it work.  Most of the time people who can't or don't deal with their problems by looking at them directly - well most of the time they get bigger, not smaller.  It's a bit of a tangent from my original thought here about being grateful but I feel like it would be remiss of me not to address it.  If you're a person who finds themselves really struggling to be happy - either because of specific circumstances you're dealing with, or for reasons you can't really articulate very well - please don't hesitate to get some assistance to work through it.  It does wonders.

Back to gratitude.

Often, we are just not focusing on the right things.  We are so used to lives which are clean, and warm, and bountiful, and happy, and full of ease and maybe even leisure, that when these things aren't happening?  We totally lose our focus and zero in on the one or two things going wrong.

It has been nice this month spending time thinking about things like how amazing a $1 mechanical pencil is (think about all the little parts that make it up and what has to happen to create it and send it to the store packaged so you can buy it and somehow you were able to buy it for $1!  Amazing!).

In a weird way I think I'm starting to like November more than I do December and Christmas.  Try as we might to focus on the meaning of Christmas, I think we get bogged down on gifts and toys and gadgets and shopping, and home decor and baking and cooking, and wrapping and shipping, and all the shiny.  And we give lip service to it, but we totally totally forget what it is about and who can blame us?  We've created a situation that was well meaning, but in some ways is in direct contradiction to the point of the whole thing.  I'm really going to try this year to get some of that back.

But November?  November can be a month where you just really focus on what is awesome about your life.  Even if it isn't always awesome.

Especially if it isn't always awesome.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude - Days 16-18 - Dog Days & Lit Praise

I love my dogs.  Probably more than I ever thought I would.  I still miss our dog Tanner who died earlier this year.  Dogs all have their own very distinct personalities and an entire spirit they bring into your home.  Tanner was this very strong and cool dog.  He was beautiful and ever the alpha dog.  Our house isn't quite the same without him. 

Scout is this kind of quiet dog - she even seems a little melancholy at times.  At other times she's very buddha like.  She loves it when you pet her - like she could never possibly get enough of it, but she's also not going to beg you for it unless she thinks you're up to it.  She likes quiet and quiet rooms.  But she can be fierce if she wants to be. 

Skye is this ever cheerful crazy soul we brought into our house a little over a year ago.  That dog has an insane amount of energy and verve.  When you look at her face she is always happy happy happy.  She is difficult to discipline because she's so darned cute.  She's gets away with a lot of stuff she shouldn't and she knows it. 

I am so thankful for all the hours of comfort and company they provide me.  When my house is empty of people, I'm always glad they're around. 

that's Skye's paw on my shoulder

The last couple of days my younger two kids have been preparing for their upcoming speech & debate tournament.  I helped Jordan cut a piece of prose for her event and helped Brennan find some poetry to add to his.  As we were getting their stuff prepared I came across some old speech stuff of Holden's - a poetry he did a few years ago and a prose. 

Can I tell you how happy it makes me to see my kids do recitations of great prose and poetry for speech & debate? It makes me incredibly happy!  It is so fun to see them find a selection of poetry that really speaks to them, or to read a piece of prose and see where it 'click's and they really grasp the meaning. 

Jordan's piece is a british author and she is doing it with a british accent.  She does an amazing job - I know she'll do well as a freshman, but I look forward to watching her grow and learn as she advances over the next few years. 

So as I prepare to be a judge for speech & debate this weekend (I really enjoy that when I can volunteer) - I am very thankful for literature and poetry and all it brings into our lives!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

gratitude - day 15 - food

I planned my Thanksgiving menu last night.  It was kind of fun to figure out what I'm making or how I might do it a little differently than usual.  I really appreciate - truly appreciate, that we are so blessed to have such an abundance of food in this country.  The variety of food available is nothing short of astounding. 

So I was watching Paula Deen yesterday (DANG, that woman knows how to add cream cheese to's very seductive programming when one is dieting), and I found something I've never before noted while watching her show.

Her son - Jamie Deen:

DANG.  This guy said some really really cute stuff, he's absolutely darling, he knows how to cook and he seems nice as all get out.

And he's married.  So you know, it's a slightly inappropriate crush on my part. 

But I must admit this is a pretty instananeous LIKE that I feel for this man. 

So this was just going to be a post on gratitude for food. 

But I'm also thankful for cute men in the food industry, and especially I am thankful for Jamie Deen's dimples. 

good gravy he's beautiful. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Catching Up with Gratitude

I got a little behind on my gratitude.  Well, not on HAVING the gratitude, but on documenting it.  So to catch up all the days I missed here are several things I've been grateful for lately:

Day 10 - NPR

I know I already mentioned my love of This American Life, but a completely separate gratitude on NPR in general is in order.  NPR keeps me company every single day.  I'm not sure if I'd ever listened to NPR before I moved to Virginia back in the early 90s, but I've been listening ever since.  Every day I love to get the bulk of my news from NPR.  I firmly believe our country wouldn't be the same without National Public Radio. 


This is a self-portrait with one of my dogs, you can just see her paw there on my shoulder.  The thing is I really love my dogs.  It seems kind of silly in a way, they are just dogs.  But they are really great to have around.  I like that they kind of let me know when someone is at the door without having to have a doorbell.  Our youngest dog is really playful and sometimes it is nice that she bugs me to play fetch or tug of war with her - sometimes dogs remind us that we need a break, and we need to play too. 

Day 13 -  Little Kids

This is actually a photo of my niece.  I used to not be super crazy about little kids when I was younger - before I had kids.  Oh I liked some kids just fine, but in general, I wasn't a huge fan.  But now I really appreciate the perspective that children bring into the world. They're really great. 

14.  Friends & Family

I am so grateful to have so many great friends and family in my life.  There are so many people I love and people who love me back!  That's really nice.  Some of my friends I have had for a really long time, and for those who are long term friends who I am still able to stay in touch with? It's really really awesome.  I live far away from some of the people I love, but it is nice to know there are people in many different locations who I care about and who care about me!


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