Saturday, November 9, 2013

Working on Things for Which You Shouldn’t Have to Work

When I lived in NC, I considered myself a joyful person. I would wake up my children by singing to them….much to their chagrin. I would turn up the music and vacuum with happiness. I loved to take a blanket outside and lie in the shade of the trees and read aloud to my kids. I took pleasure in grocery shopping and cooking. Life wasn’t perfect; but even when I wasn’t happy, I was joyful. I was a bit of a snob about it. And I took it for granted that it would always be so. It was something that came naturally to me. I didn’t have to WORK at it.

I have waited for the past 5+ years for my joy to return. I’ve managed to be happy for short periods of time, but my joy? AWOL! I’ve tried anti-depressants (NEVER again), praying, pretending (both that I was joyful AND that it didn’t really matter), and wine. I’ve begged my husband to look for another job….in the SOUTH. When he refused—because he wants to wait until our son is out of school—I thought about divorce. My brain is functioning well enough to realize that would only make me more miserable…..if only I didn’t really love that man.

So….I’ve decided that if I want to be truly happy—for my joy to return—I’m going to have to do the work. I really started during the summer. I knew it would be easier if I started during my favorite season. At some point, I read about Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project”. I thought about ordering the books, but I decided to start by reading her blog. It has some good information for getting you started on your own happiness project. However, for some reason, her writing style just really bugged me. I decided NOT to read the books. That is until I found them both available on my public library’s e-book catalog. I finished them both last night. Let’s just say that I found it ironic when I came to her writing that she longer felt obligated to finish books that she truly didn’t enjoy. Yes, her books had some helpful info, BUT you can find most (all?) of it on her site and much of it is just reminding you of stuff that you already know….you just forgot that you knew it….The greatest irony? I think if I met Gretchen in real life, I would really like her. If nothing else, I did come to realize that I need to put forth more formal effort toward increasing my joy/happiness. I need to set goals….make resolutions….and do the work!

What about you? What do you do when you feel the joy slipping away? What is YOUR secret to happiness?


Until next time,


Friday, November 8, 2013




HAP'PINESS, n. [from happy.] The agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; that state of a being in which his desires are gratified, by the enjoyment of pleasure without pain; felicity; but happiness usually expresses less than felicity, and felicity less than bliss. Happiness is comparative. To a person distressed with pain, relief from that pain affords happiness; in other cases we give the name happiness to positive pleasure or an excitement of agreeable sensations. Happiness therefore admits of indefinite degrees of increase in enjoyment, or gratification of desires. Perfect happiness, or pleasure unalloyed with pain, is not attainable in this life.

2. Good luck; good fortune.
3. Fortuitous elegance; unstudied grace.
For there's a happiness as well as care.*


I’ve given a lot of thought to happiness lately. For anyone who truly knows me, it will come as no surprise that I hate living in New York. Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful place. The people are friendly, for the most part. However—and this is a BIG however—I am a southern girl through and through. Living north of the Mason-Dixon seems to cause a physical pain within me; much like I imagine an invisible fence collar causes a dog when he treads upon the boundary. Once on the other side, the pain lessens. Sometimes I even forget about it for a moment. But I KNOW that I belong on the other side. Much of this has to do with the facts that: 1) I like the familiar. 2) I absolutely DESPISE being cold. Despite the fact that we have lived here over 5 years, it still doesn’t feel familiar. I still wake up each morning believing for one brief moment that I am in NC. And when I realize I am not…..well, the painful memory of crossing the line rushes over me. My hatred of cold….well, that has been a problem forever. I hated NC winters; so, imagine my misery during the LOOOOONG, Upstate NY winters. Seriously….I spend a lot of the winters here in the fetal position on the sofa. Tears are numerous, and the wine must be plentiful. That is no way to live. That is, especially, no way for a Christian to live…..which adds guilt to the mix. Yeah, winter around me….good times, good times.

Which brings me back to the happiness thing. A Well-Kept Home needs a keeper that is happy… least some-what happy….most of the time. I’m not talking Pollyanna-over-the-top happy, but the lady of the house tends to set the mood. See what I’m saying?  Therefore, I have decided to put forth real EFFORT toward having a happier, more peaceful winter season in Upstate NY. I do not expect the entire season to be fetal position-free (and, especially not wine-free!); however, I do hope that there will be fewer fetal position days on the sofa, and that the wine I drink is more celebratory and less drown-my-sorrows. I do not expect it to be easy—I know myself too well. Especially since the winter season here is LOOOOONG (did I mention that already?). How long? some of you may ask. Well this is what I awoke to this morning:

Snow morning


Can someone remind me in January of my less fetal position, less drowning my sorrows resolution?

Some things that I’m already doing to increase my happiness:

  • Increasing my exercise time—this doesn’t necessarily make me happier WHILE walking on the treadmill or even spending time on the yoga mat, but I usually feel much better afterward.
  • De-cluttering—WHERE did all this stuff come from? and why do I seem to spend more time cleaning my studio than creating anything in my studio?
    • I have done an initial closet clean-out which included getting rid of things that I NEVER wore and that I should never wear….you know, the stained “white” t-shirts, uncomfortable pants, and stuff that was really, really unflattering. It also included BUYING quite a few new items. While it seemed counterproductive, it really wasn’t. I decided to be true to MY style, not the latest trend, and now it is MUCH easier to get dressed in the morning.
    • In the studio, I did a quick re-arranging of items, making them easier to use and maintain. The main thing I am working on is unfinished projects. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Sewing projects. Painting projects. Writing projects.
  • Only buying things that I truly want or need! Why is this so hard for us Americans? Why do we buy JUNK that we have no use for, that we don’t really want? Okay…I know part of MY problem. I am CHEAP. Therefore, I have a tendency to buy something that doesn’t quite live up to my standards, needs, wants….in order to save a few bucks. NO MORE! First of all, it doesn’t save money. It wastes money!!! Intellectually, I have known this for a long time; but when it comes time to actually make a purchase? well…..Time to start doing better.
    • Buy the RIGHT tool for the job.
    • If you don’t really love it or need it, leave it!
    • Don’t buy something just because it is CHEAP, because….well, it’s CHEAP!!!…..which brings me to…..
  • Upgrading! Here is a touchy one….so if you are reading this and long to do some upgrading yourself, but can’t afford it, just know….that this has been a LONG time coming. AND on the flipside, my “upgrades” could be someone else’s “downgrades”.
    • Less Old Navy, More Gap and Banana Republic….and J. Crew Outlet.

    • I am slowly replacing my cookware. Not because my cookware isn’t functional; but because I spotted a BEAUTIFUL set on Amazon that I HAVE to have. My old set will be given to my kids….which will be an upgrade for them!

    • I’ve decided to start a pearl collection. That announcement got me an eye roll from my husband. I have loved pearls for as long as I can remember. Specifically, long strands of pearls. I don’t think I need (or even want) AAAA-rated perfect pearls. I have a thing for things with some “character”…..but I am doing some research before I make any final decisions. I do know that I want to learn to re-string pearls….because I will probably be too cheap to have them professionally re-strung as often as recommended.

Coco Chanel & Pearls


  • Reading more….of everything and anything. I used to read ALL THE TIME before kids. Escaping in a book gave me much joy. I’ve decided to rediscover that joy.

  • Creating more…
    • more sewing
    • more drawing
    • more writing
    • more cooking for the pleasure of cooking (which also adds more time on the treadmill….not for the pleasure. ;-}

sketchbook June913


Farm Animal Towels

Fresh Bread


What do you do to increase the happiness in your life?


*happiness. 2013. In Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.
       Retrieved November 8, 2013, from

***Click on the pics to go to the original online source.


Until next time,


Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Fudgy Brownies

milk and brownies

How is it that I did NOT share this recipe with you before? Shame on me! These are the best fudgy brownies.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday:Rhythm

First of all this is my very first Five Minute Friday….and since I am nothing, if not inconsistent, it may be my last. Winking smile

The first thing that popped in to my mind when I saw that the topic was rhythm was: I have none! Can’t play a musical instrument. And don’t even get girlfriend started on her lack of dancing ability.

The next thing I thought was: I definitely march to the beat of my own drum. I do not live life in the fast lane and have no desire to do so. Which leads many of those around me to wonder. Wonder why I’m such a homebody. Wonder how God could have managed to make the “mistake” of putting me into the wrong era. Sometimes I wonder that myself….for a brief second. Then I realize that I am too needy to have lived in an earlier time. Like I NEED running water and electricity. But if I had to give up one of those it would be the electricity! I wonder how hubby and I ever managed/manage to have a relationship. He is the hare to my tortoise. Then I realize, I’ve changed. I used to “do it all”. I was a single mother that worked full-time AND went to school full-time. I thought I was living the “good” life. I was wrong. And there was nothing like, not one, but two medical crises to stop me in my tracks. I’m a slow learner….so God had to double whammy me! But 5 minutes are up…so that will have to wait for another time.

until next time,


Join the fun at:

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Organized—Cooking

Happy New Year!

The last page of 2012 is complete. Like many, I reflected on the year that was and have set goals for the new year. We have a fresh page in a new book to begin writing our story. I love clean slates!!

Some of my goals for 2013:

  • Simplify.
  • Be aware of the moments….to live fully aware of the NOW.
  • Create more.
  • Be still and feel the presence of God more!
  • Take the time to learn something new.

and then there are those goals of better health:

  • Move more.
  • Stop letting little things stress me out!
  • Eat the best quality food available….more quality, less quantity.
  • Let go of the guilt of enjoying good food.

I was having trouble coming up with my 2013 theme statement---until now! More quality, less quantity. That pretty much sums it all up!!

Moving on….

January 1st started out well. Really well. Time rowing on the machine. A good breakfast—homemade yogurt and blueberries! Time in the Word. A little journaling. Time with my sketchbook. And time doing some food prep to SIMPLIFY my meals for the rest of the week.

I took some time going through some magazines (Cooking Light, Eating Well and Food & Wine), a few of my favorite cookbooks, and a few cooking websites. I then made a quick meal plan for the week. The trick was to find recipes with similar ingredient lists that still offered variety. Here are this week’s meals:

There are some common ingredients for several of these recipes. So yesterday afternoon, I went into my clean kitchen (that felt good!) and got busy.

First I got out the cutting board, my chef’s knife and a few food storage bowls. I gathered my ingredients, put on my apron, and…

 Onion on board chopped onions and knife

chopped several onions.

Next up…

chopped carrots and knife

a few carrots and some celery….oops! forgot to take pictures of the celery, but you know what that looks like! ;-)

Once I was finished chopping the veggies and putting them in their individual storage bowls, I moved on to…

raw chicken cubes on board

cubing several boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Which I divided.

lightly seasoned chicken cubes in pan

One portion was lightly seasoned and browned in coconut oil. Once those were finished, I put them into a storage bowl and into the fridge.The remaining chicken was lightly floured and seasoned. Then into the same pan.

floured chicken cubes in pan

Yes, I know they look the same. But trust me—the second picture shows chicken that has been lightly floured….Although honestly, I could have probably skipped the flour for this recipe.

Once these were almost done, I added some buffalo wing sauce to the pan and coated all the chicken pieces and cooked for another minute or two, until the chicken was cooked through.

Then onto the serving dish…

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Let me backup a moment….I almost forgot. While I was cooking the chicken, I also had this on the stove….

Bolognese in stockpot

Bolognese Sauce….kind of following the recipe linked above. It is truly a rare day that you find me following a recipe exactly as written. In this case I used some tomatoes from the freezer (from past summer’s garden) and ground venison. I also skipped the nutmeg…which was really just my forgetfulness.

I washed several heads of Romaine lettuce and gave it some spins in the salad spinner….we eats lots of salads around here. So there is almost always washed lettuce in the fridge.

Now I have the chicken, the sauce, plus the remaining chopped veggies in the fridge for quick meals for the next few days….including those Buffalo Chicken bites that were placed on that serving dish that were SUPPOSED to be last nights dinner. Today I will boil some eggs for that cobb salad plus a few extras. When we have the Pasta Bolognese, I will have to cook some pasta. And obviously, I’ll have to cook on “salmon night”---but that is a quick and very easy meal! But most of my cooking for the week---and the major cleanup--- is done!

Note: The Chile Rellenos Casserole will wait until next week. I no longer need that meal and the Buffalo chicken is in the fridge….

Because…just as I finished taking the photo of the Buffalo chicken. The phone rang. It was my husband’s cell phone. I thought he was in his workshop and was just being lazy. It turned out that he had walked across the street to thank our neighbor for moving the mountains of snow that were blocking our view when trying to pull out of our drive.

 piles of snow It has snowed a few more times since I took this picture…and the pile had become a small mountain!

Anyway, he tells me to grab a glass of wine and walk over. I did a quick check to make sure the stove was off and covered the chicken and put everything in the fridge. (Good thing!) So I grab the rest of the bottle of wine that I had opened for the Bolognese….put on my boots, coat and gloves and headed across the street for “a few minutes”. Long story short….after a few minutes of visiting with the neighbors and some of their family members, we got up to say our goodbyes since it was obvious that they were about to sit down to dinner. (I love that their extended family members that live nearby still gather quite often to eat a family dinner!!!)They were having no part of our leaving!!! Before I knew what hit me, I was sitting down to baked ham, green beans, scalloped potatoes, coleslaw, and dinner rolls (made by a local Amish lady!!). So much for that “diet”. But that is not all…nope! For the finale, a beautiful strawberry shortcake w/ whipped cream was placed in front of me.  ♪♫Heaven. I’m in heaven…♫♪

Thus started a beautiful new year!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...