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January Bullet Journal Update

16 Jan
woman standing on pink yoga mat meditating

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It’s such a small thing, but I’ve been doing this AM writing practice I call “Pages” in my bullet journal for about 6 months now and can positively report back that it is life-changing. On other fronts, I absolutely HATE the bullet journal color I selected (navy) and accidentally selected a lined journal instead of a dotted. I toy with scrapping the entire thing, all 75-pages in, more than I want to share right now. Gah!

Also, yes, I am that dork with a #Bujo and I love it. I start with an entire page of gratitude, listing whatever comes to mind. Lately it’s been a lot of appreciation for hot cocoa, cozy blankets, snuggles and movies with the girls, and hot yoga. OK, and Benadryl as I fight off a horrific cold. The rest of “Pages” is my To Do list for the day and a few lines of journal entry if anything notable happened — or not so notable.

I do want to mention that I didn’t INVENT this idea, either. It irks me to my core when people don’t give credit where credit is due, and we’re all inspiring each other, aren’t we? The only thing is, I can’t exactly quite remember who I picked this up from. I want to say it was in Emily Ley’s book, A Simplified Life. But it also may well have been something Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free mentioned in a YouTube video. There! Credit given!

I didn’t do my “pages” the past few days that I’ve been under the weather and you know what I most missed? Making my Daily Gratitude list. And here is why:

One of my favorite meditations is called “Loving Kindness Meditation” where you basically channel love out into the world for yourself, for someone else (who you might have some friction with), and finally, for all. But before you roll your eyes, just know that I’m not that kind of yogi where I just know this stuff offhand. I picked this up from my yoga-page-a-day calendar.

Practicing for just ONE hour a week can reduce stress and inflammation which can lead to depression, heart disease and cancer. Incredible, right?

I try to remind myself to practice LKM as much as I can, but I realized that my daily gratitude list actually IS a form of LKM. And scientific research has shown that positive emotions like joy and gratitude surge in people who practice.

So there you go.

If you resolve to do only one thing in 2019, I can’t recommend a Daily Gratitude list enough. It has made all the difference.

 

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Currently Digging: Bullet Journal + Hygge

6 Jan

With Christmas behind us and the new year here, I’ve had a couple things on my mind that I wanted to share in this first installation of “Currently Digging.” First, my thoughts on my year of bullet journaling. The other is “hygge,” the buzzword from 2018 which (in my own words) is the Danish term for a feeling of well-being, contentment, and cosiness brought about by being in nature, being together with friends, and being present in the moment. But let me start with the bullet journal.

Bullet Journal Thoughts

I fell hard and fast for bullet journaling in early 2018. Right at the new year actually. I wasn’t sure how dedicated I would be to the on-going task of essentially creating my own planner week to week though. It seemed like a lot of work for someone who is great about starting projects but rarely finishing them.

Well. Let me just say that I filled an entire Leuchtterm 1917 over the course of the last year and was giddy with anticipation at the prospect of starting my next one. Just organizing my Index from my 2018 journal had me bouncing with glee. Before I say any more, I should note for those new to the “bullet journal” concept, that bullet journal planner is probably a more appropriate term. Journal implies keeping a diary, which can be part of how you choose to bullet journal, but I think the best way to describe it is a completely customizable system to help you track and organize anything you want to track, organize and remember. Buzz Feed had an excellent beginners article about the bullet journal that I referenced a lot as I got started.

As a paper person through and through (I hate staring at my phone), I’ve always had multiple notebooks going all at once to try to organize the chaos that is my mind. I had a notebook that was a journal. A traditional planner, for tracking important dates and appointments and to dos. Additionally, and in a haphazard order, I’d use post-it’s and note paper and sheafs of printer paper for things like grocery lists, project ideas, blog post ideas, book ideas, DIY ideas, funny things my kids have said that I want to remember… you get the idea. It was a disaster. And it was a mess. But more than that — it WASN’T WORKING.

I never had the information I needed. The date or the address or the idea I wanted was never in my iPhone calendar, or on the notepad, or I couldn’t remember where I’d placed the notebook I’d jotted the idea down in. I’d be late to events because I couldn’t find the invitation with the event details that I’d stuck into a planner specifically so I wouldn’t lose the event details! Enter the bullet journal.

The beauty of a bullet journal, to me, is purposeful reflection and mindfulness. I stumbled across a fantastic article in an old issue of “O” magazine about goals and paying attention to those tasks that you feel “pulled toward” and those that just keep reappearing on your To Do list, yet never seeming to get accomplished. Essentially, the advice was to PAY ATTENTION and realize that if you’re not pulled toward or excited by those To Dos, you should be striking them from your to do list because you’re obviously never going to do them. To me, this is the essence of what keeping a bullet journal is all about: mindfulness. (For reference, the article is titled, The Simple Daily Habit That Keeps You Aligned With Your Purposeby Martha Beck. It appeared in the October 2017 issue of “O” magazine.)

As I organized my Index for my 2018 journal on New Years Eve day, it was mind blowing to see how closely aligned my happiness in the last year was with the types of content I was putting into my journal. Think: Daily Gratitude spread vs “Projects To Do.” Without realizing it, my bullet journal habit helped to shape my life for the better — probably the best, in fact, that it has ever been. And on the heels of what was probably the worst, and hardest year of my life (both personally and for my family), that is saying something.

In the past few months in particular, I’ve been making a huge effort to do something I refer to as “Pages.” Each morning while I sip my coffee, I fill a page with everything I’m grateful for. This fall there was a lot of mention of foliage. And I can’t say that this fall was particularly more beautiful than any others, but I feel like I appreciated it more than in the past. Something about putting pen to page and reflecting on that beauty every couple days actually encouraged more gratitude and appreciation I think.

The next part of “Pages” is to just do a brain dump of everything on my mind: usually part “To Do list” and part journal. I don’t have too much to say about this aspect of my pages, but it serves a purpose to ease the burden on my mind to remember everything. It’s the more practical day-to-day stuff. The gratitude piece and practicing gratitude regularly was what really boosted my mood throughout the last few months of 2018 and helped me come more to peace with who I am, where I am in my life, what I value, and what I contribute to the world every day. 

I KNOW.

Bullet journaling, guys. You should do it!

Hygge Thoughts

First off, this is pronounced: “Hue-gah” or “Hew-gah.” It doesn’t rhyme with “jiggy” I’m disappointed to share. And I know I’m about a year late to this buzzword, but if you know me, you know I’m a late adopter to most things. So hygge is on my mind for 2019. It’s interesting that I’m sharing my love of bullet journaling in the same “Currently Digging,” because hygge encompasses so much of what my bullet journaling practice has brought to my life: an increased mindfulness, appreciation of togetherness, and appreciation of simple pleasures, like reading a good book while sipping my favorite tea; twinkle lights on the TV sideboard, or spending New Year’s day (and Brian’s last day of vacation) snuggled under blankets in the living room watching The Christmas Chronicles as a family. Piling into the car every night in the days before Christmas (with cocoa!) so we could tour the neighborhood in search of the best Christmas lights was another simple highlight that (cliche though it will sound), truly made the season bright.

For years now, I’ve been on a quest to de-clutter my home thanks to a book that found me at the exact moment I most needed it: Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. (Aside: It’s AMAZING. I can’t recommend it enough.) I discovered it long before Kon Mari was on my radar, so as much as I love that book too, I owe the positive energy flow of my home to Karen Kingston. I mention de-cluttering because minimalism plays a large part in hygge, I think. Over the past year, the number of moments I’ve felt frustrated to the point of screaming and the amount of time I’ve wasted digging through mounds of clothing blocking my closet door, only to show up somewhere dressed in something I hate made me realize the extent to which all my “stuff” is negatively controlling my life.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had all the ingredients for a favorite recipe, only to not be able to find said recipe. Enough was enough.

Although I have a long way to go, I’m making slow and steady progress eliminating all this excess. I’ve donated a lot in the last few months and have started to slowly move towards a capsule wardrobe for myself and the girls and have found so much peace in not struggling with what to wear every day. I’m happier. And I feel better too, because how I want to dress and what I’m actually wearing are starting to align for the first time in my adult life. Mindfullness, guys. It really works wonders! We traveled to Florida for a wedding in October and took the girls to Disney, and for the first time in my life, I packed using the capsule wardrobe concept and I loved nearly every single thing I wore on that trip.

I mention this because I think there is a lot to be said for minimalism. The less you have, the less you’re responsible for and the more value you place on what you do have. I was in the basement in early December and discovered an entire tote of Kate Spade stuff I’d packed away during my first pregnancy and forgotten about for almost THREE YEARS. I used to have a hoarder mentality since I’ve always been on the frugal side, but I’ve realized that letting go of things actually frees me up. I can always go buy a new X if I really decide I needed something I donated, gave away, or sold, but I can’t rewind the clock spend all those minutes I’ve spent looking for stuff, cleaning up stuff, sorting and trying to organize stuff and instead choose to relax by the fire with a good book and a glass of wine. Or sit with my laptop and the family photos I’d been meaning to edit and organize into a family yearbook. Or take a trip somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

I also think minimalism lends itself more to creativity and togetherness. Earlier this year, I wrote about how much longer and deeper my kids played with fewer toys at their fingertips. I remember from my own childhood how much more creatively my siblings and I played when we were on vacation in a sparsely decorated cottage in Maine. One time, we literally played with a plastic bag on the beach (it was very windy and we were all laughing hysterically chasing it down after it gusted away on storm winds.) And instead of turning on the TV to watch a movie, we’d all gather in the living room to play games, or just sit and talk. I think vacations also lend themselves to hygge too, because when you go away, assuming you’re not staying in your own vacation home, you’re not surrounded by all the same old “stuff” you are at home which is invigorating. Things carry a lot of energy I think and, for better or worse, it affects us, whether we’re aggravated that we’re tripping over it because it doesn’t have a home, or our heart flutters a bit each time we pass by a favorite piece of art in the hall. I think I realized this most acutely earlier this year when Bri and I started watching old seasons of “Stripped,” which really helped me reconsider what I think of as “essentials.” (Aside: I can’t recommend this Bravo show enough. If you appreciate the emotional overhaul of Stacey and Clinton on “What Not to Wear” or love “Queer Eye,” Stripped is right up your alley.)

Anyways, I didn’t intend to dive so deep into my thoughts on minimalism and living with less, but in my quest for clarity in my own life, I’ve found that the most pleasure is often found in the simplest things. So one of my greatest tasks for 2019 will be determining how to best align my day-to-day with the things that bring the most joy. Stay tuned!

Our 2018 Halloween Costume Reveal

26 Nov

beauty-and-the-beast

When I asked Emilia what she wanted to be for Halloween late this summer she replied immediately: “Belle, from Beauty and the Beast!” She quickly followed with: And Dada will be “the nice Beast,” Mama, you can be Mrs. Potts, and Caroline will be Chip! I was prepared to forgo a family costume if whatever she named didn’t lend itself to an easy DIY situation, but I guess our Moana family costume last year left a good impression. I know she won’t want this forever, (and I’m not so sure Caroline will be so willing to play along next year), so I set to work almost immediately brainstorming ideas.

dsc_0324If you’re new to the blog, hi — welcome! You should know that if it’s possible to DIY something, and especially if it’s difficult, my interest will be piqued. I love the challenge of figuring it out how to make something impossible actually come to life. I wasn’t too concerned about how to do Belle, but my “Mrs. Potts” and Brian’s “Nice Beast” costumes were the most challenging. Here’s how we made it all happen.

Belle “from the ballroom scene”- Emilia

For Emilia, if I had wanted to go the DIY route, I could have fashioned together a yellow leotard and a tulle tutu and called it a day, or attempted a ball gown on my sewing machine, but for how much wear she gets playing dress-up with her princess gowns, I have no problem spending a bit to get exactly the princess dress she wants and we involve her in those conversations, to help her understand value and how to prioritize her wants so she makes good choices when we let her buy something special.

belle_2018
In fact, we were prepared to REALLY splurge on a really nice Belle dress when we were at Disney (for reasons I’ll explain in another post) but we couldn’t find her size anywhere. I’d come across a beautiful, really well made Belle gown at T.J. Maxx just before our trip, but it was a size 8 so I had to pass it up as much as it killed me to not snap it up.

I ended up picking the one she wore for Halloween at Target and it was one of the nicer ones I came across while I shopped, and the price was perfect — just $20. Once I mastered the Belle updo, which I completely winged and improvised with a little flip-through and pinned half up ponytail, all she needed was a faux rose I actually had lying around (from last year’s Moana DIY floral lei project) to carry for photos.

The real fire drill came when I found a gigantic piece of super plush felt that I’d picked up to make a blanket for one of my godsons. The end of September ended up being insane so that project never happened, so I half-seriously said to E, hey! This would make a great cape, like the one Belle wears when she’s outside throwing snowballs with the Beast. The next thing I know, she’s holding the swatch of fabric, fingers pinched at her nape so it’s flowing like a cape behind her. Cut to Halloween. It’s moments from nightfall and I’m at the machine furiously improvising a cape pattern so we can get outside to take a family photo before the light was gone.

That said, I have an utterly brilliant business idea now — capes for kids to wear with all these princess costumes. Think about it, all these princesses don a cape on at one point or another. Why cover up your child’s costume with their bulky winter coat (this is for the more northern-dwelling trick-or-treaters obviously). I’m telling you, this could be my thing guys. You heard it here first. Capes for Halloween costumes. Until next Halloween it’s going to be all Costume Design 101 over here. Only semi-kidding.

My Easy DIY “Nice Beast” Costume

This one came together nicely, if rather last minute. After the Halloween parade we usually do was cancelled due to rain, I almost didn’t bother with our family costumes. I went out to scout for supplies at a thrift shop and told myself if I didn’t see anything that inspired me, I’d scrap it. Luckily, after perusing some other DIY versions, I knew exactly how I wanted to re-create the look with just a few items:

– Dark blue/royal blue men’s long sleeve button up
– Yellow (women’s) cropped mock turtle neck
– Lg piece of yellow felt
– An old white sheet
– Some gold roping trim
– Three navy pea coat buttons

I made Brian wear the button up while I figured out how much of a lapel I wanted him to have and then pinned it to the shirt while he wore it. Then I went in with fabric adhesive and later, a needle and thread, to make it all look a bit more “done.” I worked off a few different “Beast” costume photos that I’ll throw onto my Halloween Pinterest Board. The trickiest part was probably making the lapel look beefy enough to make a men’s shirt look like a fancy dress coat. I think my splurge on the gold roping helped — and the navy pea coat buttons. My favorite part though, has to be the white “ruff” or whatever you’d call the fancy ruffled part on the front of the beast’s white dress shirt. I used a sheet! It was a “wing it” moment to the max and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. If I’d really wanted to go for the finished look, I could have maybe hunted down some small, nubby goat horns or something to give a hint of the former, “mean beast” but I only just thought of it now, so… lesson learned. Plan these costumes out earlier!

Easy, DIY “Chip” Costume for a toddler

Poor Caroline. Until she is old enough to protest, I’m afraid she’s going to be at her sister’s whim as far as costume assignment. I found a REALLY cute, but very sewing-heavy costume idea for a “baby Mrs. Potts” costume, but when I floated the idea to the boss (Emilia), the answer was a hard no. I also thought it might be sweet to dress her up in a little baby-sized hot pink tutu and rose-laden headband and have her go as “the rose” from the movie, but — a hard no from the boss.  Haha! My easy, DIY, Beauty and the Beast “Chip” costume came together with just a few items:

I repurposed Emilia’s first birthday “Elsa” skirt and just ordered a “Chip” onesie on Etsy that was on our doorstep within a week. Brian picked up the “Chip” cup to have just as an accessory in case people didn’t quite get it. We could have had her carry a plush Lumiere or Cogsworth, but we wanted to stick with the girls’ favorite characters and not accumulate (or spend) needlessly. And the cute headband I actually made myself just after C was born. I picked up the white rosette at JoAnns and the nude headband is a repurposed (ripped!) pair of pantyhose I hoarded solely to one day make those exact headbands. The shape of the rosette kind of reminds me of a tea pot top.

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My easy DIY Mrs. Potts Costume

It all started with the skirt, really. I saw it on clearance at Target and that was really the turning point when I committed to this year’s family costume. I love to interpret a costume via the inspiration that comes from my poking around in stores to find or repurpose whatever I find — it always kicks my creative brain into overdrive. The trouble is usually selecting just one idea and moving forward with it. I snapped the skirt up, then found an old white t-shirt and broke out all my acrylic paint. I didn’t bother with fabric paint because I don’t plan to wear a shirt with Mrs. Potts’ face on it on the regular (haha) and weirdly, I happened to have exactly all the colors I could possibly need to match the skirt and the character from the movie. I just free-handed it and could have definitely done a more centered job, but — ah well. The final touch was definitely the gray, colonial-era woman’s wig from Amazon. I don’t know where the hell that idea sprang from, but I’d been searching for a pink wig for a different costume I’d been planning, and somehow, the algorithm in Amazon diverted to Mrs. Potts and the next thing I know, I was paying the $3.99 for next day shipping so I could have the thing in time for Halloween. And I have to say, I think it really made the costume. I almost threw on a purple shower cap since Mrs. Potts had a kerchief-type headpiece, but after all the effort, I felt like it would have been a sloppy finishing touch so I skipped it. Ideally, I’d thought about doing a small fascinator type of headpiece using some different felts, but just ran out of time, so I chose to just go with what I had and feel happy about it.

And really, Emilia and Caroline’s faces when we were all dressed up more than spurred me on for next year. One of my favorite things about being a mom is being able to bring magic to my childrens’ childhood.