Wednesday, January 28, 2015








Sarah, Plain and Tall





I went to the library yesterday with La Bean and as she was looking around for something new to read (I think she has read the entire children's section of the libary) I meandered over to the award winner section -- Newbery, Caldicott, Bluebonnet award winners.  I was looking for something to read for my Newbery Challenge.  I have several books in my own library that are award winners -- Strawberry Girl, comes to mind -- but I wanted something different.  I immediately picked up on "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan. 

I had read this book as a child and have seen the movie several times.  I thought Glenn Close made a good Sarah but I never thought Christopher Walked did Jacob any service at all.  Whoa, wait, this is turning into a movie review!  No, no and no.

At any rate -- I got the book yesterday and as Bean (under the weather a bit) curled up into her reading chair and commenced to devour her library books, I curled up on the couch (also under the weather) to take a large bite out of mine.  It is a truly short read so it didn't take long.  It was as delightful as I remembered as a child and I enjoyed it.  So, I would recommend it for yourself or to read to a child although the subject matter would probably appeal to a child old enough to read it to his/herself.  I might buy a copy for my own library.


Orphan Train





I promised a review of Orphan Train after I finished it.  Well, I have finished it and it left me so profoundly moved.  I honestly did not know of the concept of the orphan trains in the 20's and 30's so when I read this book and learned about them it certainly piqued my genealogical interest.  The story is good -- in the manner of telling two parallel stories of different time periods so popular today. 

Anything I say will truly be a spoiler so I am going to reserve my urge to give a synopsis.  I am just going to say to read it if you enjoy reading  history, especially of this country, and reading of the human condition.  There are so many levels on which to relate. 

Definite recommend.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cedar Fever


It is Texas.  It is winter.  Then it must be mountain cedar blooming time.  I don't have to see it in the air, I just have to breathe and there it is.



For the last several days I have been trying to ignore the stuffiness behind my nose, the dull headache and the itching at the end of my nose.  Then yesterday it flared up and by bedtime I was miserable.  Completely utterly miserable.  I was hardly able to enjoy my grandson's 8th birthday party -- but I managed some good cuddles from him so that helped. Then, I dosed myself up with Benadryl.



Today I am appropriately ill.  Some of the symptoms have subsided but I cannot breath through my nose.  I have been sitting here with warm compresses on my face and having a huge problem trying to eat.  It is impossible to eat when you have to breathe through your mouth.  So, hot tea, hot compresses, saline spray and the decision to not venture from my chair is my approach to dealing with it. I have put on chicken for soup which we will have later and I am just binge watching "Call the Midwife" and playing Animal Crossing New Leaf.  I am avoiding the Benadryl.



I will be better in a day or two.

Monday, January 19, 2015








It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  19 January 2015


Yes, it is Monday and I hope it is going to be as lovely as the weekend was -- nothing quite like spring in January but then, this is Texas so that isn't so unusual.





This Monday I am finishing up "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline.  I ran across it at B&N and couldn't leave without it.  I am not usually that way with books -- even if it sounds interesting I usually have my wits about me enough to try to procure the book in some manner rather than paying $25 for a brand new, hardcover edition. My resolve just dissolved when I read the dust jacket synopsis and I didn't flinch at bringing it home at full price. 

I started reading it in the car on the way home.  I couldn't put it down.  I almost finished it in a day.  I set it aside for the weekend because I didn't want it to end.  However, I will finish it today but before I do let me recommend this to anybody who enjoys historical fiction (based on fact) and who enjoys books about the human condition.

This is a story of Molly, a troubled 17 year old who was caught stealing a library book and sentenced to 50 hours of community service.  She has been in and out of foster care for sometime and is just about to reach the age to be out of the system.  She is growing and maturing and the author communicates those changes and thought processes well.  She is to do her community service with an elderly lady named Vivian.  Vivian is quite well off yet quite alone and needs help going through boxes in her attic.  Molly isn't sure if she can endure 50 hours of that but as the story progresses she has to write a paper on some life journey and she thinks that Vivian's story might just work so she sets about interviewing her.  As they go through the boxes of stored items (which are clearly never going into the trash of any kind), Vivian's story unfolds.  Molly learns of Vivian's life at home, her immigration from Ireland,  how she  lost her family and ended up on one of the orphan trains that were used in the 1920's and 30's to find homes for orphaned children.  She learned of the hardships and dangers that a 9 year old Vivian -- aka Dorothy -- aka Niamh had to face and how these children, in large part, were adopted for labor and not for love.  While it is not hugely graphic it is a terrifying look at the lives of these children and the cruelty of the system.  As the book progresses, Molly takes it upon herself to do a bit of genealogical research at the library and makes a wonderful yet sad discovery -- don't worry -- I won't share -- you will have to read the book to find out what it is.  Up to this point she hasn't shared that discovery with Vivian.  I wonder if she ever will?

At any rate, it is like this book was written for me.  Part of it was set in the time period of my parent's youths which give me a glimpse into the times of their childhoods.  It most certainly appeals to my genealogical sensibilities and make me want to go farther with the research than Molly did.  It is a completely engaging book that I really hate to see end. 

As I finish the book today I will let you know if the end fulfills my expectations.  I have a feeling I am going to shed a couple of tears -- for Molly?  for Vivian?  for all the children of that time who were treated as a commodity and not nurtured for the gifts they were?  Probably all of it. 

More later.





Wednesday, January 14, 2015







Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin


I haven't read an Aunt Dimity book in more than a year so I decided to start out the year with one plus it will apply to several challenges that I am participating in.  I have loved Aunt Dimity since the first one I ever read but I have to say that this one fell a little flat.  I don't know why except that I have been reading a lot of Agatha Raisin and Agatha is a lot feistier than Lori Shepherd and maybe I was expecting it to be livelier.

With that said, however, the setting was great, the story was good, I felt like the conclusion seemed to be very "Murder She Wrote".  I did enjoy it and will continue to work toward completing the series -- maybe I have just been away from the books too long. 

I do recommend the book as well as the entire series.  They are great little reads.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Calm in the Chaos or Tidying the Untidyable


My friend, Mary, has been challenging herself to tidy one messy place at a time.  I was inspired by her and tackled my very own, personal, messy spot.  It is the table beside my chair where I live.  Now, I am not one to ever have a "model home" that looks like nobody lives there -- I have to have my "stuff" close at hand.  That doesn't mean it needs to look like a bomb went off or that the house had been ransacked.  So, here are my before and after photos.  I am almost ashamed to show them but...ok, here goes.



 What a mess -- mail, sewing stuff, opps- candy wrappers, cups, Bean drawing -- yep, a hot mess.

After the clearing up.  My coaster that my daughter made because I always have a cup or glass.  My current reading stack including a notebook to make notes in.  When I sit here and do family history searching, I am always making notes so a notepad is essential.  The little container with pens and pencils in it was a gift to my father while he was undergoing radiation treatments.  There was a older couple there with the husband going through treatments as well and the wife did ceramics and threw pottery.  After learning that my father was an artist, she did this little pencil holder for him.  I treasure it because it meant a lot to him.  I put it here because I am always looking for a pencil or pen and can never find one so I am trying to be organized.  Also, the phone and a pin cushion that opens and holds my rosary and some handmade lotion.

Rhonda from Down to Earth has posed a challenge to tidy up the pantry.  I have taken a "before" photo and will take an "after" when, and if, there ever is an "after".  There needs to be because some very clumsy person (me) spilled a whole bunch of flour in there and, even though I initially cleaned it up, I still keep finding it.  So, we will see what it looks like when I get done.  However, until there is an "after" nobody is seeing a photo of the "before".  I'm just sayin'.





Yes, indeed, it is Monday.  It started out with a brisk wind but lots of sunshine.  It has now dissolved into a strong, cold wind and absolutely no sunshine -- just lots of clouds.  I am glad I did my grocery shopping early so I can just close myself up and cook/read/play video games -- yes, I play video games.  Supposed to keep the mind alert -- whatever.

Anyway, back to what I am reading. I am currently reading the next title in my Aunt Dimity queue -- "Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin".  I am about half way done and there is no "next of kin" surfacing as of yet. I am on several mystery series challenges and a "finish the series" challenge -- at this rate, that one is going to be a dismal disappointment.

However, after looking at my daily blog reads, I see where JLSHall (http://jlshall.blogspot.com) has listed a current finish -- "The Red House Mystery" by A. A. Milne.  It looks good and so I purchased a copy for my e-reader.  I seem to read so much faster on an e-reader which aggravates me because I really, really like books.  However, I guess it is ok since I have pretty much run out of room for books and would prefer to frequent the library anyway -- or the used book store or the e-reader offerings.  So, I think that will be my next read when I finish the Aunt Dimity book.

So, off to make some more scones.  Some chocolate chip ones without nuts and some apricot walnut ones for Hubs.  He loves apricots and these scones have very little sugar in them -- enough -- but not enough that it annoys his diabetes -- he can actually eat them.  So....maybe there will be photos later along with my DIY Restaurant Dinner #3.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Sunday In Photos


My church home

If you would like to see interior photos please go to www.stjohnsfortworth.com
Small garden off the Parish Hall
   
Coffee hour between services in Mitchell Hall



Lunch
 
Hubs favorite Sunday evening program
My favorite Sunday evening program



My DIY restaurant meal tonight was grilled cheese sandwiches with potato leek   soup and left over cole slaw.  I tried a new brand of organic soup and the Hubs didn't like it so I guess I will have to dig up the recipe I have used before and make it myself.  It wasn't difficult, if I remember correctly, but not nearly as easy as popping the top on a container.  Oh well, I will just make it a day ahead and reheat.  Most things are better the next day anyway, right?

So, when we get done with our tv viewing for the evening, I will be retiring with my current read -- Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin.  I hope your day was as good as mine!
Restaurant Fare Replication #1


In yesterdays blog post I was lamenting the daily exercise of cooking dinner.  It is clearly not one of my talents.  I did some thinking about why that is and came up with the idea that when I cook a meal, I mentally go back to my junior high school home economics class (gotta love Mrs. Chappell)  and try to make meals according to the 1962 plan.  It is a good plan -- meat, a starch, two vegetables, fruit and a piece of bread.  It was very balanced and I am sure very good for you if the meal is prepared well.  However, that is not how the Hubs and I REALLY eat.  So, every evening when I try to prepare the 1962 preferred dinner, my husband just sort of pushes it around on his plate, eats about a third of it and says he is full and leaves.  Now, either it is too much food, he doesn't like my cooking, he is tired of chicken or it just isn't the restaurant food his palate has become accustomed to.  So, in an attempt to make the whole thing a bit more pleasant for both of us, I decided to give making restaurant meals at home a try.  I don't mean take-out -- just meals I cook that are basically what we get when we are out.  Here is my first attempt.

We regularly stop at Church's Fried Chicken and grab some chicken strips and sides.  Do we love fried chicken?  Not really.  It is just a convenient stop on the way home from babysitting.  By that time of day we are tired and way past hungry so the chicken, being the sheer comfort food that it is, is just a handy thing to get.

Here is my meal -- the chicken is breaded in flour, egg and panko crumbs, drizzled with a bit of oil and baked in the oven.  The potato is a recipe I found on pinterest.  You thinly slice a baking potato, without cutting through the bottom, drizzled olive oil on it and sprinkle it with whatever seasoning you like.  The idea is that it will come out with little slices that you pull off that are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  I included these potatoes because I don't like making or eating french fries (my husbands preference) -- I am a mashed potato kind of gal -- so I thought this would sort of satisfy both of us.  I have to say it didn't work well.  They didn't get done enough even after doubling the cooking time. I think my potatoes were too big and we could have done with just one and shared it.  Anyway, I will give it another try another time.  The cole slaw is a recipe from the Frugal Gourmet cookbook.  It is called One Week Coleslaw.  It is really good and makes enough to have again during the week.  It lasts a long time, hence the name. I have been making this recipe for years and it is my go-to cole slaw recipe.


Then, I decided to try my hand at scone making. I routinely buy them, either plain or apple, at a local grocery store but after eating those made by our assistant rector's wife, I knew there was something better out there.  So, I found a recipe that I had pinned to my pinterest board and went to work.  I was really surprised at how easy they were -- I was expecting something very complicated.  The recipe had a few variations with it but I didn't have any dried cranberries and I didn't want to add currants so I threw in about a third of a cup of chopped walnuts and mini chocolate chips.  This was the finished product.  What do you think?  My first attempt and they still better than the grocery store variety. The tea is Household Blend from Fortnum and Mason, a gift from my daughter.  The tea towel is from a friend.





So, I added this menu, with the notes about the potatoes, to my household notebook.  I am not sure what I will have today -- maybe soup and grilled cheese - but whatever it is, I am eating out of the pantry and freezer for a few days this week before I head to the store.  Things are piling up and need to be used so our meals could be a bit creative.  At any rate, I think it is time for me to get Mrs. Chappell out of my head and move on to real life meal planning.

The next thing on my list to try is Tres Leche cake. 




Tres Leche cake (three milks) is a traditional Mexican cake which is so good that you just know you shouldn't be eating it.  It is made up of a sponge cake that has been soaked in sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand), evaporated milk (Pet or Carnation) and whipping cream.  It is generally served with fruit and whipped cream.  It is about a gazillion calories per square inch and absolutely wonderful.  We go to a local restaurant that has lovely food and this cake.  A slice, to share between us, costs about $9 and I think that is sort of ridiculous.  So, I am going to try my hand at it.  There is a good recipe by Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman.  I need  to make this when I have company though because there will be way to much and I. Will, Eat. It. All.  That can't happen so I will wait for guinea pigs at my table.

So, that is how the first DIY restaurant meal turned out.  The Hubs didn't complain, he ate most of it, and that was a good thing.  Another instalment soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside!


Brr! It is cold.  How about joining me in a nice cup of something warm, sit here by the fire and have a nice chat.  I generally start out my mornings this way -- cup of tea on the table and the computer on my lap.  This is my "quiet" time, my time to communicate with my friends, read my favorite blogs, mull over my day.  Just sort of get myself together.

I was reading one of my regular, and favorite, blogs this a.m. --Joysweb (joysweb.blogspot.com).  Joy is my first cousin, we were raised in close proximity and spent a lot of time together as youngsters so it stands to reason that we have a lot of the same things in common.  I was reading her latest post this morning and I have to say the one thing we didn't do alike was journaling.  She has always been a diarist, as was her mother -- my aunt and "other" mother.  I am sure Joy has numerous books outlining her life from childhood until now. I would love to read them, to see our childhoods through her eyes, to see if we remembered the same things the same way.  I am sure that will never happen but, having the genealogy interest that I do, I am sure her stash is priceless. 

She did try to get me interested in keeping a diary when I was a child.  This was my first diary and, if my memory serves me correctly, it came from her as a gift.






I still have it and there are a number of entries -- mostly about the love of my life, my elementary school boyfriend who shall remain nameless.  I am sure he doesn't even remember my name, much less read blogs, but if he sees himself here, well, so be it.  However, I just wasn't disciplined enough to keep a diary -- my nose was always in a book and I guess I just didn't have time to write one of my own. Oh, I wish I had, though, but that would be getting into the question of 20/20 hindsight, now wouldn't it?  I will say that my mother was against diary keeping -- she said that lots of things shouldn't be written down and I guess her negativity was instrumental in my lack of discipline. I guess my meager attempts at a diary will have to serve for future generations to get a glimpse of my childhood -- hahah! And my blog will have to serve as my adult diary. 

I have spent an inordinate amount of time the last couple of days googling "fashion for the frugal, mature woman".  I am not a fashionista and, according to most of these websites, I do everything wrong.  According to who?  I regularly read "Advanced Style" which I find to be comical and garish, sometimes.  However, it does leave you with the idea that if you like it, it is ok and maybe somebody on the street will take your photo. Obviously these women of Advanced Style live in much more fashionable places than I do and they have much more expendable income.  So I have been looking at what I, the older, rather round, American woman living in mid-sized college town and babysitter of 4 year old should be wearing.  And do you know what I found out?  Absolutely nothing.  I found out that I shouldn't be wearing pants with elastic waists (WHAAAT?) and I shouldn't be wearing muumuu's (they still make those?).  I discovered Normcore -- also known as Walmart chic -- which really tends to define me a little more closely. Normcore is dressing in basic colors with no identifying marks (i.e. designer labels) so you blend in. Yes, Normcore sounds a LOT like me so I guess I am ok there.  Skinny jeans are ok (ROFL) and I really shouldn't wear beige/khaki flats (well, there goes one of my two favorite pairs of shoes).  Makeup for the older lady should be non-existent but, if it is worn, it should be as colorless as possible (read: no blue eye shadow) -- everything should be matte earth tones (what? no blue eyeshadow? I don't understand.). I must be careful with blush in the sea of blah as I don't want to look clownish.  It is ok to have grey hair (thank goodness) and wearing it in a mid-length bob is preferable.  At least I got one thing right.  I decided I wasn't getting anywhere with the clothes so I would look at appropriate jewelry.  One site says tasteful, meaningful, GOOD jewelry that you wear habitually.  Another site says costume, statement jewelry.  My Aunt Linnie, who was the most glamorous person I have ever known, wore the same pieces of GOOD jewelry as far back as I can remember so that is my paradigm and I am going with that.  In essence, after a day and a half of looking at numerous websites on appropriate, mature dressing, I came back with nuthin'.  So, I guess I will just continue with my elastic waist jeans (much to my daughter's horror), my button down shirts, my flats  and my Pandora bracelet with charms depicting my ancestry.  However, I did come back with one piece of valuable knowledge -- leggings aren't pants.  For anybody.  And beige leggings worn as pants should be outlawed.  Not. A. Pretty. Picture. I guess I did learn, as well, that "advanced style" can really be anything you want it to be as long as you like it and are comfortable.  The only prerequisite is the "advanced" part.

Then, last night, I realized how really dysfunctional I am in the kitchen.  I have been married for 42 years and have been cooking for all those years and I still can't get it right.  Either I don't have all the ingredients or something has gone out of date or, the worst thing, it isn't defrosted.  I can't seem to have a meaningful relationship with a crockpot -- my husband really doesn't like food out of a crockpot (especially boneless/skinless chicken breasts).  So, last night sitting at LaMadeleine (after realizing the the sausages we were having for dinner were outdated) listening to my husband grouse about how they had taken his favorite salad off the menu it dawned on me what I am doing wrong.  Instead of cooking the dinners that my mother cooked (time consuming, labor intensive affairs), I need to be cooking what we really eat -- restaurant fare.  Fast Mexican food comes to mind -- in Texas we had Mexican food every Wednesday in the school cafeteria and all of us still think "it's Wednesday, it must be Mexican" so I should start there.  I asked about his favorite salad which is Roasted Pear and Proscuitto on Field Greens with toasted pecans.  I think I can replicate that.  Maybe with balsamic dressing.  I am sure we can make Friday either sandwich or pizza night.  I think I had an epiphany! I just need to make restaurant food in my kitchen! How do you think that sounds?  Maybe with a bit of effort and thought (not too much though) I could make it healthier.  Hmmm....sounds like some listmaking for me today.

Well, I have finished my second cup of tea and I hear the washer calling my name.  So, I guess it is time to get our days started.  Thanks for having tea with me -- next time maybe there will be a treat to share -- maybe a project to share. So, until next time -- have a great Saturday.






Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Southern Belle Primer or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be A Kappa Kappa Gamma





This is a very short little book but chock full of absolutely hilarious "rules" required to follow to be a Southern Belle.  A surprising list of those who make it and those who don't -- Lynda Johnson, where WERE your white kid gloves?

While this comes across as being a satirical work, and I suppose it is, any girl (we are always girls, you know) from the south, especially growing up in the 50's, 60's and prior, will recognize many of the traditions listed in this book.  Anybody from the North reading this will think it is a joke but it isn't. 

While the book focuses on the "elite" class of places like San Antonio, Dallas and Mobile, most of the traditions laughed at discussed were part of our everyday life.  I still won't wear white shoes before Easter and would never think of wearing them after Labor Day.  We all dressed up with gloves and hats and I still never feel "dressed" without stockings.  The "wash and wear hair" doesn't do much for me either -- how DO we live without AquaNet?  I think the funniest part of the book was the concept of "tacky".  We STILL judge things by their tackiness -- it is just part of who we are.  Now, in regards to wanting to be buried facing Nieman-Marcus -- hmm... that would have to be in my backyard because we just live down the street from NM. 

I really enjoyed this book -- read it in one sitting -- it is that entertaining and that short -- and all it made me want to do was make a casserole and a gelatin salad -- with a dollop of Hellmann's. 

Read it -- you won't regret it.








I Love Picture Books 2015


I love this challenge.  I love childrens books.  I love picture books mostly because I like the art.  This is going to be very easy for me because I babysit my 4 year old granddaughter and we read all the time.  Many of these books come from her stash.

In the last couple of days I have read one of her favorites from the library which is now in her personal library as it was a Christmas gift from us and then one from her parents as a Christmas gift.

The first book that I read was "Anatole" by Eve Titus.





It is the story of a very enterprising mouse with a family to care for and how he did well for himself.  It is an ingenious little plot, a bit different than I have read before, and it was enjoyable.  I recommend.

The second is "High Street" by Alice Melvin.





This is the story of a little girl, Sally, with a shopping list who goes to High Street to make her purchases.  The art work is lovely and each time she gets to a shop on High Street, a page opens so that you can see the inside of the shop.  It is really cute and interactive and there are so many things to see in the shops! This book is quintessentially British and is the third book by British children's author Alice Melvin.  I haven't read the other two but reviews say they are delightful as well. My granddaughter has a British father so she is exposed to lots of British children's literature ("The Gruffalo" comes to mind immediately) which, I feel, accounts for her rather extensive vocabulary and her hybrid accent.  Have you ever heard a British/Texas accent?  She can make "y'all" sound posh.  I digress.

Anyway, if you are in the market for picture books to read for yourself, a child, or to collect, I would recommend these as they are very entertaining, even for the adults.




Friday, January 02, 2015






Beekle by Dan Santat


This is my first book of 2015 for the Picture Book Challenge.  It really isn't very fair of me to enter this challenge -- I read picture books to a 4 year old every day.  I have an advantage.  

This book, "Beekle" is about an imaginary friend who doesn't have a person. He was born where the imaginary friends are born but it takes him a while to find his person -- or his person to find him.  He is adorable, he is little and he is brave and courageous.  He finally finds his person in the form of a little girl named Alice.  They know from the beginning they belong together.  It is a beautiful story.

My granddaughter received this book for Christmas from her uncle, aunt and cousins.  It is one of her new old favorites and I would recommend it.








The Giver by Lois Lowry


I just finished my first book of the new year -- for the Newbery reading challenge.  I chose "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.  It is a children's dystopian novel.  It is my understanding that this book is given to youngsters in approximately the 5th grade to read.  I have never believed in book banning and I don't believe in censorship -- I never really stopped my children from reading whatever they wanted but if a teacher told me that my 5th grader was required to read this book, I would be challenging the teacher for sure.  At age 11, I would not have been able to handle this -- no wonder a large proportion of our children are depressed if this is what they are reading.

I have read adult dystopian novels like "Anthem" and "The Handmaid's Tale" -- even "The Lottery" and they have always been disturbing and depressing.  I was hoping this one would be different.  While it had a relatively positive ending it was just yucky - well written but yucky. 

If a person was looking for this type of book, I would recommend it -- it is well written but for me -- I am moving on to my next Aunt Dimity novel.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

Riedel Fascination


I have signed up for two more challenges hosted by Carolyn at Riedel Fascination (cmriedel.wordpress.com).

The first is titled My Kind of Mystery which I already mentioned in a previous blog.

I am joining at the Secret Message level.

The second challenge hosted by Carolyn is "Ethereal - 2015". 






I don't know how well I will do with this challenge as this isn't my usual go-to genre but I am going to give it a go.  I am starting at the intuition level.

Carolyn asks that we write a blog post stating why we want to join her challenges.  I don't know that I have an answer for that except that I like having goals.  Plus, I really like the artwork on the buttons.  Not very different from me judging books by their covers.  I am shallow, what can I say.

So, yes, now I am done joining challenges.  I think I have enough to keep me busy and I guess I should quit blogging and start reading!





HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Yes, I am a bit late with the midnight felicitations but at midnight I was sawing logs.  I no longer stay up on New Years Eve.  After years of doing that and feeling pretty sleep deprived the next day, I realized that the New Year looked a lot rosier with some sleep.  So, I retired around 8:30 p.m. with the first book of my 2015 challenges and was down for the count a little after 9 p.m.

Another thing I no longer do is make resolutions.  I try to review the prior year and make note of what went well and what didn't. If something worked out I will continue but if it didn't I will see how to tweak it to make it better -- or discard it altogether. 

A few of the things I will be doing this year are:

Maintaining a healthy eating plan.  Not a diet, mind you, but eating for good health.  The healthy eating plan went well (until Thanksgiving/Christmas -- opps) and I will continue to practice what I worked out to be a good fit for me.  This requires eating at home more so I need to work on some new recipes. 

Exercising more -- I don't like to exercise so I have been trying to work out a non-exercise routine which, obviously, means walking more.  I will be wearing my pedometer every day and keeping closer tabs on my steps.  I might throw in a hula hoop but, for today, I am sitting out with a gimpy knee -- I have learned to rest through a problem rather than just continue and make it worse.  I don't know what I have done to my knee but it isn't good so I am resting.

Evaluate my crafting life.  I do like to make things.  I have pretty much fallen out of love with quilting for a variety of reasons -- mostly because I don't have room to spread things out and it becomes so challenging that I don't really enjoy it anymore.  I might try some of the quilt as you go techniques but for now, it is going to the bottom of my list.  I do like to cross stitch and have challenged myself to starting a project -- one project -- a month and finishing it.  It will have to be small but that is ok.  Anything to get me back in the habit of stitching.

Teaching myself to loom knit.  I have tried traditional knitting and my brain clearly doesn't roll that way.  I do, however, have a set of knitting looms and I am going to try my hand at it.  My goal is to knit dish clothes.  How hard could that be?  For me -- probably quite difficult but we will see.

Continuing my reading challenges.  This year I have signed up for so many reading challenges but most of them overlap to some extent so it should be good.  I have already started my first book for the Newbery Challenge. I chose "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.  I have read one of her books before and enjoyed it so I am hoping this one goes well.  It is a dystopian novel and those sort of tend to freak me out but so far it is ok.  I will review here.

So, I know that doesn't sound like much but it is enough for me.  There aren't too many changes I would make to my life -- I like calm and quiet and I pretty much have that.  I value good health and so far so good.  I like being busy but I have learned to appreciate and embrace relaxation and time spent just doing nothing.  It is all about balance and I guess that would be my goal for the new year -- good balance.

So, on that note -- have a wonderful New Year's Day, stay safe and warm and join me back here anytime for a bit of a chat.