Sunday, December 31, 2017

{A Return}

It looks like I fell of the edge of the earth. Life was funny this year and my good intentions ended up being shelved.

I have so missed blogging - and the wonderful community that surrounds it! I feel as if I have been in hibernation for a year and I am now ready to emerge.

This year has been a busy one for me:

  • I've been occupied with my second year of full-time work at a nonprofit organization. The first year was extremely stressful; the second was spent getting my "legs" and building confidence. I've also had to create an entire new routine so that none of the balls in my personal and professional lives got dropped. Quite a challenge!
  • My hubby and I started doing weekly adventures, day trips in our area where we've discovered some interesting and amazing things. We're  history buffs so it has been a blessing for both of us. We spent far too much time focusing on serious things, like building our business over the last few years, so this year has been fun!
  • I was able to visit France (and Paris!) yet again - my fourth trip! I saw Chagall's ceiling in the Garnier opera house, visited Monet's water lilies, and toured the chateaus in the Loire Valley - total bliss!
The fourth quarter is my most favorite time of year - a time when I look forward to a fresh slate and so many plans! Part of my planning is to update my morning routine and to select what I call  my "devotionals" - daily inspirational reading. These are the books I've chosen to travel with in 2018:

I still have my morning basket as well, although I'm trying to streamline it some (still work to do!):

After reading The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started using a word or words to guide me throughout the year. This year it was refine. For the coming year, I've decided to keep that word as it was a good guide and to add three more words:  savor, focus, and bloom

I am so excited about using this space again and looking forward to 2018!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

{What I'm Doing}

This time of year, one of my favorite things to do is to set up my "nest" ("nid" in French). That is where I curl up on my sofa and either spend time on  my morning routine or relax for the evening with a good book and a glass of wine or cup of tea.

For my morning routine, I settle in with a basket that contains my journal, my morning devotional books, my planner, my personal/household notebook, my pencil pouch, and some other items, and light a soy candle.

In the evening, I take a shower, slip into something comfortable, curl up on the sofa with my evening beverage, and pick up where I left off in my current book.

 Yesterday, I bought a heated throw to make my winter nesting even more comfy and luxurious. Oh bliss! I'm so cold natured and have tried a variety of strategies to keep warm in the wintertime - everything from microwavable packs that I make, to Ugg boots that stay on my feet most of my waking hours. Despite these steps and also keeping our house pretty warm, I still suffer from the cold. But this has all changed. I'm already in love with my throw and don't know how I survived without one. It's perfect for this time of year. Bring on the snow days and subfreezing temperatures - I'm ready!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

{What I'm Eating}

Look carefully  you'll see the minus before the 2 - brrrrrr!

One thing I really miss in the winter is fresh vegetables. You see, I live on a farm where we grow our own delicious, chemical-free produce, and I try to stick to literally farm-to-table as much as possible. Unfortunately, in the past, our climate here in Virginia has often prevented us from having something growing in the garden year round. One cold snap and even the winter gardens are killed off.

I really love eating salads so this is the time of year when I have to resort to buying from the grocery store. All that has changed, as this year we have an unheated greenhouse (also called a hoop house) and fresh food is growing in it! Even with the severe weather of this week - a snow storm with record lows - our indoor garden survived. I was able to make a huge salad today, with fresh-from-the-garden mixed baby lettuce. Yum! (Sorry, no picture. I'm bad like that but hope to get better.)

Friday, January 6, 2017

{What I'm Doing}

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to learn French. My cousin had a couple of phrase books when we were growing up and we attempted to learn a few words when we were both in elementary school. In the sixth grade, my school decided to offer an introductory language class and the students were to vote on which language. I lobbied heavily for French and I held my hand the highest when it was time to vote. And French it was! In middle school (it was called junior high back then) and high school, I studied French. Alas, I never reached fluency. I was able to read and write quite well, but my ear for the language was terrible, as was my ability to actually speak it. As the years passed, I only retained a smattering of vocabulary.

On my first trip to France, many years after my last classroom lesson, I was a deer in the headlights. I could read signs but rarely understood anything beyond "Merci" and "Bonjour." A few years ago I started going to a tutor - a Moroccan woman who lived in France and attended university there. It was a bit of a drive to her house so after a few months, I abandoned the lessons.

A few weeks prior to my trip to France this past summer, I decided to brush up on my French a bit with the app "Duolingo." Just those few minutes of practice every night really helped and I was elated when I was able to put together a few sentences here and there - and be understood - during my visit.

Image result for duolingo
I've gotten serious about daily practice now. I'm on a 15 day streak - it should be a 46 day streak but I was robbed when I was traveling and for some reason my session didn't register and my 30 days streak was broken. Regardless of the loss, I adore the app (it won the iphone app of the year award last year) and my comprehension has improved tremendously. I'm looking forward to using my French in the field...

When I go back to France this summer!

Stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

{What I'm Reading}


Often, the statement should be "What am I not reading" since I always seem to have multiple books going at once.  This year, I've decided to be a bit more focused about my reading. Usually, since I have access to so many books and audio-books (both physical and digital), I tend to be random and haphazard with my reading.

This is what 2017 should look like for me:

Morning Reading

I like to have 2-3 devotional-type books that I read every morning throughout the year as part of my ever-evolving morning routine. This year my books are:

  • Tranquilologie: A DIY Guide to Everyday Tranquility by Kimberly Wilson
  • The Intellectual Devotional:  Modern Culture by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim
  • Eat Pretty Every Day: 365 Daily Inspirations for Nourishing Beauty, Inside and Out by Jolene Hart
Evening Reading

I've committed to reading at least 4 books each month (although I always read far more than that). I've decided to read one book in each of the following categories in order to keep me from falling into my default mode where I only read suspense/mystery books. (I fell into this habit a couple of years ago when I needed a break from the negative and serious matters of the world.) The categories are:

  • Suspense/Mystery
  • Chick Lit or Other Novel
  • Self-Improvement, Biography or Oher Non-Fiction
  • History or Culture
You can see that I've made sure I have plenty of escapism as well as food to feed my brain. Throughout the year, I'll share the books that make the biggest impact on me.

À bientôt!

Monday, January 2, 2017

{A New Start}

Happy New Year!

It has been a while. I didn't intend to stay away so long - my apologies to my readers. But I retreated to a chrysalis and hopefully am now emerging as a butterfly.

I took the later half of 2016 to reflect, to organize, to grow. And now I'm back. I don't have a complete plan - yet - but I'm a fresh new butterfly and I'm trying to get used to my wings. I'm looking forward to where I will fly in 2017!