Happy July 4th!

I thought I might have to work today at my second job, so I’m am so happy to have today off.  I will probably spend most of the day crafting as I am working on opening an Etsy store this month and want to finish the work on my initial inventory.

For many years our family would watch fireworks as part of our loose July 4th traditions, but we stopped doing even that a few years back.  But even though I won’t be barbecuing, picnicking, or going to the beach, I will still be thanking God for being blessed enough to live in such an amazing place where I enjoy so many benefits that I sadly often take for granted.  

A friend is a naturalized citizen and has shared some of what still happens in her country of origin.  I have always been grateful, but hearing about the experiences and situations that happen there has added a new level to my thankfulness.  

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Holidays · Minimalism

National Splurge Day

Today is National Splurge Day, a holiday to celebrate a little indulgence.  After a lifetime of too much splurging, I began the slow process of downsizing, decluttering, and minimizing where I spend money several months ago.  So far, I’m really happy with this decision. Less clutter and chaos is much better for my mental state.

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However, there are two categories where I still allow myself some splurging.  I still treat myself with things that smell good, for both body and home. Many days I go without makeup and tennis shoes are my go-to footwear, but I rarely go anywhere without applying some body spray.  I may look super casual, but I am going to smell great. I also use candles and room air fresheners. My favorites are the wallflowers from Bath and Body Works. Today I was luxuriating in my office, enjoying the smell of white caramel cold brew.  Almost makes me happy to be at work.

My other splurge, which I am indulging much less these days, is craft supplies.  Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and the like are masters at separating me from my money and I have sadly wasted too many of my dollars on all the pretty things I find in their stores.  I’m working on some projects that I hope to eventually sell, but I am remaining focused on only buying the things I need when I need them. Of course, need in this context is not really a need, therefore craft supplies remain a splurge.

Since I’m currently well-stocked in fragrances and craft items, if I had to come up with something to splurge on today, it would be sleep.  An extra long afternoon nap would be such a treat. Maybe my boss would let me leave early if I told him it was a holiday?


Happy Father’s Day!

I want to send a special shout out this morning to my own dad in Heaven and all the dads out there.  I think fathers are so important in the lives of their kids. I also want to say a special thanks to my husband.  He had two boys from a previous relationship who were two and five when we met and I told him in his card this morning that one of the first things I knew about him was how much he loved his kids.

Bryan and Joshua in 1997

Fast forward twenty-six years and I still know how much he loves his kids.  I see this demonstrated every day in his relationship with our son, Joshua. I generally don’t write about this, but Joshua is twenty-two and autistic.  Like many autistic young adults, he struggles with anxiety and depression. He is also highly functioning and I’m so proud of the young man he has become.  He is working part-time, has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for over a year, graduated from a vocational program last month, and will be taking community college courses for credit this fall.

More subdued, but still close. Joshua’s graduation from the STRIVE program at Alvin Community College- May 2019

I’ve thought about writing about my own struggles parenting an adult who still sometimes needs extra guidance and support. It’s sometimes hard to know when to step back and when to step in. My husband is disabled due to some issues with his neck and because of this and a horrible case of restless leg syndrome, he often doesn’t sleep well.  However, in spite of being in constant pain and extremely tired most of the time, Bryan is an amazing husband and father. He is firm when he needs to be, gives Joshua great advice and guidance, and is amazingly patient.  I can’t think of any other man who could be half the father to Joshua that Bryan has been. I am especially thankful this Father’s Day for the blessing of these two men in my life.


National Sewing Machine Day

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I’m always amazed at the odd holidays I can discover when I look.  Today is National Sewing Machine Day and I am especially grateful that isn’t food related as most of these lesser known holidays are.

I learned to sew in a class I took my freshman year of high school and I still remember my first project was a pink gingham pig pillow that turned out really cute.  I don’t remember doing any clothes in the class, but I kept practicing there and at home.

My skills eventually improved and I sewed many of my own clothes later in high school, including this prom dress (and yes, those sleeves and skirt definitely mark it as the 1980s).  It probably helped that my first real job was at the fabric store in the mall and I got a discount.

Not a great picture, but prom dress 1985. The lace bodice and bows were my own design choices.

Post high school I have had a hit and miss relationship with my sewing machine.  I made a couple of Halloween costumes which I think turned out well. Unfortunately I haven’t been as lucky when sewing clothes for myself, I just don’t understand enough about modifying the patterns to get the proper fit.

Joshua’s costume 1998

I’ve recently been inspired to sew crafty types of projects by a shop I follow on Instagram and it’s been a real joy to rediscover how relaxing sewing is to me.  Listening to the rhythm of the needle move up and down through the fabric and watching the design come together in my hands allows me to really unwind. I don’t have a lot of free time, but because it’s so good for my mental health, I’m making the effort to squeeze sewing time in my schedule.


Discovering Podcasts…

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During the week I commute by car about 35-60 minutes one way to work each day and finding something to occupy my mind has been a challenge.  I like music, but even with satellite radio, I found myself frequently switching channels trying to find a song I wanted to listen to.  I’ve started using my Amazon app for music, but that sometimes isn’t enough to distract me. I used to listen to news channels, but now that’s become so ugly and depressing.  Audiobooks were a possibility, but I don’t always want to make a commitment beyond my immediate trip to work. Podcasts have become the perfect choice.

My coworker was an avid listener of podcasts long before I gave them a try. I had played with the app on my phone, but really wasn’t sure what a podcast was.  Her enthusiasm finally won me over and once I started listening, I wanted to find more.

I was listening to Half Size Me, a weight loss podcast, which I found positive and uplifting, and Heather, the show’s host, mentioned a podcast called My Favorite Murder.  So I tried that one, and uh, no, it’s very popular, but was too disturbing for my tastes.  I couldn’t even finish the episode.

Several of the people I knew in online weight loss communities talked about Gretchen Rubin and her book The Four Tendencies. She has a podcast called Happier, so I tried that next.

It’s funny to talk about it now, because I’ve become such a big fan, but when I listened to my first episode, I didn’t like it and thought her followers sounded almost like members of a cult.  I’m glad I gave her another chance.

Gretchen does the podcast with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who is a TV producer in Los Angeles and one of the best parts about the podcast is their relationship.  I can tell they genuinely care about each other and want to build each other, as well as their listeners, up. There is no drama.

In the past several months I have built up a small library of favorites that I listen to every week no matter what the topic is. Satellite Sisters is great because it’s so optimistic and I can relate to them in their midlife adventures and The Popcast with Knox and Jamie is another top choice. It’s kind of silly, but really upbeat.

I have others that I enjoy, but pick and choose only the specific episodes I want to invest in.  I also like mixing it up by looking for new listens to add to my library. I try to stay away from the darker topics, just my preference, but I did like the suspense of Dirty John and the well acted drama of Homecoming.

My long commute is now much more enjoyable and I am able to experience all the things I liked about talk radio, without the downsides.  


Avoiding the summertime blues…

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I make a card each month that I share with some members of my church and any other friends I think might need a little pick-me-up.  I know sending cards has gone out of fashion, but that’s precisely why I do it. I like giving people something to look forward to in their mailbox.

This purchased clip art made me think of summer the moment I saw it on Etsy and I was excited to put it together now that I’ve finally figured out how to manipulate the images in Microsoft Word.

My favorite part of this card is the joyous little sun. I know summer usually is a happy, relaxed time for most people, but I used to get really depressed.  Houston is just so hot for so long. We are already at least 90 degrees every afternoon and will not see cooler temperatures until the end of September (if we’re lucky).  There is also the constant specter of a hurricane when living this close to the coast.

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However, a couple of years ago I discovered that by reframing my thoughts around summer and looking for the positives, I could make a difference in my mood.  It worked so well last year I once again came up with a bunch (well, actually a few) of the things that I really like about summer and will be replaying this list in my head for the next several months.

  • Cherries, though oddly enough I only started eating cherries a couple of years ago.  I generally don’t like messy food, such as ribs or wings, and I always avoided cherries because of the pits.  However, once I actually ate some, I decided the flavor was worth the mess and now eagerly look forward to their arrival in stores.
  • Watermelon- all I can say is yum!
  • Longer days- I have noticed that sunlight is a real mood booster for me.  Days are so long now it is still light outside when I go to bed.
  • Less traffic- no school means less congestion on my commute back and forth to work.
  • Fall stuff starts showing up in stores.  I know it sounds weird, but fall is my favorite season and I am a very anticipatory person.  I can deal with the heat and humidity a lot better when I can start shopping for pumpkins.

I hope my card recipients like this little visual burst of summer and that everyone is able to celebrate a happy and safe season!

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Holidays · Pets

National Hug Your Cat Day

Today is National Hug Your Cat Day!

I tried to find out the origins of this day, but couldn’t find much information, just typical calls to love on your kitty.  But let’s be honest, I don’t think most cats want to be hugged, especially in response to an arbitrary holiday.

A quick scan through Pinterest images for Hug Your Cat Day confirms I’m right, most the pictures show very enthusiastic owners and tolerant (if not downright hostile) kitties.

One of my cats, Mia, is very particular about whether she will even allow us to pet her, so I think she is a definite “no” for hugging.  The other one, Max, can be very cuddly and snuggly, but only when he’s ready.

My entire family is introverted and I think that’s why cats work better for us.  We understand the need for affection on our terms and the desire for solitude.

Max making his feelings known.