Good Things

weekI won’t even attempt to put a timeframe on this post. I have not had a typical good things post in so long, I have forgotten how I had even had that habit. These are busy days, I know, but I can’t believe that they have been so busy that I can’t sit myself down and rattle off what has made me happy, impressed me, inspired me, or in some way or the other made me take positive notice. I need to do that. It revs my engine. It balances me. It makes me accountable. It makes me a better world citizen when I make myself be more aware of goodness.

So, I will do my best to bring the habit back into my life. Here, I give you a recap of some of the things that I have taken note of during the last several weeks. Maybe you have noticed some of these too!

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – We had our annual Poetry Night Book Club last night. This is the night we all bring a poem or two to read aloud and say why we like it. My choice this year may have been my easiest choice ever. A few weeks ago I read Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award Winning Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline’s book tells the story of her life – all in verse! She was born in Ohio in the 1960s, but did her growing up in South Carolina and Brooklyn. The pieces that she put together in this book weave a beautiful story of her family and the time during our country’s history when being a brown girl could sometimes be dangerous. The book is marketed as a young reader, but I think there is no age limit to love this book. Here is just a snippet.

sometimes,

no words are needed

Deep winter and the night air is cold. So still,

it feels like the world goes on forever in the darkness

until you look up and the earth stops

in a ceiling of stars. My head against

my grandfather’s arm.,

a blanket around us as we sit on the front porch swing.

Its whine like a song.

You don’t need words

on a night like this. Just the warmth

of your grandfather’s arm, Just the silent promise

that the world as we know it

will always be here.

bugNew Art

Dan and I went down to the Brookside Art Fair last weekend and I was taken by the art of Kreg Yingst, an artist from Florida. He does super cool block prints that are music themed. There were several that I could have been very happy with, but I decided on one with a vintage bug and Beatles lyrics. Everytime I walk past it hanging in our dining room it makes me smile!

Rotary073368_2219861926312520772_nWaldo-Brookside Rotary – For a few years, Dan has wanted to start a Rotary Club in our neighborhood. While he loves his current Rotary Club, he had the feeling that there was a niche for an evening club in our area where there lots of new businesses and active neighbors. It is now a real thing. Through his work and the support of the Plaza Rotary over fifty people have committed to being a charter member of the new club. I am one of them. I have already met some wonderful people – all with a commitment to make our city, nation, and world a better place. It is a great thing to be a part of from the very beginning, and I hope that Dan knows what a wonderful thing he was instrumental in bringing about! If you are in the area, we would love to join us at 5:30 at The Well in Waldo.

EdEThe 100 Day Project – There is an Internet challenge that started back at the beginning of April called the 100 Day Project. The goal is to pick something that you want to try to do for 100 days and go for it and document it. In my quest to be a little more creative, I decided to do this, but I had a little trouble coming up with what it was that my challenge could be. I kind of wanted to draw, and I came up with the best solution for someone who wants to draw but needs a lot of help with it. My project is #100Daysof EdEmberley. Since April 5, I have been drawing and posting an Ed Emberley inspired drawing on my Instagram feed. It has been fun, and there are so many creative things coming out of this challenge. I think I can make it until July 14!

zucchiniZucchini Noodle Maker – In our continuing quest to eat more Paleo, Dan and I happened onto a new gadget that has made our list of great things. This little device when scraped across a zucchini created noodley pieces of zucchini that can substitute for pasta when paired with things like shrimp scampi or beef stroganoff. I could eat them every day!

As I was going through my logbook pages for the last several weeks, there are a number of little things that bear mentioning since they too were great! Things such as: visiting Powell Gardens on a beautiful Saturday in Spring, cleaning out my utensil drawers, watching the Kentucky Derby with juleps and friends, Birdie snuggling on Dan, buying tickets for Pitchfork festival in Chicago and Jason Isbell at the Ryman Theater, Season 1 of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dan reading me Lake Isle of Innisfree in his William Butler Yeats voice, seeing the Drive By Truckers, peonies in bloom, them Royals!

That does it for this one. I hope there are many good things ahead for everyone!

Advertisements

Good Things – Special Wedding Edition #2

weddingFriday was the one week anniversary of Ali and Jose’s wedding. After spending the pre-wedding week in New Orleans and then driving back home last Sunday, my life still feels pretty much in post-wonderful-trip-scatteredness. My goal over last weekend was to figure out where I left off on everything pre-trip. Getting back to this blog and recapping our most excellent time feels like an important piece of this.

The wedding was, of course, the second in our family in 56 days. Back in January, we gathered in New York City January to celebrate Sam and Jean. This time we headed to New Orleans to make our family members number six! As we felt with Jean and Sam, Jose makes Ali even more than she already was – and that is a feat! Their combination of love and friendship and partnership is strong. I still remember driving them from the airport the first time we met Jose and them laughing together in the back seat. That is the best sound ever – to hear your child’s happiness.

Now, to try to encapsulate the doings is going to be a little tough. There were an incredible number of good things that went down during the days leading up to and following the ceremony. I am going to give it a try, and I hope I  convey the wonderfulness of it all. Here are some of those good things:

New Orleans – When Ali and Jose were picking a wedding date there were things that they did not want. They didn’t want hurricane threats or Mardi Gras interference. The last week of March turned out to be a spectacular choice. Making the drive down South, we could visually see Spring deepening. Everything was greener and more alive. As always, the city of New Orleans welcomed us with friendly people and beautiful surroundings. I don’t think I have been in the city when the azaleas are at their peak. This time I was. The beauty of the city was enhanced even moreso.

The Southern Gentleman – One of the memorable moments from Sam and Jean’s wedding was Jose’s  outfit. On a brutally cold day in New York City, he sported pink pants, dress shirt, bow tie, and blue blazer. He noted that that his look was the mark of a Southern Gentleman. Dan got it in mind to return the dapperness. He bought a bow tie before we left, and with the help of YouTube he managed to somewhat get the thing tied. He also bought some pink pants to complete his own version of the look. The reveal was when we met up with Ali and Jose at Cochon for a family dinner. The look on Jose’s face when he got a load of Dan was the best!

Avery Island – Through a series of fortuitous events, Ali did not have to work at all during our week there. On Monday, she picked us up and we went to Avery Island – the home of the McIlhenny family and the home of Tabasco sauce. The place is about 2 hours southwest of New Orleans and the drive takes you through some amazing Louisiana realness. Along the way we stopped in a little po-boy shop that served up an amazing fried shrimp sandwich. Getting out of the car at Avery Island, you immediately get the smell of Tabasco sauce, which was quite great! The factory tour was short and sweet, and the gift shop had quite the array of Tabasco products – special versions of the sauce, Tabasco Slim Jims, Tabasco pralines, Tabasco ice cream … Dan got so excited he bought the guy in front of him’s purchase. All got sorted out and we then drove and walked through the Jungle Gardens which is on the property. It was a stunning habitat of flowers and huge live oak trees with Spanish moss and egrets and a snake that tried and succeeded in scaring me.

Crawfish Boil – On Wednesday, we went to see the NBA New Orleans Pelicans with the happy couple, Jose’s dad, and Jim, Micaela and Birdie who had just made it in. Before the game, Ali and Jose invited us to their house for crawfish boil. Laid out on the table went 25 pounds of the little mudbugs along with corn and potatoes. It really was one of the prettiest meals I have ever seen! Standing around shelling the leftovers with Ali, Sam and Jean was also lovely.

Family – I was going to call this part “Family and Friends,” but as I considered it, everyone that I am going to talk about is really a member of our family – even if genetics would tell you otherwise. We pulled into New Orleans late on a Saturday night and got welcomed by Dan’s sister and brother-in-law who kindly offered us accomodations for the duration of our trip. Over the next several days, we had arrivals of people who have filled our lives with happiness over the years and who wanted to be there when Ali brought Jose into the family. Dan’s brother and his family and his sister showered their kindness over all. Our nephew and niece Ryan and Diane got a little NOLA vacation with the festivities. Jim and Micaela ventured with 1 month old Birdie who charmed everyone! Tom and Julie – who we have not seen for too long – showed up at the rehearsal after party and my heart leapt out of my chest with joy! Tracy, John, Rik and Teresa and Enid all could share memories of Ali as a wee one as they observed the beautiful bride she now is. Jose’s family showered us with kindness and their expressions of their love for Ali. The night of the wedding – looking around and seeing these people scattered throughout the room was the best!

Sam and Jean – When we last saw Sam and Jean, we were leaving their wedding reception on a cold night in Greenwich Village. Having five days to hang out with them in New Orleans was so wonderful. They came, of course, with an itinerary of places to eat and drink, and we did a pretty damn good job of working through a portion of that list. We also got to play at the Zoo one day which offered a number of cats for Jean to swoon over!

The Wedding – It could not have been better. I was lucky and got to spend the late afternoon with Ali and her friends as she got ready and then headed to Rosy’s where the wedding and reception would be. Ali was the most chill bride I could have imagined. She just exuded happiness. And, she was stunningly beautiful. Getting her into that dress and standing back to see her took my breath away. When it was time for the ceremony, I walked to my seat, past the Army officers who would make an arch of sabres that Ali would walk through on her way to Jose’s side (and on their way out, one of the officers – per tradition – whacked her on the butt and welcomed her to the army). The ceremony was beautiful and joyful. The reception afterward continued the joy, but amped up! There was not a song that did not fill the dance floor with young and old. Dan, Carly, and Marlin toasted the couple with words that made me cry a little as I raised my glass. And to end the evening, a brass band entered the venue and played about 45 minutes of New Orleans jazz that had napkins waving and feet a dancing like crazy. It was an amazing end to a perfect day.

The hardest thing of the whole trip was leaving. Hugging Sam and Jean that last night was so sad. Saying good bye to Ali right before we left town and seeing Banjo looking sadly out the window as we pulled away got my boo boo tears going. I just read a quotation by the author Elizabeth Stone who wrote: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” That sums it up so well. While I would love to have them walking closer in proximity to me, I am lucky to have four people in this world who every moment of every day can be sure that they have me supporting their lives.

Last Weeks’ Good Things

Marc1We lost an hour to Daylight Savings and I lost a week in noting some good things. Time to regroup and get this done! I am seeing that many of the things that I am sharing today have a media bent, but so be it. They are all pretty great! Here are a few of the good things that came my way lately.

How the New York Times is Made – If you show me a production line, I will be mesmerized. Whether it is making crayons, cars, or candy bars, the travel down conveyor belts from pieces to completion is something I love watching. I also love the New York Times. I like how it looks and feels and reads. A little bit ago, Reeves Wiedeman wrote an article for Popular Mechanics that details how the New York Times is made. While he does not include any videos of production lines, he does a great job of giving a picture of a day in the life of the paper. Another very fun part of this is that Reeves is a Kansas City guy and a grade school friend of my son!

Taking Apart an Adding Machine – Hank Green is the brother of John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars. The two do this weekly video series where they talk to each other about a crazy variety of topics. I don’t always watch them, but when I do they make me laugh, or smile, or think harder. I did watch a recent one that was amazing. Hank found an old adding machine in a shop. He bought it and when he got it home, he wanted to find out how it worked. That week’s video was him taking it apart and figuring out how the innards worked to put the numbers on the roll of paper and do the math functions that were punched into it. I could watch this thing over and over! Several years ago, Sam found a machine almost exactly like it in a thrift store and bought it. It is sitting up in his bedroom. Hmmm.

Maira Kalman video on the Cooper-Hewitt My Favorite Things exhibit – I wrote in my wedding post about going to the Cooper-Hewitt and seeing the wonderful Maira Kalman exhibit. I so love everything that woman does and want to be her friend so badly! Anyway – I came across this video of her talking about the exhibit which made me so happy. She talks about the duality of our lives – sorrow/joy, love/hate, awake/asleep… and how we all live in a state of duality. Her message, her art, and her curation are so good!

Encouraging Words – It is sometimes lost on me what power encouraging words can have. I try to do a good job with it with my family, friends, and people I work with. But sometimes, it can be the encouraging words of a stranger that can have the most profound impact. They don’t have to talk to you, but they decide to enter your life and do so by telling you something that makes you feel good about yourself. I had an example of that at the gym the other day. I was trudging along on the treadmill reading my book when a man got on the bike beside me. He was there for a physical therapy appointment and when getting on the bike he was obviously in pain. As he peddled he also looked pretty darn uncomfortable. As a person who has been in his shoes, I understood and I looked over at him and smiled. He returned the smile. A few minutes later he looked over at me and said “hey, you are doing a really good job at that!” That just made my day.

Darwin had crappy days too – One of my workmates had a bad day a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t one thing or another – it was just a combination of things that made it just a bad day. Shortly after that, I came across a portion of a letter that Charles Darwin wrote. Reading it made me think about my work friend and I copied it down and gave her a copy of it the next time I saw her. I think it is a good reminder that we all of some pretty rotten days, but we can go to bed at night and wake up the next day to new opportunities. Sometimes we just need to get it out. Charles Darwin’s getting it out kind of delighted me! 

But I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders.— I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchidsf8 & today I hate them worse than everything so farewell & in a sweet frame of mind, I am | Ever yours | C. Darwin

So that is it! Hope many good things happened to you, and like Kansas City, your spring has sprung!

Last Week’s Good Things

Feb15Pickles! I need to get this blog post done before the name becomes obsolete! Just to put you in the right place, the last week that I am talking about is the week of February 15. I know! That seems like longer ago than a week to me too! Maybe it is the waning days of winter that seem to adjust the speed of time or something. Anyway, before it expires, here are a few of the good things that brightened my last week.

BirdieBirdie Arrives – Okay. I am going to cheat here a little bit. On February 20 a little girl arrived into this world who was anticipated to be adored to such a level that she would likely always have a sunshine aura around her. Birdie has a mom and dad who have waited so patiently for her and who will probably be some of the best parents a girl could have. She has grandmas and a grandpa who will be there for her always. She has aunts and an uncle ready to embrace her as a new part of their lives, and that just can’t help but make them better. She has cousins who will be friends and playmates. She has extended family that are all so excited to meet her and fall for her too. And she has people like Dan and me who, though we share no blood, we feel as much a part of her family as genetic boundaries allow. The cheating part of this is that even though Birdie arrived last week, I did not meet her until this week. And she is perfect, and she is loved well.

JasonAnother Gushy Review of Jason Isbell – On Tuesday we went to see Jason Isbell and his band play at the Uptown Theater. This was #6 Jason Isbell show for us. I would say it was probably the best yet. His band is so good, he was so engaged and seemed to be having so much fun. There was something else about seeing him this time. This is weird coming from someone who has never met the guy, but I felt so proud of him. When we first saw him in 2009 he was a different man from the one he is today. You see it in pictures from the time – talent out the wazoo, but hazy from drinking. On Tuesday, along with all of the fabulous musical moments, was his presence as a healthy and happy man. It has been his journey, but as a person who loves the music he makes and the persona that he shares with the world through social media, I feel like I have had some read into where he is now. He and the band encored with the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking which was rocking good fun. After that, this part of his tour ended and he went home to be with his wife. A couple days later on Instagram he posted a picture of his hand on Amanda’s slightly rounded tummy. Happy and healthy.

A Saturday Walk – The weather has been super weird. One minute they say it will snow, but then it doesn’t. Last Thursday, I heard nothing about snow, but I left work (minus my boots) in a real dilly of a snowstorm that kept me crawling through the downtown streets, but as soon as I got a couple miles south the sun was shining and the inches of snow on my car looked very out of place. Weird. Last Saturday was supposed to be weathery, but it turned out to be beautiful. Dan and I are still working hard on getting our steps in, so we used the opportunity to take a walk to Waldo Pizza for lunch. We were extraordinarily good and had salad bar and no pizza. We rewarded our goodness by chasing our salad with one of the best deals in beer flights (and a great selection) in the city.

raylan-boydFinal Season of Justified Started – Raylan Givens is a bad ass, and Boyd Crowder is too. I will be sad when this program ends. In the meantime, I will savor every moment of this show and be so happy every time there is a scene where Raylan and Boyd talk to each other. It is tv brilliance.

Movie Night – We have not been very good with keeping our monthly movie date with our friends. This month, however, we got it done. It’s a good way to end the day to leave work and sit down with people that you want to catch up with and fill in the gaps since the last time you did that. We did that and then we went to see American Sniper (not a huge fan, but, oh, that Bradley Cooper!) and then we went and had some more catchup over a nightcap.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week as March rolls in!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekThere have been some pretty incredibly great things this week, so it is a little hard to think back to the previous one. Thankfully, I took some notes and can share a few of the good things that happened last week.

Outpouring of love for David Carr – David Carr was a journalist who worked for the New York Times. Last week, he died suddenly after collapsing in the newsroom. I read David Carr’s work in the Times and had seen him on television. He wrote thoughtfully and insightfully about media and society. His background included a period of his life where addictions controlled it. He wrote about that period and his rise from it.  What came out after his death was stories of the person David Carr, and how he gave so much to those around him. He did not forget friends. He helped other writers. He was a great father and husband. Each piece written about him seemed to reflect on the gift it was to have David Carr as part of your life. Journalism can seem like a pretty rough business with plenty of ego. It was touching to get to understand what David Carr meant to so many.

Items in my closet – Since the beginning of the year, Dan and I have been trying to eat more Paleo and move more. It has been a good program for us and we are both seeing positive results from it. Last week, I was able to pull a few things out of my closet that I had 86ed because they were wickedly too small. I wore my jeans that a few weeks ago I would only wear when I wanted to torment myself, and I wore a dress that I bought quite a bit ago but never wore because it was too small. I still have miles to go, but small victories are incentive to continue on the journey.

Good wisdom – There were a few things going on last wee that required me to seek assistance from others. When you have people in your life who you know will listen and understand and support, you are a lucky person. I am a lucky person in that way. The person that I turned to last week has a characteristic that I would call rational empathy. She sees things as they are. She won’t sugar coat things or skirt the reality. She is there and present when needed. As we worked through the situation, she said something that sticks with me and think always will. She said that our calling is to show up for our fellow humans. I’ll go with that.

Mashed Cauliflower – With this diet we are on, there are all sorts of hacks to replicate things you shouldn’t have. There are some misses. Spaghetti squash in no way, shape, or form reminds me of pasta. One that I tried that did work last week was mashed cauliflower. Goodness it was tasty. I want to eat it every day. It is super simple too.

StellaMeeting Stella – Our friends John and Tracy have a new puppy and we got to meet her last week. She is an itsy bitsy darling jolt of energy (notice the blurred tail in this photo). Watching her run around and discover was very fun!

Here’s hoping that your days each hold good things that you add to your own list.

Good Things – Special Wedding Edition

wedding weelI am still getting used to the fact that Sam is married. A couple weeks ago, over the course of a few days in New York City, we had a whirlwind of activity, but the actual wedding was over in a few blinks of the eye. That was perfect for Sam and Jean. It felt like who they are and what they wanted. And now they enter into their new phase of life as do Dan and I. We have a new daughter that we love dearly. We work to find ways to show our love and support for them as individuals and as a couple. What a dear thing a happy wedding is. While this is titled “Good Things,” I think that there should be another made up word for when something happens that seems better than good; happier than happy. Whatever that is, that was our time in New York City. Here are a few highlights

Having Ali and Jose there – We have kind of a little, but geographically spread-out family. Having all of us together is infrequent and special. We got into NYC on Thursday afternoon from KC, and Ali and Jose came in from NOLA. We pulled up to our hotel in our cab and literally, right behind us, pulled a cab with Ali and Jose. Their being there during their own wedding prep time was so wonderful. And, Jose showing up to the wedding in pink pants and bowtie – all southern gentlemanly – is a memory that I won’t forget.

IMG_2648

Meeting Jean’s parents – Meeting your almost daughter-in-law’s parents hours before a wedding could make for some nervousness, but that did not feel like the case at all. Despite all of the weather that threatened, the Adamoski’s from Chicago and the Ryan’s from Kansas City arrived in New York City and got to see their children get married. We met Jean’s mom and dad at the very cool, Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village. The basement bar was cozy and fantastically cool. The bartender was memorable. And Jean’s parents arrived with hugs and welcome. It’s hard not to like people who are behind the woman that my son adores, and people who also seem to think that Sam is pretty great.

Parent dinner – The night before the wedding, the couple and the parents had dinner at Momofuku Ssam. Our meal was the rib-eye dinner which was comprised of a cow-size ribeye steak, done perfectly and sliced on a platter, french fries that seemed to be fried to a ethereal crispness and Caeser salad that we found pleasure in just picking up dressed leaves and eating. Of course, our meal went beyond the stated meal. There was a platter of multiple different kinds of hams, veggies, bubblies, and we finished off with a cake that was covered with popcorn. For part of the night, Sam came over and sat next to me. I told him how happy I was. He told me how happy he is. Yep.

The Wedding – Everyone should spend a day or two hanging out at the NYC marriage bureau. In the amount of time that we were there, we saw such a variety of couples come through that I just wanted more! Some came in bridal gowns and tuxes, some looked like they weren’t sure why they were there. Couples take a number and are called to different stages – completing the certificate, in the staging room, the ceremony itself. Sam and Jean arrived carrying doughnuts. Both had gold shoes and new wedding clothes. Jean’s was actually a combination of a lace top of her grandma’s and a skirt made by a best friend. They looked adorable and happy. The ceremony itself lasted less than five minutes but it included all of the necessary elements: vows, I do’s, rings, and a kiss. And just like that, our family has a new member.

Cooper-Hewitt – After the ceremony, most in attendance hopped on the subway up to upper Manhattan to go to the Cooper-Hewitt museum. This was probably my doings since there is a Maira Kalman exhibit that I wanted to see. It was my first time at this museum that is housed in a building that in itself is a museum. The Kalman exhibit was a room curated with unusual objects, beautifully displayed, and annotated in Maira Kalman’s distinctive style. The rest of the museum was full of curious tools, hands on design opportunities, fascinating videos, and so much more.

Wedding Dinner at Roberta’s – The staff at Roberta’s presented us with such delicious pizza and sides. Sitting at a long table watching the combined friends and family of the couple was heart-warming.

IMG_2784

Kinokuniya Bookstore – I had read about this bookstore a few months ago and did not let it go far from my radar. It is a Japanese bookstore located near Bryant Park and it is a wonderland for someone like me who love paper, pens, and fun stationary items. Dan’s enthusiasm to go was not as great as mine, but when he hit the door, he was sold. It was just so fun! There is a great selection of books – many with an art focus, but the downstairs level that is devoted to all things paper goods plus, was candy! I think we browsed for at least two hours. So fun!

The Party – The place was called Reciprocal Skateboards. It is in Greenwich Village. You enter into a shopspace lined with brightly colored skateboards. Around the corner in the other room are pinball machines. This was the party site on Saturday night and it was so much fun. There was beer and champagne that was cooled in a borrowed newspaper box from the street. There was a big bowl of quarters that Sam had to restock a few times. There were new people to talk to and get to see how Sam and Jean have been good friends and important people to many. There were toasts and tears and laughs. There were amazing steamed buns with pork belly from Momofuku. My heart garlands worked well and provided a good backdrop for the love that was abounding all night.

As I said, it was a whirlwind (I didn’t even mention going to the Natural History Museum for the first time, the guys in the wine store who gave us three free bottles of wine, or the poutine with smoked meat!) and I feel like I am still getting resettled. Our trip home was delayed a day so my plan for my off day did not work last week, so this is my off day to write and take care of some of these things that I have been thinking on.

Next month we will make a trip and do this in a different way with Ali and Jose. I know how lucky we are.

Last Week’s Good Things

weekLast week was birthday week. I am still a person who likes the idea of birthday celebrations, so I enjoyed the special things that came my way as part of that. Here are some of the good things that happened during birthday fest week.

Resolution making – I always give myself until my birthday to put together resolutions. I got help this year from a posting that went up on Brain Pickings at the beginning of the year that offered guidance on resolutions. In fact, I kind of lifted my resolutions directly from it. Thanks to Popforms and their Spark Notebook plan, I also worked on a theme for a year. My resolutions are rather broad and my theme is a good daily guide. For my new year, I resolve to walk and be more present, make my life wide, keep a diary, cultivate true friendship, and define myself. My theme is to create myself daily. Every day is a new adventure, and my theme is a good reminder.

my fathers dragonBaby Shower Book Club – I have written about our book club before, but last week was a first for our group. We had a book club baby shower! Everyone brought a favorite read aloud as a gift for Jim and Micaela. As they opened each gift, the giver explained why they made the choice. It was so much fun to see some old favorites and also to be introduced to some new ones. Dan picked Redwall which is a great adventure book that  Dan read to the kids. I picked the My Father’s Dragon Series. This series is one of my all time favorites that I read to the kids. If you haven’t read these books, I would highly recommend them. They recount the adventures of Elmer Elevator and a baby dragon that he runs away to rescue. It is all very fantastical and fun.

bugNew Bumper Sticker – I have had my cute little beetle for about eight years now, and it still makes me smile. Shortly after we bought it, we were in Arkansas and I bought a bumper sticker. It was Bob Marley with the quotation “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” While I still love that sentiment, Bob had gotten pretty faded over the years. As part of my birthday fest, Dan took me to the fun It’s A Beautiful Day shop and I picked out a new sticker. On Saturday, I washed that dirty car and put on its new message. It is a quotation from the Dalai Lama – “Choose to be optimistic … it feels better.”

jjBirthday celebration – The messages on Facebook, calls from the kids, a birthday card with sweet messages from my work team, tulips left on my porch all went into making my day a very nice one. Aside from from very pretty cologne, Dan also got me the world best ice scraper. I am very excited about that as I have never been happy with any ice scraper. If it pans out, it will probably show up as its own “good thing.” We also had a great dinner at the new JJs, where a Restaurant Week deal got me Mushroom toast, Chicken Marsala, and Chocolate Mousse for $33. I started my new year well.

bob mankoffHow About Never, Is Never Good for You? – I got this book for Christmas and got it finished last week. If you like New Yorker cartoons, this book is a must read. Bob Mankoff, who is the cartoon editor there, is a funny guy, and this book is a charming journey through the history of New Yorker cartoon, and how and why cartoons get selected.

That was my week. I hope that your week was also filled with good things.

Last Week’s Good Things

new yearThe first week of the new year has turned bitingly cold in the Midwest. If it was not redundant, I would sing good praises of fleece-lined leggings as a good thing as I am wearing them all of the time. Alas, since I try not to repeat myself in my noting of good things, I will just sneak them into the opening paragraph. Sneaky of me. I do love them that much. Aside from the leggings, here are other things that were good parts of last week.

things1. The game Things – Have you played this one? It is a wooden box full of cards – each with a different prompt for a category. There is stuff like, “things that make you burp” “things that bump in the night” … The dealer circulates among the players. The dealer picks a card, announces the category, and everyone has write on a piece of paper their entry into that category. Then the dealer has to guess who wrote what. The night before they left town last week, we played Things with friends and Ali and Jose. As usual, as the night goes on, (and perhaps the glasses of wine multiply), the entries became funnier and funnier. Themes arise that are oftentimes inappropriate, but quite amusing.

2. Fake calligraphy and Laurel wreath – while I want to be a pretty writer and a competent drawer, I am very much in the Ed Emberley club. I need step by step instructions on how to do things. Last week, I found The Postman’s Knock website. I have not delved too deeply into it yet, but, so far, she has taught me how to draw a multitude of laurel wreaths (of course, each time I need to return for instructions), and how to do fake calligraphy. Good indeed!

3. Dan’s enthusiasm for the new year – When someone you live with is enthusiastic about things, it is hard not to get the bug too. Dan woke up on January 1 raring to go. We even made a trip to Office Max for organizational supplies! I too am excited about a new start of the calendar and the potential the year holds, but being able to ride the enthusiasm with a partner is a great thing.

veggie4. New Eating Plan – This kind of goes with the one above, but as part of our new year plan, Dan and I have started a new eating routine that is kind of based on the Primal plan. Basically, it is low carbs, lots of protein, and don’t worry about fat. We do manage to fit some carbs in, but, so far, what we are eating has fit the plan pretty well. On New Year’s Day, I roasted up beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. We have enjoyed that bounty over the last several days. I hope that I will be saying at year’s end that I have stuck with this plan – other than for excursions off the grid for special occasions. I think there is sound logic behind it, it makes me feel better about what I am eating, the food tastes good – all good things!

hoboo5. My New Planner!! – There is really nothing better about a new year than a new planner. Am I right? One of my loves is all manner office supplies and papery goods. I follow several blogs that have as their content, what their planner looks like. My own blog almost always features a picture of what I call my Logbook. During the year, I read several reviews of the Hobonichi planner from Japan. The reviews note that  the paper is good and the design is great. There is only one distributor in the US that I could find, and I bought one a couple months ago. It turned out not to be the one that I expected (I was thinking that I was getting the bigger version), but I can deal with this. I am still working on how I document in the pages, but I do love it. Who knows! I might become one of those planner exposers.

Anyway – those were a few of my good things last week. How about you?

Last Week’s Good Things

notebookThis is my thirty-first good things post during 2014. With these posts, I try to take time to reflect on the things that have crossed my life during the past days that have made me stop and notice how those things made me feel good or happy or better. The list has not been as consistent as I wanted, but it has always been on my mind as I go through each week.

Over the last weeks, here are a few of my good things:

IMG_2329Family time – Ali, Jose and Banjo arrived in Kansas City last week. Their presence in the house has been delightful. With both kids living miles away, any time that we get to spend with them is such a treat. We have eaten well, played some games, visited with loved ones, had a doggie heater in bed with us each night. It will be hard to have them drive away tomorrow, but so grateful that we got this week! 

IMG_2262Gifts for friends – It is kind of weird to choose gifts that I gave as a good thing, but this was just so much fun to do. When I was thinking of what to give some workmates for the holidays, I had a thought. Why not see if I could find old postcards of downtown KC where our hospital now sits? It was so fun to rummage through boxes of old cards in antique shops and peruse eBay for matches to my search. Having multiple pictures of our town from many decades was so interesting to look through. Some of the cards had messages between family and friends during their travels through our city. These items of correspondence were precious enough to have been kept year after year until its owner let it go in some way or another – but not in the trash.

Holiday deliveries – They get a bad rap from some, but last week, brown trucks, white trucks and delivery vans pulled up to our house multiple times to deliver holiday gifts or cards to the house. Oftentimes, they made the extra effort to put packages safely on our back porch. I also stood in line to mail a package and, though the line was long, I was greeted warmly and assured that my delivery would be on time. To me, these services are fantastic, and those holiday cancellations were pretty awesomely cute!

midwifeCall the Midwife – It has been awhile since I have gotten pulled in to a television series. We seem to be watching fewer programs lately, and tend to turn the set on for random cooking shows or sports. Recently, however, we had more time and because of a remembered recommendation, we watched the first episode of Call the Midwife. This is a BBC series about a group of young midwives practicing in London in the late 1950s. It is wonderful! The characters are interestingly layered, the story lines are poignant and compelling, and it is pretty to look at. We are through Season 1 and into number 2 thanks to Netflix. Really good television!

IMG_2430Wedding Preparations – Over the last weeks we have talked with Sam about plans for his and Jean’s wedding coming together. I also got to sit with Ali last week and address and stamp invitations.

As 2014 winds down and we all tend to reflect back and hope forward, I continue to want to make catching good things a part of each day. Happy new year to anyone reading, and may your year ahead be great!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekIt still does not seem right to me that next week is Christmas. It is true that holidays have a whole different flavor when you do not have kids in the house. The excitement of the pending arrival of all things holiday are tempered when you have normal days and evenings that are not peppered with holiday doings and wishings and hopings of little ones. That is kind of holiday celebrating gigantified. Last week,  I tried to keep my own wishings and hopings continuing, and my celebration of the good things strong! Here were some of the things that caught my attention!

cookieMary Sue Milliken’s Border Grill Sugar Cookies – On some previous season of Top Chef Masters, Mary Sue Milliken always stands out as a good chef and a nice person. Good combination! Her name caught my eye in a sugar cookie recipe that uses crumbled potato chips. The salty addition to any dessert is a good thing for me. I made these cookies for a friend gathering along with another pretty great recipe for lemon ricotta bars. I have convinced myself that cookies are the ultimate dessert. They are compact, not too messy, flavorful, and not horrendously unhealthy in a reasonable cookie portion!

ginGin – “Gin” probably sounds a little bad, but the story behind it is nice. Dan’s Rotary Club does monthly scotch tastings, but occasionally they mix it up. This month, the mixing was a gin tasting which we held at our house. Prior to a few months ago, I was not aware that you can sip gin. There are varieties that are flavored such that they are more like sippers than mixers. While the turnout was light, the company was extremely wonderful. We sat around, ate Dan’s jambalaya, and told stories old and new. We tasted some gin and ended the night feeling happy.

gingerHappy Gingerbread Day – As I have written before, my sister and I usually have at least a text message a day. On Friday, she messaged me “Happy Gingerbread Day!” That is one of her things. She has a day for every day! Well, it so happened that on Gingerbread day I was walking home and stopped by McClain’s Bakery down the street. I am embarrassed that I have never stepped foot in that delightful space, even though it is so close to my house. I wanted a cup of coffee, but there in the counter were some very delicious looking gingerbread cookies. I bought one, and that afternoon gave it to a friend that I was meeting for a glass of wine. It was a happy gingerbread day

DSCF7624We have a wedding date – Sam and Jean confirmed the date for their wedding! How happy that is!

cbtlOut little coffee machine – When we went to Italy a couple years ago, we stayed in an apartment in Venice that had a little coffee machine. When we came home, we bought one of our own. It is not hipster of fancy or anything like that. But, when I want  a cup of coffee in the afternoon, just turning it on makes me think of Italy and what an unbelievable trip of a lifetime that was! To get a cup of espresso and a wonderful flood of memories is pretty great.

Whether you are reading this for the first time or as a regular, I want to thank all of you. While I enjoy tracking the good things that come my way, knowing that others may like what I write, adds a bit of extra good that I can’t help but appreciate.

Next week we will have very good visitors, so my posting will be iffy. Wishing you the merriest of holidays and many good things!