For now

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So….my blogging career may be coming to an end.  Yes, I know it was short lived.  When I started out my biggest fear was that I would fail.  I didn’t want to look back and feel ashamed that I started something I couldn’t finish.  I took a chance.  You know I am big on listening to your gut, and I think my gut may be telling me that this is just too much vulnerability for this girl.  Then again, sometimes I am confused by my gut… but for now, I have to let the blog rest.

I think the biggest reason I wanted to blog was because I had this feeling that so many of us are up against similar struggles, and I wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.  Wandering around through life, wondering if we are doing enough, if we are enough? We are inundated with information on how to be the best us, from what to eat, what to read, what to think, what kind of exercise to do, and it’s a lot. Wether it is raising kids, work stress, relationship struggles, or just being overwhelmed by life, we all feel it.  I wanted to say that I get it, life is tricky, and you aren’t alone.  So let’s stop being so hard on ourselves and each other.  And never think that everyone else has it “all” together, because they don’t.   I am starting to see that life is just one big learning curve that keeps curving and never seems to straighten out.  But at the end of the curve we are all hoping for the same thing,  to be happy.    So in the meantime lets accept that life will have obstacles, and we are going to get disappointed or be let down, but that just makes us stronger and makes life that much sweeter.

In closing remember,  work hard, be nice to people…but the using the hand sanitizer thing, throw that out the window.  I caught the flu last week,  and I was sure hand sanitizer would always have my back.

Thanks for reading and for the wonderful feedback.  If I have anything super inspiring coming up I’ll be sure to share.

I’m leaving you  with a quote from one of my faves, Brene Brown.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear from her I am going to insist that you buy her books and listen to her on you tube.  It’s good stuff.

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how it should be

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Right??

I have plans for myself and my family.  Nothing out of this world unattainable, but I have a subconscious vision of the future that sometimes even I don’t realize I am forcing to play out.

As I was sitting with my little family out for supper celebrating my daughters’ birthday, I had a flashback.  Not of particular events per say, but an overall “holy crap” kind of flashback.  Here I sat with my core people, the plans I made to get married, to have children, it is all happening.  Actually, it happened! I was quite content in that moment, but I also felt a little panicked about how quickly time had passed and will continue to pass. I am over the moon proud of my girls and the people they are becoming, but as we make the transition from little people that needed me for survival, to young ladies that need me for support and guidance, I see that the plans I have for them may not be the plans that are meant for them.  I struggle with that.  Lack of control rearing its ugly head again.

I would say I have a pretty basic philosophy of life.  Work hard, be nice to people, mixed in with a clean house, healthy meals, 8 hours of sleep and a little hand sanitizer. Follow these few basic rules and we all get out just fine.  To me it seems like a solid, uncomplicated plan.   Why the added confusion?

 I think I honestly (and naively)  assumed I would have complete control over my life,  my children and the people they would become.  I assumed they would be just like me…I sort of understand me, so how hard could this parenting thing be?  You don’t like the piano? I don’t believe you.  You want to wear what?  I taught you better than that. What makes me think my idea is the best?  Maybe there is something bigger and better out there that I need to let play out.

 I have to recommend the book  The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. It’s one of those books that is filled with common sense that we need to hear.  Her logic is that our children actually spark a soul-searching transformation in us, our kids teach us.  When we are frustrated or angry with our children, we should actually take a quick look at ourselves first and see what it is that is freaking us out.  Is it their problem or ours?  Seriously, get the book, it’s like having a medical dictionary around, it helps makes sense of what sometimes to me makes none.

So I guess what I am trying to say (and I sort of feel like I may be all over the board here), is that whether its parenting, or just existing as a human that seems complicated,  it could very well be our own expectations that we need to check at the door. Maybe let the story unfold on its own a bit?  I am learning to let go a little…I repeat… a little.

Work hard,  be nice to people, use hand sanitizer.

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some everyday

 

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Miscellany on the blog today.

First of all, it’s finally cold enough that I brought out the hooks again. Cute mittens in the works.

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I now have a completely finished laundry room.  It’s truly amazing how long one can go with wires and bulbs dangling overhead.

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(Those two white appliances you are looking at in the above picture are a washer and dryer, archaic yes, but “they don’t make em’ like they used to” is proven here!)

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The curtain is actually a drop cloth I picked up at the hardware store.  Turned out ok!

 

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Meatless Monday was a success last night, so I thought I would share the recipe.  I’ve made this butternut squash soup before, but my peanut gallery decided it was my “best ever”.  I am by no means a professional in the kitchen, or a food blogger, so here is what happened, in my own words, to make this soup happen.

I roasted a butternut squash and a sweet potato in the oven for about an hour.  Saves the slicing and dicing of a hard squash.

I scooped the squash and the sweet spud into a big pot where onions and garlic were sautéing in olive oil.  Top with a carton of vegetable broth and let simmer.

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Dump everything into your blender and puree.  Pour back into pot and add your seasonings.  Salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika for me.  And the piece de resistance…canned coconut milk .  Last night I added some quinoa that I cooked up as added protein.  Oh, and if you make this, I must insist that you buy these croutons.20278174_front_a01

Nom Nom

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And this…

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Life changing magic in my closet-update

So operation” life changing magic in my closet” has been a success so far!  I have to say that when I walk into my closet now I almost feel a sigh of relief.   I never realized just how overwhelmed I was feeling  standing in front of my own partially organized cluster of stuff I thought I needed. Simplicity really is a beautiful thing.

IMG_0258After my last post I was left with the remainder of clothing that I decided “sparked joy” and should stay in my life.  The next task was to hang the clothes which I felt the fabric would be happier hanging (dress pants, blouses, etc.) and to fold the rest and place them in drawers.  I have never used drawers for jeans, sweaters, etc, I hung almost everything, so I was skeptical. The author of the book has a special folding technique, that if done correctly your clothes will stand upright in your dresser, not lay flat.  The logic behind it makes sense in that instead of having a flat pile of t-shirts you have to rummage through,  you now have a lovely little display of your finest garments greeting you when you open the drawer.

Oh hello sweater drawer…

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Jeans and tees.

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I was relentless when I purged.  I only hung onto the clothes that literally sparked a little joy when I looked at them (cheesy yes, but it works).  Now when it is time to decide what to wear, I don’t have as many options, but I like all of them!   (so far so good, I know I am talking big about this whole experiment now, but I am hopeful it will work)

I currently hold all of the clothes I own in this closet space.  Nothing stashed in the basement or somewhere else in the house.   Summer is in the drawers too!   Bathing suits, purses and make-up bags, etc are in baskets.  There is something very freeing about knowing that all of my apparel is in one location.  No more digging around under the stairs for that tote labelled “Anna’s extra clothes”, or forgetting that I had that coat hanging down in the basement.

As you will notice, my hubby’s side of the closet isn’t  in the picture, and that is because…well lets just say he isn’t ready yet.

We will see if this strategy really works, I’ll keep you updated.   For now I am loving the simplicity of it.

On a side note, I do have one chest in storage that I keep with clothes that spark sentiment.  My grad dress, an old Club Monaco sweatshirt,  an Esprit schoolbag that I remember thinking I looked like the bomb when I wore it.  Clothes that my kids can laugh at someday when they pull them out,  or wear to 90’s day at school (gasp).  That kind of thing.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with holding onto a few of those items, as long as it isn’t multiple chests full.

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I don’t have much else to chat about this week.  Winter has officially entered my soul.  I was enjoying it this far,  but suddenly January has become a reality.  This little cold snap has stopped me in my tracks, motivation slipping, but I will hold on, I won’t be defeated.  In the meantime I have added the Flat White to my Starbucks repertoire.  I have been an  Americano or Pike Place girl for as long as I can remember,  but I went out on a limb and was pleasantly surprised.  It makes me happy when skies are grey. IMG_0018

Alright people, hang in there, we got this.

 

 

life-changing magic…part 1

The first full week into 2016 and I am feeling my usual New Year ambitious self.   I love a fresh start, my zest for new beginnings will most definitely dim, but for now I am confidently tackling my list of resolutions intentions that I have planned for the upcoming year.  (I decided intention was a better word, resolution made me feel bad about myself for some reason).  Losing 10lbs should be at the top of the list.  This habit I formed  over the holidays of making sure there was food in my mouth every hour  needed to stop like yesterday.

Intention #1.   To reduce clutter in our home so that possessions don’t control us.

Every year since I have been a full time stay at home Mom, I have had this internal goal to concur my entire house so that every room was the perfect image of organization and essentials.   I always felt that because I was a “homemaker”,  I should obviously have a home where every closet, every drawer and every room was the epitome of organized perfection.  I won’t say how many years I have been trying to accomplish this, but I just can’t seem to pull it off.  I literally spend most of my days tidying up every room, continually purging and re-organizing.  Toys, laundry, books, papers, garbage, recycling, did I mention laundry?  It never ends. Never.  I realize that tidying is part of my job description, but I honestly just get tired of feeling like a servant to all of the “stuff”.  There has to be a better way.

A couple of girlfriends suggested I read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  They had success with her decluttering method so I was willing to give it a shot.IMG_0149

The long and short of the book is that after you have gone through your house and determined which objects “spark joy” and which don’t, you will clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home.  Yep, that’s what I am talking about.

The first category she suggests starting with is clothing.   You are to take every single piece of clothing you own and place it on a pile.  (I am just doing my own right now, my husband said I can’t touch his side of the closet because everything in it sparks a lot of joy for him…hmm)  I went through the whole house, brought up my totes of summer clothes, extra winter clothes, totes of clothes that I don’t really wear but can’t seem to part with, and clothes hanging in the basement for incase I get a “real job”.  These, along with every item in my closet got piled on the bed in a giant heap.

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After I took this picture I had a sudden desire to procrastinate, to find something else to do, anything else, to distract me from this pile that appeared very, very daunting.

The author suggests you touch every piece of clothing and ask yourself if it “sparks joy”.  If it was my off season tote of clothes I was working on,  I was to ask myself if I would wear this if the temperature changed tomorrow.  I had to go back a few times and touch a couple sweaters because I couldn’t be sure if they were sparking joy or not…but for the most part it was relatively painless and I was AMAZED at the amount of items I had been holding onto that were benefiting nothing but the space they consumed.

Here is what ended up leaving my collection.

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A pile for donations, a tote of items I spent a little extra cash on, or still have tags on them (shudder), their future to be determined,  and a bag of garbage. Yes,  I had stuff in my closet that was worthy of a garbage bag!

So now I have a lovely little pile of clothes that I know I will enjoy wearing.  (and they are currently still laying on the bed)  The next step is putting everything away in a particular fashion that will spark more joy…I will keep you posted on this process and hopefully have an unveiling of my closet soon.

It really is amazing how good it feels to let go of some of those things that were just “hanging around”.  I was carrying around a little baggage in the form of fabric, but it lead me to wonder what else I am carrying around inside that is serving no benefit to myself or others?  Why do we hold onto to stuff so tightly for so long?  What are we afraid will happen if we let go? I know I could stand to release a little internal baggage I have been clinging to for far too long, I’m sure the free space could be put to better use.   I feel another intention forming so I better wrap it up.

Before I do I want to share this cute (free) printable I used for our 2016 calendar.  I still love writing on a paper calendar. (and to be clear only I can write on the calendar, and only in a certain type of ink)  Intention #5…chill out a bit. 🙂

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Holiday Home

Just a few pictures of holiday decor this week on the blog.  I am too busy not listening to my advice about slowing down and not over extending yourself.  There are couch cushions to be flipped and cupboards to be cleaned before anyone can have a proper Christmas.  All of this in between grocery lists and last minute shopping.  And could there be a better time to pull out the fridge and vacuum the dust bunnies from behind it?  Wow…

I do love to decorate for the holidays and every year is the same scenario.  I plan to re-create this seasons holiday edition of Style at Home, but all too soon I realize this is not a reality, so it ends up being whatever I can do with the resources I have at hand.  This year I kept it pretty simple.

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Here is a close up of the winter hat garland I have strung on the old wooden door. These little toques are very easy to make.  Supplies include a tp roll and some scrap yarn, totally doable.  Here is the link. (cause I know you having nothing but time for crafts right now)

Continuing on.

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Our family tree….a little less simplistic.
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This is the one place where clutter and chaos doesn’t bother me.  I give my girls free reign over ornament placement and the sheer volume of ornaments guarantees that I won’t be needing to fill holes and gaps.  It truly  is a beautiful disaster.

IMG_2808Every year since each of my daughters was born, my Mom has given them a themed ornament.   One gets teddy bears, and the other brightly coloured Christmas balls.  They are special to look at now, and I know someday they will be very memorable keepsakes for the girls.

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So that’s that.  Nothing fancy, and every year is different  depending on my mood.  This year I felt simple and clutter free with just a touch of holiday.  Kind of the way I had hoped to feel this holiday season…but those dust bunnies are side tracking me.

Merry Christmas from me & my little family.  Do your best to relax and enjoy it. (I will too)
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becoming yourself again

MacBook Pro 15 (Retina) (2880x1800).

 

Forewarning: Somehow this post went from what was meant to be some seasonal holiday banter to a full blown philosophical essay….

Finding joy in the simple things, that was the theme for my blog.  I think we can all agree there is nothing simple or ordinary about this time of year.  Christmas concerts, holiday parties, shopping lists, to-do lists and a calendar packed full of commitments.   I am so grateful to be able to experience all of it and wouldn’t want this time of year to be any other way, but it can be a lot.

I was reading a book a dear friend lent me.  (an excellent addition to my stellar self-help library)  This statement struck a chord….sometimes in a crowd we may feel cold, tired and lonely. We may wish to withdraw to become ourselves again. our senses are our windows to the world and sometimes the wind blows through them and disturbs everything within us.  -Thich Nhat Hang 

Have you ever had that feeling?    That pit in your stomach when you know something  just feels “off” and out of balance.  That feeling that you are over extending yourself and being pulled in too many directions.  After a few life lessons and set backs, I have come to know that this feeling is actually my intuition suggesting that maybe once again I am losing myself in the hustle and bustle of the world, and need to take a step back and re-assess.

Now I usually don’t get this wave of intuition without going through a wide range of emotions.  First I start to get a little grumpy and edgy,  easily overwhelmed by the smallest set back. Then I feel an unsatiable need to clean every square inch of my home and assume that my family should feel the same.  (this could also just be my control freak tendencies coming out)  Suddenly, nothing I can do is enough, nothing anybody could do would be enough. Red flag goes up and Anna gets pulled off the field.

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I consider myself a social person, I enjoy time with my people, so withdrawing isn’t an easy feat for me. I would worry that if I declined an event that people would wonder what was wrong with me, heck I would wonder if something was wrong with me.  I had serious concerns when sitting at home on a Saturday night watching a movie with my family trumped dinner plans in the city.  I have come to learn that it is in my best interest to listen to my “gut feelings” when they quietly remind me that I should be getting back on my path and stop concerning myself with everyone else’s.

Now I know many of you might be thinking, well if I was a stay at home Mom  I would have nothing but time to sit and contemplate life.  Fair enough,  somedays it is just me and our pet guinea pig, and I am grateful for the quiet moments.  But sadly, I rarely take time for myself, even at home.  I still try to fill all the quiet moments with noise.  There is always something to be done, someone who needs me.   Sitting still is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn.  It’s a choice that we need make for ourselves,  finding the places in life where we need to pull back. The hints are there, it’s just hard to hear them sometimes.

I realize that we are all created differently and have different life circumstances, but I think we all deserve to take a little time for ourselves. Maybe roaming the aisles of Homesense alone, a hot Starbucks in hand does nothing for your peace of mind  (gasp), but we all have our thing.

If you can over the holidays, turn off the computer, cancel some plans and just stay home with the people you love.   It’s scary at first, the thought that you may be missing out on something is a hard one, but I doubt that it will be time wasted.

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Get to know yourself, you aren’t as scary as you think.

 

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Earth Muffin Musings

I have an interest in things organic, non-toxic, environmentally friendly…a little bit earth muffin maybe?

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def: Environmentally conscience, socially aware, recycles when she can, prefers organic or natural products, and will drive out of the way to support mom and pop before large consumer corporations. She’s a modern hippy but also has a practical side. She showers regularly, and encourages others to do the right thing without being judgmental or critical.

Store Checker: Would you prefer paper or plastic?
Earth Muffin: I brought my own reuseable duffle! It’s made out of recycled materials, too.  

Now I am by no means a martyr for the planet.   I still have some toxic products lying around the house.  I definitely can’t part with my Lysol wipes or Li-Lash eyelash growth serum, and I have been known to throw an empty yogurt container in the garbage and eat a cheeseburger…but I try.   Maybe more of an aspiring earth muffin?

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I digress.  Last winter I purchased The Oh She Glows Cookbook, “Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out”.  I had such success with the first few recipes that I decided to implement “Meatless Mondays” into my families weekly meal plan.  One day of the week it is a given that we will be eating a vegetarian meal.  Seriously though, this is a great cookbook.  I have had nothing but success with all of the recipes, and success in the kitchen doesn’t come easy for me.

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On the topic of meat.  I am not preaching that it is bad and should be avoided completely, but I wonder if maybe we base our diets on it too much?  The more research I do into vegetarianism, the more sense it makes for health and environmental reasons to limit the amount of meat we consume.   I don’t feel confident enough in my own research to restrict meat from my girls’ diets completely, but I definitely don’t dwell on the idea that I MUST have a piece of meat on our plate to make it nutritionally acceptable.   My intention with Meatless Monday was to bring an awareness that there is life beyond meat and to open our minds (and stomaches) to the world of vegetarianism/veganism.

Now you are probably wondering how I got my family to join me on this mission?  First of all,  they are used to my crazy whims where I tend to go all earth muffin on them.   (insert eye rolls every time I feel the need to lecture on my newest holistic tidbit)  Second, I think they have been surprised that our meatless dishes don’t actually taste like chalk like they assumed. Yes, some have been a little iffy, but overall the response has been positive.  Oh, there was that one Monday I caught my husband frying up a coil of sausage to serve “on the side”.  I wasn’t impressed, but I try to remember that as a farm boy meat and potatoes aren’t just a supper time staple, they are a way of life, so I try to go easy on him.

I’m going leave you with the recipe for 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta from the Oh She Glows website.  It is one of my favourites.  Easy and delicious.  (please refrain from slicing up sausage on top if you can)

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Basil sprig garnish is for your benefit…the pile of green noodles wasn’t doing it justice.

Until next time…

 

Sorry for what I said before I ran

This is by no way intended to be a post about why we all need regular exercise.  This is a post about why Anna NEEDS regular exercise.  I am crazy.

It’s 9 am Monday morning.   I shouldn’t be surprised that this particular morning went less than smoothly.  One sister chews with her mouth open at the breakfast table,  the other sister leaves a glob of toothpaste spit on the  bathroom sink, both events executed with the sole purpose of irritating each other.  It went from zero to sixty in this house. Things escalade over the course of the morning and one daughter leaves for school thinking she is the golden child, and the other, I’d be surprised if she comes home. Regardless, the day awaits and this is nothing out of the ordinary, so why do I always get so upset?

Ugh. My runners are staring at me.  As per usual I try to think of a million reasons why a run isn’t necessary today.  Why can’t I be that type of person who thrives off of exercise, who loves to “feel the burn”?   I don’t really like to get sweaty, and pushing myself makes me uncomfortable…ya,  all reasons I should probably get going.

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My feet feel like large bricks clomping on the pavement, my butt feels like it is jiggling more than usual, and I am still angry about this mornings turn of events.  This isn’t feeling like a promising venture.

Heading down the path  I hit shuffle on my playlist.  Ok, sharing a few songs from my playlist is the epitome of vulnerability.

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Dierks Bentley comes on first, Riser.   It’s slow and sappy but I like this one. Dierks seems to get it, life is hard, but you got this, rise up sister, rise up.   Parenting is an emotional whirlwind.   My heart goes from beaming with pride and joy, to being broken in half and full of worry and doubt on a regular basis.  I have regrets over this mornings “debacle”…I had a prime parenting moment, but my emotions took over and now I am pretty sure I have ruined my daughters chances of being good humans.  Rise up, Anna, rise up.

Half a mile in and que Mumford & Sons.  Ok, this is getting a little depressing and I consider skipping it  or I may have to break down and cry in a pile of self-pity and “I don’t want too’s”, but something makes me finish it out.  I am starting to make my way around the lake, the sun is shining and I can feel a shift of optimism.  Ya, glad I let that one play out.

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Usually half way through my route my body and mind come to an agreement when they realize that neither of them are giving up, and they might as well work together to get this done.  A few other musical interludes are happening here but I won’t bore you with all the details. (or embarrass myself…it’s a fairly eclectic mix)

On the home stretch now and Fight Song (Rachel Platton) comes up next. “This is my fight song, take back my life song”…you know the one.  Clearly the endorphins have kicked in and now I’m fired up.   Self-pity a distant memory and I am unstoppable at this point. Running faster, strides longer, I come off the sidewalk onto the pavement with a leap I can only describe like a gazelle jumping a fence. (a gazelle with really short legs).  I got this now, I’m back in the race.

Almost home and Eminem comes on for the finale. From Dierks to Eminem…is that even healthy?   I won’t name the song, but a few of you will know the track I’m talking about.  I am hard core at this point.  Who was that weak girl with a quivering lip heading down the path 25 minutes ago?  I would step right on top of her now. Needless to say I finish strong and have come home with a fresh new perspective on the day.

Now I don’t always finish strong.  Somedays it’s strictly calories burnt and the bricks in my shoes clomp the whole darn way.  But for me, I have realized that, I should probably need to exercise.  Don’t get me wrong, I  would way rather sit at home and eat processed foods…and I have done that too, but I am much more pleasant after a good workout.

(My apologies to my husband for what I said before I left…I should know better than to express my feelings before I have broke a sweat.)

It’s not all about running, exercising, being in shape, blah blah blah.  It’s about pushing yourself to do something you know will be worth it in the end, something that will help you be a better you. (even if you would rather stay home and eat processed foods)

Here’s a little motivation from Dierks.   If you want motivation from Eminem you will have to private message me for the song title, it’s a secret weapon.

simplicity

everyday moments

So here I am.   The thought of putting myself into the blogosphere without some sort of expertise to wow you with seemed futile.  I am not a writer, and my grammer/punctuation skills are subpar.  Let’s not forget the stereotype that I feared the most, “just another stay at home mom with a blog” they’ll say.  But with all self-defeating talk aside…

Here I am.

Everyday moments, that is what’s on my mind. The world is so busy, so fast, and there is so much pressure.  I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes it’s just all too much. Happiness seems based upon success, and success feels like fitting into an ideal that society has created.

Enter in my everyday moments “movement”.  I  probably became more aware  of the simple pleasures a few years ago when my husband purchased a vintage Winnebago.  To be clear this was his retro baby, not mine.  I am more of a quaint cottage with wi-fi kinda girl, but marriage is all about compromise, so I tried to make the best of it.  Off we went on our first family adventure in our new/old house on wheels.  There we were, just the four of us, with only the bare necessities, very minimal living quarters and total disconnection from our routine of life.  It was on this little getaway that I saw my daughters, my husband and myself for the first time in a long time.  I had been so distracted trying to control our very existence with what I thought would make us happy, that I was missing out on the happiness right in front of me.

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Moral of the story, sometimes less really is more.  The “Winnie” has been one of our cheapest investments…but by far has had the greatest return.  (even with the green shag rug)

Disclaimer: Please don’t go imagining that my family walks around in perfect harmony, soaking up simple everyday pleasures…oh no.  We have moments, so many moments that are less than positive, even down right ugly.  Oh, and as much as I truly  believe less is more… I like stuff, expensive stuff.  Baby steps right?

Being a human is hard work, go easy on yourself.