Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Links - January 20

Links and things of late that I love . . . because they tickle the corners of my mouth  . . . or stretch my grey matter . . . or touch my heart . . . or make me want to take that last swig of coffee, get up from the computer, and do something special with my day.

For you:
I never tire of being reminded that reason I may catch the brunt of Moose's spiritedness is that he loves and trusts me best.  Thank you, Kate!

Mmm, I totally want to make this clementine smoothie!

This post of 20 Ways Toddlers Are Like Drunk People made my week!

For the kiddos:
Continuation of the discovery bottles series I mentioned last week: K-O; P-T.

DIY color-matching peg people.  (And, back to the "for you" category, if you haven't read Small Things, treat yourself and do so now!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Best Books: 2012

Waterfield's Booksellers

Last year, I was invited to contribute to the Law School Transplant's Literary Year in Review. Erin challenged her readers and friends to pick their top five reads from last year (they didn't have to be newly-published, simply read by the contributor during 2011).

I've just send my 2012 submissions to Erin, except that I only have three good ones to share (because, in case you missed it, 2012 was not a great year for me finishing things).   

1) Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall - I don't usually "do" Civil War fiction, so when this came up on the book club list, I was nonplussed.  But the characters and themes of this book transcend the temporal setting - a wife committed to the asylum for disobeying her husband, a soldier suffering from PTSD, a young boy looking for love and affection anywhere he can get it - and drew me in.

2) The September Society by Charles Finch - The second book in the Charles Lenox series (which I discovered while vacationing last year), in which one finds the Victorian Era amateur sleuth trolling the streets of Oxford in search of the truth behind a student's death.  Really, I've loved the whole series so far (the first is A Beautiful Blue Death ; the third is The Fleet Street Murders , which particularly kept me on the edge of my seat!).

3) The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford - This book, written by Queen Elizabeth II's childhood nanny is a near and dear favorite of mine.  I re-read it in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and the glimpses into HM's upbringing (at the same time revealing and respectful) never fail to endear me to her further.  Sadly, the author was ostricized from the Royal Family for what was seen as a violation of their trust and invasion of their privacy.  I would venture to guess that HM views its publication much more kindly in light of all the more negative intrusions the family have sustained during her reign.  Also sadly, the book is out of print, but you can find some serialized snippits courtesy of the Daily Mail here, here, and here.

Check out the 2012 Literary Challenge round-up for more great reading ideas!

What were your favorite reads of 2012?

Photo Credit

(Disclosure: this post contains some Amazon affiliate links) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekend Links

Links and things of late that I love . . . because they tickle the corners of my mouth  . . . or stretch my grey matter . . . or touch my heart . . . or make me want to take that last swig of coffee, get up from the computer, and do something special with my day.

For you:
This article on finding time resonates deeply with my resolutions for the New Year.  I can find the time. For writing.  For what is important.

If you have an inner princess (I do), you'll love this new blog: A Tiara a Day!

Need a good laugh? These differences between first- and second-time mommy-hood are hilarious (if a bit rough around the edges).

The British Library is now on Pinterest!

I thought I knew all there was to know about Downton Abbey - I was wrong!  Also, a Downton funny - Season 3, Episode 1, retold as if it had taken place on Facebook.

For the kids:

Discovery bottles!  Moose loved the the baby ones I did for him, Mouse loves Moose's old ones I recently pulled out, and Moose is having fun rediscovering his old ones.  One of my favorite educational bloggers has a jillion discovery bottle ideas (appropriate for babies through preschoolers): (a-e) (f-j) (sadly, Deborah had to take a hiatus before completing the series, but there's more than enough here for weeks of fun!).

Totally darling {FREE}kiddo thank you printables (since, yes, I'm still that behind from Christmas).

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yarn Along: B is for . . .

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

I am taking a break from my (very late) holiday clean-up to join in the sharing at Small Things!

Within a few weeks of each other last year, Kim shared a knitted ball she completed for a friend's baby, and Wendy wrote about about sewing a tactile ball for her little one.  Taking inspiration from both, I have been working on this beach ball pattern using different natural fibers (wool and cotton) from my stash to make a colorful, textural experience ball for Mouse.  I'm at the assembly point now, and am thinking I'll add in some jingle bells when I stuff it for an extra surprise.  Thank you so much Kim & Wendy!

My January book club book, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa just arrived in yesterday's mail.  I only had time to scratch the surface last night, but the premise is intriguing (like "Beautiful Mind" meets "50 First Dates"). 

What are you knitting and reading?  

Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013: The Year of Discipline



Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Not really.

As I make my late start to the New Year, and think about my goals, the feeling that 2012 was somehow incomplete keeps creeping into my gut.  All the books started but not finished (and not because of the 100-page rule); crafts or activities for Moose that never moved past the planning stages; languishing knitting projects.

The reason is no big secret or surprise to me: there is too much I want to do.

But I am not quire ready to throw in the towel.

Rather, this year I am focusing on discipline.  Not in a negative or draconian way, but as a means to fit in more of what I truly want to do (and, yes, some things I need to do - or do better). 

There are two ways I see this taking shape:

1) Be mindful of wasted time. For example, when I've put Mouse to bed (and sometimes Moose, depending on his request that evening), there are a lot of nights that all I want to do when I come downstairs is slump on the couch.  Check Facebook.  Surf Twitter.  Up to now, I've thought of the choice in terms of "wash dishes and prepare bottles OR relax?".  The thing is, assuming it's not Daddy M's turn that night, those dishes aren't going to wash themselves.  So the choice is really "get the dishes out of the way now and then have time to get some real, quality time in at a meaningful activity (reading, knitting, blogging, conversing with Daddy M or a friend via phone) OR piddle around now and do dishes later?".

I really think I can recapture some wasted time (and get done what I need to) if I can be disciplined about the choices I make with my time.

2) Prioritize.  One of the big reasons I am not great at seeing things through (and leave too many things unfinished) is that I try to do too many things.  I get so excited to dive in to a newly-discovered book that I end up with a dozen partially-read books on my nightstand (this is not an exaggeration).  I start the prep work for three activities for Moose and the result is that not one comes to fruition.

But, by being more disciplined about priorities in the activities/books/commitments I pursue, I expect I will find more enjoyment and satisfaction than by attempting twice as many and consistently falling behind.

With these principles in mind, here are some of my more specific resolutions for 2013:
  • Reading - Complete at least one book per month (and share a review here);
  • In the kitchen - try out at least one new recipe each month (and share at least one worthy recipe per month here);
  • With Moose & Mouse - prepare one planned activitiy/adventure/invitation to explore per week (and share in a monthly round-up);
  • Converse and Connect - share more of what I am reading about (online and in paper) both with those inhabiting my physical life and my more virtual life here;
  • Get back on the fitness wagon - now that the Morton's Neuroma that percipitated my holiday surgery is gone, get back to sweating.  Specifically, I want to complete one Blogilates calendar, one month of TurboFire, and the Insanity program before the Peach drops again;
  • Declutter at home and find a workable cleaning routine - this will make it easier to take time for the things I want to do by avoiding the mulling, guilt and indecision that accompany taking time ostensibly for myself when there are unfinished chores.
Ambitious, I know.  But attainable, I think, with a little positive discipline: the carrot is not to avoid bad things, but to change the way I think to make time for the things I want to do!

Do you have a theme or word for your resolutions this year?  Share below in the comments and we can encourage each other!

Photo Credit

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fitness Friday (Special Sunday Edition): 100 Pound Loser {Review}

As someone who went from a size 16+ in 1999 to a size 4 by 2001, and have finally found a happy place as a 8-10, I'm always intrigued by others' weight loss stories.  Which is why I was so delighted to have the opportunity to review Jessica Heights's new book 100 Pound Loser.

Really? The world needs another weight loss book?


First, let me tell you what Jessica's ebook (available here ) is not: it is not a diet plan or an exercise regimen.

Instead, this is the book you should read first.

Jessica covers the basics of calorie watching and exercising, but not like a perfect, hard-bodied health and fitness guru.  Reading Jessica's book is like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee.  She's real, at times vulnerable, and as a result, highly motivating!

My favorite parts of 100 Pound Loser are the chapters on stumbling blocks (they happen to the best of us) and the extra challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a mom of little ones.  These are the energy shots of reality missing from so many nutrition and fitness guides.

If you're finding Fitness Friday because you're working out the details of a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, head on over to the book's dedicated page and check it out.  It's a super speedy read and personal pep rally!

What are your fitness goals for 2013?

(Disclaimer: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Re-Boot

So its been awhile, eh? (A month from today since my last post, but who's counting?)

The questionable health news I alluded to in late November turned into a full-blown scare involving the specter of open-heart surgery.  That resolved in the most miraculous way possible (I am just fine) just in time for a (planned) foot surgery the day after Christmas which was billed as "one-inch incision; 15 minute procedure; you'll walk out of here."  One guess what the reality has been.

I try not to use this space for whining, which is why I've been away.

So here I sit on January 5th, wanting a big ole' do-over of the last six weeks.  I'm so behind on Christmas clean-up and daily life (you try grocery shopping and doing laundry when you can't walk!).

But all the sitting with my foot up has given me ample time to formulate some ideas for the New Year: things I want to work on personally, professionally, with my husband, my kids, this space.

Tomorrow I'll begin by sharing some health goals and a review of Jessica Heights's new book 100 Pound Loser in a special Sunday edition of Fitness Friday, so stay tuned!