Sunday, December 18, 2011

Post Script

PS. to the post I put up an hour ago:

I love my family. When I was in high school I asked for a telescope for Christmas. I got one - I loved that thing. I remember setting it up after Christmas (in Maine), wrapping a blanket around my shoulders and looking at the contours of the moon. You can see a thousand pictures of the moon that someone else took, you can see a person standing on the surface of the moon, but looking at the moon with your own eyes is more magical than either of those. A telescope is one of the purest gifts you can give to someone... the ability to look at the stars in real time is mind-boggling.

I still have that telescope. It has been from Maine to NC to San Diego to Atlanta. I keep dragging that thing around, but never set it up because I don't have a good spot for it (and since I'll soon be living in a tiny apartment in DC I still won't have space). Since I'm driving to Maine I asked my family if they would like me to bring it up so that they can use it.

My mother's response:

"You can bring back the telescope and we'll set it up to find Santa."

Like I said, my family rocks. We range in age from 23 to (nearly) 60, and Christmas is still about magic, Santa, surprises. We still leave cookies out for Santa, and my parents still sign their gifts from Santa. There is really no need to ever turn away from the magic that this time of year brings.

I can't wait to share this with my children.

Getting Ready

We relaxed all weekend.

Opened gifts, went out to eat, watched movies (his choice: 30 minutes or less; my choice: Jane Eyre.... typical), wrapped gifts, snuggled on the couch, ate brunch with friends, went to two record shops, drank too much beer, rode the train, discussed climate change, ordered pizza, contemplated living in Maine, contemplated living in Florida, hoping to settle on DC.

Now I'm packing. I feel like a squirrel. Packing, storing, tucking away, piling things to go to Maine, piling things to go to Goodwill. Sneaking in quick moments to read the manual for my new camera.

And.... my sewing project is done! I made Tom a tree skirt, but haven't taken proper pictures of it yet. Soon, I promise. Soon. You'll come back, won't you?

Meanwhile, I'll be eating peppermint bark, drinking the rest of our weekend beer, piling and packing and unpiling.....

Happy Sunday. Happy Weekend-Before-Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

day to day....

And just when I think I'm ready to breeze through the holidays, BAM - it hits! Suddenly I schedule myself for 10 different things in one evening that aren't feasible at all. Go grocery shopping, make peppermint bark, bake coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache, find the perfect gift for Tom's sister, find the perfect gift for my sister, finish my sewing project, make myself a healthy wholesome dinner, play with my dog, do my laundry, flesh out details of New Year's resolution, go to library to pick up books on CD for my road trip to Maine, and relax.

Screeching halt as brakes are applied.

I bought a few needed ingredients at the grocery store, I made the peppermint bark, bought a gift for my sister (though it is not quite "perfect" so I think I'll return it), said sayonara to the macaroons, threw in load of laundry, made myself spinach spaghetti, and am now making time to relax.

All in all, not a bad day. Good thing I wrote that post last night that was so jolly and relaxed and ho-ho-ho and joyful, because when I was tempted to give in to the pressure to be perfect in all things, I simply closed the door.

I didn't get it all done. I've got more to do. But right now, I think I'll enjoy this fine evening. The neighbors put a string of colorful lights on their house, and I'd rather gaze at them and dream than fuss over some macaroons.

I ended yesterday with a statement of being blessed. And now I echo that same line, when this harried life could very well put me on the other side of calm.

We are so blessed.

That is it. Everything else can wait. Wishing you a lovely lovely Wednesday night.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

joy in the air

This time of year is often defined best by the word busy. I can see why it is so - for me it usually is so - but making time for the peace of the season is so wonderful.

Last weekend was a flurry of activity. Tom and I did some Christmas shopping for our families starting early Saturday morning. After the bulk of our shopping we perfected our list and made notes of things still to buy over a pitcher of margaritas. And as much as I wanted to continue shopping and just get it done, we stopped after lunch. Tom was starting to get sick, so we rented a movie, went home and lay on the couch. Tom dozed off and on, and I watched the movie and opened a box of wine. (why not?)

Slowing things down for a half day was just what I needed. Christmas - this whole holiday season - is not about bustling through the shopping malls, sitting in traffic, and buying gifts out of obligation. This time of year is about drinking a glass of wine on the couch, watching a movie, catching the twinkle of the Christmas tree out of the corner of your eye. It is about doing something for the people you love - whether that thing comes in a box with a bow or in a kind gesture that you aren't expecting. 

I don't have to tell you this, you already know.

I love this time of year. Yes, I am buying things for the people I love. I am going into stores and looking for just the right thing. I am making extra trips and extra stops and spending more money than I do in a typical month. But amongst all that purchasing and rushing, I am also appreciating the slow moments.

Sewing something special for someone that I love. Planning craft days with my sisters and mother for when we all convene in Maine next week (oooohhhh next week - the idea delights me!). Imagining what it will feel like to watch the snow fall down outside (oh I hope it snows!). Drinking hot tea. Planning to make coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache for coworkers. Getting Christmas cards in the mail from people more dedicated and timely than I.

With most of my gifts purchased, I am left with time to really enjoy the season. I love this time of year, I love this time of year.

Tonight, I spent hours sewing a gift. The smooth feel of the fabric in my fingers, and then the thickness and warmth of that fabric after adding the muslin layer and batting. The little imperfect stitches of love that I put into each little inch. The joy I have just looking at the fabric - so specially chosen for this exact project and this exact person.

And now, sewing machine up, roommate out, dog sleeping at my feet. Now, to drink a beer ever so slowly, to eat a toasted piece of homemade oatmeal bread, to listen to the silence of my house around me. Now, I put down Holidays on Ice (David Sedaris), and I make time to type to you. Surrounded by what I can only describe as a perfect peaceful presence, I implore you to find the same in your own life. After the busy and the hustle and bustle, take a moment to breathe in deep, and enjoy the spirit of the season that is around us.

We are so blessed. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

rain::tuesday in


Oh beautiful, glorious, peaceful rain.

Rain that casts an almost peaceful melancholy over the city. Rain that snarls Atlanta traffic so. Rain that makes Christmas shopping suddenly seem like a bad idea.

Gifts can wait. Craft supplies can wait.

To look out my big window at work and see the Georgia Dome obscured by lashes of falling rain, I know that I need to take the train home, change into my sweatpants, drink some tea, knit a special something, and bake some oatmeal bread.

It is just that kind of night.

Monday, December 5, 2011

taking a stand against procrastination

I am the queen of procrastination. I even procrastinate on the things that I really want to be doing - reading, knitting, cooking. Why? For some reason, unless I have several hours of time dedicated to a specific task, I feel that I don't have enough time to do it. In reality, I have a lot of 20 minute blocks of time when I could read a book, or an hour at home without much to do where I could be knitting.

Perhaps I'm just lazy.

I wouldn't mind being such a procrastinator, except for the fact that there are so many things that I would like to be doing with my time. I have a lot of projects in my mind, and so many things that I want to be. [Which is probably the real reason that I procrastinate. I start many many projects, but don't finish because I get sidetracked with something else.] So I have decided that each month I'll choose a few things to accomplish during that month. Help me direct my thoughts and energies just a wee bit.



To Read: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: war stories from the local food front.

A friend gave me this book shortly after I moved to Atlanta, and I've been meaning to read it ever since. Government regulations and programs - when intelligently designed and rationally imposed - save lives (medical device standards), provides opportunity (libraries!), and keep life moving smoothly (DOT - though perhaps this one is debatable :). But then there are some regulations that I will never begin to understand. And a lot of those center around the laws that small local farmers must follow. I don't claim to be an expert about - or even have a good grasp on - these regulations, but I'm really fired up about this issue and am excited to read this book. Plus, imagine the looks I'll get from people when they see the title of my book.

To Create: I actually can't list a lot of my projects for this month (since they are Christmas gifts), but there are a few other things I want to complete.

Embroider my pillowcase using this lovely little pattern. It looks simple (though maybe not?), is just the sort of whimsical design that I love, and shouldn't take me too long to complete. I've never embroidered anything before, and this looks like a fine place to start.

Finish the pants that I started for my friend's baby. The pants are actually already done, I just need to hem them and add an elastic waistband.

To Do: Spa Day/DIY Beauty

Laura sent me this link a week ago, and I'm going to try out all three. I already have all of the materials (and I'm sure you do too), and it will be nice to relax and focus on my self for an hour or so.

To Do: Go to Church

I absolutely love my church, and I haven't been in so long that I probably can't say that it is "mine" any longer. But this month I will try to go once.

hmmmm, looks like the sermon this week is about John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. This is the Sunday to go I think!

To Do: Look at Lights

Every year, I tell Tom that I'd like to go look at some lights around Atlanta. This year, I'm putting it on the list! I've heard that some of the best are the Lights of Life at Life University. But perhaps we'll take a little drive to Callaway Gardens for their light display. Of course, if you are in Maine perhaps you should trek to Burnham and see the Burnham Lights. It's a really impressive light show.

To Cook: Bread  **Completed on 12/6/2011

Oh, how I adore homemade bread. Warm and fresh out of the oven, a little butter on top.... This month I'm going to try out this Light Oat Bread Recipe. Read the first comment under the recipe for non-bread machine instructions if you want to try it out too.


Well, there it is! Hopefully this month I'll get something done rather than whiling away my time on Pinterest or Facebook or some other such nonsense....

Fun December Fact: I've decided to drive to Maine with Barley for Christmas again! Let's hope that a blizzard doesn't come in, shut down all major interstates, and strand so many cars that the National Guard has to come in and rescue folks.

Yes, this happened to me two years ago.

Yes, two years is long enough to forget such a horrible event and think that attempting it again is a good idea.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


this was a beautiful marvelous weekend.

and i probably facebooked it to death, so perhaps you already know how things turned out.

also, i have come to realize that i need to start taking pictures, because i don't have visuals for these days. nothing to share with you.

perhaps i will finally bite the bullet and buy this camera. and this lens.

yes, i shall. so that i can take family pictures at Christmas. and engagement pictures for my sister. yes, it is decided. the camera will be here soon, i hope.

but back to this weekend.....

we bought a Christmas tree. too early in the season for me, but just right for us.

we decorated the tree, and hung a little string of lights around the front porch.

tom baked cookies.

we had a bottle of wine, and food inspired by Julia Child.

i made a tissue holder in my beginner's sewing class. and picked out fabric for our project next week.

i bought yet another book on sewing baby clothes.

i've been thinking about losing a bit of weight and toning my muscles. i bought this dvd.* i was really doing well until i realized that i don't really care about losing weight or looking like i belong in a workout video. i will still run, and will try to increase my situps and pushups for my annual physical fitness test. but beyond that, my love of eating, drinking beer, and trying new food all outweigh my need to look good in a bikini.

*this dvd is fantastic. i highly recommend it if you are trying to whip yourself into shape. jillian will kick your butt.

for those of you out there who have a boyfriend that is dying for a homemade tree skirt for his tree, here is a tree skirt pattern from Amy Butler that you might enjoy.

certainly i cannot be the only one whose boyfriend has been coveting a homemade tree skirt...... i better get sewing!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ness is Everything

Shortly before Tom and I met, I watched You, Me and Dupree. It's a cute movie, but not one I'd go over the top in my praise for, and certainly not one that I'm recommending that everyone watch.

However, the movie held a key theme that I continuously go back to when I'm having a rough time. I won't describe the entire plot, but basically one of the characters (Carl) is in a slump. He can't really find his mojo, his relationships are struggling, and he just isn't in the groove. Owen Wilson's character tells him that he has lost his "-Ness", and that he needs to reconnect with his Carl-ness to improve things with his job, his wife, his life.

I love the idea of giving a name to your inner self, your essence, that spark that makes you you. And so often since then I have reminded myself to reconnect with my ness.

When Tom and I met, I was entering my last semester of grad school. I was stressed about my thesis, about finding a job after graduation, about deciding what to do with my life. I was bogged down in my small and personal struggles, and had most definitely lost my Dana-ness.

On one chilly day, just a month or so after we met, we hiked Kennesaw Mountain together. Near the top, we sat on a little rock overlooking the entire valley. We talked about ourselves and our families, and it was one of our first conversations that really went beyond the initial "getting to know you" phase of the relationship. In the midst of what must have been a woe-is-me speech about my thesis and grad school angst, Tom said simply that I just needed to find my -ness.

The suggestion made me stop short, made me forget my troubles, made me smile.

Let's be honest - You, Me and Dupree isn't really one of those movies that will go down in history as a "must-watch". It certainly isn't a quotable movie that carved itself a niche in US pop culture. In fact, you probably haven't thought much of the movie since it came out. To write this post, I actually had to search google and wikipedia to remember which movie "-ness" even came from.

So when Tom - the Tom I didn't even know yet - told me I needed to find my -ness, when he said exactly  the right thing that made me stop short and redirect my thoughts, I knew. I knew this guy might just be a keeper. Suddenly our conversation was transformed from negative to positive. Rather than talking about the negatives in our life, we each began to talk about our own -ness. He learned about my Dana-ness, and I learned about his Tom-ness.

Every time we walk past that spot, we remember that time almost three years (three years!!) ago. We always mention it. "Here is where we talked about our ness." "Remember that day...."

Somehow a really stellar 2009 and 2010 turned into a really shitty 2011. One for the record books. I haven't been myself, and I have felt lost, confused, broken, and sad. I have lost my ness. Starting today, right now, I am going to find it and bring it back. Rather than focusing on external circumstances - both the good and the bad - I am going to focus on my internal Dana.

Because after all, the things I want are not things at all. The things I want are already here - love, peace, security, happiness. I just have to remove the clutter and bring them to the surface.

This December, this month of purchasing and buying and making haste and rushing, I am going to slow down, take a deep breath, and live my life. Rather than worry about tomorrow, I am going to love the very moment. This moment. This one right here.

Wishing you the very best day, and hoping that your own -ness is quite intact and is guiding you on your path.
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