Friday, December 27, 2013

Think Kit 27: Stand out places

Think Kit Day 27: What place (event, celebration, etc.) stood out for you this year? Where was it? Who was there? What did it look like? How did it inspire you?

I went on a week long vacation with my friend Photographer this summer, to Florida, to spend a week in her parents condo. I blogged about it several times this year so here are the links. It was relaxing and peaceful and so much fun! And I know I wrote about here before but it was such a great and much needed trip, once in a lifetime to spend a week with my best friend on a beach... well, it's worth repeating!

Moon on the ocean


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Think Kit Day 26: I used a life line: food

Today's Think Kit topic is:  Draw a self portrait. Get as abstract or as real as you like!

Uhhh, no. I have NO art ability at all so I went to the lifelines and the topic is:  Did you eat an amazing meal this year? What did you eat? Who was with you?

Well, this year I did have a few amazing meals! I was able to go to Florida so I was in seafood heaven and I also had an amazing meal at a Brazilian Steak House in Indianapolis, downtown. It was so yummy!

Brazilian Steak House: There's a large salad bar with more than just salad: all sorts of seafood and veggies. All so yummy. I loved the variety of cheese and breads/ crackers.  Everything was also presented beautifully.

I'd never been to one before so I was tickled at the fact it was all the meat I wanted to have. Delicious. While I think I could go through life as a vegetarian this place is what makes me still be a carnivore. Lamb, all sorts of steaks, chops.... oh so yummy! The side dishes weren't the best but between the all I could eat meat options and the stunning salad bar, I was so food happy. It was so nice to have my boyfriends take me here!

My BFF Photographer and I spent a week in Florida and all food was amazing. Fresh seafood every day. Need I say more?!? I could eat my weight in shrimp and crab and I really tried! There isn't one place we went that stands out as the best but it was all good!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Think Kit Day 25: Merry Christmas

Think Kit: Share a photo from your year that highlights giving, thankfulness, traditions, or finding peace.

My son, my niece, and my 2 nephews at our traditional family Christmas gathering. I'm thankful for them, and the hope I have for the future lies with them which gives me peace. They're my family and I give thanks for them.

 *I didn't actually write this post today but have been back logging post to catch up on the topics. I'm going to finish this project no matter what!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Think Kit Day 24: Grateful

Think Kit Topic: What are you grateful for this year?

Family. Friends. Good health. Safety. Security. Creativity.

That was an easy one... 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Think Kit Day 23: Around my 'hood

Today's Think Kit topic: Look at your surroundings as if you're seeing them for the first time – take a walk in your 'hood, explore your house, or visit a favorite spot. What do you notice?

Winter is a time when we often don't think of things in the Midwest as very pretty. The grass, if not snow covered, is brown and dead. Trees are sans leaves. Houses' landscapes are barren. Mud. 

I walked around and noticed that our neighborhood is a mix. People are lower-middle class. They take care of their homes, remodeling and doing "upkeep". People keep their lawns mowed. There's junk sitting on lawns or porches. 

All the houses are 2 story homes, mostly older, some even historic. We all have sidewalks in our neighborhood. The sidewalk is bumpy and cracked. We have huge trees on the treelawns and the root systems are buckling the sidewalks. I know how "bad" this is but I like the texture this adds to the neighborhood. It's part of the quirks. 

I worry about the huge branch that hangs over our front porch. The tree is the neighbor's... I don't want the tree cut down, but if the neighbor could take care of the scary branch that would be great. 

Our street is narrow and only one car can drive down in either direction if cars are parked along both sides, which they can do. We're right off a very main highway and sometimes people cut through using our road. Locals know to pull over but those not from the 'hood just drive like idiots.

That's the 'hood...

*I didn't actually write this post today but have been back logging post to catch up on the topics. I'm going to finish this project no matter what!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Think Kit Day 22: Art

Think Kit topic day 22:  Plan, outline, or mind-map a project you want to tackle in 2014. 

I tried to use an online mindmapping tool to do this Think Kit topic, got really ticked off and said "screw it! I'm using a life line." And I am soooooo glad I did!

Smallbox LIFELINE: Was there an art experience that stood out this year? What did it look/feel/sound like? What other reactions did you notice?

For this to make sense, I need to give some background. I have no artistic ability whatsoever. I can't draw or paint or anything that most people consider "art"- no throwing pottery or sketching.

I love art, though. I think the thing I remember most of about junior high was the entire 9 weeks we spend on art history in our art class. I got an A; it was the only A I earned in art on my own or that wasn't given in pity 9or because of cheating- but that's a whole other blog post!) The rest of the class was bored out of their collective minds and I think my teacher was too because I distinctly remember his monotone. Every day we would come to class and he would dim the lights and show a slide after another after another. We had to write down the artist's name, time period he was alive, type of art style and medium used, influences, country of origin and the name of a famous piece of art she created. We also had to draw or in some way describe the art. I was mesmerized. I copied every bit of information eagerly and I could describe each painting in WORDS. I still remember tons of that information today.

My teen girl bedroom walls were dotted with several Degas ballerina posters after that.

Fast forward to the year I was able to work in my Master's degree (that I still do not have). It was taking liberal arts courses and one class was about folk art, which I had no idea was an art form. And part of that was the class, too- is folk art actually 'art'? I became completely enamored in the idea  of folk art, which is often considered women's art so it's not really art, especially that of quilting. I wrote an entire thesis on this topic, complete with a 30 minute presentation of my paper.

When I moved into my first post-divorce/ post CanadaSam house, I hung Impressionist prints on my walls and a huge Georgia O'Keeffe because I liked the colors. I had Impressionist after Impressionist calendars on office walls, or printed Monet on a mousepad or van Gogh post-it notes or Renoir note cards.

If I had just had scads of loose money laying about, I'd go back to college to get a BA in art history because I love the knowledge of art.

Obviously, I have a thing about art. And I swear if you keep meandering along with me here, I'll get to how this relates to 2013... but hey, this whole think kit thing is about introspection and self -reflection so... *ahem* but I digress.

In 2006 I went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. It was the first time I've gone to an art museum as an adult. (the summer I spend in NYC after high school graduation didn't count at me going as an 'adult' even though I was 18. I didn't appreciate the experience at the time; I was just having a great time In the Big Apple- what did I know?) It was in February but unseasonably warm that time of year. I went alone. Long story as to why I was even in the city but I was. I had a day to myself and thought I's visit some museums- gee, such a novel approach when visiting the capital of our country, right?

I wandered around. I was awestruck the moment I walked in the door. I just sort of roamed room to room, my mouth agape. I would see a painting and think, "Is that real?" or "That's FAMOUS!" which seems really silly.  Then I came to the Impressionist wing.

I was breathless. I was speechless. I was numb and practically immobile. Because there, just mere inches from my fingertips were famous paintings I'd been fascinated with my whole life.RIGHT THERE! Actually PAINTED and TOUCHED and CREATED by van Gogh and Rembrandt and Degas and Renoir and Monet and all the rest. IN THE SAME ROOM. WITH ME! I couldn't help it. I cried. And not touching little, quaint tears, but sobbed and snotted. I had 2 guards ask me if I was okay and I'm trying to explain the overwhelming beauty to them, right there, in front of me. Me, just a small town girl from the Midwest in the same room with famous paintings that has survived wars and centuries and... well, at least they didn't kick me out of the museum but I think they were more worried about me than your average tourist. I was shaking and crying in awe over the beauty of it all, right there, for anyone to look at. I didn't have to be rich or famous or special. All I had to have was the curiosity to look. That was all. I was as equal as the millionaire or the homeless man and we could all look at the exact same painting of Monet's The Japanese Footbridge no matter who we were. I just can't seem to describe it to this day. It seems silly, I'm sure, but I was so overcome with the beauty of what I was seeing and all the reality and realness and who I was, the place and time... not many years after our nation mourned, and I was there. I still don't have words.

Now go to this year, to 2013. I discovered the IMA, or the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It's free to visit (except for the traveling special exhibits) and I'm broke so it started as a once rainy afternoon activity. Then it became a habit and a favorite haunt in the city.

First time I went, I roamed around, much like I did when I was at the NGA in DC. Then I came to the impressionist room and again, I was overcome with emotion. Again, Renior and Degas and van Gogh. This time in Indianapolis. In the Midwest. Again these artists who shaped my love of art, of the classics. I walked quietly through the gallery, tears rolling (this time no snot or scared guards) as I was overcome again with such beauty offered to one and all, equality for the curious, for the seeker.

IMA because my haunt this year since I spent a great deal of time in Indy. I found I would go several times a month, walk around and then save the Impressionists and European artists for last. I'd walk through, practically holding my breath, find a bench in front of of my favorite painting, Monet's Charring Cross Bridge, right beside a Degas sculpture. I'd sit there and stare at the works in front of me and daydream or think. Sometimes I'd write letters to friends. Once in awhile I'd read. I just wanted to "be" with the art. Make sure it was still there. Let it know I cared.


(and I did have my own encounter with canvas and wine in 2013... but that's a post for later, too!)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Think Kit Day 21: Repeat after me...

Think Kit Day 21: Write a mantra for the year ahead – how you'll approach it, what you wish it to be.

When I first read this prompt I had several thoughts at once, my ADD brain taking over and all my little voices in my head screaming something different at one time: "get a job" and "be better" and "don't sweat the small stuff." Just bam- bam- bam all these thoughts came to me at once.

Then I started typing and this post was going in a different direction and I started having "wait a minute" type of thoughts.

First, I have a job. I work part-time in a public school library. I'm in charge of the art club. I'm the prom sponsor. I run the Literary Club. I also work part-time every third weekend as a second shift receptionist. None of these things adds up to full time, and none of them offer health insurance. BUT I have a job. I should clarify: I want to find my career niche with a professional position that I would enjoy and could work at until I retire. I'd like for it to be full-time and offer health insurance and other benefits (401K, PTO time, dental/vision insurance among others). I need to stay positive and do a career search. I need someone who knows something about resume writing to help me (for free or at a very low cost) re-do or make it stronger. I need to broaden my search locations but narrow the field. I apply for anything and everything that may sound remotely interesting but not something that might become a career or have longevity.  I need to have some focus and make better choices when it comes to applying for positions. (And I'd appreciate help if anyone wants to re-work my resume or would like to comb CareerBuilders and go ahead and apply for jobs for me, I'd be happy for the help!!!)

Second, "be better." This popped in my head and when I think about it... I don't even know what I meant. Be better at what? A better friend? Daughter? Mom? Employee? Girlfriend? Person? Listener? Empathizer? Whine less? Complain less? Be more positive? Less negative? Be more active? Hopeful? Observant? Full of grace? Be better at what I keep thinking to myself. I guess I just want to be a better person. It's something I think I'll know when I feel it or see it. My friend Kyle at work said to me today one thing he wants to do is role model for his employees what he wants from his supervisors. He tries to listen more, talk less, put his phone away, and give positive feedback and not just negative. It struck a chord with me-- maybe I'll see and hear things in other people that I want to mirror back, to the "world" around me...

Third, I have so many big things happening in my life all the time that feel very weighty to me, I have a tendency to sweat the small stuff. The book entitled Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and it's All Small Stuff is so wrong. It is all NOT small. But I need to realize that my life does have small stuff that I need to relax about. I don't have to repeat it to someone else, double check everything, let my OCD organizational skills run rampant. I need to do a better job at picking what is a 'small stuff' and just letting it do, saying no, not worrying and walk away.

So after all that... maybe my mantra, to sum it all up in 2014... should be "Make Better Choices."


Friday, December 20, 2013

Think Kit 20- who made a difference

Think Kit Day 20: Who made a difference for you this year? Was it a close friend or a stranger? A specific moment in time or the entire year?

I think it's hard to think over 365 days and pick a single one person who made a difference to me in 2013. this has not been the best year for me: I'm still in this crappy job so I worry about money all the time. I still live in dad's attic (which I'm thankful to have and not be homeless) but I'm 42 and live with my dad- it's a blow to my independence/ ego, and I feel like a mooch. Mac has run me through the emotional and financial wringer this year. I have no health insurance and I'm paranoid about getting sick, and I haven't felt all that healthy for about 5 months. My relationship with Sam, which was on again and off again felt like it was going in a good direction, then we started the relationship roller coaster in June and that's been tumultuous at best. I'm not complaining, though it sounds like it, I'm just explaining why my 2013 has felt crappy. And I've tried to change so much but after so much discouragement, it feels rough to develop the motivation to change anything and to just plod along. My life is the devil I know... so, all that being said I feel like many people made a difference, so in big ways and some in small because I think people can help me stay sane.
  • my friends all make a difference in some way because they listen to me, I can listen to them. We laugh and cry and hang out. We talk seriously and are silly. We give and received advice and preserve sanity for each other (and this I've needed it!). They're the people who give me a reality check in a nice way but also know when I need to just vent. These woman- Curley, Mama Cashew, Lori, Steph, Mandi, Kayla, Jess, Kim, Other Kim, Rebecca- are the family I was able to choose.
  • My family has made a difference- for many of the same reasons as my friends, especially my dad because no matter how ticked off he gets at me, he still love mes unconditionally.
  • The minister at my dad's church made a difference. I realize it's technically "my" church but I don't go very often so I feel weird about claiming it as my own. Anyway, at the beginning of the year I was going to church a couple times a month and I liked it. I like his preaching style and his outlook. I like his "voice"- not the sound of, but his personality/ character/ brain. It might've restored my faith in "church" (even though most of the time I agree with Amy Farrah Fowler-"I don't object to the concept of a deity, but I'm baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance."
  • Many of the people I met when I was going to Indy- for creative ideas and positive attitudes. It's fun to meet new people and learn things. Brittany, Lynn, Nancy, Sacha, Blare, Dawn, Jenn-- these are all pretty cool women from Indy who I met this year. It's nice to have them as acquaintances and if I would move to Indy, it's nice to know there are possible friendships to form
  • My online friends and penpals make a difference. Most of them I've never met face to face- Patti, Sam, Jack, Bragger, Annie, Georgette, LR, Tony Mc, Nic- but either through my blog or USPS or email, these people make a difference- many for the same reason as my face to face friends and family. There is something to be said about sharing secrets with a stranger who can be completely objective...
  • It might sounds silly but the staff at the local Starbucks make a difference to me because they make me feel like I matter. They know me by name and know my usual. They ask about my dad or dog or work. They ask about the book I was reading the last time I was in. I like that feeling of routine and belonging. (which we can armchair psych evals- after the year I've had, routine is good, duh! Routine means security- duh!)
I'm sure there are more people to this list... people have made a difference this year and for that I thank them all for being in my life, in some way... and for restoring my faith in humanity, one person, one kindness, one selfless act at a time...


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Think Kit day 19: unlimited

Think Kit day 19: If money, time or other commitments were no obstacle in 2014, what would you do? Describe your vision!

Now who doesn't love, love, love a topic like this? This is like the "if you won the lottery, what would you do" with the money sort of question.

I have 4 very separate ideas:

1- I would move to Boston and enrolled in Boston College. I'd live in a little apartment with my dog and work on my Master's in Library Science. I'd enjoy the city and the people while concentrating on studying.

2- I'd love to buy a very large old Victorian ear house and open my own bed and breakfast. Also... there would be a full service tea room available 6 days a week, where I would sell soups and sandwiches and service high tea for ladies who lunch, tea parties, birthday parties or just anyone who wanted to come round  for a spot of tea or a cuppa. One of the small downstairs rooms would also be converted into a quaint bookshop, filled with quirky titles, classics and bestsellers.

3- I'd have my own food truck, selling nothing but wraps and salads.

4- travel all over Europe, seeing everything, meeting ALL the people. I'd stay as long or as short in places as I wanted, dallying where I couldn't get my fill... I'd eat all the food, kiss all the men, mingle with the locals, and tour with the tourists.

Oh how I wish 2014 would give me no limits!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Think kit Day 18: helpful just because

Think Kit Day 18: Nice someone! Whether it's a gift, a helping hand, moral support, or just doing something for someone else – write about what you did.

Earlier this year I was at a man friend's house and he was having a rough go of things. I was there visiting and he was called into work unexpectedly and I was left to putter around myself for the day. I could've gone out and explored but it was chilly and raining and generally yucky.

I looked around his apartment and thought he could do with a spot of spring cleaning, or to be rather sexist, a "woman's touch" to the place.

I spent the day cleaning so he would be surprised. I did all his laundry and dishes, mopped and vacuumed, and even changed the sheets on his bed. I cleaned out the fridge and cleaned the bathroom. I dusted, wiped down baseboards, and took out the trash. I even whipped up a few meals that I froze so he could just pop them in the oven or microwave when he felt the need. I just wanted him to be able to come home and relax in comfort and not have to worry about housekeeping stuff. As a single person, I know what it's like to have to do it all; sometimes it's rough to stay on top of everything all alone. And exhausting to never have help.  He certainly isn't slob, his place wasn't dirty- it just had some of the detail work neglected.

He was the happiest guy on earth when he came home to a spotless apartment, a freezer full of meals, and a closet all of clean clothes. Sometimes it's the little things you can do for people...


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 17: Stand out trip was purrrr-fect

Think Kit topic 17: Share a moment that stands out. Was it moving, or awkward, or infuriating, or ecstatic, or ______? Who was with you? Where were you?

One thing I did this year that stood out was a visit to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in southern Indiana. There are over 200 exotic cats ( think lions, tigers, leopards, bob cats, etc) that have been rescued from abusive and neglected situations and are all housed at this facility.

I was with my man friend at the time and we took the guided tour back in April. While our tour guide was a curmudgeonly old lady who was no fun at all, we had a good time anyway. I considered it a success that I didn't get "sprayed" by a cat! We walked around the area that's open to the public, saw lots of huge felines, learned a lot and had a good time. It's intimidating to be 6 feet from a lion who's roaring and staring directly at you.  Intimidating but very cool at the same time.

I like the fact that even though the cats are around for people to see, they have huge areas to roam, a large habitat, not a small space to do nothing but pace.

Something a little different than the average cornfields and cows one usually encounters in southern Indiana- because, yeah, it's totally normal to be driving along, look into the rolling fields and see a tiger running...


Monday, December 16, 2013

Think Kit day 16: discovery

Think Kit topic today:  What did you discover this year? Was it accidental or on purpose? What did you learn?

Life line topic: What band (new or old) did you discover this year? How'd you discover them? What one song piqued your interest?

I'm sitting here trying to think of something I discovered that I haven't already written about yet. I couldn't come up with anything so I thought I'd use a life line. Before I went to look at my choices, I thought to myself, I will write the first one on the list that I haven't done yet. And low and behold, it too was about discovery but specifically MUSIC discovery! Guess it's fated that I write something about discovery.

This year has been a weird music year for me. I was blessed to see lots of concerts- more this year than I have in my lifetime! So I've been all over in my music listening. I like to listen to CDs of a band I'm going see for a few weeks. So in April I was jamming to lots of Will Hoge. May- July had me listening to the entire Maroon 5 discography, and completely falling in love with Adam Levine's talent (like every other woman in the world), then I was back on a Will Hog kick for a few weeks since I saw him again, and then I was in heavy into Michael Buble!

I also listened to some of my regular favs, those artists we all have in our music rotation who are the "go to" musicians for us.

And this year I've treated myself to XM radio. Oh wow!!! I mean, OH WOW! I've really listened to a huge variety of music because of all those choices! Girl groups of the 50s and a Sinatra station! A little country! the 80s! Hair bands!

My friends have "been into" music more this year so it always seems to be in the background and it's usually a Pandora station of some sort. I've heard a lot of Mumford and Sons this way, and Phillip Phillips, some Rob Thomas/ Matchbox 20, and artists who are similar to Nora Jones. My son has played so much Mac Mill and earl Sweatshirt around me I can actually name a few songs and recognize them when I hear them- OMG!

I also have discovered IndyInTune radio, online, which plays all music from Indianapolis area artists. Though I don't have a favorite yet, I like the mixture of music there.

I've even got my own Spotifiy account now!

So this has been a year of rediscovering music for me, listening to something different, trying new stuff, buying more cd's and seeing concerts.Good year for tunes for me!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Think Kit 15: How's your cursive?

The answer to the blog post title is: terrible!!!! I was in elementary school when we still learned to write in cursive. We even received grades for "penmanship"! We had books where we had to trace the letters with our fingers, then with pencils, and then practice over and over again on the beige paper with the blue lined grids. I would try over and over and never really could make my letters right, loops in the wrong places, uneven heights of my letters, tails too long. And what is with a capital cursive Q? Can anyone actually make one of those correctly? Handwriting has NEVER been my strong point.

Even though I'm a teacher I never seemed to achieve the "perfect teacher writing." You know that perfect writing with all the correct loops and such. I write in a dutchy mix of cursive and printing, interspersing capitals and lowercase at weird spots.  Also, my students always hated it when I would have to put notes on the board because i would write big and small, and usually uphill. Thank goodness for the advent of PowerPoint, projectors and Smart-boards!

And now that I spend most of my days in front of a computer, my handwriting has gotten even worse. To stay in practice, I hand-write a daily journal and of course my writing is loopy and big, or small and cramped, an ugly mix of cursive and printing, capitals and lowercase, all in the wrong places-- yes, still sprinkled with my writing idiosyncrasies. I also hand write letters. Lots of letters. I try really hard to print and write neatly. But my mind starts whirling and I write (scribble?) faster and faster, trying to get my thoughts on paper as quickly as I can, my writing unable to keep up with my mind and my writing looks a jumble.

Do I dare even mention that I have arthritis in certain fingers and parts of my hands so add those aches to the writing process and... well, I could end up teaching "How to write like a Doctor 101"...

So, without further ado... handwriting from me to you:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Think Kit Day 14- good advice? valuable lessons? Yes and Yes!

Think Kit #14: Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? Was it expected or unexpected, easy or tough? Share what you learned.

Lesson/ advice #1: This is a year that I received lots of good advice but, at times, I had to figure it out on my own. I've been in a rocky on again- off again relationship. My friends and family fall firmly into 2 camps: walk away or try. Most are in the walk away group. This advice comes blanketed a lot nicer than "run for the hills" but that's the general gist. And though  this topic has been talked to death with my girlfriends, as women are wont to do, I seem to be finally realizing I should take their advice and just leave. I've been single for almost 18 years (OMG I can't believe my divorce was that long ago!) and I've had various serious relationships in that time, but nothing has stuck. And even though I'm 42 and sometimes lonely (and tired of doing it all by myself) it doesn't mean I should stay in a relationship that's unsatisfying or unhealthy. And even though I think about the fact that at my age, single women have a better change of being killed by a terrorist than getting married, it's okay to be single (though preferably not killed by a terrorist). I'll be fine. I intellectually KNOW this but sometimes my heart doesn't understand it.

Lesson/ advice #2: The other valuable lesson is that tough love is necessary and hard, especially when it comes to your child. My 20 year old son is making terrible life choices. Enough said; I can't fathom typing those details here, or anywhere. But the resonating voice is that of my brother. My brother and I aren't "close" but we do have each other's backs, even as adults. And when he learned of some of the crap Mac was doing/ pulling/ going though, when my Bro heard of Mac's poor choices and saw how I was letting if effect me, how I was beating myself up, how I was or wasn't coping, he said the best thing: "Mags, you can't help that Mac doesn't behave how he was raised. He knows better. You did your best. He's doing this to himself." And he is. And I have to stand by and let my adult child do what he's doing.

Ahhh 2013, what a rough year. If I were superstitious, I'd wonder about the "13" of it all...

It's a hard knock life,

Friday, December 13, 2013

Think Kit day 13: funny!

Think Kit: When did you laugh out loud? Share a funny or humorous story from this year.

 This is one of those moments wher you might have to be there for it to be funny but...

My friend Baby Girl and I met in the library one morning and we looked like collective Hell. Neither of us had been hanging out the night before and come to find out that neither of us had been drinking. SHE was babysitting for a 9 month old until about midnight. Then her BF had called her at 2 am and had locked his keys in the car in the parking lot where he worked and his second shift just ended- could she please come get him? At his job 45 minutes away... Which she did. I was up late grading papers and then Mac called me in the middle of the night with his problems. And then when I fell back to sleep, the dog woke up and wanted out. So--- we were tired-- which also makes us easy to be punchy and maybe things aren't really as funny as we thought...

So when she took a drink of Cherry Pepsi and missed her mouth and it ran down her chin, and I snot laughed over it and we both went "ewwwwwwwww" at the same time, we giggled again. Then we attempted to high five each other because we said "ewwwwwww" at the same time and we missed the high five. And because we're not so classy to turn a failed high-5 into a low hand slap, we snorted laughed and made "duh" sounds. At which point my principal asked if we were okay as he walked by the library door.  Like little children we immediately stopped laughing and got straight faced and said we were fine.

He kept walking and we took one look at each other and burst out laughing like idiots. And then I tried to sit down on my rolling chair which shot out behind me, I missed and landed on the floor. When Baby Girl figured out I was okay and was laying there laughing, howling, she was gasping for air and... well, as you can see it was just a series of KeyStone Cop moments that weren't that funny...

But I have to say it was a way to turn a bad night and what seemed like a crummy morning into something funny. It was a great way to start the day with huge giggles, guffawing and lough belly laughs with a friend. can't be all bad, right?

Laughter is the best medicine,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 12- Something New

Think Kit topic: Try something totally different. Take a new route to work. Make up a new recipe. Shake up your routine. What did you come up with?

I'm not a person who is afraid of change. I've experienced a fair amount of change in my life, some that's been foisted upon me and other change that I've brought on myself. I like change. I embrace change. BUT, today didn't prove to be a day where I could change much or have time to shake things up. So I did something small. I always drink Peppermint Mochas when I got to Starbucks. It's my go-to drink other than when it's blistering hot outside (then's it's an iced vanilla coffee with extra cream). 

My change for the day was to try a different Starbucks beverage. It's a small, maybe even a lame, sort of change but a change nonetheless especially since I'm a die hard Venti Peppermint Mocha fan. So... I tried a  hot chocolate chi tea. I've never had chi tea, hot or cold, chocolate or non-chocolate, so it was a change. It was like drinking a chocolate spice cookie. I'm not sure I like it. 

Sometimes something new can start out with just a coffee switcheroo- who knows what that will bring? Hopefully it will bring a new job in a new state!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Think Kit Day 11- Visualize Your Year

Think Kit topic: Draw a pie chart, graph, or Venn diagram of your year. What you measure, count, collect, or combine is up to you!

Apparently I have a very serious problem along with millions of others...Pinterest. Yes, yes My name is Maggie and I'm a Pinterest-a-holic. 

I can spend hours pinning stuff. I can spend hours organizing my boards, looking at pins, making lists, and searching for ideas. Once a month I even organize all my Pin Board covers to correlate with a holiday or a color scheme. Arts/ crafts and food make up the bulk of my boards. I have many others, especially travel, but primarily I have food boards. Lots and Lots of food boards. I have art projects and paper crafting boards. Lots and lots of art project and paper crafting boards.

I'm so "into" Pinterest that at the beginning of the year I thought I would make it a resolution to make something I pinned at least once a week, or at least once a month. Uhhhh.... no. That hasn't worked. Obviously! Look at my chart!

Now one might look at this and see what a waste of time it must be for me to have all these pins but no output. Others might think I should stop pinning and start making. Some others even argue that if I spent as much time making stuff as I did pinning I'd be the next Martha Stewart. And all these arguments are valid. But here's my firm belief: that while I spent lots of time on Pinterest this year, it makes me happy and relaxed. I like looking at all the ideas that interest me. In reality, unless I win a very LARGE lottery, I will never have the money and time to make all the awesome stuff I've pinned. I can live with that. I just like making a list and checking it lots of times. 

Now, I need to go and figure out if I want to pin my chart on to my board of funny things! Ta-ta!

Happy Pinning!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Think Kit Day 10- no habits nor habits...

Okay so I'm really starting to think I'm pretty pathetic because today's Think Kit topic is:  What habits did you start this year that you want to continue? What inspired you to get in a new groove? Will you continue into 2014?

And I have no new habits... I have plenty of bad habits but in no way did I start any new habits this year.

So... I again am going to Small-box to save my blogging-butt for a topic: Did you take any wardrobe risks this year? Did you follow a new trend? What item did you wear most?

Clothes... now this girl KNOWS clothes!  I love clothes. I hate summer clothes because I can never get cool enough so I live in capris and flip-flops. And this summer that's what I wore. Because i went to Florida I did treat myself to a few new items like a pair of white capris, a sundress, and 2 cute little skirts. I wore those in FL and still when I cam back to reality and back to school.

Winter clothes and shoes are my favorite things ever!

I gave into a trend this year and I now own a pair of chocolate brown leather knee boots. And I LOVE them! I have lots of clothes they go with: a brown skirt, a tweed skirt in earth tones, a pair of skinny jeans (I own ONE pair of skinny jeans and I wear them with these boots only and with long cardigans), a black dress, several sweaters and shirts.... love these boots. I want them in black now, please! I followed the trend and am happy! I wear these lots!

As a fat girl, shoes always fit. I buy shoes. A lot. I bought new black loafers and put the old ones to rest. I also bought new brown loafers because.... uhhhh... I wanted some. 

I adore scarves and have lots of them and wear them often.

I'm a librarian and I think a mandatory item is the ever present Cardigan. At one time I counted and I think I ended up with 37 cardigans... in about every shade known to humankind.

A favorite outfit this winter has been black tights, the basic black dress, a long brown cardigan, the brown boots, and my leopard print scarf and purse. Sometimes I swap the tights for stockings and the boots for my leopard print high heel shoes.

I love jeans and it would be my dream to have a professional job where I was allowed to wear jeans all the time. Yeah... right- not! And the school I work at does NOT have a jeans day ever so I bought  a pair of 'denim trousers'. Women will understand this! And I realize that is a sexist comment...

Oh--- and I have a pair of yoga pants that I adore. It's like being able to go without pants but in pants. I don't leave the house in them because my ass isn't really built for yoga pants but at home--- all bets are off. OHHHH-- and no, the yoga pants have never been to yoga.

Yup I love clothes. I have my standby outfits of jeans and shirts, skirts and blouses, sweaters and the overall classics that never go out of style but every year I get a few items that are really trendy. I love clothes, the clothes horse than I am. I own just about everything... well, not everything. I don't own a nun's habit...


Monday, December 9, 2013

Think Kit Day 9- Surprise! Or...not...

The Think Kit topic today was What completely surprised you this year? Was it good...or not so good? Tell us a story!  This should not be this hard. I've wracked my brain, talked to people, looked back through my journals, old blog posts, journals, emails, letters... and this was a year with really no surprises. Oh, I'm sure I had small moments of "WOW! What a shocker!" but they must be so insignificant that I can't come up with anything--- or certainly not anything suitable for this blog! (Unlike millions of other people, I've come to the conclusion in the last year that everything that happens to a person should not be Facebooked, Tweeted, blogged, instagramed, etc. Privacy is good. Discretion is better.)

So thanks to Smallbox "Life Line" writing prompts, I'm going to write on the topic: 
Make a "Top 10" for 2013! Choose your favorite moments, records, movies, sporting events, or any other item and compile a list. Make sure there's a #1!

So here are my top ten moments of this year. Numbers 10-3 are in no particular order of importance, just more how I thought of them,  but the #1 and #2 are really my NUMBER ONE and TWO Fav moments of the year- it was a toss up which would take the top spot! So, without further adieu:

10- Spending Spring Break in Indy, as a sort of "tourist in my home state" or a "stay-cation" of sorts. A friend let me come and stay there for the week and it was good: shopping, dining out, reading, relaxing, seeing the city, vintage clothes shopping... just a nice relaxing week of doing nothing.

9- All the classes I took at Indy Trade School and by extension all the great people I've met. I love all the letter writing socials, the fabric post card making, the Smashbook classes- all wonderful! And it's a great way to meet some fab people- the ladies who run Trade School AND other "class mates"!

8- Mac turned 20 this year! Wow! Where has the time gone? That was a good day- great kid and his nice friends, good good, fun, relaxation all at a party at my place. It was in April and one of the beautiful days, warm and clear. We grilled out and just had time together to celebrate Mac... it was a perfect day!

7- The Girl Group at work. For some reason, there are four of us at work who have suddenly clicked and we've become "the" group of adults at work. I think the fact that we're all relatively young (by comparison to the rest of our school staff), we're all English teachers by trade, we're all liberal and we're all tired of education BS and red tape. We bonded over some school politics and ever since we have lunch together, send each other group emails during the day. We're each other's cheerleaders, ears, shoulders to cry on, secret keepers....we've even started meeting outside of school or a dinner here or a movie there... girlfriends are good.

6- My Other Girlfriends are amazing. I'm so blessed to be able to spend time with them this year! I have the family I was given by blood and then the family I was able to choose. This year I was able to dine out, hang out, shop with, see movies with, and even travel with all my GF's- a great bunch of women!

5- One of the best parts of my year is hanging out with my dad. I might sound like a nerd that at age 42 I like hanging out with my dad but I do. We like to shop or do crafty stuff, or chat about everything while we take mini road trips for Starbucks. We help each other out so most of the time hanging out with my dad is a highlight!

4- This was the year of the concert for me. I was lucky to see Will Hoge twice as well as Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. AWESOME! Will Hoge is a new artist I was introduced to this year and am certainly glad for that- he has a sorta country/ rock/ southern rockabilly sound that for some reason I find appealing! (and I am such not a country music person but something about his voice is great!) I saw these performers in 2013 but I like to say my "year of the concert" was really Aug. 2012 to July 2013 because I was also lucky enough to see Time McGraw and Kenny Chesney in 8/ 12 and Train in 12/12- also FABULOUS!

3- Giles the Greyt Greyhound has made my 2013 tops. I adopted him in Dec. 2012 so this has been our first year together, adjusting to being a pet parent. And Giles adjusting to me.... having a Grey has been rewarding and let's face it- it's turned me into a big ol' mushball. I love this beast to pieces. He's adorable and perfect- I GOT THE BEST ONE! I *heart* my dog!

2- Michael Buble Concert was the best concert I've ever been to in my life. As I said, this was the year of the concert for me and while I immensely enjoyed the other shows I saw, I have to say seeing Michael Buble was more than just "going to a concert." This was an EVENT, in capital letters. AN OMG event! I bought my ticket as a gift to me, from me. I have never paid that much for a concert ticket in my life and I swear I was having panic attacks over doing something like that with my money when cash is so scarce. But it was worth EVERY PENNY!!! He was amazing. A great performer, funny and beyond talented. He was great. I will see him again. And again. And again. LOVE LOVE LOVE Michael Buble LIVE in concert.

And my number one top moment of 2013...

1- MY Florida Vacation!!! I blogged about it several times earlier this year: here, here, here, and here.   Oh... and here, here, and here. Those are mostly my vacation in photos but the long and the short of it is: Photographer's parents own a Florida condo on the ocean side and she invited me to spend a week there with her. I did. We drove down (ROADTRIP!) and I spent a week on the beach. I walked, read, slept, dreamed, eat, drank, swam, and relaxed, It was wonderful and amazing. I wish I could go back. NOW! It felt like a week of a life time... a week on a beach, for free, with a great friend. Just perfect.

So, that's my recap of my 2013 moments so far. It's been nice writing this post to think back to find the highlights of my 2013. This hasn't been my best year ever so it was good to think of the moments that made me smile!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Think Kit Day 8- Create

Think Kit topic today: What did you make this year? Whether something personal, like a song or some art, or a work project, share your process, the end result about your creation.

This year I feel like I was very creative, which is actually reflected in the pathetic state of this this. I've cooked and crafted quite a bit this year, more than any other, in fact. I've made mail art, tried new recipes, and created several artsy-fartsy things on my pinterest boards. I started a Smashbook and I made most of my own envelopes and cards in 2013.

I've also written LOTS this year. Last May I started writing a paper journal, in the form of letters, to my son Mac. I write every day. Sometimes it reads like an agenda and other times it's full of my thoughts and ideas and fears and just the typical stuff people journal about, I supposed. Every time I fill a journal, I give it to him. He's 20 years old and....this is a good way for him to get to know his mom as a person rather than his parent. Additionally to writing journals daily, I also write lots and lots of letters each month to my friends and penpals.

And it was funny to me that this was a "creative" topic because I totally felt like I got my Martha Stewart on today. I actually did create an art project today: a Christmas ornament wreath. With a hot glue gun and lots of swearing, I managed to make something I like well enough I actually hung it up in the house!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Think Kit Day 7- What do you want your ----- to look like?

Today's Topic: What do you want your life (or your kitchen, your job, your ____ ) to look like? Create your own inspiration board. Sketch it, collage it or do it your own way.

Wordle: thinkkit7

Friday, December 6, 2013

Think Kit Day 6- Community service search

How do you want to get involved in your community this coming year? Is there an organization that you're finally going to join? A neighbor who could use a hand? Or do you have a great idea that just needs a little momentum? Share how you'd like to get involved in your community during 2014.

Until the last several year I've been very active in community service: a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Junior Achievement teacher, helping at our local senior center, church stuff, planning teams for Relay for Life, and a local youth art program, to name a few. But of late, I haven't been much of a community volunteer.  I have one reason: I'm burned out.

My day job is a tough one. I'm also the person in charge of our extra-curricular art program and a co-chair of our prom committee. Everything I do in working for a school at a juvvie lock-up facility just makes me tired, and most of my volunteer work has always been with kids- sort of a do what ya know. My students are high risk. They're recovering drug addicts, cutters, suicidal, victims of some sort of abuse... kids who have attachment disorders, anger management issues, defiant disorder, depression--- a whole host of any and everything. Sometimes a day in the library is exhausting.

And somehow when I volunteer I get involved in HUGE projects. And I plan them or am in charge. I like being in charge and creative, but again, this dovetails right into what I do for a living. 

Don't get me wrong! I like my job! Really!

But I'm a firm believer in community service. In volunteering, In helping out. 

In 2014 I'm going to go back to volunteering somehow. I have no idea what I want to do. I don't want to do anything working with kids- that just feels like an extension of what I do for my day job.  I want to do something different. I'm not sure what that will be. I know there are a variety of opportunities for me. I need to pick one or two...I want something out of my normal realm and something where I'm not in charge. I want to be the average worker bee...

So in 2014 I'll be on a quest to find a new and different volunteer experience. I wanna help and I want to be happy-- and have fun at the same time.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Think Kit day 5- a friend's 2013 look back

Think Kit topic day 5: Interview at least one other person about their favorite moments of the year. Why were these moments important? Were they major events, a particularly memorable minute, or somewhere in-between? Share what you heard.

I have a gal pal ("Baby Girl") at work who is 22 years old- I've become the mother she never had and she's the daughter I didn't think I wanted... and she's pretty happy with her 2013!

Her milestones this year have included moving into a new apartment with her Boyfriend of 3 years, a new "grown up" job, a miscarriage, and making lots of new "adult" friends. She hated the miscarriage and is sad and struggles with the "how are you supposed to feel" idea about this. She knows she's too young and financially not ready but, she said, it will happen when it's supposed too.

She left her high school job at Wal-Mart and is now a teacher's aide at the school where I work. She's great with our troubled teens. For someone her age, she has a great head on her shoulders, so she's young enough to relate to our students, but can still give sound advise and she's not afraid to discipline. She says, "I have friends of my own. I don't need these students to like me. Makes the job easier but I won't be a pusher over just to have it easy."

She's not overly thrilled with her new apartment but she said it could be worse.. And her dog likes it so that's important to her!

And she really likes that she's met me and several other women at school who have become a close pack of ladies who lunch. And see movies. And go out to dinner. She said having 'adult' friends, moving away from the ones she had in high school, is refreshing. Baby Girl said she can't beleive how into drama some of her friends from high school still are and she wishes they would grow up! So she loves her new in-and-out of work group of new Besties!

It was fun to talk with her. I love her youthfulness and her optimism and that she has the whole world in front of her- she's just really starting- she's 22! She's wise beyond her years at time, and then she's a goofy 22 year old- love that about her!

So cheers to Baby Girl and her 2013. I hope her 2014 treats her well!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Think Kit day 4- a wise woman once wrote...

Today's Think Kit topic: What was the wisest decision you made this year? Who did it impact? Describe your decision-making process, discuss the results, or just share a little learned wisdom.

For me 2013 feels like the year of bad decisions for me... if I were more superstitious I'd blame the number 13 but.... so trying to come up with the wisest decision I mad this year was hard. It was so difficult, in fact, that I almost skipped this post altogether, or picked another topic.  But...

Sometimes the small decisions are the ones that can be the wisest. And maybe this wasn't the wisest decision I made all year, but it sure was a good one.

In February I heard about this thing called Tradeschool, where free classes were offered. That's right- free! Classes! Free knowledge! I could trade items for people to teach me stuff! What a fabulous concept and completely right up my ally since I'm a lover of life long learning!

I signed up for a something called a letter writing social. Oh, I swear I won't wax poetic about my love of letter writing since I've done that a million times and bored you all to death (but if you're a new reader and want to hear my poetic waxings, go here, here, and here...). Let' suffice it to say I love to write letters and believe in putting pen to paper. That being said I thought a letter writing social would be great.

AND IT WAS! It went beyond great! It was amazing, fun, fabulous, interesting, and knowledgeable. And it really changed my entire year in several ways. 

I had no idea there was such a phenomena as mail art. And let me tell ya, there is. Google it. It's pretty cool, a whole movement. It's a real art genre. Wicked interesting and I love learning something new. So with this in mind, I have to say there is no more plain Jane envelopes get sent from this girl anymore. Everything gets 'arted' up a little bit. I don't care if I do nothing more than a few stickers and some washi tape or if I try to draw something or use an unusual mailing packaging, nothing with a stamp on it leaves me without some creativity added. (great book to learn more: Good Mail Day)

In addition to learning about mail art and attempting to create my own, I've also become interested in the history of the USPS and stamps. I'm not a stamp collector now (and probably never will be) but I like looking at the stamps through history, learning about the post office, learning about mailing processes and deliveries. My family teases me that I'm single handedly trying to save the post office. Perhaps there's some truth to that... Thus I've also reinforced my status as huge nerd girl of the family.

While at the letter writing social, I also found out about some pen-pal web sites. THIS IS WONDERFUL! I signed up and suddenly I started receiving mail from strangers around the world. This was last March and I'm still writing letters to many of those folks, and new friends, since then. I send several dozen letters/ postcards/ packages a month, and receive the same! It's so nice to go to the maibox and have something other than bills, leaflets and junk. I had so much mail that I even now have rented my own Post Office Box! Nothing makes me smile more than opening that box to a stack of letters!

To top it off, I experienced the Trade School concept and love it. I've taken several classes throughout the whole year. It's a great way to learn something new, meet interesting people, do something different, and be part of a community. The ladies who organize Trade School Indy are just wonderful women!

So while this wasn't a huge decision and maybe not the "wisest" it certainly was one of the best decisions I made this year. I found an interest that influenced me all year, I met great people that I still see when I'm able, and it really has helped push my creative-ness to a new level. And... it makes me happy. And that, my friends, it the key for me in 2013. I want to be happy, and trade school, letter writing, the USPS, and mail art sure puts a smile on my face.

Happy mail!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Think Kit- Day 3-Time to get strange

Today's Think Kit topic: Share the strangest experience of your year. Did you do something new or unexpected, see something out of the ordinary, or have a unique experience? What was so strange about it?

In October I was in a city in the Hoosier state- population 40,000 approx. I was driving through the business/ retail district, along the by-pass, when I saw something funny sticking out the back of a car. I thought, "what is THAT?!?"  I kept trying to get close enough, because what I thought it was I was assuming it COULDN'T be! And then I figured out what it was! And I had to get a picture so someone would believe me. Really. In the trunk of the car. And not just any car but a Chevy Cavalier.

 Guess there's more than one way to skin a...deer.

Who needs a truck anyway?

This certainly falls into the category of weird and strange for me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Think Kit- what did your workspace look like this year- Day 2

This December I decided jump start my blog again so I'm participating in ThinkBox 31 Days of writing prompts for bloggers. Of course, the second topic isn't one I could easily do but Smallbox is helping; they're awesome and give "life line" topics which I'm using today:  What did your workspace look like this year? Did you use a desk, chalkboard, table, floor, or all of the above? What was essential (or completely non-essential) to your workflow?

I think "workspace" can be defined in several ways for me this year: the actual work space at my place of employment, the area where I write or the areas where I cook or craft. In 2013 I've actually cultivated all of these "various" workspaces.  

Other than my place of employment, all my workspaces are just niches I've carved out for myself in the house. I long to have an actual study where I can spread my craft stuff, mail art supplies, swaths of fabric, a sewing machine for quilting, a computer a type writer and various tids and bits- and just LEAVE it there. But alas, that's not the way it is right now.

The dining room has become the make shift crafting area. There are 2 card tables covered with all things a paper crafter could want. Seriously, I think we have all the things. I can leave my stuff on one of the card tables but when I'm spreading out to work I work on the dining room table so everything has to be packed up and put away, or at the very least picked up moved. I did buy a set of plastic containers on wheels to hold all my rubber stamps and various papers. I have  about a dozen decorator boxes where all my mail art supplies are categorized and stored. I have various expandable folders stacked under tables. To the stranger's eye, it probably looks a mess, but it's quite organized.

Essentials, I've discovered, are washi tape, a paper score board, assorted patterned papers, excellent adhesive, colored pens, 1 decent pair of scissors, and a glue pen. All the rest is just embellishment!

Happy creating!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Think Kit- your year in photos- Day 1

I found a daily writing prompt at Think Kit and thought I'd give the project a try (It might get me just started into my blogging world again). The topic for day one is to show my year in photos. . Here ya go, my year in pictures!

Pink lipsticky kisses,

This year I joined a pen-pal web site and started creating mail art. this is an example of an envelope I designed
Saw Michael Buble in concert in Sept!

My amazing Greyhound

My friend R and I saw Maroon 5 in July- she sent me this photo so I'm not sure who gets the photo credit!

In July I was so lucky to go to Florida with my Photographer friend. This is the sunset from our condo balcony. Can I got back now?

Crazy snowstorm in March that canceled school for a few days.

Vonnegut library (museum) is one of my favorite places to spend time when I'm in Indianapolis. I discovered it this year!

Spent lots of time in Indianapolis this year.

Found an October field of sunflowers...

Wen to a big cat preserve in Indiana last April

I'm  a firm believer that cupcakes are the world's most perfect dessert so here's a sneak peak of Gigi's Cupcakes! I've snacked on these treats off and on all year!
During June rains I found this guys swimming and walking along the city sidewalks in Bripple.

Going to art museums is a fav hobby of mine- I find peace and happiness when I go.