Thursday, February 28, 2013

Farewell February

I can't believe March is upon us! Is it just me or is 2013 flying by already? I've been reflecting on the year so far and wanted to document some of my thoughts and goings on. My mind is all over the place lately and I'd like to be able to come back and read this post to remember what I was thinking and doing.  The new year started out on a sad note for us when my elderly father-in-law passed away in early January. Being the full time caregivers for an elderly parent in our home for the last six years was often very challenging, especially in the later years. While I do have some sense of relief of the burden and strain his care put on my husband and myself and even our daughters, I greatly underestimated the empty space in our home and in our hearts that his absence would create.

For the last three years or so, I started working out early mornings so that I could be home to care for my father-in-law when my husband left for work. Now that I no longer have that responsibility, I've been getting out of the house more during the day. I'm meeting friends for lunch or coffee, doing all kinds of errands that were a hardship before, and revisiting the later morning fitness classes I used to take at the gym. I hit several of those 9 am classes in the last couple of weeks instead of my customary 6 am ones. Would you believe I've decided that I actually prefer the 6 am classes?! Truly! Sometimes I go to both. Sometimes I just go for a short run around 8 or 9 am. Like on this day when the snow started coming down..
At the park on a short run in the snow
before the paths get too slippery.
This new-found freedom to be able to leave the house whenever I want comes with a cost, though. I've been spending less time reading or blogging. I'm already five books behind in my goodreads challenge to read 101 books in 2013. My favorite books so far this year? The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley and Sins & Needles by Karina Halle! I loved both of these books.
10" of snow
We got about 9 or 10" of snow when snowstorm Nemo blew through town in early February. Lots of hours spent outdoors shoveling, sledding and skiing, too! Someone in our neighborhood sculpted a huge snow sculpture of Nemo from Finding Nemo on his lawn--the namesake of the storm. Pretty awesome!
Nemo snow sculpture
I went skiing with my husband--without our kids--for the first time in almost two decades. I was flooded with memories from our dating years and at the same time reminded of my age--exhausted and a bit grateful to end the day at 4:30 pm instead of trying to squeeze as many runs in at the end as possible.
Hers & His skis
On the chairlift with my husband. :)
I'm still having tons of fun on Instagram. I was doing so well with my Project 365 but missed a day completely in November. It really bugged me so I'm attempting to complete 2013 with a photo every day. So far so good! Knock on wood!!!! The new instagram profiles online are really snazzy. Have you seen them? I'm having fun doing the monthly photo-a-day challenges hosted by Australian blogger Fat Mum Slim. It encourages creative photo ops and I'm meeting cool people from all over the world.

I'm continuing with the #fmsphotoaday challenge in March and am also going to give a go with #EstellaGram -- a bookish photo-a-day challenge hosted by Estella Society. Fun stuff! Click the links for the daily photo prompts.

Are you on instagram? Let's follow each other there-- find me at thehappilyeverafter .

Last, but not least, a new friendship is blossoming between myself and another similarly minded reader-athlete-mother-wife-individual whom I met recently. We met the other day for coffee and it was the saving grace of my week. I was frazzled, if not utterly stressed by something going on in my world and she knew just what to say to help me let go of some of the worry and negative energy and focus on the things I have control over and the things that welcome happiness into my life. I'm already so appreciative of this friend.

Speaking of happiness... I hope you're finding happiness in your daily life, too! Scratch that! I hope you're making happiness happen in your daily life! What? .. Make happiness? Yes! Make happiness. More on that tomorrow..

March is upon us, my friends. I hope spring is right around the corner because I'm craving sunshine, long bike rides and growing things in my garden!

What has the new year brought you so far?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Library Loot LXIII

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! 

I haven't had a library loot in a while. Here's a look at what I've brought home in the last couple of weeks.  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I saw this book all over the place for a while late last year and when fellow readers lead by Joy of Joy's Book Blog expressed interest in reading and discussing it together, I decided to check it out, too. I only read some parts of the book and intend to share my thoughts within the next couple of days. Overall, I think this book contains a lot of valuable information and insights to the undervalued role of introverts in our society. 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka graphic novel adapted by Peter Kuper
A Game For Swallows by Zeina Abirached 

I thought these graphic novels sounded quite fascinating. I really have very little knowledge about Franz Kafka - his life or his writing. I did read his wiki entry after bringing The Metamorphosis home so I'm curious now. 

I saw someone (I'm afraid I forgot who it was!) post a photo of A Game For Swallows on instagram with a quick rave assessment so I grabbed it off the shelf when I saw it at the library. It's a memoir inspired story about a family in Beirut during the civil war. 

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean 
This is the first book in the author's The Rules of Scoundrel's series and it's been on my TBR for quite some time. I've read a lot of great buzz for MacLean's latest in this series, One Good Earl Deserves A Lover, but I am a stickler for reading these things in order so it was time to get this one at the top of the book pile!

Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas
A plethora of recipes for cooking those greens that are so healthy for you! I made a modified version of the Pad Se Ew in this cookbook tonight. I thought it was a very attempt at the authentic Thai dish, but it didn't quite pass the critics test, i.e., my family. We thought it was decent, but not as good as another recipe I've tried which is yet not as good as the local Thai restaurant. Lots of other recipes to explore in this one. 

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies
A cookbook with mouth-watering recipes and photos that are candy for the eye, this one is written by the award winning Australian based food photographer, Katie Quinn Davies. It's a visual delight. A culinary one as well, I'm sure. I need to experiment in the latter with this one.  Visit Katie Quinn's website at 

A rather eclectic mix of books on my coffee table this month! 

Have you read or are you interested in any of these? 

I'd love to know your thoughts or comments on any or all of these titles. 

What books do you have out on YOUR coffee table? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

REVIEW: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Published by Forever of Hachette Book Group [2006]

The suggested theme for this month's TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian is "recommended read." Most of the books on my shelves probably landed there because of reader recommendation, but I chose three that I recall being specifically recommended by fellow romance readers and asked you all to vote on which one I should read this month. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt won by an overwhelming margin, so that's the one I read for this month's challenge. It has been on my shelves for six years or so by now and finally made the move from the TBR shelf to the read shelf.

Anna Wren is a childless widow who lives in a cottage with her mother-in-law and a young street urchin whom they took in as their servant. They have been living off her deceased husband's funds for the last several years and are running out of money. Anna looks for work and lands a position as a secretary for the wealthy Earl of Swartingham known for his pock scarred face and boorish ways.

Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, needs a new secretary--one who can tolerate his short temper and gruff demeanor. Family is important to him so he seeks a wife as he is the only one left in his family line and wants an heir.

Anna and Edward get off to a rough start after a brief encounter in the streets that leaves Anna nearly trampled by his horse and Edward on this bottom in the mud. She had no idea this rude aristocrat was the Earl and is then hired by the Earl's steward so imagine both of their surprise when they meet in his office days later. The Earl is surprised to see her again, yet the work she has been doing for him is up to par so he keeps her on. The two bicker often, but they soon come to enjoy the banter and each other's company. They talk, dine together and she even rides with him to take notes as they visit the farms in his earldom.

When Anna learns that the Earl is going to London to take care of his manly needs at a notorious brothel, Anna devises a plan to intercede and be the woman he encounters there-- in disguise, of course.

I honestly expected The Raven Prince to be a five star read since so many readers raved how much they looooved this book. I certainly enjoyed it, but not to the extent that I feel it merits such a stellar rating. Why? Well.. it was a good story with intelligent and likable characters and I was absolutely routing for the couple to get their happily ever after, but there were a few little things in the story that held it back from being an A read for me.

Anna is plain and prim, but outspoken to the Earl so this gets his attention as he's so used to people cowering from him and his pock-scarred face. So I suppose I can see that's the root of the Earl's attraction to Anna. However, I don't think Anna's attraction and affection towards the Earl was explored very well, other than the fact that he allowed, if not encouraged her, to do things that women were normally discouraged from doing, such as being knowledgeable about agriculture, riding horses and simply being a secretary! Although, maybe that's enough for a sex deprived widow in 1760 England.

I thought Anna's scheme to get into the brothel and pose as the Earl's intended prostitute a little bit unrealistic. Yes, it was a great idea, but it came together a little too easily and I have to wonder if it was something this prim widow really would have done? Would she really have gone to such daring measures after only knowing him for such a short time? I don't know if I was truly convinced that she was that attracted to him at that point. It was a fun scenario, nonetheless, and it certainly propelled the story in the desired direction, so I'm mostly letting it go as a major issue.

There are a few conflicts that stand in the way of Anna and Edward getting their happy ever after that I won't reveal because I wouldn't want to spoil anything for other readers, but in the end, things fell into place pretty quickly and easily without too much of a struggle. I suppose I was a tad disappointed at how things were wrapped up pretty neatly, but still--I enjoyed the story overall and plan to read the next two books in The Princes trilogy: The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince. I may as well--they're both on my TBR pile, too!

I gave The Raven Prince 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads.


You can visit author Elizabeth Hoyt at her website

Next month's TBR Challenge theme is "Series Catch-Up!" I've got a lot to choose from!

In what series are you the farthest behind?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Winter Sea Group Read: PART II

I finally finished reading The Winter Sea the other day and am so excited to post this book discussion for the group read. My apologies for taking so long to read this book. It took me three weeks to read, but rest assured it was not a result of lack of interest, but a mere shortage of reading time that kept me from devouring it. If it wasn't for feeling guilty for holding up the book discussion, I would say that I'm rather glad it took me a while to finish this book, because it is one worth savoring. The Winter Sea is a well written, well paced, interesting work of fiction and wonderfully laced with romance.

The Winter Sea is often referred to as time travel historical fiction, but I consider it more of a clever blend of contemporary and historical fiction in one story. The story is told from two alternating perspectives. One is the first person point of view of Carrie McClelland, a successful Canadian writer of historical fiction who is writing a novel surrounding the events leading up to the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland in 1708 as the exiled James Stewart seeks to reclaim his crown. While visiting her agent and friend in Scotland, the ruins of Slains Castle call to Carrie and she fells compelled to rent a cottage in the area so that she can properly research and write her book. She rents a cottage from a local man, Jimmy Keith and befriends his two sons Stuart and Graham, falling romantically for the latter.

The other perspective is told from the third person, following a young woman named Sophia Paterson who arrives at Slains Castle in the early 1700s to stay with a distant relation, the Countess of Erroll and takes place over a couple of years surrounding the events of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1708. It is at Slains Castle where Sophia learns of the stirrings of a rebellion on behalf of James Stewart --James VIII of Scotland and III of England, to reclaim his crown. This is also where she meets and falls in love with Mr. John Moray, a man trusted by Queen Mary herself (the birth mother of James Stewart) closely embroiled in the rebellion. Their story is a heartbreaking one full of danger and secrecy, but also one of hope and survival.

Since the purpose of this post is to lead a group discussion of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, I am going to assume that everyone reading this has already read the book. If you have not read the book, be warned that there are spoilers in the remainder of this post as well as in the comments. If being spoiled is not you're thing, I suggest you click away and come back after you've read The Winter Sea. I hope you do, as it is worth reading.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! Read at your own risk.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The main character of The Winter Sea, Carrie McClelland, is a writer of historical fiction. Throughout the book, it is as though we are looking over her shoulder witnessing how she conducts research, finds inspiration and writes as much as she could whenever her muse strikes. I loved this glimpse into the life of a writer and found it realistic and informative. Did you enjoy this aspect of the story as well? Any thoughts?

Many readers categorize The Winter Sea as time travel fiction. I'd rather say it is a clever and sophisticated meld of contemporary and historical fiction in one cohesive story. Kearsley uses the concept of genetic memory -- Carrie's ability to share some of the memories of her ancestors, to weave these two story lines together. Did the concept of genetic memory work for you in this story?

Kearsley's writing is beautiful -- richly descriptive without being the least bit excessive. The quality of the writing and even Kearsley's choice of words themselves, kept me captivated. Do you know someone who is so good at telling stories that their mere voice can lull you in and you feel as though you could listen to them talk about anything--even a trip to the grocery story or filing their taxes and you are fully absorbed in their story telling? That's what reading Kearsley's work is like. It flows so richly and naturally in your head that you just want it to go on and on. What is your opinion on Kearsley's story-telling voice?

There are many beautiful passages and memorable quotes in The Winter Sea. The following are among my favorites:

Colonel Graeme to Sophia [p.352 ebook]
'Aye,' he said, 'there is no sight so melancholy as the winter sea, for it does tell us we are truly at the ending of the year, and all its days are passed, its days of joy and sorrow that will never come again.'
Then a bit farther down the page, again spoken by Colonel Graeme to Sophia...
'For if there was no winter, we could never hope for spring.'
And later in the book among pages where my heart broke the most.. [p.451 ebook]
How did you tell a child who did not know you were her mother that you loved her, and that leaving her was all at once the bravest and the worst thing you had done in all your life, and that you'd miss her more than she would ever know?
But the heart break continues on the next page... [p.452 ebook]
[...] as surely as the wind and waves would shift the sands till next year's coastline bore no imprint of the one the year before, so too the passing days would reshape Anna's mind until Sophia was but forgotten.
Do you have any favorite quotes or passages from The Winter Sea?

Reading The Winter Sea is as much a historical lesson as it is a fictional novel. I am impressed by and appreciate the author's accurate (or very close to) portrayal of real-life historical persons in her story and her ability to weave a dramatic love story with the addition of a few fictitious characters used for romantic purposes. Who is to say that this love affair or something nearly similar didn't occur during this time.

However, the only thing that kept me from giving The Winter Sea a perfect rating is the elaborate cast of historical characters that I had such trouble keeping straight. I realize these characters were all necessary for this story--and most of them real people involved in the rebellion at the time, and I wouldn't have wanted the author to leave out a single person or detail, but unfortunately, I simply never felt confident of who was on the side of the Jacobites and who was loyal to Queen Anne. Then, if and when someone betrayed the cause, it took me a bit of time and sometimes back tracking in the story, to realize that's what happened because I forgot whose side they were on! Oye. Needless to say, it is my only complaint and likely my own shortcoming as I haven't read of anyone else struggling with this. Regarding the names, places and allegiances to the crown(s)-- did you get confused? Did it ever pull you out of the story as you were reading?

If there's anything else you'd like to add to the discussion, please do!

Thank you for participating in the group read of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I hoped you enjoyed the book as much as I did. Don't forget that Kearsley's latest (next) novel, The Firebird, is a companion book to The Winter Sea and is another contemporary - historical blended story that tells the story of John Moray and Sophia's daughter, Anna. I'm so excited to read it! What about you?

Read more about The Firebird on the author's website HERE.

Release dates are as follows:
    January 28, 2013 UK
    May 7, 2013 CANADA
    June 1, 2013 USA

Also, be sure to check out these links:
Hilcia's Review of The Winter Sea

If you have a review or post about The Winter Sea on your blog, let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

a rosy day

Happy Valentine's Day to you.. whether you spend it celebrating love with your one and only in a fancy way, a simple way at home, out with your friends or even home alone with a good book (I vote for a romance novel!), I hope your heart is filled with love today and every day of the year. xo
Heart-healthy produce in today's
organic co-op box! 

Speaking of affairs of the heart, today is as good a day as any to ask yourself if you're taking care of your heart. I don't mean in the romantic way, but in the healthful way. Eat your vegetables, eat some fruit, eat whole grains*, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and lean protein. Then get moving! If you don't have a regular exercise routine in your life.. GET ONE. No more excuses.. love yourself and just do it!

*Choose whole grains in their whole forms whenever possible to keep the GI or glycemic index low. Include grains such as quinoa, oats, farro (spelt), barley, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, wild rice, brown rice and corn in your regular diet. I'm working on this myself. :)

Okay, lecture over.

Today is a rosy kind of day in our home. My husband gave me a beautiful bouquet of a dozen red roses this morning and is surprising me with a special dinner out tonight. Aww so sweet.

After he and the girls left the house for work and school, I started to put the roses in a vase.. when they all started falling apart! The rose petals were literally falling off the stems with the slightest touch. I tried my best not to handle them so much, but alas, two roses were destroyed and the rest were more like rosebuds at that point. I thought about calling my husband to let him know, but I didn't want him to feel bad about it and buy me new ones! 

So I made the best of this gift of love that was falling apart at the seams. I arranged what I could in the vase and scattered some of the rose petals on the table.

I put some rose petals on the window sill in the kitchen.

I scattered more petals in the foyer... 

...and up the stairs.

marking a path of rose petals to my daughters' rooms.

.. And a few leading to the master bedroom...

..  to our bed. Ooo la la!

I think these rose petals made our home more beautiful and full of love than if the roses had remained intact! 

Then I started thinking how these rose petals tell good lessons about love.

Love is delicate.

Handle love with care.

If the love you're in starts to fall apart or change shape, don't rush to discard it.

Work with it.. compromise..

Find beauty and joy in what you've got.

Be creative. Have fun. Love your partner as best you can.

Happy Valentine's Day.  xo

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Recommend Me A Book! #tbrchallenge

The theme for this month's TBR Challenge is reader recommendation, which could very well represent most of the books on my TBR shelf. I've come up with three books that have been on my tbr shelves for ages--five years or more and now I'm asking you which one you think I should read and why? Feel free to choose either your favorite or the one you'd most like to hear about. The book with the most "reader recommendations" is the one I'll read and review for this month's #tbrchallenge that goes up on February 20th. Please leave your vote in the comments below by February 12th.

I can't wait to see which book you all choose for me!


Book blurbs:

The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt [2006]
Princes trilogy, #1 Historical Romance
There comes a time in a lady's life...

Widowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits.

When she must do the unthinkable...

The Earl of Swartingham is in a quandary. Having frightened off two secretaries, Edward de Raaf needs someone who can withstand his bad temper and boorish behavior.

And find employment.

When Anna becomes the earl's secretary, it would seem that both their problems are solved. Then she discovers he plans to visit the most notorious brothel in London for his "manly" needs. Well! Anna sees red—and decides to assuage her "womanly" desires...with the earl as her unknowing lover.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair [2005]
Dock Five Universe, #1
Sci-fi Romance
After a decade of piloting interstellar patrol ships, former captain Chasidah Bergren, onetime pride of the Sixth Fleet, finds herself court-martialed for a crime she didn’t commit–and shipped off to a remote prison planet from which no one ever escapes. But when she kills a brutal guard in an act of self-defense, someone even more dangerous emerges from the shadows.

Gabriel Sullivan–alpha mercenary, smuggler, and rogue–is supposed to be dead. Yet now this seductive ghost from Chaz’s past is offering her a ticket to freedom–for a price. Someone in the Empire is secretly breeding jukors: vicious and uncontrollable killing machines that have long been outlawed. Gabriel needs Chaz to help him stop the practice before it decimates Imperial space. The mission means putting their lives on the line–but the tensions that heat up between them may be the riskiest part of all.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins [2006]
Contemporary Romance
Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable puppy suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.But perfection isn't as easy as it looks--especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. Sure, he needs a friend after being dumped by Millie's fortune-hunting sister, but does she really need to enjoy his company that much? He is definitely "not" part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to start a new list...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time's Up! 101 Things To Do In 1001 Days

A little over 1001 days ago I started a little quest to complete 101 things on my to-do or wish list in 1001 days. This was inspired by The Day Zero Project--a project concept started by a New Zealand blogger in 2003 to challenge and encourage people to set and achieve 101 personal goals within 1001 days.

I set out with my list of 101 things on May 7, 2010. February 1, 2013 was 1001 days later. I didn't complete all 101 tasks on my list. In fact, I only finished 26 of them and 8 of them are still work in progress. Only about 30% of the tasks were completed or attempted.

My original post is HERE.  I made two updates to my list ... one that was super thrilling for me at the time right HERE and another one HERE involving composting a SunChips bag.

Below is my list of 101 Things. 
The things highlighted in ORANGE are the ones I've completed. 
The things highlighted in BLUE are still in progress. 
The things highlighted in PINK are the ones for which I've made comparable substitutions. A bit of a cheat, I know. 

Friday, May 7, 2010 was Day 1.

Friday, February 1, 2013 was Day 1001.

health & fitness 
1. Lose 10 lbs. 
2. Lose 10 more lbs. 
3. Lose 10 more lbs. 
4. Lose 10 more lbs. 
5. Lose those last 5 lbs.  Grrrrr! *mad face*
6. Participate in a triathlon Sept. 11, 2011 Finished in 1:28:44 
7. Conquer my cycling loop through the reservation, climbing all the hills without stopping 
8. Run a 5K race in 33 minutes or less. Feb. 27, 2011 Ran a 5K Race in 30:44:02. 
                                                            Oct. 1, 2011 Ran a 5K Race in 30:02 
                                                             All 5Ks under 31 minutes now.. :) 
9. Run 500 miles : Ran 530.79 miles! 
10. Bike 1000 miles : I BIKED 2881.83 MILES! 
11. Hike the Sierra trail in the Reservation. 
12. Learn how to cross country ski But I went SNOWSHOEING! :) 
13. Find a yoga class or video that I really love 
14. Go running in Liberty State Park : 5K Race on October 16, 2011

just for me 
15. Find the perfect bra 
16. Find the perfect pair of jeans 
17. Find the perfect little black dress : not yet... but I found a pretty hot purple one! ;) 
18. Treat myself to a new wardrobe 
19. Find a flattering bathing suit 
20. Treat myself to a spa day 
21. Start writing my memoir : I attended a local memoir workshop.

22. Have at least one date night with my husband every month Not quite... 
23. Establish a monthly family game or movie night PFFFT! What was I thinking???? 
24. Make a family tree : .. work in progress using Ancestry App on the ipad 
25. Enforce a chore schedule for my daughters :   Sort of. They still do very little :/

26. Go camping 
27. Go to the MOMA 
28. Take a trip to Acadia National Park in ME 
29. Visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens 
30. Get everyone's passports updated : Summer 2010 
31. Travel somewhere off the continent : Family vacation to Europe Aug. 2011
                                                                    Iceland UK July-Aug 2012 
32. Explore Central Park north of the Great Lawn 
33. Visit SoCal for a weekend

34. Organize our digital photos 
35. Use iPhoto (instead of desktop folders) : Did this for a while but folders are pretty convenient. 
36. Figure out how to use Home Sharing in iTunes [well, I kinda get it now.. doesn't really work when users have separate computers?]
37. Make my own time lapse photography video 
38. Photograph a hummingbird in the yard 
39. Complete a 365 Photography Project : ALMOST! I missed a few days in 2012 so I'm trying to make it to Nov. 11 2013 without a miss.

books & games 
40. Learn how to play chess : But I keep forgetting ... 
41. Learn how to play Majong 
42. Get a ping pong table :) 
43. Graduate from Medium to Hard on RockBand Band. :) : I did it.. but prob lapsed back to Medium since we rarely play anymore.
44. Read the last Harry Potter book 
45. Read all of the currently published In Death books by J.D. Robb : ACK! Still going.. 10 books left?

arts & crafts 
46. Learn how to knit 
47. Knit a hat or scarf 
48. Finish the kitchen cross stitch sampler I started ages ago 
49. Finish the love cross stitch project I started ages ago 
50. Frame the moongate print from Bermuda 
51. Stitch a personalized sampler for youngest daughter 
52. Do some craft project with all those seashells I keep collecting 
53. Do some craft project with all those pinecones I keep collecting 
54. Complete a mosaic project 
55. Get sewing machine fixed 
56. Sew something : Powerpuff girl costumes for Halloween '10 
57. Complete a block printing project 
58. Make a travel scrapbook album 
59. Make homemade candles 
60. Complete a wire working project 
61. Make some botanical rubbings 
62. Create my own unique header graphic for my blog

in the garden 
63. Re-establish my herb garden 
64. Re-establish my vegetable garden : Sort of .. but I don't like the spot so I'm redoing it in 2013 
65. Re-establish my perennial garden 
66. Plant 100 tulip and daffodil bulbs 
67. Plant raspberry bushes 
68. Landscape the side yard 
69. Landscape the other side yard 
70. Plant at least one fragrant rose bush 
71. Plant peonies 
72. Plant the rhubarb in a permanent spot : Spring 2012 
73. Plant a fruit tree 
74. Press flowers and make something artsy with them 
75. Put one of those new biodegradable SunChips bags in the compost pile and see how long it takes to decompose : It worked! It's gone. :)
76. Grow LOTS of basil and make LOTS of pesto to last the whole winter 
77. Grow alpine strawberry plants from seed 
78. Attract hummingbirds to the yard with feeder and flowers

in the kitchen 
79. Make homemade vanilla extract 
80. Make my own yogurt 
81. Make lemon curd from scratch : Lime curd May 2012 
82. Make homemade gnocchi 
83. Tap the maple trees in the yard and make homemade maple syrup 
84. Create 12 unique ice cream recipes {seasonal flavor of the month} 
85. Buy a new canning set for processing homemade jams 
86. Make several varieties of homemade jams & jellies for Christmas gifts 
87. Bake homemade bread from scratch : Does pizza dough count?

in the home 
88. Design spare bedroom to be a study & craft room 
89. Get backyard fence put up 
90. Design and install storage system for the master closet 
91. Organize the garage {hello bike rack}
92. Clear out, fix up and sell father-in-law's vacant condo 
93. Create a gallery of family photos on one wall in the house 
94. Refinish the bureau in the girls' bathroom 
95. Organize eldest daughter's closet 
96. Organize youngest daughter's closet 
97. Install new weather proofing on front door or a new front door! 
98. Buy a new slipcover for the sofa... or buy a new sofa! : Slipcover July 2012. But I'm not loving it.

99. Use the good china just because 
100. Host a cocktail party 
101. File next year's tax return by March 1 Hahahaha!!! SO FUNNY!

If I ever make a list like this again, it will be a shorter list within a shorter time frame. I think it's too easy to lose sight of your goals when the time frame is so long.

Maybe a list of 50 things to do before I turn 50... ?

Have you ever made a list of long term goals like this? How did you do?

Is there any particular item(s) on my list that you'd like to do for yourself? 

Any item(s) you'd like to hear about me finally doing? 

Monday, February 4, 2013

COMPLETED: Whole Living {detox} Action Plan 2013

I finished the Whole Living {detox} plan* over the weekend, but I essentially ended it two days short of the full 21-Days. I threw my husband and surprise birthday party on Saturday night [he'll be a sexy 50 years old on Wednesday!] and while I did have detox-friendly food included in the spread, I just couldn't resist the more sinful party food! I ordered some hot food from a local restaurant--paella, chicken delicato (chicken breasts in a cream sauce with mushrooms, peas and pieces of ham), fried calamari and penne vodka. I had some wine to go with it. Then I served a fabulous fruit tart and tiramisu for dessert. I had some coffee to go with it. Perhaps a stronger person could have muddled through the party and completed the 21-Day cleanse on track, but I was not that person this time.

I'm a little disappointed that I didn't finish the full 21 days, but what bothers me more is that I broke too many rules all at once--dairy, chicken, shellfish, gluten, sugar, alcohol. I pretty much hit all the items on the taboo list in one night! Ugh!!! BUT it was my husband's birthday party, so if there was a time to cheat, it was an appropriate occasion. At this point, I'm finding solace in three things. One is that I only cut the plan short by two days. Better at day 19 than at day 9, right? Two is that I actually had fairly small portions of all the food. As the host, I was pretty busy making sure everyone had everything they needed and so on, so I didn't linger by the food for very long. Third, I'm back on track for healthy, mindful eating today.

So what do I do now?

My plan now is to continue with the healthy eating patterns that I employed during the cleanse, specifically along the lines of the Week 3 guidelines, but including lean chicken, beef and shellfish and also allowing myself occasional servings of gluten foods (wheat, barley and rye), low fat dairy (such as fat free, unsweetened Greek yogurt), wine, coffee and an occasional treat. In order to help stay on track with this mindful eating, I'm using the LoseIt app again to log the food I eat. I'll also be logging calories burned in my workouts in the app, which will help me stay within a caloric budget that will promote weight loss, too. I hope! I want this year to finally be the year I reach my target weight once and for all. Wish me luck and send me any extra discipline you might have lying around, would you?

This wraps up my experience with the 2013 Whole Living detox Action Plan. Thanks for reading!

What's your favorite go-to healthy snack?

*For more information about the 2013 detox plan and how I coped, visit these posts HERE and HERE.