Category Archives: just for fun

A Fresh Start

Sunrise over Ashtabula, Ohio. January 3, 2014

Sunrise over Ashtabula, Ohio. January 3, 2014I almost always like the beginning of something in terms of getting motivated. Yes, the new year is just a flip of the calendar but in my mind it’s something more. I feel the same about Mondays, new months, etc. Everything seems possible. 

I have some resolutions, but they are mostly just reminders to do what I know I should do anyway. Like, go work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. My only hold-up with this is that now it’s so dark and cold at 5am when I get up, it’s hard to feel motivated, but once I’m done I always feel like a rockstar, so I need to remember that when the warmth of my bed is calling to me.

Get back to meal planning and cooking. I love to cook and I’m not bad at it so I just need to be more proactive with this. I’m going back to a food budget and I know I have a lot of food in the house that needs to be used. I plan to be more intentional about using up what I already have, and planning meals around these items. This will save me money and trips to the store, which is good because I hate going to the grocery store.

Reduce the crap in my house. Seriously, I just spent a large chunk of the weekend cleaning and organizing. The crazy thing is I keep a clean house, and generally fairly organized, but when I get into major organizing I realize I end up keeping all sorts of nonsense because I might need it at some point. Lame. I also am so bad about “putting something away later.” Meaning, I will set down the stuff that needs to be filed into a pile in the office, instead of just filing it right away. This cannot continue.

Not being a spazz with homeschooling. Really, I stress out over crazy things. My kid couldn’t figure out how to tell time for a few years and each time it would come up I would panic and then get angry, and then feel frustrated. He just asked for a watch for Christmas and got one in his stocking. Guess what? He can tell time now, he just wasn’t ready before. I need peace with the fact that we will never ever read all the books, do all the projects, see all the things. It will be ok. I think we’d both enjoy reading Tolkien books together instead of dry workbooks any day.

Farm better. I should be a better bee keeper. I will be better this year. I can plan out my garden better and sell smarter. I will also do this this spring/summer. I still have a few months before worrying about either of these so I’m going to let it ride for a bit and just enjoy winter.

Enjoy what and who I have in my life. I’m generally pretty appreciative, at least in my mind. I have a great husband and kid, great friends, a nice community, etc. I just want to revel in this more and make time for making memories. We have hectic lives like everyone else but I want to make sure I make time for fun adventures, for laughing with friends, for relaxing with yoga, etc.

I want to create. I want to read. I want to go camping more. I want to do kind things for no reason. I want to look at art and watch great films. I want to swim and run barefoot on grass and sometimes just curl up on the couch with a beer and my dogs.

There’s more, much more. More than I can put here, but this is a pretty decent overview.

2013 was really great. I have no complaints. I have no regrets. I just like to push myself forward constantly in a positive direction. A new year seems like as good a place as any to start with that.

A Little LOTR Wisdom

Jack and I made Lembas or Elvish Waybread and then wrapped it in paper Mallorn leaves.

Jack and I made Lembas or Elvish Waybread and then wrapped it in paper Mallorn leaves.

We got Jack all three Lord of the Rings movies for Christmas. I had only seen them in the theaters and it was so much different to watch them each a day apart. The story is so good. I love, love, love big epic stories of good vs. evil.

I think what I enjoyed the most is how in the movie there are many grey areas between those forces. Sam, the kindest of all the characters (in my opinion) must slay orcs in order to save Frodo. Gandalf, a “good” wizard, must also fight in many battles, and kill many.

The Ring itself pulls the worst from those who possess it.

I really liked that. I fancy myself a kind person in general, but I have my moments of lesser character. Also, the older I get, the more I realize how much grey there is in the world, and how little black and white. There are no simple answers when it comes to “good vs. evil.”

There was one part in each of the films that resonated with me deeply, and I wanted to put them down here so as not to forget them.

Frodo – “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened”
Gandalf – “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

Frodo- “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.

I hope to think on these as we enter the new year.

Resolute!

Ok, my 2012 resolution is basically done. I wanted to run five 5ks and the Warrior Dash. I ran in 4 different registered 5ks and I did the Warrior Dash (2nd year I’ve run it, both times completely by myself). The problem is the run that happens here on NYE is sold out! I can’t even believe it, I didn’t even know that could happen.

Yes, I could just show up and run it, but I feel like a jerk doing that. I did run a 5k on my own Thanksgiving morning (because I really didn’t have the time to do the Turkey Trot), and I may try to actually run on NYE in my neighborhood anyway.

I’m glad I did so many. Even without a lot of training or prep I managed to get better with each one. At the last one, two friends even came out to cheer me on, and then we went for brunch.

I didn’t want to make one that had something to do with weight loss or exercise or anything. Truth be told, I can really only exercise when the mood hits me. I also hate doing it outside when it’s cold out. We’ve already drastically reduced our wheat consumption over here though, which is something we are going to keep up in 2013.

For homeschooling: I might try out a new writing curriculum with Jack, not positive yet though. I do want to implement a minimum of 30 minutes private reading/day, and another 30 where I read to him each day. And this leads to the next resolution….

The main thing I want to focus on this year is reading. I’m amazed that even though I majored in English there are a bunch of classic novels I’ve never read. It’s shameful really. (I may even try to read Pride & Prejudice, because I refused in high school, but we’ll see….)

Each month I am going to read a different novel and I’m going to read a different one to Jack. Just yesterday we started reading The Hobbit. Yay, a few days ahead of schedule! I am going to begin with A Hundred Years of Solitude because I’ve owned it for a million years, and still haven’t read it.

I have a loose list in my head of some of the others. I think I’ll finish up all of the ones I’m sure of first, and as others come along I’ll add those to my list.

What’s your resolution?

DIY Mason Jar Lids for Straws

The lid of my super fantastic mason jar drinking glass.

Summer cocktail season is officially on now and these are perfect vessels for them. They are pretty awesome for iced coffee, smoothies, and lemonade too.

I had seen these lids on etsy and Chris couldn’t fathom that I would pay for these so he decided to make them for me for Mother’s Day. No matter how cheap and easy these were, they made for a seriously awesome gift.

Chris said you basically have to get your straws first, and reverse engineer back from that. I got a package of BPA-free straws (and the ever-important scrub brush to clean inside them) from this woman on ebay and she shipped them super fast.

One of the nice things about these straws is that they have this part at the bottom that sticks out just enough so that your straw can’t completely fall out of the hole on top.

So you’ll get your straws and then you need to go to a hardware store and look for rubber grommets. Make sure you ask specifically for grommets (not washers) and they will probably be loose in bins. Bring in your straw and test out sizes until you see which one fits the best.

Then you need to see which drill bit fits the external diameter of the grommet size you chose. Chris said that on the inside of the bin where you get the grommets from it’s listed right there. Easy enough so far, right?

Take your canning jar lid put two clamps on it, across from each other. Now anchor these to something secure. You don’t want it slipping or moving while you try to drill the hole through it.

Drill the holes and very carefully wipe away any dust from drilling. The inside of the hole will be sharp! Pop the grommets in, slide in your straws, screw on the lids and you are ready for beverage time!

Use different volume mason jars to have an assortment for kids and grownups.

Although they are not 100% leak proof, they do a pretty decent job. These would be really great as gifts or incredibly fun party favors. You could even take Sharpie markers and write each guest’s name on the front.

So now go and make these and share your pics on my Facebook please!

Trees, Worms & Other Cool Stuff

This week was pretty hectic, but in a good way. We got to do a lot of fun things.

Lake Moreau, frozen

Monday we watched Dianna boil down maple syrup in her front yard. Jillian posted about it here. It was cool to see the sap coming out into the buckets and we got to taste it before it was done. It only tasted like lightly-sweetened water, so it’s hard to imagine that at the end of the day it’s super tasty syrup.

Tuesday we went up to Lake Moreau to take the Hug-a-Tree class with our friend who works at the park. I’m glad we went since we often go hiking in the summer. After the class we walked on the frozen lake. It was sort of scary but it was fun hearing the ice “sing” as it was expanding.

rainbow trout

Wednesday we took a walk into town and stopped by the candy store. Jack told me I’m the “best mom ever” for letting him get candy.

Thursday I took Jack to a 4H class on insects. They talked about compost, worms, pollinators, and all sorts of “buggy” things.

tie dye worm

If it isn’t too snowy, Friday we are going to Albany for a science fair.

Weeks like this are great but I’m just glad every week isn’t as busy as this! I appreciate some good downtime too.

Farkle, the perfect after-dinner family fun game, especially when I win. 🙂

On a Walk

Double rainbow over The Factory.

It’s seems like spring here (honestly I can’t complain too much, but I worry how this summer is going to pan out) so Jack and I decided to take a walk through town today.

It was raining on and off during the walk and we got to see a double rainbow. Actually Jack noticed the rainbow as I was trying to navigate the slushy ground on the nature trail we were walking on.

As we were out Jack kept making “predictions” about the rain. He’s wanted to guess if it was going to come back and if it would be stronger rain than before. He said he knew it would stop raining at some point because he could see where the sky was “torn up.” Basically meaning he could see that in between the rain clouds were patches of blue, sunny sky.

I was pretty impressed that he was so perceptive. Kids are weird in the way that they make you pay attention to things you normally don’t even think about.

You can barely see the rainbow peeking through the trees.

We ended up walking almost 2 miles. By the end Jack was telling me he wished we had a teleporter so we could already be home. (Thank you Star Trek!) We were both a little tired, and pretty wet, but we were glad we got out for some fresh air.

I’m glad for these little outings. I hope Jack continues to ask to do stuff like this with us as he gets older.