Friday, December 31, 2010

Set Your Intentions for 2011

It’s that time of year again and I am here to ask, have you set your intentions for 2011? I have talked about this before and have had a great deal of experience with how resolutions don’t work. I just don’t think it is the right way to create a change you are looking for. I mean, you will “try” to do better? I can hear Yoda telling me now, on some far off planet that there is no try, only do. Trying admits you might fail. My solution? Set intentions!

The great thing about intentions is that it’s almost like a continuing bucket list. I have some great adventures planned (the hike to Machu Picchu) and some little victories (finally learning to sew) and some in between (being back in graduate school). I made most of my Christmas decorations and gifts (which wasn’t planned) and started a letter writing project (which I have come to adore). This has helped me set myself on a path to actual accomplishment. While 2010 started with me despising a certain fitness celebrity, it is ended with me losing weight and setting a daily exercise goal. Am I perfect? No, but I am on the path to where I want to be. This year I set and met my intentions of learning to bake artisan breads, canning and pickling and reading more. As I start on my list for the next year, I am wondering, what are your intentions for 2011?

My intentions list for 2011:

I will learn to sew

I will learn to make pasta from scratch

I will learn basic cake decoration

I will visit Machu Picchu

I will further my study of meditation

I will complete my second NANOWRIMO

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Letters Project

*Might I plant a seed now? If you like the idea, consider writing a letter or two, even better, do so and click to share with your friends encouraging them to do the same. Just a tiny pebble in the lake can make a great many ripples.

This time of year, I always notice how frantic people seem. I don’t get it really because I am one of those plan ahead Martha Stewart-ish people that decide their holiday menu sometime in late September or early October. I plan my Christmas tree and cookie baking about that time and start loading my freezer with banana and pumpkin bread. I work all year on shopping using my free cash for gifts for the children so that I don’t have the stress of what to do at the last minute. Being a graduate student, this year, my budget was unusually restrictive. There are people that I would like to do things for but what I could afford would not be reflective of how I feel about them. After much thought, it occurred to me what to do one night watching people running in and out of the mall while they were looking so miserable (waiting for Middle Monkey to get off work gives me a lot of extra thinking time). What I most would like to give to people is gratitude.  We have a serious lack of gratitude in society today. Every time I have to go somewhere inadvertently during rush hour, I am consistently surprised with all of the angry people on the road. It seems like its getting worse. It was echoed in my mall observation and then when I was nearly run down by an angry shopper welding a cart specifically aimed at my shins so she could get the last ham, I realized my mission. I have to fix this mess.

Interested? This is what I started this week. Choosing the Christmas theme, I decided this year for Christmas, I am delivering 12 letters of gratitude to people that have inspired me or taught me lessons over the years. If this is too much for you, you could do one letter a month; I am only asking that you consider the option. While I have started and mailed letters, if you are so pressed for time, you could theoretically email them. I say theoretically because I think you should put some thought into it and put it on paper because rarely does anyone use snail mail any more.  I am keeping track of the ripple effect, both of the folks that decide to undertake their own letter writing and the unintended effect of what happens when a letter is received. I am not sure what every reaction will be but pretty sure that I will be documenting this on a new blog as this evolves as a creation of its own. Please consider sharing and definitely let me know if you do. ALSO, if you reach out to someone from your past and have an interesting experience you will share, please feel free to let me know at qoftu AT yahoo DOT com. I hope this gratitude gift gets carried on and I am hopeful for wonderful results for everyone.  Now I am not stupid enough to think I can reach the entire world, but at least affect my little part of it. If so inclined, others could join in and then like that diagram of how fast STDs spread in sex education class, POOF, we collectively change the world.

My greatest wish for each of you this time of year is the unexpected happiness that just takes your breath away. May your new year be full of hope, peace and gratitude!


The Queen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Funky Tree

While admittedly behind the norm for me in a holiday season, we finally got the tree up!  I have used an artificial tree for much of the last ten years out of convenience and the quality of them has so drastically improved, however, while shopping at Whole Foods (possibly my favorite place in the ENTIRE world) we saw their selection of Frasier firs.  If you have never used one but like live trees, I highly recommend them...the smell is superb and they hold ornaments quite well.  Whole Foods is supporting a family farm with their effort and you gotta love that.  Over the last five years, I have been doing a great deal of simplifying, so for this tree we opted to make a large portion of what would go on the tree.  Our one rule that stays the same every year is that things from previous years must be repurposed/reused/recycled.  What we don't use is either passed on to someone else I know that can use them or it is donated to Goodwill for someone to buy them while supporting a great charity.  From last year, we kept the background of natural items consisting of grapevine garlands, pine cones, pecan garlands and various pieces of primitives to include rusted star garlands and rusted jingle bells.  We also had filler bulbs that are chocolate brown and brown glitter snowflakes so that went on first with the twinkle lights.  On top of that, we added knitted garlands by middle monkey in turquoise and orange and glass ornaments we got from Michael's.  On these we painted the interiors with blue, orange, white and glitter paint.  This is a super easy and cheap way to customize your tree!  We added two beaded orange garland we scored at HomeGoods super cheap and constructed a topper from blue beaded picks we found at WalMart.  Obviously, these are not item handmade items but they do look like it and add to the over all funky vibe of the tree.  Underneath the tree, we added the two orange wool blankets we have collected from thrift stores and Army/Navy supply stores over the years.  

Normally these spend the year in the baskets for the cats to sleep on but for Christmas they become our tree skirt.  Previous to this incarnation, we did a Mardi Gras theme that was a ridiculous number of colors and this orange option underneath is a carry over from then.  Though each blanket is different (one is a Danish Army officers blanket, they other knitted by someone and abandoned) it adds to the spirit of repurposing we believe in greatly.  Here in our town, we will be able to recycle the tree at a drop point and pick up bags of mulch in exchange from others that did this last year.  It makes me feel better that buying at Whole Foods, we got a tree from a family farm and it helps me feel like I am contributing directly to someone to keep their business rather than buying something faux from a big box retailer.

Middle monkey had some difficulty with the photographing...she is not a fan of twinkle lights because it is hard to get a picture with everything lit.  Little monkey told her that she would get over true little monkey form.  We put on our fireplace DVD and listened to Christmas music in the library while putting everything together so we are all very much ready for present time!  Now I just need to get shopping...