Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving Thanks and Black Friday

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I'm pondering gratitude and how easy it is to forget what we have to be thankful for on a daily basis. I'm going to try harder to remember how much I have to be grateful for and what really matters each day.

A day never passes when I don't stop and think how grateful I am for my daughter. If it doesn't occur to me at least five times during the day, I'm always reminded at bedtime when she's cuddled up next to me as she struggles to go to sleep. It's also when I get to catch up on kisses and hold tights.

So, while I am constrained financially this year and sometimes lament that I can't join the shopping frenzy and partake of the huge discounts, on another level, I'm glad to actually have to refrain. It's not that I haven't bought anything, it's that I have had to think before I spent the money. My shopping has been focused on my daughter which actually is more satisfying.

I realize there are so many things I already have that I don't use regularly or fully enjoy. So my goal for the upcoming year (I'm getting a head start.) is to truly be grateful for what I have, to make use what I have and really appreciate all the great stuff that is already a part of my life. I think I am going to start by reading all the books I've bought and have been dying to get to.

Most importantly, I am going to remember the best stuff in life doesn't come in shopping bags.
Hmm, I just thought of how grateful I am that I wasn't out in a store on Black Friday. The photos above are pictures I took of store shelves the day after.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Affordable Luxuries #6 Flower Bulbs

The weather is still warm enough in many parts of the country to sneak a few bulbs in the ground before it freezes. I planted two rings of daffodils this fall. One ring around an old tree that had a sort of natural fairy ring and another around a yet to be weeping cherry tree I plan to plant in the spring. I hated digging the six inch holes in the pure clay soil that plagues our yard, but I persisted. I just kept thinking how cheerful the tulips I planted last fall were this past spring. Flower bulbs are not for those seeking instant gratification but they are an affordable luxury that will keep paying off year after year.

While looking for photos to accompany this post I came across the Daffodil Principle. It may seem a bit corny but it was just the sort of "just keep putting one foot in front of the other" message I was needing to keep me going this week. Tiny steps add up and a few bulbs in the ground equal lots of flowers in your future.

Top image is of tulip fields in the Netherlands by Luud Riphagen. Bottom image is a daffodil field in Whaplode Parish England by Patricia Carter.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Haramaki = Happy Warm Tummy

I'm wearing my haramaki as I write this and it is keeping me cozy despite the gray skies and the thermostat which has been set at an environmentally correct 65 degrees. The origin of the haramaki heralds back to the samurai but you don't need to wield a sword anymore to wear one. These comfy belly wraps not only keep your tummy warm but are said to be good for your internal organs and blood circulation. Add to that how great they look peaking out under a shirt or worn obi style and I want a drawer full of them. The adorable haramaki shown are by Hobonichi. Another great source is Haramaki Love which has versions in fleece and a maternity selection. I can vouch that a warm tummy is a happy tummy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inspiration for Operation Pare Down

I'm really trying to pare down these days in so many ways. I'm on a campaign to eliminate stuff we don't need or really love and to find homes for those things others might treasure. Thank goodness for the Salvation Army or Sal's as my friend Susie calls it. I remember the first time she told me she'd been shopping at Sal's. I thought it must be the newest boutique and that I was out of loop. No, Sal's was not another Jeffery's, it was the good old Salvation Army. She had hit our local one for some cheap work t-shirts. I was definitely out of the loop in terms of frugal shopping.

Now a days, I'm trying to reform in terms of how much I spend, how much I own, and how much time I spend taking care of stuff versus living life. So I'll be making a trip to Sal's this coming week, not to shop but to help stock the shelves.

The photo from Fine Little Day above is my inspiration for the weekend purge and proof that less can still be warm.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Green Tea and Habit Versus Ritual

I have been trying to incorporate a cup of green tea into my daily routine and it has proven harder than I imagined. It certainly doesn't come as naturally as that first cup of coffee in the morning. I have thought about swapping my morning coffee for green tea but can't imagine that it would suit me or get me going. My morning coffee is a habit bordering on an addiction and not subject to tampering. Also, I think that a cup of tea is more suited to ritual than habit.

My Grandmother used to have a cup of tea every evening after she finished cleaning up after supper. It was her evening ritual. She took her tea black. It was just a Liptons tea bag and water boiled in her whistling teapot. Nothing fancy, but she always sat at her dining room table to enjoy her tea. I say it was a ritual because, I imagine it was her way of marking the end of her chores and savoring the little bit of personal time she allowed herself each day.

That's how I envision my daily cup of green tea being, a pause from busyness. My cup of coffee is the beginning of busyness each day. It's a crutch and a jolt into a day of doing. I want my cup of green tea to be about the opposite, a few minutes of not doing or worrying about what needs to be done next. I think that may be why it has been so hard to get to each day. It requires I step out of my routine and into a ritual where I take some time to just sit and be in the moment. I am going to take a lesson from my grandmother and make the time and place for my daily cup of tea.

The lovely teahouse pictured above are by the architect Terunobu Fujimori. I love their quirkiness and very human size. They look like the perfect structures for the ritual of tea and just being present. You can read more about Terunobu Fujimori here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Enchanted by the Moon

The moon is just amazing tonight and it's lovely to lie in bed with the moon light illuminating the room. It's like taking a moon bath.

This first scientific map of the moon by astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini c. 1679 includes the tiny moon maiden pictured beneath the full map. Perhaps proof of the moon's power to enchant even the scientist.