Archive for January, 2013

Today marks the end of a long, long January, and my word, I am ready to flip that page on the calendar.  I don’t know what exactly has me down this week, but it’s been a doozy.  Every morning feels like an uphill battle just to get myself out the door – there’s a lazy little devil that’s been perching on my shoulder as I eat my breakfast and telling me to finish my toast and go on back to bed (and I’ve been late to work three days this week…).  And I’m grumpy.  Shane called me out on my snippy attitude while we were making dinner tonight – apparently I’ve been something of an Ice Queen as of late.  Ouch.  Maybe it’s all this rain.  Or maybe I’ve overdone it on the veg-fest – I’m still working on dragging the active, productive version of myself into 2013.  Or maybe our practice of January frugality has left me wanting?

Then again, it’s not that I’ve felt particularly deprived – we weren’t as strict this year as we’ve been in years past.  Shane broke his “no alcohol” rule two or three times, we grocery shopped with somewhat reckless abandon rather than sticking to a super-tight budget, and I might have slipped into Starbucks one day at lunchtime when feeling particularly desperate for a cafe fix.  Sure, these little cheats made the month easier, but I think they also left me feeling disappointed in our lack of discipline.  Shame on us…

But enough wallowing.  Tomorrow’s forecast calls for sunshine, and we’ve got plans for dinner and drinks out on the town.  Brighter skies ahead, my friends.  Brighter skies ahead.

20130108 morning light sm

The stuff of quiet January Sundays…

Morning fog:

20130120 morning fog sm

Fresh-baked apple muffins (because Shane’s Saturday batch of blueberry muffins magically disappeared in 24 hours flat):

20130120 apple muffins sm

Knitting progress:

20130120 knitting sm

Chips, salsa, and too much football:

20130120 football sm

We spent this evening enjoying Sunday supper with a few friends and are ready to put a bow on this perfectly lazy weekend – I don’t know the last time I spent a full two days resting with such “intensity”.  Bring it on, Monday.  Or on second thought, please don’t…

We are 18 days into our annual month of frugality, and this practice of not eating out/not shopping/not going to movies or coffee shops or DSW has caused me to log some serious hours on the living room couch – a Kelly-shaped divit has started to form in my favorite corner of the sectional.  Lord knows I love a mellow weekend at home with a good book and my holiday stash of Theo chocolate, but I’ve started to feel a little antsy lately, craving some quality cafe time and wondering what sales I’m missing out on.  So I took to carrying my camera with me to work this week and getting outside for at least a few minutes during lunch each day to take a look around – turns out (free) noon-time walks in the winter sunshine are a pretty good substitute for a Chipotle run and a loop through the Nordstrom shoe section.

20130115 market1 sm

One of my favorite things about this season:

20130115 market2 sm

And another winter favorite:

20130115 market3 sm

20130115 market4 sm

Sculpture Park!

20130116 sculpture park1 sm

20130116 sculpture park2 sm

20130116 sculpture park3 sm

And this is where I paused to dream of Bainbridge Island and Mora’s Ice Cream out yonder…

20130116 waterfront sm 18 days down, 13 to go!

Seeing as how I succeeded in making good on almost all of my 2012 resolutions (damn you, Economist!), I’m doing the resolution thing again, hoping 2013 is another year of growth and fulfillment.

Sabbath more intentionally.  As much as I adore our quiet Sunday afternoons at home, I want more out of them.  More restoration.  More introspection.  More preparation for the busy week ahead.  I’m on board with Nance in her belief in the life-giving power of a true Sabbath.  I want to make sure that I’m resting with intention – not just holing up and zoning out.  This might still mean a hard-core nap, or an epic reading binge on the couch, but it also means turning everything off for a little while and asking Shane how I can pray for him.  It means opening my journal and processing my anxieties and joys as I put pen to paper.  Letting the quiet drown out the noise.

Be more involved in managing our money.  Shane has always been the finance guy in our house, paying the bills and managing our investments.  I’ve been A-OK with that – I completely trust him and am not that interested right now in knowing how our Roth IRAs are doing.  But after sitting down with him on Saturday and sorting through our 2012 purchases on, I’m seeing the value of setting a budget together, checking in regularly and really looking at where our money is going (and where we want it go).  Turns out I might have a weakness for shoes and Shane might have a weakness for expensive cocktails…  These things aren’t exactly surprises, and they aren’t exactly bad, but it’s important to understand how they add up.

Make art.  Regularly.  2012 was kind of a creative wasteland.  I didn’t draw or paint much, I didn’t make it into the print studio even once.  And I missed it – it was disappointing and discouraging and draining to be so out of touch with my artistic self.  So I’m back on the horse this year – I have registered for a screen printing class to kick-start things and have the highest of hopes for a year full of inspiration and productivity.

Cook dinner at least four nights a week.  Last year we set out to try new restaurants; this year I’m setting out to cook new things.  I have joked about how often we eat cereal for dinner, but it’s actually not that funny – more evenings than I’d like to admit, Shane is tearing into the Puffins and I’m smearing an apple with peanut butter and telling myself that’s a legitimate source of protein.  The breakdown seems to be in the planning stages – if we have a menu, I absolutely don’t mind being in the kitchen and preparing a meal.  If we don’t have a plan, this happens:  -“What do you want for dinner?” -“I dunno.  What do you want?”  -“I dunno.  Raisin Bran with a side of Wheat Thins?”  Ahhhh!  This has got to stop.  Good news is, we’re currently on a roll – three straight nights of healthy homemade meals!  General Mills stock might plummet.

20130106 curry sm

In addition to my traditional list of resolutions, my mom has encouraged me to enter this year with a theme in a mind – a word that will focus my mission and attitude for 2013.  I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few days – what do I want the bigger picture to look like, beyond my list of practicalities?  This has been a harder exercise than I imagined – probably because I wanted so badly to come up with something original and complex and deep, but kept circling back to something obvious and super-simple.  So I’m going to stop overthinking this and start dwelling on a message of hope.  God and I have gone round and round over this matter in the past couple of years.  I’ve prayed fervently for hope, he’s tried to give it to me, and then I’ve politely turned it away and locked up my heart, telling him thank you, but I changed my mind and would like peace, or forgiveness, or acceptance instead. Because hope is scary – it makes you vulnerable and open to all kinds of disappointment and hurt.  And it prompts you to challenge the status-quo – relationships could be richer, work could be more meaningful, big BIG things could possible if you shed that cloak of doubt and complacency.  So here’s to a grand 2013, full of hopes and dreams and all manners of bright and shining miracles.

We’re in the midst of another super-quiet weekend at home, and between the naps and the football games, I’ve been spending some time thinking about what I want to do better in 2013 (less naps, maybe?  pshhhhhh…).  But before I solidify my goals, I’m taking a look back at how I did in 2012.  High-fives and for resolutions kept and head-hanging for resolutions broken…

Read the Bible in its entirety.  Score!  Our reading plan wraps up tomorrow with the final chapters in Revelations, at which point Shane and I will have read the whole Bible chronologically.  This is pretty huge for both of us, as we typically struggle with taking the initiative to delve into God’s word outside of Sunday morning service or Tuesday evening c-group.  There were days when reading felt like a total chore (hello, 1 and 2 Chronicles), but there were other times when a day’s reading gave me a perfectly-timed nugget of encouragement or hope.  While it may be awhile before I return to much of the Old Testament, I’ll carry some aspect of this rhythm into 2013.

Catch up with a friend over coffee every week or two.  I am so, so thankful for way some of my friendships continue to deepen.  But I’ve let other people drift away.  I remember a couple of particularly meaningful afternoons spent pouring my heart out to a girlfriend over a cup of tea.  I also remember those weekends I let my introverted tendencies prevail and chose to hole up rather than reach out.  Building relationships is hard; sometimes it’s awkward and inconvenient and wrought with fear of vulnerability.  Tough crap.  I have to believe that it’s always, always worth it.

Check out one new (to us) Seattle restaurant each month.  Given my continued ineptitude for meal planning, this one was easy-peasy.  Seattle holds so many alternatives to cereal for dinner!  Stand-out finds include Kedai Makan at the Broadway and CC Markets for killer Malaysian food, La Carta de Oaxaca for tacos al pastor, Il Corvo for lunchtime hand-made pasta, and Bottlehouse for wine and cheese.  Oh, and Hot Cakes in Ballard for a serious chocolate over-dose.  We have yet to find anything that trumps the sense of “home” we find at Tutta Bella and Columbia City Bakery, but that’s alright.  No shame in staying true to our ‘hood’s best pizza and scones.

Read the Economist leaders each week.  Total fail.  I think I made it through two issues and then threw my hands up in overwhelmed frustration.  We do watch 60 Minutes most Sundays and I get the top headlines from the Today Show on the mornings I spend on the gym’s treadmill, but that feels like a pretty sorry substitute for quality journalism.  I’m going to give the online version of NY Times a shot, and I’ll continue to pester Shane with questions about world affairs, but being a well-informed American has the makings of loooong-term goal.

Juice at least once a week.  B+.  I’ve been pretty diligent about gulping down my green stuff once or twice a week.  I can’t say it’s magic – there were still times this year when I battled colds or fatigue, but all in all, I’ve felt pretty good and any bouts of sickness seemed to leave the premises once I started pushing those lemons and dark greens through the Breville.  I think I can move this one from “resolution” to “habit” – there’s no going back to the days of Minute Maid!

It was a mixed-bag kind of year, and I’m sure 2013 will prove to be no different.  But I’m a little healthier, a little closer to God, a little more fulfilled in my friendships and my city than I was twelve months ago – I’ll call that a resolutionary success.

I’m finding our TV is on less and less these days, as Shane and I prefer more and more to spend our evenings on the couch with a couple of good books.  I’ve always wanted to be one of those couples that reads together and talks about books and finally, here we are – we’re livin’ the dream, folks (maybe 30 years prematurely, but whatever).  I finished 18 books in 2012 from a decently wide range of genres.  There were a couple of knocked-my-socks-off good reads, a couple of major disappointments, and a pile of perfect pals for Sunday afternoons on the back porch (or the blanket-laden couch, as of late).

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

God Behaving Badly:Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? by David T. Lamb

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

11/22/63 by Steven King

Best books of 2012:  Two-way tie between The Book Thief and Unbroken, because they both brought me joy and sadness in equal measure, and damn if I’m not a sucker for a book that makes me actually feel something.  First runner-up goes to Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, for all of Lauren Winner’s nuggets of spiritual wisdom.

Worst book of 2012:  The Night Circus.  This one had been on my to-read list for awhile, and it left me completely underwhelmed.  It had all the potential in the world to be beautiful and moving and completely fantastical, but…blah.  And bah humbug.

On the docket for 2013:  Those 850 pages of Steven King’s time travel page-turner derailed me a bit, so I’m still working on my 2012 list - The Great Gatsby and The Power of One  are at the top of the list for this year.  Also in the queue are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  And with that, good night – my Kindle beckons!

As has become our tradition, we rang in the new year last night with our closest friends here at home, stuffing our faces with all manners of junk food and making our predictions for 2013.  We raised our glasses at midnight and then sprawled out in the living room for another couple of hours while Shane, Jack, and Daniel solidified plans for their latest, greatest business venture – $6 churros, coming soon from a cart near you! Stay tuned for more on that (or don’t – I love their ambition, but am skeptical about their powers of execution…).

We brunched this morning with the Rusts and the Chens and soaked a bit in the sunshine we’ve been missing for the last couple of months.  I remember spending New Years day with these same folks five years ago (minus the little ones) in Jack and La Verne’s South Lake Union townhouse.  How time has flown…

I spent the afternoon finishing up our calendar, pulling together snapshots of 2012’s highlights.  I was doing some year-end reflecting yesterday and felt heavy with the knowledge that too much of the past year was spent in my metaphorical “hole”.  But then I see these captured moments of joy spread out before me, and I am reminded that God showed up with his bag o’ blessings in my life time and again this year.  He was there in our lazy summer evenings at Jefferson Park, where we laid on a blanket and drank wine and listened to the Giants beat the Dodgers.  He was there in those precious moments spent with family, in that afternoon that Elise and I spent painting on the sunny porch of our Orcas Island rental.  He was at the California weddings of two of my oldest friends, and he was at Quest Church when Jon and Adrienne said “I do” – He even followed us to their reception, where we all danced until we were sweaty and exhausted, cheeks sore from so much laughter.  He was on Whidbey Island during on the weekend that Shane and I celebrated our sixth anniversary, allowing us to fully absorb just how much we adore each other as we wrapped ourselves in blankets and watched the sun set from our sandy patio.

While I was initially eager to shut the door on 2012 and to focus on looking forward rather than back, instead I’ll pause for a moment to give thanks.  To remember the good stuff.  And to find comfort in the fact that even through the hard times, whether I sensed His presence or not, God still showed up.