Friday, November 29, 2013

The Beer Garden At The End Of The Turkey Trot Was A Great Motivator For Me. I Wanted That Beer To Taste Like Victory. And It Did. If Victory Tastes Like Beer.

The Turkey Trot was a success.  I made it through without having to talk myself out of quitting or fighting the urge to cut across the park instead of following the course with everyone else.  I started the race surrounded by a few people wearing jeans (a sure sign they were just avoiding Thanksgiving food prep) and what looked like a group of kids on a field trip, but quickly (go ahead an use air quotes around that one) moved beyond them to a place where most of the people looked as if they intended to give running a try.

I found a woman who looked like a former marathon runner based upon her calf muscles and legit running gear, but who had obviously had a baby a few days ago and now was forced to push a huge, all-terrain stroller through the course.  I settled in behind her as she used the stroller like one of those cattle guards on trains - the ones that push the cows off the track as the train comes through.  We were weaving in and out of crowds of people in costumes and on their phones - I think I may have been drafting behind her and being pulled along in her wake.  But, once we made it to some open space she blew away from me (I wondered if I heard a motor on the stroller) and I was left to finish the race on my own.

I finished strong though.  I've been running on hills, so this flat course was a pleasant surprise.  The finish line actually snuck up on me a bit - but when I saw it coming I made sure my form looked good and I picked up my pace a little.  I think they call that the kick or something, but I knew my family would be watching (as they had probably finished a full 10 minutes earlier) and I wanted to at least give them a good show.  They ended up being farther down the chute from the finish so they didn't see my victorious ending, but because I wasn't gasping for air or crying when I reached them, they knew my race performance had exceeded expectations.

And now we may fully immerse ourselves in the holiday season.  We kick off our holidays with some ice skating on Black Friday instead of shopping with the masses.  None of us are very good skaters and I think we feel it's an auspicious start to the season if we face the danger of an ice rink and come out relatively unscathed in the end.  We celebrate with sushi and a movie.  Life is so good.

I'm wearing this.

The outdoor rink we skate on lets you skate for free if you wear black on Black Friday.  That's not hard for me since my wardrobe is at least 50% black.  The coat I'm wearing is so fun to throw on, but can really only be comfortably worn during the holiday season.  Anytime after Valentine's Day and it starts to look like I have on one of Hugh Hefner's robes.

gratitude:  Kleenex, family foursome activities, a funny extended family, leftovers

thanks and love.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tomorrow We Run The Turkey Trot. I Will Run Alone As My Entire Family Apparently Can Run A Mile In Under Nine Minutes And I Will Be Placed In A Different Heat Most Likely Filled With Athletic Toddlers And People Running Backward.

Well, tomorrow is the big day.  The Turkey Trot is upon us.  This is the 40th annual Trot here in Denver, but it'll be the first time there will be a beer garden at the event.  Also the first time I'm participating.  The coincidence is not lost on me.

I've been preparing for this for a few months now, but I'm still a little nervous.  I've only run four miles once before, so I'm hoping the thrill of the event and the crowd energy will pull me along so I can successfully make it to the end at a pace still considered to be running.  I have visions of those people who finish marathons and Iron Man competitions where their legs turn into spaghetti and they end up crawling over the finish line under cover of darkness.  I hope I'm not the first Turkey Trot participant to end the race that way.  I'm sure most people wouldn't think that could happen after only four miles, but I'm not your average runner, so nothing is off the table.

I've been doing research on how to manage a run like this.  My favorite tip is carbo loading.  Apparently, I'm supposed to eat a lot of carbs today to store up energy for tomorrow's exertion and I'm taking that directive very seriously.  I'm getting toast crumbs on my keyboard as we speak and I have a tasty pasta planned for dinner tonight.  Guilt-free baguette eating may inspire a regular running routine.

Another tip left me a bit concerned.  I was told that you should run the first mile of a race a full two minutes slower than your average speed.  That way you'll have energy left to finish the run at a good pace.  Two problems.  One, I have no idea how fast I run a mile.  My best guess is that it's at roughly the same speed as the rhythm to the song Blurred Lines by Alan Thicke which isn't exactly a blistering pace.  Which leads me to the second problem.  Running two minutes per mile slower than normal actually disqualifies what I'm doing as running.  I may just have to stick to my regular speed (somewhere between a jog and Prancercize) and hope that someone running in a turkey costume and pushing a baby stroller doesn't run me over.

I'm wearing this today.

It's Thanksgiving Eve and time to get our sparkle on!

I wish each of you in the U.S. a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for those of you readers in other parts of the world I wish you a joyous day of thankfulness as well.

gratitude:  a nice weather forecast for Thanksgiving morning, an easy side dish to prepare, boot cut jeans, being present to all the goodness in life

thanks and love.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Strange After Effect Of A Weekend Of Painting Is The Texture Of My Fingertips. I Was Mostly Responsible For Cleaning Up Paint Spills And I Highly Recommend Using Plastic Gloves If You're Working With Certain Stain Removing Products. Apparently They Remove Your Top Layers Of Skin As Well As Unsightly Marks On The Carpet.

We painted the kids' bedrooms this weekend.  This may seem like no big deal, but it had become an issue in our house.   Although, I regret not getting to this sooner, I truly believe the rooms finally got painted because we found the right color.  After years of searching.  Plus, the kids actually cleaned their rooms and we didn't have a single sporting event scheduled.  The planets had aligned.

I loves me a white wall (although we painted our kitchen black).  I like our house to look a little like a funky art gallery or old schoolhouse.  I like wood floors, white walls, white cabinets, and black countertops.  Having a simple base makes it easier and more fun to jazz things up with a few interesting elements.  Our kids, however, want colored walls - as in not black or white (why do they not consider those colors??).  So we've been on a color hunt for about three years.

This painting delay isn't all my fault.  The kids haven't exactly had a clear picture of what colors they prefer.  We've sampled a lot.  We'd paint two or three swatches of color on their walls every six months or so.  Nothing ever seemed right.  The walls started to look like the back of someone who'd gone through one of those extensive allergy tests.  The one where they prick your skin with different allergens to see how red and swollen each area gets?  JD's wall was a checkerboard of greys and blues and Eliza's was a rainbow of bright greens and blues with one odd orange sherbet patch thrown in (where did that come from?).  I was beginning to have an allergic reaction to it all myself.

Turns out the paint colors we went with were never actually ones we sampled.  I credit Pinterest with our choices.  During one of my pinning sessions I found photos of rooms I loved and knew each kid would love too.  They have completely different styles so to find inspiration pics for each of them within mere days is nothing short of miraculous.  I knew in my gut that these were the right colors - after sampling 500+ colors you just know.  I did bring home a small sample of each color the day before I bought them to make sure no one was horrified by the shade, but there was no "living with it awhile" or comparing colors.  We just pulled the trigger and the results are fabulous.

I'm not the best at picking paint colors out of the blue (pardon the pun) so the key to success for us was to find colors professionals have successfully used in rooms themselves.  Turns out Benjamin Moore's Caribbean Coast and Hale Navy got the job done for us in a big way.  Even though I wish we'd been able to get to this point sooner, we would have never found these colors if we'd rushed or settled.  I'm not even sure Pinterest had been created when we started our search.  I don't know if this is a lesson in staying open and giving things time to develop or a testament to the power of good research.  Either way, the Highs are checking one job off the home improvement list and can now move on to one of the 6,493 remaining.

I'm wearing this.

What's with the weather?  I'm starting to dress like the sky.

gratitude:  Thanksgiving break, tasks completed, togetherness, machine washable faux fur throws

thanks and love.

Friday, November 22, 2013

As I Look At The Boxes Of Holiday Decor In Our Basement, I Wonder Sometimes What I Must Have Been Thinking When I Used Some Of The Things We Have. It's Amazing Anything Survived My 'Paint It All Gold' Phase. One Entire Box Looks Like A Pharaoh's Tomb.

As we head into the week before Thanksgiving, I can feel the engines of holiday preparedness revving in the distance.  This time of year is a real balancing act.  I feel like I'm constantly walking the line between holiday reveler and drill sergeant.  This is the last week the kids have off before Christmas and they need to accomplish a few things before they go back - like a massive room cleaning, that if ignored could derail the planned room painting we have on the coming week's agenda - because why not paint two bedrooms mere days before Thanksgiving?  I would also consider it an early Christmas gift if they were able to learn how to use a hamper, a trash can, and to exit the shower without tearing down the shower curtain.  I hope Santa is listening.

There is also outdoor lighting and holiday decor to install.  It's a challenge to not rush Thanksgiving out the door before it's had its day in the sun, but the clock is ticking, people.  I'm not going to wait until after Thanksgiving to get started - it just is too much to do all at once.  Christmas will slowly leak into our home all next week, so by the time we return from our dinner on Thursday, all that will be left is the tree purchase and trimming.

I love the holidays and I really like our house to feel festive, but I think I'll take a different approach this year.  I don't want December 26th to come accompanied by the claustrophobic feeling I've had in years past - where I've lived with so many faux greens and ribbons and ornaments for the weeks leading up to Christmas that by the time it gets here I can barely wait until the last guest leaves on Christmas night before I start dismantling everything.  I love the way those fully decorated houses look, but it kinda weighs me down when my own home is that way.  And it seems like so much work to do just to have to remove it all in a month or so.

I think this year I'm going to add a touch of holiday here and there, but mostly keep things to a simple Winter theme.  That way our seasonal decor won't get on my nerves so much and I can keep most of it up until spring comes.  I'll take Coco Chanel's advice on accessorizing -  "When a lady leaves the house, she should look in the mirror and remove one accessory"- and overlay that onto our holiday home decor.   I'll decorate, take a look, and then remove something.  The tree is non-negotiable though.

I'm wearing this today.

I need to get my out-of-home activities done early today because these pants seem to grow on me while the day progresses and by late afternoon I look like M.C. Hammer.

gratitude:  our new coffee table, lighting, Thanksgiving break, pretty paint colors

thanks and love.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Running Is Nothing Compared To All The Action Going On Inside My Head. If It's Not Inner Voices Having A Lively Debate, I'm Also Performing Several Musical Numbers Based Upon Whatever Comes Out Of My iPhone. My Duet With Justin Timberlake Is Really Something Special.

Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of my own voice (I think I sound like a Peanuts character), but when I run there is a lot of inner dialogue going on and it's not a one woman show.  Honestly, I think it really must be crowded in my head sometimes.  It's way more than the classic angel and devil talking me in and out of good choices.  I even have some famous people chiming in from time to time.

Sometimes, when I'm running up a hill, which in the western suburbs of Denver is really unavoidable, a whiny, toddler voice starts in (I think it's that weird yellow dinosaur that was on the Barney TV show).  "Whyyyy are we doing this?   We'll never make it!  I'm quitting NOW!"  And then, in a very predictable move, the Little Engine That Could jumps in with the classic "I think I can.  I think I can."  So I heed the spunky locomotive's words and continue chugging along.  When I finally get to a better place in the run, Oprah makes an appearance in my noggin with a celebratory cheer and the kind of joyous energy only experienced during one of her famous "My Favorite Things" episodes.

My favorite voice by far, and the one most often showing up for me, is Tim Gunn from Project Runway.  He's not so much there during exercise, but more throughout the rest of my day.  I love him.  He gets the designers to organize their thoughts and ideas, to push themselves creatively, and to pay attention to the schedule.  And he does the same for me from inside my little brain.  A lot of life is about being creative, working within a time frame, and doing your best, and Tim Gunn is the perfect presence to inspire me to do that while conquering any task at hand.  One of my favorite lines of his, when he's leaving the designers in the sewing room at midnight before the big show, is "Make it work, people!"

It's a great line for life.  Nothing is really ever perfectly perfect.  It would be weird if it was.  But in trying to live life as our best selves, we need to take what we've been given (good and bad), aim for what we want, and do our best to "Make it work."  Every single day.

I'm wearing this today.

Love the faux leather pants.  I'm not really sure if these are officially faux leather because the texture is a little weird.  To be honest, it looks a little like really thin elephant skin.  I'm just going to continue to refer to them as faux leather though, I'm sure you understand.  BTW, I had to go full body with the photo as the scarf made no sense without a head.

gratitude:  reader responses, inspiring holiday colors on Pinterest, Modern Family, chicken salad

thanks and love.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Maybe It's Because I'm Running In Nikes Lately, But The 'Just Do It' Tagline Is Making Sense To Me. Although Sometimes I Think It's Telling Me To Go Ahead And Eat The Baguette While I'm Making Dinner, So Maybe I Need To Watch What I Apply It To In My Daily Life.

This weekend we had a little gathering at our house to put together some care packages for the homeless.  I was inspired by this video I saw on a lovely blog called Shine Your Light.

Pam from the incredible Simple Details blog gave me the idea about what to include in the packages.  Ah, that blogging community!  Truly, a bottomless pit of resources and inspiration!

It was a really fun time and considering we made 45 bags and had 12 people there it took about 7 minutes to complete the job.  Which, of course, left more time for a glass of wine and an in depth discussion about which fabric I should use to recover our kitchen chairs.  It was just nice to have family and friends (that are like family) all gathered and working together for the greater good on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm glad I took the chance to plan an event like this.  I have a habit of thinking about doing nice, thoughtful things and never actually making them a reality.  I don't know why that's the case, but I've grown tired of my good intentions withering on the vine.  This whole event was low key and really didn't take much to organize: I had to buy the goods, prep some refreshments (read: open wine and fill bowls with purchased snacks), and move the backpacks, shoes and lacrosse sticks out of our great room so our home no longer looked like a sporting goods store after Black Friday.  Easy peasy.

I think we tend to believe the things we do need to be bigger than necessary and that magnification makes them a bit daunting.  So we put it off and then we forget.  But, we shouldn't fear simplicity and smaller scales.

Confucius said it right, "Life is actually really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."

A casual evening with friends over takeout and boxed wine is way more meaningful than a sit down seven course dinner that never happens.  If we keep things simple, we're likely to do more.  And life is really about doing things, not just thinking about doing them or talking about doing them.  I want to remember SIMPLICITY in 2014.  Anyone else on board?

I'm wearing this today:

The over-the-knee boots are making me very happy.  I was scared to try them at first, but now I'm all in.  Fear not my fashion friends.

And it's Meatless Monday.  In honor of simplicity, we'll be enjoying a plain pasta with bit of garlic-infused olive oil and butter accompanied by a big, green salad.  Simple and scrumptious and sans meat.

gratitude:  new furniture arrangements, family and friends, family time finally on Sunday night, laughter

thanks and love.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fashion Failure Friday. A Sad Tale About Too Much Of A Good Thing.

I've not gambled in Vegas before, but I've heard stories about people who've been on a winning streak then lose it all by playing one game too many.  Instead of taking their money off the table, they roll the dice one last time and everything falls apart.  That kind of happened to me yesterday.

My loss wasn't monetary in nature, it was comfort-based.  I'd been feeling pretty darn good about my fashion choices lately, but yesterday I pushed it too far and felt so ridiculous in my ensemble that I could barely concentrate on my staging work.  I felt like I was in a costume.  It was bad.

My problem was combining too many trends all at once.  I recently just bought a pair of over the knee riding boots.  I love them, and they do look very now.  Problem was, I should have just worn them with a skinny jean and a t-shirt so they could take center stage.  Unfortunately, I chose to combine them with two looks that also would have been better served on their own.  

I wore a flannel shirt (borrowed from JD) with a very sparkly statement necklace.  The classic high/low trend.  It's all over Pinterest and has actually been getting on my nerves lately.  But I ignored my better instincts and attempted to rock my high/low flannel and sparkle with over the knee boots.  You see now how the fashion stage was starting to get crowded.

Then, I foolishly dipped a toe in the leggings as pants movement.  I normally don't do this, but I thought they would better feature my new boots, so I wore a heavy legging instead of a skinny jean.  And these leggings don't even fit well - they have a weird thick waistband and kind of come up high on me so I look a little like Tweedle Dee in them.  I felt so uncomfortable because my flannel shirt was just long enough to cover my backside, but if I raised my arms even a little, anyone around me saw a bit more than they had bargained for.  I raise my arms a lot.  My apologies.

So, word to the wise, if you're planning to rock a fashion trend, let it be a solo act.  This outfit sounded cute, and may have even looked the part for all I know, but the impact of each piece would have been greater if it had just been worn alone.  Lesson learned.

I'm wearing this today:

No major trends to speak of here.  Just keeping the stripe simple with low boots and a little short-sleeved sweater topper.  I may throw on a leopard scarf if it feels chilly, but Jenna Lyons of J.Crew fame stated that she considers leopard a neutral, so no trend over application will occur today.  Whew.

gratitude:  business opportunities, fun dinner conversations in bad restaurants, flat areas for running, driving the kids to school

thanks and love.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember How Nice It Felt When Your Kids Were Young, But No Longer Nappers, And You Had Them Spend A Little 'Quiet Time' In Their Room? The Feeling You Had When That Quiet Started Is The Same One You Get Meditating. Start Now.

The word 'meditation' conjures up images of gongs, incense, and sitars for some, but don't get hung up on the cliches surrounding this activity.  Meditation is about just getting quiet.  And still.  Two things that are hard to achieve these days without some concerted effort.  And two things we must have in our lives if we're going to thrive and be our best each and every day.

I've been attempting to meditate regularly over the last couple years and I do feel better, happier and more present as a result.  I still get crabby and mopey from time to time, but I think those emotional stretches have become less frequent and less intense overall.  I truly recommend giving meditation a try and by starting it now, as the holidays kick off, it'll help you feel your most festive and centered through the entire holiday season.

While I'm certainly no expert, I've noticed there are a few keys to my personal practice - maybe these will be useful to you too.  First of all, go to a quiet place and shut the door.  It doesn't matter if you use your bedroom, your car, or the bathroom - you just need some solitude.

Sit up.  Don't think you can meditate laying down or lounging back on bed pillows.  I've tried and you end up falling asleep.  Sit somewhere and use the best posture you can muster up at the time.  I sit on a yoga brick on the floor - it's nice to elevate yourself a little if your doing a floor sit so use a yoga brick or a pillow or blanket to raise yourself up.  Or, sit on the edge of a chair with your feet on the floor.

Do something with your hands.  I like to lay my hands on my knees with the palms up (I heard somewhere that makes you more receptive), but I also like to touch my index finger and thumb together.  If I'm not feeling super calm I've found holding a warm cup of tea or coffee in both hands gives me something to focus on.  Putting your hands in a prayer position can also feel good.  Or put them on your heart.  Just don't let them just hang there.  It feels weird.

Focus your brain.  Your mind will turn into a three-year-old child when you first start out.  Just try to ignore its constant commenting and work on getting quiet.  Counting to a particular number on your inhalations and exhalations can give you something to do at this point.  Sometimes it's nice to use a mantra.  Or say a single word (in your head, not with your mouth) when you exhale - I like 'peace', 'love' or 'thank you', but you could say 'cheeseburger' if it meant something to you and get the same result.  Or try just listening to the natural sounds around you.

After doing this for a while, you may feel for a moment this sense of nothing and everything all at the same time.  That's what we're looking for.  Sometimes it lasts for just a bit and sometimes it can go on for a while, but that's the sweet spot.  Enjoy it for however long you can get it to last.  And when you feel like you're done, then be done.  Then do it again tomorrow.  And the next day and the day after that.

At the end I like to smile (just turning the corners of my mouth up, not like the Cheshire Cat) and say 'thank you.'  It just sends me off on a good note.

So there you are.  Give it just a little try over this holiday season.  You'll feel like you have more time to get things done, you'll be more present for all the festivities, and you'll be merrier in general.  Enjoy.

I'm wearing this today.

It feels like spring, so I'm going sleeveless.   A cardigan will be tossed on should the weather suddenly remember it's November.

gratitude:  fabric swatches, pencils, pasta, staying up too late chatting as a family

thanks and love.

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Post Is Not Sponsored By The Lemon Council. I Don't Even Know If There Is A Lemon Council, But Would The Person In Charge Be The Lemon Head? I'll Be Here All Night. Remember To Tip Your Waitresses! Thank you!

Just wanted to pass on a few helpful bits of minutiae today.  Our subject is lemons.  Oh, how I love this fruit!  A bowl of lemons is quite literally, a bowl of possibility.  Let's get started.

First, lemons are an awesome decor element.  Their punchy yellow color brightens a room and can fit into any kitchen decor style from modern to vintage.  Always have a bowl of lemons on your counter somewhere - they look good and are incredibly useful.

They have great health benefits.  I've been drinking about 24 ounces of lemon water first thing every morning for almost a year now and it's really made a difference in my overall well-being.  Here is an article about the morning lemon water practice.  I started slowly with a slice of lemon dropped into my water glass for flavor and general refreshing attractiveness.  Then I moved into using the juice of half a lemon and shortly after that just started squeezing the whole darn thing into my water.  I've read lemon juice is very good for your liver - nice if you like wine, which isn't so good for your liver.  But there are also benefits to your skin and overall hydration that make you look and feel a lot better.  Give it a try.  After a while, you won't believe you ever went without a giant glass of lemon water at least once a day.

Also, lemons are wonderful to use when cooking.  I like to shove half a lemon (and a head of garlic and a bunch of herbs) inside a chicken when I roast it (adds awesome flavor) or I'll slice several lemons really thin and roast them with chicken pieces and parts (plus Kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes) - this makes for some amazing melty, tart lemon strips to enjoy with your meal.  And a squeeze of lemon will help neutralize any food you may have accidentally over-salted - an issue for me as I, 1) love salty food, 2) don't measure when I cook and 3) am sometimes distracted by talking and sipping wine.  So they're nice to have on hand as back-up when you're cranking out some vittles.

They can make your house smell great.  It's that time of year again to crank up a little "Pot of Goodness."  This fragrance technique will bring you joy - your house will smell fabulous and anyone who enters it will feel happier.  Make this today.  Put the peel of half a lemon, a whole orange (or two clementines), a tablespoon or so of whole cloves, and a few cinnamon sticks into a saucepan and fill with water.  Set it on the back burner of your stove over low heat and enjoy the amazing smell.  You can keep this going anytime you're home, just put a lid on the pot when you're not heating it and make sure the water level doesn't get too low.  Every few days toss the old mixture into the trash and make a fresh batch.  So lovely.

And finally, you can make a lemon crab.  The kids and I learned how to do this when they were little.  It's just weird and still makes us laugh.  Here's a link.

I'm wearing this today.

Very excited about these moto pants I found on sale at Anthro.  The grey t-shirt and creamy blazer are part of the mix because of their wonderful neutrality.  The pants are the stars here.  And the t-shirt and blazer understand that - at least the t-shirt does.  The blazer is just being patient.  Am I the only one concerned that my clothes are talking to me?

It's Meatless Monday and I have nothing on the menu because our lovely neighbors are bringing us dinner tonight.  I'm so excited!!!

gratitude:  my drive to Pueblo on Saturday with Eliza, a whole day yesterday with just the family, not having to cook tonight, the bluest sky

thanks and love.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I May Have Experienced A Runner's High Today. Or, I Could Have Just Been Running Downhill.

Happy Friday!  I don't want to sound too 'yay me!', but I did a three-mile run this morning and did not feel like crying afterward.  As you may recall, I'm aiming to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot here in Denver.  Originally, when I came up with this plan, I was under the impression that this run was a standard 5K, which sounded plenty intimidating to a non-runner like myself.  Lo and behold as soon as I made the commitment to the race, I was informed this is actually a four mile run.  Say what?

I wanted to back out of the event, thinking my decision to participate was based on bad information, but I forged ahead anyway.  I've been attempting to train somewhat regularly for the last couple months.  It's not been easy, but it has been eye-opening.  For the first time ever, I bought a Runner's World magazine.  I hid it in my purse and I'm not sure why exactly.

I didn't buy the magazine for the articles about how to survive marathons and the like (FYI the key to survival is to drive), but because there was an article in there about how to look cute in race day pictures.  It wasn't as long or informative as I'd hoped; it mostly featured tips from NBC reporter Natalie Morales who said she likes to wear a ponytail or braids to keep her hair stylishly out of her face when she runs.  I just don't think braids are gonna do it for me (can you imagine?).  Also, my sunglasses tend to slip down my nose and I always end up with the sniffles while I'm running.  I look less like a cute national news correspondent and more like Lisa Loopner.  Maybe we'll hold off on pictures this time.

I have put a little thought into my race day ensemble.  I bought myself a pair of grey compression pants at Old Navy - you know, where all serious athletes buy their gear.  I like the pants and they squeeze my thighs into a pleasant shape - like Spanx for your entire lower half.  I'm not sure what top I'm going to go with - the temperature in Denver on Thanksgiving could be 70 degrees or below zero, so I'll need to wait for an extended forecast before I make a final decision.  I was shopping the other day and saw one of those cute workout tops with a peplum that I considered for a very, very brief period.  Then it occurred to me that peplum workout tops are best worn by someone shooting for a personal record in a run, not by someone looking to merely survive it without crying.  Or quitting.

I'm wearing this today.

It's pretty warm today, so short sleeves are not out of the question.  A cheapo black blazer from Forever 21 will be the perfect second layer should things cool off.  I like this low-budget blazer because it's very thin - you get the blazer effect without the added heft that comes with higher quality materials.

gratitude:  my run today, champagne-based cocktails on the horizon, a color plan for the house, baked potatoes

thanks and love.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We Have Not Been Good To Our Mud Room, But Things Are Going To Change. Like The Scene In Cinderella When She Gets Invited To The Ball - The Tide Starts Turning At That Point, And She's Just One Fairy Godmother Away From Greatness. I Hope Our Mud Room Has A Fairy Godmother. I Could Use The Help.

I would like to issue a formal apology.  To our mud room.  I was checking out a design blog this morning and came upon an article, with tons of pictures, featuring Aerin Lauder's (Estee's granddaughter) home in Aspen.  It's a lovely abode, as one would expect, but one photo stopped me dead in my tracks.  The caption read, "Aerin's perfectly appointed mud room."  I couldn't take my eyes off it.  It was stunning.  Now, I've worked in the biz, so I know this whole thing has been staged to look fantastic, but seriously, I never imagined a mud room could look that good, even with a professional snapping the shots.

Our mud room is not stunning.  Nor, is it well-appointed.  I know there is a bench in there along a wall, but I've not confirmed that visually in months.  I trust it's still there because without it, the Everest-sized wall of stuff that sits on it would be levitating in mid-air.  My logical mind tells me that's impossible, but when we bought this house I would have also felt that the level of disgust the mud room has achieved was also impossible.  I have been proven wrong.

In our old house, we had no mud room.  All the things people left behind as they stepped into our home ended up in a small hallway off the entrance to the garage.  Because this area was considered part of the main house, I made a mild effort to keep it somewhat in order.  But now we have the luxury of a mud room and, instead of treating this hard-working space with the love and respect it deserves, it has become a room-sized equivalent to a junk drawer.

You know something is wrong when you want to hide it (like when we stand alone in the pantry cramming a fun-size Baby Ruth in our mouth, or is that just me?).  We regularly shut the door to the mud room when we have people over and I've even been encouraging the children to bring their friends into our home through the front.  This is not how I envisioned life with a mud room would be.  But, now that Spike (God rest his soul) is no longer residing in the mud room, I have a good deal of new space to work with in there.  And before this additional square footage is overtaken by the tidal wave of junk heading straight for it, I'm going to step in (carefully) to add some style and structure.

I realize our mud room will likely never be worthy of a photographic spread, but at the very least, I no longer want to feel ashamed of it.  And, it'll be nice not to have people sign an injury waiver and show proof of an updated tetanus vaccination before they enter our home.  That's no way to live.

I'm wearing this today.

I want to be ready if the opportunity to try on a few pairs of boots arises while I'm out erranding.  Skinny jeans are required for a clear read on boot viability.

gratitude:  a clearer vision, taking action, twisting yoga poses, resources

thanks and love.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Calendars, Lists, And Wine. Right Up There With Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh When It Comes To Happy Holiday Celebrations.

I feel like once Halloween passes, the holiday race begins.  At this point, we're all lined up on the starting blocks, shaking out our arms and legs to keep them loose, and pressing our goggles into our face so they don't leak.  We're visualizing our desired outcome: joyful holiday gatherings, meaningful family moments, a lovely home, thoughtfully selected and beautifully wrapped presents, the sounds and smells of the season wafting from our home each and every day.  Right now though, we're working to stay calm and focused, but we know the gun will go off any second and then it's full-speed ahead to the finish line.

Holidays can be stressful - physically and emotionally.  But even if you're taking a minimalist approach to the season's events, you're going to need to make some plans.  I'm not a freak planner, but I have learned over the last year, that I'm happier if I've put some effort into planning ahead.  Even Santa made a list - and checked it twice!  Perhaps that added to his jolly attitude.  I never feel great if I'm constantly doing things last minute: things I saw coming, but for whatever reason blew off or delayed or completely forgot.  I'd rather enjoy a glass or two of wine in celebration of the season, not in an effort to drown out holiday fails.  I want to be fully present for the holidays - each year the season is a totally different experience and I don't want to miss a single moment of this one.

That said, I'm using this week to come up with a game plan.  I'm taking Benjamin Franklin's advice to heart:  "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail."  As I was Googling this quote to make sure I had the wording and the author correct, I found another quote that carried a similar meaning, but incorporated a bit more feeling and, dare I say, holiday magic?

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
- Anatole France

So, get yourself some good old paper calendar pages for November and December.  I like the full month of squares on one sheet because I'm the person who sometimes believes December has more days than it actually does.  Print calendar copies from the computer if you have to, then mark dates on them for all the events and activities you'd like to or need to accomplish in the next couple months.  Back out the steps necessary to make those a reality, then follow your plan through the season.  Write in pencil, of course, because life requires an eraser from time to time.   If we do this, I think we'll all find we actually have more time to just soak in and be present to all the holiday goodness and eliminate the last minute freak outs, panic attacks, and general crabbiness that tend to take away a bit from the holiday joy.

On your mark, get set, go!

I'm wearing this today.

I am digging my taupe, suede boots.  They are a great neutral, and the suede adds a nice bit of texture.  I'd almost call them a must-have.

And for Meatless Monday, it's minestrone!  For what it's worth, I like to add a parmesan rind to the minestrone while it cooks and a spoonful of pesto before serving.  Flavor oomph.

gratitude:  stretchy black trash bags, Baby Ruth candy bars, soup, Whole Foods' Mediterranean Tapenade

thanks and love.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Since I Don't Know What To Do With Our Entryway Decor For The Thanksgiving Season, I'm Buying Some Time And Leaving Our Carved Pumpkins Out Until Trash Day On Monday. Nothing Says 'Welcome' Like The Scent Of Moldy Squash.

So yesterday, I was battling a bit of an unfortunate Halloween stomach bug.  Quite fitting really, because there are few things in real life much creepier than imagining how exactly I might have picked this nasty thing up.  We all know how these illnesses are passed along, so I don't need to get into the science of it here, but suffice it to say the unknown exchange of stomach contagion is the thing of nightmares.  

I really didn't eat anything yesterday so today I'm reintroducing food to the system and unfortunately, even though my intentions are to begin my nibbling with healthy and nutritious items, the only things that sound good to me are the remains of the Cheetos from JD's party last night and the five Baby Ruths I hid away before trick-or-treating started.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I already snuck one Cheeto, just to see how it would sit and, for the record, we're all good.  Let the healing commence.

And now that it's November, we'll be inundated with holiday advertising.  I just saw my first Christmas based TV ad this morning.  It was a Petco commercial introducing their new Martha Stewart collection of holiday pet toys.  I'm sure the dogs and cats on the receiving end of these new chew toys will appreciate the fine workmanship and tasteful detail.  Our dogs ate through a Diaper Genie, a table leg, and some refrigerator magnets.  Connoisseurs, indeed.

And finally, tomorrow is my sweet boy, J.D's, 14th birthday.  He is a truly wonderful person and I am entirely grateful to be his mom.  I love you with all my heart, J.D.!  Happy, happy birthday!

I'm wearing this today.

Black is very easy.  And, honestly, all I have clean.

gratitude:  a caring family, happy kids, birthday weekends, the time change

thanks and love.