Monday, January 28, 2013

Presidents' Day Party...Invitation

Picture 1

I'm throwing a Presidents' Day party and you can too. I'll help you out! We still have a couple of weeks to plan it, so check back often and see what I've posted to help you get ready. Today I'm giving you the invitations. Better print them out and get them sent off soon!

P.S., In the coming days, look for posts on food and decorations for the party!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Released back to the universe

Shabby chic table
Sometimes you know you should get rid of something. But you don't. You hem. You haw. You put off. Never mind that you don't seem to have a space for it. Or a need. Or even a good excuse. You know you ought to move it along and yet you just don't do it.

These are the times I remind myself of secondhand treasures I've found. They are things that are meaningful to me, things I love, but I have them only because someone else released them.

I found this table in an alley, brought it home, and have moved it from corner to corner in my basement...for several years now. I love its character but it just doesn't fit in my house, or my life.

Today I let it go.

I was almost certain no one would want it. It's too chippy, too beat up. But I couldn't bear it to go in a landfill, so I put it on Craigslist. I figured it was a very long shot, but with a low asking price, who knows?

It didn't even take five minutes before I heard from Kris. She (I figured it was a woman. Don't men usually spell that name with a C?) would swing by after work.

Turns out it was a Kris-Kristofferson-type Kris: longish hair, big laugh, even bigger parka. He had a cottage in Wisconsin to furnish.


I took his five dollars and ran (ran!) upstairs to tell Jay. Talk about perfection! A cottage in Wisconsin!

I know it's just a table. But I found enough generosity in my heart to let go of something I didn't need and in return, it felt like the universe righted itself, just a little bit.

Or at least it brought its table home.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Annual sugar consumption...what's yours?

I've always loved chocolate chip cookies, or as my best friend and I called them, CCCs. We could eat a bag in one sitting. "Chips Ahoy!" Yes, matey, even the name seemed to call to us. We'd wash them down with a gallon of milk and then lay around in our hot, sticky dorm room, lounging off the sugar coma, not even remotely sorry for what we'd done. Uhhhhh, even now I'm feeling the craving coming over me. I don't do crazy things like that anymore.

Well, maybe it's a little crazy to keep track of how much sugar you eat in a year. But that's what I'm going to do. I read in an article that the average annual sugar consumption in the U.S. is about 150 pounds. Maybe it's some tiny scrap of competitiveness finally surging within me, but I'm curious as to how I measure up.

Picture 1

In this chart published by the USDA, you can see that Americans, on average, consume 65.6 pounds of cane and beet sugar. I'm not sure how I'll compare to that but I can make good guesses about the other two categories. I'm pretty allergic to high fructose corn syrup so I do everything I can to avoid it. Honey, on the other hand, is an important staple in our household. I think I'll go well over the pound and a half average!

So how am I going to do it?

First, I'll break it into two categories: at home sugar consumption and outside sugar consumption.

I bake a lot so, for me, the first category is as important, if not more so, than the second. It will also be easier to measure. I'll simply take note of how much sugar I have in the house currently, keep track of how much I buy during the year, and subtract what's left in my pantry at the end of the year. Of course, Jay will eat some of what I bake, so I'll divide this in half. (Or take 60%? Do I eat more of my baked goods than Jay?)

For sweets consumed outside the house, I'll just have to keep a record and make my best guess as to how much sugar is in the item. At the end, I'll also round up a pound or two since sugar is in so many things you wouldn't suspect: sauces, breads, etc.

I think this should give me a reasonably accurate estimate of my annual sugar consumption. Plus, I'm hoping that, by being more aware of it, (and having to note it!), I might lower my consumption a bit outside the house.

So, let's see what happens! At the moment, I'm in the middle of my annual New Year's six-week sugar fast, so consumption is almost zero. (I say almost because there's been a few cheats. Fortunately, there have been few enough that I can remember them all and will record them!)


Friday, January 18, 2013

Fabric Magnet Tutorial

Fabric Magnets

Writing your New Year's Resolutions or goals for the year is great but almost as important as writing them down is remembering them! So to help you stick them up where you'll see them often, I'm going to show you how to make magnets out of scrap fabric and free advertising magnets.

  Free magnets

Start by collecting some magnets. You could also use magnetic tape.

 Remove coating

 Peel back the plastic-y coating on the magnets. Use your fingernail or an X-acto to get it started. I had better luck with some magnets than others. You don't have to get every tiny scrap off but get as much as you can, while leaving most of the paper coating on.

Cut magnets

Use the magnets full size or cut them smaller or into interesting shapes. Using regular white glue, put a fair amount on the paper side of the magnet. Use your finger to spread it smooth.

  Glue magnet on

 Glue the magnet to the wrong side of some scrap fabric. Cut along the edges of the fabric to finish your magnet. (With the more intricate shapes, I had to use tiny craft scissors and even an X-acto to get all the threads out of the tiny corners!)

  Wren with new magnet and goals

Now, stick up those lists of goals! I put mine on the side of the fridge.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How to set goals

Wren writing goals

 Do you write New Year's resolutions? Here are a few tips for making successful resolutions or setting goals at any time of the year:

Goals should be:

1. Measurable
The very best goals are measurable and specific. The reason for this is simple: how will you know when you've achieved your goal if there is no clear finish line? It seems obvious and yet this is one of the biggest problems most people have when they set goals. Here are some examples: "Lose five pounds" is better than "Lose weight." "Be able to run three miles and do five pull ups" is better than "Get in shape." "Spend fifteen minutes a day studying" is better than "Learn French."

Furthermore, if you just write a goal like "Enjoy life more" or "Be healthier," not only is it hard to know just when you've achieved this, it's hard to even know where to start. It takes more work to write a measurable and specific goal but just by defining your goal, you're closer to making it reality. For example, what does "Enjoy life more" mean TO YOU? What activities truly bring you joy? Maybe you love being outdoors. So, "Go hiking twice a month" would be a good, measurable goal. By December, you'll know if you did that and right now, you start looking for good trails and buying a new pair of hiking boots.

2. Realistic
Being ambitious is good but if your list of goals is just too big, you may end up focusing on all the things you didn't do instead of all you achieved. I actually do this a lot so I've learned to scale back a little, or give myself more time.

Also recognize if you're considering a major life change. "Stop drinking" or "Get out of credit card debt," are certainly measurable and achievable goals, but they involve drastic change in many areas of life. With goals like these, it's important to break them down into short-term goals: "Attend AA meetings once a week" or "Don't spend any money on clothes this month."

3. Important
Are your goals really important TO YOU? Personal goals aren't about pleasing others. They're about discovering your life's path and defining who you want to be: not an easy task! It takes a lot of self-reflection to truly know what you want out of life. It also takes experimentation and the wisdom just gained by living.

So take the process seriously and once you've set your goals, really commit yourself to them. Writing your goals down helps you be accountable. Some people even make a "signed contract" with themselves. Others find that telling friends and family about their goals helps them stay committed. Whatever it takes for you, find a way to hold yourself responsible for your own progress.

4. Flexible
Keep in mind two things: we all change, and sometimes life throws us curve balls. The goals you write in January may be no longer applicable or possible by the middle of June. And that's OK. Review your goals often and keep them up to date. As long as they are measurable, realistic, and important,  it doesn't matter when you came up with them!

So good luck, and have fun!