A few good books: June

coffee-001I suppose there hasn’t been much reading happening for me this month.  Why? House projects, travel, and general summertime activities.  I have been TIRED! For some reason only she knows, Sweet Girl has been very difficult with going to bed.  Maybe it’s that thing where they can regress right before a big developmental milestone happens.  I sure hope so.

June books

La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language by Dianne Hales

I took this paperback along on a beach vacation and it was the perfect book to read a little bit here, a little there.  Hales has written a celebration of the Italian language and culture. Her love is infectious! As she journeys through the liveliest parts of Italian’s history, she invites the reader along to meet people, visit important places, and discover her reasons for learning this language and bringing it into her heart.

“And what a language it is! Italian, handcrafted by poets and wordsmiths, embodies its native speakers’ greatest genius: the ability to transform anything–from marble to melody, from the humble noodle to life itself–into a joyous art.  English, like a big black felt-nosed Magic Marker, declares itself in bold statements and blunt talk.  Italian’s sleek, fine-pointed quill twirls into delicate curlicues and dramatic flourishes.  While other tongues do little more than speak, this lyrical language thrills the ear, beguiles the mind, captivates the heart, enraptures the soul, and comes closer than any other idiom to expressing the essence of what it means to be human.”

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

Written by a scientist and engineer, this book surveys 10 common materials and their relationship to our culture and specifically how they came about and affect our lives.  A fascinating look at materials science in layman’s terms.

I Always Loved You: A Novel by Robin Oliveira

The world blazes along with its critical tongue and shallow impatience, not understanding the moment, the breath, the seeing.

This novel is based on the story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. Degas helps Cassatt realize her potential and strength as an artist, but he can be cruel and stubborn, making their relationship complicated.  Still, their connection is strong and reading about their lives, separate and together, was fascinating.  The societal pressures on the Impressionist movement when it first arose was also something new to me.

Knowing Mary was to know more of himself, an astonishing development at his age. Few knew him as she did, and fewer loved him, of that he was more than certain. Right now he could not even name a woman other than Mary whom he could tolerate for longer than a few minutes. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps he was too harsh, or too crude, or too truthful for a woman to tolerate, none of which had ever mattered until now.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Sigh.  This is an absolutely beautiful story.  It speaks of young social pressures, of the class divisions in our society, and first love.  I’d wanted to read this for about 3 years now, since it came out, because I’d heard that all ages of readers love this young adult novel.  It’s true.  Highly recommend.

Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

There’s only one of him, she thought, and he’s right here. He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me. There’s only one of him.

How to Travel Full-Time by Colin Wright

Every 4 months, Colin Wright asks his blog readers to vote on where he should go next.  He travels as a way of life.  I began reading this simply because I like Colin Wright.  It’s made up of short chapters with tips and stories about his full-time travel life.  I like that he describes how the idea of travel relates with the reality, cultural relativism, the ethics of traveling, how to explore most efficiently and effectively, how to document your travels, and so much more.

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Pushing through

Healthy eating

I have been the same weight for a few weeks now and am slightly frustrated.  I am still eating fewer than 1000 calories daily.  Granted, I stopped my daily walking when school got out a month ago, and I need to get on my treadmill.  I read somewhere that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, so I’m hoping that’s true!

I’m drinking lots of water and have replaced my breakfast with an Arbonne protein shake, which keeps me full and satisfied from 6am to about 11am, when I have my sandwich or salad. I also bought a powder they sell that you mix with water and drink 30 mins before a meal to fill you up so that you eat a “normal” meal portion and no more.

I’m still enjoying eating healthy foods and having far more fruits and vegetables as snacks throughout the day.  “Drinking” (because it’s a pill) the lemon and cayenne in the morning seems to rev up my system to digest better and give me energy.  I love that the foods are simple… one or two ingredients and I know exactly what’s in them.  The Freshly ready-made meals have been great as well since I don’t like to spend time cooking (although I think maybe Mr. B is about ready to revolt).  Minimal bread.  No cheese.  So far so good.

I recently saw an article on Facebook that basically said our bodies have a “set point” and in any weight loss program, you have to overcome a waiting period before your body will allow itself to go below a certain threshold.  I guess it’s waiting to see if the change is for real.  I know it said it could be a few months even… so I’m waiting it out.  I want that “set point” to be where it was 10 years ago.  🙂

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I’m late, I’m late, for… what exactly???

painting-001For about 4 weeks now, I’ve been very busy with home projects.  I know these are first-world concerns, but it’s really exhausting! There are so many decisions to make and a multitude of aspects to consider.

At some point in our discussion about painting the house, I told Mr. B that I could do all the painting myself. Since he’s wise beyond his years (and since we’ve done this before in a different house), he said he didn’t want me exhausted, trying to “get it done already.” I told him I would “take it slowly”… maybe paint one wall a day or something.

That last part gave him a good chuckle.  “‘Take it slow is not even in your vocabulary,” he said.  I realized that of course he’s right.  I have probably never done anything piece-meal like that.  I dive in, work hard, and get it done, usually at some form of personal expense.

Most days, I’m spent by about 3:00, which doesn’t fare well for my family.  The question remains… why? For someone without an 8-5  job, why am I so drained some days?

Theres a lot of chatting going on in my head.  Planning, worrying, ideas spinning around.  Overthinking has got to be similar to having your phone screen’s brightness turned all the way up.  At some point, you’ve got to save battery.

calendar-001I have no idea what I was busy with before 3 weeks ago, but I know I was definitely busy. Was I reading, writing, painting, editing photos, grocery shopping, researching summer plans or summer camps? Where exactly am I spending my time? I know I usually have a lot going on, but exactly what???

Imagine mental activity equivalent to a hamster wheel constantly spinning.  There are future events to schedule, reminders to do/call/ask someone something, tickets to purchase, blog posts to write, bills to pay, laundry, groceries, … and on and on.

It’s pretty easy to generate a feeling of being busy.  But could I do the same tasks with a feeling of ease instead?

Take a simple task of getting my daughter to her weekly dance class.  I usually spend a few minutes a couple days before mentally going over my to-dos for this: make sure leotard is washed, clean out dance bag, put together a snack and drink for after school, put extra booster seat in my car for her friend and clear the back seat mess, make sure she has her weekly homework done early if possible, are her tights inside out? is her change of clothes still in the bag from last week? should I bring her some water?

None of these is particularly difficult, but it takes up head space.  Is there some way to simplify this process?

I decided to create a list similar to one I use for when we go to the pool.  Everything I need to gather is listed there and I don’t need to think at all; just gather what’s listed and go.  If my daughter does a couple things, and if I put any small tasks or reminders on my calendar, there’s no more need to spend mental energy on this.

If everything works this way, it will be far easier to stay focused in the present moment.  Sure, I’m still busy, but I’m not mentally exhausted.  I think that will make a huge difference.

paint coverThat, and hiring painters. 🙂

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Note to self: read this 97 times daily

Be kind

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50 shades of gray? No way!

shades of grayWe moved into our house almost 5 years ago and we have repeatedly wondered what to do to arrange our living room in a comfortable way so that we could all hang out together and talk to each other.

For years we had our couch facing the back wall, which did not seem very welcoming or conducive to engaging with anyone in the rest of the house.  Finally somebody had the idea to flip the room around, which involved moving the tv and satellite dish to accommodate the TV being on a different wall.

This allowed us to buy a sectional, something we have wanted for a while but didn’t think we had the right layout for. We love our new couch, especially the fact that we can all sit or lay on it and not even touch each other.  The room already feels much more open and welcoming.

Living room new sofa

But this is going to be the new “before” photo.  Now that I’m on a roll, why not change a few things?

The color paint that we chose when we moved in makes the house feel a bit like a cave so I decided to paint.  It was just a matter of figuring out the color.  Ha ha… it’s not ever that simple is that?

Gray? Beige? Greige? There are maybe 7000 different paint colors depending on which brand you go with.  It became a minor obsession, I admit. I would test samples on several walls and watch it throughout the day finally admitting that I didn’t like it, then go back and get another color to repeat the process.  It was very very frustrating for someone who just likes to get it done!

Anyhow, to make a long story short slightly less long, we ultimately chose a color and our painter will have it done soon.  Another way to lighten up the room is to change out a couple of the pieces of furniture and some decorative items. We are even thinking of putting in two more windows to add more light.

Of course if you paint the living room, you have to paint the kitchen and the dining room and the hallway and the doors and the trim.  A small project turns much bigger. 

I will have some before and after pictures (which we all love) as we go forward making changes.  Decluttering is a huge part of this process.  I thought I’d done a good job but there is soooo much more to get out of here.  I’ve often wondered when looking in magazine photos… where do people put their stuff????? Turns out, they have LESS on purpose! And furniture pieces with storage.  😉

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What light through yonder window…

These are a few of the Saint-Paul-de-Vence doors and windows I fell in love with…


ShutteredHeartsDoubleShop2 doorsGreeneryDoor handleBlooms St Paul window

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