Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowy days....

.....are made for baking, shoveling, cuddling with the kitten, reading, laundry, and watching Masterpiece Theater (Grantchester). 

homemade pretzels - super yummy
catnapping on her favorite chair cushion

what I'm currently reading and a cuppa English afternoon tea

Okay, I may have sneaked a nap in there too.  Isn't winter, in general, conducive to napping?  Not that I need an excuse, mind you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stunning.....just stunning.

A few new pairs of earrings

Somehow I managed to score a long weekend last week, and boy did I have plans!  I was going to catch up on paperwork, get some necessary shopping done, deep clean and rearrange my creative space, wash lots of laundry, do some baking and hopefully squeeze in some Netflix viewing.  What is it they say about best laid plans?!

On my first day off, I only managed to make a few pairs of earrings and leave a tremendous mess on my desk!  Well, I also squeezed in time for a blog post.  And I finished a novel.  And we watched Belle, a rather stirring period drama based on a true story.  Lots of beautiful people and gorgeous clothing in addition to an interesting story.  (Here's a link to the trailer, in case you're interested: Belle.)   

first pair of earrings:
Dusty rose peanut beads (Let's Bead), coral Czech glass rounds, faceted red aventurine stones (Fire Mt. Gems), polymer clay discs (Joni's Touch of Art) and carved garnet rounds.  The garnet rounds came from a friend who bought them while living in Japan.
second pair of earrings:
All of the beads, except for the seed beads, were bought from a flea market vendor.  I wish I knew the woman's name and whether or not she still sells vintage beads!  The thin gold-toned bead caps are from broken rosaries.  I don't wear yellow often, but these might make a cheerful addition to any outfit, especially come spring and summer.  The china is from my aunt who gifted me a cup & saucer for Christmas.

This weekend I plan to explore a bit of Hudson, NY with friends and spend time with family as my great nephew is about to turn three. I think there is a round of Ants in the Pants in my future.

Hope you have a great end to your week no matter where you are or what you do!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I left my heart in...Prague

Wait a minute.  That's not how the song goes!

But perhaps I did leave part of my heart in Prague when Tim and I visited last year around this time.  My little sister has just returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands so thoughts of travel are in my head.  I don't have any plans to step on a plane or train or take a long journey in a car any time soon so I thought I would reminisce about a trip to a beautiful city in Europe instead.

I think we may have been in the heart of Old Town for less than 15 minutes when I asked Tim to promise me we would return to Prague for a much longer visit.  Rent an apartment and eat in local restaurants.  Learn enough of the language to greet people on the street.  Go for a tour of the factories where the famous glass beads are made.  Attend a service at one of the many gorgeous churches in the city.  Explore the historic Jewish part of town and learn its history.  Watch the traditional glass carvers at work.  He agreed.  He may have forgotten by now, but he agreed!

Here are some photos:

The roof spires on the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, finished in the early 15th century

winding street off the Old Town square

how fun to imagine living in an attic apartment in one of these old buildings

the famous Prague astronomical clock, the oldest of its kind that still works

one of the many stunning windows of St. Vitus Cathedral

part of the gorgeous Gothic exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral

a romantic time of day to stroll the city streets

a glass carver working inside a shop at the Prague Castle complex

I don't recall what this shark was selling or advertising, but I remember he made us laugh.  Note the fake dismembered hand in his teeth.

view of the skyline from the Charles Bridge

nice vista from the top of The Petřín Lookout Tower

adorned in the Art Nouveau style, The Municipal House is a venue for concerts, balls & fashion shows and has at least one lovely restaurant we could see from the street

street performers headed to work

This scene is what I remember most about Prague's beauty.  The water, the gondola, the lighting, the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral - it was all so romantic.  This city oozes history and charm.  You can't help feeling the past here.

extraordinary metal work on a gate outside St. Vitus Cathedral

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

At the start of a new calendar year, a lot of people start talking about change.  Exercise more, eat less.  Spend more time with family, work less.  Save more, spend less.  Cook more, eat out less.  Look on the bright side more often, eliminate cynical leanings.  It makes me think of the first time I heard the phrase "life lessons."  It came from the mouth of a manager above my manager, and if I'm recalling correctly it was in reference to the proverbial golden rule - treat others as you yourself would like to be treated.  She said something along the lines of "it's one of those life lessons, isn't it?  We know it, but we actually have to practice it."  How true of two-way kindness, self-care, finding the time for the most important people in our lives, living within our means and so on.

This is often the time of year when folks make resolutions to make those changes, right?  That list of things we want to acquire or become.  That list of idealized desires and goals.  This isn't something I've ever really practiced.  Instead, I choose to make two mental lists sometime between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day: what I like about myself and what I'm grateful for in my life.  As I've read in many Oprah magazine articles and self-help type books, gratitude is believed to be the true path to joy.  Perhaps you've kept a gratitude journal or simply count your blessings on a regular basis.  Many may believe it's a bunch of hokum, but perhaps joy is truly found in recognizing and appreciating the good in our lives, no matter how large or small.  

Some days, being grateful for my cat cuddling and purring on my lap brings me delight.  Experiencing a sunny day when I'm off work and have time to appreciate how the light filters to the forest floor brings gladness.  A good meal.  A conversation with an old friend.  A nice customer.  A belly laugh or even a quick giggle.  Jubilation isn't far away if we make the effort to simply see it and value it.  

With that, I've thought of a word that I plan to work into my existence during 2015.  

That word is PURPOSEFUL.