Monday, December 31, 2012

A Fitting End...

As some of you know, I attempted the 365 Project this year - with dismal results.  I did fairly well through mid-June, but then I essentially gave up due to life's circumstances.  A few years ago I would have viewed this as a failure, but this year I just view it as a temporary set-back.

I plan to try the 365 project again this year and I am looking forward to the challenge - and the discipline.  In anticipation of this new endeavor, I decided to take a final photo of 2012 - and it is quite a fitting summation of the year.

Last Christmas my son gave me this beautiful snow globe depicting the 75th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  This gift had many special meanings.  First.... he chose the gift when he went to New York City to propose to his girlfriend of five years.  Second.... he knows how much his mother loves the parade (it is on my bucket list) and he took the time to find a most thoughtful gift,  And third.... Brynn loved the gift from the first time she heard the tinkling music.  It helped me form a bond with my granddaughter that I will forever cherish.

2012 began as a year filled with hope, but it quickly became a year of unsettling disappointment.  The wedding proposal did not manifest itself into a December wedding as planned - and the emotional turmoil this caused for everyone was nearly unbearable.  At the time the relationship was disintegrating,  mid-June, Brynn accidentally dropped the globe and it shattered.  Fortunately no one was cut in the incident .. but the magical globe lost its enchantment.

But six months later I look at this broken ornament and still see beauty.  I see a vision of a parade that I will one day visit - and I see magic in the romantic event that brought it into my life.  I also see wonder in the face of a toddler and I cherish the memories that are contained within its broken shell.  The couple is still together - and there is hope that they will one day become husband and wife.  What was once a broken and useless object has now become a symbol of hope rising from the depths of disaster.

Here's to a joyful and peaceful and hopeful New Year.

Pin It and Do It

Over the weekend I made the time to catch up on a bit of blog reading.  I have missed connecting with all of you and thoroughly enjoyed catching up on your literary as well as personal lives.

One meme that appeared on several blogs was Trish's Pin It and Do It Challenge for December and while I did not officially register to participate, I did think that I would join the "pinners" on this last day of the challenge.

My Pinterests tend to focus on photography and food, although I can see using the site for craft and reading inspiration in 2013.  The Pin that I would like to share today, however, falls in the realm of Creative Gift Ideas.

As the children have grown up we find that Christmas gift surprises are more and more difficult to pull off.  And truth be told, we have learned that parental tastes in clothing, music, movies.... well, just about anything, is not the same as a twenty-something.  So for the past several years we have filled stockings with small, inconsequential items and then wrapped a check for the "large" present.  Of course, some years have been more financially lucrative than others, and this year was one of the more lean holidays.

While the end-product was a bit less than perhaps anticipated, it was my hope that a unique wrapping would make it special.  And this is where Pinterest came to the rescue:

Kleenex Money Box

The idea is simple - and did not take nearly as long to assemble as I had anticipated.  But the true joy was the look on each child's face as they opened the gift of tissues....only to discover the true present within.  We had fun watching them pull the dollar bills out of the box, and then carefully separating each one into a tidy sum of cash for their own personal use.

There was also another website that illustrated several different, creative ways to give money.  I plan to refer to this again and again for future ideas - not just for Christmas, but other fun gift-giving occasions.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Work in Progress

I realize it has been a couple of weeks since my last post - the one where I said that I was gearing up to start blogging again.  And I wasn't lying.  I really do want to blog again and reconnect with this online community that I love so well.  But I have never been one to rush into change.  I like routine.  Even if it is boring and has lost its usefulness, I still hold on for dear life.  But I am slowly learning to let go of the grip - and I anticipate that 2013 will be a year of many changes.

Yesterday I spent time organizing photography memes and prompts to help me with my attempt at completing the 365 project in 2013.  While I was fairly consistent the first part of 2012, unexpected summer occurrences derailed me and I quit the project mid-June.  I did learn a lot about photography, however, and how to slow down long enough to view the world around me.  I hope to capitalize on this knowledge and use these prompts to help me delve into the more creative side of photography this coming year, rather than just looking at it as a documentary of my daily life.

Today I took another step forward and developed a potential weekly blogging routine.  While most of my family loathes the structure of a daily routine, I thrive on it.  And since this is my blog - I have decided that I will try to use this tool/crutch to help me focus and keep a balanced blogging life.  Of course, this is always subject to tweaking...but here is my preliminary outline:

  • Monday Morning Preview - I am not fond of Mondays, so I thought a quick preview of my week ahead, both obligations and potential projects, might be a great way to ease into the weekly writing routine.
  • Crafty Tuesday - I truly enjoy crafts (scrapbooking and rubber stamping especially) but tend to deny myself the pleasure of this past-time unless all responsibilities are complete.  This results in little creative play and a very cranky Molly.  I am hoping that designating one day of blogging that focuses on crafts that I have worked on throughout the week will get me outside this silly way of thinking.
  • Writing Wednesday - I still find great therapeutic pleasure in writing - and while most of what I write is just personal dribble, I would like to share a bit of it with others.  I also have a bee in my bonnet that I want to try to write a mystery (more on that in an upcoming post) - and this would be a good place to keep track of that progress.
  • Thoughtful Thursday - This would be a suitable follow-up to the writing entry as most of my writing focuses on personal reflections.  Although I also think that that this title could encompass a wide variety of subjects:  book reviews - movie reviews - thoughts of teaching or dogs or whatever other interest crosses my mind over the week.
  • Photography Friday - it is certainly no secret that I have found a love of photography over the past two years, but oftentimes this love of the craft does not translate into a quality product.  I do hope that designating one day a week to this topic on the blog, however, will at least keep me focused on the 365 project - and sharing at least one picture (or one book on that topic) will keep me growing and developing this skill.
  • Weekend Cooking - I have so enjoyed this weekly meme, even if I rarely participate.  I have great plans of cooking more in 2013 and regaining that gourmet passion I once had.  Either sharing a new recipe, or a new wine, or a new cookbook will be the focus on this blog entry.
  • Sunday Salon - I have participated in this meme since I first began this blog and I love the relaxed atmosphere of combining personal life with book reviews.  I hope to do a better job of actively participating in the upcoming year.
As I mentioned several times over the past few months, I have debated changing the name of this blog as it no longer qualifies as a true "book blog"  However, I have come to the decision that this blog does indeed reflect me:  who I am and what is important in my personal life.  Most of these activities do indeed take place in "my cozy book nook" on the third floor of this split level house, and so it seems like an appropriate place to maintain my blog updates.

I am indeed gearing up, but it is most definitely a work in progress.  I hope that I have my act together enough to start this new routine next week.  I have truly missed it....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gearing Up....

Now that we are in the last month of 2012 I have concluded that this has been a transitional year.  For those of you who have followed my blog....2011 was a transformational year:  the death of my mother, the realization that I was now the matriarch of the family, the birth of my first grandchild, and the engagement of my son.  It was a lot to process and digest, and in hindsight, I think it was natural that this year would be one of limbo.

I have had a difficult time focusing on much of anything these past eleven months.  I have read very little, and what I have read has been mostly non-fiction photography books.  Since this blog originally began as a "book blog" you can understand how unusual this behavior is for me.  And while I have read a lot about photography, and started the year off strong participating in the 365 project, I have really done very little with this hobby since May.

Writing has been another passion of mine, but I just can't seem to commit enough to complete a project.  I was so excited to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but petered out after the first week and a mere 8,000 words.  I have not "quit" --- and I will finish this story that has been rattling around in my head for nearly three years, but apparently 2012 was not the year to do it.

And for the first time in my adult life, I have experienced health issues.  Minor ones, but issues never-the-less.  An acute gall bladder attack led to emergency surgery, and three weeks later a serious bladder infection weighed me down as well.  While I do not wish to take a fatalistic view of these events, I do know that going forward I can expect even more health issues to slow me down --- and I have too much that I want to accomplish before I slow to a crawl. So it is for that reason  I have decided that 2013 will be a year of refocus.

I have missed blogging and I am ready to return to a writing routine that includes updating my personal blog as well as reading your blogs that I so enjoy.

I am ready to read more - and while I refuse to be tempted by the enticing book challenges offered in the blogosphere, I have already started collecting books for my own reading enhancement.  For some reason I have it in my mind that I would like to write a cozy mystery --- not with the purpose of being published, but just to see if I can do it.  I have currently collected about fifteen "first in the series" cozies to read and I am sure I will add more.  I will soon write a post outlining the titles of those  have chosen, and hopefully write a blog review for each one as I finish it.

I am also ready to travel - and while the budget is not quite at the level where I can take multiple trips overseas, I plan to start local and work my way out.  I have been researching fun day visits in the Kansas City area, as well as easy weekend get away spots.  I look forward to posting reviews of these travel connections, for anyone who might be interested.

There are other changes in the works as well, but I am not at liberty to speak of those just yet.  Suffice it to say, I am ready to move on with life.  I am excited to see what 2013 holds for me and my family.  And I am ready to reconnect with long-lost blogging friends.
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