Countdown: Back to School Edition



So…. there are 21 days before school starts here.  I have 21 days to do a LOT of work to make sure everyone is ready, including me.  And not just being ready for school, but for the shift in activities, and (gasp!) the approaching Holiday season.

I’m not great at pacing myself – I procrastinate waiting on perfection to arrive, and I end up cramming (trying to cram) a months worth of work into 48 hours.  Determined to avoid this scenario I  created a little check list.  Maybe, this way, the excitement of a new season won’t become the Panic of the Century.  Maybe.

For the next three weeks, I’m working on kid stuff and kids rooms, household wise (and getting a large client project underway – very exciting!).  Our upstairs/kid space has needed attention for a while, it’s been a long time coming, and I really want the kiddos to have comfortable “finished” spaces, ready to welcome them home and be well appointed for studying and relaxing.  My household list looms large:

  • shoe shopping (athletic)      DONE!  THANK YOU DEAR SISTER IN LAW!!
  • evaluate make up and personal care items – replace/replenish
  • evaluate closets and clean out   DONE!  GOOD JOB KIDS! (I still need to do mine)
  • clothes and dress shoe shopping
  • school supplies shopping
  • digital organization (probably won’t happen all in one day, but get started)
  • update calendar
  • paint sons room I
  • paint sons room II
  • decorate sons room I
  • decorate sons room II
  • paint upstairs landing walls
  • clean out upstairs landing closet
  • clean carpets upstairs
  • paint laundry room cabinets
  • paint laundry room walls
  • paint older daughters room (walls only)
  • decorate older daughters room I
  • decorate older daughters room II
  • decorate younger daughters room I
  • decorate younger daughters room II

I’m excited about the timeline, rather than feeling overwhelmed, because so much of this is cleaning and painting and decorating, and the results are nearly instant.  Not much waiting for a lot of gratification.  Some, but not all, of this will be done by me – I’m fortunate that members of my family love to shop, for example, so the kids get taken on much more extravagant and adventurous outings than my midnight tours of on-line sales.  Also, the kids will clean out their own closets and help me with their rooms.  The projects I’m taking on personally are for measures of economy and expediency.  I just need them done, and I like to do much of my own painting.  I find painting therapeutic, and it gives me some productive quiet time.  So much so I always keep a notebook handy so I can jot down all my genius thoughts – and I’m good, and fast, and very reasonably priced.  I’d rather have the extra money I save by DIM’ing it for a splurge on a special piece of furniture or a fun weekend trip,  not to mention all the expenses that come along with having a high school senior – that’s a whole other conversation.

I hope you’re enjoying these blessed last few days of summer – it’s hot, but something about it is still so sweet.

With love and optimism –













Tiny Task Tuesday


credit, and you should check out this site!

Staving off overwhelm is the order of the hour around here.  As usual we have a lot of terrific opportunities for work and school and socializing, yet even heavily edited the calendar can seem daunting.

One of the casualties of running about having fun and not being home much is the inevitable slide of household upkeep and projects.  I’ve developed a certain comfort level with this over the years – I do value experiences more as I get older, and understand that there are only so many hours in the day, and that as hard as I might try I cannot be two places at once.  (dammit!).  As much as I love houses, and my house in particular, I don’t care to be so tied down to maintenance that I say “no” to an occasion to spend time with people I love, or to learn something new on an outing, or to help someone who needs it.   Obviously we can’t let the place crumble around our ears, but the occasional cobweb left undisturbed, a dish in the sink?  I look past those pretty frequently.




A really gross back door covered in dog slobber and fingerprints and buggy things…  At least, not anymore.  It’s *REALLY GROSS*.  Our dogs and most of our people demand to come and go through this door, so it is prone to getting funky.  It’s also a glaring reminder that letting things get disgusting has a huge effect on overall well being – this is the first and last thing we see (usually) as we go about our lives, so it’s kind of a daily downer.  And did I mention *REALLY GROSS*???

So – back to where I started – OVERWHELM…it’s these little but important tasks, like cleaning the back door, that on their own are really quite manageable but when you make a list of how many of them there are in the average household on any given day, it’s easier to just ignore them, pour another cup of coffee and do just about anything else.  Even paying bills is less painful.

This poor door really needs to be replaced, or at least painted, but that’s not happening today or even this summer.  What I can do, very quickly, is clean the sad little thing and show it some gratitude for its years of daily service.  Also, our back mat deteriorated and was thrown away, so a replacement was in order – but again, relegated to “not urgent” status.   This was a lucky clearance find at Target last week ($7.68!) and since you can’t put a fresh new doormat under a dirty door,  Tiny Task Tuesday was inspired.


My idea for TTT is this – schedule and accomplish something small, with big results – or maybe not big, maybe it just needs to get done?  Either way, it should take less than one hour and less than $10.00 to accomplish, and the faster and cheaper the better.   On Tuesdays.  Like a standing appointment.

Two things based on my experience this morning – 1) this effort will cause the domino effect.  You will notice that everything everywhere needs cleaning and straightening and replacing.  But that is not the point of this exercise!  For myself, I imposed a strict limit – the door, it’s surround, and the first step both in and out of the door.  2) hurry up and finish within the allotted time .  This is a serious “perfect is the enemy of the good” trap waiting to snare me.  Plus, these aren’t necessarily tasks to be savored (otherwise we’d be doing them all the time) and even though I’m a process person, going too slowly will throw off my timing for the rest of the day and make me less likely to return for my next TTT*.


My friend Dawn to the rescue – I just used this and warm water to clean off grime, and finished off the glass with glass cleaner and newsprint. 

I did manage to finish this little exercise in an hour and ten minutes (I started at 9:18, and finished at 10:26) including gathering, rinsing, and returning the equipment I used, and snapping the pictures.  The only out of pocket expense was the mat, so I’m counting it as a win.


Not perfect, but so much better.  I’ll take it. 


With love and optimism –


*there’s a broken tile on the threshold –  that’s up next!




Never would I ever….



I never would have believed that I would turn 50 (yikes!), marry a cop, become Catholic, eat onions – those are just the things that come to mind right off the bat.  I find myself saying “I would NEVER” way more than is probably reasonable, so I’m working on it.

One thing I don’t do – would NEVER, EVER do – is run, as in jog.  Not for exercise, and certainly not for recreation.

I hate running.  I don’t have the physique for it even at my healthiest weight.  I lack lightness, and running (or trying to run) seems to amplify that.  It makes me hurt, it’s sweaty in the worst way, you can get hit by a car or mugged or fall into a ditch.  I don’t like all the thumping and pounding along, feeling like a human buckboard.  I have friends who swear it is freeing, head-clearing, invigorating, but how this can be true is beyond me.

So I decided to train for a 5k.  In the middle of the Texas summer.

My goal is to run the whole distance.  I figure I can either realize this highly unlikely thrill people go on about, or I can confirm, with authority, that running is horrible.

All my negativity aside, I consider myself an athlete, if a dilapidated one, and it seems like I should be able to run three or so miles just as a matter of fitness.

Ugh, fitness.

I’ve never managed to hang on to fitness for very long.  I’m strong , I can sprint a bit, I’m still okay in the saddle (hoisting myself into it is another matter).  Still, I always carry (various amounts of) extra weight, never had a lot of cardio endurance or flexibility, and I’m sloppy about training.   I figure there is a decent chance to remedy those things with this particular endeavor, so for the next several weeks I’m going to practice the Couch to 5K outline.  It seems pretty straight forward, and not terribly demanding.  Except for the getting off the couch part.

Oh, and to prove I’m completely bonkers I’ve also opted in for Dry July*.   Because why not?

So – how’s your summer doing?

With love and optimism –



*Dry July is a non-drinking (none, not even a little) event established by me because my husband is showing off his self-discipline and I can’t stand it when I think he thinks he’s better than me!  True to form, I’m starting on the 10th rather than the 1st.



Is this thing on?


(photo of antique Aubusson fragment for inspiration)

Well hello there!  How are you?  I wanted to wish you a Happy Tuesday!

I haven’t been writing, in case you thought you missed something.   You didn’t.  But I did.

I’m quitting lots of things this season, and setting others aside for now, because I’m experiencing big gaps in quiet and creativity, like writing.  And I miss reading good writing.  And I believe both to be good, healthy, productive habits.  Unlike what I’m quitting, which are none of those things.  The setting aside part is harder than the quitting, precisely because those things aren’t bad.  In fact, they’re awesome!  They’re amazing!  They’re beautiful, and I know I am good at them.  But not today, not right now.  There just isn’t time or energy to do them well, and that turns beauty into discouragement.  And there DEFINITELY isn’t time for that.

I’m not divulging my quits or my set asides because I don’t want to unduly influence anyone, or disparage (presumably legal and not harmful to others) choices of how to spend time –  this isn’t a humble brag and certainly not intended to shame.  While I highly recommend quitting and setting aside, the particulars are very personal.   I encourage you to do what’s best for you, and encourage all of us to remember that course corrections can be as much of an adventure as the intended path.

With love and optimism –








40/10 Day 7: Brain Food



via Pinterest

Books!!!   I love getting lost in stories and images, and I can easily do so to the exclusion of nearly everything else.  Sleeping, eating, acknowledging the presence of others – all are weak competition for the page.  They are my favorite form of entertainment, because there’s so much more to it than watching someone else’s interpretation, like in a movie or on television – my brain actually has to turn on and engage and be part of the narration and the soundtrack.  There is an element of creative cooperation when reading the words of others that not only entertains me, it feeds my mind, and inspires me to work at improving my own writing.

This time of year I usually find myself a bit philosophically buried in heavy subject matter, reading-wise, but I very deliberately chose these books for this season because I all contribute mightily to developing creativity, and appreciating beauty and well-being.  Not insignificantly I happen to own all of them, though about half of them have yet to be opened.  Those that have are favorites and I’m looking forward to revisiting them not only because I enjoy them, but because I usually find something new in them with each re-read.


40 days of 10 books

  1. The More of Less, Joshua Becker
  2. My Life in France, Julia Child
  3. French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano
  4. Wheat Belly, William Davis MD
  5. Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster
  6. 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan Miller
  7. Be Your Own Decorator, Susanna Salk
  8. Interiors, Nina Campbell
  9. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
  10. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster

I want to get through these before the end of March so I won’t stop to review them all in depth right now.  If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know if you like them and why, and I always appreciate a suggestion for my “to read” list!

With love and optimism –



I used Amazon links for convenience, but I am not an affiliate.

40/10 DAY 6: Take Care


via Pinterest

I have not done a good job of keeping myself up (hence the exercise and weight loss goals discussed here).  There are fitness maintenance realities at 50 that simply weren’t issues at 30, and that simply cannot be ignored.  Additionally, working from home is both a blessing and a curse, for the exact same reason: No one ever sees me.  I don’t really have to go anywhere, and when our kids are home it’s rare that they ever actually look at me.  While I own a closet full of very nice clothes, I dress in tennis clothes about half the time, and the other half is worse –  yoga pants, painting clothes, etc…at least the tennis clothes are coordinated and kind of spiffy.

I recently stepped up my game and ordered these cute t-shirt dresses (5 of them) after admiring the fashionable Janet wearing hers.  They are simple but I think it’s a step in the right direction, and they’re certainly going to be a great backdrop for accessories.  They have the added benefit of being 100% cotton and a very wearable weight – not so heavy that they’re hot, but not so light that they won’t hold their shape.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with them and will let you know what I come up with.

While a new t-shirt dress is a start, I decided that I really need to do a little adulting and be more purposeful with regard to my health and my appearance, so naturally I made a list!


  1. SCHEDULE ANNUAL WELLNESS APPOINTMENTS – well woman, mammogram, dermatologist, physical – no excuses, stop being a baby
  2. EXERCISE DAILY, CONTINUE LOW CARB EATING – add a journal to chart weight and blood pressure
  3. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS DAILY – B, C, and D, magnesium, zinc, calcium, turmeric, milk thistle, lions mane, and l-lysine.  That’s a LOT, but I genuinely feel better, and sleep better, when I take all of them regularly.
  4. BEDTIME ROUTINE, PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE – put myself to bed on time and eliminate night time screen watching (read a book!)
  5. MORNING ROUTINE – starting off centered and organized
  6. MAKE APPOINTMENTS FOR HAIR AND NAIL CARE – a put-together appearance  requires time, money, and occasionally pain, but it is so worth it
  7. SCHEDULE REGULAR SOCIAL APPOINTMENTS WITH FRIENDS – once a month – I already have a March girls weekend on the calendar
  8. SCHEDULE REGULAR DATE NIGHT WITH HUSBAND – once a month will work, and it doesn’t have to be an over the top production.  Just some couple time.
  9. SCHEDULE NON-WORK CREATIVE TIME – sketch book, photo albums, cooking class, etc
  10. WRITE A PERSONAL NOTE, ONCE A WEEK, TO A FRIEND OR ACQUAINTANCE – Beautiful stationery is something I enjoy collecting, because it’s meant to be used – I love writing letters as an exercise in gratitude.  It’s a good practice for staying in touch and to let people know that I appreciate them.  Very handy when the self-care I need is to take the focus OFF of me.

I have to remind myself that self-care isn’t selfish, nor should it be negotiable.  It’s okay to not be a fashion plate, but it’s not okay to be constantly disheveled and definitely not okay to neglect oneself to the point of ill health.  Much like making the bed, and doing the dishes, these little patterns are what contribute so mightily to the big picture of contentment.  It’s easier to be happy and healthy when I purpose to be so.

With love and optimism –



Cindy at Rough Luxe offers helpful ideas on mature skin care and makeup choices that are not astronomically expensive

Better Vitamin C – I ordered this one that I learned of from Paloma at   La Dolce Vita.  Her site is fantastic and I regularly find style inspiration there.








40/10 DAY 5: What I learned from Julia Child


I have always loved Julia Child.  We didn’t have great television reception way back in the dark ages before the digital alchemy took over, and our local public television station was on one of two channels that would come in clearly at our house.  We watched a lot of cooking shows, but my favorite was, and is, Julia.  Certainly for the food, but that’s just the beginning – her exuberance, her sincerity, and her determination all spoke of a life well explored and well lived.

I finally got around to reading her memoir about her love of cooking and her husband, and life in general,  My Life in France , and I found it both terrific reading and extraordinarily educational.  My natural list making tendency quickly sorted my take-aways into a little outline (what a surprise).  If I were to compose a mission statement for myself, for the remainder of the time I hope to spend here on Earth, this is pretty much what it would look like.


  1. “I’m too old” is a bullshit cop out excuse for just about everything
  2. be intensely curious about others, be interested
  3. go places, see things, and embrace the culture not just the sights
  4. invest in quality ingredients and equipment
  5. there is no way around hard work when developing technique
  6. write things down
  7. produce something useful and share it
  8. practice being approachable
  9. be careful with your stomach
  10. be grateful for your husband and for love

In my effort to reduce the sheer number of unnecessary things taking up space in our house, I worked through the shelves and culled a small box of books to donate.                     My Life in France ended up on the top of the stack.  I’ve already read it, and it’s not likely anyone else here will choose to.  It stared at me for a couple of days awaiting its trip to the thrift store and I’m glad, just this once, that I pulled something out to keep.  I am going to read it again (hint at a future post), and even though it is available as a free pdf or on Audible, I’m sure – it’s just not the same as holding the book in my hands, trying to stay awake for just one more chapter.

I love a good memoir – if there are any you found particularly compelling, please share (except that I’m deliberately avoiding all politicians and their writing, so I won’t be reading those).

With love and optimism – Oh, and toujours bon appétit!



I am also a huge fan of Ina Garten – her relaxed manner is so encouraging and engaging,  I imagine she inspires lots of people to cook and entertain.


I linked to Amazon for the book description, etc, but I’m not an affiliate, and they have no idea who I am.