Monday, December 29, 2014

Quotable Monday: Year's end

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."
Hal Borland

"Dates that come around every year help us measure progress in our lives. One annual event, New Year's Day, is a time of reflection and resolution."
Joseph B. Wirthlin
"Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word."
Goran Persson
Wishing you all a 2015 filled with love, laughter and happiness.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quotable Monday: A Christmas Mindset

“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”
 Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street
"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
Calvin Coolidge
"Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store."
Dr. Seuss

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quotable Monday: Don't make it personal!

 "It's important to take criticism seriously — not personally."
- Hillary Clinton

Monday, December 1, 2014

Quotable Monday: A Thought for the Holidays

“Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you. Thinking of you this holiday season!”
     - T.A. Barron

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quotable Monday: Newness

"Don't let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don't like them."
~Stacy London

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quotable Monday: Rainy Days

"Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day."

John Wooden

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Cooking Refresher

So one thing I realized, when I moved, is that my cookbook collection was out of control. Books always added with good intentions and hopes of expanding my cooking skills. Most sadly sat on my bookshelf their spines hardly bent and their pages mostly pristine.  As I sat organizing my home office-library-craft room, oh heck... my multi-use room, I pulled out three titles and brought them upstairs. I thumbed through them and thought I should give myself a new fun project. Perfect timing as the outside temperatures are about to tumble.
 I selected the two Mark Bittman books in my collection and one slow cooker book in my collection. I may pull up a fourth on cooking with cast iron if I get ambitions, but for now the three are enough to keep me me occupied with a weekly cooking project. 

Why these three cook books out of the few dozen that are in my library? Well I like how Bittman write and I have heard enough people rave about his original book, the yellow one in the picture, I decided it would be a good one to work with out of the blocks. (Note this book has been revised and is now in a red cover, people seem to still like the original one better according to several reviews I have read.) Next, I selected the other Bittman book in my collections, "the basics". Why? because through this process, I would like to expand my culinary skills and I am sure there are plenty of lessons in this volume to keep me occupied for quite some time. The third book, a slow cooker cookbook was also to expand my culinary repertoire. Slow cookers, or as many of call them Crockpots, kind of intimidate me. Not sure why, I guess leaving the thing on, cooking away and unattended, while I go off to work unnerves me a bit. My friends that use them regularly, swear by them and the thought of walking in the door to dinner ready and waiting is enough me to allow me to dabble in this area. I figure I will break myself in easy with a soup or stew that can simmer away while I run short errands near where I live. Most of my cooking projects will be on Sundays and many may make their way into posts (both the successes and the failures.) I think I am looking forward to this winter more now than I was earlier in the month.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quotable Monday: Life and Living

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating 


― George Bernard Shaw

"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,,

Love like you'll never be hurt,

Sing like there's nobody listening,

And live like it's heaven on earth.” 

― William W. Purkey

Friday, November 7, 2014

Photo Friday: Wordy Wednesday meets Photo Friday the Backyard edition

"The Before Picture"
If we flash back to January 2014, one of my goals for the new year was to buy a home. In April, I fulfilled that goal. The house was really turnkey. Besides a good cleaning, all the inside needed was a few cosmetic changes...mainly some rooms needed to be painted to make me happy. The one area that really needed love and attention was the backyard.

 It is a nice size back yard. Part of the yard is covered by the deck off the second level. There looked to be some sort of a previous landscaping that seemed to be a bit neglected.

Aside from watching my parents and their landscaping projects growing up and one apartment with a patio, I have never had to think about yards until now. I had an idea of what I wanted and more importantly what I did not want, but no idea about how to go about it. Soon other small projects, summer time and work distracted me.

For the most part I let the backyard do its own thing. When I officially moved in, the spring bloom was well underway. But when the ivy (I do not like ivy) threaten to take over the back half of the yard and it was hard to tell if the tall weeds were in fact weeds or small trees, something had to be done. Lord knows I did not want to be on the HOA hit list my first year in the community.

A good friend of mine had recently had their backyard landscaped. I like the work that the nursery and patio contractors had done in my friends' yard, so I asked for referrals and started to think about what I wanted my backyard to look and feel.

I knew I wanted an outdoor living space that was inviting but somewhat low maintenance. I envisioned a large freeform patio with green-scaping bordering the patio. I articulated my concept to the the landscape designer and he returned with a suggested idea. It was a little weird seeing idea captured on paper.  I visited the nursery with my Mom (who know a heck of a lot more about plants then I could ever hope to) on a very rainy day and looked at the various types of plants that were suggested and only asked for a couple of substitutions. I ceded control and let them start work. Anyone who knows me well, knows how hard it can be for me to do that.  In mid-October the project started. I came home from work and my once wild backyard was cleared and the outline of the patio was put down. The yard seemed so different cleared.

Next the patio contractor came in and began their work.

About a week later every thing with the patio was done and the second phase of the project was ready to start. Due to the end of daylight savings time it was dark when I came home from work. I did not get to see the work until the next morning after each day of the planting stage. 

I knew they would be done with all the planting on day two. So as while most of the US was waking up to elections results, I was bounding out of bed for the final reveal of my back yards.

 So just about six month after closing on my house and five months after moving in, my first large scale project is completed. I am so excited for next spring and summer. In the meantime, I am scouring the internet for ideas for patio furniture and ideas for the front yard.

"The After Picture"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quotable Monday: Sense of Humor

"A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life."
- William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quotable Monday: Changes...

"The secret to changing your life is in your intentions. Wishing, hoping and goal setting cannot accomplish change without intention. What is needed is a shift from the inert energy of wanting to the active energy of doing and intention"
-Wayne Dyer

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quotable Monday: The key to being the present

"Clearing your head of distractions in order to notice and understand the people you are with can feel inefficient - there are so many other people and issues to think about. But being present makes you effective."

Margaret Heffernan
For a little while now I have been focusing on being in the present. For me that means when I am out with people turning my ringer off and putting my cell phone away. It also means stopping the never ending mental to-do list that seems to always distract me when I was out an about. It is learning to enjoy that moment when there is no distraction coming from within, even if that moment is a very fleeting one.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quotable Monday: It is about perspective!

"The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it."
~ Chris Pine

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quotable Monday (the Tuesday edition) Disappointment and Clarity

"The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quotable Monday: Change of Seasons

"By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer's best of weather And autumn's best of cheer."
- Helen Hunt Jackson

Monday, September 8, 2014

Quotable Monday: the right thing!

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

- Benjamin Franklin 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Quotable Monday: Labor Day

" I believe that summer is our time, a time for the people, and that no politician should be allowed to speak to us during the summer. They can start talking again after Labor Day."

Lewis Black

Monday, August 25, 2014

Quotable Monday: Back to School

"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."
~Ralph W. Sockman

"Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army." 
~Edward Everett

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quotable Monday: Self Acceptance and Love.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
 ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“Your problem is you’re … too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”
- Ram Dass
“To accept ourselves as we are means to value our imperfections as much as our perfections.”
Sandra Bierig
and finally….
“You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.”

Photo Friday: Monuments

Women's Vietnam Memorial 
Washington, DC 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quotable Monday: Oh Captain, my Captain

 “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.”

"Nanu Nanu"

Robin Williams 
Sail on Robin, May you find peace.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quotable Monday: Food for Thought!

"You can only become accomplished at something you truly 

love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the 

things you love doing, and do them so well, people can't 

take their eyes off of you." Maya Angelou

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Tracking my steps and my zzzs

Yep, that is my fitness tracker and it is currently spoadically vibrating across my desk. I picked up the Jawbone UP 24 earlier this year in January. Since then the little thing was happily tracking my steps, my sleep and reminding me if I have been idle for too long until this weekend. It gave up the ghost on Sunday night and while it is a bit freeing, I miss the little guy around my wrist. The device is controlled by a button that is located at one end of  the bracelet. I guess it no longer wanted to be in controll, the button just stopped engaging rendering the tracker useless. Jawbone support staff have been awesome and are sending me a replacement.

Some people have asked me, "why do you have one?" I really want to answer "because I can!" I really got it to track my sleep. Which after a week the device learned to do with a freaky amount of accuracy. It is not spot on, but it is very close. I also like the idle alert. You can set it to remind you if you have not got up and moved around for awhile. I have my idle alert set at the 60 minute mark. My job is mainly a desk job and I can get easily sucked into projects and lose track of time. When the idle alert goes off there is a little vibration reminding me to move!!! Sometimes I need that!

Currently I am waiting patiently for the replacement to arrive, while my broken one does the cha cha across my desk. For some unknown reason it is vibrating every so often. It was fully charged when the button broke, so i figure it has a few more days to dance on my desk.

People ask me if I would recommend it? Sure if you want to get a different view point on your activity level or sleep patterns it could help. However is it essential? Well not many "things" in life are essential.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quotable Monday: Appreciating summer

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quotable Monday: Planning

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."
- Gloria Steinem
“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.”
- Anonymous

Monday, July 7, 2014

Quotable Mondays: How to Simplify (the home edition)

Having recently purchased a house, this quote comes to mind quite often as I look to either add pieces to my home or get rid of items.

" Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris

Monday, June 30, 2014

Quotable Monday: Fourth of July

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

  -Erma Bombeck

Monday, June 23, 2014

Quotable Mondays: Soccer Fever!

"Soccer matches should be something special, something people eagerly look forward to, something that brightens life."
P. J. O'Rourke

Monday, June 16, 2014

Quotable Monday: Friendship

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quotable Monday: Early Summer

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. "
~Bern Williams

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quotable Monday: Memorial Day

"These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor - and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror."
Michael N. Castle

Monday, May 19, 2014

Quotable Monday: New Beginnings

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

(Born: 5 BC Died: 65 AD)
Seneca was a roman dramatist, philosopher, and politician.
Having just closed the chapter on being a renter, this quote struck a note with me.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quotable Monday: Laughter = Good Medicine

"[the door flies open and in come three Cardinals in red robes]

Cardinal Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise!... Surprise and fear... fear and surprise... Our two weapons are fear and surprise... and ruthless efficiency! Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency... and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope... Our four... no... Amongst our weapons... Hmf... Amongst our weaponry... are such elements as fear, surpr... I'll come in again.

[They leave]

Reg: [gamely] I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[They burst in again]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!... Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!"  - Monty Python

There are so many Monty Python skits I adore. The Spanish Inquisition happens to be top of my favorites list.

Still toiling away at packing up for my move. Only a few more days until the movers show up and move me for what will be the last time for a very long time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Quotable Monday: Stuff

"Actually, this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all; a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there.
That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is- a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you're saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore."

-George Carlin

Sorry for the late post... I am in the middle of packing up my apartment and moving to my first house. Yes, that is right I bought a house. As soon as I move in, I can check off one of my goals for 2014. Currently I am in the middle of packing, coordinating painters, movers, cleaners and a handyman. As I was packing this weekend I was reminded of George Carlin's "A Place for My Stuff.". I adore Carlin's work, so the following (long) quote seem spot on for my current project.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Photo Friday: Morning Companion (Belize 2013)

Strangely enough on vacation I can get up at the crack of dawn without any difficulty I love the still of the early morning when the world is just waking up.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quotable Monday: Dreaming

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem

Friday, April 25, 2014

Photo Friday: St. Martin F.W.I. Sunset (2008)

A beautiful place, flip flops, sand between your toes... a perfect way to relax.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quotable Monday: Did You Grow Up?

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself."
-Ethel Barrymore (actress)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Quotable Monday: The Ultimate Lesson

"The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well."
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Friday, April 4, 2014

Photo Fridays: Anguilla (2008)

Shoal Bay, Anguilla B.W.I.
Next to St. Martin, Anguilla is one of my favorite travel destinations. Lucky for me it is only a 30 minute ferry ride from Marigot, St. Martin, F.W.I.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Just About Peak Blossom Time!

The stars of spring time in Washington, D.C. are the Cherry Blossoms and rightly so. Yes, DC has had baseball since 2005, so while Opening Day at National’s Park is a big day, it has quite a long time to go to catch up to the fanfare that comes along each year for the Cherry Blossoms. For those that have never been to the DC during peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms may not get all the fuss “over flowers on trees”, it is truly a spectacular time.

My favorite time to go down to the Tidal Basin and take in the blossoms is sunrise. The light is incredible and since it is not as crowded, it is very tranquil. I have been down during sunset, which is also very nice, but something about the blossoms at sunrise keeps me getting up at an ungodly hour, gathering up my cameras and stopping for a large cup of coffee before sliding into a parking spot near the Tidal Basin. The only good thing about being up so early is that a parking spot is fairly easy to find. So without further ado here are some photos of the cherry blossoms, during peak bloom, at both sunrise and sunset.


The famous pink haze
A canopy of blossoms
Full morning light

Late  afternoon at the Tidal Basin during the cherry blossoms' peak bloom period can be very crowded. Do not let the crowds scare you off, because shortly before sunset most of the tour buses begin to leave and the crowds die down. One year I was so engrossed in taking photos I missed the mass exodus of the tour buses and I had a moment of "Hey where did everybody go?" when I finally looked up from my lens. The late afternoon light on the blossoms is beautiful and be sure to stay for the sunset. Some years, during peak bloom, I get down to the Tidal Basin for both sunrise and sunset. Some years, I only make it down for sunrise. Then there was last year when I made it twice for sunrise and once for sunset. The reason it was twice for sunrise, was the blossoms were stubborn (due to a cold snap) and did not bloom as predicted. I spent a very chilly Sunday morning at the Tidal Basin hunting for blossoms. I returned later in the week when it warmed up and the blossoms were opening up in mass.

The last fleeting moments of a beautiful spring day
I love this cherry blossom goodness time of the year!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quotable Mondays: Compassion

"People don't always needs advice.
Sometimes all they need is a hand to hold, an ear
to listen and a heart to understand."
- unknown

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: I Got Nothing!

Since last Wednesday, this has been an interesting week that has left me weary and feeling very uncreative.
Last Wednesday on the way to meet with friends, during a lane change on the DC Beltway, a pothole caused a blowout on one of my car's tires. First, I was ok! Second, I was able to limp it to a service station. Third. I freaked out once I was in a safe place, I have never had a blowout before. A couple of friends calmed me down. Once I was calm, I realized in the grand scheme of things this was just a blip. Sure it was a hassle but it it could have been worse. Only a tire needed to be replaced.

The other thing sapping my creativity was a project at work. This time of the year at work is evaluation time. Currently, I write 24 evaluations each year. I spent the majority of last week, this past weekend and Monday writing these things that I jokingly refer to as term papers. This is no joy and each year I hope to change things enough so it does not wind up being such an awful experience for me. But I am dependent on others who are often late with critical input.  I learned a new lesson this time around. I should not write anything nor try and proof anything after midnight, especially if I have been writing for the six hour prior. So a few re-writes had to occur today. Once I finished those re-writes, and thought about Wordy Wednesday I realized I had nothing left. So happy hump day and here is a photo of pretty flowers...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quotable Monday: Tiredness

"Muscle work can only make one weary - it takes brain-work to create true exhaustion."
Jefferson Smith (Strange Places)
This sums up how I feel today after a weekend on working on a project that required a great deal of  mental stamina.

Photo Friday: The late edition... Metro Station.

Not that one can have a truly favorite Metro station... Because that means dealing with all the trials and tribulations that is DC Metro system. To be fair it is a fairly good public transit system. But it can also be a very frustrating one. However, if I had to pick one station that is striking, Navy Archives would be that station.