Breaking Through the Winter Blahs

Arctic blasts making you want to hole up in a grey fog until Spring.  Spring?  What is that anyway?  It’s been a loooooong time since we’ve met.

How about a list of my favorite blah breakers?

1. Buy flowers.  Before you say, I can’t afford it, check out the floral section at the local grocery store or Walmart.  Last year I bought one bunch for less than five dollars and divided it into two … enough to shake up the January grey for myself and a friend.  That’s a lot of visual happiness for a few dollars!

longing for Spring

2.  Buy pink tulips.  Yes, they are in a class all their own. 🙂

pink tulips

3.  Wear bright, happy colors.  It’s easy to let greys, blacks and muted colors take over your winter wardrobe.  Give it a pop with a bright turquoise scarf or a coral sweater to brighten your eyes.

4. Use a peppermint-scented shower scrub.  You’ll energize your skin and senses simultaneously.  Hey, it might even make you want to get moving in the morning.

5. Eat grapefruit.  The citrus wake up is the best thing for bored senses and if you close your eyes you can alllllmost imagine the white sands of Siesta Key.  If you don’t like grapefruit, make a mixture of frozen peaches, canned pineapple (drain the juice first), and oranges cut into bite-sized segments.


6.  Squeeze a fat wedge of lemon into your ice water.  Or a slice of lime.  Or an orange section.  Anything to give it a bit of flair.  If you’re really bored with water, try a glass of carbonated water just for fun.

7. Check the weather forecast and pick the nicest day of the week to go for a power walk.  I know it’s cold.  But when it’s been ten degrees for almost a month, thirty doesn’t feel quite as bad as that -9 windchill factor.  Bonus points if you call a friend to go with you.

8. Buy a latte at your favorite coffee shop.  It’s a well-deserved splurge when the thermometer plunges and refuses to rebound.  Live too far from town?  Make your own version and squirt lots of Reddi Whip on top.


9. Read a book about something very different from your own life to stretch your brain.  My personal picks this month: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

10. Fix a long, hot bath and add a few drops of tangerine essential oil if you’re looking for rejuvenation or lavender if you’re wanting to relax before you sleep.  Hot water is one of the kindest gifts in winter.  Pamper your skin afterward with coconut oil or your favorite body butter.

essential oils

11. Find an interesting museum to visit.

12. Spend an hour browsing a greenhouse.  The peaceful atmosphere, especially if they have water fountains, will quiet your mind and the moisture-rich air will refresh your skin.

13. Play music or an audio Bible.

14. Write a hand-written note and send it in the mail.

15. Up to something a little bigger?  Fix a pretty package for a friend.  Be creative with the packaging or buy a box in a pretty pattern and it will be as much fun as the contents themselves.  Yellow is a great color for winter!

16. Organize a drawer or closet.

17. Plan a girl’s night out.

18.  Paint something.  A room.  A shelf.  A chair.  A gift tag.  Just grab a brush and paint.  You’ll be surprised how much fun it is.  While you’re thinking about it, check out this gorgeous painting project by my friend, Thelma.papercrafting

19. Start planning your flower garden and make a list of seeds and plants to buy.

20. Plan ahead for a fun Valentines date.

What are your favorite can’t-shake-this-winter-chill busters?

Cyber Monday Sale

Edit: The sale is over.  Thank you for your purchases.

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Cyber Monday Book Sales free shipping

This is a great time to buy the book for yourself or to stock up for bridal shower gifts and Christmas presents.  Women are telling us this book is not only for new brides, but for women of all ages.  Hurry, the sale is live for one day only.

{Buy three books for $30 here.}

A dash of color

I love neutrals.  My closet is filled with greys and blacks and whites and pops of color to go with them.

Invariably, when I go to Sweet Frog, I will choose vanilla yogurt with fruit on top.  No matter how many times I try a different flavor with the sample cups, nothing else is quite so perfect.

After living in a house with lots of wall-color for several years, I opted to keep this one in subtle greys and whites with splashes of color in the window treatments, towels and decor.

I love it.

For the entire year we’ve lived here, I’ve had “paint the front door” scrawled on my monthly to do list; but it never got done.  I’ts not a hard job.  It’s not even time-consuming.  The problem was, I had absolutely no idea what color to paint it.  The siding and shingles of our house are tans and I live in greys.  I couldn’t think of anything that would complement the tans and still be a color I liked.

Green?  Goes with tan, but it’s just not me.

Navy?  Works with tan, looks like me.  Maybe. But I really hoped I’d find something else.

Rusty red?  Looks great with the yellowish-tan siding but what’s going to happen in the summer when I plant pink flowers?

When my sister-in-law was here to visit I was telling her my predicament.  She said, “Well, do you know what we painted ours?”

“No, what?” I asked eagerly.


“PURPLE?  Are you serious?”

“Yes,” she said, “and it’s beautiful. I got the idea from Better Homes and Gardens.”

I was still a bit incredulous, but I didn’t doubt her.  She has fabulous taste in decor.

Finally feeling a bit inspired, I headed to Lowes and picked up tons of samples in everything from mustard yellow to deep aquas along with the more traditional navys and reds.  I chose the four that best complimented the siding and taped them to the glass exterior door.

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I knew which one I wanted, but it felt like playing a wild card.

That night we hosted a group of people for supper and games and Amber breezed through the door.  “Are you picking colors for the door?”

“I am.  You should cast a vote.”

“Oh, definitely the bright purplish one,” she said.

I was most worried about what it would like inside since we keep the door open a lot during the day to let in more light.  It took me another week or two, but finally I decided, why not?  It’s a pint of paint and less than two hours of time.  If we’re all closing our eyes when we walk into the house a year from now because we just can’t stand it, it will be easy enough to pick a different color.  I mean, it’s not like I’m painting something miserable like the ceiling!

The man who mixed my paint at the hardware store opened his eyes a bit wider and appeared to put effort into making his voice sound casual when he asked, “So, what are you painting?”

“Oh, I’m painting the front door,” I said with a great deal more confidence than I felt.  “I’m a neutrals girl and it’s time to release a little inner wild child.”

He nodded thoughtfully and asked, “Are you a good painter?”  Perhaps that was supposed to be interpreted, “Have you ever picked colors before and do you have any idea what you are doing?”

It’s painted.  And I love it!  It’s more raspberry than purple and perfectly complements the mums potted on the front porch.  It’s a happy neighbor to the yellow chevron curtains when I open the door to let in more light and so striking to look past it to the yellow and orange leaves fluttering from the trees.  I can’t wait to put up a white winter wreath against it and somehow I feel sure I will love it just as much next spring and summer.

color pop

It was a happy moment when I swiped “paint the front door” off the dry erase board.  Sometimes you just need a few friends to give you a vote of confidence!

front door

Do you like picking paint colors?

Decorating for Thanksgiving

autumn decor

My favorite part of having guests (next to hanging out with them, of course) is the decor.  When we girls were growing up, it was the fought over coveted job.  Mom always had an assortment of linens and pretty dishes and candles on hand.  There was the year we experimented with floating candles … little wicks you floated on top of water and a small amount of oil that could be used in any liquid-proof container.  There were the summers of beautiful, old-fashioned roses that smelled like roses are supposed to smell.  There were hand-crafted place cards and sometimes pretty napkins.  The thing was, we didn’t just celebrate guests.  Birthdays, holidays, and sometimes just because … a pretty table said, “You’re special.”

autumn leaves

I still love adding little touches here and there even if I don’t get to do it for my own family as often as I did in Virginia.  Homeschooling means that most days I feel accomplished if we have a well-balanced menu sitting in front of us and there are more days when I say, “Do you mind if I just sent the pans on the table this time?”  But now and then the pressure relents and I get to play.  The boys love it and sometimes get involved, too.  The biggest key to making it happen is planning ahead!  Sometimes the prettiest arrangements happen at the last minute.  But if I want to do a particular arrangement, I have to plan ahead or I won’t have the necessary supplies on hand.

fall centerpiece

I love tying in elements of nature when decorating which is why it comes so much easier in spring and summer.  From tulips to goldenrod, warm weather offers a plethora of floral arrangements.  Fall gives ways to organic tans and golds highlighted by gorgeous leaves until they drop.  I love the grassy seed heads that grow along the roadsides.  On one of my walks I spotted cedar trees full of blue berries and this fascinating seed pod!  I watched the pods for a few days until it popped open to reveal all these little seeds with feathery parachutes attached so that the wind could carry them away!

milkweed pod

place cards

Recently I’ve been so inspired by the gorgeous decorations on Pinterest and in magazines.  There are so many pretty things how could one ever choose?  Now I’m almost wishing we were staying home for Thanksgiving just so I could set a holiday table!  So, if you’re getting ready to host a party or just wanting to do something special for your own family, maybe you’ll enjoy the inspiration as well.

How darling is this centerpiece of white pumpkins and bittersweet.  Bittersweet grows in abundance along roadsides in Virginia.  If you’re lucky enough to live where it grows, all you need is a pruning shears (and sometimes a ladder) and you can collect it with wild abundance.

white pumpkins with bittersweet

{Image source}

Or what about this gorgeous table of neutrals?  I love the texture and pattern the artichokes add.

white with artichokes

{Image source:}

And since we’re in love with cider right now, I would definitely serve individual cups of cider in carved apples.  Seriously, this makes me want to re-wind fall just for a chance to try this!

serving apple cider

{Image Source}

There are so many ways to take advantage of acorns, apples, pumpkins, branches, candles … sometimes all you need to do is look the second time, wind some ribbon, or add a splash of color with paint, glitter, or linens.  And one last image for inspiration from our family get together at Thanksgiving last year.  Creative credits to my sister-in-law, Ro.

Thanksgiving centerpiece

But whether you decorate your table with burlap or lace (or choose to leave it bare), I hope your heart is covered with gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving ~

The Benefits of Line Drying Laundry

I reached for another towel and gave it a good shake.  Lifting it up to the line the bright green leaves of our neighbor’s tree contrasting against the bright blue sky caught my eye and took my breath away.  The moment felt perfect.  While the little boys built a fence out of bricks to the side and I methodically pinned piece after piece of laundry to the line, my mind got lost in the wonder of all that was ours to enjoy.  “Everyone should do this”, I thought.   

13 Oct Atlatna photographer-2032

There are times the chore of hanging laundry on the line seems less than a privilege, but here are a few reasons you may want to consider line drying your laundry:

  1.  It’s economical  Using a dryer costs roughly $.50 per load.  Hanging you laundry on a line is free!  The cost of a dryer easily dwarfs the cost of a clothesline and clothes pins or a clothing rack.  I use this drying rack from IKEA.
  2. You will get your daily dose of sunshine and fresh air. Sunshine is needed for your body to produce vitamin D.  Both fresh air and sunshine encourage physical and emotional health.
  3. The scent of line dried sheets is like none other Laundry detergents mimic the scent, but there is nothing quite like fresh LAUNDRY
  4. Sunshine brightens whites and removes stains. I have found sunshine to be one of the best ways to get rid of old stains. Hanging whites out around noon maximizes the sunshine’s brightening effect.
  5. Ever throw a shirt in the dryer and later kick yourself because you forgot about a stain that hadn’t completely washed out?  No worries with line drying.  Even if the sunshine did not completely remove the stain it will not set a stain.  You will have another chance to remove the stain.
  6. It is a good way to spend time with your children.  Preschoolers can hand you pieces of clothing and make the job go faster.  You can talk together while you work or simply enjoy being together.
    line dry laundry-9728
  7. No need to exfoliate.  The stiff, scratchy towels will do the job on their own.  (Yes, that is sarcasm you just read.)
  8. On windy days clothing will have fewer wrinkles than those dried in the dryer.  On non-windy days there may be more wrinkles.  Either way the wrinkles are more easily ironed out than wrinkles on clothing dried in the dryer.
  9. Bringing in the laundry is a great job for children
  10. It will encourage outdoor play for children.  Children mostly want to do whatever you do.  When you go outside they will probably follow, play nearby, and soon become absorbed by play.line dry laundry-9730
  11. It makes you feel industrious 
  12. It encourages gratitude.  Touching each piece of clothing reminds you of the gift of each member of your family.  It is a reminder that you are clothed and provided for.
  13. Line drying laundry is gentle on the environment. line dry laundry-9736
  14. Clothes dried outdoors last longer than those dried in the dryer. 
  15. No shrinking clothes 
  16. In the summer you can work on your tan [a little]
  17. If you embrace the process it can be a relaxing, therapeutic part of your day. I love quiet jobs that lend themselves to thinking and brainstorming.  Sometimes I will be praying for the person who wears the clothes I’m hanging on the line.
  18. You notice the beauty of the sky when you look up to pin the laundry to the line


laundry basket

On the flip side~

Why You May Rather Use a Clothes Dryer

  1. Line drying is time consuming. It takes time to hang each piece of clothing and then retrieve each piece after it’s dried not to mention the longer drying time
  2. As mentioned in #7 above, the clothes can become rough or scratchy instead of soft and fluffy as they do in the dryer
  3. It’s miserable in the cold winter months for summer-loving girls {and perhaps in the summer for winter fans}
  4. Drying is difficult during rainy seasons.
  5. Laundry can become re-soiled when pollen is heavy or when birds drop a present as they fly overhead
  6. Your house may become cluttered with laundry drying over racks, in doorways, and draped over furniture

line dry laundry-0415

Most weeks I use a combination line drying and drying clothes in the dryer since I have limited space for a clothesline .  Often I will be able to fit two loads of laundry on the line and my clothing rack.  I often dry dresses and shirts in the dryer for five minutes then hang them in doorways throughout the house.  Having all that clean laundry hanging around makes the house smell so clean.

When it is really cold outside or when I am especially tired or busy I use the clothes drying for drying all the clothes that week.

line dry laundry-9737

What do you think? Do the benefits of line drying laundry outweigh the cons?