Tag Archives: gifts

Another List



Remember 2016, when I posted a blog every single day? I remember, with lots of shaking of the head and thoughts like, “How the hell did I ever manage to do that???” One of the things that pulled me through was the “52 Lists Project.” One day a week – I chose Sunday – was devoted to making a list, possibly with a little explanation or side-chatter, based on the guidelines offered. Well, the author, Moorea Seal, has come out with a new book!

52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance and Joy has been on my bookshelf for a few weeks now, just waiting for the new year. Now that 2018 is here, I’m going to start, one day a week, working through the lists. Maybe it will move over to Sunday – that seems a good day to focus on these themes – but, because I’m anxious to get started, this week Tuesday is “list day.”

List #1: List what makes you happy right now

  • Rosa Parks: this little dog, who will ask to sit on my lap only rarely (she’s an independent little cuss), but makes me smile whenever she does. I like the weight of her on my lap, her two front legs resting on my left arm, and the way she seems truly interested in whatever I’m doing on the computer.
  • My bullet journal. I always enjoyed playing school as a child. I love to organize. I adore graph paper. New supplies always make me feel inspired. A new year gives me reasons for new plans. All of that energy comes together in my brand new journal with it’s sea foam green cover, two ribbon page markers, elastic band closure and back cover pocket!
  • Four boxes of new art supplies, delivered to the airport on New Year’s Eve.
  • Cozy slippers, a gift from my sister, Cheryl.
  • Homemade bread – whole wheat with dried cherries and walnuts – toasted and slathered with butter.
  • The new toaster, a gift from my sister Brenda and her husband, Keith. They knew I was without a toaster. Did they also know that the last three toasters I owned were Christmas gifts from my sweet Mom, who is no longer with us? And that that contributed to my dragging my feet about getting another? And that to receive one for Christmas as a gift was the best way to bring Mom back in to the celebration…and a toaster back in to my life?
  • Soft (and red!) pajamas, given to me on Christmas Eve by my friend, Linda. One Christmas tradition I started with my daughters was to always get new pajamas on Christmas Eve, so they were perfect on many levels. Right now, it makes me happy to see the bright red sleeves poking out of my robe as I type.
  • Other gifts: from my daughter Kate and her family, wonderful scents and smells in soap and lotions and candles that give me pleasure every single day in one way or another. From my sister Amy and her husband, Dennis, a packet of fifty-two fold-over letters and envelopes, one for every week of the year. Each one has a unique design, and a different message on the envelope flap. How did they know that I was planning to be better about correspondence this year? “Correspond” has it’s own space in my new Habit and Activity Tracker! From my sister Robin and her friend, Dick, a gift certificate that I used to purchase a recently released, hard-cover mystery novel: one of those decadent purchases that I totally enjoy, but would have never purchased otherwise. From my friends, Bob and Ed, a box of cheese (some of the best cheese I’ve ever tasted). From “Santa,” a big box of wonderful chocolates, delivered on Christmas Eve. Many other thoughtful presents that make me happy, knowing that the givers know me, and know what will make me smile.
  • Hot coffee with cream.
  • The balance of this day off, to do some things I have to, and anything else I want to. I’m going to get going on that right now…or just as soon as I finish this cup of coffee.

Who Knows Me?


february2016 002

I have a piece of foil that I’ve been re-using for about three years. It wasn’t new to start with. It was a scrap that had been used to wrap something or cover a dish. It was torn, too small for most jobs, but too good to throw away. Not that I would have just thrown it away; here on Beaver Island, we recycle just about everything. Aluminum foil is one of those items that has its own bin at the Transfer Station. In my mind, this piece of foil wasn’t ready for the recycle bin, either. I use it to cover the can of dog food each day. I have one of those snap-on plastic lids designed for covering a can of dog food. I may dig it out and put it to use, too, when I have to. For now, this piece of foil is doing a fine job.

february2016 003

I have another piece of foil that I save in a plastic bag in the freezer. I take it out, unfold it, and use it when I make chocolate no-bake cookies or  chocolate butterscotch haystacks. When the cookies have set, and can be moved to a plate or packed into bags for sharing, I re-fold the foil and save it until I need it again.

february2016 004

Another plastic bag keeps butter wrappers at the ready, in case I should ever need to butter a pan before putting batter or bread dough in it.

At my sink, I have an ancient “scrubby” that is almost – but not quite – ready for retirement, having lost almost all its grit and scrubbing power over the last several years of use.

I have about fifty corks, saved from wine bottles over the years. There are things to make by re-purposing them, when I have enough. I drink wine, but not daily. At this point I wonder if there’s time in my life  to collect enough corks to make a decorative wall treatment or a backdrop for a dartboard. Still, I can’t bring myself to throw them away. Maybe I should just make a trivet and be done with it.

My studio is filled bit bits and pieces that – someday – might be exactly what I need. Some are sorted by material: metal, wood, paper; others by shape. One large tote of paper scraps has devolved into such a dense mound of paper, finding a particular piece would be almost impossible. Still, when I try to sort, it all seems precious.

My sister and I got together last week, for a little visit. I had to attend a seminar in Clare; I went down a day early, and Brenda drove up to meet me. As usual, she brought presents.

First, a cordless phone, so that I can once again walk through the house while having a conversation. I’m no longer tethered to the cold corner of the office by the telephone cord! Second, a computer, to replace the one that crashed at Thanksgiving-time, just out of pure generosity and kindness on the part of Brenda and her husband, Keith. A bag of hand-me-down clothes, every one thoughtfully chosen based on my size and preferences. That led to a fun hour of trying everything on! There was another bag of bath salts, crossword puzzles, and books because Brenda never forgets that I love them all.

Finally, a bag of letters. Laminated ABCs, with the capital on one side, the small letter on the other. Hundreds of them! “Keith bought a small chest…these were inside…if you don’t want them, we’ll just throw them away…” Are you kidding?! Throw them away!?! I LOVE them!

It’s nice to know that no matter how quirky and odd my habits may seem, Brenda knows and understands me!

february2016 007

Happy Holidays


I had a wonderful Christmas Day!

My family – at the suggestion of my oldest daughter – contributed photos and memories for an album, so that I could have them all with me here in my distant home on Christmas morning. It was perfect! It made me feel as if I were reminiscing with each of my sisters, my brother, my nieces and nephews, my daughters, grandchildren and friends. It made me laugh and it made me cry. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

I had a nice conversation with my sister, Brenda, who was waking up in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. We agreed that this was a different Christmas, but that it could still be a good one. I also talked to my daughter, Kate, who chatted to me about her plans, and assured me that the gifts I’d sent had been appreciated. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy dealing with four children and extended family always amazes me.

I took the dogs for a long walk in the fresh snow. I tied red bows to their collars, and let them run free all the way down the trail to the old Cotter cabin. Back at home, I built a squat little snow person to welcome my guests. A little misshapen with the icy snow, she’s quite attractive anyway with her chrysanthemum flower eyes, little carrot nose and crocheted cap tied under her chin.

I cooked Christmas dinner for four! I was thinking of my mother, recently deceased, who cooked for twenty or more every Christmas for most of her life. How did she ever do it? I planned for days and made five trips to the grocery store. I was hard at it for most of the day, all day, from 8:30 in the morning until dinner went on the table at 6:30 in the evening! What a wonderful diversion it was! The guests were my Aunt Katie, my cousin, Bob, and my friend, Vince. The menu:

Pickled Okra

Pickled Mushrooms

Ham, Onion and Cream Cheese Pinwheels

Homemade Rolls with Butter

Roast Turkey with Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Gingered Carrots

Cranberry Sauce

Cherry-Berry Pie with Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Roll

We all ate until we were full, and I sent leftovers home with each guest. I warmed leftovers for my dinner last night, and plan a pot of turkey soup tonight.

Happy Holidays!