Saturday, January 11, 2014

Finding Joy in January

Hello, and happy Saturday!

The first full week of January is officially coming to an end.  As a Christmas fanatic (I rank somewhere between Buddy the Elf and the crazy lady from those 2010 Target commercials on the "crazy for Christmas" scale), the first few weeks of the new year always feel a little drab.  It's amazing how places that seemed perfectly fine before being decorated for Christmas suddenly become cold and empty post Christmas decoration removal.  Not to mention the weather most of this week was FRIGID...   It warmed up toward the end of the week, but with the warmth came some serious rain.  In short, the weather has not helped the general "blah-ness" of January. 

But of course, January is also a wonderful month.  It is the proverbial blank slate.  We get to look at the past year from a distance and either think, "gosh, that was great," or "dang, that was an uphill battle."  Once the clock strikes midnight, it's like we are a thousand miles removed from the past 365 days.  We can make an informed decision to keep what made us proud and satisfied and throw away the bad habits and poor decisions.  Being able to officially put this past year in retrospect is lovely for me right now, as our engagement, purchase of our first house, our marriage. and one of my best friend's marriages crowd out almost every other memory, good and bad, from 2013.

I know I'm late in the game for sharing my New Year's resolution, but I do have a valid excuse.  You see, I promised myself I was going to be a better communicator this year - because I could win an award for being the world's worst texter.  When my friends and family message me, I tend to read the text and think, "I'll respond in a minute," because I'm in the middle of some task or chore that in my mind cannot wait.  But it seems that my day is full of things to do, and I move from one of those things to the next, and then realize 30 minutes, an hour, or even a day later that I never made the person who text messaged me a priority, when, obviously, that person matters far more to me than unloading the dishwasher or finding the brand of sliced cheese that is at the lowest MVP price at Food Lion.  So, in short, my resolution was, whenever possible, to respond to texts as soon as I receive them (except when driving of course).  But irony intervened and threw a hitch in my giddy-up, as my iPhone decided to celebrate the new year by completely ceasing to connect with Verizon's network.  Thanks to the lucky fact my phone was still under warranty, I have a "like-new," refurbished iPhone in hand and am now starting to put my resolution into action and be more present when it comes to staying in touch with my friends and loved ones.

When I shared my resolution with the Mister and asked him if he made a resolution, he told me he didn't believe in them.  He said we should be trying to better ourselves everyday, not just waiting till January 1st. (Make that reason number 329,843 why I love him.)

Speaking of the Mister, I dropped him off a couple of nights ago for a three-week long trip out-of-state for work.  So, we will be spending the remainder of January apart.  Although we obviously don't enjoy not being together (pardon the double negative there), it is good practice, as he will be deployed most of this coming year.  That being said, 2014 will be a year of very new challenges, but an opportunity for success and growth, both individually and as a couple.

So, the pups and I are on our own this evening, enjoying Big Bang Theory reruns that never fail to result in snort-laughing.  Chris is just a text message away, I have the unbelievably warm, knitted throw my mom gave me for Christmas on my lap, and my two sleepy doggies are lounging contentedly with me on the couch (they seem to be very thankful that I am spending Saturday night at home as they were crated all day while I was at work).

Here are a few other things that have brought joy to our January thus far:

Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half released her book in October, but I somehow didn't get around to buying it till this week.  Lord am I glad I did.  If you haven't checked out her blog, you must.  A few of my favorite posts include The Party (which is responsible for my entire family now referring to my mother as Moum) and, the classic, The Alot (the blog post that famously turned a common spelling/grammar mistake into a goofy, furry creature).  Hyperbole and a Half, the book, did not disappoint.  It includes some old favorites from the blog, and some new, never-before-told tales from Allie's life.  Her style of comic and text combination is one of a kind, and I find it so easy to relate to the majority of her stories - particularly the ones involving her two dogs.  I have been laughing till I cry every time I read a story out of it.  Seriously, I have had to take breaks because I end up in hysterics... and then I have to read each story again with my sister so we can laugh like crazies together.  I can't wait for Chris to get home so I can share the funny with him.


I have been re-watching the last three seasons for months awaiting Season 4, and it has finally arrived!  Last Sunday's episode bummed me out a little; I didn't feel like it contained the amount of excitement that Downton episodes usually offer, but I do suppose that (spoiler alert if you haven't finished Season 3) they had to keep this episode low key as it was the first after Matthew's untimely death.  Even though it was slow, it was Downton, and it was new, and I can't wait for another one tomorrow night.  It is the only TV show I keep up with these days, and I am so glad I can once again have a weekly "fix."  I'm recording them as well so Chris and I can binge watch when he gets home.

Also, I made this wreath:

I figured on January 10th I needed to replace my Christmas wreath, but I wasn't sure what I wanted for a non-Christmas, winter wreath.  Typically I would go to Pier1 and spend $30+ on whatever struck my fancy there, but I decided to spend $12 at Michael's (with a coupon!) and make one instead, since I knew I'd have a little spare time this weekend.

I started with a wire wreath form, 2 yards teal cotton fabric (much more than I needed), 1 yard of white burlap, and some felt snowflakes that were 80% off after Christmas.

I cut the fabric and burlap into strips about an inch wide and 6-8 inches long and tied them around the wire.  In hindsight, I wish I had felt the burlap before I bought it and found something thinner, as it was thick and hard to tie into a tight knot.  The project required a lot of cutting, but the good news is that the strips look better with a rougher cut, so you don't have to spend your time making each one perfect.

To hang the snowflakes from the bottom, I cut the fabric and burlap into long strips and tied one end to the snowflake and one end to the wire ring.

As it turns out, my winter wreath was a labor of love because cutting all the strips and tying all the knots took a while, but I love the final result!  And it's nice to look at my front door and know I made made the wreath instead of buying one.

Hope you're finding some things to be joyful about in January!  Have a lovely weekend.  Goodnight!

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