Posts Tagged ‘New Years Eve’

Recently, a yoga instructor encouraged us to “not settle for the first position your body gives you.” It’s good advice to stretch yourself – figuratively and literally – a little more, hold a pose a few seconds beyond what is comfortable, and to be mindful of your position, posture and breathing. By not settling for what is comfortable and “good enough,” you gradually improve your yoga practice and become stronger and more flexible, and positions that were too advanced and too hard can become possible.

Her admonition has stuck with me this week, as I look back at last year and look ahead to the next one. There were days when “good enough” seemed to be all I had to give. But if I’m honest with myself, some days I settled for good enough when I knew I could do more. So instead of making specific resolutions this year, I think I might apply this concept to more areas of my life: don’t settle for good enough. That doesn’t mean demanding more from others, but to stretch myself:

To be a little more grace-filled, graceful and gracious to others, even when they don’t deserve it. (Even when I don’t feel particularly full of grace.)

To give a little bit more of myself than the task requires. Even when I’ve already gone above and beyond – give just a tiny bit more, especially when it will make a difference. And even when it won’t be noticed or appreciated by anyone else. I will know that I gave my best.

To remain more conscious of my inner attitude and the demeanor I reflect to the world. To look up and out past myself, smile more at strangers and laugh more, listen more, and love more with friends and family.

I can’t change the world.

I can’t demand change from anyone else.

I can’t end poverty, hatred, envy and strife.

But if I change me, by requiring just a little more than “good enough,” it’s possible to make a difference. Just as a single, nearly weightless leaf can land on still water and make ripples larger than itself, I can – perhaps – gently cHappy-New-Year-2014-HD-Wallpapers3hange my world, by refusing to settle. Even one tiny candle in a dark room can provide welcome light to everyone in its vicinity. But only if it’s willing to give up some of itself in order to burn brightly.

What will you do with 2014? It is a one-time gift and we will only have it for 8,760 hours. May this be one year we can all look back and say we are leaving it better than we started it.

Happy 2014,

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Auld lang syne.  Days gone by.

It’s that time…when we look ahead to a new year with anticipation, and look back on the last year, wondering where the time went and why it goes so fast.  As we begin the traditional countdown of the final hours and minutes of 2012, here’s a quick peek back at the holiday season my family and I enjoyed here in middle Tennessee.

We took advantage of one of the last warm days of 2012 to put up our outdoor lights.  It’s kind of weird to put up Christmas lights when it’s close to 70 degrees outside, but that’s life in the south.IMG_2907

As the sun began to set, the lights glowed, creating a pretty look from inside the porch…and from the yard, too.


Peeking inside, I decorated the dining room in a cool gray/white/blue scheme thanks to decorations from IKEA that I think blended nicely with plates and decorations I already had on hand.  Even better, once the Christmas trees are tucked away, the rest of the decorations can hold their own until winter loosens its hold…which could be in a few days, or a few months.

Holiday Dining Room

The Christmas village grew by one house this year…one from “It’s a Wonderful Life”  It’s behind the arbor and picket fence.  Fortunately, I think this collection is limited by the size of this hutch.  Unless I ever decide to tuck away the dishes and use the shelves for additional display space. Nooooooooo…….


The mantel this year was similar to last year’s, but I changed it up a little with a different garland and a woodsy theme.  They’re hard to see in this picture, but a trio of beaded birch candles from Pottery Barn inspired a woodsy, rustic “Father Christmas” feel.  I snagged the candles at a PB outlet last October, but if I had seen this DIY tutorial, I probably would have tried making my own for even cheaper.


On to the rest of the den.  Kindly ignore the cords.  (WHERE did they come from, anyway???  And how do I manage to overlook them every time I sit and watch TV?  Corralling them is a sure-fire to-do for 2013.)

Instead, focus on the nutcrackers.  Counting several others tucked in higher in the bookcase, there were 26 pairs of eyes staring at us every time we watched TV.  Displaying them all together was kind of cool, kind of freaky, and a whole lot of overwhelming.  Part of me says, “More nutcrackers!”  The rest of me says that’s nutsy.  We’ll see.  I hear there’s a whole set of Wizard of Oz characters. That would be pretty neat, right?  Anyhoo.

In the foreground is an oil-rubbed bronze trough filled with twine and twig balls (all scrounged from my attic), into which I nestled a trio of scented candles, another find on my fall trip to Atlanta and IKEA.


The tree this year was in the same spot as last year’s. The only real change (besides slipping in a few more ornaments) is the star on top.  It’s a heavy paper star with a Scandinavian feel, also from….you guessed it:  IKEA.  I had been looking for something traditional like this for several years and latched onto it when I spotted it. And it was cheap, to boot.  Yes, it *should* have had a light inside, but I kept forgetting to pick up the specific bulb it requires.  Good thing it folds flat for storage.  I’m sure I’ll remember to get a bulb for it next year.


And finally, my kitchen…and kitchen tree.  I went on a baking and candy-making spree (some new recipes are coming soon), then bundled up plates to take to the neighbors before Christmas.
The kitchen tree is similar to last year’s, but with a few more Fiesta ornaments I snagged on clearance at Macy’s on our New York trip.

And that’s it.  Thanks for strolling through our house and 2012 holiday memories with me.  I hope your look back on auld lang syne is full of fond recollections, too.  And may your hopes and wishes for the days ahead all come true.

Happy Monday,

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To borrow from Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” the time has come.

(Do you remember the poem, recited by Tweedledee and Tweedledum?  This is the one stanza that always sticks in my mind…)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things: 
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– 
Of cabbages–and kings– 
And why the sea is boiling hot– 
And whether pigs have wings.” 

Because we measure time the way we do, we are preparing to greet a new year at midnight.  And with the new year comes a fresh, new start, at least to our way of thinking.

For some reason, each year we choose this particular point in time and grant it the power to change us.   There’s nothing magical about this spot on the calendar – a resolution can be made at any time, and should be made sooner than later when we see something in ourselves that could stand to be improved upon.

But most of us will resolve – either today or tomorrow – to stop some bad habits and/or develop new, better habits.

Gotta love Calvin and Hobbes…

Calvin’s view of himself aside, most of us long to improve some area of our life – usually to become healthier and happier in some meaningful, tangible way. But the statistics are discouraging:  the vast majority of resolutions made each year are doomed to fail – my past resolutions are certainly part of the disappointing majority.

Even the word “resolution” has some interesting and paradoxical meanings:  on one hand, it is the quality of being resolute or firm,  on the other it is the act of dissolving or separating something into its basic parts.  At its root is the Latin word resolvere, meaning to dissolve. So which will it be:  will my resolutions remain firm and determined, or will they dissolve like salt in a glass of water? 

Last year, I had the bright and novel idea (don’t snicker) of making monthly resolutions instead of annual ones.  I didn’t put it into practice – the months slipped by, and my good intentions sailed on the wind just like my past annual resolutions.

Suddenly, here I am again, at the threshold of another new year, fresh and bright with all its potential and promise.

My personal commitments for 2012 are much like those of past years – they represent areas of my life where I want to grow and mature.  “They” (those wise, anonymous people) say you shouldn’t make more than  one large or three small resolutions.  I say I have five fingers on one hand – surely I can remember – and work on – that many goals, so here are my 2012 resolutions:

1. Make time each day to cultivate a deeper prayer life (a new prayer journal is due)
2. Read the Bible through this year – no ifs, ands or buts.
3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose.
4. Get my desk re-organized – and maintain it throughout the year.
5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life:  more love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That last one is less concrete and measurable, but my plan is to share each month a recap of my struggles and successes in these areas here with you, and I hope you’ll encourage me with your comments and input. What are you committed to changing this year?

I hope that each of us will take a few moments to ponder our progress over the past year and make a solemn promise to ourselves – even if it is basic, simple and small – to become better in some way in 2012.  Let’s be resolute and committed, so we can achieve our goals, however lofty or small.  And if/when we find ourselves standing at the brink of 2013, we can look back on this year and see where we made some positive strides. 

Happy new year,
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Retrospective on resolutions

For better or worse, blogging can hold you accountable. (Yeah, you can walk away at any time, but if you stick with it, you are stuck with your own words.)

Last year, I made a list of new year’s resolutions here, and here’s how I did on them:

  1. Showing more hospitality.  I wasn’t quite as consistent month-to-month as I wanted to be, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with my  efforts on this one – we had several dinners with friends and family, and I opened my home to two big group activities, so I’d call this resolution one that I successfully kept.
  2. Running the race.  Despite a few setbacks, I have stuck with running for another year, and I’m looking forward to logging more miles this year.  Still nowhere near ready for a half-marathon, though.
  3. Becoming more purposeful.  Argh.  This is hard to do, and really hard to objectively measure.  Some days were better than others, and I think I can say I put more effort into attempting to be truly purposeful and careful with my time.  I still have lots of room for improvement, though.
  4. Becoming more prayerful.  Wish I could say I nailed this one, but God knows this is one I struggle with.  I think I struggle most with trying to do things on my own instead of giving them  to Him to handle, which means I hold off approaching Him until I feel I’ve got everything under control (which doesn’t always happen.)  I don’t know why I think He expects me to have (or even get) my act together – He knows me better than anybody else!
  5. Reading the Bible through.  I am most disappointed in myself on this one, because I just plain didn’t make this a high priority.  I definitely need a do-over on this one. 

If I assigned grades of A through F on these, my GPA would be passing, but I wouldn’t be on the Dean’s List.  I am happy that I kept a couple of them well, and looking back has given me a clearer idea of what my 2011 resolutions and priorities will be.

Happy new year!

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Happy birthday, baby blog!

A year ago today, I launched the Domestic Dilettante with this post.  In the 365 days that followed, I changed up my blog background and header five times.  And I found – more days than not – something to say:  190 posts and counting.  (Big surprise there, huh?)

If only I could settle on a permanent background and image…

It’s been a fun year of learning the ins and outs of blogging.  If you are one of my lurker/readers (I know who MOST of you are), I will tell you what I wished for when I blew out that virtual candle below; hopefully it won’t jinx me. 

It was two wishes, actually:

  1. That you enjoy reading about my escapades and tidbits of half-baked wit and wisdom; and 
  2. More of you will show your “faces” here.  Or at least comment on a post now and then.  (I love hearing from you, too!)

More seriously, my biggest wish is for another year of God’s grace and mercy and wisdom to pour down on all of us; for His help and comfort in our times of need; and that He will provide us with opportunities to help others in the coming days and weeks and months.

Happy blogging,

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Auld Lang Syne and all that.

Random thought for the day: will we say “two thousand and ten” or “twenty-ten?” It should be interesting to see how we mere mortals refer to this year as we usher in the second decade of the 21st century.

For the first time in a long time, I managed to start the new year off right – the Christmas decs are all “snug in their beds” until next December. Most years, I’m lucky to have them down by the 2nd week of January, but I decided to get on the ball this time around. I also accomplished another first – I ran 3.5 miles, and bumped up the pace, too. Now that I’ve got the 5K goal under my belt, I’m ready to tackle longer runs, and maybe a half-marathon isn’t such a stretch after all.

We ushered in the new year with a quiet evening at home. After braving the grocery store, I served up New Orleans-style oyster stew to start things off and provide comfort to my discouraged UT fan/husband as he watched the Vols lose to Virginia Tech at the Chik-Fil-A bowl. (At least he didn’t drive down to Hotlanta and buy a ticket to watch the game!) A couple big steaks fed three of us (middle child opted to spend the night with us), along with some spicy shrimp, baked ‘taters and crusty bread.

I’ve never been good at making or keeping resolutions, but that doesn’t stop me from making a run at it every now and again. So this year, I resolve these five things (it’s easy to remember if I can count ’em on one hand):

  1. Show more hospitality. I love spending time with our friends and I love getting acquainted with new friends. Entertaining guests is a great motivator to clean the house and an excuse to create a decadent dessert. All upside, no downside.
  2. Run the race. My energy level and outlook on life have certainly improved by introducing running to my life last spring. It seems like a good thing to continue.
  3. Become more purposeful. As a good friend once advised, everyone has 24 hours in each day and we all manage to find time for the things we really want to do. So my goal is to consider what it is I really want to do each day, and tackle it like there’s no tomorrow – because there may not be.
  4. Become more prayerful. That’s what my knees are for. Well, that and gardening and cleaning behind toilets.
  5. Finish reading the Bible through. I started it in 2009 and made great strides; there’s no sense in starting over just because it’s a new year. I just need to finish what I started and then begin again.

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