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January 26, 2013

January Resolutions

Three quarters of the way through the month, some of us may be flagging in our "purge and organize!" resolve. Enter

I love this website so much I signed up for the daily email; I do not that kind of thing lightly. And in spite of its name - it's not just for apartment dwellers, so don't be put off if you live in a house.

For the month of January, they are focusing on what they call The January Cure - a daily dose of
decluttering tips and diaries of people who are fighting the good fight.

My charge for the year of 2013? Bring in less! Each time a big bag of stuff goes to Goodwill, I am struck by how I NEEDED each of the items in the bag. Ugh. So, # 2 (the Time Rule) and # 5 (Think Before You Buy) are my new rules of thumb.

There are house tours, a "Looky Lou's" treasure trove of voyeurism (or as my friend E. calls it - house porn); before and afters; and food. There's also Budget Living, Green Living, and DIY projects (loved this Ikea counter top turned into a desk project.)

Check it out. Maybe it will be just the shot in the arm you need to keep up the fight against clutter and save money!

More Love Letters

The other night I was reading The Guardian and came across an article about a woman who, when she was feeling down, wrote an encouraging letter and left it for a total stranger to find. Her TED talk is very encouraging.

Her site is If you're feeling low, click on the Found Letters link, grab a Kleenex, and start reading. It will restore your faith in humankind (hopefully).

About a million years ago, I was part of a three-month leadership program. On the last weekend of the program we all wrote "rainy day letters" to each person we had been in intense fellowship with over the past three months. I still have all of mine; they are still important to me twenty years later.

More Love Letters project reminds me of our rainy day letters. Another thing from those three months - one person makes a difference. That also applies to Hannah Brencher, the founder of MLL.

Needlessly to say, I LOVE this idea. So today, once the ice slick melted, I drug myself to the library to return some movies, (the cold I had a couple of weeks ago has reared its crappy head again), and expressly went in TJ Maxx looking for cards to participate in the love letter writing - found the perfect cards!

I'm excited to start spreading the LOVE!

January 13, 2013

New Neighbors

I have been very lucky in my home owning life, all of my neighbors have been great. We look out for each other, pick up mail, mow lawns when the others can't, things like that.

The house diagonally across the street from me was for sale for over a year. Last week I noticed the sign was down and assumed they took it off the market until spring. Then yesterday, two cars were in the driveway and I surmised it had sold (or rented). Sure enough, signs of life started to appear - people cleaning windows, trimming bushes in the front yard, truckloads of furniture were unloaded, and...dun, dun, dun...a dog was heard.

The dog, (a beagle, my least favorite breed ever), could be heard, with the door and windows closed, in my bedroom in the back of the house. The temperature in these parts in the middle of this January is about 70 degrees, which means storm doors and windows were open, so you can well imagine.


Beagles don't bark, they bay. Hunting dogs, they're bred to be heard over long distances. My uncle in Georgia had a pack of the standard size. When I was three, for no reason apparent to me, as I walked up the porch steps, one came out from under the house and bit me; the reason they're not my favorite, aside from the noise.

This is a very dog friendly neighborhood; there's a dog next door, across the street, up the street is Samson, the blue nosed pit (a lovely gentleman), Jane, (the former home owner), had three dogs. But they are all well behaved, quiet dogs.

They got a pass yesterday; you're moving furniture, the doors are open, you're keeping the dog in the backyard out of the way, I get it. But the barking went on for HOURS (why do dogs not ever seem to lose their voice?!). Where other people say - awww, poor dog, I just want it to STFU. NOW.

Noise affects me viscerally. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I am "...more overaroused by levels of sensory stimulation that do not bother others." People near me sneezing suddenly, high pitched whistling, those f%*&ing cars with the loud bass speakers, repetitive sounds (dogs barking), many people talking at one time - I literally feel those things in my body. In the case of many people talking at once, I hear ALL the conversations. I cannot turn some off and only hear one. It creates a flight or fight response and makes me instantly pissed off; it hurts my head and my stomach.

Yesterday afternoon, my stomach and neck got tighter and tighter as the hours wore on. I imagined several really inappropriate scenarios involving punching.

Anon CP kept me semi-distracted texting about our shared Viking ancestry - inventing hand signs and a motto.

Finally, after about four or five hours (an eternity!), it stopped.

This morning I saw three motorcycles being unloaded.

Oh joy!

Thinking About Aunt Florida

I didn't know Aunt Florida well, due to the nomadic life we lived, but my impression was of kindness, and full on Southern Lady, old school style.

She reminded me of a bird; one of those pert, sparkly-eyed sparrows, who cock their heads in your direction and seem to sum you up in a nanosecond. She was on the tall side and always slim.

She had the snow white crown of hair that all the women in her family had/have (where I inherited mine). Her brothers, who had glorious heads of thick wavy dark hair in their youth were bald later on.

Out of the nine children born to my great grandmother, only are three left. All women.


January 12, 2013

100 Years, 3 Months, 1 Day

That's how old my grand aunt Florida was when she died yesterday.

Until the end, she lived in her own home, sandwiched by her daughter on one side and namesake granddaughter on the other.

Her sight was dimmed (she would have to get right up to you to see who you were), but she had all her faculties and got around on her own two feet, using a cane to steady herself.

I can attest to her amazingly strong grip, as she held onto my arm at Mom's funeral and cut off the circulation a little. Heh.

She was a lovely woman.

Rest in peace Aunt Florida. Say hi to everyone for us.

Taken on her 100th birthday

January 6, 2013

Sh%t Southern Women Say

This is pretty funny. And okay, I have said most of these things more than once (except the "Paul Ryan is sexy" bit. I have never said that. Heh.).

To give credit where credit is due, this came from Anon CP's [male] third cousin.

The DNA Results Are...(drum roll please)

According to the test, my genetic pie cuts up like this:
79% Scandinavian
19% Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal)
2% Uncertain

Uncertain means "...small traces of a specific population may have been found in your DNA, but the probability levels were too low to pinpoint it to a specific ethnicity. This is not uncommon and as more genetic signatures are discovered with a higher confidence level, we may be able to update this percentage over time."

I was in a bit of a dither for a spell - where's Scotland, Ireland, France?! I know people came from there.

Here's what Ancestry says:
"So if you look at your family tree, it may indicate a pedigree-based ethnicity of 30% English, 20% Scandinavian, and 50% Italian (based on birth locations of your great-great-great grandparents). While this is one valid way to look at ethnicity (and in fact has been the only way until recently), DNA analysis can reveal the actual percentage of your DNA that is reflected by these ethnic groups. So your genetic-based ethnicity might reveal you are 40% British Isles, 15% Scandinavian, and 45% Southern European. Both measures are accurate and informative—but they are measuring different things."


I found the explanation  at The Genetic Genealogist to be more helpful than Ancestry's:   

"Remember that “Everyone Has Two Family Trees – A Genealogical Tree and a Genetic Tree.” Your Genealogical Tree is the tree containing ALL of your ancestors.  However, only a tiny subset of these individuals actually (randomly) contributed DNA to the genome that you walk around with today.  These ancestors are the only individuals in your Genetic Tree.  It has been estimated, for example, that at 10 generations, only about 10-12% of ancestors in your Genealogical Tree are actually in your Genetic Tree!
Accordingly, even if a decent percentage of your ancestors at 10 generations originated in the British Isles, there is possibility that your DNA – and thus your Genetic Ethnicity Prediction – could include very little or absolutely no British Isles ancestry, simply because of the rules of genetics."

Back to Ancestry: " defines the “Scandinavian” with the modern day locations of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, but explains in their FAQ that it can mean much, much more:
Ethnic groups moved around. Because people move over time, (and when they do they take their DNA with them), a group may contribute DNA to other groups at different times. So ethnic groups can be defined by time and place—not just location. For example, if you have German or British ancestors in your family tree, it’s a possibility that your genetic ethnicity may be partly Scandinavian. The Viking invasions and conquests about a thousand years ago are likely responsible for occurrences of Scandinavian ethnicity throughout other regions. And there are similar examples for other ethnicities. With your results, we provide historical information describing migrations to and from the regions to give you a broader picture of the origins of your DNA."
How crazy it that?!
As soon as I have a bit of extra cash, I'm going to do the National Geographic DNA test too; this is fascinating stuff.
And those Vikings got around!

Let The Purging Begin!

I just returned home from making the first Goodwill donation of the year.

From the closet, five or six pair of shoes that had not been worn once (or maybe just once) last year, and a bit of clothing.

In the kitchen, glass and plastic containers were pared down. The containers with BPA's were replaced by these BPA free, inexpensive, and adorable containers from Italy found  at T.J. Maxx (Frigoverre Fun, they're called).
The boring ones are outta here!
From the cabinet over the refrigerator, (c'mon on, admit it - if it's up there and it's not a small appliance - you don't use it). I also gleaned some pottery and drinking glasses - because why does one person need over twenty drinking glasses?!

All four of these La Rochere glasses went away; the bee pattern is not my favorite. So why did I get them in the first place?!

I did keep six of these, even though they're the bee pattern, because the shape is more versatile (you could serve anything from wine to ice cream in these) and there's enough for company:

Some of my pottery mugs and small bowls are being "redistributed".

Another thing that needs doing: I had started making piles of old family photos to mail to each of my siblings, but haven't finished the job.

I always feel lighter after doing a purge.
A little happier somehow.

January 1, 2013

New Year's Day Dinner

How did these foods become a Southern New Year's Day tradition? Here's one suggestion:

Happy 2013

Another year has flown by.

How did I do on my semi-resolution from last year? You know, the one where I was going to be more French? I did pretty well. The one I didn't do: get down to a ten item wardrobe. I'm no clothes horse, but winnowing down your clothes to ten items is a special kind of gift.

Have you heard of Project 333? It involves taking your wardrobe - shoes, jewelry, clothes, accessories - down to thirty-three items and living with those items for three months. It reminds me of getting your house ready to sell by putting away most personal items - photos, etc. After doing that in 2010, I found I didn't miss them at all.

Will I do Project 333? Not sure. I already purge regularly, in addition to season changes (a great time to purge). Just now, three pairs of shoes I did not wear once last year went into the donation bag. (I keep a big bag in the linen closet all year and donate when it gets full.)

I've gotten better at returning things I've bought but had remorse about after getting home.
Now to have remorse BEFORE purchasing them in the first place. And remembering that just because a store is having a sale does not mean I'm obligated to buy anything.

I have a post-it note in my car that says "I have everything I need."

May 2013 bring you all everything you need.

Winter wardrobe by color