Whirlwind

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That unscheduled absence was brought to you by

I GOT A JOB!

Yep. A real, grown-up, full-time, well-paying (gulp) management job. So things have been and continue to be hectic. I will do my level best to return to the 3X/week blogging swing of things as soon as I can.

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Resolution 2013 Check-In: March

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I really am going to start doing this at the beginning of the month. Swearsies.

Here's where I am on those 2013 resolutions:

1. Read 40 books.

Still doing well. I am at 15 books read and 4 in progress. For the curious, I am currently reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr in paperback, Young House Love by John & Sherry Petersilk in hard cover, I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons on Kindle, and listening to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

2. Send birthday cards to my friends/family.

I missed a couple of these in February, because they weren't on my calendar. Oops. I did send out 3 though, and I have a bunch already done for March.

3. Use the 52 Week Savings Plan.

Still happening automatically.

4. Prioritize visits with friends (at least 4).

The first one of these happens this weekend!

5. Complete the Couch to 5K, then reassess.


I stalled out due to injury, but am back at it, sporadically. I need to re-commit tot his one and get back on schedule.

6. Blog at least three times a week.

I was successful until this week, when I missed Monday! Oh well, still on it for the most part.

7. Do something to improve my space every month.

Did some minor living room furniture switching a week or two ago, and it has made a world of difference, so I'll call this one an easy win this month.

8. Volunteer.

Haven't done a thing. Really need to get on this one.

9. Institute a gratitude practice.

This is going really well. Wrote about it the other day.

10. Re-engage in social media.

I'd say I'm still making slow progress here, but I could definitely be doing more.

11. Get a new job.

Ug.

12. Play with the baby.

This continues to be my most important goal, and I'd say it's going pretty well. I spend a good chunk of every day playing with the baby, and an even bigger one just watching him. It's the best thing about this period of unemployment. He is just so amazing.

Once again, I'd say it's been a reasonably good month. With the exception of the pitiful job situation, I'm cool with how things are going so far in 2013. Long may it continue.
 
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Happy Mail Week 3: The Pre-Made Option

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The Happy Mail I intended for this week fell through, due to my own creative incompetence, so I found myself at the end of the week and not having sent anything. I decided that rather than skip a week so early in this project, I'd go with one of my easy peasy back-up options. Something that could just be labeled and mailed.

I bought these two Klutz Build-a-Book kits at the thrift store a month or two back. I just thought they were the cutest little kits, and I could see a kid in the 5-7 year old range having a grand old time with them. Sure, I think something I put together myself out of my own supplies might be cooler, but like I said, this week was a back-up plan kind of week.

All I did was label them using some alphabet stickers I found in the $1 section of Target and some labels I got on clearance at Michael's, add postage at the meter, and pop them in the mail to a pair of not-quite-six-year-old twins I know.

Cheap ($.99 each for the kits, $2.07 for the postage on each) and simple, but I think these will bring a smile, and that's the point! I'll be back next week with something a bit more creative.

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Spring Clothes: Digging the Bullseye

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You know who has cute clothes this spring? Target. Yep, really. Wanna see?



Every single thing here is from Target! You could go with a sleek, sophisticated formal look:

Target Spring Outfit #3

Target Spring Outfit #9


Target Spring Outfit #2

Target Spring Outfit #2

Merona Tunnel Waist Floral Blouse, $19.99
Converse One Star Skinny Leg Annie Pants, $27.99
Merona Melinda Wedge, $14.98
Mossimo Hobo Bag, $29.99
Drop Cluster Earrings, $12.99
Suede Braid Bracelet, $6

Target's offerings really do rum the gamut. One thing I would advise anybody who doesn't typically consider Target an option for clothes to do is check out the online possibilities. A lot of things are available online that they don't have in store. For example, all of these pieces are online-only:

Target Online Only Clothes/Shoes

Target Online Only Clothes/Shoes

Mossimo Floral Pleated Skirt with Pleather Trim, $8.04
Merona Slimming Options V-Neck Crossover Dress, $28
Mossimo Ponte Skinny Leg Pants, $22.99
Mossimo Ona Striped Scrunch Ballet Flats, $19.99
Merona Crossover Neck Knit Dress, $17.48
Prabal Gurung for Target Long-Sleeved Cardigan, $32.99
Mossimo Ponte Peplum Skirt, $19.99
Merona Emilia Nautical Tall Wedge Sandals, $29.99
Merona Long Sleeved Sweater Jacket, $29.99

Now, a word about quality. A lot of folks will tell you not to buy clothes at places like Target because they are cheaply made and you can tell. Sometimes, that is absolutely true. Other times, the construction seems just fine to me. You really have to take it item-by-item. While it is true that you're not likely to be getting heirloom quality pieces at Target, the truth is that most of us aren't buying heirloom quality pieces anyway. Rightly or wrongly, we're a culture to whom clothes are pretty disposable, at both this price point and those several rungs above it. My best advice is always to buy clothes secondhand when possible, but when it's not, I see nothing wrong with trying to make as economical a choice as possible, and I think Target has really upped their game as far as creating pieces that are inexpensive, but don't look cheap.

I actually ordered a few things from Target for myself the other day, since I am down to a very very small section of clothes that fit in my closet (ah, the joys of post-partum dressing). I'll let you know how they work out!
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How's that gratitude thing going?

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As I mentioned when I went through my yearly goals, one thing I want to focus on in 2013 is gratitude--that is, instituting some sort of daily gratitude practice into my life. I decided that the best way to ensure success in this was to at least start out with something easy. Something, perhaps, in an app?

So, I got Gratitude365. And, for the last month and a half or so, every night before I go to bed, I open it on my iPad (my iPad tends to live next to the bed so that I can surf/read when I am nursing the baby and before I go to sleep) and enter a few things for which I am grateful. Nothing is too small, and I don't worry about repeating things from previous days, I just enter whatever comes to mind. It doesn't take more than 60 seconds.

Most days look something like this:

Nothing earth-shattering, most days, just things that I've noticed enjoying or being thankful for throughout the day. The baby's sleeping turns up quite often. Food is mentioned frequently.

The app is simple to use, and you can add photos, which I think is awesome, but don't use so far, since I typically am not on my iPhone. It provides the view above, a calendar view showing which days have entries, and a list view that chooses (at random, I think?) one of your entries from each day. That one is sort of fun to flip back through:

So it's definitely easy, but is it helping me to maintain a more grateful outlook about my life? I think it is. I notice more and more as I go through my day I take note of things for which I am grateful (sometimes I remember them at the end of the day, sometimes I don't). And on particularly trying days, it's definitely helpful to go back through the things for which I previously noted my gratitude, and most of them are still true/relevant.

After doing it for long enough to make it a habit, I'd definitely recommend this app for those who are new to gratitude journaling.While it may not be the most creative or inspirational way to keep track of things things for which you are grateful, it is a very easy and convenient way, and that seems to me to be an excellent first step.

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Happy Mail Week 2: Small Gifts for Small Folks

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As promised, a second installment of my attempts to spread love via mail! Last week, I sent out three dog toys to some of my favorite folks' favorite dogs. And they arrived! 

Henry liked his happy mail!

Neko and Roger also approved!

This week, I put the canines aside (for now!) and send treats to a couple of my favorite kids. And then another of my favorite kids! For not-quite 2 year-old twins, I decided on a small double-sided white board (Target $1 section) and a set of (washable, because I really do love these kids' parents) dry erase markers (also from Target). I packaged it up with a polka dot label (also from Target) and some rainbow duck tape (thrifted).

All ready to go:

For a slightly older cousin of mine, I found this really cool Alex bouncy ball making kit at the thrift store, so I decided to stick a label and some stamps on that. Cool chevron duck tape is from the $1 bin at Target.

I have more ideas for kids coming up, but I think I'll switch to an adult friend or two next week. I'll keep you updated! In the meantime, have any of you put anything happy-making in the mail recently? Tell me about it in the comments!

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