How Did My Time-Tracking Week Go?

I wrote last week that I had signed up for the Laura Vanderkam Time-Tracking Challenge for 2018, in which participants were asked to log their activities for one full week, 168 hours. I’m happy to say that I stuck to it for the full week this year (having almost immediately dropped out last January) and also thoroughly enjoyed reading Laura’s daily updates (link is to the first day’s post; you can then read the rest if you’re interested) on how she spent her own time. I used my fun app, toggl, which I’ve written about several times, most recently last week, and this morning I had a neatly categorized weekly report, all ready for me to look at and then send on to Laura. I managed to record a total of 167 hours and 22 minutes, so only a little bit of time fell through the cracks. How did I do? Here are some highlights:

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Letting Go and Making Room

beautiful but way too complicated cross-stitch project.
This is the cross-stitch pattern I mention in this post. Isn’t it beautiful?

I had planned at some point do a write-up about all the different blogs and podcasts I follow, and maybe I’ll still do that, but perhaps it’s a better idea to deal with some of my favorites on a more individual basis. So today I’m taking ideas from two blogs, one a recent discovery and one that I’ve followed for some time. They each deal with the concept of simplifying and decluttering, and they each wrote a recent post that together form a unified whole. (I had a terrible time with that previous sentence.)

So the blog I’ve been following for some time is “Happy Simple Living” authored by Eliza Cross. If you follow me on my Facebook author page you saw the post I put up yesterday about her moment of truth in the garage as she contemplated two bins labeled “bookends.” She realized that those bins represented her dreams that someday she’d put them to use in a happy home; that those items represented the hopes she had going into a marriage that failed. I won’t try to re-tell the story here; I’d encourage you to follow the link above and read it for yourself. In the end, she decides to get rid of them. They represent a life she no longer leads, and they’ve been sitting unused for 11 years. Time to accept reality and move on.

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A Start on New Year’s Resolutions–Why Deny Yourself Pleasure?

mountains with power lines
Do I focus on the lovely mountain view out our patio door–or the ugly telephone pole and power lines?

My good intentions to write a separate post last week about each of my NYR’s went by the wayside, swallowed up in all sorts of family activities. I hope everyone reading this post had a great time with family and friends over the holidays, but I know it’s inevitable that for some of you this time of year is especially hard. The Ostroms over at Pinch of Yum lost their baby last year, and they struggled over what to do this year about various traditional celebrations. I know there are days to come when there will be empty seats at our table, but for now we’re all hale and hearty and thankful for it.

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Savor this Fleeting Day–and All the Ones to Come

Christmas lights at twilightI had every intention of getting this post written at least by yesterday, but the rush of company, outings, etc., got in the way. It’s Christmas morning. I’m up early because I couldn’t sleep, so here are the thoughts I wanted to get down, and I plan to get the newsletter out later today in between the biscotti-baking, the green-bean casserole making, and the last-minute gift-wrapping flurry.

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See This Great Movie about Churchill!

Hurry up, folks, and see Darkest Hour, the new film about the earliest days of Winston Churchill’s leadership of Britain as Prime Minister, before it leaves the theaters! (It should still be showing through the end of the year at independent theaters; we saw it last night at one such place. If you live in the Denver area you can see it there: the Chez Artiste Theater near Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue. After the movie you can just walk over to the India Oven Restaurant for a wonderful meal.)  If you don’t see it in time, buy Darkest Hour.

I wanted to see the film because of Gary Oldman’s performance, and it’s well worth seeing just for that reason and for the rest of the cast. (Downton Abbey fans will recognize the actress who plays Churchill’s secretary: it’s Rose! But with dark hair.)

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Do You Have a “Project Brain”?

big project--cranes, etc.The hits just keep coming from Dana K. White, author of last week’s book pick, How to Manage Your Home without Losing Your Mind and of the blog A Slob Comes Clean. Remember how I said that she had me nailed with her description of someone sitting at a messy kitchen table reading about how to clean up her kitchen, when what that person really needs to do is . . . clean up the kitchen? Well, she has another concept that is so, so me: “project brain.”

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The Best Way to Make Yourself Happy

I’ll have a post later this week about doing the food for the Chorale post-concert reception on Friday, but for today I have a couple of quotations for you and some observations about doing good deeds for other people and how helpful that is for the person performing said deeds.

First, from the comic Patton Oswalt, whose wife died suddenly in April 2016:

“Something that really pulls you out of grief is helping other people. . . . Anything to get you out of your head.”

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“Everybody’s Bluffing”

gambling die, ace of spades, and a note in French -- Tout est une question de bluffMy husband and I have been watching a series of videos hosted by Dr. Stephen Meyer about Christian apologetics (link is to a website that markets the DVDs but not an affiliate link). Lots of really great stuff, but in this post I’m focusing on just one little throwaway line from the session we watched most recently: “Everybody’s bluffing.” Meyer had foolishly raised his hand in a lecture class at Cambridge University and 

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Ignore the Fear—and Press on to the Finish Line.

Feet going down stairsStop me if you’ve heard this before:

My psychology is very weird.

Or maybe not. Maybe you’ve had this experience too: You’re chugging along, making real progress on a project, and then you think, ‘But what will I do with myself when this is finished?’ I used to say this about our various landscaping endeavors at our house in Virginia. What would we do on Saturdays when we got all of that stuff done?

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Carelessness Strikes Again–Or How I Failed to Show Up for Jury Duty

To do listWell, I guess it’s a life lesson when you finally get around to cleaning off your desk only to find the jury duty notice telling you that you were supposed to be at the courthouse at 9:00 AM and it’s . . . around 12:30 PM. The thing of it is, I did remember that notice. I remembered it last week, and I found it, and I was vastly relieved to see that I didn’t have to worry about it until last night after 5:00 when I was supposed to call and see if I had to come in. It was the old “oh, I’ll remember it” thing. I have plenty of resources at my disposal to keep track of my obligations, including Google calendar and Todoist, but they don’t do me any good unless I use them. For some reason, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, I figured that I’d remember. So I had to do my best to fix the situation, e-mailing

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