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January Photo A Day Roundabundlewrap . Week 2

21 January 2012

I’m participating with approximately 9,367 (totally unscientific estimate) people out there doing FatMumSlim‘s photo-a-day project for January and roundin’ all of these little pixels here each week, generally on Saturdays. Why a photo a day challenge? Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I find myself (as a writer) seem to find myself at a loss for words these days and am preferring more to take pictures on a daily basis rather than natter on about my life.  Or I needed yet another seemingly productive procrastinatory tool in my toolbox.  Or because….nothing.  There’s nothing there.  See, I told you I couldn’t seem to locate words lately.  This could prove to be problematic, but we’re going to worry about that less right now than other things.  Like what’s for dinner tonight.

I started to round-a-bundle them all up for you last Saturday, and didn’t finish…until today, which makes me about a week behind — or, OR, it’s a treat, really: you get two weeks right in a row!  See how I make it sound like you’re getting quite a steal through exclamation marks, strategic words and subtle compliments, you Uber Thrifty Person Who Is Awesome?

If you’d like to take a gander, week one is here, and week three is just around the corner.


Day nine: Routine.  

The picture above was taken in the Ikea cafeteria while consuming way too many meatballs, which I should really make a daily routine.  I could move to Denver, change my name to something Swedish like Annnnikka, which in my mind justifies the eating of meatballs from my home country every day, and shop for cheap Scandinavian goods all the live long day.

I could also remain married.  Dilemma.

The funny thing about routines is that I really love having one as long as I can abandon it at anytime, which somewhat goes solidly against the definition of what a routine is.  Without a routine, though, I feel willy-nilly, drifty, and other unpleasant adverbs that start making me itchy and desperate.  So, what I’m saying is, I’ll have a routine, break it, then make a new routine, break it all the time, rinse and repeat.  I don’t know if it works for me, but it’s what I do.  I am both pro and anti-routine.  So, sue me!  (Actually, don’t sue me, because then I won’t have money for Ikea).

Two things that do find their way into the routines I create and destroy are reading + eating, preferably together.  Every single day, I can honestly say that I stop to eat (no eating on the run, even though I do always have snacks in my purse) and stopping to read something.  And we’re still working on adding more meatballs to that.


Day ten: Childhood.  

In my office I have three shelves filled with all of the cameras I’ve used over the years–from my very first Canon AE-1 to the six different polaroid cameras I collected over the years.  My very first camera, however, was this one.  A little wooden point-and-shoot with a bright red string for a camera strap, and a wad of fossilized pink gum on the back (not pictured because I’d like to retain you all as readers and friends).  I thought I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up (this was before the proliferation of what my friend Megan calls “fauxtographers” out there who simply own nice camera equipment rather than skill and talent, but after being hired to photograph one wedding when I was 20, I promptly ended photography as a career choice. Words are way more my speed, and they don’t have to constantly be reminded to stop smiling so weird.


Day eleven: Where you sleep.

Can I just say that my bedroom is one of my very favorite rooms of the house, and not for the “this is where the magic happens” MTV Cribs-style wink-wink-nudge-nudginess?  Why am I asking permission; I’m just saying it RIGHT NOW.  Permission-be-damned! Power to the people! (I may have just had a little too much sugar.) We inherited the bedroom set from my grandmother, and it is some olive-wood-laminated goodness circa 1940’s that I love, including those great lamps that I keep contemplating painting until I get way too nervous and back down.

But, the art project on the wall was recently completed, and it’s one of our very favorite projects we’ve taken on–and SO simple.  If When we get our Fixer Creative Co. website up and running hopefully before it’s 2013 or kills us both we’ll do a full tutorial on how to make it, but in the meantime let me tell you that you just need a whole lotta nails and some string.  We did it in an afternoon and I really find it charming, don’t you?


Day twelve: Close-up.  

This is a close-up of my wedding rings and the boutonierre (which my computer is telling me is misspelled, but you know I totally looked it up to make sure) that my friend Sarah and I made for my wedding.  Basically, now that the wedding is done, you’re looking at the most expensive and least expensive souvenirs from my wedding.


Day thirteen: In your bag.

Oh, I had grand illusions about this one.  See, I really love looking at what people have in their bag.  Like these photos from Fresh Pics? I could look at them every day.  It’s very telling, I think.  So I was going to pull out all my stuff, organize it all neatly and catalogue it in a photo.  But when it came down to it, I had to go meet a friend for lunch and I work up late, and after peering into the deep recesses of said bag I realized I would have to fully clean out my bag just to unearth the things that are in my bag and round up the small creatures who have now signed up for mailing addresses and utilities in my bag in order to take a photo of whats IN MY BAG.

And I got tired just from typing the phrase “in my bag” about seventy times.

There are reasons for this crazy hot mess in my bag, sure, like switching between bags that can hold my computer and ones with fun stripes and ones that match my shoes, but really — I’ll always be the girl who has crumbs in the bottom of her bag.  Always.  I think I can live with that.


Day fourteen: Something I’m reading.  

I always have an epically long list of books that I’m going to read, but sometimes I’ll find a few that just weasel their way up to the top, cutting in the book-reading line.  This was one of the first books I read this year, a decidedly fascinating entreaty into the world of haute cuisine.  If you don’t know what haute cuisine is, you are a) not alone and b) can understand it by just calling it “really fancy and expensive food.”  Kidding aside, mostly, the author takes a look inside elBulli, a restaurant that I can’t seem to encapsulate fully in one sentence.  Basically, they make really fascinating, tasty, avant-garde food, and until 2010 when they closed down only to reopen next year as a sort-of culinary “think tank”, was only open 6 months out of the year and you could only get reservations if you were friends with Gwyneth Paltrow or the mayor of Spain.  (Note: not real sure Spain has a mayor as its head of state, but I was writing this while wikipedia was on a clicky-strike against SOPA, and I moved on.  As should you.)

The kitchen hosts a large group of interns each year, called stagiares who all do a rotation, or stage, at the restaurant and try to absorb as much as they can from Ferran Adria, the big cheese (pun intended!) and try not to complain about creating thousands of spherical olives by dropping goop (scientific term) by syringe into a specially made bath.  Every day, for months.

It’s actually really interesting.  Or I’m just easily curious about everything.  But it’s definitely one of the two.

But, reading + fire = amazing, no matter what you’re reading.  Am I right?  I am.


today’s truth:

17 January 2012

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

— Anne Lamott

i’m trading in my resolutions.

13 January 2012

So, a few weeks ago I wrote about my thoughts on 2011 and promised I would be back with a way to plan ahead, to get more done, no–scratch that, to BE more in the next year.

Awful good plan that actually might be…if I was someone else.

But I’m not.

I’m me.

And I’m seldom ready for Audacious New Goals the very first week of the year.  Or ever, really.

Goals, as I’ve written about before, have always been yet another opportunity for me to disappoint myself.  I’ve been in awe of people who accomplish amazing things, but I never counted myself among them.  On the flipside, though, I want to have direction in life.  Without goals, how do you get things done?  Aren’t goals good?  Like, maybe if you made real goals, or goals that have all the requisite acronym-y details like being measurable, attainable, etc.?

I’m sure they are.  But you want to know what one of the hardest things for me to do is?

Decide what I actually want — and how to get there.

Determining what is attainable to me, what would be useful or beneficial (which my mind sadly twists around to mean “perfect”, like it has positivity-specific dyslexia) just ties me all up.  It binds my hands, slows my feet, makes me inert.  Paralyzed to do anything but maintain the status quo-hum.

Something about unmoveable goals that MUST be set at in January, before I’ve even gotten two steps in the door of 2012 and hung my coat on its hook, waiting around for 51 weeks to pop up again, unfinished and guilt-laden—just isn’t working for me this year.


I’ve got a meditation (or mantra) instead, which can be applied to specific areas of my life this year; a consistent approach to the most troublesome of challenges and the mundane simple things that just seem to need attention:

This Christmas gift by my dear love which now hangs in my home office reminds me that little things matter.  That I matter, even when I feel small.  That the choices I make every day mean something.  That consistent actions will lead to unimagined, remarkable things.

That every little bit has an infinite potential.

So, 2012, welcome.  Things are going to happen this year, bit by every little bit.  Can’t wait to see it (and share it with you, friends!)

January Photo A Day Roundabundlewrap.

8 January 2012

I decided that January was just a little too early for making grand proclamations about the entire year or even really planning goals or emphases or whathaveyou, but I did do one thing: sign up for FatMumSlim’s January Photo A Day challenge.  One big perk about this is that signing up required me to do absolutely nothing — that’s my kind of group challenge.

There are no rules when it comes to playing along. Just take a photo based on the list above and share it. I’m on Instagram, which is basically like one long photo-only twitter feed (awesome!) so you can follow me there (username saradarling, naturally) and just use the hashtag #JANphotoaday so that others can find your photos {if sharing on Instagram or Twitter}. If you aren’t using Twitter or Instagram, you can do it on your blog, facebook, whatever, and let me know in the comments.  You could also be kind at let FatMumSlim know too, even though I thought her handle was “Fat Muslim” for approximately the first 4 days of the challenge.  Ooops.

She’ll be doing one of these a month for 2012, so there’s many more opportunities to join in and document your year, a month at a time — which is about the only timeframe for goals I can handle.

I decided to share all my photos for the week at the end of the week, but, sincerely hating the word “round-up” as it involves visions of John Wayne, me in awful cowboy boots trying to rustle up some digital files with an old-fashioned lasso, I went with a Weekly Roundabundlewrap.   Roooooollls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

day one: you.  taken in a bathroom like a teenage girl.

day two: breakfast. it should be said that i was eating a very late breakfast, and we were trying to eat up leftovers so as to start eating better/normal in the new year.  i typically don’t eat a breakfast of cereal, smoked gouda and sausage.  although, maybe i should, because it was FANTASTIC.

day three: something i adore.  my husband, and my liam fox that i finally got after four months from an etsy seller who apparently had a mid-life crisis in the middle of making it.  he’s worth the wait, though.  both the husband and the fox, i mean.

day four: letterbox.  the fun in seeing the images from this day comes from the inherent difference in terms between australia (and, presumably, other places in the world) and the united states.  a letterbox in australia is a mailbox here, but some people didn’t figure that our (or just didn’t want to take a picture of their mailbox) and took a whole slew of fantastic photos of letter blocks, keepsake boxes of letters, cool letters placed on a box, etc.  super fun.

i just took a picture of my actual mailbox, because i am boring but liked the colors.

day five: something i wore.  i chose not to do another flamingo fashion post, but took a photo of the pieces of my outfit i was wearing that day.  my buffalo plaid shirt was in heavy rotation two summers ago, but hadn’t made an appearance recently, so i was happy to give it a whirl.  the necklace was a christmas gift from the boy, and it’s made out of stick pins and it’s awesome, but a wee bit scratchy if we’re telling the truth.  and those are my reading glasses/driving at night glasses.  i was editing a magazine for about 6 hours that day, and this was the perfect outfit.

day six: makes you smile.  this frank chimero print (also a christmas gift from the boy, so you can see how well he did this year!) makes me smile.  it will soon be hanging in my office, and it honestly is pretty much my mantra this year.  i have a hard time with doing small things well, consistently, every day, because somehow i feel like they aren’t good enough.  but, like a bird with a twig, making many trips, it is.  it’s always good enough.  and having contentment and purpose makes me smile.  as well as good design, of course.

funny story about this print: it shipped from the UK, and the boy ordered it the day after Thanksgiving because he is Very Prompt With Christmas Gifts, which i love.  it was the week before christmas, and it hadn’t come yet, so he called and they said that it obviously got lost but since they couldn’t track it (strange), they’d just promptly send another one and expedite it so that “your wife will think nice things about us.”  cute.  we asked what we should do if the other showed up, and they said just keep it or give it away.

about two weeks after christmas, both of them showed up at different times on the same day, and that same day i had two lovely friends over who equally were enamored with the print, so i got to give the extra one to them, who are doing some kind of sisterhood of the travelling print with it.  double gift.  so, i’m definitely thinking nice things about them.

day seven: my favourite.  this is my favourite sign in town.  it’s a seedy part of town lined with bars and run-down apartments, but they’ve kept this sign, and i will be so sad if it gets torn down.  i love the little skylark bird.

see you next week with more photos and some other ramblings, to be sure.

the things we know for sure about the new neighbor.

5 January 2012

1. he doesn’t know how to break down boxes properly, or at all.

the boy found this out after taking our trash to the dumpster and he found that the dumpster did not, in fact, have room for said trash because it was filled with boxes.  like, constructed boxes ready for stuff.  he was not a fan.

2. he’s from new york.

i have no idea how we know this.

3. he feels that it’s appropriate to answer the door with no shirt on.

i found that out today, when we both happened to open our doors at the same time to retrieve packages left at our respective front doors.  he stood there, looking a trifle like what i imagine the guys from the jersey shore look like (not having fully watched the show) and said “how you doooooooooin’?”

okay, not really.  we both just eyed each other for a second and he may have said something about presents as i retreated back into the safety amidst the company of the shirt-wearing dwellers of my home.

4. he’s really wants to be friends, we can tell.

see exhibit a above.

monday on tuesday morning up!date.

3 January 2012

Obsessing over: Nothing.  Something about the holidays and being monumentally busy has left me with only the energy for contemplation of important things, like if i have enough cherry pie for breakfast, or if i’m going to have to add some candy to it to be full. You know, the really important things in life, especially amidst January’s Resolutionville of Health.

Working on: Finishing (and by finishing, I mean starting) writing for our new website.  My mind gets all tangled up somewhere between having many ideas and executing only one of them in a decided direction; it starts getting rather choppy and mangled, as if my cell phone reception has gone on the fritz.  The cell phone reception in my brain, in case you didn’t get that particularly fantastc metaphor.

Because I can, I became a joiner and decided to partake in FatMumSlim’s photo a day…thing…for January.  She calls it a challenge, but I think to myself: how challenging is taking a photo with my phone every day?  If that’s challenging, then I really need to reevaluate my life trajectory.  But, whatever you call it, I thought it would be interesting to do this month, and I certainly like projects that don’t last outside of January, as do most of my resolutions.

If you join (and you should, really, i SWEAR it will be something resembling fun), just take a photo, upload it to wherever you are (i find instagram to be the easiest photo-sharing place, however) with a #janphotoaday hashtag, which hopefully will not be confused with some extremely frustrated lady named Jan’s quest to take a photo of the day, her plans thwarted by the internet once again.

I’m @saradarling on Twitter & Instagram, so come follow me; I will take you for ice cream.

Thinking about: How I feel like January doesn’t really start until the second week, at least mentally.  The first week finds me making lists, sorting things out and generally wandering around working, for sure, but not terribly sure on what.  It’s the Bermuda Triangle of calendar days, I tell you.

Anticipating: Book club tonight.  I joined a book club, FINALLY, not because I didn’t want one for ages and ages, but because I just couldn’t find one.  Seriously.  Everyone who has a book club they adore, don’t tell me because I swear they don’t exist in my town!  Until now.  I have to feverishly catch up on my reading, as I do not want to be the new girl on the book club block who hasn’t deigned to read the selection while everyone frowns at me behind their finger food and bookmarks.  Book club shun sounds terrible.

Listening to: Nothing, which reminds me that it’s a little too quiet this morning for my taste.  How about…Radical Face, which despite having a particularly un-radical name, sounds fantastic to me this morning.  This song especially.

Drinking: Nothing yet, but waiting on some tea.

Wishing: That my taste in things and my abilities matched up just a wee bit more.  It’s painful to realize how sucky your very best is at times and to be patient and persistent to make them better over time.

2011 in a (rather large) nutshell.

1 January 2012

(image via)

In 2011,

I gained a new career, new friends, a beautiful new nephew(!), a decorated home office, a new computer, time to read books and have a life, and more pounds than I lost or care to admit.

(books not related to college or teaching! what fun!)

(new home office, version 1.0)

(version 2.0, with white desk)

(version 2.1, with some of my boy’s art)

I lost the ability to do the career I thought I’d have forever, 20 pounds from a workout program I referred to as “football camp”, and the illusion that I can control things.
I stopped vomiting every morning due to stress.  Definite upside.  It makes it much easier to have, you know, a life.  Or fun.  Or breakfast.
I started valuing health more, especially after spraining my ankle.

(the unfortunate puffy-foot incident.  which ankle was sprained? can you guess? 😉

(new nephew benjamin, made only cuter because he’s wearing his brother thomas’ hand-me-down outfit that i have a picture of thomas in)

I was hugely satisfied by how different the family dynamic between my in-laws and me became.  I really enjoy spending time with them.

(i also still love spending time with my family in town, too.  that’s never changed)

And frustrated by the absolute selfishness and ignorance of people’s own issues and poor choices made that I witnessed from some people amidst a terrible crisis.
I am so embarrassed that I waited so long to try liquid eyeliner.  Genius, I tell you.

(goofing off with my lovely sister-in-law, morgan.  this has nothing to do with eyeliner.)

Once again, I resolved to totally change my perspective about health and eating.
Once again, I did not totally succeed, but then realized that there is no “success” destination, just continual attention paid.  So, in that light, I paid more attention for more of the time, and that produced good things.

(it’s hard to focus on eating well when you find out there’s a cupcake truck near your vicinity and your workplace institutes “fun treat fridays”.  i mean, COME ON)

The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is that I have actual life in my eyes, not death.  Seriously, ask anyone who saw me this time last year.  Also, I have my nose pierced again and my hair has returned to the exact same color it was a year ago, but not because i kept it the same all year.

(got my nose pierced with my friends jenny + kristine)

The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this December is embracing freedom, more and more, every day.
I loved spending time playing with my littlest nieces and nephews.  having long chats with my mother over the phone late at night, having dinner parties with friends, planning a birthday scavenger hunt for my husband, having my 30th bingo birthday, walking around Chicago in the summer, listening to radiolab during long car rides to and from grand junction, eating lunch and real talks with morgan, painting pumpkins with my mother-in-law, going to bronco games with my father-in-law and family, riding my cruiser all around town, going to vegas with my girl’s group, cooking so many delicious dishes, seeing my first roller derby bout…many good memories this year.

(my boy with my newest nephew, as if this could be any cuter)

(pumpkin painting)

(roller derby with my niece, heather, and a life list item completed!)

(30th bingo birthday + blonde hair)

Why did I spend even two minutes worrying about what was going to happen next or if my ankle was ever going to get better (it has and hasn’t, really)?  It’s not because the answer is right around the corner, but because you know who will provide it.
I should have spent more time knowing God more.
I regret buying the drinking glasses we got from goodwill.  They were cheap, and we needed glasses, but I still just don’t like them.  It’s renewed my sense of only buying what is truly useful and beautiful.
I will never regret buying the tickets for our trip to Chicago, even though with that money I could have bought another vacation (We ended up having to spend way more money than we were intending due to an inadvertent mistake of not checking on the day we were supposed to leave.  missed flights, extra rental cars, hotel rooms, etc.  Eeeeesh.)

(cubs played the rockies in a fun twist that ended with us losing horribly)

(the bean)

I puttered aimlessly on the internet and became daunted by what I read or saw there way too much.
I didn’t follow-up intention with action enough, on many fronts: from work, learning more, pursuing people or God, etc.
Unreasonable people choosing unreasonable actions and responses surrounding my mother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis drove me crazy.  Also, my husband not closing his sock drawer which conveniently is in my sight line in my office every. single. day. That’s put me into new levels of dementia.
Was people having babies crazier than ever last year (see: twin Byrds!)? Or was it me?  Runner-up: vague facebook posts.  That seemed preposterously rampant, in addition to the hatred for hipsters, and facebook.
The most relaxing place I went was to Las Vegas (specifically poolside) with my dearest girls or on the Oakes’ back porch for drinks and gab.

(my friend ashlee a-sunnin’)

I feel so cold (temperature-speaking) when I write that down, even though we’re having a fairly mild winter.  I have no insulation in my office, so the floor is fit for penguins.
Why did I go to the lengths I did to procrastinate on working on things?

(my ‘i’m finally getting focused’ look that comes after being a pro at crastinating)

The best thing I did for someone else was spending 2.5 months of my life in grand junction to spend time caring for my mother-in-law during cancer treatments and spending time with that side of my family.  I won’t ever regret the time I’ve spent, and have seen so much good amidst the bad.

(birthday celebrating in grand junction during chemo camp)

The best thing I did for myself was give myself a break for not being perfect and continue with counseling.
The best thing someone did for me was take care of our house and cook us meals when we were traveling so much.  And the people who intentionally pursue being my friend…it’s never, ever undervalued.

(these are some of those people)

(and these too)

(and these.  and there’s more — i’m a lucky, lucky girl.)

The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, is the way I spend my time – more intentional, less unintentionally aimless.  That sounds like a motto:

2012, now with 50% more intention.  Aimlessness-free.