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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.

the end of the beginning (part one).

26 December 2011

(photo by me, of the boy in a cemetary earlier this year)


“Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.”

— Debi, Grosse Pointe Blank


I like reflecting on the year at the end of it, but one thing usually stops me dead in my tracks.  Okay two things: one, my severe holiday-induced laziness that only has food-related exceptions.

And the second—where do you start without it devolving into a list of the things I did this year, not the most important part of truly reflection?

I like the way that Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune, does it.  She publishes (or used to) something about reflection each new years eve, and had a particularly good guide for reflecting on the year in 2007.   Here’s what Mary says about reflecting (from a 2007 column that I unfortunately can’t find the link to; emphasis mine):

When you consciously review your year, you may notice how little you noticed it as it whizzed past. To review is to re-view. To rewind, pause, look again. And in looking again, to see more clearly.

You may be astonished by how much happened. And how much didn’t. By how much has changed. And how much hasn’t. You may laugh or sigh to notice that your life remains its usual jumble of contradictions.

Wise, I think.  She should know, having delivered a book-worthy commencement address that spawned a really obnoxious song that rose to the charts in the 90’s by the director of the romeo+juliet remake.

I did do this once, in 2008, but haven’t since because, well, I was engrossed in other important things like wedding planning, finishing college, and figuring out why my insides insisted on going on the outside every morning of my new career.  Yeah, those things tend to take over your life, I tell you.  

And I like that it’s just that — life remains its usual jumble of contradictions, something that can’t be summed up in a color or word of the year.  I’ll be back towards the end of the week with my 2011 reflections, using her guide below, but I wanted to share it with you in case you wanted to join me.  (I’ll also come back to discuss beginning of the year non-resolution resolutions in part two, which is just the other side of the reflection coin).  If you do (please join me!) link back to it in a comment or email it to me.  Or, if you’re the offline journaling type, give me a highlight in the comments.  Happy nostalging*, all.


*nostalge = totally made up word


In 2011, I gained
I lost
I stopped
I started
I was hugely satisfied by
And frustrated by
I am so embarrassed that I
Once again, I
Once again, I did not
The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is
The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this December is
I loved spending time
Why did I spend even two minutes ___ ?
I should have spent more time
I regret buying
I will never regret buying ————- even though with that money I could have bought ———.
I —————————————————- way too much.
I didn’t ————————————————— enough.
—————————————————- drove me crazy.
Was ———————- crazier than ever last year? Or was it me?
The most relaxing place I went was
I feel so ————————- when I write that down.
Why did I go to —————————————————?
The best thing I did for someone else was
The best thing I did for myself was
The best thing someone did for me was
The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, is


i call it “still life with oranges.”

20 December 2011

alternative titles:


“my afternoon snack”


“what procrastinating looks like when you work from home”


“i ran out of room in the fridge”

charming things: grain rings.

18 December 2011

{ from time to time i run across charming things that i like to share.  this is part of the collection. }

Grain rings.

not, you know, actual grain grain, although i find big heaping barrels of grain rather lovely.  but these:

grain rings

these little rings are made from reclaimed electrical wire, and i love the punches of color they add.  i’m so used to seeing only metals on my fingers, so this would be a nice change.

$19 from Grain Design.


christmas decor by carol(s).

17 December 2011

i love seeing how people decorate their home for christmas–why they chose this ornament or that, what they put on the mantle and tables, if they eschew all decorations or make their house look like hobby lobby circa november 30th threw up nog-Flavored decor on every surface.  you know, festive things like that.

so, i thought i’d give you a little tour of our christmas decor around the old apartment-homestead-slash-fixer-design-and-sugar-cookie-making-headquarters, subconsciously inspired (mostly) by carols.

we also got one of our christmas gifts early — our first DSLR (thanks to the in-laws and uncle sam who required some business-related tax writeoffs) — so i wanted to give it a whirl.

note: these are the very first shots we’ve taken with senor canon t3i (he came with an instruction manual en espanol,  so perhaps he’s spanish?), so have mercy on me for any slightly out-of-focus or not-quite-lined-up whathaveyou on the photos; i have yet to become proficient.


this one deserves an extra little note — this was designed & hand-lettered on our dining room chalkboard wall by my favorite husband, the boy.  what a gem.


hope your lights are extra twinkly this year.

{XYZ} PDQ, and one other observation.

12 December 2011

do you remember that joke relic from elementary school, usually (and hopefully) followed by giggling and a hearty “psych!”, which although obnoxious, beat the alternative scenario: your zipper had been down all day.

quell horror.

anyway, this is the end of the alphabet postings for november, which we are wrapping up in december.  this should be of no surprise to you, AT ALL.  (you expected me to keep to a schedule?  have we met?)

the end of things always make me remember the beginnings of things, what i’ve learned, what has happened.  i think that’s pretty normal, right?  in december the “best of” lists start pouring out, along with the memories and artifacts of the year, and how it all began–where were we a year ago?

the XYZ’s always make you remember the ABC’s.

and on that note of reflection and learning, here’s something i ran across a few weeks ago that made me think; despite mr. adams’ odd views (with which I don’t agree) on several things, it’s still interesting to think about.  I’m deciding how much I feel this is true or not. 

what do you think?

You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.

-Scott Adams on [via Mighty Girl]

{W} Wrapping (it up).

6 December 2011

Have you ever heard the phrase “pretty as a package”?

I have no idea what the origin of this idiom is, and Google has failed me so far, but the only way this idiom makes sense is to assume that at some point packages were, in fact, pretty.

And I mean, pretty pretty.  Thoughtful pretty.  Not thrown into a gift bag printed by someone else and tossed in with some tissue paper while in the front seat of the Walgreens parking lot 10 minutes before the occasion pretty.



To be honest, I think I started really noticing the packaging of things at the same time I started to be more thoughtful about the gifts I was giving.  This isn’t easy, thoughtfulness, but maybe that’s why I like pretty packaging — it’s visual thoughtfulness.

What a lovely idea.

I am by no means the best gift-wrapper-packager, but I just…loveitsomuch.  It’s on my life list (create beautiful things) and it appeals to the design side of my brain.

This was last Christmas for my family, with help from my graphic-designer husband:

I was just about to write “this takes no time at all”, to implore you to get right on your pretty-packaging way…except, it’s not true.  It doesn’t take a crazy amount of time, but truthfully — thoughtfulness in any manner takes time, but for me, this is time well spent.  That’s just what I like.

This was $3 wrapping paper from Walgreens (apparently Walgreens and I have some kind of weird cosmic giftwrap connection) with $1 mini-crayon boxes and a vintage coloring book picture scanned in and printed on cardstock.

Here’s Christmas for the boy last year:

Obviously this was wrapped in newspaper, tied with grey yarn and adorned with number tags that I found somewhere on the internet machine and printed out on cardstock that I bought at Office Depot.

I’m all kinds of fancy, yo.

I forget where I found the template for the tags, but if you google things like “gift tag template” you’ll find some interesting stuff.  If you don’t have time to wade through google-y piles of junk, though, just read blogs like Sally Shim’s and How About Orange, and they’ll hook you up with all sorts of great ideas and templates, respectively.

Here’s this year for the boy (and a little glimpse of our charlie brown tree):

And for the family, some lovely wrapping from the fine folks at Design Army at the Felt & Wire Shop:

with a little embellishment ala a free font that I cut out of other wrapping paper &
some grey yarn from my sister Amy

and turning paper into a little yarn-sewn envelope, which should be very easy
for my 5-year old niece to open

I couldn’t decide between their DoReMi & Wrap In Style collections, so I got both. And poking around that site made me very jealous for more, but I restrained myself.  Of course, I’ll repurpose a lot of the leftover wrapping paper throughout the year, which is the genius part of having Christmas paper that’s not too Christmas-y.

I could go on and on, but I have to go wrap presents now.