I’m sort of glad now that I decreased my blogging schedule again. Because January was a blur, and not a fun kind of blur. I was buried with work at my day job for most of the month, which cramped my free time to a minimum and zapped my blogging time to… well, zero. But some good things happened in January, too, and I can’t forget or discount any of that goodness.
That’s why I’m grateful for this series. What’s Making Me Happy reminds me of the highlights, fun events, and other recent joys – and after a month that drags you down in some ways, it’s a nourishing perspective to have. This month’s Happy post is twice as delightful, too: I’m covering both December and January, with three joys from each month. And with my slower blogging schedule, this bimonthly format might be the way to go from now on. What do you think?
Let’s start with…
What Made Me Happy in December 2017
Christmas! And New Year’s!
Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I’m thrilled it’s now a multi-day affair in my family. I traveled to Cape Cod two weekends in a row for different celebrations with my parents and brother. The first time (the weekend before the actual holiday) was to exchange gifts with two aunts who were visiting from Maine. The following weekend, I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi with my brother (I had some criticisms but ultimately enjoyed it, while he has… well, sworn off all future SW movies). On Christmas Eve, we had a small “homemade soup swap” with my parents’ neighbors and exchanged gifts between the four of us. And on Christmas Day, we spent the afternoon with my dad’s side of the family.
As for gifts I received, they included:
- Books! (See the photo above. The bottom two books were purchases, but the rest were gifts.)
- Tea! Including DavidsTea’s annual advent tea calender
- An OPI 4-pack of Iceland-themed nail polish
- This beautiful and inspiring bookmark
- Movies (Avatar, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises)
- New clothes (jeans, sweater, two pairs of sneakers)
- A Tibetan singing bowl, which I’m now using as part of my daily meditation practice
- Please excuse the caps, but TICKETS TO SEE THE GAME OF THRONES LIVE CONCERT EXPERIENCE IN SEPTEMBER AHHHHHH!!!!! 😀
New Year’s Eve was quiet. Because of bitterly cold temperatures (highs in the teens Fahrenheit is NOT normal for a Massachusetts winter!) and a sporting event (I love my local NFL team, but man, the local roads become parking lots on game days), I stayed home to work on my WIP, make tomato soup and a grilled sandwich for dinner, and watch The Dark Knight Rises. And if you’re curious – no, I didn’t stay up until midnight. 😉
I Rediscovered Christmas Music from My Childhood
As I prepared to host a holiday party for my friends, I spent (waaaaaay too much) time online hunting for instrumental Christmas music that my parents used to play when I was little. The tough part? I couldn’t remember the artist’s name or album title, only that the songs featured the hammered dulcimer. But the best part? I FOUND IT. 😀
Actually, I found two albums’ worth of the music I was searching for: A Victorian Christmas and A Victorian Noel, both by Robin Petrie. I was overjoyed to find them on YouTube and, best of all, available for purchase as MP3s at Amazon. So I was able to play them in the background during my party, and then at my parents’ house during our family celebrations. And now I can listen to them for many Christmases to come.
Above is a YouTube clip of Robin Petrie’s medley of “The Wassail Song” and “The First Noel.” Like other songs on her holiday albums, you’ll also hear harps, pianos, and string instruments. Isn’t it beautiful? Magical, even? ❤
I’m Using Cypress and Lavender Essential Oils to Combat Wintertime Circulation Issues
I’ve mentioned before that I have circulation trouble in my hands and feet (especially my toes) during the fall and winter. And despite my previous regimen, I had some bad flare-ups around Thanksgiving. So I turned to my essential oils collection, did some research, and made some changes. And lo and behold, the effects were soothing – and almost immediate!
So now, after I shower every morning, I massage a few drops of cypress oil (right) into my toes and wear socks to keep my feet warm and avoid getting any oil residue anywhere. (I do this even if I’m staying home for the day.) I also do the same thing at night, just before going to bed, with lavender oil instead of cypress.
Why cypress and lavender? Cypress helps stimulate circulation by increasing bloodflow, which makes it excellent for treating varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Lavender also helps enhance circulation, and its calming floral fragrance makes it ideal for nighttime use (whereas cypress is invigorating and therefore better for daytime application). So if you have similar issues with your hands and feet during the winter months and the usual suspects (foot powder, topical prescriptions, etc.) aren’t working, I recommend trying essential oils like these instead.
What Made Me Happy in January 2018
I’m Watching the Final Season of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”
How in the world have I not I blogged about “Fixer Upper” before?! I love this home improvement TV show, which follows Chip and Joanna Gaines as they help clients renovate houses in the Waco, Texas area. It also offers glimpses into the Gaines’ life on their farm and with their four young children. So it’s sweet, down-to-earth, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. And maybe for all these reasons, it also feels more genuine than other shows on HGTV.
Oh, and I ADORE Joanna’s decorating style. It’s so timeless, yet it shows off each family’s unique personality perfectly. If Massachusetts was much closer to Texas, I’d ask the Gaines to help me finish my condo renovations in a heartbeat.
So, yeah. I’m really going to miss “Fixer Upper” when its final season ends in a few weeks. But it’s been such a joy to watch, and I wish Joanna and Chip nothing but the best in love, life, and their future business endeavors!
I Read Poetry at An Unlikely Story’s First Open Mic Night of 2018
Back in November, I had to pull out of an open mic night slot at the last minute for health reasons. No such problems this month, though! I read some of my poems during An Unlikely Story’s first coffee house / open mic night of the year. It was sort of a strange night; other performers cancelled at the last minute, and technical difficulties forced the emcee to skip live-streaming the event on Facebook. So I ended up being the first of two performers that night. 😮
Anyway, the audience seemed to enjoy the reading, which consisted of two published poems (“At A Loss” and “The Critic and the Muse”) and a few newer, unpublished pieces. Plus, the emcee asked if I’d be back for the February open mic night. (Yay!) All in all, it felt good to be back onstage reading my work, and now I’m looking forward to doing it on a regular basis at one of my favorite bookstores.
I’m Sipping Tazo’s Decaf Lotus Blossom Green Tea
During a recent trip to Whole Foods, I just so happened to wander down the tea aisle… and found this gem of a bagged tea that I’d been looking for FOREVER. (Well, for what’s seemed like forever! *lol*)
Tazo’s Decaf Lotus Blossom Green Tea is delicate, floral, and very light on the grassy notes. So if you usually avoid green tea for that last reason, Decaf Lotus Blossom might be more to your liking. I can’t say whether it actually tastes like lotus blossoms, since I’ve never consumed one in any way… But the fragrance and flavor is gentle, soothing, and slightly lemon-sweet. Plus, it’s decaffeinated, so it’s perfect for sipping before bedtime.
Click here for more information on Tazo’s Decaf Lotus Blossom Green Tea. You can also find local stores that sell this and other Tazo teas by clicking “Find This Blend” and entering your zip code.
What were some of the things that made you happy in December and January? What were some of your highlights from the end-of-year holidays? Are you a fan of “Fixer Upper” or other home improvement shows?