Recently…January and February 2017

Ah, JANUARY & FEBRUARY…the fact that January didn’t get posted here should be an indicator of how 2017 has been…these months have been filled with some winter weather, a bit more daylight each day, a whole lot of travel, some attempts at saying Hello to all the months had to offer, and more…among it all, these are the things that filled my January & February days…

Watching (on the small screen)…the return of Sherlock on Masterpiece was a good start to the year…Victoria on Masterpiece is an enjoyable addition…the DVR is getting plenty of use with all my travel…

Reading…after a slow start,  the “books complete” list if filling up – 10 books in these months – thanks to the time on airplane…three  trips to Three Pines with The Cruelest Month and A Rule Against Murder and The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny…a journey through the dawn of the space program and the hidden women that supported it with Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly…a quick read of hygge in The Cozy Life…a tale of a Pennsylvania town impacted by fracking in Heat & LightMicro-Resilience by Bonnie St. John was a good business read as I move into a new role…A Portrait of Emily Price was another fun escape by Katherine Reay…Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron was an insightful story that also had me longing for a return trip to Assissi…once again, a Charles Martin story pulled me in from the start in Thunder and Rain

Watching (on the big screen)…A Saturday afternoon at Movie Tavern was time well spent with a friend and her daughters as we enjoyed the Hidden Figures movie – yay for celebrating women…La-La Land was a delightful Sunday afternoon with a friend…on a flight I enjoyed watching The First Monday in May

Listening…the La-La Land soundtrack is on frequent play as well as the recent Toby Mac Live album…

Tidying…a slower start to my 2017 Kon Mari…but I did manage to have a small Green Drop pick-up on the calendar… another pick-up pile is gathering in my spare room…

Organizing…my pantry with new labels for the mason jar containers…now, to just be home enough to be using them…

Growing…even while I was gone, my winter bulbs seemed to thrive at home…the paper white bloomed & tipped off the plant stand while I was on the road…I was giddy that the majestic red amaryllis yielded 4 blooms that waited until I was home for a full week to bloom when I could enjoy them…

Traveling (for work)…since the calendar turned to 2017, I have been on the road for work for portions of 7 weeks – currently my airline app shows 24 flight segments so far…6 in Milwaukee and 1 in Boca Raton…since several flights were at less popular business travel times, I lucked into some upgrades along the way…

Dining…while on the road doing my best to stay healthy…in the absence of dinner plans with colleagues, my go to is soup and salad from Panera Bread…some favorite Milwaukee restaurants have been enjoyed – a spot on French onion soup one night and delicious sushi and sake another night

Cooking…early in January I had a “glorious” weekend of all sorts of food prep which was a lifesaver for the days I was actually home and felt like a great way to be starting off the new year. In addition to some of my favorite ways to prep, I enjoyed  making the  Pork Medallions with Blackberry Compote & Cauliflower Puree (from “Well Fed Weeknights”)…with this ongoing travel, I’m thankful for roasted veggies and eggs in the fridge to ensure hodge podge hash and eggs is an “at the ready” meal when I’m home – I need to do another muffin madness type of food prep weekend as the travel continues…

Sipping…coffee in the morning…tea in the evening…weekend mornings mean coffee in my fun new panda mug from my girlies…loving my new HydroFlask from my favorite Marinette coffee spot – it is quickly becoming a travel essential…

Traveling (for fun – Jan)…one weekend I decided to stay in Wisconsin and trekked north to Marinette to hang with the WI-family. On Saturday morning, I picked up coffee from my go-to spot and enjoyed a peaceful breakfast time along the shore. I finally met the newest addition to the family, Bebe A, and spent lots of time with her in my arms. Saturday evening was for cooking – Sunday evening was for grilling burgers in the snow. Just hanging out and catching up on life.

Battling…winter colds and crud…of course, “the” week that I was home in February included a head cold flaring up – as the weekend approached, I went full force on all the remedies and by the time I got on a plane early Monday morning the cold was history…without a doubt, seeking out a “near to me” Salt Cave on the Saturday afternoon was the extra oomph needed to ensure that I was ready to go for 2 days of facilitating training…

Traveling (for fun – Feb)…one weekend in February was blocked for a trip over to see my girlies in State College…at the end of the month, the family relocated back to Texas…so I was grateful for one last time to hang out with the girls in PA…our homemade pizza evening…plenty of games…just hanging out…making terrariums…on the wonderfully warm and sunny Saturday afternoon the girls & I left their parents packing at the house and enjoyed some adventure time – including sipping coffee on the patio at the coffee shop and a bit of shopping that included helping M pick out foundation (when did she get old enough to wear makeup?!?)…driving away from their house was bittersweet – but I’m so thankful for the months when they were “just down the road” from me…

Looking Ahead…as I say Hello to March, I see a fair share of business travel…a weekend with the family…daily Lenten readings…signs of spring…and more…

What has been filling your winter days?

Linking up with Leigh’s What I’m Into round-up.

Hello, March

As a new month starts, it’s time to say HELLO, MARCH

Hello to starting the month with dinner at a fave beach spot to end a business trip…

Hello to a whirlwind trip to Orlando with the family…and at least 2 weeks on the road for work…

Hello to the season of Lent and new daily readings to create a daily Lenten routine leading towards Easter…

Hello to the dollar daffodil bunches at the grocery store and other early signs of spring…

Hello to wondering if the weather will be lion-like or lamb-like…

Hello to the “spring ahead” time change and the more daylight when leaving the office…

What are you saying HELLO to this March?

Belatedly linking up with Carole and Kat for Think, Write, Thursday.

Saving Winter…Travel

Once again, as we reach the midpoint of winter, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is inviting us to share what is saving us this winter – the big or small things that help to pull us through what can be a dark season in myriad ways. In past years, I’ve focused on things at home that were winter saviors. This year, I’m focusing on helpful things for winter travel – January ended up with me being in Milwaukee for part or all of 4 different weeks and I just returned from being on the road for the 5th week in a row.

Human Gear travel containers – Well designed containers that allow me to bring my preferred products with me on the road. The GoToob squeeze bottles are great for my shampoo & conditioner…AND…I use one for a purse/bag container of my fave Ahava Mineral Hand Cream; The GoTubb pots are good for both pills and creams – one has a dab of my preferred hair styling cream to try to battle against the brutal dry forced air, one has a dab of moisturizer – neither leaks.

Chapstick Total Hydration in Merlot – My current go-to lip color combines a nice dark color with all the benefits of lip balm. This is always in the outer pocket of my purse or my coat pocket.


Travel Diffuser – A thoughtful Christmas gift from my sister is this small diffuser that allows me bring some calm to my hotel room (or car for a road trip). So far, I’ve just traveled with eucalyptus oil – in the evenings when I have this going, it is indeed euc-AHH-lytpus as I unwind with a book and some tea (either decaf candy cane green or Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland) in the hotel room.

Panera Pick Two for Dinner – Their current Roasted Beet, Quinoa & Citrus Salad paired with tomato soup has been a frequent dinner option while on the road. The Panera app makes it easy to pick up healthy eats as I head back to the hotel. Most evenings, I also pick up a Plum Ginger iced tea to round out the meal. Bonus: One evening when I discovered an order was wrong when I got to the hotel, Panera Twitter customer service made it right almost immediately.

Duluth Trading Quilted Ear Flap Hat – A fun new hat is hitting all the marks for the weather I’m encountering. This soft hat packs easily into my bag without me worrying about bending it permanently. The microfiber outside repels moisture – be it rain, snow, ice. The brim can adjust to shield my glasses from whatever is falling from the sky. The ear band can be flipped down to provide extra warmth.


Airport Art – This felted sculpture by Heidi Bleacher is currently installed near my gates at the PHL airport. I smile every time I see it – sunflowers and ladybugs, definitely a win!


Window Seat Views – In the last year I’ve moved from the aisle seat to the window seat on whatever flights I can. At this time of year, the window seat views are a great reminder that no matter the weather down at the ground the sun is indeed always shining.

What are the big and small things saving you this winter?

Hello, February

As the new month starts, it’s time to say HELLO, FEBRUARY

Hello to this shortest month and continually lengthening days and glimpses of the new season to come…

Hello to celebrating Happy Hearts Day…

Hello to winter bulbs coming into bloom…

Hello to a bit less work travel (knock on wood) so some of the January hellos can be enjoyed more this month…

Hello to settling into a new role at work…

Hello to the buzz and build up to the Academy Awards…and trying to see a few more of the nominees before the winners are announce…

Hello to saying goodbye to dear ones who are moving away…

What are you saying HELLO to during this February?

Belatedly linking up with Carole and Kat for Think, Write, Thursday

Reading Roundup…Q4 2016

So, the lack of book posts during the last part of 2016 does not mean that there wasn’t reading happening – in fact, there was plenty of reading happening. Since my last book update, there were 14 flight segments and some vacation time in the midst of work to finish out the year – all of which meant reading time. Before 2017 gets too far underway, a quick check-in on what books filled my time as 2016 ran towards completion.

  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein was a fun young audience read that requires the characters to call upon children’s books and games to solve clues to win the great prize as a new library is being opened in town.
  • Books 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 in the James Rollins Sigma Force series – I’m enjoying this series…but to continue reading I will need to switch to picking up the actual book from the library for at least number 8. Really? Why aren’t full series available in the same format?
  • A return to Three Pines in A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny was a good way to pass the time and I continue to work my way through the series as books are available via Overdrive. This is a series where I tend to agree with the buzz in the blogsphere – there’s substance and not just hype.
  • I picked up Hillbilly Elegy: A Memory of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance in October and read it just before the election. It was one of my favorite reads of the year.
  • The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett was a fun combination of a modern day mystery about the provenance of Shakespearean works and flashbacks to what happened in the days of Shakespeare.
  • A modern day retelling of Sense & Sensibility by Joanne Trollope that had sat on my nightstand for far too long was finally finished. I first learned of this book in 2014 when I met up with a book club friend for dinner while I was in London for work – this series of modern day best selling authors taking on the Jane stories in The Austen Project is something I will continue to read along the way. I do wonder if this would be better just as a modern movie remake.
  • The Mackinac Incident was a “deal buy” – a so-so thriller about a terrorist plot to blow up the Mackinac bridge and an unlikely hero trying to thwart the attack; but I picked it up because it was set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and I enjoyed the descriptions of the area in the story.
  • The Secret to Hummingbird Cake was a nice read focused on 3 friends in a small southern town and how life may not turn out as you plan but friends and cake can help the journey.
  • Hamilton: The Revolution was a good audio read and continued my appreciation of the Hamilton musical phenom.
  • Christmas on Jane Street: A True Story was a quick read to start the Christmas season. When I lived in Chicago, there were several years when I bought my tree from a corner lot similar to the one this author runs in NYC – it was fun to hear about life on the lot.
  • Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was a sweet story by Jenny Colgan – in a similar vein to her Little Street Bakery. The seasonally appropriate sequel Christmas at the Cupcake Café wasn’t quite as flavorful.
  • Letters from Santa was a free novella set in the cold war that was a cute read in the days leading up to Christmas.
  • In the days right after Christmas I finished my first “under the tree” read – The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Turner. As a cat family, Artisan Dad picked it out as a book for us all. In 9 chapters, it was a clever and fact filled read about cats and so much more. An engaging read and along the way there were quite a few tidbits to file away for trivia.

As 2016 reading came to a close, the Goodreads “your year in books” was a fun snapshot of my reading. I had set a challenge to read 44 books during the year and ended with 63 books complete. Of course, who knew that I would end up with so much travel time this year providing so much prime reading time. This is a fun snapshot of my 2016 in reading:

As I turn the page on the 2016 reading, a few observations: it was a year of several series and they will continue into 2017 as they are available via Overdrive; I need to continue to do a better job of balancing fiction with non-fiction as I read; once again, there were several “must read” books that I finally read in 2016 where I definitely felt like the hype wasn’t there for me.

What are you reading these days?
What are your reading goals for 2017? 

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for QuickLit.