Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Month: January 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Winter Wonders

Today’s “Ten on Tuesday” topic seems at once timely and maybe a little bit cruel given the weather assaults that this winter seems to be so fond of. When I first saw the topic, I initially laughed it off – but then decided this would be a good exercise to see the positive in the midst of the “not again” feeling that the forecast seems to be bringing these days. And really, my “bad” winter is less than dear ones are experiencing elsewhere…but, still…are we done yet?

Winter Wonders

Winter Wonders

So, in no particular order, here are 10 Things I Like About Winter…

  • Amaryllis Blooms. There is something magical about the bright bloom of an amaryllis bulb in the midst of the cold, white winter…
  • Soup. A pot of soup simmering on the stove for supper later in the day. A current favorite – Italian Squash Soup
  • Nature’s Art. The art around us when snow & sun mix with bare tree branches. In the midst of the “ugly” remnants of snow there are moments of true beauty.
  • Snow Removal Service. The sound of the maintenance crew clearing the sidewalks, road & parking lot in my apartment complex with each snowfall. After the years of digging out in front of my garage in the alley in Chicago, I’m getting spoiled. (And living in an area where garages are hard to come by, I’m so thankful my Realtor showed me this place with the good carport.)
  • Hand knits for keeping warm! Hats and scarves and cowls and fingerless gloves, oh my! Oh, and a new afghan finally off the needles! (FO post coming soon…)
  • Cozy socks around the house. Rotating between Life is Good snuggle socks & socks knit on a vintage sock knitting machine.
  • An “endless” pot of coffee or tea in a fun pottery mug. The perfect companion to hibernation activities: reading, knitting, catching up on shows & movies.
  • Making vacation plans for warmer months. “Spring Break” possibilities with the TX girlies…Summer vacation fun with the WI crew…
  • Heated seats in the car. Even though my daily commute is short, it’s better with the extra warmth.
  • Springtime. As nature starts to awaken in the spring with new growth and new blooms, there is the reminder that the winter season is indeed needed in order for newness to abound.

As always happens, this winter weather will eventually give way and we’ll “turn, turn, turn” through the seasons. In the meantime, what wonders are able to glean from your winter experience?

Recently Read – January 2014

From an early age, “getting lost in a good book” has been a favorite way to pass the time. With all that reading,  I am frequently sharing recent reads with family, friends, colleagues. It’s time to start sharing more of these reads on the blog.
Books under the Christmas Tree, 2013

Books under the Christmas Tree, 2013

Christmas in the Artisan home isn’t complete without plenty of books under the Christmas tree for all of us. At some point on Christmas Day, you will find all of us in a chair or on a couch with a new book. In 2012, all my books under the tree were in the form of a gift card that I immediately plugged into Kindle. In 2013, all my books were in paper form. In the course of the week between Christmas & New Year’s, I read the first 2 books (lots & lots of pages!) while putting in a full work week plus a Saturday of project cutover work. Ah, the lure of a good book!
  • Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser – I first saw this book in Barnes & Noble during my fall fun weekend in WI. The cover caught my eye – the cover liner confirmed it – this daughter of a Titan Missileer needed to read this book. A well written history of the US nuclear program as a whole and a detailed account of a specific silo accident. I enjoy good narrative nonfiction and this had it. Reading this book also presented the opportunity to learn a lot more about my Dad’s days spent underground in Kansas – both through the pages and talking and asking more questions while I was home for Christmas. I definitely don’t take for granted how good it was to have him back home after every 24 hour shift underground. #childofthecoldwar #heavyreading
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers – Future fiction imagines “what if” all our activity is fully online. The end was meh. Makes you think about what really is too much w/ all this connectedness.  Some of the connections were absurd – some were just slightly exaggerated from where we are today – some may have been introduced at recent show. Couple this fiction read with some non-fiction reads on technology overload and imbalance that I’ve read in the last 2 years- it definitely has me pondering how best to be connected. #notgoingoffgrid #dontneedtoshareall
  • Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane E. Muldrow – A fun compilation of the life lessons we were learning as we learned to read w/ Little Golden Books. The introduction to this quick book was almost as insightful as the fun phrases and illustrations from the childhood favorites. #wowthefunbooksweredeep
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Starting a “new to me” series that I’ve wanted to read for a while. Fun mash up of save the world + slightly altered society + literature references. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. My favorite quotation from the book: “No bond is stronger than that welded in conflict; no greater friend is there than the one who stood next to you as you fought.” #mightbetimetoreadjaneeyreagain
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay – A bit of chick lit – a bit of faith – a bit of Chicago. A fun & quick read that was more than just a “standard” chick lit. Also, some fun use of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and other classic authors. #notjustfluff
Starting this month, I’m linking up with the Twitterature reviews hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Each month, the challenge is to share book reviews in “twitter-like” summary.

Linking up with the Twitterature Reviews hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy

What are you reading these days? 

Ten on Tuesday: Highlights of 2013


This Kansas gal loved finding fresh cut sunflowers while farm market shopping on an August Saturday!

For the last couple of years, I have received Carole’s weekly Ten on Tuesday topic email…historically, I have very rarely posted on them (although I’ve mentally compiled many lists). With the new year…time to jump in more often. Without further adieu, here are 10 highlights of 2013 (beyond what might have been blogged & are only in calendar order)…

  • Being surprised by friends welcoming me home at the Green Bay airport when I flew back to Marinette for a work trip in January.
  • Completing the Whole 30 in March – time to do it again.
  • Heading back to Mercer in May to celebrate a favorite professor, who was also a great mentor and friend, as she retired.
  • Sitting on our balcony at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island watching the boat traffic through the channel and under the bridge.
  • Catching an amazing sunset over Green Bay while driving around Door County during family vacation.
  • Seeing the New Kids on the Block/Boyz II Men concert with my sister here in Philly. May we always enjoy screaming like silly school girls on nights like that!
  • Canning tomatoes under the pergola on a Saturday in August – taking a class taught by Marissa from Food in Jars. It was exactly a year since I had moved to PA – as I was contemplating the move, I made an off-hand comment to Mom about maybe taking a class with her after I moved here since she is Philly based. And then it happened.
  • Sitting in the end zone berm with Rebecca at Mercer’s first football game since 1941 – exploding to our feet with 3 seconds left in the game as Mercer kicked a field goal “towards us” that won the game.
  • Touring the Mayflower II in September and being amazed at the size (or lack thereof) of it – imagining what it must have been like for things to be so bad that boarding this boat to the unknown with 100 others was better than any other option you had.
  • Any of numerous FaceTime moments with dear ones in Wisconsin & Texas. Whether it be “just” chatting, having a beer while decompressing after a rough week at work, reacting to sports moments, watching/listening to piano practice, reading bedtime stories, general kid silliness, virtual Sunday supper prep, or opening Christmas gifts – it is great to be connected this way.

If 2014 holds even a fraction of these moments, it will indeed be a good year!

One Community: January 2014

As one way to be blogging on a regular basis, this year I’m participating in some blog link-ups. After “following” this one for last year, today I’m jumping into the “One Community” photography project that asks us to photograph words in our lives and communities. This month, the words are TREASURE – SILVER – RESOLUTION – WINTER.

Treasure…While home for Christmas, I snapped a picture of a family treasure that surely doesn’t look like much. This ornament has been in the family since Dad was a baby. Dad was born during WWII and this ornament seems like a snapshot of the era to me – the glass has not been metallic glazed and the top and hook are paper and string because of the metal rationing in place during the war. While this may not be the sparkliest or priciest ornament on the tree, it is one of the most treasured by our family.



Silver…A bit of shine (and “hidden JOY“) on my Christmas tree. I had several silver stars on the tree that provided extra reflection and sparkle during the holiday glow. Not on the tree this year…silver icicles that were so tarnished they were almost brown. (Note: need to get the silver polish out & shine up several pieces…) 



Resolution…As I refocus on fitness & nutrition this year, It’s time to keep the sneakers active – walking around the neighborhood with an audio book, a lap around the office park at lunch, taking advantage of the Y membership.



Winter…Winter arrived early here in Pennsylvania this year. Before the first day of winter in December, we had already seen 4 snow events & almost a foot of snow on the ground. This week, another six inches followed by dropping temps and bitter winds. So far, we’ve had more winter this season than we did all of last year. After several winters in Marinette (& the Chicago-Marinette white knuckle winter commutes), this is still a “mild” winter for me. However, I am enjoying my 4 mile work commute in this weather, the ability to work from home, the rumbles & beeps of the snow removal in the apt. complex, the covered carport.



I’m linking up with other bloggers today through One Community – a monthly photo project that is all about the connections between us even though we all live in different places. Sarah is hosting the link-up here.



A new year! A time to look back…a time to look ahead…a time to look around…


Looking back…2013 seemed to be a return to a more balanced work/life integration. As I mentioned, most of my travel was for fun. At work, I transitioned into a new role and am enjoying the challenges of learning something new. I enjoyed the challenge of tackling a Whole 30 and incorporated several things into my regular routine throughout the year.

Looking ahead…2014 is 365 new chapters to be written. I’m making lists, goals, jotting ideas of what I want this year to be. A return to fitness – it’s time to combine the success of 2010/2011 with the new nutrition learned in 2013 and get serious once again. As I “play” in the kitchen, I need to share the results more. Increase the knit stitches around here and share them. Memories have been captured in recent years & sit in the cloud – it’s time to redefine what is scrapbooking for me & get pictures onto pages. Continue to make new memories with family! Later this year is a milestone birthday…I’m starting to pull together a list of things I want to do before then.

Looking around…I started blogging out here in January 2006. Much has changed since then – in my life, in the world, in social media. The blogging community has changed quite a bit. I miss it when I’m not actively posting here – I joke about mentally blogging so many things – the reality is that the blog provides a framework for writing, whether or not I ever hit publish. This year I want to be hitting publish more. I see a couple of blog link ups that I think I will jump into this year as a way to stay connected.

If you are still here, thank you for continuing to look…I look forward to seeing what unfolds!

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