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Archive for March, 2021

What a busy week! So many adventures, surprises, and milestones happened throughout the past week. I had to take my car to the dealership to check on an emissions leak that turned out to be nonexistant. I received an Easter surprise from my dear friends, the Picone family. I hit the one year mark of walking daily for at least 20 minutes per day (walking streak). Kelsi and I had a ZOOM meeting to finalize details before we launch our virtual book club on April 1st. I got my 2nd COVID shot. And, Sophie, my German Shepherd, turned 13 years old. What a blessed life!

Not only has the past week been busy and a blessing, but the first quarter of the year has also proven to be stellar. I have some PROPS and FLOPS for the first three months. As you know, dear reader, I created a 21 for 2021 list with goals, activities, and courses that I want to accomplish this year. For the first quarter, I chose seven items to work on during January, February, and March. I’m happy to report that I get props for six of the items on my list with only one item being a flop.

PROPS

First of all, I completed #11 (Read Atomic Habits by James Clear) and #8 (One NO spend month). I picked up some great strategies to build good habits from Atomic Habits and saved some money during Frugal February. I now subscribe to Clear’s weekly newsletter to continue receiving terrific information and inspiration about habits, and I plan to do another NO spend month later in the year since it was a vast victory.

#1 (Manage Time) is going well. I schedule my time weekly, and it has been quite effective. #4 (Eat more vegetables) has been a huge success thanks to my hubster. He enjoys cooking way more than I enjoy it, so he has been the one cooking the new veggie recipes. He definitely deserves the props for this item. #14 (Take a WordPress Blogging Course) is going smoothly. I am half way through the course and have picked up some helpful tips. I anticipate completing the course next quarter. #20 (Scrapbook at least two times per month) has been a delightful way to spend my time. I’ve been catching up on the journaling portion of Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. All of these items are ongoing, so they will appear again on my 2nd quarter list.

I’m happy to report that the various schedules that I created back in January, with the exception of one, have been working really well. I’ve been wholeheartedly sticking to my housekeeping schedule and course schedule. As for my self-care schedule, I have (for the most part) been sticking to everything in that category. My daily routine (#Read21in21, Walk 20 for 2021, gratitude journal, and daily Instagram photo) is an enormous happiness boost, and I look forward to it every day.

Finally, I must mention that I have engaged in some additional fun and fulfilling activities this first quarter. I completed one movie marathon in February and started another one in March that will conclude in April. I am participating in RCIA at St. Margaret Church where I am sponsoring Mr. Mike (Shelly’s step-dad). He will become a member of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, and I will become his Godmother. I’ve been involved in a project called Tranquility by Tuesday with the author, Laura Vanderkam, who writes about time management. And, last but not least, I’ve been working with Kelsi to create a Horror Book Club which will launch this upcoming Thursday. There is still time to take a survey (deadline on March 31st) and help us choose our book club name.

FLOPS

My one flop this quarter was #6 (Declutter and organize each room in my house). I created a decluttering schedule back in January that would have me decluttering and organizing one room in my house each month. Needless to say, it was ambitious and unrealistic to think I could tackle such a monumental item, even broken down into smaller tasks, with everything else I want to accomplish this year while also working a day job. Does that mean I am abandoning this item on my 21 for 2021 list? Absolutely NOT! However, I have set it aside for the time being until I can shed some of my other responsibilities.

My other flop is minor but still needs to be addressed. Since Daylight Saving Time has started, I have not been going to bed on time. I can now walk later in the evenings which puts more pep in my step, and I stay up later doing all sorts of wonderful things. Thus on Friday evenings, I am in bed and asleep by 8:00 p.m. because I basically run out of steam. I need to practice better self-care and adhere to my bedtime, so I do not get sick.


Not too shabby, dear reader. I am pleased with my progress and productivity. So many activities and adventures await me in April. The second quarter will mean the end of some events and the beginning of others, including a book club, Easter break, and summer break. Anticipation, what a glorious feeling! Happiness!

Easter Surprise from Jeff, Joanna, and Jackson

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” ~ Jonas Salk

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SPRING

Haiku by Katherine Walters Loyacano

Flowers blossoming.

Sun-kissed days amidst chirping,

renew my spirit.

Spring officially arrived yesterday. While temperatures were slightly cooler than preferred, nature welcomed the new season with open arms amid a vast array of beautiful blossoms. To my delight, the sun even made a brief appearance. I spent a good chunk of the day at Fairview Riverside State Park in Madisonville, enjoying nature, the company of friends (socially distanced, of course), and boiled crawfish. It was my first crawfish feast of the season, and those mudbugs were seasoned to perfection.

Spring is a time of renewal, dear reader. It is a perfect time to clear out the clutter (physically and mentally), develop healthy habits, and create some change. Although this can be done other times throughout the year, taking action in the spring feels fitting. For me, it is about completing first quarter of the year goals, wrapping up a commitment, and the excitement of starting something new. I’m more energized and ready to make changes. And, I love spending more time outside surrounded by nature, especially taking longer walks in the evening. How about you, dear reader? What does the spring season mean to you? Happiness!

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson 

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Kelsi and I kicked off our two-month-long (March/April) Holiday Horror Marathon the first weekend in March with watching the horror anthology Holidays. It is comprised of eight short horror films with each one inspired by a different holiday. A few days later, we had a chat where we reviewed the films and discussed our expectations for this marathon.

Kelsi and I decided that our horror movies would center around holidays throughout the year with the exception of Halloween and Christmas. We both chose 18 movies with many similar choices. I selected films connected to Arbor Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial Day, but Kelsi did not. I only picked one movie for Easter, and she picked three. Kelsi also included an additional movie for Father’s Day. I have also decided to watch the movies in the order of when the holiday happens during the year. Additionally, we will include some other holiday horror related activities, such as reading a holiday horror story, fixing thematic food and drinks, or listening to music to celebrate the day of festivity. Once we have completed our marathon at the end of April, Kelsi and I will have another conversation or two to discuss our likes, dislikes, the thematic tie-ins, and much more. 

Holiday Horror Movies

  • Holidays (Anthology)*
  • Terror Train (New Year’s Eve)*
  • Groundhog (Groundhog Day)*+
  • My Bloody Valentine – 1981 (Valentine’s Day)*
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (Presidents’ Day)*
  • Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)*
  • Leprechaun in the Hood (St. Patrick’s Day)
  • April Fool’s Day – 1986 (April Fool’s Day)*
  • Rottentail (Easter)*
  • The Happening (Arbor Day)
  • Soul Thieves (Cinco de Mayo)
  • Mother’s Day (Mother’s Day)*
  • Memorial Day (Memorial Day)
  • Father’s Day (Father’s Day)*
  • The Evil in Us (4th of July)*
  • Severance (Labor Day)*
  • Thankskilling (Thanksgiving)*
  • Hanukkah (Hanukkah)*

Notes: *These are the movies that Kelsi and I have in common. +We watched the trailer, teaser, and Kill Count compilation of Groundhog; however, I am in the process of doing some more research to see if I can find the full-length film of Groundhog for us to watch before the end of the marathon.

In Other Horror News

Kelsi and I are starting a BOOK CLUB. Oh, the Horror! It will be a horror-themed book club focusing on horror fiction as well as occasionally reading mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction. It is sure to provide chills, thrills, and kills with each book club selection. We are super excited since this is our first book club, and we would love for readers who share our love of the mysterious and the macabre to join us. The first order of business is choosing the name of our book club. You can help us, dear reader, by answering just one survey question (click on survey) by 31 March 2021. The name of our book club will be revealed on April Fool’s Day. Happiness!

“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”            ~ Stephen King

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The day has FINALLY arrived! It is the first day of Daylight Saving Time, and I cannot be more elated. For me, springing forward one hour is a game changer. During this period of time, I am more enthusiastic, energetic, and effective in all of my endeavors.

The time change is not the only celebration for this weekend. Yesterday, Son #1, his girlfriend Kayla, and I celebrated my hubby’s 55th birthday at The Steakhouse located in downtown Hammond. This is also my second new restaurant of the year (#18 on my 21 for 2021 list). We enjoyed a splendid dining experience which included a terrific meal, excellent service, a relaxed atmosphere, and awesome conversation.

Our waiter for the evening was Lance, who was super sweet. We started our evening off with drinks. The Barrys ordered Blue Moon (beer), and Kayla ordered a Coke. I ordered a Watermelon Martini which contains fresh watermelon, house-made simple syrup, and Luksusowa Vodka with a touch of mint. Yum-Yum! We all skipped an appetizer in favor of dessert at the end of the meal. I tried to order one of the specials for the evening, BBQ Shrimp and Grits, but it was unavailable. Instead, I ordered Grilled Salmon, which is seared with their rub and glazed with local honey, and a side salad with honey mustard dressing. Barry, Sr. ordered a 6 ounce Filet Mignon, a cup of mushroom soup, and a loaded baked potato. Barry, Jr. ordered an 8 ounce Ribe-Eye, a house salad, and a loaded baked potato. I ate some of his baked potato. Kayla ordered a 6 ounce Rib-Eye, corn and crab bisque (which she gave to Barry, Jr.), macaroni and cheese, and french fries. We all enjoyed our meals. Finally, to end our delightful evening, Barry, Sr. and I shared The Steakhouse Bread Pudding, and Kayla chose the Louisiana Creole Creamcheese Cake. Both were great choices.

It’s hard to believe, dear reader, that we are a full year into this pandemic. Thankfully, the future is looking brighter. Tomorrow begins the final quarter of the school year which means summer break is just around the corner. I’m optimistic it will be a much better summer break than last summer with more opportunities for me to stretch my creative wings. In the meantime, I will revel in more daylight. Happiness!

“With the coming of spring, I am calm again.” ~ Gustav Mahler

Photo Credit: Alarm Clock photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Kelsi and I completed our Musical Movie Marathon that we planned for the month of February. I chose seven romantic musicals and enjoyed watching all of them. I kicked-off my marathon with Mamma Mia! and wrapped it up with Across the Universe. Terrific music, spectacular performances by incredible actors, and love stories galore warmed my heart and put some pep in my step.

Out of the seven musicals that I watched, two of them were rewatches, Grease and Cry-Baby. Both movies are set in the 50s. Grease is one of my top favorites. The songs are awesome, and I absolutely loved singing along while watching the film. Cry-Baby has some pretty catchy tunes and has become a cult classic over the years. Both Gigi and Funny Face are 1950 classics. I enjoyed Leslie Caron and Audrey Hepburn’s performances. Beauty and the Beast and Across the Universe were visually delightful. How I wish I could have seen both films in the movie theatre! They are magical films that are definitely worth the watch. And, if you are a fan of the Beatles, dear reader, I highly recommend you check out Across the Universe which is a love story creatively intertwined with a plethora of songs written by the Beatles. Last, but definitely not least, Mamma Mia!, what a fun film!

More of my thoughts on the musicals that I chose for the marathon are included in a fantastic chat that I had with Kelsi where we also learn about the films she chose for her viewing pleasure. Additionally, we rank our musicals and favorite songs and reveal a few fun facts about some of the films that we watched throughout the month. We invite you to check out our chat, dear reader, and let us know what you think. Happiness!

“Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.” ~ Jo-Jo, Across the Universe

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In last week’s blog post, I wrote about honoring the time on the schedule. This week, I want to piggyback on that post with a few thoughts from a recent episode of Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam. Personally, I love when I discover that one of the strategies that I am effectively using to become a better time manager is already incorporating another time management strategy, and I just did not have a name for it. Of course, knowing my tendency (Questioner) and learning more about myself every day helped me to incorporate that strategy.

Laura Vanderkam recommends establishing a daily “must win” and then win at it. She picked up this time management strategy from Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. This strategy of focusing on a daily must win comes from her recently published book, Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life. Basically, get clear on the task that MUST get done per day, commit to it, accomplish it, and win at it. This doesn’t mean that only one task will be completed on the scheduled day, but it does mean that scheduling a must do will help with getting more accomplished.

Imagine my delight while listening to this episode and discovering that by managing by task, I’m also managing my time and winning at it. This is exactly the approach that I have been taking each Sunday morning when I create my weekly schedule. Some days there is only one task/activity scheduled in the afternoon/evening because I know something will crop up. For example, two weeks in a row, my hubby stayed in Hammond and wanted me to come meet him for an early dinner. One afternoon, it was on a Tuesday when I had an improv hangout scheduled. Last week, it was on Wednesday when I have my weekly RCIA class. This feels like a double win when I can get more done than what I have scheduled for any given day. Believe me, dear reader, I am never without things I can do when my plans fall through or I find myself with extra time. I keep a running list of tasks, projects, or activities for when that free time presents itself. Also, extra time means more time to read or scrapbook if I choose to just relax instead.

Tips from Laura Vanderkam: Win at Your Daily Must Win

  • Manage by task and not time.
  • Create short to-do lists.
  • Identify immediate priority for the day.
  • Designate the day’s “must do” and commit to win it.

With immense pleasure, I have completed today’s “must win” by writing this blog post and publishing it for your enjoyment, dear reader. It is time for Andrew and I to visit one of my favorite places, Books-A-Million, where I hope to purchase a mocha latte and Stephen King’s newest publication Later. Enjoy the rest of your weekend which may be your daily “must win.” Happiness!

“Anyone can pack a schedule. I think it takes some real discipline and a sense of one’s value to say, ‘No, my time is valuable to me, and I am going to spend it on the highest-value activities that I have determined are important for me and the people I care about.’” ~ Laura Vanderkam

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