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Invented Charm Posts

What I’m Loving Lately

It’s the spring 2018 edition! But first, just a quick recap of what I’ve been up to during my absence from the blog. From my lack of posting, you may think I haven’t been up to much writing, but I have been slogging through posts (about our house, toddler life, and motivational tips) in stolen minutes here and there. Mostly, I have just been enjoying the spring without the same sense of franticness I had in the winter. It¬†does mean that I haven’t been that motivated to get anything finished and posted. I’m going to work on that. ūüėČ

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Spring Obsessions

The Outdoors

Just the general concept of it… Ha! We try to go to the park or spend some time in nature a¬†couple times a week. I appreciate the green spaces around¬†Modesto so much now that I have a small child. We explored the biggest park in town a few weekends ago and Rory had so much fun running down all the little hills. I don’t remember loving hikes or nature walks when I was a kid, but I find myself loving them more now.

East La Loma Park after a spring rain storm
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Treat Yo’ Self Ideas

I’ve been making great strides with my 2018 habit changes, but I have been struggling to find ways to treat myself. My favorite thing ever is a good ol’ Treat Yo Self day, but generally speaking, mimosas and fine leather goods are not sustainable or attainable healthy treats.¬†On the Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin often talks about how¬†using food, drink, and shopping¬†as treats undermines the positive habits¬†changes we are trying to make. For example, one of my big goals this year is to stick to a budget and get back to saving monthly.¬†My partner and I even started using the You Need a Budget app¬†to better track our spending. It’s been going great so far, but the last thing I want to do is treat myself with shopping when what I want most is to save.

I think occasional planned indulgences that are food or shopping based are fine, I just want to get away from the notion that they are treats. We are all so busy with our daily lives¬† that we may feel depleted and drained. That’s why treats are effective at staving off burn-out. I’ve pulled together a list of experiences that are very simple, low cost or free, pleasurable treats.

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Happier Habit Changes

It’s 2018. Whoa. How’s it going for you thus far? Did you make some resolutions, pick a word of the year, or create a gratitude journal? I made a little notebook in my Notes app for 2018 goal setting, and¬†I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts to keep me inspired and motivated. So far I’m batting 9/10 most days. It is pretty amazing, but yet I’m totally obsessed with one of the things on my list I can’t seem to do: write everyday.

Maybe it wasn’t realistic to create an all or nothing kind of goal when it comes to writing. But when I made that goal I thought I could totally do it. I did write every day in November through about December 23. So what is stopping me from having perfect 10/10 days?

I decided to use Gretchen Rubin’s¬†Checklist for Habit Change¬†to pinpoint where I went wrong, and I think I figured out some areas of my goal that need improving. If you’re having a hard time getting and staying motivated about a goals/resolutions/intentions for 2018, hopefully this post will resonate with you. Regular listeners of the Happier podcast¬†will definitely recognize these tips.

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You Have Permission to Skip Everything

I had grand plans for this holiday season. I was going to post about Designing my Winter. I had a bunch of ideas–go ice skating, watch Love Actually at our art house theater on a date night, make a gingerbread house from scratch. But it’s a week until Christmas and all I’ve managed to do is put up a tree, have a couple peppermint mochas at Starbucks, get some shopping done (and not even all of it), and get my holiday cards out. Phew.

I have talked to a few friends about how stressed out I’m feeling. I’m constantly moving, working on writing, doing housework, parenting, etc. But I feel like I’m just treading water. During the holidays we have to do all our normal things, and then fold in all those extra obligations. And I have been trying, but to no avail, I can’t seem to fold in anything extra.

Every year I love to bake, but this year I just haven’t gotten to it. And when I think about doing it, I spin out into a panic. I had a total meltdown about it this weekend. I cried, I thought I was a terrible friend for flaking out and bringing store bought cookies to a get together. But the store bought cookies were fine. They were actually really tasty, and my friends didn’t care. It cost me seven bucks and just a bit of my pride.

Now that I can be a bit more reflective about how the first 19 days of December have gone, I will say that I think I’ve put my energy in the wrong place. Or maybe it’s not wrong, but next year I might choose differently. I have to accept that where I’m at in life means I don’t have room for everything. I want to do. I don’t want to give up a single thing, but if I don’t pick and choose carefully I’m not going to enjoy the holidays at all.

In the midst of writing this post, I got a call from a friend and we decided we aren’t exchanging gifts with each other or our families. I had been wanting to ask her that for weeks, but I never had the nerve. But I had to face facts: I’m down to the wire and I don’t want to do anymore shopping. I’m calling it. My holiday shopping is done, and sorry I’m not sorry if I crossed you off the list.

If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself. Chose to do things that will bring you joy and skip everything else. Honestly, here’s my permission to skip everything if that’s what is going to bring you joy.

This is the first year since Rory was born that I was able to do cards, have them printed, address them, and get them in the mail BEFORE the holiday.
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Fall Check-In

We are half way through November!¬†I wanted to check in with how I’m doing on the fall I designed. Have you tried this out yet? I’ve written about it multiple times (here and here), but it’s a subject that I still really love. It’s a tip I learned from the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin. I get such satisfaction from making a plan and sticking to it.

1. Enjoy the season by going to an apple farm or pumpkin patch with my family.

We took Rory to a small apple farm in one of the next towns over. It was quiet and had a little playground, and was a quick and easy outing. We could have stopped there, but we upped our game and went to Apple Hill in Placerville, CA this weekend!

I picked up some frozen apple turnovers to enjoy later from Apple Pantry Farm and Rory had fun checking out this vintage car. 

It is something I grew up doing and I LOVE IT. It allows me to go wild and buy tons of apples and apple products.

Apple dumplings, apple fritters, and apple donuts from Boa Vista. We always stop here and load up on our trips to Apple Hill.
We had the best time, and the weather was perfect–it was sunny and crisp.

If you want to look at actually stunning Apple Hill photos (and not my quick, unskilled and unedited ones), check out this post about Apple Pantry Farm from Farm Tots and peruse the apple hill tag for other great posts.

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Let’s Nano

I’ve slowed down to almost a stop on blogging. Not because I had some plan to, but I suppose I’m just living the fall I designed. I’ve been busy with a toddler and a home that’s in a constant state of flux.

This is the extent of my decorating for fall. You don’t want to see the state of that whole room.

We traveled for Nick’s work last week, and that wore me out. When we got home from the trip Nick thought it would be a good time to drill holes in the wall to run the A/V cables properly. The house feels like a danger zone.

Imagine our shock when we discovered the wall was pink behind the mirror we took down and our TV doesn’t cover it up.

This week there’s Halloween, and I’m prepping to start National Novel Writing Month. Again.

I’m looking through my files and I realized I’ve participated since 2007 off and on. I think I missed 2014 and 2016. I was pregnant in 2014 and in 2016 we had our house on the market and were in the process of moving. I somehow managed to “win” during years I was buying my first house and moving, changing jobs, and facing health crises. I also participated¬†but didn’t “win” for many years.

There’s no real¬†trick to writing and completing a novel in thirty days. It’s simply a matter of math‚ÄĒknowing how much time you have to write and getting your words done‚ÄĒbut there is magic. I always feel a kind of electricity when I’m writing, the flow of words to screen or pen to paper. Now that my life is fuller than ever I have gotten better about channeling that energy and turning it off and on. I used to spend so much time during Nano just spinning my wheels, not knowing what I wanted to say, and typing words simply to get to 1,667 per day. Some years I just stopped because I couldn’t get the words to come out at all or I wasn’t willing or able to find the time.

I feel like this year will be different. I have better tools at my disposal‚ÄĒten years of¬†novel writing experience, knowing how to work in fits and starts, a voice that’s ready to be heard, and the confidence that I can follow through and finish a project. November 1st is when I’ll start this new story, but November 30th won’t be the last day I touch it, and that’s a commitment I¬†finally feel ready to make to myself.

Best wishes if you are participating! Come find me, I’m inventedcharm there too.

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Design Your Fall

I’m back with my fall bucket list! I really love this concept I heard on the Happier podcast (episode 67), and I had success with it this summer so I thought I’d do it again for fall.¬†Having been born and raised in California, I’m not sure I’ve experienced a true autumn, but I love the concept of warm drinks, crunching leaves, and cozy nights.

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Say Goodbye to Summer

I never thought it would be time to say goodbye. Summers here are often long and crop up in place of spring and extend well through fall. But this year we seem to be having defined seasons. I wrote about spring in my spring capsule wardrobe post‚ÄĒit was mild and rainy, sunny and never hot. And then a switch was flipped and we had so many days of 100+ degree weather in a row. When I look¬†at the forecast I don’t see anymore 90 degree days on the horizon.¬†I feel like I need to mourn the season a bit, because I finally got used to summer.

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