A Letter Home Blog Post + Food For Thought On A Tuesday Morning

February 9, 2021

Dear Friends & Relations,

Not much happening around here, but I’ll write to you anyhow because it’s Tuesday, my favorite day of the week. Huzzah!

Nowhere to go, no one to meet, but things to do.

We continue to wait until we are eligible for our first Covid-19 vaccine shot. Then, of course, there’ll be a wait for the second one, which seems to be in short supply around here, so maybe not getting the first one yet is a good thing?

I dunno. We’ve been home together in our own little bubble for about 11 months now, so what are a few more weeks or months? We’re safe, we’re healthy, we’re doing low-key things.

Here is where we updated the cookbook.

We’ve finished updating our Family Favorites Cookbooks, 3rd edition. Yep, this is a re-do of a re-do of my first home computer project that I completed in February 1994, then updated for a second edition in April 2005. The bottom line is that we now have all our favorite recipes saved in the computer as well as printed, put in binders, and ready to go in the kitchen.

Move over Martha, you ain’t the only kid on the block who has it going on with her recipes. Ha!

The epicenter of clutter where the paint fan now resides.

We’re also in the process of deciding on a new exterior paint color for the trim and siding of Chez Bean. A new roof a few years ago + a new limestone retaining wall last December + a new deck sometime in 2021 [fingers crossed] = time to repaint exterior of the house bringing the color scheme into this decade.

Deciding on a new color is fraught with design peril. Oh yes it is. We have four seasons with natural light shining in different ways on four sides of the house, and there’s a need to coordinate with the brick and new retaining wall. Thus there are many variables, many possibilities– and one dithering me.

Our “communication center” where I await your replies.

And with that I’ll end this missive about our humdrum daily life, hoping it finds you well. What’s new with you?

Very truly yours,

Ally Bean, the bored

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Food For Thought: When’s the last time you wrote a letter home? It seems quaint now to think about doing that, let alone write one that includes snapshots. Remember doing that, too?

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In Which I Explain How I Created My Own Unique 2021 Reading Challenge

I’ve been meaning to write about how I arrived at my personalized 2021 reading challenge, but somehow got off track. I was probably reading a book…

For those of you who enjoy numbers: this is a 12″ high stack of 12 books with a total of 4,248 pages that I plan on reading in 2021. πŸ€“

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I barely read any books in 2020. My focus was too scattered, my anxiety was high, and I couldn’t stick with it.

I forgive myself for slip sliding away from reading for pleasure last year because I am still here in one piece, healthy, relatively sane– and with a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to reading.

Allow me to explain.

As some of you know I’m a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog and get her newsletter. When I saw that she had created a questionnaire that I could use to make my own CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE reading challenge I downloaded the worksheets.

By answering her simple questions, I set my 2021 intention, evaluated my reading needs, and then made a list of twelve prompts that resonated with me based on the concepts of variety and escapism. As Modern Mrs. Darcy says: “Remember, your goal isn’t just to get through this challenge. This challenge is a tool to develop the reading life you want.”

Hallelujah!

But then after further contemplating the reading life I wanted, I had a brainstorm, one in which I devised a way to make this reading challenge more personal– and a bit less costly. Please keep in mind that just because I didn’t read much in 2020 doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy books in 2020.

Thus I found myself thinking back to a decade ago when I read a wonderful memoir, Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill.

In this book Hill writes about her decision that for one year she would only re-read books already in the house. That is, she read what she had on hand, then mused upon what her life was like the first time she read the book. This practical approach to deciding what to read next made an impression on me.

Obviously, I guess.

Anyhow, to be clear, I won’t be re-reading anything this coming year, but I will be reading what is here in the house, pre-purchased in good faith you might say– and meant to be read by me, dammit.

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MY 2021 CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE READ-WHAT-YOU-HAVE-IN-THE-HOUSE-ALREADY READING CHALLENGE

a thriller

a memoir

a fantasy novel

a cozy mystery

a book of short stories

a recent NYT bestseller

a novel previously abandoned

a NYT bestseller from a while ago

a novel based on something literary

a non-fiction book set where I live now

a non-fiction book set somewhere I’ve never visited

a book I’d never heard of yet is on many required reading lists

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Do you do any reading challenges? Have you ever made your own? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Thinking About Good Vibes Only: What Inspires You? What Limits You?

A friend said she was looking for inspiration.

She wanted it to be online, not in her real life because that was what she was trying to rise above– the people and situations therein.

To be clear, she wasn’t talking about inspiration about how to remodel the kitchen or plan a party or how to take better photos. Nothing like that.

She wanted to find something/someone online who had an encouraging message that resonated with her.

She asked me what inspired me online and I said people who write about their lives, share their joys and defeats, perhaps a few photos, a few quotes. I like getting to know individuals and how they process their lives.

However that was NOT what she wanted.

No, and this is where I thought the conversation got interesting, she was looking for an online group of people, a niche really, wherein she could belong. She said that her idea of inspiration was to be part of a group, then do what the group did.

That idea, in the context of looking for inspiration, seemed foreign to me, someone who joins in group things every so often but doesn’t make a practice of it. I’ve nothing against being part of a group, but I usually find it limiting, not exhilarating.

The conversation went on a bit longer, morphing into a discussion about what it means to be independent. That is, do you find yourself thinking you are independent because you have the freedom to join any group you want? OR because you are free to not join any group and do your own thing instead?

Obviously there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in this post, but the conversation prompted me to contemplate how I live my life, where I put my power, and the assumptions on which I base my actions when seeking inspiration.

Thoughts, anyone?

Waiting For The Inauguration, I Snark + Laugh + Celebrate A Blogging Milestone

Tomorrow is THE DAY when 81,009,468 Americans finally will get to say: “Don’t let the door hit you on the butt as you leave, Donald. You’re fired.”

[Lock him up.]

I tell ‘ya, what a clusterfork these last four years have been*. I’m emotionally exhausted by the hate, intellectually tired of the stupidity, and morally outraged by the greed.

You probably are, too.

However, be that as it may, as we wait for better days ahead, here’s a smorgasbord of four images I’ve saved over the last few months, waiting for the perfect time to share them here.

Why today? Two reasons.

First this is something to do until the adults take over the government tomorrow. And secondly, yesterday was the ten year anniversary of this blog** and I wanted to quietly make note of it.

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I saw this sticker on a car, an old Impala sedan. A bit of fast research and now I know that it’s a way to say “Baby on Board.” I’m unclear if this is new or old urban slang, but it caught my eye on a car out here in suburbia.

Have you seen this sticker before?

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I’m seeing this saying all over the place, however I’ve no primary source for it which is a bummer because it is clever. I realize that attempting to overthrow the government is serious, but this sentiment amuses moi.

Thoughts, anyone?

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When I opened an old family cookbook out fell this newspaper clipping for a drink called a Trojan Horse. One of my ancestors, probably my father, must have saved this absinthe, anisette, and gin drink that is described as: “infiltrates slowly without your knowing it and then hits you all of a sudden about an hour later.”

None for me, thanks. And you?

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Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek is one of my favorite TV characters. Thus I shall leave her immortal words here as a way of thanking the wonderful people who read this blog. You’re the best.

I’d be nowhere without my own wolf pack, now wouldn’t I?

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* Don’t blame me, I voted for the lady with the emails.

** First post is here.

Planning To Be Kind AND Kindly Planning My Future

PLANNING TO BE KIND

Tomorrow, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. It’s based on another one of those core values that I think is important. The value being [obviously]: KINDNESS.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines KINDNESS as: the quality of being kind as in treating people with kindness and respect. The dictionary goes on to say that synonyms for KINDNESS are words like: benevolence, courtesy, favor, grace, service.

Musing on these words while thinking about my childhood and the way my WASP parents reared me, I suspect I never had a chance to not be kind. I just didn’t, but that’s only me. πŸ˜‡

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE KIND?

So what do you think, a good idea?

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KINDLY PLANNING MY FUTURE

Opening a Franklin Planner catalogue that came in the snail mail a card fell out onto the counter top. The card, featured in the photo below, clearly states the raison d’Γͺtre of the company.

I started laughing because, well– hell to the yes, this company wants me to plan. Thanks for reminding me, just in case I didn’t notice the name of your company.

But the more I looked at the card the more I realized that I adhere to a slacker philosophy that is more geared toward doing good enough. This is because I realize that plans change, often– and that I can live contentedly not planning every stinking detail of my best life.

Yes, I’d say that I’m being kind to myself by allowing for things to not be best. πŸ™„

HOW ABOUT YOU, DO YOU PLAN FOR YOUR BEST LIFE OR FOR YOUR GOOD ENOUGH LIFE?

Perhaps I’m being ornery, but isn’t *good enough* good enough?

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