Monday, March 31, 2014

Mogget Monday: Helping

Mogget provides assistance with grading papers.

It has been radio silent here for the past few weeks for mainly two reasons:
  1. I was super busy. Not "full of fun adventures" busy,  just plain "swamped at work" busy.  Without rehashing too much, third quarter, which is always full of activity, sapped all my energy this year. All of the events that are usually distributed from late February through March were jammed into a 12 day window. So. Tired. 
  2. Since I run a classy operation here at refeathered, all of my "photos" are taken with my phone. I totally destroyed my phone about 2 weeks ago. I had not backed up any of my more recent images and lost them all. All the Moggets disappeared. Sadness.
I'm enjoying a much deserved Monday off, and lucky for me it is the one nice, warm day in the forecast. I'm off to go wander the city and bask in some sunlight.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Project 52: Week 10

1. Spring blooms!
2. Oh,'s still snowing...
 3. Banana slices...
4. .... that became my first attempt at chocolate banana cream pie. Yum!
5. Balancing out pie with a healthy breakfast.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Project 52: Weeks 7 & 8

Sorry for the delay in posting week 7. Technical difficulties at first...then I forgot. Whoops.
1. Accompanied Chris Martin, principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony. It was a pleasure to perform with a musician of his caliber and humor.
2. Slightly lewd Valentine from a co-worker. Just the giggle I needed.
3. Valentine card supplies.
1. This little sprig of thyme subtly perfumed the kitchen most of the week.
2. Whole wheat chocolate cookies. Nom-noms.
3. I may have set a sponge on fire in the microwave. What a difference one zero makes....
2. Note from a third grade boy that gave me pause. It's a skull balloon, just in case you were wondering.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mogget Monday: No Room for Compromise

This scene may look sweet & cuddly, but in reality this is a basket brimming with stubbornness. Let me describe the scene for you:
 It's a quiet and sunny morning, the radiators softly hissing while the humans sip their steaming cups of coffee on the sofa. Simandl slinks into the living area from the kitchen, Mogget plods in from napping on the bed, both aiming for the basket bathed in sunlight. Realizing they are both headed toward the ultimate nap location, they pause at the basket and stare intensely at each other. Mogget puts a paw in the basket. Simandl hisses and puts one of her paws in the basket. They stare, motionless, until Simandl puts another paw in. Mogget disapproves and swats her. Undeterred in her quest for the sunny spot, Simandl jumps into the basket and quickly lies down. She looks smug in her triumph. Unwilling to admit defeat, Mogget mooses in and lies atop Simandl. They both grumble and hiss at each other for a few minutes, squirming to get comfy. Then Mogget starts to lick Simandl's nose, and they both purr at a ridiculous volume. They remain crammed into the basket for several hours. Cats be weird.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shedding My Prejudice or Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy!

Pride & Prejudice

In 2013 I had planned to "watch less, read more." About that...I only cracked open 3 books last year, and managed to not finish any of them. One of the books was about motivation. Oh, the irony and the shame. I adore a good book, and am honestly embarrassed by such a dismal reading record.  Determined to feed my brain, I added read 12 books to my 2014 Amazing Year 100 Things To Do list.

To assemble my list of books to read, I fielded my friends for recommendations. If you could recommend 1 classic work, what would it be? My smarty-pants friends suggested many great books and authors, but I was surprised how often Jane Austen appeared on the list. Jane Austen, really? She's booooooring, I thought to myself.

I think my aversion toward Ms. Austen came from the pitifully brief "women authors" unit I had in high school, where we read a small excerpt from Sense & Sensibility. Ms. Austen's writing style takes some time to get accustomed to, and her wit and humor slowly unfolds. Since time was not invested in reading a whole work, I did not get to fully understand Jane Austen and quickly dismissed her writing as pretentious and trite. How perfectly sophomoric (or Lizzy Bennett-ish) of me. Since so many of my friends raved about Pride & Prejudice, Emma & Persuasion, I figured I may have misjudged Jane Austen.

Clearly I had a prejudice against Ms. Austen, so I decided Pride & Prejudice would be a good place to begin. In all honesty, it took a few chapters before I became interested in the storyline and got a handle on Austen's prose. But then it happened. By chapter five I was completely engrossed in the absurdity of it all. The characters are all ridiculous, the etiquette and civility is over the top in haughtiness, and the banter is ludicrous. Mr. Darcy was my favorite character by far- such a charming ass. I found myself genuinely excited to have time to sit down and read a few more chapters. What foolishness is in store? What snarky thing will Lizzy say? And WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME JANE AUSTEN WAS SO FUNNY? I wondered. No matter, I am a convert now. I certainly plan on reading more of Austen's novels in the future. The big question is: which one?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mogget Monday: Contemplation

Soaking in the afternoon sun, contemplating life.
Or staring off into space.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Project 52: Week 6


1 & 2. Cross-country, Nordic combined, Biathlon, Downhill or Jump- I'm all about the Olympic ski events. I'm sure I am not the only person feeling an itch to strap on some skis and hit the trails. Totally unrelated to the photo, but how amazing were the opening ceremonies!?! Loved every moment of it--so very, very Russian. Stravinsky, animatronic horses, ballet dancers, crazy projector work- what more could we have asked for?
3. Ler and I grabbed an Irish breakfast at County Clare. A splash of scotch in our coffee and figure skating- a delightful combination.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow Bunny Is Learning New Tricks

I make no apologies for neither the awful pun above, nor the the one to follow, but some bunny is playing with technology. Part of the Amazing Year workbook is to draft a list of 100 things you would like to do. The list can include anything your heart desires- nothing is too big or too trivial. My list has some rather ambitious undertakings (sub 4 marathon!), but consists of many petite ventures, such as:
  • Wear red nail polish (Surprisingly, I've never worn red.)
  • Take a road trip
  • Watch Thelma & Louise
  • Go skiing
  • Learn how to take better pictures and how to use photo editing software. 
  • Improve my blog.
I've really enjoy writing refeathered, and want to advance the quality of my content. So, I will be experimenting with some new software and services over the next couple of months. Any and all feedback is appreciated! For my first foray I created a fantasy wishlist for a day on the slopes using Polyvore ($1200 sunglasses, anyone? Ha!). I had stopped making round-up posts because it took forever to format, but Polyvore was easy, fun and free.

Classic Snow Bunny

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Project 52: Week 5

1. New cold weather gear
2. Tea party at Mo's
3. The best. oatmeal. ever. It's like carrot cake for breakfast.
4. The start of a delicious meal.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mogget Monday

Mogget (& Simandl) tip #8: When the wind whips at -50, snuggling with wooly blankets is the only acceptable activity for the day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Project 52: Week 4

1. Wise words from a 3rd grader.
2. This student is proud of acing his performance assessment
3. Soft new sheets
4. Snowy Sunday
5. Beautiful braided Challah, which Ler made and I gladly ate.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Amazing Approach to 2014

In my recap of 2013 I mentioned that I found a wonderful book to help me process through the past year and have an amazing 2014. During this journey around the sun I have Leonie Dawson and her workbook at my side.


Toward the tail end of 2012 my sister, Mo, first mentioned that she was going to use Leonie's Create Your Amazing Year workbook. My initial reaction was this book sounds like (in the words of Mo) total "hippie woo woo" - an adorably illustrated planner.

And then I watched as Mo transformed her life. Entirely. Mind, body and spirit.

Inspired by Mo, I started reading Leonie's blog. She is warm, supportive and has a wicked sense of humor. I like that about her. She is also frank, crass and cusses like a sailor. I really like that about her. Leonie acknowledges that she is not for everyone. I respect her openness and honest self-assessment.


Feeling like I've been treading water for the past two years, I decided to give Ms. Dawson's workbook a try. I was very excited when my copy of 2014 Create Your Amazing Year arrived at my doorstep. As I leafed through the workbook, I began to understand how Leonie had helped Mo with her metamorphosis. It is not just an adorable planner, but so much more. It is not a self-help book in the classic sense, no one tells you what to do. Leonie is your guide. You are the cartographer- you make the map and chart your plans. She asks questions along the way. You provide the solutions.

What impressed me most was before you began sketching your intentions for 2014, Leonie asks you to pause and reflect on 2013. She asks formidable questions, some of which took me days to honestly and completely answer. Closing out 2013 was arduous at times, but very revelatory. I learned from my accomplishments and missteps of 2013 and can proceed with clarity.

In addition to reflection, she asks you think about what you want and what you do not want in your life. Leonie guides you in creating habits, developing strategies for when the spirits wanes, evaluating ones use of time, and so much more.  She assists you in dreaming big, but also helps you break those dreams down into manageable, actionable tasks. Leonie asks and prompts, but never answers the questions. That is for you to discover. Your answers are yours to own.

I've had 2014 Create Your Amazing Year for just under 5 weeks, but I already feel its impact. I am excited, invigorated, hopeful. Even if I achieve only a fraction of my intentions, I will have more momentum than the past two years. Cheers to motion!

How do you approach your plans, intentions, goals- whatever you like to call them? Do you use a guide or go it on your own?

Want your own workbook? Get it here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let's Do This: 2013 Recap

***Disclaimer: I started writing this post on January 7th, and then life got wonderfully busy. While engaged elsewhere I *may* have forgotten that I did not complete and schedule this post. Pardon my tardiness, and enjoy my ramblings nonetheless.

The year 2013 is well behind us, and I sincerely hope your year was wonderful. I really enjoy reflecting upon the year and all of the triumphs, frustrations, failures, and unexpected surprises that came with it. I explain in this post and this post my semantic argument for using the terms goals and intentions over resolutions, so I won't rehash it here. Truth time: How did you do, Anna?

I started using a wonderful book (which is detailed in a post to come) to help me process through 2013 and have an amazing 2014. Oooff! I'll be honest, 2013 was less prosperous than I would like to admit. However, the year wasn't a giant flaming failure either. There were some awesome moments, as well as awesomely frustrating moments. The book I'm using helped me recognize the major flaw with a number of my goals and intentions-- I left many too large or too ambiguous. I didn't break them down into manageable, actionable tasks. When I was completely honest with myself, I didn't manage my time well either. I will discuss this more in depth in coming posts. The official 2013 tally starts below!
The Not-Quites & Not-At-Alls:
  • Record an album with Mo. Just was not in the stars this year. On the list for 2014! So is learning the ukelele.
  • Me time. I was terrible with this, and often wasted my me time by zoning out with Nexflix or mindlessly scrolling through design blogs. Escapism is not quality time invested in oneself. I have plans for actually tending to myself this year. Massages, facials, time at the beach...ah, yes.
  • Take a vacation. Sadly, Ler and I had a totally incompatible summer schedule. C'est la vie.
  • Watch less, read more. This is embarrassing, mostly because I adore curling up with a book. I started only 3 books in 2013, but did not finish any of them. One of the books was about tapping into motivation- oh, the irony. Again, escapism into the interwebs won out over stimulating my brain and imagination. I have figured out the root cause of my vegetative habits (ha! Pun not intended, but it will stay!) and am working on intentions to reboot my energy.
  • Break the Rules from Time to Time & Create Rituals. Too broad, too vague, and I didn't really keep track of what that meant. 
  • Be More Present in the Now & Today Is Not a To Do List. Much time was devoted to worrying about future "what-ifs," or being absorbed in my list of chores (for work or home). I spent a whole lot of time pouring all of my energy into the never ending laundry list that is my job, frequently becoming very myopic. Never started the journal or sketch book I contemplated in the summer.
  • Stop working by 7 p.m. I have yet to figure out how to leave work at work. I'm not sure it is entirely possible in the teaching profession (without being a lousy teacher or never at home, I guess). However, I have made huge progress in this area. While I don't work all weekend anymore, I still invest a great deal of what should be personal time into my profession. I have gotten better at not requiring everything to be finished 2, 4 or 6 weeks ahead of time. This has made me a smidgen more sane.
  • 20 push-ups. Made it to 10....and then forgot about this one. Clearly important. 
  • Yoga 2-3 times a week. I went in spurts of doing yoga 4-5 times a week, to weeks without doing anything yoga related. To be honest, the 2-3 times was a bit arbitrary. I have specific goals in mind for 2014- like touching my toes, and being able to hold an arm balance.
The Huzzahs: 
  • Write a blog. You are here. Thanks for reading.
  • Draw, Paint, Doodle. I made my Mogget book and stickers, as well as my own holiday cards. Also, I made two little decorative pieces for the apartment.
  • Feather My Nest. Ones home is never static, and our little apartment continues to change with our whims. Over the course of the year it looks quite different, and I am quite happy with the progress.
  • Try New Things. Hot yoga, red hair, therapeutic massage, Mexican wrestling matches, delectable name a few.
  • Clean Eating & Be a Smarter Consumer. An ongoing learning process, never to be completed. I feel that I have made substantial gains in healthy nourishment. 
  • Three Running Events. Fabulous 5k with my Mum and sister. A spectacular half marathon in August, and an improved marathon time in October. I feel stronger and healthier with each event, and feel proud of my achievements. For the first time in my life I feel like an athlete. More miles will be logged this year! Can't wait!
Even though the Not-Quites & Nopes outnumber the Huzzahs, I feel that the things I accomplished were significant. Generally speaking, each Huzzah improved my health, mind or spirit, and I am proud of those. The Not-Quites and Nopes list has assisted my process of developing plans and intentions for 2014. I have learned from that list. From here I go forward in pursuit of an amazing 2014, taking my accomplishments and lessons of 2013 with me.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Project 52: Week 3

1. Saturday morning at the lake.
2. Ice skating with my family.
3. Ink for my beloved Grandpa. The writing is in his penmanship. So very pleased- it makes my heart happy every time I look at it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Project 52: Week 2

1. Late afternoon snow flurries
2. Paperwhites continue to perfume the apartment
3. Mostly naked Norfolk
4. Perfectly tart

Monday, January 13, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Nest: Huzzah for White Paint

Perhaps I should pen an ode to white paint, I do love it so. A creative color choice? No. A nearly infallible color choice? Yes, yes, and yes. At least in my world.

At the end of a long day Ler likes to empty his pockets, retire his glasses and charge up his phone on the night stand. A very convenient location, but it was getting a touch chaotic. Also, the cats would decide it was time to bat change around the room at 3:00 in the morning. Lovely dears.
I took a quick trip to Goodwill and returned with this beauty. The tray had a study and unfinished wood frame, and hefty chipboard bottom. Only dinged my wallet for 97 cents.

A few thin coats of white paint (left over from my bathroom painting adventures) and things were starting to look good. I finished off the bottom with an insert of cork shelf liner. It has a light adhesive on the back, so it is firmly in place.

Ler's glasses, wallet, watch and other random bits-and-bobs are now corralled into one tidy little tray. Loose change is deposited in a pretty little milk glass vase I have had for years. No more finding nickles in my moccasins.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Project 52: Week 1

Good morning! I am kicking off the year with a new series: Project 52. Full discretion- not my idea at all. Completely pilfered. The lovely Benita at Chez Larsson gave me the idea for this weekly photo collection. In previous years she documented each day with Project 365 and 366! Very cool, but I know my limit and you, dear readers, are bombarded with enough kitty photos as is. Although Ms. Larsson is no longer updating her blog, you can check out her archives. I recommend that you do. Beautiful, light, and bright pictures of Swedish life in abundance. My "photos" are a Instagrams until I figure out how to use my camera properly.

I will be posting next week a 2013 "Let's Do This" recap and sharing 2014 intentions. I'm bubbling with excitement! Please come back to read and share!
1. Deep chill in Milwaukee. Negative temps created beautiful art on the windows.
2. Paperwhites blooming to spite the cold.
3 & 4. Mogget and Simandl staying toasty. I moved their basket by the radiator, and they do share...sometimes.
5 & 6. New housemates. Because I may have killed my fern over the holidays by not watering it...