My Christmas Simplification Experiment

This past year, I’ve come to appreciate simplifying my life. Hubs and I have been operating on a smaller scale, financially, due to me taking my “Gap Year”, which has led me to forgo non-essential purchases I would have otherwise made. We’ve been more frugal when it comes to spending our “disposable” income by eating out much less frequently and taking advantage of any and all opportunities to save money (ex: Target red card: 5% off all purchases) on things we regularly purchase.

Bottom line: a benefit of my “Gap Year” is an increased mindfulness of how we spend our money. This is a good thing. Now, not only are we in a better position to start saving for important things like travel and eventually a plumb spot of land on a smallish but beautiful lake in Minnesota or Wisconsin where we will build our dream cabin, but we have much less stuff to care for and stress about. And now that I am gainfully employed I think it behooves us to continue our frugal ways.

That brings me to Christmas. In years past, I have spent as my mother would say a “pretty penny” not only on gifts, but also on ingredients to make a wide variety of Christmas cookies which I send to friends and family near and far. And the shipping costs for said cookies and gifts is nothing to sneeze at either.

This Christmas is going to be different. Though the cookie baking and shipping is still happening, because, well, I truly enjoy the process. One of my happiest of happy places is in the kitchen, baking and cooking my heart out with a variety of holiday and non-holiday tunes cranked up on my Bluetooth speaker. And the joy these treats brings to the recipients is so worth it. 

What’s going to be different this year is the gift-giving part of it all. I’ve come to the realization that the stress I put on myself not to mention the costs to purchase (whether on line or in actual stores) and ship just the right gift for each and every one of my lovely family members is simply no longer worth it.

I know, Bah-humbug, right? Rhonda has officially become the Grinch!



Not so fast. I’ve decided that everyone-with perhaps 3 small exceptions-is getting gift cards. 

One could say that gift cards are impersonal. However, I have a different take on it. Every Christmas since like forever, my mom gives me a gift card to Victoria’s Secret (along with other actual gifts). I look forward to this particular gift every year, as this is a store I love but very infrequently shop at as I feel it’s overpriced and generally I am perfectly happy purchasing needed underthings on sale at Kohl’s thankyouverymuch. However, it’s such a treat to waltz into Victoria’s Secret, gift card in hand, with the ability to purchase at least one lovely thing or two with zero guilt.

You see, with gift cards, you are gifting your loved ones with both an experience and an actual thing. The opportunity to take yourself out to a restaurant or a store where you can not only obtain something you truly want, but also experience the joy of not paying for it with your own hard earned money, I think may trump the “thing” a gift-giver would have purchased that may or may not fit or may or may not have a good spot to place in your home, or may or may not be an item you would regularly use and enjoy.

So, delicious cookies and gift cards it is. I’m calling it my Christmas Simplification Experiment.  Please share your comments with me, as I am open to other ideas on how to simplify the holiday season this year!


It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka my gratitudes.

At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful. 

Without any further ado, here we go:

#1: I am grateful for employment.  I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.

#2:  I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.

#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!

#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.

#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.

#7:  I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.

#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for. It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:

This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!

Perfect mug of cocoa

This one introduced me to the concept of Hygge, which I really appreciate!


What are you grateful for? Please comment and share your gratitudes!


Where my head’s at: Jobs, Life, and Gun Violence

You may have or may have not noticed that the frequency of my blog posts has declined as of late. It’s because, well…life. Other bloggers are surely familiar with this predicament. You get on a roll, posting with regularity, reading other blogger’s posts and providing commentary. You are in your groove.

Then, life rudely barges in, forcing you to shift your focus and re-assess your priorities. Like when circumstances force you to acknowledge in your core of cores that your parents are aging for real as illnesses and surgeries grow in their frequency and severity. Like when you begin planning for your young adult spawn’s overdue visit to your new-ish home in your new-ish state and potential snafus in this plan begin to emerge, leaving you to ponder an alternate plan. Like when you realize the amount of time and energy spent on blogging will not equal the satisfaction of working outside of the home with real live people and earning actual money.

That said, this is not me declaring that my blogging days are over. What I can declare, however, with relative certainty, is that change is afoot in my life at the moment. For better or worse. 

I have made some headway in my search for employment.  I updated my resume and applied for a job as a para-educator in the special ed department of a local elementary school. I have also applied for another job, for which I have an interview this afternoon.

So as not to jinx it, I’m going to supress my urge to provide details about said job interview and the anxious thoughts rattling through my brain as I mentally prepare myself for the first job interview I’ve have in 10 years. Gulp.

Then there are other happenings that are taking up space in my brain and especially in my heart. One week ago today, I awoke to the news of yet another fatal shooting. Only this time it happened a mere 5 minute drive from our home, at the Wal-Mart in Thornton, Colorado. I can honestly say that for the first time since all of these horrific shootings in this country of ours began, this scared me on a personal level. I’ve been to that Wal-Mart. I’m much more aware of my surroundings when going out and about as a result of this. Three innocent lives lost, for no reason whatsoever.

What angers and sickens me the most about this is that there does not appear to be an end in sight with these shootings. 

I pray, as many others in this country and throughout the world are. I pray for the families left behind but even more importantly, I pray that the jokers representing us in Washington, D.C., will take action, once and for all, to reduce the likelihood that mass shootings will continue to occur. The only way, I believe, for this epidemic to have any chance of being remedied, is for stricter gun regulations to be enacted.

A good friend of mine here in Colorado shared a video on Facebook today with the pictures and stories of all of those folks who lost their lives in the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last Sunday. I appreciate that, because I think it’s much easier to say our prayers and then get right back to living our own personal lives when we only pay attention to the sound bites offered by the media.

I don’t believe in taking the easy route. Not when it comes to the mass shooting epidemic in this country and not when it comes to how I live my personal life. Because a meaningful life and a more harmonious society is not manifested by making easy choices.

I’m going to go forth and do my best to seize this day. I will count my blessings, which are many. Likely more than I deserve. And tomorrow, I will strive to do the same. Day by day.





Silly signs on Saturday

Nowadays, home decor is all about the signs. Signs with pithy inspirational quotes. Signs with family names on them. Signs expressing the homeowner’s faith.  I think oftentimes signs as home decor are overdone.  It seems to me that the more signs one has on their walls, the less meaning they have. So I keep mine to a minimum for that reason.

This one is probably my favorite:

Hanging in my kitchen to amuse one and all

A foray into Google images for signs led me to some more amusing and in some cases, disturbing signs.

Like this one:

images (60)

So many questions here….walruses can jump? And exactly how does one determine the sexual orientation of a walrus? And what does the walrus’s sexual orientation have to do with the fact that it might jump up and drag you under the water to be feasted on by a gaggle of hangry walruses?

images (62)

Um, no thanks Hardee’s.

images (69)

This is the sign that I will hang in our future cabin. I find it to be quite motivational.

images (68)

This would make me shake in my boots for sure (not)…but I’m also super curious about what is behind this door. I doubt I’d be able to resist the temptation to exit through that particular door.

images (65)

TMI dudes…and you should really get that checked out!images (64)

Apparently, beans and cabbage are on the menu in this joint.


images (61)

Good advice, peeps!

images (66)

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

images (67)

Let’s hope to God that this isn’t the only dentist in town.


I took a picture of this sign on a trip with Hubs to Florida, because I thought it was hilariously awesome. I’d really like to know how one qualifies a a “fancy woman”. And exactly who decides who is a “fancy woman” anyhow? Cap’n Crunch?!

Happy Saturday folks!


Surprises and Songs by the Hiatt’s

For one of our wedding anniversaries, Hubs surprised me with a trip to Madison, WI. He was very tight lipped about the itinerary. I went along with it, because I am one of those oddballs that actually loves surprises. And boy, was I surprised. In the best possible way.

Once we arrived in Madison and checked into our hotel, Hubs instructed me to get in the car with him and drive to our surprise destination. I seriously had no clue whatsoever what was in store. He slowed the car down as we approached our destination and he directed me to look to my right. We were directly in front of the Majestic Theater. As I looked up at the marquee, I was beyond excited.

We were there to see the inimitable John Hiatt perform. 

download (19)

Now, for several years prior to this, Hubs and I had been fans of this prolific, soulful, uber talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/performer. Mr. Hiatt is one of those artists who has had more critical success than commercial success. That seriously confounds me, because his music-the lyrics, the melodies, the beats, the feels it evokes-is just, well, everything to me from a musical standpoint.

And I learned recently, while live streaming MPR’s The Current that Mr. Hiatt also has a mighty talented singer/songwriter daughter. Her name is Lilly.

Lilly Hiatt

First, however, for those of you who may not be familiar with Mr. Hiatt’s work, or for those of you who have an unabashed appreciation for him as I do, I’d like to highlight what IMHO are his truly best AF songs. Then I will introduce you to the music of his daughter.

 Thank you, Google Play. You rock. You have given me the best toy a girl could ask for. The joy I get from creating playlists of my favorite artists, like John Hiatt, is immense. 

Here are my top picks from Mr. Hiatt’s collection:

“Thing Called Love” was written and performed originally by Hiatt, though most folks likely are only familiar with Bonnie Raitt’s cover of it. Both versions are great, but I personally prefer Hiatt’s. My favorite line in this song is “But Baby, we can choose you know, we ain’t no amoebas”. And I love when he sings/screeches out “just a crazy little thing called love” towards the end. Supercool.

Thing Called Love

Most likely my “favorite” favorite John Hiatt song is “Feels Like Rain”. It is simply gorgeous. It is sensual. It is soulful. It is tragically beautiful. It is best appreciated during a moment of solitude. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Feels Like Rain

“Perfectly Good Guitar” is a stand out for me also. It features some seriously tight guitar riffs and an extraordinarily catchy melody. And it pays homage to Mr. Hiatt’s appreciation for the instrument. And I found the below video of him and his band playing it live. John Hiatt is probably the best performer I have or ever will see live. For reals.

Perfectly Good Guitar

I could seriously go on for eons about all the other John Hiatt songs I love (like “Riding with the King”, or “Crossing Muddy Waters”, or “Real Fine Love”), but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to highlight Lilly. I was very pleasantly surprised when I learned of her existence. She surely has her father’s musical genes. She has her own sound nonetheless, which to me is an interesting cross between Liz Phair and Lucinda Williams. She, like her father, writes tremendously thoughtful, raw, and beautiful lyrics. Here is a sample:

If I’m lucky, one day I’ll be able to see her perform live as well. I know I’d jump at the chance to see her dad perform live again.