Category Archives: Fun

New Use for my Old Jar

My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).

So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.

However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.

Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.

This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous.  And likely disappointing.

Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.

The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.

Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.

We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.

In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing.  That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.

This was indeed an exercise in trust.

Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.

Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).

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On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).

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On the wall in our room at the B&B-love it!

During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy: Image result for pictures of jesse plemons

The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.

We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.

This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.

 

What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Let the merriment begin

 

Now that Christmas is a mere few days away, and the major tasks of purchasing gifts, sending out our Christmas cards, wrapping the gifts, and sending them on their way to their hopefully delighted recipients is over, I’ve got myself a minute to reflect. To share my thoughts and feelings about this crazy and magical time of year and why I love it so. 

Baking Christmas cookies and related treats is one of the few traditions I have maintained over the years. Mind you, I am no Martha Stewart (unlike an old co-worker who brought snowflake cookies to our holiday potluck that were decorated so exquisitely it felt wrong to consume them not like I didn’t anyway). I focus on simple cookies. Actually, several of them are the “no bake” kind. I think that’s a wise choice as I make a fricking ton of them. I send these Christmas treats in holiday themed tins purchased at the Dollar Store or my local thrift store to friends and family from northern Minnesota to Missouri. I shan’t ever end this tradition as at this point our loved ones expect them each and every year. I kind of set myself up for that.

But it’s all good. Baking cookies while listening to my favorite Christmas tunes puts me in the spirit. For several years, while still living in Wisconsin, I hosted a cookie baking party with 3 of my closest co-workers. The wine flowed, the kitchen was essentially destroyed, and much fun was had by all. Good times. 

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Christmas cookies, circa 2008 ish

Then there’s the music of this season. I’m not the type to turn on the Christmas music as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a traditionalist, as I mostly prefer the classics, sung by the original artists. Though there are a few exceptions. Like this version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by “She and Him” (I will admit the video is not exactly what I expected).  I’m not going to get into the controversy over this particular song and how it is “rape-y” (I don’t exactly see it that way). I was delighted when I first saw the movie “Elf” and heard Zooey Deschanel’s pure and beautiful singing voice.  I was even more delighted when I discovered that there was a “She and Him” and that they had produced a sweet little cd covering classic Christmas tunes. I of course purchased this cd and enjoy listening to it every single Christmas since then. The only other two Christmas cd’s on repeat in our house this time of year are Michael Buble’s “Christmas” and the Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait”.  The songs “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” always put a smile on my face when I hear them this time of year.

I’m excited that Hubs is working on “Mele Kalikimaka” on his yuke these days. With any luck, he and I will collaborate on this one and may even perform it via video for our daughter and grandson via videochat yet this season. Or next Christmas, at least.

The most arduous tasks for me during the Christmas season are 1) purchasing gifts, 2) wrapping said gifts (not my forte; thankfully Hubs has my back on this one), and 3) shipping all the packages to hither and yon. Yet, there’s such a great joy I feel inside when I find just the right gift for the right person. I don’t know that I’ll ever in my livelong life, however, create such excitement with my Christmas gift-giving as my sweet Hubs did for me one Christmas about 7 years ago. I could not have been more surprised. 

Here’s the story: we are at my sister and brother in law’s house way up in northern Minnesota, where we have spent many Christmases. We are in the middle of opening all of our gifts, a tad liquored up and sitting in the cozy family room by the beautiful Christmas tree. I open the shirt sized box, assuming it’s a new sweater or some other practical piece of clothing (which I was totally fine with). However, it’s a fancy black dress. I look at Hubs a bit quizzically, and assume in my head that this is a dress I’ll be wearing for a nice dinner out with him on New Year’s Eve. Wow, I’m thinking. So thoughtful and how fun is it that he’s planning to take me out on New Year’s (that doesn’t happen every year, you see). Then I see there’s a sheet of paper underneath. I open it up and it’s an ITINERARY. An itinerary, no less, for a New Year’s weekend in Chicago! An itinerary mapping out our Amtrak train ride, dinner reservations at a very chi-chi seafood place in downtown Chicago, a fancy hotel, and tickets to see “The Adams Family Musical”. I was, for once in my life, utterly speechless. I think I actually cried with joy. It ended up being the best New Year’s Eve (weekend) of our entire married life despite the massive hangover I foolishly gifted myself. 

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Our New Year’s Eve in Chicago circa 2011 ish

 

This year, I was given the opportunity to shop for a little girl. I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in this activity since my spawn were youngins. You see, instead of doing the “Secret Santa” thing at work (you know the one-where you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for that one person you don’t know as well as all the others), someone came up with the brilliant idea of doing “Secret Santa” for the offspring of our co-workers. I grabbed a “wish list” for the daughter of one of my co-workers, and proceeded to have a ball at Target finding things for this kiddo. I suspect she will be pleased that Santa stuffed her new shiny star-shaped purse with Snickers and a $10 bill. I know I would be!

I wish each and every one of you a blessed, joyful, fun-filled holiday season. May your stockings be full with all your favorite goodies, may your travels be safe, and may your hearts be full. 

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Photo by Jameel Hassan on Pexels.com

My just in case post

This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.

This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.

Because I have company coming soon.

The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.

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Miss Mary and I on her last visit to Colorado

Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.

Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time. 

Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.

I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.

But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.

Pondering my playlists

I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that, inspired by a different sort of self-help book entitled “Soul Song Playlist”, I started to create my own soul-soothing, uplifting, personal playlist. What I’ve discovered along the way is that this playlist is a work in progress. For me, it isn’t something I could just put together in one fell swoop.

I’ve added songs that I later removed, because they didn’t speak to me on a soul level like I presumed they would (“Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen is a prime example) when I initially chose them. I’ve heard songs while driving that jumped out at me as the perfect additions to this very personal playlist of mine. I think I will continue adding and subtracting songs over the course of a good long time.

That said, I found myself last week itching to hear full cd’s of my favorite artists. The ones I cherish the most, to give myself a needed break from the overthinking I’d been doing with creating my soul song playlist. I listened to my very favorite cd of all time, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “The Collection” cd. So many rocking tunes on that one with very thoughtful, purposeful lyrics. And I listened to Sheryl Crowe’s “C’mon, C’mon” cd, which is one of those that I thoroughly enjoy singing along with. Raising Sand is not one I sing along with, for the record, because the sheer beauty of the songs on this cd compel me to simply listen. Few cd’s are like that for me.

That brings me to the new playlist I’m going to start creating this week, in preparation for our big summer road trip to visit family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hubs and I will be strapped in for two full days so I figure a rocking playlist is in order. We can listen to it as we wish, interspersing it with catching up on national and world news on NPR and various podcasts.

The genre of our road trip playlist is primarily classic rock. With a few summery  pop hits added in to enhance our freewheeling, relaxed summer vacation attitudes.

Here’s a few songs that are going to be “musts” on this epic summer road trip playlist.

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A depiction of Hubs and I on our epic summer road trip

  • “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”, by Meatloaf (I feel I should know his real name, being kind of a music trivia buff. But more importantly, how did he acquire the name “Meatloaf”?)
  • “Walkin’ on the Sun”, by Smash Mouth (interestingly, at least to me anyway, was that this is the band Hubs named recently when I asked him what band he most wants to see live before he croaks. Didn’t see that one coming.)
  • “American Pie”, by Don McClean. A classic sing along song we always turn up when it comes on the radio. Doesn’t every American, at least over the age of 40, do the same thing?
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, by Twisted Sister. A classic song of rebellion that begs to be sung out loud with righteous indignation, which is wholly appropriate in our current political climate.
  • “Layla”, by Derek and the Dominoes (for me, never the one put out by Eric Clapton years later…it’s just not the same, man).
  • “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffett. A carefree summer driving sing-along classic.
  • “We Built This City”, by Starship. I know that many, perhaps most, people hate this song with a passion. But for Hubs and I, it’s a rollicking tune that reminds us of our younger days.
  • “You’re my Best Friend”, by Queen. Hubs is my best friend and I am his. I used to think it was sappy and unoriginal to proclaim this. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the simple truth. Me and my best friend are bound to have ourselves a great time on this road trip of ours. And now we will have a soundtrack that will set the tone.

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My next random blog post

It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.

I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.

So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.

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My theme of the week

 

The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?

I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the  female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom.  I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!

Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.

In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.

 

Happy fun-day Sunday, blogging peeps!

DWTS Love: Next season’s star picks

I recognize that some of you may not be familiar with the acronym in the title of this blog post. For those people, it stands for “Dancing with the Stars”. This show is my not so guilty pleasure. And a new season is coming soon.

I believe DWTS is the best reality show ever. You’ve got three very different judges, all with years of dancing experience. You’ve got very attractive, talented, professional dancers. You’ve got two affable hosts, Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron. And of course, you’ve got the “stars”.

I believe the creators of this show use the term “stars” rather loosely. But no matter; the “stars” I enjoy watching the most are the ones that I have not necessarily ever heard of. The ones that have a little spunk.  The ones that have actual dancing abilities or the clear potential to develop them.  Think Kelly and Jack Osbourne (two different seasons). Or Ricki Lake. Or MMA star Paige VanZant. From the most recent season, my favorite contender was the actor Frankie Muniz. He was a revelation. He was so relatable which made him easy to root for.  His confidence and talent increased exponentially each week. Of course, the teen idol from the Disney channel, Jordan Fisher, won-but hey, he was absolutely terrific so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed.

I’m especially enthralled with DWTS when there’s obvious sexual chemistry going on between the professional dancer and the “star”. That just takes the show to a whole other level. Like these two:

Heads up: this is the part of this post where I’m going to play as if I’ve been hired to pick the next batch of “stars” to dance their ways into our hearts on DWTS. Because that could happen, right? Ha ha!

I recently learned that the upcoming season of DWTS is going to feature professional athletes. This makes coming up with a slate of epic contenders challenging for me, a woman who pays minimal attention to professional sports. But  as a die hard fan of this show, I’m going to take a stab at it anyway.

Troy Aikman, former NFL star and current NFL commentator. Image result for troy aikman images

He’s quite a good looking guy who I am certain has some dancing ability courtesy of his football playing days. I’d pair him with Sharna. I could see them performing a wonderful Vienesse waltz together.

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Serena Williams: Now who wouldn’t root for this woman? She is without a doubt a phenomenal tennis player, and I heard recently that she’s not planning to play in the next big tennis tournament. Australian Open maybe? Anyway, she recently gave birth to her first baby. There is a history on DWTS of female “stars” joining the cast after giving birth. Well, maybe not directly after giving birth. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

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Serena would totally rock those glitzy costumes DWTS puts the stars in, right? I’d pair her with that sexy beast Maks.

Tonya Harding: The disgraced former Olympic ice skater would certainly have the right moves and the determination to go all the way. Although I would hate to see her hit poor old Len in the shins if he gave her some negative criticism. Maybe I should scratch that idea. It would not surprise me in the least if she ended up on this upcoming season, however. The movie chronicling the attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan (herself an alumni of DWTS), from her perspective (I, Tonya-which I only want to see because of the amazing actor Alisson Janney) is getting lots of buzz, so for sensationalism’s sake I bet they do it. I mean, they did it before, with this douchebag.

David Beckham, professional soccer player/model/Mr. Posh Spice:  Boy, he’d be a bid draw, right? I mean, just look at him! There’s no doubt he’d have some wicked dancing skills.

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Without a doubt, I’d pair him with the gorgeous and talented Peta.

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Michael Phelps, a swimming phenomenon and most decorated Olympian of all time. He would be a fun pick. He does appear to be all arms and legs, so dancing may be a challenge for him. But as a professional competitive swimmer, I suspect he’d be up for the challenge.

 

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I think he’d be best paired with the fun loving Aussie dancer Emma Slater.

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Danica Patrick, professional race car driver: I really think she would be fantastic. She’s got that competitive spirit and she is drop dead gorgeous.

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I think the obvious choice for her dancing partner would be this handsome dancing devil. I would love to see the two of them tango their way to winning that Mirror Ball trophy.

I don’t know that DWTS fans will be lucky enough to have any of these athlete/stars on our screens this spring, but I will be anxiously awaiting to find out who will be cast.

In the meantime, dear readers, I would get some major enjoyment from any opinions you may have about future DWTS contenders that you want to see salsa-ing, cha-cha-ing, or paso doble-ing with the epically talented professional dancers on this show, whether they are athletes or not. Come on, play some “fantasy DWTS” with me!