Wednesday, January 9, 2019


There's just something about a fresh new year starting that makes people, young and old, resolve to change. People have been making promises at the start of the year for thousands of years. However, I don't know about you, but when I resolve to do something, I am really just setting myself up for failure. After all, the opposite of resolve is failure. For if I haven't met my resolution, I have failed to meet it.

In honor of that, this year I decided to just set some goals. Yeah, I know. I can still fail to meet my goals and many people do. One thing I've learned over the past year is that mindset plays a bigger role than we give it credit.

For example, if I say the word "CrossFit" what's the first thing that pops in your head? Elite athlete? Someone with a six pack ab and some to spare?

I know I for one had that mindset not that many years ago. And then the gym I teach at and workout at made the switch. The owner and another trainer went to a Level 1 CrossFit certification this past summer and suddenly I no longer workout at a gym. 

I now work out at a "box" which is CrossFit speak for gym. I have learned that DL means deadlift and SDHP means sumo deadlift high pull. I've been learning what a push press and a push jerk look like. I've been doing a lot of rowing and running and jumping rope. 

And I've also learned that I love it. I especially love anything to do with weightlifting. That made me start to think about goals.

Yup, this is me at the gym. 
I'm lifting 55 pounds here. 
And my shirt? 
It says Push Your Limits. 
That seems pretty appropriate. 

One of the trainers at the gym has been doing Strongman challenges. Now those are a bit crazy! It's all about lifting heavy stuff, moving heavy stuff, lots of heavy stuff. But it made me start to think. I like lifting heavy stuff. So I talked with the trainer and made a crazy goal for 2019. 

I'm in my fourth decade of life and rounding the bend to that fifth one rather faster than I would like. So I'm going to chalk this up to a mid-life crisis, but I'm okay with that. You see, in April 2019, I will be competing in my first ever Strongman Competition. 

But the great thing about mindset is there is a trickle down effect. You see I started thinking and planning for that goal at the end of 2018. I started training for it yesterday. This means I have to really start dialing in my nutrition so that I can nourish my body well so I can lift this crazy heavy stuff and avoid injuries. Mindset, in my opinion, is often more important than talent or anything else when it comes to change. 

I have resolved to stop thinking and talking negatively about what I'm accomplishing. I'm simply going to enjoy the process and keep my mind focused on the positive and the goal ahead. Positive thinking can take one a long way. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Three Days Before Christmas

I'm a planner. I have notebooks of lists. I use a daily to-do list. It helps keep me on track. This summer I even created a "project list" of things I wanted to get done before we started back to school. I am also a "long term thinker." What I mean by that is I will ruminate on an idea for a while before I finally jump in and get it done. So in other words, I like to plan and sometimes it takes me a while to actually complete said plan.

We moved into our current home six years ago. It's a lovely home and probably my favorite of all the ones I've lived in over the last 25 years of being married to my hubby. We've moved more often than most people unless they are military. Then those folks have us beat on the number of new houses.

One thing I did not like about our current home, however, was the "builder's white" on all the walls. Every single wall in the house was white. I like color. Before we moved in we redid each boy's bedroom. Our youngest son's room was completely repainted. Our middle son received a two foot stripe of dark blue paint around his room and some vinyl stickers. Our oldest son ended up with a "focal wall" of olive green and vinyl stickers. It all helped to offset the white.

A few years later I repainted our living room. I love how it turned out. The wall with our TV hanging on it is a dark chocolate colored brown and the remaining walls are tan. A few years later I convinced hubby to let me repaint the downstairs guest bath. It's now a lovely grey. And for the last year or so I've wanted to redo the upstairs bathroom.

 We started having an issue with mold growing on the dry wall above the shower area. On the Saturday before Christmas, hubby and I were driving north to visit my niece who had just had a baby. The 90 minute drive there gave us ample time to chat and we decided to finally do the project. Only this time it wasn't a simple paint job. My hubby wanted to tile the area above the tub so that the mold issue would be easier to clean up if it came back after the project.

After our visit we headed to the local box store that sells such materials and picked up some very inexpensive 4x4 white tiles. This was going to be our "test project" as the downstairs bathroom I had painted could use the same treatment due to water damage on the drywall above the shower. I've also wanted to remove the jetted garden tub that we never use from the master bathroom and put in a shower.

So on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas (otherwise known as Christmas Eve Eve), we started working. We used this as an opportunity to teach the skill to our younger boys as well. Hubby taught them how to measure and cut all the tile. We only had one injury which was thankfully minor albeit a bit painful when my middle kiddo took off a chunk of skin from the pad of his thumb breaking the tile. We then added some blocks of wood and a hammer to make it a bit safer.

While the men worked, I cleaned and prepped as best I could around them. I finally had to give up as there wasn't enough room to maneuver with all four of us in there and I needed to work around the door. So I headed downstairs and made homemade pizza for supper and a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were finished around supper time and after we finished eating, I headed back up and put the first coat of paint on most of the walls. 

All the tile is on the walls!

The next day, Christmas Eve, I headed up and finished painting the bathroom. Hubby added the grout to the walls and caulked all the edges. It looks so pretty! 

And the final photos!

The photos don't show the paint color great, but it is the palest green we could buy. It's a bit darker than it's showing in the photos, but we all still like it so that's good. 

I'm super glad this project is done. On to the next!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What I Learned Doing NaNoWriMo in 2018

Ack! This was not a good year for me in regards to NaNoWriMo. I managed to squeak out about 7,500 words. I'd love to list a whole bunch of excuses but I really have none. I wasn't "feeling" the story but honestly, that shouldn't matter either.

What I did learn is this...

  1. Writing is work. Yes, I enjoy it, but it's not always about "feeling" the story. It's about getting the words out of my head and on to the paper.
  2. I have a lot of ideas floating around my head. If I don't put them down somewhere they will fly away forever never to return.
  3. I really do want to write. 
That last one is probably the most important one for me. I have said I have wanted that for quite some time but I have yet to make the time to do anything about it. 

I am using this year's NaNoWriMo to propel me forward in 2019 and work on writing - daily. I will be working on getting those ideas out of my head and on to, um, paper - digitally speaking. 

So while I didn't win this year by completing 50,000 words, I learned a lot about myself and how I need to structure things in order to make my dreams a reality. Here's to more writing in 2019!

Friday, November 30, 2018

{Review} Ellie Claire Art Journals

I have this quirk. I know there are others out there like me since I've met them. Want to know what it is? Well...I love office supplies. There...I said it. I'm not one who collects purses or shoes, but show me a bunch of journals, planners, pens and watch out! I have so many unused journals just waiting for me to write in them.

And pens...don't even get me started on pens! However, I have become a bit more discerning in my older years. I discovered a lovely writing pen a few years ago and now I've become a bit of a snob about what I use. In case you are wondering, I love the Uniball Signo 207 pens. LOVE them!

But journals...there is just something about an unused journal that calls to me every time. I doubt I will ever stop collecting and buying more. This is why I was thrilled to be included in the Ellie Claire Art Journal review. ::sigh:: They are simply divine!

First up is the Illuminate Your Story journal (you can purchase it HERE).

This is a gorgeous little journal. If you've ever seen medieval manuscripts with illuminated letters, this journal is reminiscence of that. It includes a two page spread for each letter that helps you create an illuminated letter. These pages are in dot grid format which makes it easier to copy the style shown.

There are also lined pages throughout for you to journal, additional drawing pages to help with extra embellishments, and a wonderful pen holder on the side (something I've never seen but now want in all my journals). This particular journal also has an elastic closure and a ribbon bookmark included.

Pages are thick and numbered. As someone who uses a bullet journal, I like that fact that the pages are numbered. I do wish there was a page in the front for a table of contents, but this really isn't a bullet journal styled journal so it's easily overlooked. Lastly, there is a keepsake pocket included on the inside of the back cover.

If you or anyone you know would like to learn how to draw embellished letters, this journal is definitely for you.

Next is the Illustrated Word: An Illuminated Bible Coloring Journal. (You can purchase it HERE.)

This is a straight forward journal. It has lined pages interspersed with coloring pages. The lined pages also include a color photo from a piece of illuminated manuscript. The coloring page is a black and white line drawing of that manuscript and/or drawing. While they are intricate coloring pages, they aren't ones that would take oodles of time to complete.

The pages are lovely. It is a wonderful hardcover book slightly over sized.

Lastly, there is the Faith & Lettering Journal (you can purchase it HERE).

This may be my favorite of the three. It is full of fantastic ideas. As someone who has a rather plain bullet journal because I lack the skills to do fancy lettering and embellishments, this journal shows you how to do it! There are two page spreads where you can trace an embellishment and then practice doing it on your own. 

Pages inside include fully lined (go from margin to margin), line grid, dot grid (my favorite for journaling), and lined with bigger margins (see photos below). 

                                                          Fully lined                                  Fuller margin

Throughout the journal are also full colored verse illustrations that are simply stunning. Along with all the various journal pages, there are also practice pages (as already mentioned) that covers everything from various lettering styles to embellishments. I will be keeping and using this journal!

The last two features of this journal make it shine even brighter. There is a pen loop on the spine which I think is just genius. And this journal is also designed so that the pages lay flat. This is a great bonus when not only writing but drawing and coloring. Overall, this was a simply gorgeous journal.

Disclaimer: I was given copies of all three journals in exchange for my honest review. There are no affiliate links included. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

{Review} Literary Book Gifts

As anyone who knows me knows by this point, I love to read. I love books. I think there is absolutely no such thing as too many books only too few bookshelves. Just ask my hubby. Even though he loves books just as much as I do, most of the books in our home are mine or, ahem, "something I need to educate the children with" which is really code for I want it too. Shoot - my secret is now out!

I have no memories of before I could read and some of my fondest memories have to do with books. It's just simply who I am. 

That's why I loved finding this adorable online store that has some very cute book related gifts from t-shirts to tote bags. 

I was one of those weird kids who enjoyed Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre when I was about eleven years old. Hands down one of my absolutely favorite classic books. 

I still remember when I was in sixth grade and one of the classes had been assigned the book Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. I overheard some of the kids moaning about having to read it and I was floored. It was one of my favorite books. I had read it four or five times at that point. How could they not like it? 

See, I was weird even then when it came to books. 

Literary Book Gifts offers up men's and women's styles of t-shirts as well as tote bags. Most of their designs have images for classic literature such as Pride and Prejudice or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or the Secret Garden. They also carry some more generic book images like one that has a "the end" plate on it or, my favorite, an old-fashioned typewriter. 

If you are interested in purchasing gifts ('tis the season!), please use code MAINEBERRYPATCH20 to receive 20% off your order. There is no minimum order required to use that code. I know I will be doing some shopping here for the holidays!

Disclaimer: I was given no monetary gift for writing this review. All opinions are my own. No compensation was given in exchange for it. I receive no kick-back of any kind for any purchases made. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Imaginary Friends

Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were small? Someone you talked to but never really saw in person?

With the advent of the internet, many of us started having more and more "imaginary" friends. You know, people we would chat with online either via Yahoo Groups (before Facebook) or via Messenger.

Back around probably 2002, I entered the online world. Yes, for those of you young folks out there, there was life before the internet. It wasn't until my second child was born that I joined the online world...via dial-up! Keeping it real here. Keeping it real.

It was at this time in my life that I went from a full-time working mom to a stay-at-home-mom with two young children. I needed some adult conversation. I craved talking with people other than my infant and four year old, who was speech delayed so didn't really talk much at that point! My poor hubby was all for it as he was talked out by the time he arrived home each day from work.

This is when I discovered Yahoo Groups. Think Facebook Groups but via email. We would sometimes have live chats though. They were based on likes and dislikes, hobbies, everything and anything you could imagine, you could find a group for it.

One of the first ones I joined was called Christian Scrapbooking Friends. Hey, this was the early 2000s when scrapbooking was huge and I had jumped in with both feet when my oldest was only 18 months old. I have the albums and supplies still to prove it.

I enjoyed that little group immensely and I made some lifelong friends through it - women I still keep in touch with, now on Facebook mostly. I exchange Christmas cards with some every year. I chat online with them, but most of them I have never, ever met in person.

Earlier this year one such friend contacted me. I met Kay through that little scrapbooking group years ago, before my youngest was born and before her (I think) four youngest were born. The chances of Kay and I meeting had always been pretty slim since I lived here in Maine and she lived way out in the mid-west in Minnesota. However, she was going to be in New Hamsphire and Maine for about a week while her husband was at a work conference. Could we meet?

That's when I looked at my calendar and realized I had one day I could see her as she was arriving the week we were going to be gone on vacation. And I would need to drive to New Hampshire to do it. A three hour drive versus a cross-country drive is a no-brainer in my book and we began to plan our visit.

Kay and her family were staying at a cute little cottage on a lake in New Hampshire. We spent quite an enjoyable afternoon chatting and visiting in real life for the first time ever. I'm hoping at some point we can do it again, but who knows. I was so great to not only get to see her but to also meet her children and her husband.

Sometimes imaginary friends are the best ones.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

{Review} Chris Tomlin's HOLY ROAR CD

I first heard Chris Tomlin sing live in 2005. He was the opening act for Steven Curtis Chapman and I was only vaguely familiar with his music at that time. I was most excited about seeing SCC and Casting Crowns (also the first time I heard Casting Crowns live as well). I still remember that concert. It was one of the first concerts I had ever been to period and it was well worth it. All three acts were stellar and I was now interested in hearing more from this new to me artist, Chris Tomlin.

Over the ensuing years, Chris Tomlin has only gained in popularity. Just last week he released his newest album, Holy Roar. I think most people probably sing a Chris Tomlin song in church at least once a month or more. He's been a very prolific (and excellent) singer/songwriter over the last 25 years. I'm feeling a bit old. I didn't realize it had been that long!

In that time frame, Chris Tomlin has sold over 8 million records (crazy!) and has had sixteen number one hits. He's received many awards and continues to produce new music as well as tour. He is one of my favorite artists to see live and at last count I think I've seen him five times live. 

I've been playing his newest album in my truck over the last few days. Holy Roar has twelve tracks including the title song. One of the first tracks released to radio was Resurrection Power. 

You called me from the grave by name
You called me out of all my shame
I see the old has passed away
The new has come

Now I have resurrection power
Living on the inside
Jesus, You have given us freedom
No longer bound by sin and darkness
Living in the light of your goodness
You have given us freedom

Chris Tomlin has always been one of my favorite contemporary Christian singers and his new album does not disappoint. I have enjoyed listening to it as have my boys. I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this CD for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.