Springtime Reflections

Springtime Reflections

I love spring; it’s my favorite season. It’s beautiful, colorful, scented, and hopeful. The feeling that the air is warming, the sight of the lengthening days, affects us all. Spring fever is a reality. Mother Nature is reinventing herself, and as tenants of her domain, we wish to do the same.

Spring is a time of year (rivaled only by autumn) when the weather and temperature are pleasant, for the vast majority of days. Spring has something autumn does not: hope and promise. Autumn is the time of year where the Earth takes off her makeup, takes a shower, and gets into bed, leaving us with her often-cruel younger cousin, winter. Spring is the awakening of the Earth, and the time during which she gets ready for the day, which stretches before her full of possibility.

Spring cleaning is an excellent practice for starting fresh. It’s good to get all the dirt, dust, and general grime out of the house when winter is over. But don’t stop there – clean your car, or downsize your wardrobe, or throw out the things you kept because they might be important and turned out not to be. Doing a deep clean before the real heat sets in will allow you more freedom, because all the cleaning to be done for the rest of the season won’t have to be as in-depth.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us without allergies. If you are one of the fortunate allergy-free population, take advantage of the warmer weather to enter the domain from which you were barred for so many months: the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun with the lingering chill of winter in the air. Smell the grass being cut and the flowers in the breeze and the oncoming rain. Look at the growing verdancy, the blossoming colors, the little animals tentatively leaving their holes to go about their business. Take pictures. Touch flower petals. Breathe. Enjoy.

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The Italian Dream

The Italian Dream

I want to live in Italy. I don’t really care where, as long as it’s near an airport and not too far from the coast. It would be easy to do soon, given the boyfriend’s job, if I found a job myself. I am, by virtue of my mother’s lineage, eligible for an Italian passport and dual citizenship, which would make the whole thing so much easier.

I don’t think I’d like to stay there indefinitely, but then again, maybe I would. It’s a discussion I don’t need to have yet. I would love to live there, in “sunny Italy.” I would be alone much of the time, but I could make friends, whether citizens or expats or both. My Italian language skills have increased by leaps and bounds, and I know if I lived there I could even speak passably. My reading, writing, and aural comprehension are decent, I think.

I can only think of three jobs as a native English speaker with elementary-intermediate Italian skills that could help sustain us: tutoring, nannying, and/or freelance writing. Of course, if we wanted to stay longer, I would inevitably learn more of the language, and could perhaps get a regular job, but I think we’d eventually end up returning to the States.

Have any of you lived abroad? What did you do for a job? What did you like about it? What didn’t you? Let me know in the comments!

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have a lovely little emotional support dog named Brie. Brie is the light of my life, and I didn’t know that I could love a non-human being as much as I love her.

Brie is a rescue. I’ve told her story many times, so I won’t get into too much detail here. Brie lived the first year or so of her life on the streets of Puerto Rico. When we adopted her, she was nine pounds underweight, had hookworm and mange, and had almost no fur. The day we adopted her, she kept coming up to me, and I loved her immediately. Now, she’s the prettiest, cutest dog in the world.

Brie’s Petfinder listing picture.

Brie has proven to me that rescuing a dog is the only way to obtain one. With help from my parents, I nursed her back to health. I trained her. I spent the majority of each day alone with her for the first two months we had her. I was most likely the first person to consistently love her.

Today, this dog sulks when I travel without her, plays with me, and naps with me. She is the sweetest little thing in the world. When she goes to the vet, regularly the vet asks if they can “steal” my dog. Absolutely everyone falls in love with her.

Brie this summer.

I’m not saying that a dog bought from a breeder cannot be beautiful, or sweet, or good, or loving, or all of the above. But, I also know that the fact that my dog came from a horrible situation and had my devotion when it came to her health, behavior, and love, has made her immensely grateful. Given her circumstances, it is amazing that she has turned out as happy, healthy, loving, and sweet as she is. But, she has, and she is worth almost twenty years of waiting and months of nursing and training.

If you’re debating whether to buy from a breeder or adopt a dog, I would strongly encourage you to adopt. Besides the ethical issues, a rescue will likely be the best dog you’ve ever had, and grateful and loving to you. All you have to do is put in the love, time, and work.

Staycation Essentials

Staycation Essentials

It’s been snowing all day here in the D.C. area. Snow has always enchanted and excited me. Maybe it’s the perpetual schoolgirl who endures somewhere deep within me who awakens to a morning especially bright, rushes to the window, and peers outside to see if that magical substance has transformed the harsh and discouraging winter landscape to something alien and beautiful.

The fact that it rarely snows here, and even then typically not significantly, makes snow all the more attractive to me. It is something cold, beautiful, sparkling, transformative, something with which I usually do not interact. There’s something else about snow that I love, too – the almost insulation it brings. When there is snow on the ground the air seems infinitesimally warmer and stiller, and everything is quieter. Perhaps it is only my imagination, or perhaps there is a scientific explanation for the phenomena.

So today I will be productive, as being holed up in the house means there is little to no reason not to be so. But, sometimes you just need a vacation from real life. You don’t need to go anywhere, but you do need to get away from responsibilities for a little while. Some call this a “staycation.” Here are some things I believe are essentials for yours. Enjoy.

A buddy . . . or not

A buddy can make your staycation more cuddly and/or more laughter-filled. You could invite your best friend, your significant other, or anyone you want, and as many people as you want. Having a buddy or buddies can change the energy and the activities, and should be seriously considered.

Delicious food

Perhaps it is relaxing for you to cook. If so, more power to you. You can also opt for the easier takeout option. Order whatever your heart desires – you’re on “vacation,” after all!

An awesome playlist

Ambiance is important. Play music you love, whether it be death metal or smooth jazz or whatever you want. It fills the air as you do your quieter activities. Let’s admit it – we all like to feel like we’re in a music video or a movie, and the right playlist can definitely help with that feeling.

Candles

Let’s assume for the moment that you don’t have a fireplace, or that it’s summer and the thought of building a fire makes you want to peel off your skin. Candles can kill two birds with one stone. They add a touch of the warmth – physical and visual – of a fire, and can add a delightful scent. I would recommend a wood-wick candle, as the sound of it burning mimics the sound of a fire crackling.

Something cuddly

This could mean a warm, soft, fuzzy blanket, or a warm, soft, fuzzy cat or dog, or a significant other. You could build a blanket fort, or add pillows and blankets to your bed or couch. It could mean wearing sweats all day, or fuzzy socks. Get comfy!

So, if you have time for a staycation, feel free to take one. It’s good for your wellbeing to take a break sometimes. Whether it’s a snow day, a holiday, or just a Tuesday, a staycation is a cheap way to rest and rejuvenate.

Grace of Gray Gables

Grace of Gray Gables

My dream house would most likely be a light gray gabled one, perhaps with a dormer or two. I also like Tudors, Victorians, and Colonials. It would have white trim and a bright yellow door, and windows that let in natural light at almost every hour of the day. There would be a porch, either on the front of the house or the side of it, and it would have a bench swing.

The house would be on a big lot, one surrounded by trees, young and old. Maybe there would even be a small orchard, most likely of apple trees. I’d grow roses and tulips and peonies and hydrangea and anemone and daisies and cosmos and lilac, though in order to do that I’ll have to take a few lessons from my green-thumbed father.

The backyard would have a treehouse and a swing and a deck and plenty of green, flat space to play. Ideally there would be a creek at the back of the lot that bubbled cheerfully. Perhaps there’d even be a pool, for the heat of the summer.

Inside, on the first floor, a big white kitchen, a library/office, the master suite, a living room, and a formal dining room, and maybe even a family room with high ceilings. Upstairs, three bedrooms and a bathroom would take up the space. The living room, library, and den would each have a fireplace.

And there would be books, books everywhere, and flowers from the garden. There’d be art by lesser-known artists and prints by the greats. Toys would be kept in the finished basement with the laundry room. The walls would comprise a rainbow. The dining room would be pale orange, the living room light steely blue, the kitchen a light sage green, the den snowy white. The master would be sky blue, the girls’ room peach, the boys’ room green, and the guest room a bright, cheerful yellow. (The only thing missing is red.)

And, to complete the picture, a loving husband, three pairs of small feet, and a dog. And happiness, contentment, peace, fun, laughter, tears, and even sadness. Friends of ours and the kids’ in and out. A home. That’s my dream.

 

Easy Ways to Keep Your Spaces Clean!

Easy Ways to Keep Your Spaces Clean!

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.” And it’s true, when things are clean and organized we tend to feel almost like gods for making it happen. But how quickly the mighty fall. Having a dirty and/or messy space can feel overwhelming, which can lead to the worsening of the problem. Below you will find my tips and tricks for keeping your space clean and organized so you, too, can feel like a god.

Pick up immediately.

Now, by this I mean that instead of just kicking your shoes off your feet and leaving them lying around for anyone to trip on, put them away immediately. It becomes less of an ordeal later if you put in the effort when you’re already taking off your shoes, which is effort itself. You won’t have to later stop what you’re doing to put something away or clean a dish. It’ll already be where it’s supposed to be! Plus, if you put things off, it’ll not only make doing it later extra effort, it might be forgotten entirely. Making a habit of doing things immediately and when you think of them leads to tidier spaces.

Spend five minutes at the end of the day tidying up.

I don’t know about you, but I always sleep better once my space has been tidied for the night. A cluttered room can reflect a cluttered mind. If everything is put away before bedtime, I believe it symbolically tells your brain to put away the worries and cares of the day. Plus, you’ll wake up and there’ll be only one thing to do . . .

Make your bed first thing in the morning.

Making your bed is a small action that has a big payoff. Mainly, it makes your whole room look better in less than five minutes. Making your bed is a small accomplishment, which can lead to better self-confidence for the day because something was immediately accomplished upon waking. Also, if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have already tackled something not unpleasant, but not enjoyable either, which makes you feel productive and will likely increase your productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Have a designated cleaning day at least once a week.

Here I mean cleaning, not tidying up. Break out your Windex and Clorox, it’s time to get clean! Replace and wash your sheets and towels. Clean the entire bathroom and kitchen. Dust and vacuum your room. Doing these tasks once a week will ensure that filth does not build up in your spaces, and cleaning will therefore not be an ordeal done once a month – or less. It’ll be a quick endeavor you do one or two hours a week, and we all know that’s practically no time at all.

Basically, my advice is to stay on top of things. Don’t procrastinate. That’s how filth accumulates. You can do it!