Company Girl Coffee 1.29.10


Good morning! It's Friday and I got to sleep in until 6:30 this morning with only 3 interruptions between 5am and then! In my book, that's pretty sweet. I've got some Yogi Tea to sip on (free sample from like 6 months ago) and some bread I baked yesterday. How's your morning?

For no apparent reason, I am in a really good mood. The dogs were quiet for almost 7 hours, which is awesome, and yesterday I woke up feeling like I'd recently been hit by a deer. But I got some good knitting (one of the socks has a heel!) and reading done, and I saw the newest episode of Project Runway, and all in all it was pretty low key and recovery-oriented. I am still feeling really sleep-deprived from last weekend, and there's no respite in sight, but I'm beginning to understand just how important it is for me to get to bed at a decent hour to compensate. The early mornings were kind of a bust this week, and that's fine. Maybe next week. On today's docket is getting heels on both socks, updating some of my sidebar stuff right here on the ol' blog, and venturing out to put up some fliers... because...

...in great big giant potentially life-changing but definitely life-enhancing news...

My website is live! And it features a cute birdie I made! And, you know, all my business stuff.

Which means... I'm open for business! And I am stoked. Client-less so far, but stoked.

(In case you're new here, I'll add that my business is editing.) (And there's something on there for bloggers who want to build their street cred.)

The direct link is www.ashleydaoust.com and I would LOVE it if you would visit and let me know what you think. I still tweak it a little bit most days. And right now there are two unadvertised offers for those of you who might be interested in my services:

1. Mention that you found my site via my personal blog (aka right here) and I'll cut you a deal.

2. Tell me why you hate dook (that's Duke University for those of you who don't follow college sports) and I'll cut you an even bigger deal. (GO HEELS!)

Self-aggrandizement over. On to this week's Small Things! Don't you just love the names Rachel comes up with? Playing with matches, ha! When I read that post's title I had an instant flashback to my childhood, at a time when my brother and I played with matches - the bad kind - and I ended up accidentally lighting the edges of my (very long) hair on fire. Ooops. My teenage candle obsession diminished a little after that.

(Yes, we were teenagers at the time. Old enough to know better, for sure.)

And...guess what! Maybe this is why I'm so pumped today...I did EVERY small thing mission this month! I felt a little lost and misdirected after the holidays (who am I kidding - I've felt that way for like 3 years) and I clung to the Small Things with an iron grip as a way to find some kind of focus and keep moving. It's been really fun. One of my first thoughts upon waking consciousness is usually I wonder what today's small thing is. Yes. My life is THAT exciting.

One more thing. So you know how there's this giant ice storm moving across the country? It is going to be sitting on top of Nashville, which is fine except Brian is supposed to fly out of Nashville at like 5:30 tomorrow morning, and I would like him to be able to make that flight. The storm will be hours gone by 5:30am, but I don't know how adept that airport is at recovering overnight from an evening snow/ice storm. And then the storm moves to NC where it's expected to hang out all day Saturday, where my mom and her husband are supposed to hop on a plane to Denver (that's where I live) and...well...we Southerners don't always know how to react to snow. And I don't know that they'll be able to make it out, either. So really, my weekend plans are all up in the air (or not) and I would like everything to work out with too many tears shed.

So I think I asked you this before, but I'll ask again: how was your week, and what are you up to this weekend?


Diagramming Won't Help This Situation

Diagramming Won’t Help This Situation

Grammatical rules have always baffled
me, leaving me wondering whether my
life is transitive or intransitive, if I am the
subject or object of my life, and no one
has been able to provide words to describe
my actions, even if they do end in –ly.
But now the problem seems to be with
pronouns: I am unwilling to be him
and you are unable to be her, so we
will never be them~the ones talking
about what they need from the grocery
store because the Rogers are coming for
dinner tonight; the couple saving for a
vacation, perhaps a cruise to Alaska or a
museum tour of Europe; the two who meet
with a financial advisor to plan their children's
college fund while still managing to set enough
aside for their retirement~and so we will
continue to be nothing more than sentence
fragments, perfectly fine for effect,
but forever looking for the missing
part of speech we can never seem to find.
"Diagramming Won't Help This Situation" by Kevin Brown, fromExit Lines. © PlainView Press, 2009


we survived! (the weekend)

Brian was away this past weekend on a ski trip with the young adults group. I had originally planned to go too, but really it all boiled down to money and us not being able to afford the cost of me going plus the cost of caretakers for the dogs. Well, I mean, I could have gone, but it would have been a bad financial move.

So instead, I stayed home with our dogs and did some work on my website. A friend came over on Saturday and we did some fun baking projects (YUM) so that was nice. Girl time and all. We talked about brides and how some of them get so obsessive over stupid things. She's in a wedding, which will require her to travel a ways, and the bridesmaids are wearing black shoes, and the bride is making them all buy the same pair of shoes. And, I mean...black sandals are black sandals, and what girl doesn't already have 2 or 3 (except me of course, I have 0), and why is it necessary to make them buy more? I was in a wedding last summer and we all wore a dress of this particular shade of green that really wouldn't look good with anything other than a light goldish (we called it champagne) shoe, and there weren't many options, so we all bought the same new shoes. That made sense to me. But black, really? I don't know. I hope I wasn't that short-sighted as a bride. (Did any of you girls wear your dress again?) Anyway.

When one of the other folks going on the youth retreat found out I wasn't going, she asked me to keep her dog too. And I must have been high on drugs or something when she asked, because I didn't hesitate when I said yes, sure, that would be fine. Because I'd met her dog, and her dog is calm and low key and easy to be around.

I forgot how big her dog is, though. Seriously. Chey (as in Cheyenne) stands taller than my hips.

I also forgot how angry Eli is when other beings dare to enter his presence, and especially his home. And especially big dogs. (Keep in mind, for Eli, anger is actually fear.)

Eli spent nearly the entire first 28 hours of Chey staying with us, howling and barking and shrieking his fool head off, in a terror nearly the whole time. I had a couple of hours of respite before bedtime Saturday night - after her being around enough, he got to be ok with her...as long as she didn't move. But then it was bedtime, and it was dark, and Eli barked and growled his fool head off at least once an hour, and more like once every half hour, the entire night. Even though Chey was in a completely different room. Poor guy had a rough weekend.

And I am exhausted. But I survived. And I am never dog-sitting ever again :)


Company Girl Coffee 1.22.10


It's Friday!!

I've had a pretty good week this week. I started getting up early, I went to my church's knitting group for the first time (and it was AWESOME) and I stuck pretty well to my housekeeping schedule from last week. I am so grateful to be able to be at home right now, and be able to focus on building some web business and raise the kids dogs.

SPEAKING of business and dogs...

Rory, the toilet paper monster of doom, has been much much MUCH easier to deal with this week. She and Eli have been zonking from about 8am to 11am and again from about 1pm to 3pm every day this week. I am beside myself with joy for all those hours I'm getting back. I have hit the web design hard the past couple of days, and if the trend continues, the site will go live next week. I am so stoked. And SO ready to be contributing actual monetary value to the bottom line again (although I racked up about $75 worth of ebay and half.com sales this week)! AND, I've been able to make good headway on a volunteer project I committed to doing back in November, in the days immediately preceding our acquisition of the puppy.

The socks I mentioned last week are coming along, though not as quickly as I would like. I've finished the foot (the part from the base of the toes to where the front of your leg meets the top of your foot) of one and am almost finished with the foot of the other - which puts me close to the half-way point. I'd like to get this and the other pair in the mail to Holly by this time next week. I can't post pictures yet, because they are a surprise! But I will post as soon as they arrive. If you are really super interested in seeing some things I've knitted, you can check out any post with the knitting tag (or click here). There's at least one photo of a completed pair of socks in there.

So that's my life these days week. Dogs, website, knitting, housework. Maybe next week I'll get to some fun things like decorating the mantle and hanging artwork!

That's all for me. How was your week? What have you been up to? Any big projects just itching to be completed and then unveiled??



It has happened. I knew this day was coming, but I naively hoped it was still a ways off.


Rory has discovered how to get toilet paper off the roll.

My world (and apartment) will never be the same.

(Until the dogs move out of the guest bathroom and into the laundry room. Which is still a little ways off.)


early rising

Since the Dawn of the Puppy about 2 months ago, Brian and I have become unwilling early risers. And as it appears that waking up at 5:30 is something deeply engrained in Rory's soul, I am faced with two choices:

1. Continue to have us stumble around in the dark, trying to shush her for an hour and a half; taking her outside to potty when it's urgent which involves the putting on and taking off of many layers; and generally being cranky between the hours of 5am and 8am (at which time she has most of her just-woke-up energy burned off); OR

2. Start getting up at 5:30. Me, the night owl. Me, the girl who goes to bed early so that she has plenty of time to read under the covers...until 11 or 11:30.

I have been leaning more and more toward the getting up early part, because I think it would be better for me in that I could get some actual income-earning work done -  because, let's be honest, not much of it is getting done during daylight hours. Having that hour or two before Brian gets up and moving could make a world of difference, if only I could be disciplined enough to make it happen. And I know it could work, because when we first moved here I was up by 5 or 6 most days anyway just because of the time zone change. And it was AWESOME.

And speaking of Brian - I know it would be good for him too, to be able to sleep until the alarm sounds instead of playing the your turn, my turn, up and down game we play the first two hours of the day.

We already turn in between 9 and 10 most nights anyway, so a major evening routine change wouldn't be necessary. Except I wouldn't be able to stay up late reading, but it wouldn't be hard to read during the day instead.

On the other hand, waking up when I don't want to or plan to is HARD. And one silver lining in the whole taking turns to address the puppy plan is that Brian and I spend those hours cuddling, and I would miss that.

Have you ever tried to implement an early rise schedule? Or had one imposed on you by puppies or babies or construction next door? What are some things that work to get you awake and moving when the rest of the world is still asleep?


Manic Monday #197

Whew! It's been a while since I've played along with Manic Monday. You can check it out here, if you'd like!

Now, on with it:

Growing up, what was your favorite sitcom?

Family Matters, for sure. I LOVED that show. I loved the way Carl and Harriet said their names. I loved all the attitude Laura gave. And Steve Urkel and his antics. I loved it :)

What's your idea of a romantic date?

One that doesn't involve puppies. 

But seriously. I think anything that is designed so that you and the other person are the focus is romantic (ie, not a movie). How can you be romanced when you aren't interacting? 

What are you most afraid to lose?

My sanity! to the puppy! She tries harder and harder every day to be a good dog, and she just isn't good at being good yet.

No, but really. I'm afraid to lose my family - Brian and the dogs (yes, the dogs are my family). I would be shell-shocked for a while if I lost Brian, and I would be really really sad without the dogs.

Also, my library card :) Because Denver has an AWESOME library system!


true confessions

It's Friday morning! Time for another Company Girl Coffee. Welcome!

So...I'm exhausted. How about you? This week has been really draggy for me - one of those weeks when I feel like I'm moving underwater or something. My capacity this morning for intelligent, cohesive thought is somewhat limited. What follows is, essentially, a bullet-point list of what runs through my mind as I reflect on the past several days. Like stream of consciousness, but easier to read because it's punctuated.

Our Christmas tree, which has been bare for several days now, finally left our house last night. There is a trail of dried up pine needles showing the way to the car. You can sweep sidewalks, but you can't sweep gravel...

The puppy has decided that maybe she doesn't need to be housetrained after all.

Brian is almost off for his first of 3 weekends away, and I am dreading all that time alone with the dogs going to miss him.

I did all of the Small Things this week. Actually, I've done all of them this month. I'm pretty proud of that. This week's big task was setting up a housekeeping schedule. And I'm happy with mine. With the Small Things every day, the schedule to give me some overall structure, and the Flylady missions, I think I'm pretty well set up in the 'get stuff done around the house' category.

I am currently reading People of the Book. I have been reading it for more than a week, and I'm only about 120 pages in. I love it, but for some reason it is very slow reading for me.

I also finished a pair of socks and started a second. These are for a barter exchange with my college roommate - she bought tickets to a football game for us, and I am in return knitting her two pairs of socks. (I won't mention here that the game was in September and I am just now finishing the first pair. What can I say - I guess I was a little busy in the past few months.) I really liked the first pair I made, but it was a pretty challenging pattern. This second pattern is not as challenging, but the socks are man-socks so they'll be much bigger than I'm used to. The yarn colorway is called Ripe Banana and I love it - it is various shades of yellow with the occasional brown speck.

This weekend: I am looking forward to some down time - lots of knitting and lots of reading. I am also looking forward to some solid hours of making progress in the unpacking and getting settled departments. I don't know about you, but I've got a 2-foot stack of things to be filed/sorted/listed on eBay.

We'll see who wins - the grasshopper or the ant.

I might also let the dogs sleep on the bed with me.

How was your week? Do you have any plans for the weekend, fun or otherwise?


menu planning

Hey guess what! I've started meal planning!

Meal planning is pretty basic - you sit down one day and map out your meals for the upcoming week, or two weeks, or month if you are super-mom (which, hello, I am NOT, on account of not being a mom and also not being super enough to plan meals for a MONTH).

Some folks plan out breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. I am good with just doing dinners, since Brian doesn't eat breakfast much and lunch is usually leftovers (for him) or sandwiches for me (or maybe leftovers too).

Back when I was working and Brian was in school, he did a lot of the cooking and I just tried to make sure we had a little bit of everything on hand. I tried menu planning a few times, but Brian - who has an extreme aversion to rules, lists, schedules, boundaries, etc. a major spontaneity/creativity streak (love you hon!) - was resistant. And since I didn't have the time or energy to do it all myself, we just kinda would wing it most nights.

Well...NO MORE! Now that he's the one working (HA!) and I sit around eating bon bons and watching soap operas all day (DOUBLE HA!) I figured it might be a good idea to bring back the meal plan idea. So I did. I did one for most of last week's dinners, and last night I scribbled one out for this week.

A lot of of the frugal/homemaking blogs I read will make their new meal plan on Sunday, which makes sense especially given the Sunday circulars - wherein they scope for great deals and plan meals around what's cheap this week. I've noticed here in Denver that a lot of stores run their sales Wednesday through Tuesday, AND, with Brian's weekday off being Monday, I have sorta gotten in the habit of my 'weekends' being Sunday/Monday and am naturally inclined for my 'week' to begin on Tuesday - which would include the meal plan. So I'm in this weird little time warp and I haven't bothered to reconcile it. Buying lots of meat when it's cheap has worked well enough in the cheap-stuff department.

Another thing I like about meal plans - it gives me a way to experiment with new recipes. I've got a couple in the pipeline for this week. I think it's a lot of fun to poke through some of the cookbooks we received as wedding gifts to find something new to try. And if I don't feel like looking through books, I'll just make a list of things I already know we like. No harm, no foul.

So who wants to sneak a peek at this week's dinner plans? I KNEW you did!

Tuesday - potato and leek soup (leek is a new vegetable to us, and soup is usually a safe way to introduce something...yes?) with some of the leftover bread from last week - an assortment of cornbread, biscuits, and featherlights
Wednesday - barbecups, canned corn, and salad (barbecups are something I came across in the Virginia Farmers cookbook we received as a wedding present. It consists of a muffin tin lined with crescent rolls, and then you put ground beef and onions cooked and mixed up in barbecue sauce into the crescent rolls, and you put some shredded cheese on top and bake until the crescent rolls are done. They make little cups full of barbecued beef and it's one of those recipes you can mix up a lot and do whatever you want with.)
Thursday - chicken tetrazzini, with more salad (because if we don't eat our lettuce up front, we don't eat it, and that is sad)
Friday - dinner out. Brian is leaving that evening for the youth group ski retreat, so we're going to get a little something cheap and yummy before the high schoolers descend and I am left alone with the dogs for 52 hours I get a couple of solid days of work on the house  
Saturday - chicken lo mein (something I have wanted to learn to cook for ages and I finally got some noodles! Brian isn't a huge fan so this is a good thing for an alone weekend.
Sunday - leftovers
Monday - pasta, likely spaghetti or macaroni and cheese, and whatever vegetables are about to go bad. Otherwise, Monday is when we'll eat whatever meal I had planned that week but for some reason didn't cook (such as, emergency pizza night, dinner invitation, etc.)

Do you do a weekly meal plan?



Tuesday was a bad day for me. It was really one of those days - which you expect - during which the puppy was making me crazy, I'd fallen on the ice twice so I was in pain, and I kept staring at the piles and lists and to-dos, feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed.

Outside, it got cold in Denver. That afternoon some big heavy snow clouds flew in over the mountains and the temps dropped around 10 degrees. Which was just as well because I didn't want to go outside anyway. Brian had meetings all day and into the evening, and by the time it was about 6:30, I had had my fill of dogs and whining and cleaning and not getting things done.

So I had myself a good cry. The angry kind, with the hot, bitter tears, and the feelings of being overwhelmed and underappreciated and just plain exhausted swirling around, the terrible accompanying thoughts going in and out of my mind.

There's nothing like a good cry.

And there's nothing like coming out of a good cry. I let it roll until everything quieted down, and then I decided something had to change. I needed some ME time. Some mental space. A break.

I knew I had about half an hour or so before Brian would be home, so I crated the dogs with some food, turned on some soothing music (Norah Jones, if you must know) and I got comfortable on the couch and read through some gardening books I'd picked up at the library the day before.

There is nothing so hopeful and restorative as looking through gardening books in the dead of winter. And y'all, I made another list.

Two lists, actually.

Of the green thumb things I wanted to try this year. Vegetables and herbs I wanted to grow, namely. And somewhere on that list is also 'find a potted lemon tree.' Because, for some reason, I have my little heart set on having a lemon tree.

When Brian came home, I was in a better frame of mind (though, I must admit, not for long enough to get us through the evening without incident).

Do you ever have days that make you feel like pulling out your hair, tossing everything out the window, and hiding? What do you do to calm yourself down? How do you get past the overwhelm?


coffee, etc.

I have never liked coffee. I have never liked mocha, or coffee-flavored ice cream, or tiramisu. I have always, however, liked coffee shops, and hot teas, and the coffee drinkers these shops serve (Starbucks not included - I get headaches in there for some reason).

On this date two months ago, we packed up our car and our dog (we only had one dog back then) and began our cross-country journey from Richmond, VA, to Denver, CO. Brian had just finished seminary and was about to start work at a church out here. I was facing a new first for me - being a housewife. We got married while he was in school, and I worked to support us. The plan for when we got out here was for me to get everything unpacked and then start bringing in some web-based income from home quickly, as a freelance proofreader and editor (and YES, I am for hire NOW! and YES, I DO edit theses/manuscripts/articles/resumes/blog posts!). Quickly hasn't happened as quickly as I had hoped (see posts tagged Rory) but it is coming, and I imagine that once work starts rolling in, I might spend some time in coffee shops. Especially when the weather gets nice, and I can sit outside with the dogs.

I haven't found my coffee shop here in Denver yet, but that's ok. Moving was expensive, and Christmas was expensive, and Eli had to have four digits worth of dental surgery, and all three of those things happened within about 6 weeks of each other, and I am still working on amassing a winter wardrobe (it is 0 degrees outside according to my thermometer) and we just plum don't have play money right now.

I've got plenty to keep me busy, though. Designing a website, for one. Setting up our home, for another. And then there are the dogs, who need feeding, and grooming, and training (lots of training) and walks and potty breaks outside (where it is 0 degrees) every 10 minutes or so, and cuddles and pets and ice cubes.

Busy hasn't proven to be quite the wonderful thing for me, though. I am lucky if I talk to a non-family member more than once a day (I'm counting librarians and grocery checkout people in that number) and, while I am fairly introverted, I am also very lonely right now. I send lengthy responses to 'hey what's up' emails; I linger on the phone a little too long; and the mail man (whose name is Jim) might be the closest friend I've made out here so far. Don't get me wrong - I have made some wonderful friends at church and I know those relationships will grow, but we rocketed right into the holidays when we got here, and everyone was busy doing holiday things. There was lots of good cheer to go around, but a shortage of the 'let's get together this week' kind of thing. So I have found myself doing a little bit of that one thing I thought I would never do, or need to do: finding community online.

One of my very very favorite blogs is called Home Sanctuary. I can't say enough good things about it, and I imagine that a large portion of folks who are reading these words came here because of Rachel Anne and Home Sanctuary. I've only recently begun commenting and reading the blogs of other visitors to Home Sanctuary, but I am so encouraged by linking with other women like me. And, I feel a little less lonely.

WELCOME! to any visiting Company Girls. And to my friends who are reading - please leave a comment and let me know you were here. I could use a little wave, some friendly words, and maybe your best joke on hand :)

In the meantime - I have some new girlfriends to call and some little get-togethers to try to set up. I hope you have a great day today and a good weekend ahead. Happy Friday!!


a little (p)update

Rory, aka Rory-Bear, aka Miss Priss, aka Little Miss, aka Stinky Butt, aka Stinker, had a vet checkup on Monday. She passed with flying colors, and we really like the vet. She listens to us, she isn't pushy about drugs or shots, and she really loves our pups.

Back to Rory. She has doubled her weight and she's outgrowing her crate. She is extremely leggy and is more sure-footed every day.

She is also mostly housetrained, though things get a little iffy in the afternoon, when we are all tired of each other.

We have started going on long walks, which has been good for me, probably good for Eli, and of negligible impact on Rory and her wild puppy energy but she seems to like them. We've been to the library and back - about a mile each way, which will be a regular venture in the future. On days when the weather is bad we just walk a half-mile loop around the apartment complex a couple times. As soon as the weather stops threatening to dump ten tons of snow on our heads, we're going to check out a dog-friendly shop in a shopping area a little over a mile away. (This complex will probably end up a regular destination of ours - along with the dog shop, it has a Chinese place, a grocery store, an Einsteins, and a few other places that contain treats for HUMANS.) I am currently strategizing how to tie the dogs up outside while I duck into non-dog-friendly places, like the library and the grocery store. Rory would probably be ok, other than barking at everybody and begging for attention, but Eli might go berserko and hurt somebody. Maybe I need to take a sign that says 'do not pet the papillon.'

Rory's current favorite things to do include ringing the outside bell any time she wants to go outside, chewing on bottles, and going with Eli to Home Depot. She's picked up a new habit of barking at other dogs when they're at a distance, which does not thrill me, but we are working on that. She is very friendly and loves meeting new people and animals. The trips to Home Depot are especially good for Eli - he is more inclined to calm down around people there than he is outside, for some reason. When we were there on Tuesday, Eli even approached a cashier looking for pets! A first for him!! Rory has been very good for Eli, and now the big task is to prevent Eli from teaching Rory bad habits.

She is more than twice Eli's size now. Her paws are becoming massive, her muscles are developing, and her head is starting to square off and become less 'puppy with a long nose' and more 'border collie under construction.' Sometimes we think her eyes are turning green, but then they'll be blue again. Could be lighting, or could be actual changes in color. We'll know which, eventually.

And for those of you suffering from Eli withdrawal, here's a cute picture of him sleeping.


New Year, So What

I generally stick to a MWF post schedule - generally - but I haven't posted in almost a week. Each time I've sat here, determined to write something to share with y'all, I get nothing. And it's my fault.

You see, everybody else out there is posting their resolutions goals for the new year (and calling them goals, eschewing the outmoded notion of 'new year's resolutions' for some strange reason). And while that's all well and good for them, I'm not there yet. I don't really know what my concrete goals are. Which makes me feel like I have nothing to say, this first week of January.

But I do know what I want, in a vague and unattainable but easily shaped and mapped out way. And it's not confined to a calendar year. The start date isn't January 1 and the cutoff isn't December 31. I'm talking an overhaul on my (our) modus operandi.  I want less so that I can have more. This is something I worked toward last year as we prepared to move, and have continued to do as I unpack all of our belongings and decide what stays and what goes.

What does that mean? Here are some of my thoughts.

I want less stuff, to have more space to live. Lower spending to have higher savings and maybe a house toward the end of the year. Less time wasted (hello, Google Reader) to give way to more time spent on things that matter (like reading, and drumming up some freelance work, and knitting, and walking the dogs an hour or so each day). Less time being 'busy' at home, where I am alone and isolated, and more time being OUT, doing things, seeing people, making friends.

Less pee in the carpet, so the smell is less bad, so that I can invite [more] people over. Rory, I'm looking at you.

I think my overall approach to this new year - this new life in Colorado, really - is to simply. Take a look around, boil everything down to the essentials, and free up the time, the space, the resources and the brain power, to do the things that really matter to us. We have so much stuff, so much going on, so many to-dos. How much of it actually matters? And what is it preventing us from having, or doing, or spending time on?

People. Eli and Rory. Giving. Becoming more self-reliant. Getting outdoors. Traveling around this new state of ours. For me, having high-quality yarn is big. As is learning how to grow things. And spending a lot of quiet time, learning who I am and letting Ashley come through, rather than studying up on how I 'should' be or look or do or decorate. (Brian might add sub-zero sleeping bags and trips to the lake and these things called Yak Tracks.)

I really want to get rid of the white noise in our lives, so to speak. Make more room for people, not stuff, as my sister-in-law aptly put it. That's what I want this year.

What about you?