I'm not entirely sure why "My Favorite Things" is considered a holiday song since it's from the Sound of Music, but given that it is the season to be joyful and express gratitude for those we love and the things we cherish, I thought I'd pay homage to some of the things that have made my world a brighter place in 2011. Of course, being surrounded by wonderful family and friends, the li'l babe kicking in my womb, and good health top the list, but here are some of the little things that I'm happy to have encountered in 2011...
- The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule: Oh my gosh, I devoured this book. It was one of those books that seemed to be written just for me. The author lives in western Maine and has tons of ideas about how to raise a creative child and how to incorporate loads of creativity into many aspects of everyday life-- as soon as I read it, I felt so inspired to try a lot of the suggestions and project ideas with Rowan. I reorganized her play area, made her a knitting basket, brought more natural toys into the home, created her own art shelf, started a tradition of expressing gratitude at the dinner table and doing a nightly blessing, etc. This book is chock full of simple but great ideas to give any parent new ideas to enrich everyday family life.
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: Another gem. Although the author is even more type-A and into list making that I am, I like how she set out to find ways to make her everyday life happier. Again, I got lots of ideas of little things I can do in my life to make each day happier.
- Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger: I flirted with the idea of reading this book and trying this program for a long time before I actually sat down and read it. I am not one to read food and diet books and I usually approach life with the attitude that life is short and if some sort of food item brings you joy, you should ingest it with gusto, not guilt--but in moderation if possible. This past spring I found myself feeling really off and a lot of it seemed to be related to what I was eating. After reading this book, I was so excited to try the Clean Program that I devoted May to drastically changing my eating habits. This meant no gluten, no dairy, no lots of things. At first I flipped out and felt like I could eat nothing but nuts and fruits, but once I started following the recipes at the back of the book, I was in food heaven. Everything was so delicious, so fresh, and I realized how much I overeat on a daily basis. Within a few days of doing the Clean diet, all of my digestive issues disappeared and I felt more clear-headed and alive and happy than I have in years. I realized how many aspects of your life food can really impact, and it made me much more aware of what I put in my body and how it will effect my overall well-being.
- New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver: Aaron and I have fallen into the habit of keeping a Mary Oliver book on one of our nightstands and reading her poems before bed sometimes. I don't know what to say except that lady sure has a way with words, and the way she conveys her deep connection to nature on paper is really pure poetry. It's calming to end your day with a few of her lovely musings.
- Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists By Carla Sonheim: A great book to give you ideas of new ways and subjects to draw when you're feeling stuck.
One Day by David Nicholls: This isn't one of my favorite books of all time, but the premise of it was very interesting. It's a love story, told by two people, but each chapter is told by one or the other and takes place on anniversary of the day they first got together. The book spans 20 years or so, but you only get a snapshot of their life once each year, but it's enough to piece together what happens to them from the day they meet until the day their relationship is over. It was a good read-- haven't seen the movie yet though.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett: The movie was excellent, but as usual, the book was even better.
Movies and Documentaries
- Waste Land: This was an incredibly inspiring documentary about an artist that decides to use his power as a world-renowned artist to help trash pickers at the world's largest garbage dump in Rio de Janeiro. After gaining the trust and respect of a group of trash pickers, he takes their portraits, hires them to collect trash and recyclables from the dump for him, and then together they assemble these amazing large scale portraits of the workers entirely out of trash. The work is shown in a gallery and auctioned off for loads of money, all of which goes back to the trash pickers to help lift them up out of poverty and change their lives for the better. Watch it.
- Exit Through the Gift Shop: This is a fascinating documentary about the guerrilla art movement, the elusive street artist Bansky, and another crazy wannabe street artist. It is amazing to see what these guys pull off under the cover of night, and Thierry Guetta, the crazy guy, is very entertaining to watch.
- Life in a Day: A super cool documentary showing just a slice of the things that can occur in one single day on earth. As part of this project, thousands of people around the globe were given video cameras and asked to document their day on July 24, 2010. It is sort of mind-blowing to see all the things that happen simultaneously in our world, touching to see how much we all have in common, and also shocking to see the major differences in lifestyle highlighted.
These are both awesome, addictive blogs made by super crafty women that must never sleep or make messes. At any rate, the photos on their blogs make me drool and wish that I could find a way to spend my days baking bread and painting birds in well lit, cozy, clean rooms.
- AFAR: Awesome travel magazine, but beware, it will make you want to sell your house and hit the road.
- Whole Living: Inspiring magazine with great recipes and healthy ideas.
- People: I know it's trashy, but it's just one of my greatest guilty pleasures. Eating a chocolate coconut donut while reading People would be even better.
- Rowan turning 2: We both took the day off to go swimming together, eat her favorite lunch at Dysarts, and go to the Children's Museum in Bangor--she was so happy and excited!
- Our trip to the Everglades and the Florida Keys and spending my birthday in Key West
- Finding out I was pregnant at the Empire State Building and telling Aaron at the top!
- Spending my summer Thursdays looking out at the ocean selling my art at the Rockland Art Market
- Storyland: Rowan still hasn't stopped reminiscing about riding in the Flying Dutch Shoes :)
- Polar Express train ride: again, pure kid joy--there's nothing better
- Night Hike up Mount Battie under a full moon to have a winter picnic and see the star lit up on top