Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution - Meditate

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions.  I do more of a year end review and evaluation of life.  I wrote about the process in earlier posts. This year I have more of an actual resolution.  I want to finally commit to a daily meditation practice.  I have meditated on and off for a few years, but have struggled with consistency.

I found a great graphic describing meditation.  It keeps it simple, and is great for beginners and kids.  

To keep myself consistent, I made weekly sheets to record my time meditating, along with other goals

How about you?  Any New Year's resolutions or goals?  Anyone want to try meditation?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cutout Cookies Tips

I made cutout cookies for the first time.  Thanks to tips from the internet they didn't turn out half bad.
Tip One - chill the dough - I chilled mine overnight.
Tip Two - divide dough into smaller sections - this allowed me to keep dough chilling.
Tip Three - parchment paper is the best thing ever!  I rolled the dough between two sheets - no sticking!  It was also great for baking and decorating - easy transfer and clean up.
Tip Four - use an easy cookie cutter.  I remember my mom making reindeer and there were always limbs lost.
Tip Five - use a ziplock bag for decorating.  Put icing into ziplock, twist bag, and cut a small bit off of corner.

Cutout Cookies
1 1/3 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tbl milk
2 tsp vanilla
4 c all-purpose flour

1.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter.  Add sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Beat until combined.  Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined.  Beat, or stir in flour.  Divide dough into four sections and chill overnight.  I wrapped mine in plastic wrap.

2.  Roll a section of dough at a time.  I rolled mine between two sheets of parchment paper.  Roll to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

4.  For icing I just mixed powdered sugar with milk until I got the desired consistancy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reflecting and Planning

planning resolution goals
image from Pixabay

I like to take some time at the end of the year to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year.  One of the best resources I have found is from Susannah Conway.  Her Unravelling the Year workbook leads to deeper thinking. The reflection portion has been bittersweet for me this year, as much of the year involved goodbyes- the hardest was saying goodbye to my dad.

It was a crazy year.  When I looked back at the workbook pages from last year I was amazed.  In one exercise you had to draw an image of an ideal life.  This is what I drew:

This was going to be my ideal in the next few years-not this year.  At the time this was drawn my husband and I had no plans of moving.  What this picture shows is us living in an area that is in walking distance of restaurants, yoga studio, etc.  This is where we live one year later. The top corner of my picture shows me getting some help taking care of mom and dad, and being able to get some space away from caregiving. I got it, but have mixed feelings about it.

The planning portion has been hard for me this year.  I think so much happened last year that I hate to set any goals while the dust is still settling.  I may just keep it simple and try to remember to meditate daily.  (Oh, and find meaningful work-no biggie.) 

Whatever I decide I will break it into small goals like I described in an earlier post.
This year I decided to stop trying to fit myself to a certain planner, and am making my own. Martha Stewart has a great line of organization tools at Staples.  Using her small three ring binder I can customize goal sheets and clip them right in the binder.

It will certainly be interesting to see what next year brings!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


photo by Melody Augustin

Last week I had a few bad days.  I'm not sure that I was homesick; it was more of an unsettled feeling.  I felt very ungrounded.  That makes sense I guess, as I just moved.  One of the best ways to get more grounded is to get out in nature.  Yesterday was a beautiful day, and I went to the nearby Anne Springs Close Greenway.

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Vulnerability and TED Talks

Have you ever had the experience where something keeps popping up in your day to day life?  For me lately it has been the name Brene' Brown.  I think I heard her mentioned at least five times in the last two months.  I finally Googled her today and found this TED talk.  It was just what I needed.  I have been having a rough week in regards to this whole move.  The talk reminded me that I am probably feeling vulnerable as everything is new to me right now.

Other TED talks I've enjoyed recently:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Scenes From a Walk

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

photo by Melody Augustin

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Pleasure - Reading

These are my new purchases from my local bookstore.  I usually use the library to save money, but I didn't know if I would finish a library book before we move next week.  Rather than use Amazon or Target, or get something on Kindle,  I decided to support my local bookstore.

To be honest, sometimes reading relaxes me more than yoga or meditation.  Sometimes my mind just needs to go somewhere else.

Here are some of my favorite reads:

Pictures courtesy of

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Time - Having It All Part Two

Drink eight glasses of water, meditate for twenty minutes a day, spend quality time with your spouse and family, do aerobic exercise, lift weights, do yoga, read, keep up on the news....

Recently I wrote about "having it all".  What about "doing it all"?  If we added up all of the recommended items out there it would add up to a week, rather than a day.  It has only been in the last few years that I became OK with not doing it all.  That doesn't mean I have given up completely, I've just set more reasonable goals, and made broader categories.

Reasonable Goals - Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project helped me with this a lot. She suggests setting small, meaningful goals and tracking them.  The tracking really helps.  My teacher friends will understand this.  It is similar to having students keep a reading log.  Here is an example of my goal log:

Breathe/Meditate 10 minutes day

Yoga at least two times week.
Other workout two times week.

Read – three times week.

Relationships Activity two times per week

Broader Categories - You will notice that I don't do yoga everyday.  I do try to do something mind/body everyday, however.  For example, if it is a day that I am walking or working with weights, I try to meditate longer. Sometimes meditating is just cuddling with the cat and listening to her purr. For the sake of full disclosure, meditating ten minutes a day has been the hardest goal to keep up with.

Weekly goals work best for me, but I  just found this great infographic that I may try out:

12 Tips On Staying Inspired
by 24slides.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Simple Pleasure - Afternoon Tea

tea pink
Photo by Melody Augustin

I admit it, I bought this tea because of the pretty tin. My husband says I am a marketer's dream. The tea is really good, though.  It has become one of my favorite simple pleasures.

Another favorite tea comes from TEAVANA

I'd love to hear from any other tea lovers.  What is your favorite tea?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Spirit - Savasana In Life

Photo by Melody Augustin

My body clock is telling me it is time to kick it into gear - the school year is starting.  For the first time in twenty years I won't be teaching in the fall, though.  I am so grateful to my husband that we were able to work out some downtime for me as we transition into a new state.  Habits die hard, though, and ever since the school supplies have hit the Target shelves, I've felt the need to figure out what I am going to do with the rest of my life.

Photo by Melody Augustin

I have been going through some other issues in my life, as well. Right now my lesson really seems to be to let go of control - of situations, of people, of the past.  That's not always easy for me.  Did I mention that my closet is organized by color and all the hangers have to be the same and all facing the same direction? Did I also mention that as of October my husband and I have no place to live, and will probably be living in extended stay with a cat?  It won't be easy, but I'm going to try to relax.  I am going to try to follow this advice from Danielle LaPorte -

"It will be tempting to make plans for what's next, but resist and be still.  At the end of most yoga classes there is time for Savasana.  We need more Savasana in our lives to integrate what we're learning."
Danielle LaPorte - The Fire Starter Sessions

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Spirit - Light

"Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light." - Yogi Bhajan

My work with light in photography:

Photo taken by Melody Augustin at Monches Farm - Colgate, WI
Photo by Melody Augustin
Photo by Melody Augustin
Photo by Melody Augustin
Photo by Melody Augustin

Photo by Melody Augustin

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Simple Pleasure - Depression Glass

pink depression glass

Depression glass is colored translucent glassware that was given away or able to be purchased at a small expense during the Great Depression.  I have a few pieces in my collection.  I have always adored the pink and green pastel shades.

pink depression glass

My favorite piece is my grandmother's pink cookie jar.  I have fond memories of getting goodies out of it as a child.  It was given to my sister when my grandmother passed away.  I was young and not collecting yet. When I bought my first home my father bought it from my sister, and gave it to me as a housewarming gift.  It has double the meaning and memories from two special people who are no longer here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Simple - Food - Summer Pasta Salad

I know some of you have already pinned this on Pinterest, but if you are like me you pin things and it takes a while to try them out.  This recipe gets a thumbs up.  It was easy, healthy, and yummy. It has become a summer simple pleasure. Thanks to Skinnytaste for posting it!

Remember my new Pinterest boards can be found at:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spirit - Why I Do Yoga

People think I do yoga because I'm a calm person.  That couldn't be farther from the truth.  I can be a bundle of anxiety and nerves, and just generally uptight.  Letting go is not my thing. Yoga brings these qualities into my awareness, and gives me a small area of practice before taking it to the real world. You have to notice things about yourself before you can change them. Yoga also helps since some of the areas I need to work on is getting out of my head, letting go, and relaxing.   Maybe yoga is not your thing, but I bet there is an area of you life where you could notice your reactions and habits - maybe your golf game, your thoughts while you run, your interactions with your kids, or whatever works for you. If you are interested in learning more about yoga here are a few of my favorite websites.

Style - Stage Your House For You

My husband and I just put our house up for sale.  In the weeks before we listed my husband did some quick projects.  I have also been keeping the house a little cleaner and have been buying fresh flowers in case of a showing.  I'm sure that everyone who goes through this process says the same thing - "Why did we wait."  and "We should do this all of the time."
How about you, what are you waiting for?  Stage your house for you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Simple Pleasure - Sitting in the Sun

Only a person from Wisconsin, or some other area of the world with frozen tundra, can truly appreciate a warm summer day.  This past winter in particular seemed extra long.  So when you finally get a gorgeous day like today, you just want to soak it all in.  In my dad's final weeks before he died, he asked quite often for us to put his wheelchair outside in the sun.  He would close his eyes and say, "Oh that feels so good."  I love how my dad could appreciate such a simple pleasure during those last difficult days.  Here's to hoping it is sunny in your part of the world.  If it is - take a moment to enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Simple Style and Spirit

As I stated in my profile this blog is an experiment in finding a creative outlet in a time of transition.  This blog is about reconnecting with the things that make my life a little fuller. As I was brainstorming about this three categories emerged -

  • Simple Pleasures
  • Elements of Style
  • The Spirit of Yoga
A goal is to make three posts a week - one for each category.