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    Coins - Mar 20th, 2010
    I have two old pint-sized honey jars that I fill with coins. It takes a while to fill them up because I don’t use cash too often. In fact, the current coin stash was started on March 7, 2009, meaning it’s taken more than a year to fill both jars to capacity. Compare that to my waitressing days when it would take just a couple of weeks to fill a gallon-sized jar! [more...]

    First bag - Mar 20th, 2010
    A conversation this afternoon reminded me that it’s time to swap out handbags; something I’ve not done since returning from my holidays so it’s really time I get in gear! Of course, what this really means is that I am going to share more useless information with you. Yay! [more...]

    Going green - Mar 18th, 2010
    Across America, people are going green. Not in an effort to be more sensitive to the environment but rather in an effort to get in touch with their inner-Irish. Regardless of family ancestry (mine being Germans from Russia) every American is Irish today. Or is that Oirish? [more...]

    Building strong bones - Mar 17th, 2010
    Growing up I was told to drink my milk because it was good for building strong bones. I attempted that at the weekend by purchasing a half-gallon of 2%* to enjoy with a box of Cap’n Crunch Berries. [more...]

    Aunt Frances - Mar 16th, 2010
    Sixteen years ago I became an aunt when my eldest sister had her first child. I can’t believe that my sister has a kid old enough to drive! Wow! [more...]

    The great clean out - Mar 14th, 2010
    I don’t “do” makeup. It’s too much of a hassle and I just can’t be arsed to mess with the junk. However, I do own a small amount of the stuff. Mostly old stuff; mostly seldom used. This isn’t a secret, and several friends (who have more makeup in their handbags than I own all together) have let me know on several occasions that it’s not OK to keep the stuff so long. [more...]

    Jeggings confession - Mar 14th, 2010
    I have a guilty confession to make. When I was on my holidays in the UK, I let my niece convince me that “jeggings” and a trendy shirt looked good on me. The sale price convinced me to make the purchase. [more...]

    Mommy & Me: UK Tour - Mar 13th, 2010
    Mom and I traveled to England and Scotland to visit some my family and friends for two weeks in winter 2010. [more...]

    Black pale ale? - Mar 12th, 2010
    Over the years, I’ve determined that I’m really not a Widmer Brothers fan, with the exception of their amazingly delicious Hefeweizen. It’s not that I don’t like Widmer beers; it’s just that I have a list of three other brands I tend to prefer. [more...]

    In (bad) style - Mar 10th, 2010
    Oh my goodness gracious me! My parents sent me home with an old scrap book of mine and I just had to share this awful picture. What the heck was I thinking? [more...]

    Fone fumble - Mar 9th, 2010
    As much as I hate to admit my mistakes and mishaps, I feel that it’s only fair to share a bit of my humility—and it will help to counterbalance the bragging and arrogance I generally display. Oh, and I also fear that it may hit the grapevine so it’s better to ‘fess up now… [more...]

    And we’re back - Mar 8th, 2010
    Our time in the UK has sadly come to an end and we are now back in America after leaving Edinburgh in the early morning hours. As always, tears were shed as I left my beloved Scotland behind. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to share it all with Mom though, who now understands a bit better why I have such a love for the place. [more...]

    Home, sweet Scotland - Mar 3rd, 2010
    We arrived in Scotland yesterday afternoon to bright sunny skies. Our plan had been to spend the day winding up the English coast and stay somewhere on the England/Scotland border so that we could arrive in Scotland first thing this morning, but Scotland must have been calling me home because one England-based plan after another fell through so we just headed toward the border. [more...]

    The North - Mar 1st, 2010
    After a lovely couple of days in Yorkshire, we made the trip to Teesside on Sunday by way of a few small, back-country roads where we were able to see a couple of twee villages and lovely little farm houses as well as the ruins of a fantastic abbey. [more...]

    Finding Joy: February - Feb 28th, 2010
    My 2010 resolution was to find a bit of joy every day. Each day, I thought about the things that bring me joy and posted them on Just Frances where you can share in my joyful things—one month at a time. [more...]

    Yorkshire - Feb 27th, 2010
    I’m well into my second full day in the UK now and while I know I’m just on holiday, I feel as if I’ve come home. I really like how at ease and at peace I feel when I’m here. It’s a feeling I first had a few weeks after moving to Edinburgh and it’s never gone away. I guess it’s true what they say: “Home is where the heart is” and my heart has been here for nearly 10 years now. [more...]

    Go! - Feb 25th, 2010
    And we’re off! Actually, we’ve been on the go for about 10+ hours now and are now waiting in Amsterdam for our connecting flight into Manchester. [more...]

    Get set… - Feb 24th, 2010
    We’re at SeaTac now. We’ve checked in. We’ve gone through security. We’ve checked our gate number. We’re all ready to go… and are just waiting to be told we can. [more...]

    On your mark… - Feb 24th, 2010
    Remember when you were a kid and on Christmas Eve you were so very excited for Santa to arrive that you couldn’t sleep? You’d wish and hope and pray all through Midnight Mass that he’ll have come while you were away. [more...]

    Greener grass - Feb 23rd, 2010
    As I turn on the “Out of Office” reply for my work email, I have to giggle. I’m so excited to be on two weeks’ holiday, but what am I really getting? Two weeks where there will be no work? Two weeks of work that will just vanish from my workload? [more...]

    The problem with Seattle* - Feb 23rd, 2010
    It’s Monday night and I’m busy getting ready for my holidays: Doing laundry; packing; cooking up ‘leftover stew’ with the contents of the fridge to put in the freezer (can’t have spoiled food when I return!); and reassuring Schrodie that I really do love her, despite the fact that I’m abandoning her yet again… [more...]

    Happy birthday to me - Feb 21st, 2010
    Today is my 36th birthday and to celebrate, I’ve opened a bottle of bubbly and I’m feasting on caviar, wild salmon, and Alaskan king crab. The house is empty, save for me and the cat. There is soft jazz playing in the background and I’m admiring the way the light glistens off of the lovely ring I’m wearing; a birthday present I purchased for myself at Macy*s. [more...]

    A day at the spa - Feb 21st, 2010
    I’ve just returned home after enjoying my first-ever spa day. It was pure heaven and I can’t believe that in my nearly 36 years of life I’ve never done it before. In fact, other than haircuts and a couple of years when I had fake nails in my 20s, I never had any treatments at a spa or salon until about two years ago when I got my first facial. [more...]

    Still stitching - Feb 20th, 2010
    I started crocheting this baby blanket last February. I’m still a beginner(ish) hooker and wanted something simple and small to work on while Paul and I traveled to England for a Ryan family reunion. [more...]

    Bag it - Feb 20th, 2010
    It’s a quiet Friday night at home. I’m enjoying a Widmer Brothers’ Hefeweizen and cleaning my vintage handbag collection. Yes, I am that pathetic! [more...]

    I am - Feb 18th, 2010
    “I AM” is a poetry lesson often taught at the grade school level. It is sort of like Mad Libs, but with a slightly more serious slant. (Though I know a few teachers who have their pupils write outlandishly silly poems with the template to foster creativity and imagination.) [more...]

    Vinyl issues - Feb 18th, 2010
    I’ve finally gotten around to my first attempt at digitalizing my vinyl collection. Actually, I’ve started with my parents’ collection, as it’s their fancy-schmancy machine. And can I just say it’s a bit of a bizarre world when dealing with LPs is a confusing and difficult task?! [more...]

    Near fail on day one - Feb 18th, 2010
    Ash Wednesday is a fasting day in the Catholic Church. I’ve spent nearly a week preparing my mind for that fact. [more...]

    Lenten obligations - Feb 17th, 2010
    Lent is a funny little ‘season’ in modern society. Each year people around the globe begin to talk about what they’ll give up for those 40-some days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. [more...]

    Freak of nature - Feb 17th, 2010
    We adopted Schrodie when she was about eight months old. She’d had a hard life and was certainly not your typical cat, but we didn’t want a “typical” cat. [more...]

    Shopping failure - Feb 16th, 2010
    I have an affinity for handbags. Mostly vintage bags that have a unique character and flare to them, but I also enjoy modern-day bags when they are a little different than the every-day look. I also tend to be a little cheap and hate to part with my money. [more...]

    Music to my ears - Feb 16th, 2010
    I bought an iPod Classic in October because I was feeling down and shiny things normally cheer me up. I had it engraved with the last line from one of my favorite poems, Desiderata (by Max Ehrmann). [more...]

    Just Frances - Feb 15th, 2010
    I was born in a hospital (not in a barn, as sometimes questioned by my mom, who should really know!) on February 21, 1974. The third of six daughters, I am “lucky number three” because we all know that the third time’s a charm. [more...]

    Partners in Phun - Feb 8th, 2010
    My nephew, Haden, came out to visit so that we could run the Partners in Pain 5K together. We had a fantastically fun weekend! [more...]

    Finding Joy: January - Jan 31st, 2010
    My 2010 resolution was to find a bit of joy every day. Each day, I thought about the things that bring me joy and posted them on Just Frances where you can share in my joyful things—one month at a time. [more...]

    Fannying Around - Jan 25th, 2010
    It was the inaugural “Freeze Your Fanny, Scrabble Showdown, and Burns’ Supper Extravaganza” at the Ryan house! [more...]

    Solo UK Holiday - Dec 10th, 2009
    I’ve taken my first solo holiday spending nearly two weeks in England and Scotland visiting family and friends. [more...]

    I don’t want to go out and play - Oct 31st, 2009
    It’s Halloween. I should be excited and giddy; it’s always been a much-loved holiday of mine. In the weeks leading up to it, I would be busy making costumes for everyone I knew—hoping there’d be enough time to make one for me. Last year, Paul was Sponge Bob Square Pants and I was a vampire. It was our first Halloween in our new home; our first in a neighborhood where we could expect trick-or-treating. We stayed home to hand out candy to the kids, many of whom shrieked with excitement at a grown man dressed as Sponge Bob—which made Paul grin from ear-to-ear. [more...]

    Lessons learned - Oct 26th, 2009
    Paul and I used to spend a lot of time talking about our relationship. We’d reminisce about the early days, talk about the present, and dream about the future. We always joked about these “State of the Marriage” conversations but knew that we were lucky to be able to just talk about things. Every year, we would spend our anniversary remembering the details of our first date, Paul’s proposal, and the time leading up to that evening’s dinner. We were less than four weeks shy of our fourth anniversary, but we were already starting to chat about how lucky we were to have found each other. [more...]

    Getting angry - Oct 21st, 2009
    Sometimes I feel very angry and I can’t figure out where to place the blame. I know that my anger is part of my grief, but I don’t have a person or a thing to blame for my anger, nor do I have a recognizable focus for it. [more...]

    Support networks - Oct 17th, 2009
    I joined a grief support group a couple of weeks ago and have found it oddly comforting, despite the fact that I’m the youngest one in the group and that most are not widows. I suppose there is comfort in talking with others who are grieving because it’s a safe place, and whilst our grief comes from different life perspectives, it’s still grief. What I find most useful about the group isn’t the time spent with others, but rather the thought process that happens between the weekly meetings. I find myself focusing on my feelings and emotions because of something someone in the group said about their own grief journey, or because of a “homework assignment” given by the group’s leader; I like that it makes me confront something that I had never thought of—or something I may have been avoiding. [more...]

    Looking forward to shared laughter and tears - Oct 15th, 2009
    I booked my ticket for a holiday to the UK today. Now I’m happy and sad; I’m looking forward to my trip and I’m dreading it. [more...]

    It is still a beautiful world - Oct 11th, 2009
    I reflect quite often on the Desiderata these days. Mostly because I know that my Paul wants me to be happy and the words of the Desiderata seem to speak to that so very well. The world for me these days seems so bleak, so frightening, so lonely, but still, I know that there is goodness in it. I know that I will find my way through the misery and will be happy once again. I try each day to remember that there is so much good in the world, and that my life will continue and that it will be a good life. It’s difficult to do most days, but it is my duty as a wife to be the happy person my husband wants me to be. [more...]

    Tackling long-overdue gardening tasks - Oct 7th, 2009
    One week before Paul died we spent the day working in the yard. I remember sitting on the edge of the flower beds removing mulch and weeds while Paul raked the front lawn. It was our new cat’s first venture to the great outdoors and she took a bit of enticing to leave the front steps so from time-to-time we’d stop working and play with the cat. We walked around the yard making notes about what needed to be done for spring cleanup and sketching out designs for a couple of garden and seating areas. When we were done we enjoyed a nice picnic lunch under the cedar trees with a bottle of chardonnay. [more...]

    The physical side of grief - Oct 5th, 2009
    The process of grieving and mourning is really starting to wreak havoc on my physical being. This, in turn, intensifies some of the mental and emotional turmoil I’m going through; which, in turn again, adds even further to the degradation of my physical being. And therein lays the problem. [more...]

    Surprising moments of upset - Oct 2nd, 2009
    One of the hard parts about grief is not knowing when it’s going to hit. I can be going about my day quite happily one moment and the next moment I have tears streaming down my face. I never know what’s going to trigger those tears and I am often surprised by what does or doesn’t cause me to become upset. Today was one of those surprising moments of upset. [more...]

    Just a widow myth - Oct 1st, 2009
    I’ve heard a lot of things over the past five months that have taken me by surprise. From “helpful” comments about how I should be grieving to hurtful questions asked by people wondering if there was anything I could have done to prevent Paul’s death. I try to remind myself that people just don’t realize what they’re saying and that no one means any harm by the questions asked and comments made. I’ve spent some time visiting online forums about grieving, some specifically geared toward young window(er)s, and have found that the questions and comments I’ve received are very similar to the experiences of others. [more...]

    The confluence of seasons - Sep 28th, 2009
    There’s a crispness in the air now that autumn has started to settle in after a long summer. I’ve always enjoyed the confluence of seasons; it’s an awkward meeting between weather patterns—one anxious to begin its reign whilst the other tries in vain to retain its glory. There will be a few weeks of battle before the summer finally fades, giving way to the changing colours of the trees. [more...]

    It’s not contagious - Sep 24th, 2009
    I met a man the other day who lost his wife not long ago. He is now faced with raising his young children alone and is feeling very lost in the world without his partner. And I hate that I understand oh-so-well what that means. While it’s not nice to learn that someone else is walking this lonely path of widow(er)hood, I found it oddly comforting to hear his words of confusion as to why the world seems so afraid of us. I suppose that his similar experiences help me feel a little less self-conscious about my own place in the world. [more...]

    Finding the things I can control, and taking charge - Sep 17th, 2009
    When I was operating Frances 2.0, I would most often be found with amazing vintage accessories—mostly in the form of handbags from the 1920s-60s. (And bonus points to Paul for encouraging my vintage accessory collection so much that he allowed me the largest closet in the house to store it all!) But when the occasion called for it I would use a “modern” bag because they tend to be more practical if you want to carry more useless junk. [more...]

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