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    Very taxing - Mar 23rd, 2010
    I finally filed my taxes. I say finally because I normally have mine completed and filed the first week of February—based on the fact that tax documents generally arrive the last week of January. Yep, a geek to the core I used to love doing my taxes. [more...]

    Two truths and a lie - Mar 21st, 2010
    Several years ago I was asked to tell two truths and a lie; a silly game, but one that seems come up again from time-to-time. Anyhow, in reading through a very old blog of mine, I ran across a post with two truths and a lie. [more...]

    Thirty-three paper clips - Mar 21st, 2010
    I had a sudden urge to go upstairs and open the footlocker in one of the guest rooms. It is full of memories from high school (oh, the photos that I’ll never share!) and I thought that I’d try to find an example of how tragically dreadful my writing was way-back-when. [more...]

    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...]

    Family-in-laws - Jan 6th, 2010
    I spend a lot of time here complaining about things that I find upsetting and frustrating, but there are many things that I find comforting and joyful, and some of those things have really helped me to make it through these past months with at least a shred of sanity remaining. Funny, the most comforting of those things is the thing that so many people complain so loudly about: The In-Laws! [more...]

    Emergency contacts - Jan 4th, 2010
    I had my first doctor visit of the new year today as a follow-up after becoming quite ill on Christmas day. Sadly, a new year means new paperwork. And new paperwork means new answers to old questions. And new answers mean new realizations. It was inevitable, I suppose, that those simple check-boxes would bring tears. [more...]

    Facing 2010 boldly, with a side of tears - Jan 1st, 2010
    It’s the first new year of this new life and I wish I knew what it had in store for me. For possibly the first time in my life, I don’t have something to dream for in the coming year. I don’t have that anchor point that says “2010 is going to be a great year because [fill in the blank].” And for the first time in nearly eight years, I don’t have someone to share the year’s daily adventures with. [more...]

    Christmas tears - Dec 26th, 2009
    Several weeks ago I decided that the best way to deal with Christmas was to avoid it. I figured that if I treated it as a normal day it would feel like a normal day. So I didn’t decorate the house or send Christmas cards. I didn’t play Christmas music or attend Christmas-themed events. And the plan worked – for a while. [more...]

    Stone crosses - Dec 21st, 2009
    For nearly eight months I’ve been putting off ordering a headstone for Paul. Even after I knew what I wanted, I still couldn’t bring myself to start the process of ordering something. I hoped that at some point, I would just feel ready to face the task, and planned to wait until then. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point during my trip to the UK, I knew it was finally time to make the call. [more...]

    Being selfish - Dec 16th, 2009
    Before I met Paul, I was one of those habitually single people and quite happy that way. I did what I wanted when I wanted. I never had to consider the thoughts, opinions, likes, or dislikes of someone else. In the first few months after we got married, changing my habits was very difficult. I had to learn how to make joint decisions for the first time and I had to remember to get input from someone else on what to make for dinner, what color throw pillows to get for the couch, and where to hang what pieces of art on the walls. It was so hard to do and caused so much frustration on both of our parts. [more...]

    There is a future to be had - Dec 13th, 2009
    I spent nearly two weeks in the UK with family and friends, and have returned feeling refreshed and relaxed. A break was just what I needed to face reality again. I am so glad that I went and if I’m honest, I really do wish I was there still. I can’t explain how amazing it was to be surrounded by people who are so very supportive. It was nice to be able to laugh without worrying that I was upsetting someone by not grieving ‘correctly’ and it was nice to be able to laugh with people who would also allow me to cry. [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...]

    When sadness hits - Nov 24th, 2009
    I’ve gotten quite good at forgetting that I’m a widow at times. I can be rather comfortable laughing and joking and just being ‘in the moment’ when the times call for it. Over the last two days, I’ve been on the game. Travelling for work with the bosses and working hard to make a great impression for our first-ever benefit auction was easier than I thought, really. Maybe more so because everyone knows that even though I look the part of a ‘normal’ person, they all know that I am still grieving and expect that I will be a bit sad from time-to-time. And when I get around people who are OK with my laughter and grief being combined, I relax and find it easier to be myself. [more...]

    Things get easier with a second take - Nov 22nd, 2009
    I’ve found myself at a fancy hotel for work once again. It’s one of those really fancy rooms with a separate living room and a bathroom bigger than most people’s bedrooms. This trip comes right before my holidays, and I’ve been psyching myself up for it for a while now, trying to figure out how to make it bearable. While my last stay at a fancy hotel was miserable and gloomy, this trip has started out to be fairly positive and slightly empowering. [more...]

    A comforting visit - Nov 16th, 2009
    I went to visit Paul’s grave site at the weekend and realized that it might be the last time I’m able to sit there and talk to him until the spring because of all the snow. I took a small chair with me, and trekked through the snow, then sat there in the cold talking to him. [more...]

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