Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy in the new year

With the bustling days of Christmas preparations and celebrations now over, I’ve found a little time to finish some books and start contemplating the new year.

One of the books that I most enjoyed reading this year was The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin (affiliate link).  A mix of memoir and self-help, it was an insightful book that is helpful in framing my goals for next year.  While I don’t plan a happiness project quite like hers, it was beneficial to learn more about the nature of happiness from her research, as well as the practical matter of applying the principles of happiness to one’s life.

She points oHappiness quoteut, “Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier.”  Those are great benefits, and definitely worth some personal introspection and changes designed to boost the happiness in our lives.

Adding happiness and joy to life is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Life is short, and our kids’ childhood years will pass by in a flash.  We do well to make those years full of enjoyment.  Difficulties come on their own, but it takes planning and persistence to ensure we have fun together – and not just with the big things like vacations and holidays, but with joyful moments of everyday life.

With the new year around the corner, it’s a blank slate to fill with family fun and happiness.  I look forward to packing in as much joy as possible!

Happy new year!

Learning to capture Christmas bokeh

Christmas bokeh

As I’ve done some research to help improve my photos this Christmas season with my new DSLR camera, the buzzword I keep seeing is bokeh.  I’ve always liked those photos with the blurred lights in the background, but I never knew that was called bokeh until this year.  It’s a neat effect and definitely something I wanted to try with our Christmas tree.

I was glad to find a few tutorials in the blogosphere to help me figure out how to create these pics.  Today I finally decided to try it out.  I consulted the tutorial I found through Pinterest from the House of Hawthornes blog and pulled out my camera.

I set my camera to Aperture Priority mode and tried taking some photos just holding my camera, but they were all blurred.  I then realized the importance of the advice to use a stable surface.  Since I don’t have a tripod yet, I tried using my coffee table and a dining room chair.  It took several tries, but I got a couple of nice shots.Christmas poinsettia

These photos are so festive!  I love how they capture the beauty of the Christmas season!

Embracing the joy of a good-enough Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, every year I feel like I’m chasing perfection – and losing at it.

I want to have the perfect gifts for everyone on my Christmas cheerlist.

I want the decorations to be impeccable and the house to be immaculate.

I want the ideal picture of the kids for the Christmas cards.

I want to overcome the limitations of my current cooking and baking abilities and whip up amazing meals and desserts.

Each year I find that I can’t live up to the expectations I set for myself.  Then I think, “This year is good enough, and I’ll get an earlier start to make things perfect next year.”  It’s a silly cycle I’ve created.

It’s time for me to stop the madness!  This year is not perfect, and next year won’t be either.  And that’s OK.  I don’t want to spend the Christmas season feeling stressed and worn out because my goals are unrealistic.  I want to enjoy this special time of year, so today I’m taking a moment to reset my expectations and refocus on what’s important.

A “good enough” Christmas is good enough!  In fact, it’s probably better than perfect since it comes with less pressure and more time for family fun.  Time to appreciate the joy in everyday moments this Christmas season – not look for ways to improve them!