Book Club Tonight!


A reminder–The Happy Life Book Club is starting tonight.  I hope you will come if you can.  I am dying for some intelligent conversation, thoughts on happiness, and new books to love.  Don’t stay away because you don’t have the book or feel like you have nothing to contribute to a discussion.  We all learn from each other and this is a place where all thoughts and ideas will be encouraged and respected.  I hope it will be a place where there are lots of different ideas and opinions and thoughts and even some great arguments.  I hope it will be a place of learning and growth and comfort as well.  Please come, and bring a friend if you like.

If you need my address please email me at

Simple Changes no. 2

winter flowerImage

It is a Winter Wonderland in Utah right now.  This past week we have had extreme cold, freezing rain, two days of fog, and yesterday it snowed and snowed and snowed…the biggest, fluffiest flakes I have ever seen in my entire life.  Joe and I spent an hour outside last night shoveling and brushing off cars.  It was so quiet, not very cold, and really magical.  I love the snow until I have to go somewhere and I’ve got a bunch of appointments and errands today, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be loving it by this afternoon.

Reporting on last week’s simple changes, it is always so interesting to me to note what happens when I make a list of goals, even if they are small goals.  Once I write something down, it plants itself in my mind and comes out in all kinds of unexpected ways.  Good ways.  This past week I planned on working on my relationships and some morning yoga and meditation.  I accomplished all kinds of goodness in the relationship category, but struggled with the yoga and meditation.    However, when I did a quick review of last week’s list, I noticed that I had made a few other changes as well.  I ordered that lovely planner, in metallic gold, and throughout the week I was incorporating ideas from “there is no secret” in pretty much every aspect of my life!  I’m thinking of those last few as bonus changes that came from somewhere in my subconscious.  It really is amazing what happens when you write things down.  Try it this week and see if it works for you.

It’s a new week…are you ready for some simple changes?

Make an imprint on someone else.

Try some red lips this week.


Visit some new places in your city…great city guides at ReStyle Source.

Learn about some amazing women at The Reconstructionists.

The 7 Rules of Life.

Take a Winter Break.

This week I’m going to collaborate at the Happy Life Book Club.  Read more about it here.  And I’m still going to attempt morning yoga and meditation.  Not ready to give up yet.  What about you?  Any changes in your plans for the week?

Uncle Richard–After

uncle richard after

Isn’t he handsome! The camel got a good cleaning, a coat of primer, and a few thin coats of spray paint in Rust-Oleum’s Lagoon.  Then I used a Krylon Gold Leafing Pen to highlight some details.  This camel deserved some 18 Kt. Gold toenails!  While the paint dried, I opened up the green leather saddle with a seam ripper, and traced the old pieces onto some black and white gingham fabric.  I like the mixture of the traditional and sedate fabric with the contemporary teal color of the camel’s body.  I also added some gold trim to the cushion…the first time I’ve ever attempted trim, but only the best for my camel.

After all of this work, the camel deserved a great name, and Uncle Richard was the natural choice.  His home is in the office, but we brought him into the living room to enjoy Christmas festivities…he looked great holding a stack of gifts on his back.  He usually has a stack of books or a cat on his back, but currently he is carrying the child-size accordion we also inherited from Uncle Richard.  They are a match made in heaven.

Here are a few simple instructions and a bunch of pictures of Uncle Richard, notice that I preserved the inscription.  Enjoy!

diy family furniture update

This is what Uncle Richard looks like when he is in my loft office.

office space

And one more look at Uncle Richard before and after.

uncle richard before

uncle richard after

Uncle Richard–Before

camel before

When I started the redo on my loft office, I wanted to be sure that it was full of meaningful things that would both inspire me and make me feel happy.  It needed to be cozy, comfortable, clean, organized, and have a few items that were fun i.e. charming, whimsical, quirky, different.  My mother-in-law had recently given me a camel saddle that she has had for almost 50 years, and I knew that it had to find a home in the loft.  Her brother brought it back from Turkey where he was stationed in the army and it has been in every one of her homes ever since.  I have long admired it, and at some point every one of my girls has ridden on it…and probably every other grandchild as well.  It is definitely one of those pieces of furniture that is full of meaning.

It is the perfect footstool size, but it is modeled after actual camel saddles.  Ebay has lots of similar saddles here.

I’m not sure how valuable my stool actually is, but I love the carved details…

chead before

the gold designs on the green leather…

csaddle1 before


csaddle2 before

and the note from my mother-in-law.

cinscriptionThe wood was in good shape, but needed some cleaning and I thought a fresh coat of paint would help it pop.  The cushion was cracked and in bad shape so it had to go, but I kept the inscription…information for posterity and my mother-in-law’s handwriting are important memorabilia.

I’ll share my change tomorrow.  But first, I would love to hear what you would do to add some style to this handsome guy.  Would you paint, keep the cushion as is, remove the inscription?



Almost Perfect Rice Pudding

rice puddingI fell in love with rice pudding about 12 years ago.  It is strange because my dessert of choice usually involves chocolate, nuts, caramel, and peanut butter.  But, I had a sweet lady from church who would occasionally bring me a loaf-size pan of warm rice pudding, covered in nutmeg, and full of the most amazing creamy goodness.  I could not get enough of it…and I could not get over the fact that Jill had made it.

Jill was a young twenty-something blonde from California.  She drove a Mercedes, and I never saw her wear anything but  designer black. She and her husband lived in a gorgeous and very expensive home where  they were building a business together.  They were very successful and very busy.  Jill oozed style and wealth and beauty, but not so much domesticity.  But she was the queen of rice pudding. That whole judging thing, I’ve totally given it up.

I suspect that someone else really made the rice pudding because every time I asked her for the recipe, she was very vague and dismissive, claiming that she didn’t really use a recipe, she just threw some things together.  But it tasted exactly the same every time, and it was perfection.

I moved away from Jill and her rice pudding goodness about 10 years ago, and since then I’ve searched high and low for something similar.  I’ve ordered rice pudding at restaurants and cruise ships.  I’ve tried homemade recipes, store mixes, and containers of rice pudding in the dairy section.  And I’ve found nothing to even equal Jill’s rice pudding.

But, this recipe is pretty close.  It is from the Better Homes & Gardens website, fairly simple, and amazingly creamy.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for the lingonberries.  Instead I topped it with nutmeg, just like Jill’s.  The only thing I will do differently next time is add more sugar.  Without the berries, I think it needs a bit more sweetness.  Also, this was my first experience using a vanilla bean and it was pretty easy.

If you make this recipe, realize that it will feed a small army, most of your neighbors, or your family for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week.  Also, I always serve it warm and think it is the perfect winter dessert.  And just a warning…you will fall in love with the creamy deliciousness that is almost as good as California Jill’s.

Festive Rice Pudding

Prep 20 mins
Cook 5 hrs
Makes 16 servings
Festive Rice Pudding

  • 1 quart whole milk (4 cups)
  • quart half-and-half (4 cups)
  • cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice (do not substitute long grain rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • vanilla bean, split
  • 4 – 6 whole cloves, tied in a 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth bag
  • Purchased lingonberry sauce
1.In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker stir together milk, half-and-half, sugar, rice, and salt. Add vanilla bean and cloves. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 5 hours. (Do not stir).2.Remove vanilla bean and cloves. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes before serving. (If pudding gets too thick upon standing, stir in additional milk to make desired consistency.) Serve warm or chilled with lingonberry sauce.

The Happy Life Book Club

happy lifeLast year I spent a long time working on being happier.  In fact, I devoted an entire month of blogging to being happy.  But really, my quest for happiness has been going on for a long time.  I’ve read, exercised, medicated, slept a lot, visited a therapist, prayed, served, discussed, written, celebrated, and searched for happiness.  And most days I feel like I’m really getting there.  Don’t I look happy?

My next step on the happiness road is to create a happiness book club.  Want to join?

This is my plan:  every month we will read a section from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, complete any activities, and then meet to discuss the results.  In addition, there will be a novel to read each month that shares the story of an individual’s happiness journey.  We’ll talk about that, too.  Oh, and the book club will be called, “Happy Life.”

I’m actually going to host this at my house every month, and if you live nearby, it would be great if you could join me.  But if you can’t, I’ll be posting notes from the discussion and you can participate with comments and questions both before and after.

I’m planning on hosting the first meeting on Thursday, January 31, and then every third Thursday after that at 7:00.  I hope you can come…and please let me know if you will be attending at my home.  Since it is such short notice, we will just be reading the first chapter in Gretchen Rubin’s book, discussing happiness, and making plans for the rest of the year.

I feel happy just thinking about it!  Don’t you?

DIY Art Update

gibson girlThis really is the simplest project I completed for my loft update.  I purchased this large canvas from Ikea a couple of years ago in the “as is” section for $25.00.   It has been hanging in Riley’s bedroom, but needed a new home after we redid her room a few months ago.  It was similar to these two canvases available at Ikea right now…

audrey hepburncharlie chaplin
Audrey Hepburn & Charlie Chaplin

I initially bought the canvas for a few reasons:  it is big (3 ft. x 3 ft.f), it is square, and I love the artistry and simplicity of these images.  Also, I’m a sucker for anything artsy that depicts girls and/or women.  It was a nice neutral color and looked good on Riley’s deep burgundy bedroom wall, but its new home required an update and a bit of glam.  All three canvases are the same color…light tan background with dark brown image and the background can look a bit dirty.  So I decided to paint the background a bright white and the image a metallic gold.

Such an easy and satisfying project, and in only two steps:

diy easy art update

I’m very happy with the final product.  This beautiful lady smiles down on me every day while I work away in my office loft.

gibson girl 2

Simple Changes


I’ve thought a lot about this post Liz wrote a few weeks ago.  I really like the idea she shared about setting small, weekly goals.  Last year I had a pretty ambitious project that I named Twelve in 2012 and I really enjoyed working on it, but life became unpredictable  last fall, and my focus needed to change.  Although things at home are running fairly smoothly again, the idea of smaller goals feels perfect right now.  I think I need some wins this year, and I know I can get a few if I head in this direction.

It also feels right to change my usual “weekend changes” on Friday or Saturday to a new feature named “simple changes,” that I will post on Sunday evening.  It will include my favorite ideas from around the web world for creating change in your life through small, weekly goals.  Pick one or two to try out for a week.  If you love them, keep those changes and see where they take you.  If not, then drop them and try something else the next week.

And now, the debut of “simple changes.”

There is No Secret.

Mindfulness and Meditation.

21-day Relationship Challenge…3 weeks, but you could choose to make these relationship changes for just one week.

Use a planner.  These are beautiful.

Add some Subtle Gold Touches.

Say “good morning” with Yoga.

Make a Giant Confetti Wall.

This week I’m continuing the Relationship Challenge and I’m going to add some morning yoga and meditation.  What simple changes will you make this week?

My Project Life 365–Week 3

Just in case you’ve missed my Instagram posts for Project Life 365, I thought I would do a weekly roundup for you on the blog.  I love this idea…viewing and sharing your life through photos.  Brilliant!




sign of winter#sign_of_winter

this is so me#this is so me



If you’re interested in following me on Instagram, click here.  For for information on Project Life 365, click here.