30-Day “Reset” Challenge

January tends to get all the credit for “starting over.” I don’t know about you, but when January rolls around, our kitchen counters are still full of leftover holiday desserts, our Christmas tree still has opened presents under it, and the last thing on my mind is going to the gym.

February is usually a slog, although this year a little less! It’s leap year, so today I feel like I am winning at life. Plus, it’s my once-every-four-years half birthday. Yeah!

March is where it’s at. It’s almost spring! We, at large, cannot accept the fact that climate change is a real, scientifically-proven thing that is happening, and yet we whole-heartedly trust a ground hog when he pops up to tell us spring is coming early this year. I guess I’ll take what I can get. These hints of warmer weather in Philly recently have just been the best.

So with spring on the mind, I’ve been inspired to try my first-ever challenge. Let it be known: you can eat as much dessert as you want in this challenge, and I will never suggest that you should go to the gym. This is a different kind of challenge. A “reset” challenge if you will. I like the idea of starting fresh with the changing season, and making new growth with nature. If there is one thing I know to be true, it is the importance of living simply.

The objective of this challenge is simple: Complete each task every day, and don’t beat yourself up if you miss one here or there. It’s okay.

Download the image to your computer (click here). Print it out and hang it in your kitchen. Write out the tasks in your calendar or planner. Whatever will help you most in completing each day’s challenge is what I want you to do. If this is your first time trying a month-long challenge, I am joining you in that! Let’s reconvene in April to discuss how it went.

Leave a comment if you’re participating. I’d love to hear how you’re going to stick to your daily tasks! (I’m putting them in our monthly calendar.)

Inspiration for my 30-day “reset” challenge came from Apartment Therapy and Into Mind.

Advertisements

Rain Project

A few weeks back, I temporarily inherited a sewing machine that’s been in my family for over 30 years. I say temporarily because it’s my mom’s sewing machine. My grandpa–who was a custom tailor at Bergdorf Goodman–sewed many a things on this machine for my sister and me growing up. If you haven’t realized through reading Scissors & Sage yet, my grandparents have been a big influence on the person I am becoming. Their values and morals–and good taste in music and in food–shaped me over the many years they came over to help take care of us.

When my dad dug out this sewing machine from our basement at home and brought it down to Philly, we hesitantly set it up on my drafting table, plugged it in, and flipped the switch. The light came on and it was ready to be used–almost as if it were waiting to be used. We read through the instruction manual and learned the basics. I’ve since tested out a few stitches on scrap fabric, but now I want to really get going with it.

That’s where my rain project comes in. The point of a rain project is to choose something that you have been wanting to get started on, but haven’t found the right moment for. It should be a project that is both ongoing and has no deadline. Work on it on days that it is raining, and time spent indoors feels cozy and right. It could be a new skill, like learning to sew, or knitting a big blanket for the first time. It could even be teaching yourself how to bake, working your way through a cookbook, or organizing every closet in your home. It’s up to you. The only requirement is that you take it nice and slow. Your rain project might turn into a snow project (yay snow days), and then back to a rain project come spring.

I’ll certainly be reporting back regarding my sewing progress. I have two projects in mind that I think will be good for a beginner like myself. (Sixth grade sewing club feels mighty far away right now.) Do you sew? Do you have any patterns that you’ve found especially satisfying and fun? Please send them my way!

Will you be joining me in your own rain project?

Picking Favorites: Recipes for Summer

Γεια σας! That means “hello” in Greek, and is pronounced “yassas.” I also learned how to say “cheers,” “good morning/evening,” “yes/no,” a couple of dog commands (random, I know), and other nifty things to get around Greece. It was a funny thing, traveling around a country where the alphabet is fundamentally different from English. Anne quickly became good at deciphering words letter by letter to find our way around. We felt like detectives!

It’s hard to believe that our long-awaited trip to Greece has come to an end–but what a trip it was! I’m not even sure I know where to begin, and my thoughts on the whole thing aren’t fully formed yet. I’ll say this: It was incredible. Beautiful beyond belief, really, and the people we met were so hospitable and kind. Life in Greece has a different pace to it than in the U.S., and we quickly fell into its slower rhythm. The food is healthy and locally grown, and the hot sun and salt water–oh, the salt water!–were nourishment for the soul.

Now back in Philly, I am trying to hold on tightly to some of these ways of life. I write my to-do lists on smaller pieces of paper; I buy fruits and veggies from the local market; I take a break in the afternoons. These things, for now, are keeping me relaxed and mindful. Next week, I’d like to share a few photos and stories from our trip with you, as well as some travel tips that I jotted down along the way–helpful hints that I didn’t know going into our trip.

Two things on the forefront: 1) I’m featuring a fun giveaway at the end of next month. Stay tuned for how you can enter! 2) Anne and I are in the process of looking for a new apartment in Philly. We’ve been talking about finding a new home for a few months now, and we’ll be making the move in about a month! Fingers crossed we find just the right spot for us to continue growing.

As I catch up on Martha Stewart Living and Bon Appetit, I’ve been inspired by all kinds of summer recipes. I’m a little behind the eight ball from being away (i.e. I’m just now reading about “Ten fun ideas for the Fourth!”), but now I can dive into seasonal dishes. Below are some that I’d like to give a try. Enjoy!

Recipes for Summer

Corn and Fregula with Halloumi (Greek!) Cheese from Bon Appetit (click here for the recipe)

Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Thyme from Food & Wine (click here for the recipe)

Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad from Green Valley Kitchen (click here for the recipe)

Grilled Beet Baba Ghanoush from Bon Appetit (click here for the recipe)

Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake from Smitten Kitchen (click here for the recipe)

Iron Skillet Peach Crisp from Bon Appetit (click here for the recipe)

Grapefruit-Jalepeno Margarita from Camille Styles (click here for the recipe)

Picking Favorites

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a Picking Favorites post. I always look forward to putting these posts together. I get so much inspiration from other blogs and websites, so it’s really fun for me to pick some favorites to share with you here.

Do you have any fun Memorial Day plans? Anne and I are visiting my uncles in upstate New York this weekend. We’ve been planting in their garden, eating great home-cooked meals, and indulging in life outside the city. It’s always so refreshing, isn’t it? DIY Travel Bag from Say Yes, for when I learn how to sew. I’m ignoring the fact that this looks like quite a complicated project! This chambray apron from Food52, well, just because. Maybe it’ll make for an easier first sewing project down the road. This fresh flower napkin ring from Paper + Stitch is the perfect project for this time of year. You just need metal rings, green washi tape, and fresh cut flowers. This cake topper seems simple enough, and great for all kinds of special occasions. The tutorial also happens to come from Paper + Stitch. I love these minty green bowls from Illyria Pottery. Katie’s work is simply beautiful. Are you in need of a few beautifully watercolored words of wisdom? Grounded on the Daily is for you, then. Nicole’s hand-painted pieces of inspiration are perfect.

Check this out: Four Terrific Habits of Homebodies (via Apartment Therapy)

Or if you own a fiddle leaf fig tree, here is one woman’s funny take on how she’s raised hers into adulthood.

Have a great week, everyone!

Airplane Mode: We’re Going to Greece!

I’ve always liked this quotation from the Dalai Lama because you don’t have to travel halfway across the world to go some place you’ve never been before. “Travel” might take the form of visiting a new neighborhood in your very own city, or experiencing nature in a new way. Traveling is something that has always interested me. It stretches you in new ways, makes you think creatively, and, if done right, can be a very humbling experience.

For me and Anne, our trip to Greece is five weeks away. WHAT?! We have been looking forward to this since January. It’ll be our first time traveling abroad together, and I couldn’t be more excited! After what was a long year for me, exploring Greece with Anne for three weeks is going to feel incredible. I hope that it is just the rejuvenation I need.

As we plan and map out our trip, I’ve come across some really wonderful inspiration, both for Greece specifically and travel more generally. I thought I’d share some of that with you today. Are you traveling anywhere this summer? Tell me where in the comments below!

Greek Inspiration

A colorful fishing boat (source)

Santorini (source)

Gala Beach on Pano Koufonisi (source)

Fresh sardines and Greek salad on Antiparos (source)

Sunset in Santorini, and other helpful tips (source)

Delphi, one of the world’s greatest ruins (source)

Design*Sponge's Athens city guide

Design*Sponge’s Athens city guide (source)

A mix and match color scheme (source)

General Tips & Tricks

Learn how to best use your iPhone while abroad here.

Learn how to download offline Google maps here. Beware that offline Google maps expire after 30 days. Add this to your to-do list just before you leave!

These tips in Travel 101 are incredibly helpful for any kind of trip you plan on taking.

Rick Steves on the importance of packing lightly.

Here’s a great blog post on upping your travel photography game.

Suggested travel apps:

Before you leave:

  • Hold your mail and any current subscriptions.
  • Set up a self-watering wicking system for your houseplants.
  • Notify the bank of your upcoming travels.
  • Sign up for the smart traveler enrollment program (STEP).
  • Photocopy all travel documents (leave one copy in your luggage, and one copy with a family member at home).

This just skims the surface. What are your go-to travel tips and tricks? I’d love to find out more, so leave a comment below!