Friday, January 27, 2023

Porch #76 * 15 Mid-Winter Life Savers

  PORCH
a soft place to land
a calm weekend haven
a gentle pause from life's busyness
so we may experience
the tender lovingkindness of Jesus
as we do life together
in community


Winter seems to drag on forever here on Cape Cod.  More often than not, it's damp, chilly, and windy.  It seldom snows and a gray haze wraps itself around us like a big ol' quilt ... the heavy cloud-shrouded skies, the mighty churn of the ocean, the darkened shingled houses, the dormant trees, the roadways. 

It gets dark early and spring takes her own sweet time in making a brief but glorious arrival before summer saunters in like she owns the place.  Year round residents are few and prone to hunker down somewhere cozy rather than be out and about.  Not that there's a whole lot of anything open to go to anyway.  

It's easy to become a hermit 'round these parts, to have your lovely solitude erode into gloomy isolation. Yet there's no place else I'd rather be.  When the blue sky makes an appearance, we stream outdoors and celebrate every bit of it.  We breathe in the fresh, salty air and thank God for the simple blessing of real live golden sunshine and any warm breeze He sends our way.

All that to say here's my mid-winter life savers.  Get cozy and hunker on down with me, friends, and browse and explore to your heart's content.

💌

1.  candle
Most mornings, I light a candle after coming downstairs.  The warm scent of Woodwick Vanilla Bean smells luscious but not overpowering as it crackles away.  And in this peaceful morning ritual, I often quietly sing the chorus of this song.
SHOP HERE

2.  calendar
I didn't set up my wall calendar 'til last week.  Bad idea.  Every time I wanted to know what was going on I had to sift through a whole bunch of bits and pieces of scrap paper looking for what I should have already known.  My favorite calendar saved the day when she finally arrived.  If you look at your calendar 10x a day like I do, Lang's gorgeous works of art are worth every cent.  
SHOP HERE

3.  white board
If it wasn't bad enough that I had no calendar, my white board bit the dust last month as well.  Ours holds a place of honor on the fridge and it's always been a steady lifeline, simply because if something's not written down, I'll forget it.  Daily to-dos, our weekly schedule, things I don't want to nag about that need attention.  Few things are more satisfying than swiping away a task after finishing it off.  I was so relieved when my new one arrived.  Life could return to normal again.
SHOP HERE

4.  ministry
I've found my sweet spot as a co-leader of a Stephen Ministry at church.  The team of care givers that God continues to pull together is awesome.  If your church is looking for a more organized, effective way to reach out to people who need care, this just might fit the bill.  The training is awesome, the hearts of people who both give and receive care are beautiful.  I can't say enough.
LEARN MORE

5.  movies
One of the many things we missed during covid was the simple joy of going to the movies.  It looks like we're finally back in business again ... and one of the local theaters is only $6.50 on Tuesdays.

The Fablemans

Avatar: The Way of Water

A Man Called Otto

6.  wreaths
I recently scooped up two faux forsythia wreaths at T.J. Maxx, one for each door.  I was more than glad to take down the dried up pine wreaths and put these beauties up yesterday.  Springtime wreaths in January?  I couldn't imagine waiting another day.  These make me smile.
SHOP SIMILAR

7.  seasoning
I'm a huge fan of Everything Bagel seasoning.  I sprinkle it generously on all kinds of food - hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, tuna salad, avocados, mashed potatoes, tossed salad, whatever.  You, too?
SHOP HERE

8.  starfish
No, I'm not talking about the spiny ocean dweller.  Lands' End Starfish pants/leggings/jeans/shorts are my wardrobe staples.  Think comfy, stretchy, excellent quality ... and there's always a sale going on.  I'm the biggest fan ever as my body continues to change.  (Emily Freeman's gracious game-changing Wear Better Pants podcast episode comes to mind.)  
SHOP HERE

9.  freezer
There might only be two of us these days, but you'll still find me whipping up big batches of spaghetti sauce, chicken soup, chili, pot roast, sausage tortellini soup, biscuits, shortbread.  It's a good nudge to invite a few people over for a meal ... or to keep the freezer stocked for (most) days when I don't feel like cooking.  The secret is to freeze your culinary goodies flat in bags, not use bulky containers that take over limited freezer space.
SHOP HERE

10.  devotions
This year I'm using a Bible reading plan.  It's designed to take the reader through the Old Testament and the New Testament in two years, and the Psalms and Proverbs four times.  I'm staying focused but when I miss a day, no worries.  God is not a harsh taskmaster, but a loving Father full of grace, gently inviting us into a deeper, more vibrant relationship.  
THE PLAN

11.  organizing
It's like winter was made for sorting and re-organizing our stuff.  I feel free-er and lighter when I know what I actually have and decide on the perfect place for it to be stored.  And there's something satisfying in shedding excess stuff that we simply don't use or care about anymore.  
BAG A DAY

12.  caring bridge
Two dear longtime friends are each walking through cancer's dark valley.  My heart breaks for their pain and their families' grief.  But I'm grateful for the loving online communities that let them know they're not alone.  Please pray for Heather and for Brent.  
THE WEBSITE

13.  books
I'm moving slowly through my TBR list.  I did a detour to dive into Prince Harry's memoir.  And Bonnie Gray's Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest is waiting patiently in the wings (thank you, Carole).
MY TBR LIST 

14.  the blues scrapbook
I pulled together these mid-winter snapshots a year ago.  Best therapy ever.
ENJOY SCRAPBOOK

15.  blogging
I've been blogging since way back in February of 2008.  I can't begin to tell you how my faith in Christ has deepened because of the conversations we've shared.  I'm grateful for the meaningful ways you've nudged me out of my worn-out comfort zone, enlarged my borders, and clarified my worldview.  Iron truly sharpens iron, doesn't it (Proverbs 27:17).  

What's saving your life this winter?
Linda

💌

P.S.#1
Subscribers - click on today's title, scroll down, and jump right into the conversation!  Not a subscriber yet?  Click here now!  I'd love to have you join us.

P.S.#2
Thanks to bloggers Anne & Paula & Jeanne & Donna & Richella & Lisa

P.S.#3
As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small commission when you do your regular Amazon shopping after clicking on their links here ... at no extra cost to you!  Thanks for continuing to support my work, friends.

51 comments:

  1. The Car Alarm goes off at five,
    the world still hugged by chilly night,
    but I am glad to be alive,
    and twinkle-stars are sheer delight
    as the misty gegenschein
    and majestic Milky Way
    are solely the Lord God's...and mine,
    and I do not long for day,
    for I'm warm here in Hebron coat,
    leather cap and comfy gloves.
    Winter mornings get my vote
    as one of my all-time loves,
    and I stand here, full, content
    wond'ring where those Chihuahuas went.

    The Car Alarm is the functional name given to The Chihuahua Brothers, Cocoa and Latte.

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    1. Gosh, you ARE up early! You and that dynamic team of the Chihuahua Brothers.

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  2. Loved this glimpse of your life and routines. I’m not ready for the delusion of forsythia yet, but you have nudged me to do SOMETHING about my tired Christmas swag.
    And we enjoyed Maverick as well, but I drove Calvin nuts with my distress over Tom’s hair—Is he trying to look “young” in real life, or was that horrible dye job just part of his character???

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    1. I ask myself the same question when I look in the mirror.
      😂

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    2. ðŸĪĢðŸĪĢðŸĪĢ

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  3. I'm happy to be a winter hermit! I loved your list of things, many of which I already do. Those things help get through the winter! (That said, cleaning the garage -- not on your list -- is NOT on my list, either, as sorely as it needs it. Too cold out there!)

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    1. I'm with you, Jeanne. The garage can wait. Better yet, I'll have my husband take care of it. That's his territory.
      😉

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  4. A big kitchen calendar was my lifeline when we had kids in school and youth group plus appointments, ladies' meetings, church stuff, etc. Even though we don't have all of that going on, I still like like my big paper calendar. I love the Legacy and Lane ones. It's like getting to look at new art work every month.

    I love the idea of putting a spring wreath up in January! I have one I made with pink felt roses that still looks a little wintry but brings in some spring color.

    We really want to see A Man Called Otto some time.

    I tend to cook pretty much like I always have, even though there are just two of us. We like leftovers for lunch and sometimes dinner.

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    1. Oh I'm so glad to know that there's other paper calendar keepers in this world! Peering at my phone does nothing for me except make my eyesight worse.

      I love leftovers. It means one less thing to think about. And that always makes me happy.
      ðŸĨĢ

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  5. Linda - I so enjoyed this post. With such an odd winter this year, I'm not sure if we are right in the middle of it. Or the worst is yet to come!?! But I do know that pretty yellow wreath would brighten things up around here. I need to look for a new one that will be a good transition:) Here's to staying cozy!!

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    1. Let's hear it for transitional decorating. It makes so much sense, doesn't it ...
      http://www.lindastoll.net/2019/11/layer-key-to-transitioning-your.html
      ðŸĪ·‍♀️

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  6. I don't think Danny or I could survive one day without our white board, Linda. All kinds of to-dos, grocery lists and appointments. Something about getting older makes those medical appointments breed like bunnies! It doesn't get as cold here in winter as it does in New England, so there are many outdoor activities we can continue to engage in. Now that our decks are done, I'm simply looking forward to sitting on them on sunshine-filled days. Of course, no winter would be complete without some serious reading, sorting and cleaning out of drawers, closets, etc.
    I do like your wreaths even though spring seems eons away.
    Blessings!

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    1. Oh I knew I couldn't be the only white board fan! I've had a close, codependent relationship with mine for decades.
      😊

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  7. love love love this list. Ordered that candle - vanilla is one of my favorites and I haven't tried everything bagel on other things. - you inspire me. LOL And love the spring wreath too.

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    1. Thanks for bringing so much love with you today! The combination of the scent and the crackle is divinely relaxing.
      ðŸ•Ŋ️

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  8. Thanks for the list and I love it. I try ever so hard to have a schedule during the winter months and most days do well until after lunch! Happy Weekend, Linda!

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    1. Oh I hear what you're saying, Pam. But isn't it absolutely amazing how much you can get done by noon?
      ðŸ•Ķ

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  9. What a great list! Cozy, practical, invitational, and fun! Thank you!

    Barbara
    onehopefulyear.com

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    1. And we could use a little bit of practical right about now, yes?!
      ðŸĪŠ

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  10. It sounds like a beautiful place to spend the winter. I love your forsythia wreaths!

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    1. I never would have dreamed that someday I'd hang a forsythia wreath in January!
      ðŸĶ‹

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  11. I love all these winter savers Linda! I've read all of Bonnie's books thus far (and been part of her release book clubs which are really a special treat). The grey days of winter can get to me too, and sometimes I'll just pop into the local drug store to get a blast of light. :)

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    1. That's such a great idea, Lynn, to simply propel ourselves out of the house. Go visit a favorite store, take a brisk walk, visit a friend, get some vitamin D.
      ☀️

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  12. I love the way you gather as much cozy cheer around you for these long winter days as you can, Linda. I am learning to just allow myself to relax and not rush, to quit putting pressure on myself and just seek the beauty in each day. :) As you write here - "God is not a harsh taskmaster, but a loving Father full of grace, gently inviting us into a deeper, more vibrant relationship." :) Love and blessings to you!

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    1. 'I am learning to just allow myself to relax and not rush, to quit putting pressure on myself and just seek the beauty in each day.'

      Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I feel your relief, your rest, your joy. God is so good. Sounds like He's got you right in the palm of His hand. And there's no better place to be.

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    2. Hhhmmm... I don't know why my comment came out as anonymous, Linda. :) I guess it's the change of browsers I'm using. It seems I am having to do some tweaking to comment. :) Anyway, I just want to remind you that you have been an instrument blessed by God to nudge me towards a restful, less pressured spot, so thank you!

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    3. I knew those sweet words were straight from your heart, Trudy. You have a signature touch to your encouragement. How blessed that we can continue to speak grace and kindness into each others' lives here in these blogging circles we run in ...

      God is good.
      ✍️

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  13. Oddly enough, with the move, I am not ready for winter to be over (yet). We are still trying to get settled and find our rhythms. I think trips to the library, and having a job that forces me to get out of the house, helps to not get too far into the winter blahs.

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    1. 'We are still trying to get settled and find our rhythms.'

      It took me quite awhile to do the same after our move here almost 8 years ago. I like how you're giving yourself grace and space to find who you are in this season, in this new place.
      ðŸĄ

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  14. I was late getting my calendar up too and it was not good! I decided at the last minute to get a different calendar, and it took awhile to come in. My apologies to anybody's birthday early in January that I missed. :) I hope to go see A Man Called Otto soon too before it leaves the theater. So many great things in this post that I can't comment on them all! Thanks for sharing your life and space with us, Linda.

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    1. I felt like my right arm was missing 'til I got my calendar set up and my white board in place. Thanks for letting me know I wasn't alone, Lisa.
      📅

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  15. Happy Sunday evening, Linda. I've been using a similar 2-year Bible reading plan for maybe seven or eight years. It takes me at least three years to get through it, but I'm OK with that. All those trips through the Psalms have blessed my prayer life more than I can say. Love these lifesaver posts of yours. :-)

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    1. Yes, I agree with not pushing it when it comes to reading God's Word. A goal is worthy but not at the expense of skimming or rushing through what He's saying to us in this love letter to our souls. And oh, praise God for the Psalms, our prayer book. You name it, David's been there, done that. We're in good company, we're on sacred ground.
      ✝️

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  16. You and I take advantage of some of the same mid-winter life savers: candles, books, organizing, and blogging. Instead of starfish pants (I'll have to check those out!), my Cuddle Duds (long underwear) are a go-to for coziness in winter. Oh--and SmartWool socks! Also enjoy turning on the fairy lights at dusk--or enjoy them all day long when it's densely overcast.

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    1. Oh, the fairy lights! I bought a box early December, but they're still sitting on the shelf where they got put the day they arrived. When it gets a bit warmer, 'we'll' string them in the porch. Thanks for the reminder not to forget the twinkling!
      👞

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  17. Good morning! Winter is not my favorite and January seems to last forever. Thank goodness February arrives tomorrow. This winter I am working hard to get out of the house for a change of scenery and of course to feel like there is purpose to my days. I go to a local coffee shop to write and it's saving my soul. I also will begin co-facilitating a grief recovery group tomorrow and I know those ladies will bless me even more than I will bless them.

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    1. Mary, hi! It fascinates me how writers love a good coffee shop. It sounds so cozy and professional. But I'd be too distracted by noise, motion, people watching, and the aromas of the goodies there.

      *sigh*

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  18. Ahhh, Linda, I love all of your "saves!" For me, I either have a candle burning or a diffuser running most days. My daily quiet times are also crucial to help me navigate winter—both the snowy days and the winters of the soul. What's helping me be productive is a planner I've used for a few years. I'm loving all that it's helping me with this year!

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    1. Ah yes, Jeanne, those winters of the soul. Februarys used to just about kill me. But, thank God, these days have me in a better place. I want to be able to be fully available and present to what's going on around me ... especially the grievous and sad situations.
      💞

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  19. Hi Linda,
    Your winter routine sounds delightful! We're in Summer here in Australia so I can't relate at the moment but our Summer has been a strange one with too many cold days, so cold we haven't put our winter clothes away! Very strange indeed!
    Blessings, Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer, I always love hearing about where you (and other faraway-from-me friends) are coming from. Summer with winter clothes, mmm ... odd indeed. Global warming?
      🌏

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  20. Top Gun Maverick is a favorite at our house and we just went to see A Man Called Otto this last weekend. I also love lighting candles and vanilla bean is a favorite scent of mine too.

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    1. Sounds like we might be kindred spirits, Stacie ...
      😇

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  21. yes, yes yes to living out of the freezer this month! I did a Stephen Ministry training years ago and loved walking alongside people in their lives; so glad to hear it's filling you up!

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    1. It's such an honor to come alongside another soul simply just to listen, to care, to let them know they're not alone. No pat answers, no quick fixes, just a Christ-centered companionship. I'm glad it spoke to you, too!
      👭

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  22. What a great list! The winter is long and hard; it's so great to have some mid-winter ideas.

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I'm featuring you this week!

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    1. Oh thank you, Richella! I hope there's some encouragement for your people here in this deep mid-winter season.
      ❄️

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  23. Seasonal Affect Disorder and the depression that knocks on my door keep me pretty much being okay with not wanting to go out of my house. Don't get me wrong, I do go out but I'm not happy about it. I'll be fine once spring time change comes. I'm going to have to try some of your tips they are great ideas. And I so appreciate you sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month sweet friend.

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    1. Oh I hear you, Paula, about depression and not wanting to go out but going out anyway. I found that more often than not, the fresh air, change of pace, a bit of connect with real life people, and exercise boosted my spirits and gave me a dose of encouragement. I hope you'll find that to be true as the winter continues its trek toward spring.

      Praying for you even as we speak, friend.
      🌚

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  24. It's interesting that you mentioned the calendar - I'm lost without wall calendars and I'm missing having a big one with beautiful art in my kitchen this winter. (We've recently moved and this townhouse doesn't have much wall space for a kitchen calendar) I love having flowers in my dining room and candles or wax warmers going. Visiting from Sweet Tea today

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    1. Yep, I have no wall space either. But last year I hung one on the inside of a cupboard it was always a bright and cheery hello when I reached for some plates.

      And just the thought of having some flowers on the dining room table right about now makes me smile, Kym. I'll look for some bright ones next time I head out. Thanks for that nudge!
      💐

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