Icelandic folklore

Posted October 30, 2014 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Where to Go? | Add your comment »

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As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I recently got back from a trip to Iceland, which I loved. One of the things that fascinates me about the country is its rich history, including the Sagas and folklore. Many of these stories were written hundreds of years after they allegedly happened, so some are perhaps a bit embellished.

Every region of Iceland has local folk tales. One of my favorites is how Katla volcano got its name. It’s a neat story and worth reading, but to get to the punchline: a woman named Katla committed a murder (many Icelandic tales are a bit grisly) and ran away using her magic trousers that allowed her to run as fast and far as she wanted without getting tired. She escaped and flung herself into a crevasse on a nearby mountain, which then erupted violently. The fissure was named after Katla herself, and has been erupting regularly ever since.

Iceland’s legends abound with elves, trolls, sorceresses and magic. Looking at the landscape full of lava fields and waterfalls, it’s easy to imagine how someone might catch a glimpse of a mythical creature.

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Writing Wednesday: Journaling while traveling

Posted October 29, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Where to Go? | 3 comments »


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I recently got home from two weeks in Iceland! I’d been wanting to go there for a very long time, and was not disappointed. It’s an amazing place with spectacular landscapes and rich history.

I kept a journal during my trip to record my days. I took photos (although now that I’m back home I realize I didn’t take nearly enough). But even photos can’t remind me of how much I loved the geology, how much my kids loved the local pool fed by hot springs, and many other things we enjoyed there.

I’m of two minds on journaling while traveling. On the one hand, I want a record of my trip so I can remember what we did each day and what it was like in the country. But on the other, I’m so busy having fun I don’t always have time to journal. I have to admit, as much as I wanted to record our trip, sometimes writing in my journal felt a bit like homework. Usually I fill in my pages a day or two later, when I have time for quiet reflection.

How do you feel about journaling while traveling? Do you like to record your trip? Or do you feel photos capture the memories well enough?

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Apples, Cider & Cider Donuts

Posted October 28, 2014 by
in Beautiful Creations, Life Noted, Where to Go? | Add your comment »


Of all the seasons, fall appeals the most to my senses:  the wine, orange, yellow and red foliage; the rustle of leaves; cold crisp air;  the messy joy of carving a pumpkin; and most of all, fresh cider and cider donuts.

It is the very small window of time when they are freshly made – 4-6 weeks – that makes them so desirable and such a treat.  When I catch a whiff of a sugared cider donut, all willpower vanishes.

Two great places for apples, cider and cider donuts are Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue, NY and Briermere Farm in Riverhead, NY.  Briermere’s also has the best pies in the entire world.

A family favorite, when we had a place in the Delaware Water Gap, is Colin’s Apple Pit on Rt. 206 in Montague, NJ.  Every fall I’m tempted to drive to “The Apple Pit” just for their great cider, and for the fun of picking different kinds of apples from their barrels.

What’s your favorite apple/cider place?


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Time Management Monday: Scheduling free time

Posted October 27, 2014 by
in Planning Tips | 2 comments »

Sunday Afternoon

I like to keep weekends open and unscheduled, but lately I’m finding I don’t get things done on the weekends like I intended to, even fun things. This morning the normal weekday routine got rolling and I realized I didn’t glue my daughter’s broken necklace, didn’t print out those Ed Sheeran lyrics I’d promised my son, and never made it over to the farm shop for chicken feed and straw.

Time management experts recommend scheduling free time, both blocking out the time itself and making a plan. As resistant as I am to it, I recognize the value in scheduling free time.

Do you schedule your free time? Or do you like to keep free time free?

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Feature focus: Month grid calendars

Posted October 24, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | 1 comment »

Several Quo Vadis planners including the daily Journal 21 and the weekly Visual, Space 24 and Hebdo planners have one of my favorite planner features ever: monthly grid calendars.

2 month spread cropped

Monthly calendars in a grid format with space to write each day are especially useful for planning ahead in day per page planners. Even in weekly planners the monthly grids are great for a quick glance at what’s coming up. I use mine to easily see bills due, holidays, travel, my kids’ school events, deadlines, blog post planning, on and on. Some people like to use monthly grids to record the weather, health symptoms, or nature sightings like when birds migrate, flowers bloom or leaves turn for easy comparison month to month or year to year.

Month grid closeup

It’s easy to see patterns in monthly grid calendars, especially for recurring events. I make a note in my monthly calendars on days I exercise, S for strength and C for cardio. I can easily see when I’m reaching my exercise goals, or when I’ve gone too many days without exercise. I also use my month calendars as an index of events, so I can quickly see what happened each day. It’s a great reference.

How do you use the monthly grid calendars in your planner?

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Pencil or pen in your planner?

Posted October 23, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | 6 comments »

Pencil  macro "close up"

In my planner I used to use only pen all the time. But this year I switched to pencil (because I got a really cool crystal-topped pencil that I wanted to use) and now I see the benefits of pencil-planning. I didn’t realize how much I used correction fluid, or just scribbling out, until I had the luxury of erasing my writing. It takes away some of the anxiety of planning when I know I can easily erase anything I write. Now I’m much more likely to write tentative plans than I was before. I still use archival ink in my daily journal book, but for future planning I’m loving pencil.

Do you use pencil or pen in your planner?

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Writing Wednesday: Life Journaling

Posted October 22, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Writing as Meditation | 1 comment »

Write In Journal
There are infinite ways to journal: through art, poetry, deep thoughts, goal setting, recording memories or plans for the future. Over the years my idea of what my journal should be has changed and evolved.

I used to write page after page of speculation and reflection, but I never looked at those pages again. But what I did look back at, over and over throughout the years, were my old planners. These were free of the angst of my young journaling pages, and painted a picture of what my life was like at the time.

Fast forward several years and my journaling became a record of the cute things my kids did and said when they were little. When kids are small they come out with noteworthy antics every day that are fun to look back on later. It’s amazing how much I would have forgotten about their little-kid stages if I hadn’t written them down at the time.

Fast forward again to now. My kids are older and don’t necessarily have noteworthy things every day, but I do still like to record events and fun things we do as a family. A couple of years ago I realized I didn’t have the time or energy to journal in a separate book so I started jotting everything into my day per page diary. That worked really well, and the dated page encouraged me to write something to record the day.

About this time last year a friend introduced me to the Bullet Journal concept so I switched over to an undated notebook as my journal and enjoyed unlimited writing each day. I have to admit I don’t stick to the Bullet Journal system, my journal is more like what this woman does in her journal (although mine is more simplistic than hers).

Now my journal is purely a record of my life, from the day to day details to the bigger things like family vacations and trips. I don’t speculate, I don’t project, I just record. And for me, this has been the best type of life journaling.

How has your journaling changed over the years?

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Bill Parcells

Posted October 21, 2014 by
in Editorial | Add your comment »


Fall means football time, and football for me is Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells.  They have to be among the greatest motivators of all time.  They each have some great quotes about attitude, coaching, and accountability.  Tough, hard-nosed coaches, they focused on one thing: winning.  “You are what your record says you are,” said Parcells.  That’s pretty hard, but at the end of the day nobody cares about excuses. No one looked up to or paid to give good reasons why they lost.

“When blue-collar guys stop for their ‘coffee-and …’ on the way to work they don’t want philosophy, all they want to know is did you win or did you lose.”

When Parcells landed at the NY Jets in 1997, during training camp he was asked by one of his players what did he think about the coming season? (the Jets were 1-15 in 1996). “Look-it,” Parcells said, using one of his favorite phrases, “I ain’t no five-year-plan man.  I ain’t no four-year-plan man. I’m a win-right-now man. You know what? We’re going to be special this year.”

The Jets went to 9-7 in 1997 and 12-4 in 1998.

Bill Parcell Quotes





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Time Management Monday: Check emails? Don’t check emails?

Posted October 20, 2014 by
in Planning Tips | 3 comments »

My desk. Prepping for the talk at noon.

A tip I see often on time management websites is not to check your email at the very beginning of your work day, but instead to dive straight into your most concentration-intensive work. The reason for this is at the beginning of the day you are fresh and your brain isn’t fatigued from making millions of decisions, so you are able to focus and be most productive.

In a way I understand that email can be distracting and a huge time suck, and by the time you resurface from the email flood it’s nearly lunch time and your most productive time of the day is done. But I can also envision a scenario where you crank away for hours on your project and then finally check your emails to discover a message detailing changes to the plan. Now you have to spend hours undoing what you did and start over.

Personally, I check my emails first but don’t get involved in things that can wait until later. I reply to things that need a quick response, incorporate new tasks into my day’s plan, and make note of things that need to be followed up on later. I limit myself to 30 minutes for this, then I get on with production.

Do you check emails first thing? Or do you wait until later so you can crank through work first?

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Feature focus: List boxes

Posted October 17, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | 2 comments »

Many of the Quo Vadis weekly planners such as the Trinote, Minister, and size variations thereof like the President and Prenote have designated list boxes on the weekly pages. These list boxes have icons to suggest uses like phone calls and emails, tracking expenses and notes, but they can be used in any way.

Trinote cropped

Each box can be designated to a person in a family or a team member to note duties, household chores, deadlines, or things they are working on that week.

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The boxes can be assigned different topics like meal plans, exercise, tracking, reading lists and assignments. Or they can keep lists of things you need to do at home, at work, and errands out and about. You can even use the boxes differently week to week as needed.

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How do you use your list boxes in your weekly planner?


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