April 2018 Favorites

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Favorite Things23 Comments

We’re already 10 days into May and I realized I haven’t shared my favorites from April!  Well, let’s take care of that right now.  Here were some of my favorite things…


Launching Aviary was pretty exciting and definitely a highlight…


I turned 40 years old (eek) in early April and we didn’t have any special plans, but some of my new friends fixed that and whisked me away for a girls night out to dinner at The Porch.  It was an amazing dinner including sinfully delicious offerings like Proper Fried Chicken and Cold Mac & Crack.  It was so fun and such a great way to spend my first birthday in Minnesota.

If you’re ever in Rochester, do yourself a favor and eat there.


This was a new period drama miniseries that showed on Starz in April.  While it’s not my favorite story, it was made very well and I looked forward to a new episode each week.  There are some really lovely themes in this story, like forgiveness and accepting people with all of their messiness.

And I could just listen to Matthew Macfadyen speak all day.  Just come to my house and read me a book while I paint and make slipcovers…


As I shared, we kicked off the month with about 10″ of snow, but spring finally came and I have enjoyed it.  It has definitely injected me with more energy to get projects done and I’ve loved going for walks and kicking the boys outside to play with their neighborhood friends.  I’m also excited to do some of the outdoor projects that have been waiting for warmer temperatures, like organizing the garage, refinishing the dining room table, making color boards for my studio, gardening, etc.


Not only was this an awesome event that I have wanted to attend for years, but it was a creative shot in the arm for me.  One of my new friends from church came with me and we had so much fun together.  We will definitely be antique shopping buddies.  I also got to meet Ki Nassauer for the first time!


I listened to this podcast on a whim and now I referring it to anyone I talk to about health/weight loss.  It’s so, so good.  They aren’t trying to pitch a diet or gimmick.  They are all about moderation and small changes to work towards life-long health.  As someone who has tried just about every diet trend and plan since I was 15 years old, it’s been refreshing and encouraging.  I have been losing a little weight, but I’m happier with the fact that I’m noticing changes in habits and mindset.


Cheese and crackers are one of my favorite snacks, but I’m trying to eat more vegetables, so I’ve been adding them into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  I played with some different variations and I found a favorite veggie-inclusive cheese & cracker combo – Trader Joe’s Beet Crackers + Creamy Swiss + Red Pepper.  I tend to eat a bigger breakfast and then I’ll have this for lunch along with some cucumbers or an apple or small salad.

Those are yummy little bites!

What have you been enjoying lately?


April 2018 Favorites

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23 Comments on “April 2018 Favorites”

  1. I can’t wait to listen to this Podcast. Like you, I’ve tried every diet/plan out there. The only thing that sticks is just, well, consistency and finding something (food, exercise, sleep habits) that you truly love and that sustaining don’t feel like work. Thanks for the suggestion. Amy

    1. Yes, it really is good. The most recent one on the “10 commandments to maintain weight loss” is excellent. They suggest listening to their first 5 podcasts first, so you get a good context for the rest. I did that and it was a great introduction.

  2. “As someone who has tried just about every diet trend and plan since I was 15 years old…” You would be a perfect candidate for Bright Line Eating. I started the program a month ago (at the recommendation of my holistic doctor) and it has changed my entire attitude toward food and eating. It’s really very simple; you follow four rules – no flour, no sugar, no snacking (three regular meals a day) and weighed food. I thought it would be a killer to give up sugar and flour, but after the first week, I lost my craving for them and it’s been pretty easy. I feel so motivated to stick with it because I feel so much better. I am losing weight quickly, have so much more energy, am sleeping better, and my indigestion as disappeared. Please check out the website. You could also probably find the book in your library. Many people who have dieted for years, say BLE is the only thing that had long-term success.

    1. Yeah, but “NO” anything just isn’t sustainable to me. I want to be able to have some bread or pasta or cake, etc. now and then. Not all the time, but sometimes. Any “NO” plan then means I have to “cheat” and that feeds this mentality of failure and having to start over again, etc. It sounds great and I’m glad it’s working for you, but that’s just not the path for me.

  3. Funny–I feel the same way about the Howard’s End story. My sister told me to watch it and I haven’t yet so I’ll give it a try. I too love Matthew Macfadyen!

  4. Relax! I am 2x your age plus 4 and looking forward to my 85th. Have you tried hummus (dip it with celery, carrot, or bell pepper “sticks”) as a snack? Not so caloric and high-protein.

  5. My daughter and I have been going to Junk Bonanza for years !! We just love it!! It’s a long drive 7 hours but it is worth every minute. This is the first year we did not go on Thursday, so sorry we missed seeing you.
    Love all your ideas and reading all your adventures with decorating
    Mary Ann

    1. Sorry I missed you, too! You’re right, it’s a great event. I will definitely be going again.

  6. I tried to read Howard’s End years ago, and just couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

    For weight loss and control, I really recommend Sparkpeople.com. It is a completely free site that helps you figure out how many calories you can have every day to lose a certain amount of weight. It uses your height and weight to help you calculate. There are also recipes, a weight-loss community, and lots of exercise and food tips as well.

    You keep track of what you eat every day by creating your own favorite foods list. Then, you just click on your foods, and add it to your daily intake. If you happen to eat 3/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup like you’ve listed as a serving, the calorie calculations are done for you. It has helped me lose 10-ish lbs a few times in the last several years. There are no restrictions on what you eat because it’s not a diet, but a tracking system. You learn to reduce and keep track of your intake to meet your calorie goal each day. And you can work those cheese and crackers into your daily allotment. For me, it’s Dove chocolates or a glass of wine.

    Two takeaways–we (I) eat many more calories than we think. Once you start counting, you want to be accountable to the computer and yourself. It really does work..

    Love the color Aviary–I may use that on my great-grandfather’s secretary desk that I have not (until now) had the courage to paint. It’s needed it for some time.

    Happy 40th! At my age, (almost 64) I think that’s young!

    1. That sounds like a great app! I use a similar one called My Fitness Pal. You’re so right that it’s a great tool to monitor your intake.

  7. My April has not been so good and I find it difficult to find thing that are positive about it. My father passed away April 1st (massive heart attack) after a 6 day hospital stay. My father did every thing, I mean every thing for my mother and for them. He loved her so! They had a love that most couples only hope to have. 53 years of Wedded Bliss. This event has been devastating to our family and even though there are four of us siblings I am the only child (the oldest as well) who lives near my mom. I am at her house every day after working all day until well into the night. I am not resentful at all. I love my mom! But I am tired and have had very little time for myself to grieve and to rest. I know this post isn’t very uplifting, but I will say that when I do have any time at all…reading your blogs are my ‘go to’ choice. They are so very uplifting to me and they whisk my away to what life was before my father passed away (a sense of normalcy that I crave). They not only give me awesome ideas that I may try one day, but they are inspirational in many ways. I love your take on life, your style, and I need my thoughts directed toward such positive things. Thank you for being you and allowing a brief reprieve (a safe place) from a period in my life when I really need it.

    1. Shelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for your family and your mom…for comfort and healing.

  8. I really like the new color, Aviary. It looks gorgeous on the dresser makeover, Marian! I have been following, admiring, and learning from your work for years and I am looking forward to finally getting started on this house. We have been here 5 years and I have been juggling a whirlwind of networking and growth in my fine art endeavors since then, so the house has been neglected. I was also pouting the whole time because it’s not old, but I started working on gratitude and positivity last year and that has really helped. When a girlfriend came over for the first time and exclaimed over how beautiful our home is, I knew it was time to stop being a brat and get to work.
    I’m up against a deadline for a big show in June, but I have already started on the small things, something else I’ve learned from you. I found a China pattern I love at a local antique store and made time this week to unwrap and display it. It’s a full 8 piece setting and I got it at a phenomenal price, so now I’m on the hunt for serving dishes and tea service.
    The place where I will make the biggest changes will be in my studio. I feel like I can decorate it however I want because it’s my space I plan to make much more mine and intentionally arranged – I live in a house full of men, including all but one of the pets. I have also been learning from your photography and branding and plan to put much of that to use in how I present my art and blog in the future. I don’t think people realize how much time and skill goes into that aspect of a creative business and the struggle an artist feels between creating their art and making time to present it to the world.
    I’m a rambler, as you can see, but I wanted to say how much I appreciate your influence on my outlook and creative professionalism, as well as making my home more beautiful. I’m glad you found a new place to find treasures. I have a list of events locally that I need to start attending now that I have a little more space for projects involving furniture and salvage.
    Good luck with your personal goals!

  9. I’m with you on listening to Matthew Macfadyden. His is one of my favorite British accents, so clean and crisp. “Howards End” is a strange story, but then so were the characters. I loved the clothes and the furniture of the Edwardian era which was a plus for me. If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy “Pillars of the Earth,” as well. It’s on Starz at the moment. Matthew is one of the main characters, as well as Hailey Atwell. Also appearing in it is Eddie Redmayne, Ian McShane (who does evil better than anyone) Rufus Sewell, Sam Clafin and the gorgeous David Oakes who plays Ernest (Albert’s cousin) in PBS’s “Victoria,” although he’s thoroughly despicable in “Pillars.”
    I don’t post often, but I enjoy your blog and look forward to it when I open up my IN BOX and there it is.
    Best wishes.

    1. I started that one, but didn’t stick with it. I’ll have to check it out again. Thanks for the referral!

  10. Hi, Marian-

    Forty was a biggie for me, too. I was feeling sorry for myself, and old. God, in His wisdom, gave me something to “really” whine about: having skin cancer removed on that birthday. I decided that I would hence be thankful for every year I get in this life. You are still a “spring chicken”, Marian, and every day marks a new chapter in the book of your life. Thank you for having the courage and faith to start your business and this blog.

    Glad that you are enjoying your current way of eating. I was raised on three meals a day, plus a snack after school, dessert after dinner, and the holiday splurges. When I became an adult, my diet was sporadic; whatever I could afford/whatever the current “healthy” fad was. Lots of coffee, too, until I was diagnosed with a heart problem. I tried vegetarianism for a few years, until my doctor told me that my body needs the animal product (I tend toward anemia)- yes, I was “doing it right”.

    After many decades, I have learned that my body does best with smaller meals, more often (but, I love a bigger breakfast). Because of the onset of a new health condition several years ago, I am on the FODMAP diet, which is one of the weirdest things I have ever followed. Also, because my body can’t process all of the food I take in, I eat more often. But, it enables me to not be in “I want morphine” pain- so, I stick with it. On the other hand, my hubby’s health woes require him to follow three “squares” and small snacks, with everything apportioned. What’s healthy for me isn’t healthy for everybody else, and vice versa. Please don’t tell me how good mangoes are for me; my lips swell up like a celebrity’s, post-“procedure”. I don’t need to eat more fruits and veggies; I have to eat less, and less of a variety, now. Honey, garlic, onion, and avocado, all “healthy for everyone”, are out for me; etc. If we all listened to our bodies and our chosen (good) health practitioners, we might have an easier go of it, rather than getting our advice from social media.

    In answer to, “What have you been enjoying lately?”- R.W. Garcia Organic Sweet Potato Crackers (GF), Kirkland Organic Plain Greek Yogurt with blueberries and pure maple syrup stirred in; sweet Buttercrunch lettuce, straight from my garden; homemade shredded chicken tacos on crispy corn tortillas; homemade mac&cheese with cooked, ground hamburger mixed in. The sun (always an unexpected pleasure in the Pacific “Northwet”). Spending time with friends. Reading this blog:)

    1. Such a good comment! I love sweet butter lettuce, too, but mine is from the grocery store right now. Hopefully we’ll get a garden going next year. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites as well as some of your food history. I think it’s good to know I’m not alone and every body is different and that’s okay!

  11. Love it all! I super wish I had Starz, but my cable is so high already with just basic. I love period piece shows. I watch every one I can and remakes. Just watched Little Women on PBS.

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