December & January Favorites

Marian ParsonsFavorite Things41 Comments

I have to confess that I was a little too grouchy yesterday to write any kind of a blog post that would’ve been even marginally inspirational or interesting to read.  So, I saved you from that and left my writing for this morning when I had a fresh perspective!  And, I was having such a great morning that it got me in the perfect mood to share my favorites from December and January.  Those two ended up getting lumped together because of the holidays, so here you go…

Montana Trip

I went to Whitefish, Montana to tour the HGTV dream home in early December and it was such an enriching trip.  I didn’t know anyone attending the event, so it pulled me out of my typical sphere of home decor bloggers.  I got to hang out with an awesome group of creative, business-savvy women and it was a blast.  The location wasn’t too shabby, either.  You can read more about that trip HERE.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

If you missed this movie (available on Amazon Prime) this past Christmas season, you really need to put it on the list to watch when the holidays roll around again.  I loved it as a Christmas movie, but even more so, I loved it as a creative.  They cover all sorts of themes like the pressure to follow success with more success, how distractions and your own story can add to or take away from the creative process, and how some of the best ideas are the simplest and filled with hope.  We even watched it with our boys (10 & 12) and they enjoyed it.

The Mill

The other bit of TV I’m going to suggest is The Mill.  I’m always looking for new period dramas to watch and I stumbled across this one just in time to ask for it for Christmas.  It isn’t available in digital format (at least at the time of this blog post), so I had to order the discs off of Amazon, but they were wonderful.  If you liked North & South (with Richard Armitage), you’ll probably like this, too.  (Oh, and check your local library to see if they have it or will order it for you.  When I shared it on Instagram a couple of people said they were able to get it at their library.)

Christmas Break

I really, really enjoyed being home and taking time off for Christmas.  The break was much needed and our entire family enjoyed slowing down.


One of my favorite Christmas presents was a new Fitbit.  My complaint with previous models was the rubbery, sporty, modern-looking bands.  I just didn’t like the way it looked.  I love that there are so many band options available now and the FitBit can look more like a traditional watch.  I got the Fitbit Charge 2 + Heartrate and THIS genuine leather band.

Making Color Charts

I took some time over the Christmas break to make color charts for my all of the colors on my regular oil painting palette.  The process was so beneficial to learn my colors and what they can do (I learned that my Phthalo Green behaves more like a blue) and I also enjoyed putting on my music and playing with my colors.  I feel like the excercise will improve my color mixing and my finished works.

Emily Jeffords Goal Setting Workbook

I follow Emily Jeffords on Instagram, because she’s a talented artist, but also an encourager to other creative entrepreneurs.  I printed up and worked through her Goal Setting Workbook and it was a valuable exercise that forced me to take the time to think about why I do what I do as well as what direction I want to go.  You can get a free printable copy HERE.


I’ll do a full post on this for those who are interested, but I am working on Calligraphy, specifically Copperplate calligraphy.  I’ve been reading some books, taking classes on SkillShare, and working through some of the free content on The Postman’s Knock.  (Thanks for that suggestion!)  I love the idea of not just appreciating the handwriting on old letters and documents, but learning how to do it myself.  So, I’m doing it and I can already see improvement in my the use of the nib and in the letter shapes and connections.

Yes, I realize that sounds dorky.


In addition to setting some Social Media boundaries, I’ve been reading a devotional on contentment to focus my mind and heart on embracing contentment, not as a consolation prize for happiness, but as an important component of happiness.  This book talks all about that in easy-to-digest, 2-3 page devotions.  You can find the book HERE.


 I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to be working through my home and organizing spaces that I haven’t tackled since we first moved in.  It feels like finally, 1 1/2 years after we moved in, that I’m now really getting settled.  Some of that comes with paint and home improvement projects, but to me, feeling settled means that there is a proper place for everything and everything is in that place.  I still have several rooms and closets and drawers to work on, but it’s getting there!

Accidental Creative Podcast

I started listening to this podcast in December and it is my go-to now.  First of all, the host, Todd Henry, really knows his stuff and offers a perspective that’s different than one I would get from listening to a podcast by someone who is closer to my creative entrepreneurial peer.  So, I like that I’m getting a fresh take on creative business.  His podcasts are short and manageable to fit in regularly (10-15 minutes) and they are always packed with practical tips and to-dos.  And, best of all, he’s not pushing you to do more, be more, and make more money.  His slogan is, “Develop practices that will make you prolific, brilliant, and healthy.”

Sign me up for that!

Death without a Funeral

And lastly, I wanted to share this Jason Gray song.  I started purposefully listening to his music a few days before we went to his concert and I immediately loved this song.  He wrote it specifically about his divorce.  While I haven’t experienced divorce as a child or a spouse, I have experienced loss without death.  When my son was diagnosed with T1D, I remember how comforting it was when one reader told me it was okay to mourn for his loss.  I hadn’t even realized that she was right…I needed permission to mourn.  He wasn’t terminal.  He wasn’t going to be in-and-out of hospitals for the rest of his life.  There was a lot he could do and only a little that he couldn’t.  But, he experienced a loss and we all went through that and continue to with every high and low and insulin pump change and fight with the insurance company and tears when he can’t try a soda being offered to him.

Anyway, if you’ve experienced a divorce or some other loss, I think you’ll love this song, too…


What were your favorites from December and/or January?

December  & January Favorites

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41 Comments on “December & January Favorites”

  1. That song touched me deeply! I am 57 and have lost my Mom, Dad and Brother, my only sibling. I felt this song!

    I too have been de -cluttering and organizing. Yesterday I cleaned out our storage closet and pitched a garbage bag full of lids and food storage containers that had no mate! Crazy! I still have more to do, but it felt great!

    1. It is a beautiful song, isn’t it? Very heartfelt and touching. Good for you on the decluttering!

  2. Miriam, you amaze me with all your talents and energy. I so enjoy sharing your interest and writings. Your home is so beautiful and you decorate it so nicely. I can see how much you like blue. I also have blue in my kitchen but my home is not nearly as big and beautiful as yours, I still enjoy decorating it. Thank you for all your sharing. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  3. I love period dramas. My husband and I are watching Poldark now. I have a love hate relationship with it. Almost every episode I say I’m done and tell him I hate it. In truth I love it, but hate when characters behave out of character if that makes sense. I also love calligraphy you have inspired me to give it a try again, it’s been years since I checked out books at the library and made a few wall hangings. Happy February!

    1. I am with you on Poldark. I’ll watch it because I do love the cinematography and I do like that the characters are flawed, but some of them are a little too flawed. 🙂

    1. They are from TJ Maxx/Home Goods and are by the brand Bue Harbor. The best part is that they are cheap! $8-12/each.

  4. Wow I love that song. I just popped over to Amazon and ordered his latest CD! Can’t wait for it to come.

    Everyone has their own story and ways to relate to that song. I doubt anyone has never experienced the pain of a loss in some shape or form.

    I wanted to say I am sorry about your son but it seems inappropriate as you have seen the positives! God is listening and watching over him.

    Thank you so much for sharing Jason Gray and particularly that song with us! I won’t share my own losses but that song puts them in a better light for me. It’s like the losses we experience that are “invisible” to others because as Jason says there’s no body in the ground.

    Appreciate everything, especially when you don’t blog when you’re cranky LOL.

  5. OMGoodness… I’m a period junkie too and I love your recommendations. On a more productive note… I’ve meaning to incorporate podcasts into my daily routine and your recommendation for The Accidental Creative was exactly what I was looking for. I listened to two of his podcasts today on weekly planning and daily planning and I’m hooked! Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. It is so good! I like that I can listen to one quickly and I always walk away with something valuable.

  6. Kudos…Recognized your studio immediately on the Stampington & Co preview of ‘In Her Studio’. Can’t wait to pick up a copy!

  7. That song! My first marriage ended more than 20 years ago, but I can still identify with the grief that divorce causes. Divorce was truly the most painful experience of my life, and I have suffered many losses. Now I am happily remarried (I remarried at 50!) and building a wonderful life with my guy.

    1. Good for you! I love the quote, “A second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”

  8. What an amazing song. I got divorced 20 years ago and it still hurts. It truly is a death without a funeral!

    I too am decluttering. Crazy how much I have gotten rid of and I still have so much more to go! But it feels so good to finally have some empty spaces.

    I grew up in Montana so was a bit envious of your trip. I do miss the snow at Christmas but love the no snow here in southern Oregon.

  9. I treated myself to a quart of your boxwood paint (alkyd but water clean-up) from Benj. Moore. We live in kind of a DIY/décor desert here in Southern Oregon and I was excited to find a local dealer! To my credit, it was in an area I don’t explore much!
    Thanks again for such great inspiration!

  10. Thank you for that song. I love those white pots in the bottom of your cabinet and have been looking for some, thanks and have a blessed weekend.

  11. Thankyou for sharing the song. I almost didn’t open the blog today . I have not heard of Jason Gray. I needed that son, I have had to do grieving without a funeral.i will look up his music.😢 Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement. I looked up those cute booties that you were wearing, are they Chelsea, Joan of arctic or Womans after hours Chelsea?? Or another Chelsea? Thanks

    1. I think they may have changed the style a bit, but the ones I have are the Chelsea. They are so comfortable! I might ask for the Joan of Arctics wedge boots next year for Christmas.

  12. Love the new hair do. Very modern and flattering, too. I tried the shoulder length hair just recently and wondered how I every got by with long long hair in my younger years. I finally had enough of hair in my eyes and stuck to my lipstick. Now I can do my hair in 5 minutes and my makeup in 10 minutes and I look put together without using up 1 hour of time and being frustrated with my hair never looking the same way twice. Added bonus is that just about everyone says I look younger. I’ll take that any day.

    1. Thank you and good for you! I’m missing my length, but my hair was very broken and healthy and it needed to be cut. I’m hoping the new, uncolored hair is healthier and might have a shot at growing longer.

  13. DIL: A great message this morning. We watched The Man Who Invented Christmas too. It was great to see that Dan Stevens surfaced from the car wreck in Downton Abbey. But, we had to temper the the scholarly approach to Christmas with A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacatiion, Strange Brew, and the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. You know me and the B movies. Hugs for the boys.

  14. Loss without death…wow, that REALLY hit me. My always extremely healthy son was recently diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease. I, myself, have been through a kidney transplant (though for a totally different disease) so I know, only too well, what his future holds. I get teary eyed so easily. I realize now I am in mourning for the loss of his health, and fear for his future.

    1. Oh, I wish I could just give you a hug. I think that’s why this song is so touching. It accurately expresses how hard it is when there is loss that isn’t marked with some sort of closure or turning point for healing. I hope this song helps with you expressing your loss and knowing you’re not alone in it.

  15. I just wanted to thank you for sharing ALL of these things with us. The TV entertainment and the musical artist you offer on occasion gives me the opportunity to experience new things that I might not have discovered on my own. I always love them! And I must admit that your beautiful pictures on organizing is inspirational to someone who doesn’t find so much of the joy in it as you do. I have a love-hate relationship with it at best but you help me to see the beauty in it. That’s quite an accomplishment!

    1. I’m so glad! That is my hope with sharing these favorites…that they will introduce you to something new, provide inspiration, or just discover another thing we have in common! 🙂

  16. Dearest child,…as an old lady, I’m very impressed with the neat cabinet’s. However, when you get to my age and the inevitable condition age brings, you’ll hate getting that slow cooker from the abyss. Smart lady that you are, I’d bet that pull outs are in your future.
    I’d love one of those Ikea kitchens with well designed drawers but when I read the complaints of their service I’m looking for other options other than Ikea.

    Too Old To Do Mining

    1. Ha, I get that! WE’ll eventually install a couple of pull-out shelves in the bottom cabinets. For now, I hardly ever use my crockpot, so that’s where it should go!

  17. Marian, this song is perfect in the way it speaks of the pain I went through after separation/divorce. To this day I quietly rejoice on my wedding anniversary. Two children and five grands later are our blessing. Somehow we’re conditioned to forget or remember unfavorably a marriage — worse yet to pretend it never happened. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Loss without death. My best friend succumbed to dementia, an Alzheimer’s-ish loss of memory. She forgot me, didn’t recognize me. It began with her forgetting small things, repeating herself. It was crushing. We stood by her, her friends, but she was gone to us in all the ways we had known her. Then she stopped wanting to be with us, because she didn’t know us. We had been very close, spent hours together doing things we both enjoyed. She had to stop making her art, and writing poetry. Much pain all around. Good song.

  19. Marian,
    I recently checked out Joshua Becker’s blog “Becoming Minimalist” and he really goes in depth on the subject of non-contentment in our lives and how we as adults pass it on to our children. It is really spot on! He has also written several books on the NY Times best seller list.

    Thanks for all the movie recommendations. I really want to watch “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”

  20. Hi Marian,

    I love that you said, ” It feels like finally, 1 1/2 years after we moved in, that I’m now really getting settled.” I keep wondering as I take steps forward and steps backward when I will feel grounded in my new home in Colorado. It’s been 1~1/2 years for me to since I left my home of 63 years in Minnesota. Time does soothe, visits help too, and I think feeling truly settled with be the key for me. Like you I had/have many wishes for our new home that are coming along~

    Blessing to you in the New Year and as always, thank you for all you share. I enjoy every minute of watching you and your life unfold.

    From Colorado to you in Minnesota,
    Cynthia <3

  21. Marian, thank you for all your lovely posts…I love home….we will celebrate 59 years of marriage in June. My husband is a minister. Our Scottish friends live in Cornwall near where Poldark is filmed. They often walk the beach and caves. Thank you for allowing us to know you as we would a close friend…❤ God bless!

  22. Yes I would really like some help with my colour mixing too! I started a Watercolour Class and I had no idea what I was doing! Please help?

  23. I appreciate your movie/TV recommendations in your Favorite Things segment.
    I noticed you had Alone listed. A friend introduced me to Castaways with an “s” – a reality TV series of a group of strangers dropped off separately among an island chain in the S Pacific. They can remain alone or brave the unknown in search of others to survive with. It’s very family friendly and has some thought provoking questions to ask oneself, as well as showing the need we have as humans to be with others vs alone. Anyway, check it out. I hope you and your family will enjoy it.

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