Back to center.

January means a lot of things.


For many, it’s a new beginning– a chance to make promises to oneself to be thinner, kinder, more active, less self-destructive. Some people are in the dark depths of winter doldrums as the month wears on. Most of us simultaneously breathe a sigh of relief and feel a pang of sadness as the Christmas chaos ends for another year. For John and I, January marks the end of an insane holiday season, which includes both of our birthdays and, now, our wedding anniversary, too. And as the snow gets deep in the Wasatch mountains, it also marks the beginning of musical guest rooms season for the Casa de Howe.

I talked about my goals for the year (and beyond) about a month ago. Instead of making lofty or unreasonable resolutions, I’m taking a more general route with self-improvement. Seek balance. Be better. How exciting to have the chance to figure out what makes me a Super Me! In thinking this over, I realized it had been awhile since I focused on my Life List.

Remember that list? I came up with 101 things to do within 1001 days. All of a sudden, I have less than two years to cross them all off the list! The things I came up with certainly run the gamut:  lots of self-improvement, health, entertainment, humanitarianism, travel, fun, and silliness. Quite a few items are already checked off, and quite a few are in-progress and on-going. And I discovered a handful of items I’d accomplished but hadn’t marked as “complete.”

You know how much I love to cross things off of a list. SO SATISFYING.

How about making homemade holiday gifts (#51)? I worked my little booty off making Whiskey Bacon Jam, eggnog, and two kinds of cookies. They got packed into pretty packages and we delivered them to friends wearing Santa hats. I also put Tahitian vanilla beans that we brought back from our honeymoon into lovely jars and gave them to a few people, along with vanilla bean recipes. Check!


I can’t believe I didn’t mark off #61take a trip with girlfriends. I was SPOILED in this regard this year, thanks to bachelorette status! I headed to Cali for a girls’ night followed by an incredible trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea with my Maid of Honor. I also headed to Colorado for a weekend of fun in the stunning town of Ouray. Surely, you remember Pancho. As for this year, I’ve got plans in the works for a little reunion of longtime friends in San Francisco. Check!


Last, you may not know that I took 15 years of piano lessons as a youngster. I loved it, and have lost a lot of skill over years of not playing. One of my goals is to resume practice and play regularly again. That requires something to PLAY ON (see #43). Well, Santa (aka my Dad) helped me cross that one off the list. It doesn’t have 88 keys, but they are weighted and the sound is excellent. I’m excited to dive into my favorite strength/skill-building book from my younger years. Check!


Stay tuned this year as I continue to tackle this Life List, becoming more Super Me with each checkmark!

While I’m getting up to date, a few notes from BLOGLAND: With 9 months of blogging under my belt, I want to continue to improve my writing and learn new things. The Usual Bliss is on Facebook! You can find me on Pinterest and Instagram! Follow along on the Bliss Journey.

Also, I’m always humbled by nominations and awards I receive from other bloggers. In the last couple of weeks, The Usual Bliss has been recognized twice for the Liebster Award. Lazy Hippie Mama was kind enough to include me on her list, as did Lynn Daue. They made my day week by including extremely kind words, as well. THANK YOU BOTH.

I’m stealing Lynn’s interview questions (part of the deal when receiving these awards). They’re good ones (read: I’m too lazy to make them up myself!).

Favorite food? Whatever’s on the table. I love everything! I’ll never turn down a big bowl of cioppino (with crusty bread for dipping) or a good batch of chips and salsa. More favorite eats here.

What is one thing you dislike about people? It irks me when people make assumptions about others. You have no idea what they are going through or how they feel. Empathy is not overrated.

Where would you travel first, if money didn’t matter? Where WOULDN’T I travel? I’d love to return to Tuscany, but I’m also semi-obsessed with the Greek Islands.

What is your favorite part of the day and why? Truthfully? I love that moment when you wake up, glance at the clock, realize you have hours of sleep ahead of you, turn over and blissfully return to Snooze Town. I also love dinnertime with my husband (particularly when we make it together) and that first “good morning” snuzzle I get from Cholula each day.


Where would you like to live, right now? I daydream of a cabin in the woods, a ranch in Montana, a beach cottage in Point Reyes Station… but I’ve got it pretty good right here in Park City. (Talk to me after an April blizzard and I might change my tune.)

What is one of the funniest things you’ve ever done? Hmmm. One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was to surprise my little brother with a visit. Twice. The first time was his 21st birthday. My parents were visiting and took Matt out to dinner. He didn’t know that I had driven all day to surprise him. I was hiding in the bar when they were seated. I had the cocktail waitress send over a drink “from the blonde at the bar.” When he came around the corner to see who his female admirer was, IT WAS ME! I thought it was hilarious, though he may have been disappointed on some level- it was his SISTER, not some hottie. The best part of the story? I pulled the exact same surprise on him for his graduation from college!

Which movie is better than the book? I’m one of those rare people who thinks that the movie version of a book can been just as entertaining and well done– I see them as different versions of the same story. I like both.

What is your favorite song? You are My Sunshine. My grandmother used to sing it to me and every time I hear it, no matter what rendition, I always hear her voice. Other favorite music here.


First thing on your bucket list? This one’s easy. Have a baby! Time to be a MAMA. (To a human.)

Favorite actor/actress? I don’t really have any hands-down faves, but I did just recently make a list…

Whew! That was fun. Far more fun than my next project.


But the TIME OUT will help bring me back to center.

Have a wonderful and productive Sunday!


  1. You’re welcome! I love the joke you played on your brother … I might have to try it some day! (If I can ever surprise the sneaky bastard … )

  2. Haha, love that prank on your little bro. I love surprises like that! Even when I’m not involved, I can’t help but smile. I love shenanigans!

    Good for you taking up the piano again. I have never played an instrument before but if I could play any single one, it’d be the piano! It’s on my life list to learn someday.

    1. I lovelovelove surprises! I just thought it was funny that he fell for the same one twice!
      Stay tuned on the piano. I miss it but really, I can’t play well anymore. It might be discouraging, but I’ll try!

  3. The story about your brother made me laugh! Your grandmother — breathtaking beauty. I can see where you get it. Cheers on that bucket list numero uno. *clink*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s