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HAPPY NEW YEAR, or just–hey, it’s Friday.

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Great news you guys! You don’t have to do ANYTHING and this year will still end at midnight tomorrow.

You don’t have to do any. thing. and the ball will drop, kicking off 2016.

And just like that a brand new year begins.

But it will feel a lot like … Friday. And then Saturday, and then Sunday and then most people go back to the old routine and adjust to it being a new year.

The end.

Whew! So, you’re fine. Just keep breathing and putting your pants on one leg at a time and you are good to go!

For a lot of you that’s what you need – the freedom to know there is truly no external pressure to do anything different just because HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But … if you want to, if you feel nudged by the spirit or by, say, something more physical like your pants feeling kinda tight or the rooms of your house closing in on you because: piles of everything everywhere … well, here’s an invitation – that’s all it is: an invitation to consider the following:

(again please note my very intentional use of the words “invitation” and “consider”):

- What exactly would YOU like to have change?

(YOU. Not your husband, your mother, the lady next to you at church or the guy with the judgey eyes at the library. Where do YOU feel your attention being directed from inside your heart and mind? Clarity is critical. More on that later if you want, let me know!)

- What might that look like?

- How could you work toward that?

(Word matter y’all – “how could you work toward that?” is different than “tell me exactly how you will accomplish this?” or, if your inner voice is kind of an asshole: “What makes you think you can do that?” None of that right now. All I’m asking you to consider is: what steps could you take toward the end you desire?”)

I also want to encourage you to remember that it really does come down to the little things adding up. It’s not about losing, say, 60 pounds. To work toward that end I’m looking at things like:

- keep my fitbit charged, remember to wear it and be more connected online with fitbit and myfitnesspal.

- streamline my green shake routine and have one every morning

- drink more water, lemon water and apple cider vinegar, less fancy coffee drinks

- etc. Because I am wordy and like lists, I have more specific, do-able things instead of one huge (so to speak) statement goal.

Another example:

I would like to be consistent in creating both a chore schedule and opportunities to manage their own money for the boys. Which means both earning and smart spending. I **think** Chore Monster may be a means to this end. (I could list all the things that have not worked another time if that would be helpful. Which, of course wouldn’t be as every family dynamic, needs and such are different).

I recommend using a journal and planner for every part of this, from gaining clarity, processing what that nudge might be, and for narrowing down your focus (organizing all the things turned out to be unrealistic).

And a side note: Some of you know my silence on this blog speaks volumes – I promise there will be a time I can and will disclose more but for now, please trust that I see a light at the end of this twisty tunnel and while it’s not turning out quite like I pictured, not at all, I have it on good authority that it’s going to work out. I think I spoke too soon out loud recently and it’s super awkward now in real life but all I can do is keep walking forward and doing the next right thing.

Which, for today means taking care of my young people, our puppy (?!) and planning intentionally for the new year I happen to be looking forward to very much because I love the mere idea of all the possibilities! Plus, planning is my favorite.

Speaking of which – here are a few links, ideas and tools – that I am loving right now, and intend to use more in the new year, cause I’m into that kind of thing. If you are too, here ya go: (I’m supposed to legally tell you someday I might, maybe, get a few cents for some of these affiliate links. For the record I only ever recommend products, programs and things I like myself).

 

 

- Leonie Dawson

- Erin Condren’s Planner

- Moleskine planner

- Mindful Energy

 

And some free stuff:

Goal setting and reviewing with kids by Cindy Hopper at Skip to my Lou -  (One of Sam’s resolution is to get more x-box time. I’ll try to work that into my goal of getting more help with household tasks #winwin).

Free ebook by Christine Kane to help with the gaining clarity piece of all this – and a wonderful introduction to the Word of the Year concept.

Another free ebook by Kirsten Oliphant to help with blog goal planning – she had me at “I love planning to plan.”  

If you found this post helpful at all, I’d love it if you’d share with your friends! Just so happens … one of my goals this year is to add you to my subscriber list if you aren’t there already so … yes?

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


Maybe next year?

maybe next year

Good news!

You have plenty of time.

So here you are this penultimate day before Christmas wondering how could that possibly be true? I mean, every information stream available to us is blowing up our brains with reminders that the clock is ticking! Last chance! You better click here or else …

Or else nothing happens.

I’m not just being oppositional to all the trending sales pitches.

Unless you’re on the highway and you see your plane lifting off, you have enough time.

And even then, it’s not a bad idea to develop an “I’m right where I’m supposed to be” kind of mentality. Even if (especially if?) all external factors indicate otherwise.

what really matters?

(psst you don’t need anyone to tell you, it isn’t the same answer for each of us, but if you can lock yourself in the bathroom for a second and focus on this one question: what really matters? You know the answer. Okay, now do that).

One of the most frequently mentioned ideas in my ebook* “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” is the “maybe next year” list. Because it is genius.

December 23 … I’m looking at the pile beside me and embracing that I’m probably not going to get all the cards mailed out on time. Maybe next year I give in to this perpetual reality and join the New Years Card trend.

Didn’t make zoo lights before Christmas. Maybe next year.

Gingerbread houses? Maybe next year (but probably never on my watch).

But you know what? I’m writing this post while my kids play happily eating cereal they got to pick out (simple pleasures) and we are all under Scout Surveillance, the watchful pair of black eyes of our new puppy which fell near the top of my “what really matters” list this year.

My phone is binging with notices that some of our family will be getting their gifts on time in California, Idaho and Maryland because of the second Christmas miracle that is Amazon. (Next year maybe I’ll finish making the stuff I started making a couple years ago).

There is a tree, leaning against the wall because of some logistical issues we’ll work out next year. Maybe. It is decorated purely by the hands of Sam and Jake who are thrilled to see their handmade paper and zip tie ornaments alongside the more fragile ones they made over the years. The star is also zip tied to the top, because that is our life right now.

And it’s all good.

Not perfect. Not as planned but just … good.

And that is enough.

Wishing you all the love and clarity on what matters to you,

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*And you know what, if you’re thinking “oh, I should read that!” you totally should. Next year!

(I’d love your help reaching my subscriber goal for 2015 – sign up below and you’ll get posts delivered right to your inbox).

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

GatherinGrace NathaliesNotes

Gather with Grace

Dec 15, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

First published in Winter 2015 Roots to Roofs

Given my history of meal mishaps, small kitchen fires and fondue party fails, I'm an unlikely candidate for trying to sell others on the blessings of holiday gatherings. Nonetheless, I intend to try my best to convince you to invite people into your home to partake at your table.

My parents owned and operated two restaurants while I was growing up, but I picked up little in the way of practical skills. In fact, I was once fired over my poor potato peeling practices.

It may, or may not have had something to do with a tenuous mother-daughter relationship at the time. It's hard to say. 

My mother is a gourmet cook.When I was dating my husband, I think that gave him the wrong idea, as I am decidedly not.

I am, however, enthusiastic about all endeavors that have to do with people and hospitality. And in the world of adults, that ends up requiring the care and feeding of people. 

So while my mom sets a lovely table with a delicious spread of food, while I set off smoke alarms preparing things that turn out nothing like the pictures posted on Pinterest, we have one thing in common — a love of making people feel warm and welcome.

This time of year, all the sage advice suggests saying "no" more often so we can focus on saying "yes" to "what really matters." So, what, exactly, is it that really matters? 

In my mind, there isn't much that rates above taking care of one another, and one significant way to do that is to extend an invitation to share a meal. That is a concrete way to meet a basic human need of connection and a gracious way to live out love.

No gourmet cooking is required to be gracious and welcoming. I've invited plenty of people to my house with these words: "Hey, I'm trying a new recipe and it might be totally gross. Want to come? Bring some bread for back up." 

And people come.

Sometimes we have a good laugh, served with a lot of bread and butter, as we eye the smoldering dish I just proved wasn't fail-proof after all. And we nourish something more than our bellies in those moments.

Showing up for each other and being remembered nourishes our spirits. I think that is a gift worth spreading, and savoring.

I have had friends and relatives who discouraged me from hosting such things due to my stained carpets and chair cushions. But here's the thing: We don't have that kind of time, you guys. If you have friends and relatives who care more about the shape of your chairs and carpets than they do the spirit of your company, forgive them and move on.

If it's you holding back from inviting people into your home because of peeling paint or mis-matched furniture, consider getting off the sidelines of your life. It's a short life, this one, so gather in — and with — grace. 

In my years of hosting people, despite all the obvious reasons not to, I've learned a few things that might be helpful to others lacking the Kelly Ripaesque picture-perfect life.

First, you have to start somewhere. So, just do it.

An easy dinner to host is a potato bar.

But the first time I had a large group of people over for dinner, I didn't realize how long it takes to cook potatoes. I must say, we were pretty hungry by the time the pizza arrived. 

Ergo, my first tip is to always have a back-up plan. It'll free you up to try new things without starving your friends out. (You know you're supposed to poke holes in potatoes before baking them right? Yeah, me too).

Also, pay attention to words in recipes like "meanwhile" and "stir constantly." If something requires constant stirring, it's too needy and you should probably break up and pick something else to serve. 

Another essential piece of advice: People often ask, "What can I bring?" Let them bring something. Please.

And don't just say, "Oh, whatever you want." Be specific.

Say, "How about something for dessert?" Or say, "Salad would be great." And you might add, "Bring your own bread." Beverages work for that, too. 

Whatever your main dish ends up looking like, put it on the table with no apologies. Think of it as a manners experiment.

Should you fall for the old lie that lasagna is easy to make, you might end up with oddly curled noodles on the top layer, because nowhere in the instructions does it say there should be no noodles on that layer. Not to worry. Just flip it upside down, add a topping of cheese and sprinkle with some sprigs of parsley. 

Sprigs of any herb make things look more appetizing. And they suggest you know what you're doing. It's also good to remember that cheese makes everything better. 

Speaking of cheese, keep a wheel of brie in your fridge. Part of being hospitable is being able to serve up some food on short notice, without making anyone feel awkward.

Add some crushed nuts and brown sugar on top of the brie, pop it in the oven and you'll have an amazing appetizer.

Just add bread. Or crackers. Or spoons.

Oh, and one last tip: Never use the oven to store anything. Just don't. Even if you tell everyone else in the house that's what you're doing, the fire will always be your fault. 

I know it's amazing that I haven't been hired to write for Better Homes and Gardens. But lucky for us, that leaves me more time to put all this advice into my next book: Not like the Picture.

Finally, remember that mealtime mishaps make for great memories. Like the time my gourmet cook mom helped host a pig roast back in the early 70s.

I'm not sure how they remember it so vividly, since members of this gathering of Slovak immigrants were in high spirits, so to speak, and on empty stomachs. Yet the stories of the night, and the pig that didn't cook, haver persisted for decades.  

One day we will laugh about the time I set the lentils on fire while trying to approximate a candle display I found on Pinterest. Actually, I already am. 

For my next trick, stop by some time. And bring the bread. 

Happy gathering!

 

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’. Also? If you want to make a writer friend smile, please subscribe below AND if you liked this post – share it with your friends!

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


How to read free ebook without a Kindle (and a secret)

kindleapp 1

You know you have to work on your marketing skills when it’s a struggle to give away a free copy of your book! I think part of that is we tend to not trust “free,” a concept to explore another time.

This morning I’m preparing to give a talk with this amazing group of women at a bible study group I still can’t believe I willingly, cheerfully and eagerly attend.

Some of you have asked if I visit book groups – if there are people there who love books then yes. Yes I do. I can also Skype in if you’re not local!

(I put speaking opportunities on the top of my goal list this year, as we close the year I have three talks booked before the end of the year. Pretty sure I would’ve put that off had I not set the intention and taken steps to make it so, which I’ll be writing more about next week because long-time readers know New Years is my favorite!)

Yesterday I posted the details of my free ebook deal on Amazon, it ends at midnight so take advantage soon if you want my second book “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” for FREE.

After sending that I got some emails asking me if people could scoop up the freebie if they don’t have a Kindle Reader and the answer is YES!

You can download, for free, a Kindle Reader app and “read it in the cloud” which is code for your desktop or whatever. It’ll look like this:

Kindle Cloud Reader

 

kindle app order

 

kindle app

 

You guys … want to hear a secret? It looks like we’ll be able to pull off our Christmas Puppy Surprise! Scout is on his way to his forever home, we adopted him and can. not. wait!!! The boys don’t know yet so shhhhh!  I have to believe that wherever Lucy Baby is in doggy heaven she’s happy for us too.

 

p.s. in case you missed yesterday’s post here are a few ways you can do your writer friend’s (say, me) a significant favor:

sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:


- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

 

Also, consider subscribing and get little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


**Free** holiday ebook for you! No, please, take it.

Marketing tip: When you write a book, you should tell people. All the people.

Okay, so honestly it’s free for YOU … but also for everyone who downloads it between now and Thursday, December 17th. After that it’s a whopping $4.99.

(I know! And I get to keep HALF of that so Imma gonna get rich!)

Click here for your FREE copy of Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys. You don’t even have to read it now, or ever – I mean, I hope you do but no pressure. All I am saying, is download it to savor later – even next year because what I need friends, is as many downloads as possible – and for those of you who DO like it please help your writer friend out and leave a review.

All this begging and asking for help does not become me, I know … and yet being as how I’m my own marketing team … my main strategy for now is the ol’ pretty please with a cherry and free ebook on top! Which also includes my undying gratitude in all caps, like this: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! (I forgot to mention the prolific use of exclamation points).

I’m trying to figure out how to do that without annoying my dear readers, but it turns out most of you are so supportive I wonder how I got so lucky!?!?!

I sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

“My publisher told me to tell everyone: I wrote my second book! It's an ebook and you can get it FREE until Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Tell your friends - it's like a free gift to them, too!
Ways to support your writer friend (yours truly at the moment):
- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

Thank you so much, friends, for supporting me in this writing journey and also for letting me encourage other parents with these words!
Blessings on you during this season and into the new year!


Love,
Nathalie

Behind the scenes fun fact:

Here’s the cover I submitted:

MerryIsOptionalcover

And here’s the one we went with:

cover

 

*You should totally subscribe! A little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.

#sorrynotsorry. 

 

(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.