#WhatAreYouWorkingOn – No.3


Welcome! This is the third installment of my new weekly (Friday) series called “What are You Working On?”!

You can find out more about this challenge here or if you are interested in joining us, you can share photos with us on Instagram (#whatareyouworkingon) or join our Tao Te Ching Daily FB group for future prompts to remind you to share your week with us! Add your post to the Mr. Linky section at the bottom of this post if you want to add a link to your blog. Please be sure and check back and COMMENT on others in the challenge! 

Each week, I will offer a list of categories and what I am working on in each category. Other participants may have different categories to describe their own interests and projects. I hope you will join us!

What am I working on? Here are some things…


I went to visit my sister last weekend, so there isn’t a lot to report this week overall. One thing I can mention is that we made some fake succulents and it was really fun. They turned out cute. I was between knitting projects so I just started another hat. I am building a collection of them to sell next winter.


My first attempt at fake succulents.


Although I can’t say that I have done a lot on my home this week (yet), I am planning to get busy on my kitchen this weekend. This is a project that has been way overdue. Now that Spring is here, I can actually start working on it and MOVE FORWARD. My plan is to start on the cabinets. I need to remove the ancient paint and try and save the hinges, if possible. I don’t have new cabinet pulls yet, but once I start removing the paint, I will start shopping. I have shopped a bit but I feel I need to decide on a wall color before I can buy the pulls, just in case I decide to buy colored ones.

The cabinets are the hardest part of this job that is left. Over the last few years, I have replaced the countertop, tiled the backsplash (all by myself!) and painted inside the cabinets. I also bought all new appliances, so you would think it was “almost done”. It is, but I have been dragging my feet on completing it so it is time to get started again.


My theme for the kitchen is BIRDS, so when I got together with my sister this weekend, we went a little BIRD CRAZY. I bought several little bird statues for the clear glass shelves that I am going to add to my kitchen window.I also got a white peacock statue. Do you like it?



My idea is to have some herb plants on glass shelves in the window and have a branch that looks like it comes out of the cabinet to display a few cute little birds on. I might make some with sculpy and put them on there. Then I actually FOUND this cast iron branch. It was kismet, so of course I had to buy it! Now I have to finish painting the cabinets just so I can hang my branch. This is how my crazy mind works.




When I was looking at the succulents with my sister, I could not help but notice this little guy…


It is SUCH an ugly little plant, but it is SO COOL! It is called a lithop. So rare that my autocorrect didn’t even recognize that as a word! haha. Oh! So I found this really cool YouTube video to show you what I mean..


Their flowers are really cool too. Here is a video of a flower blooming on a lithop…




Besides discovering the lithops (above), I am also still working on my Spanish. I suppose that I will be working on that for a very long time! I listened to a few lessons this week. As I was driving to Madison last week, I decided to practice my Spanish by naming things around me and got stuck a few times. I was thinking perhaps it might be good to put sticky notes on things around the house and try and talk about them in Spanish. Maybe that will motivate Eric as well. My Google Translate app is really good if I want to know a word – I just speak a word into my phone and it says the Spanish equivalent back to me. It’s pretty cool like that. I really just need to converse more.

I am still working on my cooking skills. After making the chicken soup and seeing how tender it was when I made it like that, I decided to revamp my Creamy Cajun Chicken recipe and make it with better chicken and better noodles. So I boiled the chicken in some broth for 20 minutes to cook it and then used that same broth to make my noodles. I thought it was the best Cajun Chicken I’ve made yet. Tatia and I were the only two to eat it since Eric was gone that evening, but it was good enough that Tatia wanted seconds. (To be fair, it IS her favorite dish so she probably would have wanted seconds no matter how well I cooked it.)


I’ve been reading The Conscious Parent for our book club that starts in May (2015) and this book is great for reminding us that our daily lives are a constant opportunity for spiritual practice. With this book, the focus is on living as consciously as possible for our children.

All of us have moments of being aware of ourselves and moments of being unconscious and just going through the motions in life. It is part of being human. Parenting is perhaps the most likely place to be unconscious because it is all about dealing with our unconscious patterns of the past. Our children bring up so much. They remind us of our own childhood but now we are on the other side of it. Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, helps us to become aware of our choices as we parent. She helps us to see that what we want for our children often hinders them from figuring out what they want for themselves. I think that I have done a pretty OK job of parenting my daughter, but this book has opened my eyes to more things I could learn.

So part of my own spiritual practice this week has been to just be aware of how I interact with my daughter. Am I hindering her with my own expectations? Am I encouraging her to please me with the language that I use with her? I’ve been a pleaser much of my life and so this book is having me take a deeper look at my own patterns of pleasing others. One thing she stresses very much in this book is that parent’s need to take ownership of their own stuff. Anything that you are strongly encouraging in your children is probably something that you either highly value or something that you’ve messed up with. Either way, it is your stuff and isn’t necessarily about your children at all. We imprint our own desires and issues onto our children and we need to become aware of this in order to help them find their own desires and work through their own issues.

If you are a parent and would like to join me, the group is free. I think it will be fun. We are meeting up over at GoodReads.com. The group is called Conscious Living Book Group. (I originally named it Tao Te Ching Book Study but changed the title because it isn’t really about studying the Tao Te Ching. It’s more general than that.)



When I was at my sister’s house last weekend, my brother-in-law was telling me about a book that he is reading called VB6 by Mark Bittman. The idea of this is to eat no meat or dairy before your evening meal and stay away from processed foods. I mostly stay away from processed foods and eating vegan is something that I enjoy anyways so this appealed to me. I have been pretty good about exercising regularly and eating less sugar, but my weight loss has stalled now for months. My weight is OK. I am not fat, but I could lose just a few more pounds to be at my healthiest.

My sister also told me about a website & app called SuperBetter. Below is an awesome video explaining the reason behind the game. (NOTE: The best part starts around the 6 minute mark so stick around for that). We are allies on there and I would LOVE to be allies with any of you if you want to play along! One thing I learned from this is that I am already doing an amazing job with these things. Yes, I have things like my kitchen that I get stuck on, but generally I do a lot to make my life healthy and happy. Yeah, ME!


I did get a bit more rest this week. My body was super tired this week and I had a little bout of something which is our body’s way of telling us it is time to REST. So I took a day this week and slept a lot and I felt much better. I’ve been playing a bit of online poker which is fun and I also have started playing Duolingo again to practice my Spanish. For playing, I like to play games like SuperBetter and Duolingo because they work out my brain at the same time. Why not?

As for watching, our family started a new series this week called The Newsroom on HBO. We signed up for HBO Now on Apple TV and this has given us access to all of the HBO shows. Eric wanted it to watch Game of Thrones. The Newsroom is a really good series about a news reporter who is stuck in a rut because he spent too many years placating to the majority and what they “wanted” to hear and his honest reporting of the news suffered because of it. It’s a good series. You can watch an important scene from the pilot here if you are curious about what it is about.


Well, that is my week in a nutshell. How was yours? Please tell us what you are up to with the #whatareyouworkingon hashtag on Instagram or Facebook! Or add your blog link below and write about your latest project!

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  1. Lots of fun stuff to celebrate here Amy. Love the idea of a bird kitchen and your finds are fabulous. And the faux succulents and the real lithops are adorable.

    I was away at a retreat through Monday this week and I’ve given myself lots of space around it to gently re-enter my “regular” world. Today I’m celebrating seeing my first robin of the season. It’s very late indeed, but now I can officially call is Spring. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Fool: O is for…My Profile

  2. Oh now you’ve got a wealth of good things here, Amy. I am in awe of all that you are working on. Si, es muy importante. I’ve got a number of submission potentials to go through and that is what is absorbing me at the moment. Which to do, what to write. Your post has given me pause though. Time to take my ever so patient girl out for a walk.
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…92 Year-Old Mom Snags Purple PantsMy Profile

  3. You are working on all of this?? Wow….very interesting stuff. Gives me inspiration. I’ll be working on more soon. Next Friday I will preview. Thank you for creating this space it is wonderful. Right now I am working on packing.. I am off to the cabin for the weekend. Me and Esther (my four-wheeler) are going to ride like the wind….free and flowing. 🙂
    Kelli Spencer recently posted…The Law Of Attraction Works For EveryoneMy Profile

  4. Whew!
    Again, thanks for the opportunity to review the week. Hoping that my categories don’t become repetitive … ah, the life of doing the same thing all the time. LOL! I am holding it loosely and allow it to evolve to genuinely reflect me and my life.
    Cynthia Lee recently posted…What I am Working OnMy Profile

  5. What fun, Amy. I always so enjoy your posts that give us all a glimpse into your life. Each read I walk away with something that is either cause for pause in my life or inspires me to follow your lead. While I’m not one that’s all the comfortable crossing business and personal boundaries (or revealing too much of myself to – well, anyone), I’m feeling brave enough to consider participating (although know I will not likely post on this weekly).

    Relative to your weight loss challenge, I listened to a fascinating interview today with JJ Virgin. Basically, she argues that diet and exercise don’t work in the ways most profess because “your body is not a bank account, it’s a chemistry lab”. She explains how trying to control weight with the eat less, exercise more approach doesn’t work because everything you do affects you body in (often counterproductive, unintended) ways with signals processed to compensate through chemical reactions to the brain, adrenal functions, etc. Interesting stuff, and frankly something I hadn’t heard before expressed in such a clear, applicable and easy fashion (and timely for me too – have done the extreme exercise route and understand more about what that’s done to my body and how it’s affecting it now after listening to this). Let me know if you want me to send you the CD.
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Hungry for small business marketing brilliance in tiny bites?My Profile

    • Thanks, Nanette. I look forward to reading about your projects. You don’t have to blog about them. You can post them on Facebook with the hashtag #whatareyouworkingon (assuming you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook). I often just share with my “close friends” group on FB.
      amy recently posted…#WhatAreYouWorkingOn – No.3My Profile

  6. Wow! I can’t wait to see your kitchen when it is finished! It sounds like it will look really cool! Also, The Conscious Parent is on my to read list and the Newsroom is on my to watch list haha! They were for a while before this post. And I totally watched that TED talk about Superbetter a few months ago and then completely forgot about it, so thank you for reminding me!
    Melissa recently posted…Short Story: This Is My MountainMy Profile

  7. This week and next, I am in training for new skills at my job.

    Also, Monday I gave a speech on payday loans at Toastmasters.
    SKJAM! recently posted…Book Review: One of Our Asteroids is Missing | The Twisted MenMy Profile

  8. My goodness….so much goodness here! I am very curious about many things you have mentioned here, but especially the VB6. I lost 60 lbs a couple yrs ago and I too have ‘stalled’. Feeling like you….need to lose a little more just for better all around health. Thanks for all the info!

  9. Your fake succulent is fabulous! As are your real succulents — beautiful. But back to the fake one: Just how did you make it? Knitting with some kind of wire core? Felting? Do tell!

    As far as vegan cookery goes, I’ve been playing with a new book you might want to check out. I’m not vegan, but I do love natural cooking with lots of legumes, so I’m just agog over this title. It’s called Thug Kitchen. They have a blog of the same name, too, and it’s absolutely worth checking out. The recipes are so far very good. Warning, though — major profanity ahead! The profanity is hilarious, though.
    Harmony Harrison recently posted…The Ridiculous Strikes Back! Two Acts of Artsy Silliness Revealed (plus a possible third, if you dare)My Profile

    • I don’t mind profanity, Harmony. I will have to check out Thug Kitchen. Sounds like fun. I love cooking blogs.

      As for my fake succulent, it was just a small felt square from JoAnns, sage green in color. I cut a rectangle and then cut slices into it, but not all the way through. Then I took the tip of the scissors and snipped each notch from both sides. Once I snipped out all the notches, I rolled it up and then sewed it together on the bottom. I may have to do a blog post about how I did it. It was a bit tedious, but it looks so real. Then I just sewed it to a small ball of polyester fill and stuffed the poly in the teapot and then put rocks on top of it. This was my sister’s idea. It helps to hold it upright so I doesn’t just tip out of the pot and fall over.
      amy recently posted…i ching #24: ReturningMy Profile

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