29 December 2011

"I Couldn't Help But Smile"

Dear readers - we miss you and we're thinking of you!  We're in Salt Lake City enjoying time with family and friends (getting our butts kicked in board games, playing with our nephews' awesome light sabers, going Rambo in nerf gun wars with all the boys, and eating a whole lot of food, food, food!)  But, we're also so excited to get back to our regular posts (and promise some of those will be coming).

For now...Danny just showed me a beautiful and touching video that I just had to pass on.  I want to show it to everyone I know.  It was created by an 18 year-old boy who passed away on Christmas Day.  He had a heart condition from birth and he and his family knew his time was limited.  He created this short video the week before he died.  His family found it the day after his death.  As I watched him tell his story (and as I watched some related news stories), I couldn't help but be impressed by the peace that seemed to surround this young man and his family, despite the difficult hand he was dealt.   Truly beautiful...


24 December 2011

Merry Christmas from the Kofoeds


We are in Salt Lake City.  An apple crisp is in the oven.  Danny is cozy and napping on his mother's couch, since we went to a fondue party last night that began at 11 pm.  12 nieces and nephews are due here in a few hours.  It smells and feels like Christmas. 

The night before we left NY, we stayed the night with our dear friends who just moved to New Jersey.  We burned the midnight oil and laughed and made the most delicious caramels before Danny & I climbed up to their charming attic for a few hours of sleep.  Didn't matter that we all weren't in Brooklyn, like normal.  It still felt like being home, simply because we were all together. 

May you all be surrounded by ones you love during the holidays.  And may we all do our part to get over our pride or fears and reach out to others with even more love & gratitude.  I'll be working on that, too.  

I leave you with a few photos from our Progressive Dinner in Brooklyn (Danny spoiled all 16 of us with filet mignon!)

Lots of posts coming for you all in 2012!  We'll be writing away.  Can't wait to continue this wonderful experience of having a blog and continuing the conversations on marriage, happiness, love, & how to face our trials and be the best we can be.  We hope that 2012 will be the best ever for each & every one of us.  Let's make it happen. 

Sending you warm wishes,

Mara & Danny






22 December 2011

"Mara Decorations"


When it comes to styling / decorating, I am really, really low key.  My time in New York has done it to me.  Time & money are just so very, very precious in this town & I have learned it's better to hang on to both.....so.....I have paired down, by choice, & live very simply (it's actually quite liberating!)

And this is why we have in this house what my husband calls "Mara Decorations" :)  They are typically decorations that cost about 50 cents and can be set up in very little time.  For example, that ribbon tree, above, I taped to the door in the 5 minutes before guests were arriving.  I usually just grab some materials that are hanging around the house (or ones that I got nearly for free) & figure out what I can do with them in a hurry.  (Though, I guess the two wreaths, below, don't fit into that category as I actually paid money for them from Ikea).

Naturally, being low-key & all, most of my "Mara Decorations" from over the years are not pictured here because they are still in the basement storage room.  Oops.  I guess I'll have something new to post next Christmas, cause we're missing several good ones.  :)  Plus, if I can get my hands on the perfect mixed bow bag at my local 99-cent store, I may make my stick-on bow tree even larger next year.  99-cent store, I'll be paying you a visit...if I happen to cross paths with you, that is....:)

Happy Christmas Week!

Mara

P.S.  LOVED the thoughts coming in from yesterday's post.  There's so much more to talk about!  :)  That post was originally much longer and I split it into two (always trying to shorten my long-winded posts!)  The other half was going to be posted soon and may explain a bit more where I was going with the idea.  And now you've prompted me to add a bit more to it.  Ha!  Tricky stuff to write about!  Anyway, Thanks for the great conversation.  Obviously, I love talking about marriage!!  :)    [Btw, Danny is writing some replies to some comments on that post now.  Always melt when he's over there writing away.]





20 December 2011

Are You Working Away At A Hard Marriage?


Hello dear readers!

Let's talk more about marriage!  Shall we?

You know how many people say "marriage is sooooo much work??  It's soooo hard??"  I feel like I've heard people say this my whole life, to the point that it could almost make someone fearful of what they might be getting into (I certainly braced for the worst when I got married the first time, just because of what I had heard...any of you single people a little scared?)   And I get why people say marriage is hard.  I think people are referring to how hard it can be to: live with another person, deal with the faults of another, live on a budget, give up freedoms they used to have, feel that their needs aren't being met, feel that they aren't desired, share a home with someone who is not as tidy, handle difficult in-laws, deal with all the hurt feelings or fights or bouts of silence that come up, ETC.... 

YIKERS!  Well, these things all do exist in a marriage.  And it does sound like a lot of "work"...... if that's how you decide to view it. 

Well, you guys know by now that I have some views on things that are not always the norm.....and so I hope today I don't strike a nerve in any of you....buuuut... I think that viewing marriage as hard or unpleasant work results in a self fulfilling prophecy.  Remember what I said about identity?  That applies here, too.  If MARRIAGE has an identity of being difficult, that is what it tends to be, simply because that is how we already see it.

As an example…how many of you with kids tell them “I know, I hate peas too, they really are disgusting and I hate the way they feel in my mouth…but, they’re good for you, so you should eat them!”  More likely you try to tell them how yummy their vegetables are, and when you eat them you try to model as much satisfaction as possible.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but is marriage really that different?  Many of us grow up hating vegetables until we finally realize they can be scrumptious and delicious (even though the taste never really changed).  Are there a few of us who still need to grow up regarding how we view and talk about marriage?

So what's MY marriage identity?  Joy! An Opportunity to Progress! (...no matter what's going on.)  OK, I just felt like a dork saying that.  But who doesn't want a more joyful marriage?

It’s important to remind you all, that it was while my first marriage was failing (and Danny's too for that matter) that I found true joy in marriage and life.  How’s that for a shocker!  Why was a failing marriage a source of joy?  Because I relished in the opportunities to master my emotions, reactions, thoughts, and to develop my ability to have love and compassion, even for someone who wasn’t acting “according to plan”.   (See this post to see what kind of love I'm talking about.)

How about you?  What's your current Marriage Identity?  Do you think it needs to change?

Danny asks: Do you still hate vegetables? :)

Update - this was part one of a two part post.  The follow up post is here.

(Photo by the AMAZING Jonathan Canlas, in Central Park)

And The Winner Is......


The lucky winner of the $150 K. Grace gift card is...

Stephanie H.
“Gorgeous and versatile! Save the world, one cute jacket at a time!"
December 19, 2011 3:01 PM

Stephanie, please contact me ASAP to claim your prize as I don't have your contact info.

Thanks everyone for leaving such sweet comments, I know it was so fun for Kamilah to receive such positive feedback on her designs. 

Everyone who left a comment, please go to K. Grace to receive your 40% discount.  Please enter discount code: LOVE40.

P.S. - If anyone wants to sponsor a giveaway, send me an email.

Danny's Man Gift Guide


You may have missed it, but I did say earlier that Danny had a gift guide coming :)
Well, that husband of mine had more fun writing the Flowbee post than finishing the gift guide....(can you blame him?)  So I will finish up this sucker for anyone that is still wondering what on earth they can get their husband or boyfriend or dad.   These are Danny's tried and true favorite things......you can't go wrong with these.....  

19 December 2011

How to Have the Best Christmas Ever

 
This is what happens when Danny hands the camera to someone....  :)
Let's try that again...
My dear friends -
My heart is so full tonight.  It's Sunday night.  I have been amazed by all your lovely notes lately & I want to thank each & every one of you!  I'm sitting here feeling all Sundayish and Christmasy and feeling a lot of love for all of you.  And I am sitting here giddy from meeting one of my favorite bloggers ever, natthefatrat, and her baby boy, Huck (he is adorable)!  We just had ourselves one sweet excursion to Dyker Heights.  That woman is one of the cutest moms ever...seriously.  She just loves being a mom so much and it's so fun to see!  And Brandon is such a great guy.  We just had the best time with them all.

*****************

But Christmas time is not all fun & games, right?  Are any of you feeling the holidays caving in on you?  This time of year is so difficult for so many whether it is the stress of Christmas or something greater.  We are all facing so many different things - and we all have a different set of tools to deal with it.  Some may feel that they don't have any tools & are just barely getting by.  I'M THINKING OF YOU!  :)

I thought today I'd write about HOLIDAY STRESS & offer some tools for letting it go!  :) 

16 December 2011

Giveaway!




K. Grace is owned by Kamilah Cole, one of the most lovely women I know here in Brooklyn.

She has a line of beautiful clothes made with hemp linen, organic cotton, & coconut buttons.  All of us girls here looove wearing her clothes and it's fun to see everyone style the pieces differently.  Everyone always looks SO DANG GOOD!

YOUR GIFT FROM K.GRACE:

-ONE person will receive a $150 gift card!
-EVERY person who leaves a comment will automatically receive 40% off any order for the next two weeks.  Just visit K.Grace & add this discount code at check-out: LOVE40.

TO JOIN IN:  
Just leave any ol' comment below.  :)

DEADLINE
Monday PM, December 19.  A reader for the gift card will be chosen at random.

P.S.  I have the jacket and dresses pictured and LOVE them....

A Few Love Announcements


A few love announcements for this holiday weekend....

-I'm obsessed with this holiday hair updo and I need to start practicing it so I can wear it like this over the holidays.

-A friend here happens to be one of the best illustrators ever, Brett Helquist.  He illustrated A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket!  And he has several other amazing children's books that I just bought as gifts this year (including some for myself)....
A Christmas Carol, Bedtime for Bear, Roger the Jolly Pirate, Milly & the Macy's Parade.





-This is my favorite fancy bubbly drink for the holidays - comes from a vineyard in CA.  I gave Danny a case of this one year.

-I don't have a nativity yet, but I love this one.  Looks like origami!

-For those that won't be forking out for a Brinca Dada dollhouse [btw, mention {A Blog About Love} for 10% off!], you can always make your own modern dollhouse - here are the instructions

-LOVE this idea.  I love decorations out of repurposed items.  You could also try this with Christmas cards that you might otherwise be throwing away.



-Do you want to know where to buy THE BEST SCONES ON EARTH?  Jodi is the baker behind the mail order scones from Williams Sonoma.  One of my friends in Bucks County sent me some of these once from her bakery.  They arrived on Christmas Eve, frozen, in the best packaging.  We baked them Christmas morning and it was one of the best gifts ever.

-Looove these modern Finnish Himmeli decorations made of straws and cotton string.



HAPPY, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

15 December 2011

What Are You Without?

(From Danny:)

This weekend I was glancing through the dog-eared pages of Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" to remind myself of some of the wisdom I found in that book when I was reading it two years ago.  I kind of like that back then I dog-eared the pages instead of underlining like I do now (today I almost refuse to read enlightening books if I can't also have a pen in hand to underline and write notes in the margins of every page).  The earmarks forced me to read the entire page to remember what it was that I found so interesting that it merited a folded page.  Looking at the various folded pages distracted me, in a good way, for two hours, especially when I came across this little gem on the principle of Abundance:
Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance.  The fact is: Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.
Try this for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your reality:  Whatever you think people are withholding from you - praise, appreciation, assistance, loving care, and so on - give it to them.  You don't have it?  Just act as if you had it, and it will come.  Then, soon after you start giving, you will start receiving.  You cannot receive what you don't give. Outflow determines inflow.  Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won't even know that you have it.  This includes abundance.  The law that outflow determines inflow is expressed by Jesus in this powerful image: "Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. (Luke 6:38)"
Now that is certainly something worth thinking about.   Call it what you want to: karma, the law of the harvest, the law of attraction, the Golden Rule, etc.  They all mean the same thing...what you send out to the world through each of the hundreds of interactions every day will come back to you.

I suppose that is why Mara and I have this blog...this is one of many outlets for us to practice offering goodness, respect, kindness, love, etc.  I'd say so far we've received just as much in return as we've sent out...if not more.

And what about you readers.  Have you ever found this principle to be true for you?  If not, are you willing to give it a shot?  Will you try giving what you don't have in the hopes of discovering you had it all along?  I suppose the Holiday season is as good excuse as any to offer up some joy to someone else who needs it!

14 December 2011

A Tapas Party in Brooklyn








Here are some pictures from the Tapas Party that we were invited to attend.  The night could not have been more festive, fun & delicious.  It was a seated dinner for 40!  FORTY!!  IN BROOKLYN!!!  That is a huge feat, people. :)  Sometimes those long, narrow brownstone apartments can come in handy.  It was amazing to all be seated around the same table with so many dear friends (especially since many of us here don't even have tables :).

If you'd like to throw your own Tapas Party (which would also be so dreamy for a New Year's Party) - here is what my friend did:

13 December 2011

Danny's Long Awaited Hair Tips For Men

After all the buzz about Mara's Curly Hair Tips (and the fact that those pictures are now floating around all over on Pinterest), our readers have been clamoring to know about my Super Straight Hair Tips for Men.  Listen to this reader's comment after I tried to post about something meaningful: "Stop teasing us with this crap.  I want to know how you do your hair!"  Since those fateful words, our inbox has been cluttered with demands to know the secret to my perfectly trimmed hair.


Wait no longer and behold the glory of...

12 December 2011

Love Story & A Hard Headed Woman

 
Mara,

Thank you, dear Mara.  I really do love you...no qualifications needed...and for all the right reasons.  Thank you for returning that and for bringing so much hope and joy and pure happiness into my life. 

So...I've got a song for you - Hard Headed Woman by Cat Stevens.  I know a hard headed woman can sound like a bad thing, but I think he means it just like you've been saying - a strong partner with a level head, a knowledge and conviction of what really matters.  Anyway, I was playing that on the guitar last night and thinking of you :)  If you don't already have the song, let me know and I'll email it to you.
 
Danny

09 December 2011

Happy Weekend!

Just came in from outdoors and my hands are numb as I write!

Feeling excited to see Danny's family in a couple weeks.  His sisters both have large families out West.  One sister has seven kids and they like to joke that she & her husband would love to trade places with Danny & I... we could go watch their kids while they come out to New York for a week of being together, date nights and focusing on their marriage.  Haha :) 

This weekend I'll be going to the South Slope Craft Fair in my neighborhood.  I'm excited to see my friend there who will be selling these leather journals.  Her fingertips are raw because she's been making these beauties BY HAND for weeks! 

And, homemade Christmas candy is on my mind.  Every year my mom & sisters make homemade candy.  Some of my earliest Christmas memories involve stirring pots of bubbling caramel & rolling and dipping these:



Hope you all have festive & lovely weekends full of family traditions, holiday parties, & plans to do some nice things for friends/neighbors/family (I need to get crackin!)

I'll be thinking of you all,

Mara

How to Keep a Marriage GLUED


 

Attn. Every Married Person :)

You may already know that prayer is on my list of tips for a lovely marriage.

Am I really going to talk about prayer?  Yes - I kind of have to... :).  You see, at this point in my life, I've seen what a beautiful thing it can be in a marriage.  So I CAN'T HELP but throw this post out there in case it could be helpful to anyone.

Now, I wasn't sure how I felt about prayer most of my life.  So if any of you are thinking WHAT?!?! Trust me, I've been there. 

08 December 2011

Being a Blogger Wife

(Photo by Jonathan Canlas)
Blogging really is something else.
I had NO idea.   Haha.

Here are a few things I have come to realize:

a.  Blogs most likely take WAY more time than you would think. 
b.  I did not go to the high school that teaches HTML.
c.  People are so lovely I could just die.

and

d.  Blogging affects your marriage... :)

Hostgator Promo Code