Happy 2013: The Year of Living C

     How is it 2013 already?  Annually I inevitably ask,  “Why does the end of year have to come at the same time as Christmas?”  There’s just too much to do and plan in such a short amount of time.

     I do have some big plans for 2013, and the resolutions that go with them all happen to begin with the letter C.  Hence “The Year of Living C”.  By posting these resolutions, I am now accountable to you for putting them into action.  Please help me to remember them.


     This is the healthy living portion of my annual “Lighten Up” resolution.  This year I want to focus on condensing (a/k/a reducing) my consumption and my stuff.  We all know that too much of anything (except love) is not good.  I hope that the word “Condense” can become my mantra


for shrinking this 50-something belly fat (thank you, menopause) and leading me to a more organized life with less clutter in my home and in my brain.


     I really want to “Consider” all others whom I meet.  Years ago, I was part of a DOCC (Disciple of Christ in Community) group at my church.  One of the many wonderful results of it was the renewed conscience awareness of Christ’s presence in every human being.  The awakening of what should not have been a revelation helped me begin to really try to make a connection with each person whom I encountered.  Over time since that year-long course, I have gotten lazy in my efforts, but the recent wave of “Random Acts of Kindness” have reminded me that it is time to start refocusing on others.

Free Printable from Thumba-Lea

Free Printable Random Act of Kindness cards from Thumba-Lea

Free printable cards from Justina's Random Acts of Kindness blog

Free printable RAOK cards from Justina’s Random Acts of Kindness blog

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness form MOMumental Savings

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness from MOMumental Savings

More RAK'ed printables from Make Them Wonder

More RAK’ed printables from Make Them Wonder

     Ironically, this wave of kindness, sometimes accompanied by a cute little card like the ones above that I spotted on Pinterest, has arisen from the ashes of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook and has reminded me that the light of God dwells in each one of us.  How then can I not be considerate of each person whom I encounter?  I also need to remember that consideration starts at home, and then I can carry this practice out into the world.


     My son’s school has been telling us that the buzz word for education in the 2010s is “Collaboration”.  Without collaboration, our children will not be able to navigate the global economy that they will face as adults.


2013 is the year that I embrace collaboration.  Much more news on that will be coming soon, so please stay tuned.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

     In the meantime, what have you got planned for 2013?  I look forward to seeing it all unfold.

     The happiest of New Years to you and your loved ones!


Let the Christmas Decorating Begin

Better Late than Never

     After twenty-five years of collecting Christmas decorations with the Hub, I am up to my eyeball in red and green boxes.  Of course, we don’t use all of the items contained inside them, but I do take a walk down memory lane with each box opened.  Like everything else, I should lighten up and let many of these go to Goodwill, but then will the memories of Christmases past go with them, too?


     I can’t risk that.  Nevertheless, while I am digging through this pile to create our 2012 Christmas, I will keep reminding myself of the simple beautiful of this stunningly executed tree.  It is such an inspiration to lighten up.

St. Catherine's Christmas House Tour 2012

Tinselled tree spotted on the St. Catherine’s School Holiday House Tour last weekend.

Blog Giveaway

     Avad Fan‘s 1st Blogoversary giveaway for the Nest “Blue Garden” candle

is a little thank you gift to Avad Fan‘s readers and subscribers over the past year.  You can not imagine how much a comment, link or subscription means to a blogger until you start blogging yourself.  Please enter this giveaway contest by April 21, 2012 at 12 noon EDT by doing one of the following:

  1. Leave a comment below;
  2. Subscribe to Avad Fan using the box in the upper right hand corner; or
  3. If you are already a subscriber, tell me that when you leave your comment.

These rules give each entrant up to two chances to win this candle.  Remember, this prize can only be shipped to addresses in the United States and Canada. Good Luck!

     Since posting this giveaway, I have discovered that there are blog sites dedicated to blog giveaways.  Why am I surprised?  There must be a blog for everything.  After registering for the Avad Fan giveaway, check out these sites



I hope that this Avad Fan giveaway will be listed on them soon.

     As always, thank you so much for stopping by!

Uncovering the Secret of iPhone Replacement

     Shortly after the iPhone 4s came out, I was finally able to replace my Blackberry which I had used hard for 2 1/2 years with rising frustration over its limited internet capabilities.  In the process of making the purchase, I bought a two piece cover for the phone and opted out of Verizon’s warranty coverage.  Based on my prior positive history with cell phones, the Hub reasoned that a $10/month warranty charge + a $170 deductible for the 16GB was not worth it (note:  those amounts have been rounded up by $.01).

    Naturally, while we were on vacation the other week, my lucky streak ended at a most inopportune time.  A water bottle flooded my purse, and in the process my phone died.  As I tried soaking the phone in a baggie of dry rice, the Hub called Verizon to find out our options.  All that the service representative could tell him was “$640 plus tax”.  Isn’t that helpful?

     After sitting in the rice for over 40 hours, the phone still wouldn’t work and the charger wouldn’t slide in easily.  Not wanting to make the situation any worse if there was any salvage hope, I decided to take the phone to the Apple Genius Bar when I returned to Richmond.  After explaining what happened, the sympathetic Apple genius was able to show me that I had indeed fried the phone when I first tried testing it while it was still wet, but then he delivered some sweet news:  I could buy a brand new 4s then and there for $200.  Plus, he could get the new phone set up on my Verizon account immediately.

     I don’t understand what Verizon thinks it is doing for its customers by keeping this information a secret?  We encountered a similar situation when my daughter’s older iPhone began to crack.  Verizon could not or would not tell us that businesses like CPR exist almost solely to fix these problems.  Instead the company tried to convince us that we needed to get a whole new line until her phone number was available for an upgrade.

     Because the mission of Avad Fan is to share fabulous finds rather than throw anyone under the bus, I will conclude this post by saying that I was thrilled to discover that Apple could minimize the cost of my mistake with relative ease.  I only wish that I had known that when I was in Orlando.  It would have reduced the inconvenience for my loved ones.  Even if you do not have an Apple Store near you, you can buy a new 4s on-line for as little as $199 and have it shipped to you for free.  You can activate it yourself through Verizon by dialing *228 and using option 1.

     My water bottle explosion was still a costly mistake but not nearly as costly as we were led to believe.

Feeding My Soul: Figure Drawing Class at The Visual Arts Center

     Have you read Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity?  I stumbled upon a reference to it while reading a design blog about 3 years ago.  Curious and feeling at loose ends after completing a long-term fund-raising project that required a lot of creative energy, I promptly ordered a copy and delved in headlong.

     Ms. Cameron’s words in the first chapter granted permission to follow a new path:

No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.

She persuaded me to embark on her morning pages journaling routine.  That journaling eventually led to my having the nerve to start Avad Fan.

     The Artist’s Way also led to an acrylics class at the Visual Arts Center (formerly the Hand Workshop) in the Fan.  Then I took another class and tried my hand at drawing and watercolors.  Taking these classes has felt like unlocking a door from a suffocating space, and I now have an almost physical need to be enrolled in an art class.  Just knowing that I have a set time for creative pursuit frees me from the claustrophobia of my daily chores.

graphite pencils

     My favorite teacher at the Visual Arts Center is Lisa Fisher Johnson. We originally met through a local lacrosse travel team on which both of our sons played, and over the course of several classes she has become my artistic mentor. A graduate of the New York Academy of Art and a subscriber to many of Julia Cameron’s philosophies, Lisa ensures that each of her students feels relaxed and confident in her classes and constantly reminds us to leave our “’inner critics’ {one of Cameron’s well-known devices} at the door”.


Do you see your inner critic?
It’s pretty hard to banish her.

     I recently started Lisa’s 12-week Wednesday morning Figure Drawing class.  To say that I was uncomfortable in the presence of the live (i.e. nude) model is a bit of an understatement, but with Lisa’s gentle guidance and taking my own advice to lighten up, prudish me is now enjoying putting pencil to paper as we focus on the body’s volume. Time flies in these classes where my brain takes a holiday from the real world of schedules, errands and worries and exercises regions within hitherto untouched.

photo by Avad Fan

     The Artist’s Way helped me see that each of us unique beings has been blessed with a creative soul that is seeking outlet.  You can either feed it and allow it to thrive or starve it and stunt its growth.  Aware now of this creative spirit within, my goal for my second half-century is to nourish it and give it the opportunity to flourish wherever and however I can.

     So glad it is Wednesday!  It is time to feed my soul.  I’ve got my pencils packed and ready to go.

Lighten Up!

     Happy 2012!  I am not sure where 2011 went, but I think that I might miss it a little.  I have had a bit of time to reflect on the past year as I have been trying to learn my new iMac (my big and long-overdue Christmas gift) and some of the design apps.  While most of my thoughts have focused on milestones, family and time spent with friends, I also ruminated on Avad Fan.

     2011 was definitely the year of the blog.  While Avad Fan didn’t begin until April, it really helped open up my eyes as it provided a creative outlet, a unique way to communicate with friends and an avenue for inspiration.  Thank you so much for all of your support.  You cannot imagine the lift I get from each kind word in your comments or even when you spend a brief moment to hit the “Like” button.

     As the new year takes hold, my mantra will be

While this has been my resolution for the last couple of years (and has even been written on a wall here at home), I have for the most part just paid it lip-service.  I really want to embrace it, and perhaps by verbalizing it here on Avad Fan I will be more likely to actualize its many permutations.

     This is not an original idea.  Another blogger, whom regrettably I can no longer recall, recommended it, but the idea immediately resonated with me.  It can be applied to so many aspects of life from diet to clutter to attitudes toward loved ones.  I also need to apply it to my desire for perfection which of course always comes up way short but nevertheless causes me much consternation.  The succinctness of these two words is also so fitting following the Christmas holiday and the annual remembrance that Jesus is the light of our world and that I need to follow his light and in the process try to help lighten up the load of others.

     With the big half-century mark fast approaching, I am going to need constant reminders to lighten up.  A big dose of laughter will be required as well.  So as I face the inevitable, let’s lighten up and laugh together.  I’d sure appreciate your company.