Happiness Is.

It's Friday!  I hope everyone had a good week!  I'd like to continue my end-of-week happiness review.

Happiness is...

...new fabric.  Some is for planned projects and some is just because.

...iced coffee.  With this stuff.  Mmmmm....

...summer gatherings with swimming pools involved.  Tomorrow we're headed to a cookout at a house with a pool.  Fun for the kids, fun for me.  I then realized that I have no grown-up swimsuit and went looking.  I found this one at the Gap:

Not overly mom-ish but not teenage chickadee either.  At my local store on sale, with an additional 40% off.  Now that's happy.  Swimming with the kids just got a little more comfortable.

...this great find.  Needs paint, but will be super handy in the work room.

...being accepted to my second craft show (yup, we're trying another one) that required an application and small jury process.  October show and Christmas goods, here I come!

Finally, two quick little bloggy pleas before I run off for the day:

1.Comments are awesome and being able to reply to comments is even better.  If you don't have your e-mail hooked up to your profile then I can't reply to you.  Take a quick read here to see how to add your e-mail and remove yourself from no-reply status.

2. Captcha is not awesome.  Inevitably when I write a nice long comment, I get that box that asks me to input the two words (and now numbers) that are getting harder and harder to read.  And then I don't want to comment any more.  So, if you'd like to turn off your comment verification system, here's how.  I worried about spam comments but seriously, there's been like, two.  Ever.

What's making you happy this week?

Happy Friday!

Finding Balance: Liz from Here's to Handy Andy

So far I am loving all of these posts that my awesome guest bloggers have to say.  I feel like I am learning a lot of helpful new tips, as well as reinforcing what I already know but have a hard time doing.  We'll continue the fun today with my friend Liz!

Hey All! I’m Liz and I blog about crafts and such over at Here’s to Handy Andy. Kristen was my first bloggy friend, and I’m so happy I can guest post over here at her lovely blog!

I started blogging less than a year ago, and I had no idea what I was doing. So, being the nerd that I am, I scoured the internet for advice on successful blogging. There are so many articles and opinions out there, so I was pretty much instantly overwhelmed when I started working through all of the information.

Finding a balance is super hard for me because I work full-time at a publishing company, travel on and off for work, have a house to maintain, other commitments to keep up; oh yeah, and a husband who would prefer not to be ignored all day while I sit in my PJs, crafting and blogging [weird, right?!].

Anyway, so as I have fumbled through my first several months of blogging, this is what I have found to be helpful:
  • Establish a Schedule – I am definitely not the authority on blogging best practices, but for me the most important part in finding a balance is finding a schedule that works for you. I post twice a week. There’s no way I could post more than that. Figure out a schedule that won’t kill you, then do your best to stick to it.
  • Maintain Your Schedule – I [generally] use the weekends to get projects done and take pictures. Then I write and schedule my posts so I don’t have to worry about them during the week. If there is a week where I am traveling, I try to plan ahead and get a project done early to schedule, or get a friend to guest post. And the truth is, sometimes life just happens and things fall through the cracks because something else is more important, and you just have to let it go.
  • Warning – The possible hazard for me with my schedule is getting so tied to it that I feel panicked when I haven’t had time to get anything together over the weekend. It’s so tempting to slap just anything up on the blog just to get something up there. But, I really try to post projects or recipes I enjoy or things I will actually use or give to someone, and not make up something that I’m just going to throw away just to keep to the schedule. I always have a list of projects or recipes I want to try, in varying levels of difficulty, so that when I’m in a pinch I can get a quick project together that I actually care about.
I know I just floored you with my blogging wisdom. So, I’ll just leave you to bask in the light of my awesomeness.

Thanks, Kristen, for having me!

Happy to have you Liz!  You can catch up with Liz on her blog, or follow along with her on Twitter.


So I decided to put my shop on this thing called Facebook.  Have you heard of it?

Ok, I know I said I'd never use Facebook, but that was for personal use.  While I wouldn't mind seeing what all the people from high school are doing now, I'm not sure I want them doing that to me.  Plus, I really don't have any extra time to spend being nosy.  Anyway, now that you can sign up for Facebook with just a business page, I decided I'd give it a try.  Of course, I don't know how to use it at all and it seems a bit confusing to me (and I'm not that old, sheesh), but I'm giving it a try.  If you'd happen to like to wander over and like my page (at least I know the terms, right?) then you can go here.  I'm not even sure what to put there but I guess I'll use it for posting new products and sales and stuff.

Any FB advice would be completely helpful!

Super, Gigantic, Hugetastic Mess

Hugetastic is totally a word, right?  If it's not, then it should be, and its dictionary entry should show a picture of my living room.

Because our living room project has been on pause due to a still yet undelivered pair of bookcases that need to be installed before we can order furniture, we figured we'd move on and do some of the dining room stuff.  I'm happy to report that the wallpaper is going much better, though not quite done, because hubs started scraping the popcorn off the ceiling this weekend, and that put a cramp in my scraping because someone had to watch the kids.

In the meantime, our completely empty living room has come in handy because it now houses the kitchen table, some other various pieces of furniture that were in that space, plus every toy known to man.  You can't even move in there right now.  In addition, we had to take the dining room light down to get around the fixture so we've been sort of in the dark since Saturday.  We got a new light but it can't be hung up until the final paint coat is done, which occurred late into the evening last night.  In the meantime, meals have been in the living room or on the deck, and we had to order pizza last night because the cabinets and stove are covered in plastic.  Drat.

In the interim, I've started to think about decoration.  That wallpaper wall is going to be about 3/4 cabinets when we're done.  (I know- why remove the wallpaper then?  I just don't want to know it's under there, for one thing.  Hubs has to mark up the wall to hang the cabinets for another.  We just want to have a clean slate underneath.)  Anyway, along the right edge there will be a little more than a foot of space, so my first thought was a set of 3 of some kitchen-themed art prints, since the kitchen and dining room are one big space.  On top of my list for choices:

These lovely prints are from handz.  They are fun and retro, and while not our typical style, there is something about them that I just love.  There are so many awesome prints to choose from that I'd have a hard time picking.

Then there are these prints from the shop FlourishCafe.  I really love the mix of graphics and illustration, and the colors would go great in the space.

Finally, penandpaint has some really original hand-drawn designs, and these come in a range of colors.  It would be fun to mix and match the colors on these.

Which ones would you pick?

Finding Balance: Traci from All Things Luci Rae

Continuing the series on finding balance, I'd like to welcome Traci from All Things Luci Rae, who's going to tell you how she manages her very busy schedule.

Hi everyone, I'm Traci and you can catch me over at All Things Luci Rae.  I am a full time mom and wife.  I work part time for an estate sale company and have recently opened a store in an antique mall called The Dented Lampshade.  As you can imagine finding balance between all of my many roles is a challenge.  Some days I can hardly find time to shower.  Don't worry, though most days I do.

My advice: Prioritize... and let things go.
No one can do it all... not even Martha.  Figure out what is the most important to you at that moment and do it.  And if your toilets don't get done, or you have to order pizza again so be it.  Let it go.  Being too hard on yourself and striving for perfection is just a crazy maker.  Plus, perfect people bug me.  

I have figured out that balancing being a mom and wife, owning a store, blogging, and working for an estate sale company might sound like too much.  Someday, I may decide it is, but for now I just let some stuff go.  If the store isn't perfect every single day, that's okay.  My daughter is well cared for and fun- not always clean, but hey, swimming counts as a bath right?  I just think it is more important to have fun with what you are doing.  Once it becomes no fun, then stop doing it. I don't mean once it becomes hard, though, because things do get hard.  I enjoy a challenge.  

My family comes first, always.  The store comes second, and then my job.  On the days I am working for the estate sale company, they have all of me, but as soon as I clock out at the end of my day, I leave my work there.  I don't fret about what didn't get done, or what I have to do next week.  I just leave it there.  

So that's the best I've got.  My house isn't always perfect, but it is always loving.  Life is messy, I just embrace the mess.

Thanks Traci!   Make sure to stop by her blog to check out her latest project, and if you missed it, check out Paige's post on finding balance from last week.

Happiness Is

I've been feeling a little stressed out and tired lately, so I wanted to end the week on a happy note for all the good little things that are around me that I'm so thankful for.

Happiness is...

....bare feet in the grass.

....or perhaps your whole body.

....playing in the sandbox (bulldozer compliments of the dump).

....swimming in the kiddie pool.

....this guy back in action.

....finding new blog friends!  I added my blog to Whispering Sweet Nothings master blog roll.  You can find and connect with other bloggers near you.  Go on by and add your blog to the map!

If you look over there ------------>  you'll see a few new buttons in the sidebar, courtesy of Bloggers Coast-to-Coast. Stop over and say hi to Nicole in the Making and Adventures of a Misfit Librarian.

....blogging every weekday this week!  Whew!

Feel free to leave your own little happinesses in the comments.  I don't think we could ever have too much happy.

I Fought the Wallpaper

And the wallpaper is winning.  Remember when I said that grass cloth is the wallpaper from hell?  I was wrong.  Faux cork is.  Honestly, I still have no idea what this is exactly, but it's pretty thin and therefore ripping off in little pieces.

Start of day:

Several hours later:

Seriously, it's one wall.  After 3 or 4 hours, that wall should be done.  Maybe I'll go back to trim painting.

What's on your plate today?

Finding Balance: Paige from Little Nostalgia

To start us off on the quest to find balance, I'm happy to have Paige here to tell you about some things that help her keep a good schedule.

Virtual greetings! I’m Paige from Little Nostalgia, and I’m excited to be posting here today.

Since I quit my day job last November and became self-employed, it’s been hard to stay on top of everything my business needs, while also keeping the house from falling into squalor, AND having some sort of personal life. Some days I totally have my act together and get 50 things done before lunch, but other times I slide off the wagon and get caught up in a Hoarders marathon. Being my own boss is great, but it can be hard to find discipline when I’m only accountable to myself.

Calendar, $18, Etsy

That being said, the pendulum of balance swings pretty wildly around here. I still haven’t figured out a foolproof plan or how to clone myself, but there are a few tricks I’ve learned to keep everything flowing.

1. Follow a semi-regular schedule. When I got my first taste of professional freedom, I just skipped through the metaphorical meadow, doing whatever the heck I wanted all day long. Bad plan. These days I do my computer-based items first, then I work on assembling orders and/or DIY projects, and I save my “leaving the house” activities, including any socializing, for the afternoon. This gives me a sense of routine, but has enough flexibility that I don’t get bored.

2. Have a detailed to-do list. If you wear many hats, have a to do list that reflects that. Mine is a weekly list that’s divided into four categories: my main Etsy shop, my secondary Etsy shop, my blog, and life in general. Having everything on the same piece of paper helps SO much, plus it’s a good way to see what area of your life needs more attention that week.

To-do printable, $5, Etsy

3. Say no, and say it whenever you need to. Part of finding balance is not overextending yourself.  Whether it’s a last-minute order, or a friend who wants you to hang out in her new pool in the middle of the day, if you don’t have time, then you don’t have time! And that’s fine. Everyone else has a lot going on, too, and chances are, they’ll totally understand.

4. Have an accountability buddy. Like I said before, being accountable to myself can lead to bad TV marathons and eating Doritos. I’ve started telling my husband about assorted business tasks (usually things I hate doing, like bookkeeping), and he asks about my progress every couple of days. You can use your significant other, a friend, a fellow businessperson--anybody who will help keep you on track with their questions.

Hopefully you’ll find some of these to be useful! Do you have any business-and-balance tips to share? Do you do any of the above?

Keep up with Paige on her blog, Little Nostalgia, and on Twitter.

Projects in The Works

In order to help me feel a little bit more in control and in balance of all that needs to be done, I've identified a few things that need to get done now.

1. Finish hallway trim paint.  6 doorways and 3 doors have slowed me down.  I hate painting doors.  White trim and peach doors- not so bad, right?

2. Organize work room.  It's actually worse than it looks.  One step at a time.

3. Because we are currently stalled in our living room project, as our bookcases are still not here over 9 weeks later, we've decided to stop being at a standstill and move on to the dining room, which for me means removing the "cork" wallpaper on this one wall.  That is my last and final wallpaper removal in this house.  Isn't it lovely?

We're not really sure what it actually is.  We'll see how it comes down.

What's on your immediate to-do list?  Any big projects?

Too Busy

Over the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that I am too busy.  I always have more to do in a day than I can possibly get done, and having two small children doesn't always help my efforts because even the best-laid plans get demolished by a cranky child.

I am not complaining, per se.  I know that I am very, very, very lucky to stay home with my kids, and I don't take that for granted.  I would just like to be able to accomplish projects during the day and manage to keep the house clean at the same time.  It seems that if I plan to clean the house, no home projects get done.  If I need to paint something or scrape wallpaper, then the house doesn't get clean.  If I have Etsy orders to pack and blog posts to write and e-mails to answer, then nothing else gets done.  I can't seem to balance it all and do it all well.  My to-do lists (yes, more than one) have lists and things only seem to get added to them instead of crossed off.

This weekend was spent doing some of those things I have meaning to do for months but have been gotten pushed off.  When we moved upstairs while we were renovating our master bedroom, we brought all the stuff upstairs from our closet.  There is stuff up there are belongs down here, and we've been in the new room for a few months.  I also decided to bring all my sewing stuff up from the basement so my fabric and paper can co-habitate.  Therefore, that room is a mess.  I feel good about the few things I got done, but the rest of the trim painting in the hallway that needs to be finished didn't get done.  It's always one thing or another.

In general, I hate the term "have it all", like there are certain things you are supposed to have in life, and that you must have them all.  But I want to have all the things I want to have- happy kids and husband, a clean house, projects done or at least moving forward, and time for the things I enjoy for me- the Etsy shop and chatting online and sewing and all that good stuff.  It's not entirely too much to ask, is it?

I know that you all are different and have different situations but I think a lot of people can identify with this type of situation where you have your own "have it all's".  I wanted to explore this a little more and hear what other people have to say about how they balance all the things in their life, and maybe get some advice on how to do it better, so I invited some of my blogging friends to guest post and share with you.  Over the next few weeks, we'll get to see what they have to say.

If you have some advice on the subject or want to commiserate and would like to guest post, feel free to e-mail me at miloandmollyshop@gmail.com.  I'd love to hear what you have to say.



That is all.

Double Fireplace

We have this lovely double-sided fireplace that separates our living room and dining room.  It's so nice to have a fire going when it's cold out and be able to see it from both rooms.  However, the doors that we on it looked like this:

Lovely antique brass.  There was so much brass in our house when we moved in it's not even funny.  We have been slowly working to remove it all.  (Seriously- we had brass outlet covers.)  The plan was to get new fireplace doors in black wrought iron because that is more of the look we're going for, but new doors were going to be pretty pricey for each door, and we need two.

Plan B- Rustoleum high heat flat black spray paint for gas grills!  With a little sanding and a lot of taping on the part of the hubs, it worked like a charm:

The look we wanted for about $10.  Can't beat that.

I'd love to show you the whole fireplace but both the hearth and mantle are covered in junk while we await new bookcases for the living room.  The project we hoped to have completed by the time we go to Florida is still stuck in neutral.  Hopefully soon!

How are your home projects coming?  Spray paint anything lately?

Holy Guacamole!

The week before we went on vacation was Gus's last week of preschool for the year.  When I think back to September and how I didn't know if he was going to like it and if he'd want to stay by himself, I should have just laughed because he loved it.  Two-year-old preschool is one of the best things we've done for him thus far.  And then we were excited to find out there was going to be an end of the year picnic for all the families of the 2's.  Everyone signed up to bring in food and we were all set to go when we got the phone call: rain today, no picnic.  No plans to bring it inside, just cancelled.  It was so disappointing, and Gus still asks about the picnic because he doesn't quite understand yet what "cancelled" means.

Not only that but we were left with a huge bag of tortilla chips that we wouldn't usually have. (Luckily I was going to buy the two gallons of lemonade and salsa on our way to the picnic.  I feel bad for the person who offered to make sandwiches for the 22-family shindig.)  Anyway, the chips aren't something I was going to return so I was thinking I'd have to come up with something to use with them and decided upon homemade guacamole.  This was something I always thought was hard to make- any recipes I've found always have some weird, complicated step involved- but I've managed to combine a few different recipes to come up with a very simple mix.  And luckily, avocados were on sale this week.

Homemade Guacamole

2-3 ripe avocados (should be soft to the touch when gently squeezed)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 thick slice of sweet onion, chopped
handful of citantro, chopped
lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
salt and pepper

In a bowl, place avocado fruit and roughly mash it with a fork.  The more you mash it, the thinner it will become so work it until you find a consistency you like.  Squeeze the juice of a half lemon over the avacado to coat it.  This will help keep it from turning brown too quickly.  Use more juice if it you think you need it.  Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, a sprinkle of pepper and 1-2 teaspoons of salt (taste it as you add it).  Stir carefully.

And that's it!  This makes a great side with chips, but we've been loving it spread inside of steak fajitas lately.

Let me know if you try it or have a recipe for your own!

On Vacation

Hey, everyone!  This past week's absence was due to a family vacation, as we made our way down the coast to visit the hubs's parents on our yearly pilgrimage to Florida.  Driving down (and back) is not exactly my most favorite activity, especially with (now) two kids and one dog.  We have a very full car.  However, the trip went smoothly for the most part, with us leaving at 3:30 in the morning the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and getting to Nana and Papa's at 10 pm.  Yes, we are crazy and drive right through.  We would rather just get there instead of prolonging the experience.

We don't tend to stray too far from the house while we're there, letting the kids spend time with their grandparents, but we do make our way out for a few fun activities.  This year, two back-to-back days at the beach were surrounded by 3 days of rain (thanks, Beryl) in which about 9 inches of rain fell in our area.  For the third year in a row, there were days when it was warmer in Connecticut than in Florida.  It didn't deter the beach fun, though.  Gus had such a blast "swimming" in the water and using his construction vehicles in the sand, he didn't want to leave.  Greta had her first beach experience, eating lots of sand and chewing on sea grass floating up to shore as she sat where the sand and water meet.  Needless to say, the bathtub was full of sand upon cleanup.

This was actually the first time N + P got to see Greta in person, so it was fun watching them to get a good look at her, and she's becoming so much more interactive now.  We discovered her first tooth breaking through on the trip down, she's able to sit up without immediately keeling over, and she is trying desperately to crawl.  We had her christening while we were down there, since they miss out on a lot since we're up here and they're down there, so that was a special event.

We took lots of walks and ate a lot of food that was probably bad for us, and Gus watched way too much television, but that's the whole point of vacations.  We figured it was a week's break and so we let go some of the things we'd normally adhere to much more strictly.  And now we're home after another long drive Saturday and yesterday, though this time with a hotel stop, and I managed to get us completely unpacked with laundry done by the end of the day.  Not too bad, and that makes me feel good about a fresh start today, instead of dragging out all the end-of-vacation chores.

It's nice to be back, both at home and here on the blog.  Time to get back to some routine!  Anyone else been traveling lately, or planning a trip?  Hate unpacking?  Watching too much television?  I'd love to hear about it!