On Working.


I had a conversation with a friend recently about going back to work.  We are both in a similar situation in that our kids are going to be off to school full time in the fall, and that will leave us both with a mostly free day, and leaves us both wondering if it's time.

It's not the actual work itself that gives me pause (although teaching has certainly changed since I was in a classroom seven years ago and I might need to learn some stuff), but the idea of giving up the ability to be there for our kids when we want to that is niggling at both of us.  I like to know that I can pick my kids up if they're sick, and I can take them to appointments when they need to go.  I like being able to have the time to take them to activities after school and not have to coordinate a carpool or other care.  I like the flexibility of my daily routine and not being forced into a rigid schedule.

On the other hand, it would be nice to pay down the mortgage so maybe we could go on a nice vacation together, or eat out more often, or visit places with admission fees we don't want to pay.  Even just a smaller extra salary could put a dent in those payments.  It would be nice to find a job that would allow me to work from say, 9-2 each day while the kids are in school.  But...then there is the inevitable summer vacation where they would be home, and they aren't yet old enough to stay home by themselves, so some kind of care would have to be arranged.  Ideally I would find a job in the kids' school, but again, it's commitment to something I'm not sure I'm ready for.  In seven years I have gone from someone who has always worked to someone who has no idea what I'm going to be when I grow up.

But, at least I know it's not just me and that others are struggling in the same situation that I am.  That gives me a little bit of comfort that I am not just being lazy when it comes to hesitating returning to work, but really thinking about if it's time to upend the routine and balance we've got going on right now.  Luckily for us it's not a dire situation and I will have time to decide what's right for us, and hopefully a clear path will appear at the right time.

Closing Shop + Magic.


I don't know if anyone even remembers this because it (seems like it) was eons ago, but in the middle of June last year, two friends and I took on a lease for a small office space that we were planned to use as a studio, with occasional market nights and perhaps a small retail space.  And for a variety of reasons - some I understand and some are just unbeknownst to me, it just didn't end up working the way we envisioned.  The three of us met this past April and decided that it wasn't in anyone's interest to keep the space open, so we decide to close up shop and we were lucky to tag sale off all of our fixtures almost as easily as we acquired them.  One day we were in this space and the next day we weren't.  Funny how things can happen.

So what did (or didn't) happen?  Here's some things I know for sure:

1. The space we took was not a traditional retail space - we were in an office area down a short hallway - so that made it harder for people to find us by randomly walking by.  We had no "curb appeal" so to speak, even with a sign out by our main door.  This taught us that if we really want to do retail in the future, a more obvious space would be better.  It seems obvious, but you think that if you let people know where you are, they will find you, but it doesn't work that way.

2. For me, for it to really work, I would have had to move my entire operation to that space, or had a completely duplicate setup.  I found that I had to plan what I was going to bring and work on each time I went - I couldn't just willy-nilly work on whatever I felt like.  I had to make sure I had all the fabric, tools, and right color thread (learned that one the hard way) that I needed for the day's projects.  And I didn't want to leave anything there in case I needed it at home (learned that one the hard way, too).  It was so much work to get things done.

3. Even with a somewhat steady base of local followers, people did not know what to make of us.  When we explained what we were doing, the first thing most people asked were what our hours were.  Steady hours were one thing we did not have because it was a working studio and three busy moms do not always have time for crafty work.  We'd get, "Oh, so it's a shop?" or "Oh, I can't wait to see?"  There wasn't quite an understanding of what the space was.

What I don't understand, and continually do not understand, is what makes one place work and another not.  Two things that are so similar and one takes off and one plods along hoping for a break.  What is that magic element?  Why do some people always seem to be in the right place at the right time, and others don't?  Why does one struggle while the other one makes gainful strides?  This is probably the most frustrating thing for me since there seemed to be some of that in play.  I feel perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time, even though I know that with a little bit of that magic I could totally rock it.

A few things I think I've come to understand: first is that a lot of people get a shop when they have outgrown their space at home and need a place bigger than what they've got.  I didn't have that need, but was hoping that having the space would drive more business to my business and make it bigger.  Maybe that's a backwards way to think about it and I should be working on strategies to make my current business in its current state in my current space work better.  Second is that a business really needs to fill a need in a niche area where it is lacking.  Does what I do fill a hole?  Is it important and worthwhile?  A little big of research is in order on that one.

All in all it was a good ride and it really gave me some insight into what I'm doing and what I need, and is really making me think about direction, all of which are good things.  It's an experience that I'm so glad I had because otherwise I would still have that notion in my head that an external space was the answer and that it would be awesome for business, and it really was a learning experience, as cliche as that sounds.  But if anyone out there has a clue on that magic, let me know because I would really like to put some of it to good use.

Rest.


This past weekend I decided to take myself offline.  For the past several weeks I've been feeling worn out, frustrated, and bogged down with all things social media.  It's hard to put yourself out there continually and see little in the way of results, so I decided to take a short break.  I also realized that I was getting really angsty whenever I'd see someone I know having some awesome success with their business.  Not jealous or angry, because I know that I am not putting in the effort I need for those successes, but each triumphant post gave me a little nervous twitter in my chest that I should be doing those things, and if I did those things, I too could have the awesome successes.  The weight of both were starting to build on me.  So other than a couple quick searches, one scroll through Instagram, and one quick check of my emails which yielded nothing but junk mail, I spent the whole weekend with the computer closed and the iPad in another room, which hasn't happened in a very, very long time.

While I can't say that I was super-productive while not being attached to my devices - as I figured I would be, I did realize a few things about my habits: I found that I use the Internet as a placeholder throughout the day when I'm not sure what I want to do next, as a diversion from getting other things done.  When I'd finish something like laundry, I'd go wander over to the kitchen where the computer usually sits and where I'd stand and check my feeds.  Not having it sitting there made me realize just how much I do that, and how much I could be going from one productive activity to another instead.  Just in writing this post I've had a hard time not clicking over to another tab and focusing on finishing this.

I've previously thought about keeping the computer in my office so that it's not sitting in the main space all the time, and this experiment has totally cemented my feelings that that might be a good idea.  I also think that, at least for the summer months, I'm going to set myself a schedule for when I can look at certain platforms, so that I am not constant checking feeds.  If I've learned anything this weekend, it's that my immediate response is not necessary or possibly even appreciated, so I'm not going to make myself so completely available.  I'm going to respond to things in my own time, and I'm going to put some of my own work first.  I need to realign what I do and how I do it and this might be the best first step.

Good Reads: Primates of Park Avenue.

image via Good Reads

I have long been fascinated with New York City.  If I were told I had to pick a city to live in, it would most definitely be New York.  There is a unique kind of energy there unlike any other place I've been.  You've Got Mail is a favorite movie and Sex and the City is a favorite show just for the scenery alone.  I have gotten lost on the Humans of New York Facebook page, and even picked up a book on NYC food trucks from the library (which mostly just made me really hungry).

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is the story of her move to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, home of the elite-est of the elite, and the incredible situations she found herself in because of it.  Part memoir, part field guide to the ins and outs of the daily routine of the city's wealthiest residents, and part anthropological study, Primates is a fun read while giving you a glimpse into what it's really like to live on the Upper East Side, particularly the interactions between the women and the hoops they must go through to move up society's ranks.  It's highly recommended to anyone who loves the culture of the City and wonders what it's like to actually live there and raise kids there.  While the hierarchy of the Upper East Side is an extreme example of city culture, it's like getting a glimpse into the real-life Gossip Girl.

When Does Home Feel Like Home?


I realized the other day that we've been in our house almost six and a half years now, which is completely crazy to me.  We started hunting when we knew that we needed to be in a particular location for a job, and after a couple months of searching, we settled on our house.  We picked it because it had a good floor plan, even though it was a wallpaper- and popcorn-ceiling nightmare.  We knew that we could make something of it even though it wasn't perfect and even though it was on a semi-busy street, which wasn't ideal, but everything else that wasn't a dump was out of our price range.

And so for three years we chipped away at the wallpaper and the odd features of the house (there were so many useless doors in here!) and made it our own.  We crafted a cozy space for our family and have transformed so many aspects of the structure itself on our meager budget and pretty much only the two of us working on it.  There is literally no surface that we have not altered in some way.

And yet, almost four years after we finished the major renovations, I still don't know if this feels like home, as crazy as that sounds.  You always hear people talking about their "forever home" - the perfect one that they loved instantly and that they were going to spend the rest of their life in.  I don't have that overwhelming feeling about this place, though I couldn't tell you exactly why.  It's a lovely house and we are so so lucky to live here that I feel like an ass even thinking it, but I do sometimes wonder if this is where we'll stay or if there is one of those forever home for us.  Is it in this house?  In this town?  Some other place or other state?  How do you know if it's "the one"?

Sometimes I think it may just be a restless feeling of needing a new project and the excitement of starting something new.  I love starting something new and running through all the fresh possibilities - finding the place with the perfect space to entertain, the perfect space to work, the perfect space to relax.  I enjoyed going through and freshening up the house room by room - maybe I just want to renovate another one.  I could have my own show on TLC - "RenoMom"!  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy where I'm at, though I would love to get off the busy road.

5 Things That Always Make Me Happy


I'm two posts back in and I realize that they have both been existential "what does it mean?" posts, which can make for heavy reading, but it's just the place where my mind has been lately.  I'm not quite done with those because there has been a lot weighing on me but the other day I was sitting and trying to think of things that make me happy.  And not just things that sometimes make me happy, but never fail, consistent joy-bringers.  Here are my current top five:



1. Cooking and eating fresh food.  Turning raw ingredients into something tasty and healthy is so fulfilling.



2. Walking on Sunshine.  Listen to it and try not to dance.  I dare you.



3. Looking at my kids' baby pictures.  They make me smile with the silly, remarkable, aggravating, adorable things they did, and I love remembering that moment that it happened and marvel at where we are now.



4. Fresh sheets.  Seriously, is there anything better?  They're crisp and cool and smell really good, even if you don't use scented detergent.



5. 75 degrees and sunny.  Because there is nothing quite like being outside and being warm but not too hot, with the sun on your face, and you want to just sit and be.

What would make your list of things that always make you happy?

Wantrepreneur.


I saw the term wantrepreneur used in a blog post a few weeks ago and I bookmarked it by throwing it into a draft blog post so I could come back and look more into it.  What I found is that most websites define wantrepreneur as a person who is always in the planning stage of starting a business but who never actually gets it off the ground.  In the business world, a wantrepreneur is pretty much a joke - they design a logo before they have an idea for a product.  In my own mind, though, I think of a wantrepreneur who is trying to get a business of the ground but has no idea what they're doing or where to go next.  Clearly business skills come easily to some people and not to others, and for those of us who aren't quite sure which way to go, it can turn into a frustrating mess.

As I talked about yesterday, I have been in a bit of a slump - a funk, if you will.  I have not had the drive to do anything with Milo and Molly and the idea of sitting down and trying to create something, even things I've made hundreds of times over, is overwhelming.  There is all kinds of advice out there for what to do when you're stuck - learn a new skill, take a breather, do some brainstorming; the list goes on and on.  But what happens when none of that works and you're just in an icky place? 

Right now, and for the past several month, when there has been time that should be spent working on my business, I go clean out a closet.  I bake muffins.  I organize clutter.  I read Buzzfeed articles.  I eat a snack.  What I should be doing, as someone who owns a business, is reading up on how to take better photos with my DSLR camera.  I should be listing items in my sleepy little Etsy shop.  I should be looking for information on how to better my business.  I should be testing out new products.  Something, anything to keep the business moving.

I should be using my time more effectively to help my business.

In my head, I know that a person whose business is successful is the person who puts their all into it.  They are the person who never stops thinking about it, never stops working at it, puts other things aside to build it up, the one who sacrifices in order to achieve their goal.  And then they set a new goal and start all over again.  And I know in my head that I am not currently that person - I am the wantrepreneur who needs to figure out what to do next.  Or maybe I'm not, and I just haven't quite realized it yet.

So what do you do when you have no motivation and no drive?  How do you regain the passion for what you've worked on, or how do you know when it's time to let it go?  I know that once September rolls around I will have a consistent period of uninterrupted hours every day that I will be able to devote to work.  In the interim, it would be really helpful for me to figure out what it is I want to do, what I want Milo and Molly to become, how I want to be perceived, and what I need to do to achieve that.  I'm tired of being the wantrepreneur.  I'm tired of saying, "I should..." and I want to say, "I did."

****

A few weeks ago, I put out a survey asking people ten really quick questions about me and my business, and if you're reading this and can spare a minute, I would love a few more responses.

Summer Limbo.


Summer vacation has officially begun.  Gus and Greta both had their last days at school last Thursday - first grade for him, last year of preschool for her - and my excitement for putting away both the lunch bags and book bags for a few months now gives way to a new routine and the logistics of doing errands and things as a threesome again.  My quiet hours alone, the few I had during the week, are over until the end of August when we slide back into a new school routine.

Over the course of hours home, many spent (hopefully) outside in the yard, I'm hoping to work back into this space.  I have so many posts started or the subject saved, ready to be made into something, but the words just haven't been free to come.  I have been completely stuck when it comes to creativity, drive, flow for months now, feeling totally sapped for energy that requires more brain power than house chores.  The correct word for this may be "defeated" though I don't remember actively giving up - it just kind of happened over the course of the past few month.  So many things little house and family have taken precedence over my own that I feel like it's going to be hard to get back on track.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm still meant to have my own business or if I should just let it go and try to find something else to fill my time, though with what, I have no idea.

And so for now I sit in limbo, not really being able to move forward on any one thing while the kids are always home, though I hope that maybe getting myself to blog again will help unlock something that's been dormant for so long.  I just hope that some of you are still out there to read it.

Links on Friday.


Hey everyone!  How has your week been?  We've been super on the go this week.  Greta had preschool off this week and Gus had Monday with a snow day on Tuesday so the week has been packed with kid-entertaining activities.  I'm looking forward to a slightly more relaxed weekend.  Before we get to Saturday, here are some fun things for keeping you entertained while you are wishing the last working hours of Friday away:

This garage-turned-tiny-house is amazing.  I don't think I could live in such a space with two small kids but it's pretty awesome.

I didn't realize that this house was done by HGTV's Fixer Upper Crew when I bookmarked it but I love it with a capital L.  It's a bachelor pad, but I love the treatments they chose.  It's very rustic and comfortable looking.

For those of us who are a little quiet and awkward and intoverted, networking is torture.  This guide will tell you how to network at a creative conference.

I made these honey-glazed cilantro lime wings for Super Bowl and they were excellent.

10 things your kids should be able to do by middle school.  I loved this because I think encouraging your kids to be strong and independent is the best thing you can do for them.

21 things you didn't know you could donate.  I knew about the eyeglasses but the rest of the list is super helpful.

Organic underwear!  I love the idea of having natural fiber undies and this post has 9 companies that make them.

So what are you up to this weekend?  Anyone else just going to be maxing and relaxing at home?

My Night Life.

http://so-funny-stuffs.tumblr.com/post/63920379637/
When it comes down to it, I feel like I have two lives- my day life and then my night life, which is much shorter but wildly more productive than my day life.  It is absolutely amazing what I can accomplish between the hours of 8:30ish to midnight-ish.  Maybe it's because the volume of the house is turned completely off with everyone sleeping, or maybe it's that I just naturally hit my stride in the evening, or maybe it's something else altogether, but once everyone has gone to bed, I go to town.

Last night, for example, I started at about 9:30.  Because my husband gets up for work at 5am, he tends to go to bed between 9 and 9:30.  I can't even think about trying to fall asleep at that hour (see graphic above) so I am always up later than he is.  So from 9:30 pm I managed to bake a pan of brownies for today's playdate; get the kids' laundry dried, folded, and put away (stealthy laundry ninja!) and start a load of sheets and towels; tidy up the mudroom, the kitchen, and the dining room; pay a few bills; iron pants; clear clutter; answer emails and screw around online; and write this blog post, and it's only 11:19.

I sometimes wonder what I would be able to accomplish if I had more of these hours, where silence reigns and productivity soars.  The results could be pretty incredible.  Ideally I suppose I would be the type of person who works until 2 or 3 am and sleeps in later in the morning, but I'm not currently afforded that luxury as my two little people, while great great sleepers, don't generally stay up there past 8am.

Do you find you get mass amounts of stuff done in the evening, or are you more successful in the morning?

And for some further reading:

11 Scientifically Proven Reasons Why Night Owls Get More Done

6 Reasons Why Productivity Belongs to the Night Owls

5 Reasons Why Night Owls are Highly Productive




Sounds From the Studio // 1 //

Last night I was up late working in the studio, and even though everyone was asleep, I had music playing quietly.  I have come to realize that I work more steadily if I have music on.  I think it helps block out the noise around me, and it helps me get into a groove and just get moving.  I often forget to put it on, but when I do, I notice I can work for a longer period of time.

I always have upbeat music playing when I'm working.  I do not want sappy love songs or other slow, dramatic pieces playing when I'm trying to get things done.  I need happy, peppy, sing-along songs to help keep me moving.  I mentioned last week that I grew up on oldies music - the 50's, 60's, and early 70's were the soundtrack to my early childhood, and this is the music that most often carries over to the studio.  I use Pandora for my music service, which I love because of how you can pretty much guide it on what to play for you.  I have slowly honed and crafted my 60s station, only allowing the best of the best hits through to the point where I now barely have to reject a track.

What I love about this era is the vocal harmony, the use of real instruments, and the experimentation with new sounds.  And while I do like the more popular Beatles, etc., I tend to gravitate toward the slightly more obscure hits that don't immediately come to mind but once you hear them you go, "Oh! That song!"  So I picked out a few of them for you to enjoy on your Friday:











What type of music do you listen to when you work?  Do any of these songs resonate with you?

Happy Friday!

barre3 Challenge: What I Learned.

https://www.facebook.com/barre3company/?fref=ts

Back at the beginning of January, I posted that I had started taking barre classes at a nearby studio and was signed up to try out their Challenge: 4 studio classes per week, whole foods, lots of water, dry January, no coffee.  I was really excited to get going on this after the post-holiday slump, and for the first two weeks, I did awesome.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my posts of the stickers we'd get to put up after class.  I did 6 classes in a row between the end of the first week and the start of the second.  I was into the third week when I lost a few days because my husband was out of town, and then when I was ready to get back in it, the kid sickness hit.  And it hit me hard.

side note: I don't know why kid germs hit adults so much harder.  I swear these two were both running around like stuffy-nosed little banshees, but when I get it I end up flattened for over a week.

So for the last week and a half of the Challenge I was sidelined, relegated to the couch with tea and Kleenex like they were going out of style.  And I was hungry.  (Is the saying, "Feed a cold, starve a fever"?  Because I fed the cold.)  I just started back to class Monday night, doing two classes and giving myself a break last night, and I already feel like I've lost some ground.  But even though I didn't get to finish strong - I so wanted to have before and after photos to show you - I learned a few valuable thing about myself in the process:

1. I don't eat enough at once to fuel myself through exertion activities.  I like to go to the evening classes, but occasionally I'll go in the morning.  The one time I got up late and scarfed down a banana before class was a disaster.  I've learned that I need to start eating more rounded, more hearty meals at once, and I feel a lot better than grazing on snacky stuff.

2. I don't drink enough water in the day.  Yes, I get a lot of water in with the amount of tea I drink.  But straight water, nope.  If I haven't had enough water I will get a headache after class, so I've been trying to keep my water bottle handy and keep filling it.

3. My body is stronger than I thought it was.  I had this fear of doing two classes in a row in the week because I figured my muscles would be tired.  But the great thing about barre3 is that while you are using your muscles, you don't move the same way from one class to the next.  I realized that my body can take that type of workout and adapt.

4. I need to have a place to go to work out.  With my membership, I also have access to online classes.  Now, yes, I was unable to breathe out of my nose for a week so I wasn't going to be working out at home, but I don't default to trying it when I'm home- I feel like I should be doing some other type of work.  So in having the studio classes, I'm making myself do it.

5. I need to find something else to break up the barre routines.  We just got a new treadmill, having worn out our elliptical machine that we had for years, and while the husband loves it, I have not yet gotten on it.  I feel like a combination of the two types of exercise might help start to streamline this body back to where it should be.  Also, the cold temperatures do not help.

6. I don't move enough in general.  I have been spending a lot of time on the computer lately with various projects and I know that when I do that I have less energy and motivation to do things, and when I go to class, my muscles - especially my shoulders - get fatigued much more easily.

So, if nothing else, I have come to some internal epiphanies that I can apply to the way I run my days now, making sure that I am taking better care of myself the way I need now, not the way I needed five or so years ago.

No-buy February.


Last year, on February 3, I declared a spending freeze for the month, so how fitting that this year, on February 2, I accidentally planned the exact same post.  Apparently after the holidays and all those bills get paid, I freak out a little and realize we need to tone it down for a little bit.  And reading back through what I wrote last year, most of it still holds true:

We have too much "stuff" that we don't really need, and even worse, at holiday time, the kids especially get more stuff than they need.  So as of right now, the two of them need nothing for the next five years or so.  And in general, that "stuff" creeps in slowly as we aren't so tight on the reins, where you think that one little thing won't matter, but over time those ten things add up.  My plan for the month is to cut out as many extras as possible- meals out, clothes, and fun little grabs at the store, while avoiding all fun stores like Home Goods at all costs, and trying to keep the grocery bill under a certain amount each week.

The problem is, that I find more often than not, is that there will always be some "extra" I'm not anticipating, like white board markers that Gus lost at school and now needs more.  (P.S. That's what I'm going today.)  And with two hungry children, it's hard to cut the grocery bill back too much, and there are certain food things I just won't budge on quality, so there will always be a little bit of a juggling act going on.  Overall though, I just want to be a little bit more mindful of what we are spending and where the money is going and I think that will get us back on track pretty easily.

An Extra Day in February!



Happy February!  It's 2016, which means it's a leap year!  I always wondered what the deal was with leap year and why we suddenly got an extra day put in there, and then I started teaching 5th grade and I learned why!  Did you know that it takes the Earth 365.25 days to orbit the sun, and not the 365 days they always tell you about?  And because we can't have a quarter-day every year, they save them up and make one more full day?  Did you know?

Which means...we get a whole extra day in February!

Now, wouldn't it be wonderful if you really did get an extra day?  What if, when February 29 came rolling around every four years, it was a holiday?  And no one was allowed to go to work and we could just celebrate the fact that the Earth made it around the sun four more times?  It's a pretty awesome occurrence; it totally warrents having a day off.  What would you do with a whole extra day in 2016?  What could you accomplish?

Good Read // Good Watch.


I have to start with the Good Watch today because this movie was fantastic.  The husband and I are huge Beach Boys fans, both of us growing up with an older parent, where 60s music was part of the background.  I knew the words to many Beach Boys songs by the time I was six just for the fact that we listed to the oldies station all the time.  I always knew bits and pieces of their story but never understood how it all worked out together.  Love & Mercy is a biopic of Brian Wilson, the defacto leader of the Beach Boys.  It toggles back and forth between the 1960s when his mental breakdown began and the 1980s after he's been in treatment.  The best part, though, is that you see actual instrumental production of God Only Knows and Good Vibrations, which I find fascinating.  Highly, highly recommend.

****


The Art of Racing in the Rain pulled at my heart because the dog, Enzo, is the one telling the story.  Everything that's happening is told from his perspective and it is heartbreaking at times knowing that he knows things and can't tell anyone.  Beautifully written, this novel is the ultimate story of man and dog and their relationship from beginning to end, and once you start reading you are completely unable to put it down.  For all the times I've wished that Casey the poodle could tell me things, I just loved this book.

What I Do All Day.


Yesterday I totally misinterpreted a tweet about what stay-at-home wives (those without any children) do all day long, and it totally inspired this post.  My misinterpretation led me to think about what I do all day long; there is always fodder online about what stay-at-home moms do all. day. long. when the kids are gone ("Don't you get bored?"), so I thought I might come up with a list of things that I do while my kids are both at school.

1. I eat breakfast.  I tend to stay up later at night, way past everyone else, and therefore am a raging grumpy person when it comes time to get up.  Getting out of bed is hard, and I wait until the last possible minute.  So in the 7:30 - 8:50am stretch of making sure both kids are up, dressed appropriately, fed, lunches packed, bags packed, not missing the bus, going to the bathroom before we leave the house, driving one to school and doing the drop-off routine, eating my own breakfast doesn't always happen.  If I can't come right home from dropping Greta off at preschool, I will cram something down quick, but if I can come home, the first thing I do is eat.

2. I run errands.  It is amazing how long it can take to go grocery shopping, hit up Walmart, stop at the bank, and then play choose your own adventure with any of the following: The Fresh Market, Marshalls, Home Goods, Michael's, Gap, Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, the library, doctor appointment, pet store, etc. depending on who needs what for which current occasion.  And while my children are excellent errand runners, if I need to do a lot of these or the weather conditions are not favorable (hello, rain), I will go and do this by myself so I am not standing in puddles waiting for the very poky Greta to get in the car and buckle up twelve times over.

3. I do chores.  Yes, chores.  They are not fun, they are not cool, they are not hip, but someone has to do them and that someone is me.  And the more people you have in your home, the more of a mess it gets to be.  The laundry alone never seems to end.  The worst part about it: as soon as it's finished, it starts all over again.  The moment I finish vacuuming the floor (once the vacuum cleaner is put away, of course), someone spills Rice Krispies.  It's like reverse karma.  Plus, cleaning in an empty house eliminates someone needing to use the bathroom right after you put the cleaner in the toilet.  Bonus: Cleaning in an empty house means it's much easier to adios broken or abandoned toys with no one realizing they're gone.

4. I try and do some work.  Work?  What work?  Oh, right, I run a small business and an artisan group.  If I can peel myself away from the tasks at hand that make the house run and make sure everyone has what they need when they need it, I might try and find some time to sew, pack orders, answer emails, and do 1,000 other administrative things.  This all tends to get dumped to the bottom of the list and I'll work on it after everyone's in bed (see #1).

5. I might meet up with a friend.  This is a very, very rare occurrence as Greta's preschool schedule doesn't allow for much time alone, but when it happens it is really nice to be able and sit and talk with other adults or have a meal without having to a. share it or b. go to the bathroom three times, two of which are probably just for fun.

6. I sit and relax for a half hour.  Scandalous, right?  That I might be home alone in a quiet house and not do anything for anyone?  This is the common thread online and in life- the stay at home mom is sitting with her coffee reading a magazine.  How lazy is she?  But you know what?  Hell, yea!  Mom has earned that coffee and couch time with all the other crap she's been doing so cut her some slack.  The truth is, sometimes I just need to sit down and give myself a little bit of time to decompress, just like everyone else.  Some days there is more of that and some days there is less.  It all balances, but I need a little bit of me time just like everyone else, and once the family is home there's little chance of it happening.

Just because I am "home" doesn't mean I'm home in the same way it does for someone who leaves for a job and who then returns home to relax.  My working environment just happens to be in my house and I am most often always doing something.  And truly, right now, the amount of time I have by myself passes by so quickly in the day, I am lucky to get one or two of those things accomplished before I have to go pick Greta up from school.  I'm really looking forward to next year when they are both on the same schedule, in school all day, so I can just roll myself back to bed to take a nap once they leave.  But I digress.....


Where Have All the Tweeters Gone?



Where have all the tweeters gone?  It's been something I've noticed for awhile now- Twitter has become a link dump and run, a land of scheduled tweets and automated updates.  When I first got online, Twitter was the first social media platform I signed up for.  I liked how you could quick message people, find help and suggestions, and simply drop a random thought and see what happened.  Nowadays there is so little actual interaction on Twitter.  It may be that when we all started, Twitter was the only platform to connect, so we were all there.  It may be that since that time, we've all gotten busy and we don't put the effort into our social media as much.  It may be that we were able to be online a lot at one point, and since then our lives have changed so now we're not.  Plus the ease of platforms like HootSuite, which allow you to preschedule tweets, and linking accounts like on Instagram and Pinterest, make it possible for you to keep tweets in your feed without you actually opening your Twitter feed to see what's up.

I miss having a quick chat with an online friend, so I've been trying to make the effort to pop in and say hi!  Just a short little friendly conversation like that is perfect to brighten up your day or give you a nice quick break from work.  Tweeters, have you seen the same?

Links on Friday.


It's going to snow this weekend!  Okay, not really.  Last week we were set to get the hugest snowstorm ever ever in Connecticut, and now we're forecast to get about an inch.  I was looking forward to not being able to go anywhere and snuggling under blankets, drinking tea and wasting time on the Internet.  If you're going to have some time to waste, here's a few things I suggest for your viewing pleasure:

21 Things You Never Knew You Could Donate

I bought a Simplified Planner this year but has anyone used the Get to Work Book?

Since it's so flippity-flipping cold here (24, feels like 16), how about some hot drinks from around the world.

I would love to switch from mass gift-giving to giving experiences.  There are a ton of suggestions here.  Now how to make the switch?

Hilarious video of non-design people being asked to work for free.

These potatoes.

Williams-Sonoma has chicken coops. !!!

This craft room.

In case you missed it:

Friday Finds: Winter Edition

Internet Friends are the Best Friends

10 Things I Grew Up With That My Kids Will Never Know


What's everyone's plans for the weekend?  Anyone in the area where they are going to be snowed in?

Avocado-Egg Breakfast Bowl.


As you know, I've been working my way through the barre3 Challenge this month, and one of the major components to it is eating whole foods and ditching as much packaged stuff as possible.  So many people cringe at the idea of having to cook something, especially for breakfast, rather than just being able to grab something convenient and go, and I for one am often guilty of grabbing some kind of bar in lieu of a real breakfast.  So what have I been eating?

Besides my favorite go-to breakfast right now - a banana spread with cashew butter and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes - I eat eggs.  I love being able to get fresh farm eggs, and where we live there are several places we can stop to pick them up in the summer season.  In the winter when it's harder I will go for pasture-raised eggs in the grocery store.  While more expensive, both these and the fresh eggs having a richer flavor than regularly farmed eggs.

Scrambled eggs have to be one of the quickest ways to prepare eggs, making them a perfect hot breakfast when you need something quick.  I whip them with a fork and a little half-and-half to make them extra creamy, plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Then I roughly mash up a half of a ripe avocado and put the eggs on top.  The warm eggs soften the avocado, melding the two together but no so much as to make the avocado mushy.  Add a little cilantro for a nice herb flavor, or a slice of tomato for an extra veggie.  If you have a heat-retaining container handy (like these Foogo ones I have for the kids) you can pop the whole meal in there and eat it when you get to where you're going.





Ready in 5-10 minutes depending on your level of kitchen prowess, this makes for a perfect early-morning meal.  Not only is it tasty, it's super filling.  What have you been cooking up for breakfast lately?

Good Read // Good Watch.

While I was not blogging over the past however many months, I was reading, and I have been fortunate to come across some really great books.  I do a lot of searches on Pinterest for book reviews, book club reads, best new books, etc. and that rarely fails to disappoint in providing at least one good book I feel like I need to grab.  One of these books was Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.


Fates and Furies was billed one of the best September releases, and rightly so.  It's the story of Lotto and Mathilde, who marry young and find a home and success in New York City.  That's seriously about all I can tell you without giving the whole plot away and ruining the book for you.  This is a very well-written story with twists and turns you just don't see coming, making it one of those books that you just can't put down, but it's not a thriller that shocks you to the core.  It's just a perfectly spun tale of a marriage and how in marriage, things aren't always as they seem.  I have heard that for some, it's hard to slog though the beginning.  If you feel that way, keep going: it took me three tries to start The Hunger Games and we all know how that book turned out.

Fun fact: the story starts out in Weeki Wachee, Florida, home of the live mermaid show.  Yes, this is a real place, and yes, this is a real thing, and yes, we just took our kids there over the summer (it's relatively close to my in-laws' house).  This tickled me since it's such an obscure thing and not only do I know about it, I've been there!  Understandably, if you haven't, I can see where in reading the book you'd be like what??  Just click that link up there and take a look and you'll be set.

If you have some down time, or an afternoon or two you want to spend burning through some pages, this is definitely one to pick up, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

What good reads have you found lately?  Anyone else ever been to the mermaid show?

****

via Google

Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes.  Need I say more???  McKellen plays Holmes at the end of his life, trying desperately to remember the details of his last case.  Brilliantly played, with flashbacks woven through the narrative to slowly reveal bits and pieces of the forgotten case.  Must. Watch.

Have you checked this one out yet?  Who's your favorite Sherlock?

Office Takeover: The Furniture.

Last week I presented you with my not-so-top-secret plan to oust my husband from his office, taking it over for myself and redecorating it in all its slightly larger than what I have now glory.  And really, what is an office takeover without some gorgeous new furniture to make it even nicer?  Even though he currently has no intention of moving out, let's take a stroll down Dream Office Lane:

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/anderson-desk/s633074?dtm_em=7f0b4479edc76ea7fa19ff25bfb057ed&j=203423&e=kt0304@aol.com&l=26_HTML&u=75971148&mid=7200679&jb=803&et_cid=203423&et_rid=7f0b4479edc76ea7fa19ff25bfb057ed&et_dos=1142016&cid=BNP

Let's start with the Anderson Desk from Crate & Barrel.  C&B must have known that I have been crushing on home office furniture because they sent me an email full of home office upgrades.  Look at the sleek lines and the lovely glass top.  Storage be damned!  The Harvey Chair is pretty amazing, too.


Now, on the other hand, the Morris Desk may be a little bit more functional, with all those lovely drawers, and it's a little closer to the furniture we are already rocking.  We love that beach cottage feel, and I think this would compliment the room nicely.


Naturally I wandered over to Ikea, because, hello.  Can we talk about the RIGGAD lamp??  Not only is it super cool looking- it wirelessly charges your phone.  For real.  Genius upon genius.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00260677/
Ikea also has several new laptop desks- higher than the average desk for those who wish to stand and type.  This NORRASEN laptop desk would be amazing for almost all the tasks I do standing up- cutting, packing, folding, etc.


And I'd love to cover the floor with the Alvarez Garden Rug from C&B, which is just busy enough that it might not look horrible once it is inevitably covered in threads and fuzz.  I've also always wanted an orange rug, but color scares me, so this could be a nice toe-dip into the color pool.


And then.  Then there is this 1930s French Postal Desk from Restoration Hardware that makes me swoon so hard.  It's a wide desk, with a seat, with shelves and storage.  Pretty, pretty please?

Which is your favorite piece?  Do you go dream furniture shopping?  Which room in your home would you do over?

The Whole Self.


Has there ever been an occasion where you find yourself handed an insight into your personality that you may not have realized that you were putting out there?  A quality less than becoming of the image you have of yourself?

In the past few weeks I've had a few passing comments directed at me, not in malice or meant to be hurtful, that have given me pause as to how I present myself to others, each being the opposite of how I would view myself.  And it has made me wonder how others see me- those who haven't said something to me- and would I like what they had to say?

I have seen this quote floating around and I love the sentiment of it- it's something I want to apply to myself- because above all I want to be seen as a happy, caring, hard-working, respectful person.  It's interesting how just a few little words delivered in an offhanded way can make you think about your whole self.

Friday Finds, Pinterest-Style.

It's the end of yet another week- they really are flying by, aren't they?  I've got a two-day market this weekend that I'm not quite prepared for (so hard to get back into the swing of things!) so I'll be spending the day getting my act together today, but first, some lovely eye-candy from the Pinterest-webs.

http://kelleyandcricket.com/index.php/2015/08/10/sticky-garlic-noodles-ans-famous-garlic-noodles-copycat-15-minutes-gluten-free/

On New Year's Eve, we took the kids to hibachi for the first time with some friends of ours.  They loved it, but I specifically loved the noodles we ordered and want to eat them all the time now.  These look like a similar version, so I'm anxious to try them out.

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/modern-tufted-convertible-wingback-rocker/?bnrid=3518512&cm_ven=pinterestads&cm_cat=adaptly&cm_pla=+CPCPins&cm_ite=nurserychair&pp=1
 via

This is supposed to be a newborn nursery rocker but I want one in every room of my house.  Stylish, modern, and it rocks.  Pottery Barn forever.

http://www.snorgtees.com/t-shirts/luke-s-diner/?utm_source=Pinterest&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=p_lukesdiner&utm_term=fd_lukes&utm_content=fm_lukesdiner&pp=0

We love Snorg Tees in our house, and so when I saw this pop up, I now love them even more.  Any word on when the Netflix mini-movies are coming out??

http://evolvefitwear.com/brands/gold-sheep-clothing/falling-gold-lights-legging

Now that I have started consistently exercising, I'm now in love with athletic wear.  I want to be the type of person that would wear these leggings to barre class instead of my basic black or grey.

http://www.lisaleonard.com/stacking-rings-sterling-silver-prd-llr004-si-p2440/?pp=1

I love these stacking rings, and the fact that you can have these Lisa Leonard ones imprinted with names or inspirational words is really a great, personalized gift idea.

http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2013/05/07/black-forest-house/

All the farmhouse tables all the time.  And those lamps!  Let's just move in, shall we?  (side note: I would love all my crafty/blogger friends to live near me.  Impossible, I know, but how about a nice retreat with a giant table like this?  Yes??)

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend- our weather is looking rainy and cold so I hope you fare better.  Anyone else have fun plans?

Piles, and Tips to Get Rid of Them.



I wrote these lines a few months ago and never finished:

"Lately I feel like I am unable to escape the piles in my home.  The piles of laundry, the piles of papers that come home from school, the piles of mail, the piles of craft show stuff.  New clothes coming in, clothes that don't fit going out.  All the piles dumped all over the house needing weeding out and rehoming.  It is an inescapable cycle in my day, and I feel like I am always, always behind.

I don't know at what point I lost the time to take care of it all as it happens, or maybe it's just multiplied on itself slowly without me really noticing it, or maybe there is just suddenly more.  Either way, I feel the need to purge all the things from the house (and maybe wish there was a magic closet that could hold it all)."


That is real life, and it's been an unending cycle around here since I wrote that in frustration: clean it up, bring things in (or out), pile them up, repeat.

Last week I wrote about Marie Kondo's tidying book and the impact that's had on the way I think about things in my home.  (p.s. I just found out there's a follow-up book and I have it in my possession and once I actually read it I will tell you all about it.)  Her notion of keeping only those things that spark joy in you is so freeing and it's really been helping me rid my house of things we really don't need.  BUT, she also talks about the idea that your home has enough space to hold all your belongings and if you are overflowing, you have too much stuff, not too little space.

This is huge.  When we moved in, we added built-in bookcases in the living room, a whole wall of cabinets in the dining room, and additional bookcases in the smaller bedrooms.  We have closets in almost every room, and yet, there are still piles in the hallways, either of things that have no place or things that are going out and need to be dealt with (wait until the dump is open, photograph for ebay, wait for local pickup from Craigslist).  While I've been working on getting things out, the subgoal has been for the things we keep to have a home.

It seems that this is on a lot of people's minds lately- I've had several conversations with friends who want to get rid of the excess stuff in their house (and I keep recommending that book) so here's a few tips to help you get started:

1. Fill a box.  I'm offering this one up from Hello Neverland.  Kenzie is offering up a series of challenges for 2016 (you should go and check it out, I'm super interested in the topics she's picked) and the first one was to fill a box, any box, with stuff to toss or donate. (full post here)  Simple.  I was able to do that in one afternoon as we took on the overflow of books we've collected.


The box is hiding, but it was full of books.  The two white bags went to Goodwill with blankets and things we discovered in the back of Gus's closet, and the black one is trash.  Not bad for a few hours.

2. Need ideas of what to toss?  Take a look at this list from Popsugar.  There are 116 things you can get rid of.  Some are easy, like hair elastics that are no longer stretchy.  Some are hard, like old prom dresses (I still have three).  Pick 5, pick 10 and go throw them out.  You'll feel lighter if you do.  BONUS: Find one thing you have kept for "just in case" that you've had for more than a year.  Find something you picked up that you intended to make something out of.  Get rid of both of them.

3. Aim to tackle an area that is overflowing.  There is most likely at least one space in your home that has too much stuff simply because it's your catch-all and it's bursting but you keep trying to shove stuff into it.  Or is that just me?  We have one cabinet that holds all of the "stuff we don't know what to do with" and it drives me crazy because that's the one that I'll open and something will fall on my face.  I tackled that one first and got rid of a huge portion of the stuff in there.  Not only does nothing fall out now, there is room for the things that actually need to live there, plus some room to spare.

4. Make a plan to get rid of your items and follow through as quickly as possible.  Garbage and recycling are obviously the easiest.  If you have bags of clothes, take them to a donation receptacle or center as soon as you can.  Putting them on ebay?  Take photos as list them that day.  Do whatever you can to rid yourself of the piles or else they will just become part of the landscape.

5. As you're moving things out, clean the area that they were in.  We had a pile of books on a shelf in our mudroom, and when I cleared out most of them, I realized how gross the shelf was so I cleaned it before putting things back.  Just that tiny little action made me feel better about the space.  (Plus, less things, less stuff to dust!)

6. Put things coming into your home away right away to avoid them becoming the start of a new pile.  And if your stuff has its own space, it will be easy to do this.

Are you in tidying mode, too?  What do you find are the hardest things to get rid of?  Did you look at the list of 116 things?  What are you going to throw out?

Office Takeover.

Way back in May 2014, oh so long ago, I redid my home studio, painting the room a brighter color and rearranging the furniture and adding bookcases to make the room easier to work with and more user-friendly.  Because I do most of my work from home, having an organized space where I had access to everything was a must, and it's been a great spot to work in.




It's not often that neat.

Anyway, like I said, it's a great place to work; in the summer I can watch the kids playing in the yard from my window even.  But...being upstairs can be a hindrance.  I spend most of my day on the main floor of our house.  That's where the kitchen is and most of my day revolves around that space.  I also sit at the counter or dining room table to do computer work since I don't have a formal desk.  I don't know why it is, but it's an effort to bring the computer up there when I need to pack orders, and when the kids are home, if I am upstairs then I attract their attention and they come visit, whereas if we are not on the same floor, they play happily with each other (for the most part) instead of hanging on me.  Because of that I find myself avoiding going up there to work when they are home.  And in the evenings when I used to be able to get up there to work by 8pm because the kids would be asleep, now Gus especially is taking longer and longer to drift off so it's now almost 9:00 by the time I feel "safe" to go up there, and by then I'm just tired.

However, in our house we have another room that would make for a great studio space.  It's currently my husband's office.



When we moved into our house, this was the first room we renovated, knowing that he was going to be working from home for the biggest portion of his job.  However, he recently took a promotion that puts him in the home office five days a week now instead, and while this room gets some use, it's no longer serving its intended purpose.  And so I am coveting it with all my heart.

My current space upstairs is about 120 square feet, while this room is about 192.  It's not a ton more space, but bigger is bigger, am I right?  There are more windows to contend with and a set of French doors, but I find myself arranging my own furniture in there in my mind more often than not.  Because this space is on the main floor, I could easily wander in there throughout the day and work without disturbing anyone, and at night I wouldn't need to wait for anyone to sleep to get some things accomplished.

I am not-so-quietly plotting a complete takeover, having dropped hints that it would be the perfect workspace for me, but it is falling on deaf ears.  Or rather, concerned ears.  Apparently there is a problem with how tidy I keep my office space. 

June.

December.

He may have a point.

While I am in the middle of working I may not keep the neatest space, and when I get home from a show I may very well dump things in the middle of the floor and they stay there until the next one.  Who doesn't??  I still think the bigger room should be mine.

My other idea is that the couch should go and we should get two smaller desks, one for me, one for him, so that I at least have a place to put the business side of business away from the making part of it.  We'll see if I can wear him down.