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Fully Loaded

As you now know — and I can’t stress this enough — I love having a calendar that’s merely dotted with activity. Truth be told, I’d prefer it be completely devoid of any and all obligations, with nothing but pop-up requests and spontaneous fun outings.

Which is strange, considering any deviation from my precious plan causes a momentary complete and total freak-out. I’m a rich tapestry.

This morning’s square was, for me, mind-bogglingly full. I worked in Bridget’s class, then went to bible study, then met with a repairman, then worked in the school library, then picked up the week’s CSA share, picked up the kids, and started dinner.

Actually, I started dinner this morning, after I’d already told the kids to get in the car, but before I made myself a slice of raisin toast for breakfast. Thank you, slow cooker! (This is a really terrific recipe, by the way. Super easy and the sauce is de-li-cious.) Then I went back into the house for my bible for the aforementioned study.

And you know what? It was a good day!

You know what else? I have so much trouble making the most of the downtime between each thing. For instance, there was a free hour between the morning and afternoon appointments, but I found it hard to do much. Same for the afternoon. I had to make myself do something productive, just so I wouldn’t be kicking myself at the end of the day. Know what I did? Finally sent out the not chain letter but totally chain letters that have been sitting on the table for a week. (The original arrived the week before school started, which is why it received exactly NO attention those first two weeks. I don’t know why this is — I just felt too busy to think about it, you know?) Ah! Such a relief! I hate when the stuff hanging over my head involves the kids, mostly because it begs them to keep gently reminding me…and then not so gently…and then they’re exasperated and puzzled. I have no reply for that, which is why Bridget’s coloring contest picture that has to be postmarked by the 10th will be going out tomorrow.

In fairness, it has only been sitting on my desk for four or five days, and had some vague instructions that hung me up. All things considered, this is definitely an expedited response.

Only Took Nine Years

As of August, we have officially been the owners of this house for nine years.

For nine years, I’ve thought about hanging family photos. I have hung precisely none. Not only do I not take many pictures (and let’s not even talk about having photos done by a professional), but the commitment of how to frame them, and what size? Color or black and white? Ugh. Too many choices!

So, the kids came home from Grandma Camp this summer with the most adorable self-portraits on canvas. Oh my gosh — too much! They went straight up on the mantel. Then, I started thinking that it would be cute to have actual photos beside them. Fun, right? And don’t forget, I was still riding the high of hanging the kids’ other artwork. Things were happening! But here we go with the choices again. Never mind — I dove into the files online to peruse.

And that’s when I discovered that I’d lost several years worth of photos. Noooooo. I’d transferred them to an external hard drive, which appears to have somehow fried. I can’t even think about it without wanting to cry. My favorite picture of Joey on his 6th birthday, with a bottle of root beer in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other, and the happiest little face? Gone. Gone gone gone. OK, where was I? So looking for pictures, discovered many years missing, decide to print some of the remaining and give them a better life immediately.

Which brings us to today, when I framed them and hung them on the wall in less than half an hour:

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I am too excited to have brought this idea to life! The photos of the kids captured them at about the same age; I think Bridget was almost four, and Joey may have been in Kindergarten. I had really cute ones of them at exactly the same age, which would have been perfect, but the photo size wasn’t good for printing on one of them or something like that. Whatever. We’re not going for perfect, here. If we were, I surely would not have hung these using push pins. Yes, push pins, and yes, there are about five holes behind each frame. Hey, this method was good enough for my apartment, and it’s good enough for this place. Also, I got the frames for $3.99 at Hobby Lobby, and just used pieces of scrapbook paper for the background. Totally easy and affordable.

[In case you're wondering, Joey is wearing a hat in his painting...and a monocle. And is holding up a mustache on a stick. Why not?]

It Adds Up

Friends! It’s been such a crazy month! Anyone who knows me well knows that I like a lot of empty space on my calendar, but that seems to be a thing of the past. It feels like we’ve never been busier, and yet…it’s not all that busy. You know? It just feels like there are a lot of hours each week where I do nothing but spin my wheels. Which is strange, considering that so many more of my hours are spent without my small people around. The thing is — and I think any parent learns this pretty quickly — the kids are so much more independent in some ways, which is terrific, but require a whole different kind of attention and energy as they get older. By the way, that’s just an observation, not a complaint. I actually dig this stage much more than the toddler one (as much as I miss my little babies *sniff*), but it’s not without its challenges. Anyway, my point in all this is that some days, I don’t even know what I accomplished.

I know that I was busy, but with what?

Also, I have found that whole hours and then days get sucked away, and I feel no further ahead. Away with that! I’ve put some new goals in place for myself, and am already excited by the results. (We’re on Day 3.) In addition, I’ve decided to dedicate this month to tackling the Little Things.

You know — Little Things. The stuff that sits on the edges of the to-do list week after week and doesn’t ever seem to make it to “to-done”. And then, when you finally get after it, it takes mere minutes. I am DROWNING in Little Things!

Today, for example, I had some copies that needed to be made, and a package that has been sitting on the table in the front hall waiting to be returned. A box filled with a product that made me so mad when it broke, I came the closest in my life of actually being rude to a help desk rep (because years of being on the other end of that line makes you exceedingly forgiving…to a point) and argued to no avail that they should replace my busted item immediately rather than wait for the standard return/replace process. I need it now! But no. So I begrudgingly took my RMA number and left it to sit, gathering dust, for at least two weeks. Probably more; I don’t want to know. Anyway, today that stuff got done. Now, that’s saying something, considering the first time I went to the UPS Store, they were not open on time, so I had to make a second trip. Yes, that’s right — I didn’t make that second trip two more weeks from now. I did it today!

I also threw together a delicious salad for lunch in less than ten minutes, rather than go the gnaw-on-a-hunk-of-bread route, which counts as its own little victory. Little Things!

 

 

In the Bag

The first week of the 2014-15 school year is a thing of the past, and we are officially off to the races! It’s funny how quickly we slide back into the non-summer routine; after the first day, I almost forgot what it was like to still be in bed at six. On the other hand, it’s surprising how exhausted we all were when the week came to a close. Especially me, considering I should be feeling so rested and accomplished, what with both kids on the same schedule now, right? Well, not so. Maybe after a couple more weeks it’ll be a different story, but so far every day has had something new to keep me hopping. That’s not a complaint so much as an observation — it was a great week!

In gearing up for the big first day, I went to the school and purchased the big pallet of supplies for each kid. Sweet fancy Moses! Once the “spirit day” t-shirts and planner (for Mr. 4th Grade) were added on, we were in over a hundred bucks. Now, I know this isn’t any big shocker, because I know how much I’ve paid just for the boy’s stuff every year, and yet…my brain failed to double that and prepare me for the grand total when I stood at the table three minutes after entering the cafeteria.

I’ll say that for buying the supplies from the school: It’s efficient.

All that to lead up to today’s crafty story. Given the expense of all the other stuff, you can imagine how ridiculously pleased I was with myself for saving Joey’s kindergarten tote these past three years. Waste not, want not! Never mind that the savings is a whopping $7.00. Pay no attention to the tiny holes in the bottom (which I failed to notice in my excitement of having found the tote exactly where it belonged and in “perfectly good” condition.) See, every kindergartener is required to carry said tote; no backpacks are allowed. This allows the teachers to quickly identify them…or somethin’. And they encourage you to doll them up and bling ‘em out! But for all my craftiness, I’m not one much for bling. And I couldn’t wrap my head around any other ideas, and that spells trouble as far as executing something not totally embarrassing. I know when to holster my glue gun, friends. It was bad enough that I jumped right into this task at the spur of the moment, and promptly cut the fabric without adding the proper seam allowances. Doh! This is why taking several seemingly unnecessary days to plan and ruminate are key. Then again, I managed to skimp a little and still get the job done, so maybe there’s a good middle ground. Who’s to say?

Instead, I took thirty minutes today and killed two birds with one stone:

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Note the addition of the fancy, rainbow-hearted lining, completely non-standard issue*. You may also note that the blue heart totally matches the blue bag — love it when a plan comes together! I remembered Betz White upcycling totes this way, so this bag may even have a third life turned inside out after this year. I don’t have that high of hopes for its durability, but it made it this far so who knows.

Even better?

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I found the iron-on name tags from two years ago, right where they belonged!! Done and done.

 

*Here’s another thing non-standard issue: the bag itself. Yes, sometime in the past three years, they stopped adding the black bottom to the bag, so Bridget’s is the only one not like the others. Oops. She likes that hers is easy to find amongst the twenty other bags hanging there — good enough for me!

One Thing Leads to Another

Now, if you had a three hours all to yourself on a Saturday, what would you do?

Read a book?

Watch a movie?

Start a fun new project?

Me? I pulled a Frankie Heck and started taking care of random crazy home improvement projects. If you give a moose a muffin….

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We were doing a family pick-up in the living room before the rest of the crew took off, and came across this fine piece of Joey’s artwork. There’s no way “Pig of Glory” (yes, that is the official name he was tagged with by the artist) was going in the trash, so I stashed it in the closet for later.

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Then I realized that “The Winter’s Night” — from winter — was still sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to come back to it. Hmm. OK! No time like the present. I grabbed a couple of canvases and just wrapped the paper around the edges, tacking the sides down with electrical tape*. Quick and dirty, but thanks to a couple of push pins, they were up on the walls within the hour.

Next up: finally changing the lightbulbs in the chandeliers. The situation in the workroom was particularly bad, because it was hard to see, and kind of depressing. The ugly smoked glass domes were so dusty. Rather than try to dust them, I took them down to clean them. Two and a half hours later, I had to leave, and the globes were only half done. Look, though!

First, fine 70s glass. I really don’t know if they came this way, or if they were just coated in the thirty years of the original owner’s cigarette smoke.

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Either way, kids, don’t smoke. Look at the next stage, after a soak in a vinegar bath and some time with the pot scraper:

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Can you see why I couldn’t stop?! Wait — there’s more:

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TA DA!! And you would not believe what a difference it made. This room is BRIGHT. I had no idea it was so bad!

Funny thing, though, rather than be sad that my peaceful hours were wasted on this kind of madness, I think this was the best Saturday in weeks. Now the only question is how else can I transform this house for zero dollars?

 

The Pop-In

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I think this just about sums up the state of affairs around here. The nice fresh greenery from the beginning of summer is a pitiful, drooping husk. The Grand Ol’ Flag — which was the extent of our 4th of July decorations — is still waving proudly. Trying, but not that hard.

In other words: The wheels have come off. It’s August. Let me say that again: AUGUST! How did we already get here?! I’ll tell you how: one action-packed day at a time. And my definition of action-packed is not really all that packed, but we’ve had somewhere to be just about every day for the entire summer, which has been really great…and really frazzling. You know I can’t maintain that level of activity for long. It makes it hard to keep up with the day to day stuff, you know? But…it’s summer. I can’t be bothered to care all that much.

Know what else I have trouble caring about right about this time of year? Cooking dinner. Or, evidently, changing lightbulbs. Three out of the five in the chandelier overhead have been burned out for weeks, but have I taken the three minutes to change them? Nah. I’ll just continue to strain my eyes for a little while longer. It’ll get done eventually. (P.S.: We’re talking about the room where I do all of my work. Yeah.)

Oh, but there has been sewing going on. So much sewing! I sneak in stitches every chance I get, and you know why? Because Christmas is coming (yes, I just said that on the first day of August), which means that our annual winter boutique is coming even sooner, and this stuff doesn’t make itself, friends. But since we’re on the subject, I’ll tell you another secret: I’ve finished the bulk of my Christmas gifts. YES!! I think that’s a first! Too exciting. I can’t remember the last time that I actually came across an idea, printed it out, and then made up all that I needed with shorter than a six month lapse.

In a nutshell: Christmas prep in full swing; too hot to cook; house in disrepair. How has your summer been?

The Little Things: Bag Dispenser

Posted on

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Years ago, I made a bag dispenser from a tutorial which utilized a dishtowel. It didn’t specify the longest of all dishtowels, but the one with the best graphics in my collection made for a dispenser the size of a windsock. It got knocked down constantly, my husband did not like it (which says something, because he rarely makes a comment on these kind of things), and it was just annoying. When the ribbon “hook” snapped, that was that. Sure, it could have been easily repaired, but why?

Well, mostly because the alternative — stuffing the loose plastic bags into any corner of the hanging over-the-door baskets — was doubly annoying. And messy.

The dandy little version you see in the picture was made using a pattern from Stitch magazine, earmarked long ago and finally made after the great magazine clean-out. It only took me an afternoon, and is perfect for the job. Of course, the dimensions veer from the original pattern, because I changed the way I put the patchwork together, which meant math was involved, which of course meant that the dimensions would change. C’est la vie.

Are there bags in it? Why, yes there are, so it all ends well!

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