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Category Archives: The Little Things

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.

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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!

 

 

The Little Things: Bag Dispenser

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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!

Much Better

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As it turns out, there’s a certain amount of getting what you paid for when it comes to those cheap stacks of hand-towels on the end cap in Housewares. Eight years ago, when I was setting up housekeeping here, I grabbed a pack of white ones and figured they’d surely do the trick. Also, since they were white, they could easily be bleached and made good as new whenever I pleased.

OR

They could become crummy almost immediately, and cause me to want to tell guests to our powder room, “No, really — the towel is clean! I just changed it today!”  For the next eight years.

Then I came across this genius idea, and new I had the answer to my problem. Actually, two problems, the other being what to do with the faded chenille-like Shabby Chic bath towel that was losing its chic and heading straight for shabby.

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One short year later, I got down to it. Since it was a bath towel, rather than a beach towel, I was only able to get two generous hand towels out of it. The borders used up a piece of fabric that has been on my shelf FOREVER, just mocking me. You would laugh at the happiness these towels have brought me. Already, they have been completely streaked with markers [why won’t kids rinse their hands properly?!] — seemingly within hours of me hanging the first one — and came out of the wash pristine. They just feel so…fancy…compared to the old thin ones.

We’re nothing if not fancy.

The Little Things: Canning Jar Sleeve

I have so many little projects on my mental to-do list. Big ones, too, but mostly small ones, which have turned into brain clutter. When I winnowed down my collection of sewing/d.i.y. magazines, I came across the instructions for a few of those, and even found a couple of new ones. These projects are currently taking up residence in my lovely new works-in-progress basket (which is appropriate, seeing as how there haven’t been any actual works around here lately), and I’m going to do my best to burn through them in a quick fashion.

First up, the canning jar sleeve:

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So, I’m driving the kids to school a couple of weeks ago, and I brought along my trusty mason jar of ginger tea. No biggie, right? I pull up to the stop sign, take a sip, and had a sudden flash: what with the jar and all, it sure might look like Mama needs a little “eye-opener” to get popping in the morning. And then when I mentioned this to my husband, he laughed and laughed, and right then I knew it was time to dress my favorite drink vessel with some respect.

That, and it pleased me to no end to use up a couple of pretty remnants.