Monday, November 28, 2011

Clutter or Holiday Decorations?

I'm constantly fighting clutter. I don't usually win. I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays for various reasons, one of which is all the added mess and clutter it brings into my home. Decorations don't really excite me much. I wouldn't put them up at all if it weren't for kiddo and Mr. T. -They love this stuff.
Having recently decorated a float for a holiday parade in town, and having had all the decorations in piles around the house, I feel like I've already had my fill of Christmas decorations. (and Christmas music!)
Along with that is the extra travel we do this time of year, making sure to see all the family. We end up living out of bags and never fully unpacking. Then we have lots of family and friends visiting us, too. We absolutely love to see them, but the toys scattered by the kids and the constant dishes and messes to clean up, and the ever-growing piles of stuff that get left behind, well, it's all part of it I suppose.
Don't get me wrong. I love the company and the cooking and festivities of it all. I just have a fairly small house and any bit extra gets to feel overwhelming at times. So, forgive me if I don't rush out to get the Christmas tree and if I slack a bit on getting the holiday lights up on the house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Much to Do?

I'm pleased to be able to do all the volunteer activities I participate in. Really. It's just that I have a family and a job and a life of my own as well. And I have a hard time saying no.

When I started to get involved with the ski club, I went in with some ideas and thoughts on how things ought to run. Then I got all bossy and opened my big mouth at a few board meetings. Somewhere along the lines, they made me president. It's not what I wanted. My ideal would be to be able to come in with ideas and do some trail work and some fundraising and defer to someone else to get the hard stuff done. In my case, the "hard stuff" is organizing of any kind, working out land use permits with the state, and dealing with hiring a contractor to plow and sand the access road to our trails. Meanwhile, I'm trying real hard to make things as non-reliant on a single person as possible. That way, I can quit without taking the organization down with me.

On top of that, T and I are on another non-profit board for a long distance hiking trail that goes through our neck of the woods. It's not as time consuming as the ski club, but I found that We've worked so much on other projects this year, we didn't get out much to hike.

On Monday, Kiddo and I baked a pile of yummy treats for a bake sale to benefit the child care center's garden project. We also gave an hour of our time to selling the treats.

And I just got a message that a local group doing a free Thanksgiving dinner for the community is in need of more pies! Looks like I'll be baking again.

I do enjoy it, and am happy to help, but I do need to look at all I do and figure out a way to pare it down so I have more time for my family and my business and my own selfish stuff.

Meanwhile, there's a 17' long fully decorated parade float waiting to join a parade this Friday. More on that later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Flashlight Dance Party

Our little family seems to have developed a ritual for blowing off steam at the end of a long day (or series of long days). The flashlight dance party.
We turn off all the lights and blast tunes on the ipod as we dance around the kitchen holding flashlights. We go crazy. Jumping around and shaking it like drunk co-eds at a night club. Lils calls it "getting your sillies out." It's the best. We get to blow off steam and re-set our moods. Sometimes the best things to do as a family can be just goofing off.

Our playlist for the flashlight dance party tonight:
E Eats Everything -They Might Be Giants
Shake It- Michael Franti
If I Ever Leave This World Alive- Flogging Molly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nothing like visiting a friend's spotless house to make me want to come home and clean.

We had a little pizza playdate party with a good friend. The woman has 3 young, rambunctious boys, and her house is somehow spotless! Now, I know we all do some level of tidying up before people come to visit, but I've been over a couple of times and am convinced that her house is usually this neat.
How is it done? She intentionally keeps the place sparsely decorated and not cluttered. Sheer avoidance of nick-nacks and whatnot. OK, I've got that part pretty well covered and still have piles of STUFF everywhere! I like to blame my mess on kiddo's toys. (neat friend has a playroom and we don't) There's a play kitchen in our real kitchen. The TV stand is a play cube that is full of toys (currently, the openings are covered with blankets to make a "fort".) On any given day, you'll find a varied conglomeration of musical instruments strewn about the living room. And art supplies. The project of the day varies from bead work to collage making to your run of the mill coloring project.
Looking around my kitchen right now, I am faced with the cold reality that I can not blame the entire mess on one 4 year old. Strewn about this one room, I can see piles of ski club related paperwork, business paperwork, travel books, tiles and whatnot from the shower project, a counter full of dishes (clean, waiting to be put away), various laundry (mostly clean), today's mail, empty wine bottles (hic), a bathrobe, and, of course, a few toys and art supplies.
Other friends of ours have a magnet on their fridge that plainly states "Excuse the mess, but we live here." Of course, their house seems cleaner on any given day than ours does lately.
So, I'm striving for balance. I want the zen-like appearance of very little "stuff" cluttering our living space, with the comfort of a home that says "hey, we live here."
If I ever discover the secret for myself, I'll be sure to share.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Living in the projects

Ok, so it's not "the Projects" like you picture them. We seem to be in a constant state of home repairs. since we've moved in to our little house, we've embarked on one project after another. Constant state of work. Whenever I razz the Mr about not having any real hobbies, he responds with "working on the house is my hobby."
The day after we closed on the house, he rented a rototiller and dug up and re-sloped the entire yard. We haven't stopped since.
Our current project is the new shower. And of course, there's a back story.
A little over 3 years ago, we remodeled the entire 1st floor bathroom and put in this cool looking shower:
As it turns out, the shower was a total piece of crap. The base was made of some styrofoam stuff (not dense enough) and covered in a thin plastic. The styrofoam got some dents when stepped on, and the the plastic coating cracked in several places. Seems this company thought they could manufacture a shower not made to last 3 years. 
So we ripped it out.

 T had to change the location of the drain and do a little leveling on the floor. Voila! A new base!
 Up went the cement board. Then 3 coats of seriously smelly waterproofing sealant stuff. You think he looks high on fumes here?
 When tiling, it's mostly planning the layout and measurements. When properly planned, the tile goes up pretty slick.

Wait till you see the glass doors we're putting in! 

Although these projects can get to be a bit tedious (and dusty!) It always pays off with something better in our living space. I for one am ready to have use of my shower back!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Today was...

Well, I did some cooking today. I made good use of those leeks from the market and made a potato leek soup in the crock pot (secret ingredient: sunchokes!) 

And T got some more work done on the shower project. the next step will be adding the tile and I am o so psyched for that part!

 Oh, and we did a little chalk art in the driveway. The neighbor kids came by for a while and played hopscotch with us. Yeah!

 Then Lils and I went to a building owned by the local theater group to gather up some materials for a parade float for the ski club. What did we find? Hats! We had a little photo shoot with all the awesome hats there.

Then some friends came by for a soup dinner. always nice to get together. I sent them off with my wedding gown, as my girl-friend is helping a young woman who grew up in foster care to plan her wedding. I recently read an article that had helpful hints for storing wedding gowns in perpetuity and decided that that wasn't going to be the fate of my gown (It was a fabulous dress, after all) so I was SO happy to be able to give it away today. After all, when a person grows up in foster care, they are not "nobody's kids" they are everybody's kids.

Oh, and my sister in law was in a bit of a car wreck today. She should be ok, but I'm sending out some extra good universal consciousness love and happiness her way, or whatever passes for healing vibes these days. I really hope she heals up fast and has very little trouble as a result. She's such a good person...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

To Market, To Market

I love the farmers' market.
OK, flashback 3 years. A friend of mine is wishing the local community had a farmer's market. She goes to another market in the region to check things out and suddenly she's the coordinator for the first ever farmers' marketplace in our depressed mill town. Inspiring to say the least. Last year, I lugged my massage chair downtown every other week and did back massages for a buck a minute. I alternated with another massage therapist in town. Mostly, I did it because I wanted to be in the market scene. I made a few bucks and left most of my earnings back at the market with the food and hard cider vendors. My business is pretty well established in town, however, and it seemed that folks thought I wanted to build up clientele. They'd refer me to folks thinking I needed more business. Not to complain about abundant business, especially in this economy, but I have been doing massage for 11 years and intend to do it for many more, so overworking myself is not on my to-do list. Also, since moving my business to my at-home office, I have been more discerning about who I let in to my space, and frankly, I didn't need every market client coming home with me.
So this past summer, I let the market go. Instead, I visited as a customer when I could, and liked it that much more (except that I often stopped by between in-office massage clients and rushed through so fast I barely got to say hello to those fantastic market vendors I've grown so fond of.)

My friend the market coordinator could not be stopped at a simple weekly outdoor market. She decided that the community also needed a harvest market in November just before Thanksgiving, and a Holiday market in December as well. So we moved indoors. Last year, I lugged my massage chair over and did the back massages and sold gift certificates. This year, I decided to devote my harvest market day to the ski club. As we're in the middle of a membership drive, I figured I could get some new and returning members on board and sell a few t-shirts as well. Plus, I can bring my 4 year old to sell t-shirts where she'd be distracting for massage.
Although I made no money for myself today, I brought in nearly enough to buy groomer fuel for the season. That makes me happy. 
Aside from the monetary gain for the club, I was able to talk up our events and programs, and shmooze with folks that may or may not have local influence and even money to help our cause. 
I also get to meet folks with Nordic ski history that puts my meager kick and glide abilities to shame. Today I got to meet a guy that won first in his division in ski-jumping in '68. From this 171 foot insanely steep jump.  

On top of all that, I got some amazing multi grain bread from a local baker, fresh local cranberries, and some leeks. All in all, a good market day.

Oh, and while we were at the market, (and the 6 year old's birthday party immediately afterward) the Mr. was installing the base for the new shower and some backer board for the fancy tile job we're doing. What a productive day! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Busier than we ought to be.

OK, so I've been MIA for a while.
I'm still trying to find some balance between my work life and my volunteer life. This ski club I volunteer for is great and fun and has some real historical significance, and I feel like I ought to give it more energy than I have been. Of course, it's all volunteer run, and although I get some great ideas, I keep having to remind myself I'm just a volunteer. So I need to lay off. Or not. I am having fun learning new things, like how to write a grant, and I'm loving the trail work and the times we get to get outside.
Now, if I could spend more time outside and less time squinting my eyes in front of grant-y terms and what not...

I did get to spend some time with Lils and the neighbor kid jumping in leaves last weekend. That stuff brings me back to the best times of my childhood.

To make an eventful week even more so, our hot tub busted last Thursday. In the midst of my stressing out about something that was probably unimportant, I decided to take a few minutes in the tub to relax. then the jets stopped and this happened:
Yeah, that's the contents of my tub draining out onto my yard. It was on warranty and the hot tub company sent a very adorable redhead man to repair it for us. Although the broken tub totally harshed my mellow, I am well aware that this is not a real-life problem, so if you were pitying me, you should stop now.

So what's on tap for the weekend? It's Veteran's day so Mr. has Friday off. We're going to tackle the shower project this weekend. A while back, we totally re-did a bathroom and installed a shower that we chose mainly because it was inexpensive and looked cool. Like a portal or something. the shower turned out to be a total piece of crap and the floor cracked in several places. It wasn't how it was installed. It's that the base was a not-so-dense foam covered in a thin plastic coating and never made to last. We got a pile of tile and a new floor and glass doors and are tackling the demo of the old shower tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll have it done by Monday. 
The Before Picture

Of course, We've got a pile of other stuff going on this weekend, so we'll see how the project goes. 
I'll post more often, as we're getting psyched and planning our Europe trip and this shower project ought to have some progress to report soon. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A week in pictures

What on Earth have I been up to this past week? Well, Halloween, for one thing:
 It's quickly becoming my favorite holiday. Kiddo was a witch (her choice) and I went all out and did 2 different costumes. A witch for the daytime trick or treat, then this awesome fairy costume for a party and the night time trick or treat. Fairy costume is a little on the racy side so I'm not posting it here.
While I had the sewing machine out, I restyled a couple of boxy t-shirts. This one's my fave:
 Apologies for the bad bathroom mirror sideways shot.

We got our first real snow of the season. About 4 inches here, but some folks south of us got more than 2 feet of snow from the same storm.
 First snowman of the season:

Aside from all that, I've been stressing myself out to the max, trying to get the ski club I volunteer for all set for the season. Herding volunteers isn't always easy. I'm also working on boosting my own enthusiasm to make things work. It's been waning, and that's no good for anyone. 
Wish me luck!