Friday, December 13, 2013

Party Outfits

Each year, I usually have a couple holiday parties to attend.  One a more formal company party, one cocktail party with friends, and occasionally one casual office party. I love fashion, dressing up and and shopping for special things, but historically when I have tried to find "the outfit" before an event I am unsuccessful. I can't find anything that is right, which leads to stress and sometimes even puts a damper on the evening for me. I fuss and I fidget.  I focus my attention inward instead of outward, towards my family and friends, where I really want my attention to be. 

Several years ago I began what some might view as impulse buying, but what I think of as preparation. If I am out and about and I see something that catches my eye, looks good and is a good price, I buy it, knowing that finding that rare piece you feel and look good in is more important than having a specific occasion to wear it. For example 4 years ago, I bought 2 pair of party heels without having a party in site to go to, but they were both on some crazy sale and they were gorgeous. I've worn both pair several times and haven't bought a pair of party shoes since.  More importantly to me, when I do have somewhere to dress up for, I can feel prepared, and my energy is positive towards going out, and not feeling all panicky about 'WHAT WILL I WEAR?!!"

Almost three years ago, right before prom season, while out running errands, I headed into Macy's to buy a gift, and more importantly it turns out, use the restroom. Luckily for me the ladies restroom was located next to the fancy dress department. So even though I was un-showered, in yoga pants, sneakers, no make-up, and baseball hat, I thought I would look through the racks. I'm so glad I did.

I did have a fancy event to attend the next month, and while I had an outfit in mind that would do, it wasn't really sitting well with me and I didn't want to spend the evening feeling.... well .... bad. I pulled this dress, and 2 others I think. Honestly, I had little to no hope this dress would work on me and I when I pulled it I was already dismissing it as a no-go. It's everything I shy away from; a metallic, gold-bronze-silvery, whatever color, form fitting, va-va-va-voom dress. I have a curvy figure, and I am, how shall we say nicely... petite.  I'm short.  5'2", and this wasn't even a petite. And let's face it, I don't live in Hollywood and I'm no starlet. 

The first dress was nothing special and I didn't bother stepping outside the small changing room to get a better look at myself in a larger mirror. Then I tried this dress on, and my mind was blown. Even with my hat hair, white athletic socks, un-diet-ed (not a word but you know what I mean right?), and unshaven legs self, I was stunned at how flattering it looked on me.  Thinking that it was must be one of those trick mirrors or something I peeked around the entrance of the changing rooms to see how risky it would be to get a look in front of the large 3-way mirror on the floor. I didn't see anyone else in the department so stealthily I went, white socks and all, to the main viewing mirror.  I was in shock -- could this dress really look this good even when I am looking this bad?! Have I found a magic dress?!  

2 women (I'm thinking a mother and daughter) approach with the cashier to buy some items while I'm tip-toeing around in my socks, pretending to be in heels, probably gaping at my reflection. They all stop to take in the site (I'm now embarrassed and trying to nonchalantly slink back to the dressing room). The older woman says --'Wow! - You look absolutely great in that dress -- You're buying that right?!'  while the other ladies are shaking their heads in approval.

Moral of the story, if a complete stranger (who isn't making a commission), says something like that to your hairy-legged self, buy the dress (which had the added benefit of being on sale, and I had a gift certificate too!).

The dress ended up costing me $17. 

And how I feel in the dress....okay I have to go there...... priceless.....I mean if I get a positive reaction in tube socks, imagine how it must look with heels and lipstick.

The next outfit doesn't have any special story -- it's just an outfit that's taken me several years to actually put together. 

With the exception of the booties and belt which I bought last year at this time, I've had this ensemble for probably 4 years now.  I don't know why it's taken me this long to get it all together, but it has.  I've even come up with another shoe/hose option if after I put this on it feels lacking.

I will wear tights with the booties and sheer black hose with the ruffled heels. 

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be able to put something together from items I already own. It's one less thing to buy, one less thing to check off the list this time of year when we are all busy trying to just spend time with the people we care about.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's the little things......

Sometimes it really is the little things...

We have several huge projects under way here.  Everywhere I look upstairs there is something in progress.

Don't get me wrong. I feel more than blessed to be working on and watching our house become what I have been dreaming of for the last 6 years. It makes me beyond happy. But projects, like everything else, have a rhythm. It's a flurry of activity and chaos and then there's a calm period before the next push. 

Meanwhile, life and the paper debris that comes with it continues.

As Chief Financial Officer of this establishment, I have a lot of paperwork to deal with. And I am extremely detailed in my 'financial reports'..i.e. my Quicken checkbook.  And I HATE paperwork -- so I procrastinate. And make piles that I move around. And stuff in any basket or drawer I can. But you've got to deal with it sometime. The thing about paperwork is, in order to get rid of it you have to get it out and make more piles of it and more piles of it. It's as if it mates and makes paper baby piles before it ends up being recycled, turned digital or shredded.

I know there's plenty of other household debris. But for some reason the paper debris stresses me out like no other. Just seeing it piled up makes my heart beat quicker - in a bad way. And during this time of year, the last thing I need is a panic attack. 

Today I had an organizational epiphany.  

I got this at Target.  Years ago.  I have a desire to be organized, but I have a hard time finding things that truly work for me.This was a typical accordion file inside. You can see the tabs.  I've tried at least 3 times over the past 4 years of owning this to make it work for me and it just didn't.  I have all sorts of pretty organizing receptacles just waiting for some sort of creative thinking. Today I had an organizing epiphany. I cut out those tab dividers.

And ended up with this.

Which I promptly filled.

And closed. 

And took a deep, cleansing breath. I'm still months behind on some paperwork.  But at least it's all polka dotted up.  Polka dots don't stress me out.  

So I didn't get any paperwork done today. But at least while it's sitting there waiting for my attention, it looks nice.

Could be I will start looking forward to paperwork. I doubt it. 

Sharing with: IHeart Organizing


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Inching Along.....

Progress isn't always pretty......
But I happen to think these are gorgeous. 

Progress never happens overnight......
But I am working on patience and living in the small moments....... 

Even where there is chaos there is beauty.

Progress is rarely easy..... 
I really can't argue with that one....
Sometimes it's so hard you feel like crying..or throwing a fit..
or ordering out for a week... 
We all have our coping mechanisms... 
No judgement here.

Progress is rarely linear....


You spend a few days, idling. Moving forward, if just by inches....

But then, a bubble bursts...and you push through.  
Not all the way, just enough to have a glimmer of hope...
A moment of Zen.....

And hope, love for this life here, this chaos, this snail's pace is what gets you out of bed the next morning...

if only to inch along again..... 

'Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. 
It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.'
Gerard Way

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Design ADD

On any given day around here, I have a gazillion things to do.  The normal work of the H.E. (household executive) and mother, and then design work, and then the DIY jobs.

But I have a hard time committing all my focus and energy on getting any projects in those later 2 categories done. Not only because my mothering and household jobs suffer if I devote 100% of my day's energy to any design or DIY project, but because I also think I have a specific type of ADD called Design or Project ADD. Therefore several things I'm working on are in various stages of completion, and even though I should be spending ALL my time finishing up my laundry room, or touch up painting 1 of several rooms downstairs, I will do this while right in the middle of said laundry room project.


This is the garage fridge.  I AM currently working on the laundry room, and I had some left over polka dots from that job, and they made me so giddy when I was applying them in there that I had to put the 15 or so I had left SOMEWHERE!  So voila!

I got these from  Urban Walls on Etsy.  They are so happy. It's really the silliest thing.

All these D.A.D.D. (Design ADD) jobs may may cause delays in my 100% completion of the laundry room.......... the happiness and lightness it adds to my otherwise purely functional and honestly, partly ugly garage is worth it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Something Kinda Finished

When deciding where to start the finish work of this project, most people told me we should begin in the kitchen.  I chose to start the downstairs.  We finished the kids bathroom (currently the only bathroom) first, but the biggest impact on the family was the next project: the playroom.


And this is cleaned up!  I was also using this area for storage, so picture these walls with gorilla shelves full of boxes and you've got the idea.  

This is where my 3 boys spend much of their time.  I felt like if we got this all zipped up and pretty, they would feel assured that their parents weren't crazy in knocking down their perfectly fine home, even if it was old, chaotic and a little stinky in places.

We started with cabinets.  These are from Home Depot.  We designed the layout we wanted and then picked the nicest cabinets that were in the budget.  We had them delivered, and then hung them ourselves.

My Mr. added a maple counter tops and side and top trim pieces here to give it a seamless look with the existing fireplace brick work.  Then I stained and sealed the counter tops.

Whoops -- I can see some spots I missed painting. 

Then we added window and base trim, painted it all (which was a small nightmare and a future post), and carpeted.
Have to figure out a solution for all those wires.  

Still see a little blue tape there waiting for a painter.

There's still work to do.  There will always be work to do.  It's definitely not perfect.  It doesn't need to be perfect for us. We will continue to update over the next year...I STILL have painting to do -- I think when I'm 90 there will be touch up painting to do in this home unless I win the lottery and I hire someone to do it for me. The important thing to me is how the space makes me feel and how it makes my family feel.


Aren't my Halloween decorating skills impressive?

One of my biggest flaws is living/daydreaming of the future.  I think a lot of people do it.  Not looking around at what you've been able to accomplish so far in this busy life and believing too much in the promise of future happiness and personal fulfillment when the project is done and perfect.

The fairy tale is right now.. Not when I finally fill in the extra shelf holes in the bookcases, or paint those spots on the wall above the desk I missed......Now...

Although I'm sure I will feel almost like Cinderella when I get those things done....

Sharing with:
bystephanielynn --- The Sunday Showcase Party
DIY Showoff --- DIY Party
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia --- Tuesday's Treasures
It's Overflowing --- Share Your Creativity
Remodelaholic --- Remodelaholics Anonymous Party
Craftberry Bush --- The Inspiration Gallery
Imparting Grace --- Grace at Home Party
Tatertots and Jello --- Link Party Palooza
Common Ground --- Be Inspired
Jennifer Rizzo --- Fabulously Creative Friday
Finding Fabulous --- Frugalicious Friday

Monday, October 21, 2013

Here We Go!

November 2011, we packed up our family of five and moved 1.5 miles away, to a tiny 1920's farm house. And started demo-ing:

Isn't that a funny picture?!  Our neighbors must have thought we were insane. In the back you can see what used to be our front door steps.  We did a weeks worth of demo ourselves while we lived in the house.  My boys loved knocking holes in the walls, but nobody enjoyed carrying debris to the dumpster.

November 2010
My old kitchen and eating area.  I'm standing in the living room and you can see the banister from the split entry front. 

My old bedroom with a hole cut into the wall into the new space.

Originally we thought we'd be able to keep some of the basement walls, but it turned out there was dry rot everywhere so it all had to come down.  

It was a hard 6 months, I'm not going to lie.  I had purposely picked a rental house that we wouldn't fall in love with.  One that was livable but shabby, just on the border of being depressive.  I knew what we'd be moving back into and I didn't want to anyone to yearn for the days of the rental. I wanted the impact on my boys to be as positive as possible so I negotiated an early move in date and moved the carloads (and carloads) of boxes and non-essentials over to the rental while the boys were in school, 1st, 4th and 6th graders at the time.  I made sure their expectations were low, so they had no where to go but up.  We couldn't move a mattress bigger than a twin up the narrow 1920's stairwell, so the boys traded off sleeping on an air mattress and Mr. and I slept on two twins.  We stored most of the furniture we could, gave away what we didn't have room for and  put the rest in the rental where it fit.  My 6th grader christened the rental 'the crap shack' a couple months in, and that's the name that stuck.  It was a 'put your head down and get through it' time.  I adjusted the norms of our household to try and lessen any stress and anxiety on the boys by spoiling them with special activities and treats. So we lived in a sad little house with the stress of managing the money budget, the time budget (we only had the rental for a 6 month lease) and sub-contractors while the shiny glimmer of the dream lingered ahead.  When I look back on it now, the memory is good, with this special glow around it (the rental had really bad lighting) and the fact that the smoke alarm went of almost nightly when dinner was ready is funny.  They all shared a room, the toys were few and far between (everything but the most special was packed up) and I can't remember a time that they fought.

The moment the texture was dry on the walls, we moved back in.

We moved in May 2012, but I don't have any pictures from that time.  These are from April.

After getting a bathroom just functioning, a kitchen just functioning --we had used the garage and master bedroom as an open storage unit for cupboards, sinks, toilets from the old house so we just hooked all the old stuff back up, adding a small deck on the back, and concrete steps up to the front door we took a break June-August to play summer baseball.  And like any family that has kids who play select sports and husbands who coach know, we spent that break just trying to keep regular life from falling apart, knowing work on the house would start after baseball ended.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The first bite......

It's hard to know where to begin blogging about this process. We spent four years living in this house before we began this renovation. Three years living with colors I hated -- year four I finally broke down and painted over the worst offenders: a purple-mauve in the living room and a pepto bismol pink in the kitchen. 

It was a house that didn't work for our family, and honestly for me was a source of irritation.  I did not try and buy things to accessorize over the offense, although I longed to. I hung art where it fit, not where it worked.  I spent my time over-looking our living space, while it insulted me in my peripheral vision. I collected inspiration.  So much inspiration.  I hoped the new friends we were making were not judging us, believing that the house we were inviting them into was a reflection of us. I bided my time, knowing that big change was coming and threw my creative energy and time into the gardens.

In the summer of 2010, we knew it was  now-or-never.  I had been watching the market for three years, and I knew what we had in land and location was not for sale in our location and what we wanted in a house was not in our price range.  We decided we needed to take a 'bite' off and get started.

 So we began here:

October 2010

Got a few of these delivered

and Phase I started with this:

November 2010

Add some supplies and work.

March 2011

Ended with this May 2011.

New garage w/new master bedroom on top.

New back of house.

New front of house.

We lived this way, with this new attachment, for 6 months.  I could climb and look into my future bedroom from the windows of my current bedroom, but it remained a separate building and other than the door from the garage was inaccessible from the house.  

May 2011