Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bored and a Bag

I was at the pool for swim team practice this morning.  I was cold (63 degrees.  Brr.).  I was bored.  So I emptied the contents of my beach/pool bag and took a picture of everything inside.
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I am guessing there were a lot of people watching me and wondering what I was doing.  And I bet you're wondering why I devoted an entire blog post to this (frankly, I am wondering why half this stuff is in the bag in the first place).  

Like I said, I was bored.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Plan for the Office

This week has been crazy busy for me.  I hit the Etsy gift guide for the first time, celebrated my 100th sale on Etsy and I am enjoying spending time with the boys who are now home for summer vacation.  All good things, but the office makeover was momentarily put on hold.  Life has settled down again and I am happy to have a second to update my progress. 

Our home office is truly the grand central station of our house.  The boys use the computer and do their homework there.  My husband frequently brings work home which he completes in this space.  Oh, yeah, and then there's me with all of my supplies, printer, etc.  So it's a large room, but much is required of it.

To deal with the challenge of this space, I created a computerized floor plan with the exact room dimensions.  I also measured the larger objects currently in the room (desk, table, filing cabinets) and printed those out as well. 

The photo above is the layout of the room before the makeover (that back right corner wasn't empty, picture it piled with envelopes, paper and a printer to get a more accurate image).  As you can see, every piece of furniture is pushed up against a wall creating a huge area of wasted space in the center of the room.  Odd way to arrange the room.

Playing around with furniture placement.  Unfortunately, my husband's favorite chair is going to have to be relocated.

The final floor plan.  Bringing the desk into the center of the room actually makes the room appear much larger.  This placement also creates more wall space for much needed storage.  The empty wall to the right of the door will be my area.  I'm drawing up plans for a workspace here.

And a photo of the rearranged room.  There are still clutter issues, but the new layout is working great for everyone.

Next up: paint.  Be sure to check back for a cool technique I have decided on.  Can't wait to try it out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Old Dad

For Father's Day this year, my dad has a request.  He would like me and each of my 3 siblings to write down our favorite dad story, seal it in an envelope and mail it to him.  He is confident that he will be able to accurately guess each of our stories.  It's a great idea and we have all had a wonderful time reminiscing about our favorite childhood memories.   

If I had one word to describe my dad, it would be good.  He's just a good guy.  The kind of guy you would be proud to know even if he weren't your father.   A funny, do anything for you, hard working man.  And I have always felt very lucky to call him my daddy.  With that said, I should also mention that my father is a character.  An outspoken guy born without the block in your brain that stops you from saying things you probably shouldn't say.  And he's quite loud.  Saying inappropriate things loudly leads to a lot of interesting (albeit embarrassing) childhood stories.  As you can imagine, I had quite a few memories to choose from.
So I select my memory and my mother begins trying to guess which one I've chosen.  "Is it the time Daddy was driving and the dog gave birth on your lap?"  What??  No, I don't remember that nor would it qualify for a favorite story.  That's just nasty.  She precedes to name 3 other equally disgusting events which I have thankfully been able to block from my head.  Turns out I also have a lot of repressed childhood memories.

So Daddy, I will tell you while it was very embarrassing to have you push the blue van down the hill (with me at the wheel) every day in order for it to start, that's not my favorite memory.

Oh, and speaking of the infamous blue van--the time we drove it to chase adolescent boys to their home because they mooned my sister?  Not the memory either.

Discovering that the AC/DC album you bought for the family wasn't a family album?  Aw, I remember it well.  This event went down in our family history as the day we learned AC/DC wasn't singing about basketball balls.  Fond childhood memory, but not the one I chose.

No, because as many funny childhood memories I have, my favorite memory wasn't funny.  It was the time you gave up your brand new gloves to a homeless man.  That frigid December night back when I was in grade school.  You never owned gloves when I was a kid, Lord knows all of us kids had them, but you never did.  So I'll never forget you walking out of the mall restroom without those gloves on your hands.  And I'll never forget the words you said when we asked you where they went.  "There was a homeless man in the bathroom running his hands under the hot water.  You should have seen how raw and red they were.  I gave him my gloves because he needed them more than I did."  Like I said, my dad is a good guy. 

I've learned a lot from my father over the years.   The typical stuff: riding a bike, driving a car, how to make an awesome ice cream punch.  But the most important things I learned: how to laugh at myself, how to tell an entertaining story, how to work hard, how to be a good person.  I learned those things just by watching him.

So I hope this qualifies as my memory in an envelope.  And I hope you don't mind that I shared it with everyone.  Happy Father's Day, Daddy!  I am proud to be your daughter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Progress on a Rainy Day

It rained here yesterday.  And I'm not talking a little sprinkle here and there.  I'm talking total downpour,  thunderstorm rain.  That's pretty much the way it went all day long.  Rain, rain, rain.  So our morning plans were cancelled.  And then our afternoon plans were cancelled.  And then our evening plans were cancelled.  Suddenly I had a whole day to get work done.  One son in camp, one exhausted from the sleepover he had the night before, and one son happy to help me out.  It was like the stars had all aligned at our home and I could actually get something accomplished.  Knowing this is an extremely rare event, I took total advantage of the time.  I got caught up on all of my work (yes, ALL of it).  I finished the laundry, I did the dishes.   And I finally had the opportunity to begin cleaning out the disaster area I call my office.  At the end of the day I had made serious progress.

In case you have forgotten what the room looked like--here's a before shot:
And a recent picture showing a definite improvement:
As I was clearing the space, I made mental notes that I thought would be helpful to me later.  I've listed some of the most useful observations below.
  1. Everything I don't use regularly was cleared from the room.  That included the huge planter holding all my large rolls of fabric.  The fabric has been moved to the basement, the planter to the garden.
  2. Most of the mess in the office is due to paper and envelopes.  I need a way to store these items where they can be easily accessible, but I would love to not have to look at them all of the time.  I think I have an interesting solution for this.
  3. I love the color of this room, but I can't concentrate in it for more than 5 minutes.  So I have made the decision to repaint it.  Originally I had planned on a pale butter yellow, but after reviewing the contents of the room I may change my mind.  The computers and printers are all black.  The existing table, desk and bookcase are all white.  I think that a pale gray might tie everything together nicely.  There is a lot going on in this room, I am not sure it can handle more color. 
  4. The window treatments have got to go.  This has been on my list for a very long time.  I hate them and have always hated them.  My plan is to make simple crisp white, soft roman shades with decorative black trim.  I am imagining the sun softly coming in through the shades and warming the gray walls up.
  5. The style of the room will be an industrial country kind of vibe.  The farmhouse table we use for a computer desk has a a gray veined marble top.  I will recover the seats of the matching white chairs with black vinyl (which I already own) to match the black leather office chair in the room.
  6. I would love a long area to put my printer and vinyl cutter on.  It would also be nice to have space to spread things out to dry.  This area could be used for shipping purposes as well.  I would love to be able to use the wall space above for notes, etc.  I have a plan for this that I can't wait to try.
  7. Sad note of the day.  While son was helping me clean, he sliced open the palm of his hand with a rotary cutter.  Sitting right next to me, playing with my paper hole punchers, he grabbed what he thought was a new puncher and really hurt himself.  Terrible.  He is okay now, but it stressed to me the importance of having everything put in a proper location. Sharp things completely inaccessible in this case. 
  8. Surprisingly, I have only one half filled bag of garbage so far.  This tells me I really do need almost everything in this room.  I just need a better storage system.
Lastly, I was able to open the shades today.  I have been so discouraged by the mess of the room, that I have kept the shades drawn for a very long time.  When I opened them, I was greeted with the sight below.  Beautiful stargazer lilies in bloom, my grandmother's favorite flower.  I planted them in this space of the garden specifically so I could see them from the office.  Until today, I had forgotten how pretty they looked from this view.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Martha Moment

In life, there are good memories, joyous occasions and special days.  Wonderful times that you fondly remember for years to come.  And then there are moments.  The kind of events that when they happen, the rest of your life you will vividly remember every detail surrounding it.  Where you were, what you were wearing, who was with you, what you were eating.  You never know when one of those moments is going to happen, and maybe that's what makes it memorable--being taken off guard by the surprise.  Before today, my most memorable moments went something like this:
  • Wedding day
  • Birth of son
  • Birth of second son
  • Birth of third son
Tonight a fifth event was added to the list.  Because tonight was the night of "The Martha Moment".  Sitting on the living room couch, watching "Without a Trace" in my favorite burgundy bathrobe, I discovered my work on Martha Stewart Weddings.


As an artist, I've always hoped someday I would get noticed by Martha Stewart.  Never actually thought it would happen, but I believe in goals and setting sights high.  And if you're an invitation designer, you can't shoot much higher than Martha Stewart Weddings.  So you can imagine my excitement (and let's be honest--my surprise) when tonight it happened. 

To see myself selected as one of their "Favorite Etsy Vendors" was one of the most surreal moments of my life to date (I'm number 12).  I stared at the computer screen in shock, eyes full of tears, chest pounding, unable to breathe, my head spinning.  And this is how I sat for the remainder of the night.  Staring at my invitation design on the Martha Stewart Weddings website.  It was an awesome moment.

So what now?  First of all, I need to call my family.  Wouldn't you know, everyone was asleep when I made this discovery and I just can't wait to share the news with them.  As for setting the next goal.  That's an easy one.  I'm off to come up with more designs so maybe, just maybe, this happens again.  I've already got some ideas....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Monica Room

True confession time.  I am a Monica.  

You remember the T.V. show "Friends"?   Well, if I had to best describe myself as any sitcom character, it would probably be Monica (played by Courtney Cox).  Don't look anything like her, mind you, but personality wise, pretty good match.  Monica was a little intense, a little uptight, liked order and needed to have everything around her organized and in its place.  For the most part, that's me.  I have 3 sons and a husband, so there is a little more room for error around our house.  But the take out menus are bound in a 3 ring binder and marked "take out menus" (with a label maker, of course. I own two).  The junk drawer is neatly organized in compartments and all compartments are labeled.  Christmas decorations are placed in, you guessed it, labeled plastic containers.  Clothes hangers in our home are color coded, sock drawers have dividers, video games are separated by system.  Order is good.
Now if you were a fan of "Friends", you may remember the episode where the secret room in Monica's tidy apartment was discovered.  The very disorganized, junk drawer of a room that know one knew about much less was allowed to set foot in it.  It was called "the Monica room".  Do you see where I am going with this?

I have a "Monica room".   
You would think saying it out loud would be bad enough, but no, I am going to actually post a photo.  A carefully selected photo and not the worst one in the bunch.  This corner of the room is the "neat" area.  And look quickly, because at any moment I may lose my nerve and delete this from my blog.

Why would I do this, you ask?  Because I have accepted a challenge.  A group of us on the Etsy Greetings team are taking on the task of reorganizing our workspaces together.  We'll be posting regularly during the process and linking to each other's blogs.  At the end of 4 weeks, we are hopeful that we will be creating up a storm in our new and improved rooms (pardon me, I just laughed when I typed 4 weeks).  But anyways, I'll do my best and I'll be posting pictures of my progress (or lack thereof).  Be sure to check back, it should be interesting.



Monday, June 8, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie

I've been keeping my eye on the cardinal nest since my last post.  The male and female cardinals have both been very busy flying back and forth with food in their beaks for the babies.  Thinking they must have grown since my last photos,  I got the ladder out to take another quick peak inside the nest.
Wow!  The babies have grown!  Cramped quarters in that little nest.

This morning I noticed more activity than usual around the rose bush.  I went out to investigate and arrived just in time to snap probably my last photos of the last baby cardinal.
Absolutely beautiful little guy.  He peered out at me calmly from in between the rosebuds.  He just looked at me and let me take pictures for a good 5 minutes.  Never flinching.  He let out the cutest little chirp once--not out of fear, more of a curious greeting.  It was amazing.  Truly amazing.

So I am thinking he is ready to leave the nest.  Sad to see him go.   But I am hopeful that he will return and make a home in that same rosebush next year.  It has been such a joy to watch them.
Bye bye little birdie!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bird Watching.

For the second year in a row the trellis in our backyard has been graced with the presence of a cardinal nest.  We were thrilled to see the beautiful birds return as we had a wonderful time watching the male and female cardinal last year.  It was fascinating to observe them search for twigs to build their nest, listen to their distinct chirps, gather food for the babies and then witness the last little baby fly away.  Since their return this year, the birds are even more comfortable with our family and have let me in a bit closer to observe and take pictures.
Not a great photo, but was so happy to get one of both the male and female together.  They are never far from each other, but usually fly away when they see me.

The nest is wedged between the iron trellis and the side of the garage.  I worried about it's sturdiness last year.  After I tried (and failed) to remove the old nest for a school science project, I realized the birds knew what they were doing and that nest isn't going anywhere.
My sons have a remote control airplane.  I told them to please be careful around the nest.  Which was immediately followed by the out of control airplane getting stuck 6 inches above the nest.  I did manage to get a cool picture of the eggs out of the rescue.  Before this, I had never seen a cardinal egg.
Four days later, I couldn't resist another peak.  Baby cardinals!  Looks like they have just hatched.
A closer shot taken the same day.  They could barely hold their little heads up.
The male cardinal is never far from the nest.  He sits on the patio chair outside my kitchen window much of the day, chirping back and forth to the female.

I'll be sure to continue watching and taking pictures as best as I can without disturbing the birds too much.  Hope you'll check back!