Sunday, January 30, 2011


"If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of then every time they come up." ~ Deepak Chopra

This morning I came to work and was immediately presented with an euthanasia. Great way to start the day I mumbled under my breath. Then I caught myself.

Before me was a geriatric cat. A cat who was underweight, dehydrated and painful. A being who was suffering. I had the enormous privilege of easing his pain and transitioning him from this world to the next. It was a great way to start the morning.

And I am reminded that this world, truly, is all fiction. Each day, each moment, is nothing more than the stories we tell ourselves.

Tell me. What's your story?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yesterday I started a new project (because I really need another project. Not.) But I couldn't help myself. My family is on an organization kick. This is a good thing. Our lives have been taken over by clutter. And, quite frankly, clutter negatively affects all of our moods.

So yesterday the boys raked leaves and pine needles (finally!) and I ripped out the carpet in the nook upstairs. This nook is to become my crafting area. And the carpet was, well, disgusting. As in completely gross, unsanitary and sickening.

Only here's the thing. The carpet will not be replaced. We have no budget to redecorate. But never you mind. I have a plan. First I'm going to paint the sub floor. And, of course, the walls. Then, if I can find a brawny assistant or two, my sewing armoire will relocate upstairs. Additionally we have a thrifted yellow formica table gathering dust in the garage. This will be the new crafting table. And, thanks to Tammie, I am also in the process of knitting a rag rug from vintage sheets to add a soft touch (and hopefully couch some of the noise). Finally we need to come up with creative ideas for shelving.

I intended to only tackle the nook but ended up ripping out the carpet all the way down the hall and to the landing. It was disgusting people. Absolutely disgusting. So I will be painting that floor too and may also knit a rag rug runner. I threatened to pull the carpet off the stairs and rag rug the entire thing. However Mr. Peculiar put the kabosh on that. I believe his exact words were, "I don't want a hippie house." Whatever.

What I really want is wood stairs. Real wood. Not the particle board that resides under our carpet. I even brought flooring samples home from the Home Depot. But, again, no budget. So the carpet will remain until I can come up with an inexpensive alternative. Ideas anyone?

All this to share with you my epiphany. Sitting in the stripped nook I realized this house has good bones. It's never too late to strip down and start over. Not only is this is true for a house but it is also true for life. Don't like the direction you're headed? Strip down (figuratively not literally) and start over. All it takes is a vision, diligence and hard work.

Now I'm gearing up to finish my demolition. I've got to pull up the carpet tacks and fill all the cracks with wood filler. Likely I'll take tomorrow off as I have to work. If all goes well a coat of paint on Wednesday.

Hopefully this finished project matches the image in my head. If not I can always try and try again.

Happy Monday all!

Friday, January 21, 2011

You might want to run and hide ...

I'm still battling the winter doldrums here. Not enough sun. Not enough warmth. I keep intending to get out and exercise. Oh how I'd love to lose those nagging fifteen pounds. But somehow the end of the day arrives sans exercise. But I've not given up. In the sage words of Maria Robinson "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

I have been attending my weekly dance class (tap and hip hop). Whew boy does it stretch my limits. I've never tapped before and my dance skills are rudimentary at best. I need practice. Quite a lot. Perhaps I ought to take my shoes to work and tap into the exam room like a roller skating car hop. Then again maybe not.

And then there are the bagpipes. Another goal of mine for 2011. I've been taking lessons for a year and a half but only recently purchased a set of pipes. They were quite an investment. As such I really ought to learn to play well. My teacher is setting up a pipe and drum band. The goal is to be parade and contest ready -- marching and playing in time. My secret goal? To play an event or two so as to recuperate the money spent on the pipes. But that takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Rather than working towards these goals I've been prone to distraction. I've been felting acorns, knitting coffee cozies, making cupcakes in jars and dyeing wool. I'm transforming coffee sacks into curtains, reading books and growing wheatgrass. I'm considering cultivating tomatoes indoors and am debating whether or not to buy a cow share for fresh raw milk (with delectable cream on top to make homemade butter and ice cream and sour cream).

Once again I've proven to belong to the group Solidarity League of Creative Women Distracted by oooooh! Shiny!

I need to reign myself in and focus. Focus, focus, focus. And I've decided you get to help me (aren't you terribly excited?). I'm going to use this blog as a forum to keep myself accountable and to help me reach my goals.

First off I weighed myself today. Ouch. 137.5 pounds. This on a 5 foot 2 inch frame. Back in the day (before children) I weighed 120 pounds. That was a good weight for my particular frame. How amazing would it be to get back there before I turn forty on July 1st?!! I have committed to a half marathon at the end of May. Three months remain to train. I'll begin listing my progress here.

And the pipes. Oh the pipes. Here is what they sound like today (listen if you dare). Lovely 'eh? Clearly there is work to be done. Again I will be posting my progress. You may want to invest in a nice pair of ear plugs. Seriously.

Now off to shower and then to my pipe lesson. Thank you for participating in this exercise of self mortification. I'm putting myself out there -- whether to dance on stage (and in front of the mirror), to huff and puff along the trail or to squeak and squawk in a room full of firemen (the other pipers I play with) -- I have chosen to be open and vulnerable and silly. After all what is life for if not that?

Thanks for stopping by and have a stupendous day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy Jane

I'm rather in shock that it is the weekend again. Where oh where does time go? Such a valuable commodity and yet it escapes me like a helium balloon from a child's hand.

This weekend I am working the night shift. As such all other productivity is out the window and I am lazing my days away.

Today the boys went to an auction (don't even get me started there -- they brought home a few neat things for the shop but really we need to DOWNSIZE rather than the other way around).

Middle had a birthday party to attend and was gone most of the day. This left Little and I to do as we pleased. We planted ourselves firmly on the couch and watched the end of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Then we moved on to Narnia. After that Pirates of the Caribbean and finally, the beginning of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I did say laze did I not?

Now typically I'm doing something while in front of the television. Say knitting. But not today. Today was all about cuddling up and hiding out from the gray gray day. It wasn't all for naught, however, as I have some quotes to share.

"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." ~ Mr. Magorium

"Perhaps we've been incorrectly labeled." ~ Edmund Pevensie

"When you marooned me on that God-forsaken spit of land, you forgot one very important thing, mate: I'm captain Jack Sparrow." ~ Captain Jack Sparrow

"Charlie Bucket was the luckiest boy in the entire world. He just didn't know it yet" ~ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Indeed there is wisdom to found everywhere.

❊❊❊ ❊❊❊ ❊❊❊

Today I am grateful for:
  • Sweet little girls who are willing to snuggle with their mother
  • Fresh canned tuna fish (finally we are going to use the tuna!)
  • Frozen kibbe and tamales (no cooking tonight)
  • Vintage cameras and TTV photography
  • A new library book (The Little Giant of Aberdeen County) and the book club that prompted me to read it
  • Seeds of inspiration
  • My lovely bed and down comforter awaiting my return
Here's to another lazy day to come! I hope you are having an equally as pleasant weekend.


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Weekend

Oh how I *love* weekends; especially when we all have time off together. This is a rarity and something to be treasured. This past weekend we took full advantage. We went sledding, canned fresh tuna, baked banana bread and I even squeezed in time to knit.

We made pasta with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, bright yellow tomatoes and basil. Oh the smell of fresh basil! Is there anything finer?

We had family taco night with homemade guacamole. Everybody ate and nobody complained -- hooray! Too bad we can't have tacos every night of the week.

We celebrated two separate birthdays -- a one year old's and a thirty-two year old's. How lovely it is to gather with friends.

We finished Harry Potter. The very last book of the series. Put all seven books together side-by-side -- that's quite a bit of reading and quality family time spent over the years.

Basically we had a lovely couple of days. If only all days could be like last weekend. But they can't (at least not for the time being). So we are continuing to truck along.

I, personally, am struggling a touch. Winter is challenging. The sun plays a big role in my mental well being. I'm trying to stay positive; to find crafts and activities to bring joy into my life. I am working to appreciate all I have (and am doing my best to ignore all I don't).

That is my word for this year, 2011. APPRECIATE.

I have many hopes and dreams for this year.
  • I hope to bring in more money by both working hard and spending wisely.
  • I hope to get in better shape.
  • I hope to run a half-marathon.
  • I hope to truly learn to play my bagpipes (rather than the dying cow noise that currently emanates from said instrument).
  • I'd like to reset my family's routine and bring in more books, more crafts and less media.
  • I'd like to get organized once and for all.
  • I'd like to finish the pizza oven we started building over two years ago.
  • I plan to dance on stage (yes -- my dance class comes with a recital).
  • I'd like to knit a full-sized blanket and perhaps another sweater.
  • I'd like to camp as much as possible.
  • I need to clean out our garage.
and the list goes on and on. But most of all, whether this list gets checked off or not, I want to appreciate each and every day and each and every moment for the beauty contained within. If I can accomplish this then life has no choice but to be "all good".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Frugality and Dreams, Gift Tags and Tamales. Oh My!

I'd like to talk to you about frugality. I'd like to talk about dreams. I'd like to talk about gift tags and tamales. But where to start.

Let me begin here. This is my desktop. This is Italy (Santa Margherita, I think). I'd really really really love to go back. With my whole family. Only a trip such as this costs money; quite a bit if you are going to shlep five people overseas. And it seems greenbacks are in short supply, at least in our neck of the woods.

So, in a effort to conserve this precious resource, we are upping the ante with our frugality. My mondo beyondo wildest dream? Pay off all our debt and have money to travel. This fantasy seems so insanely out of reach but as Confucius says, " A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

And with that let's step into the kitchen. This is the room our journey begins. We've already nixed eating out. We did that two years ago. Yet we still have our transgressions -- especially on nights I have to work. The crock pot has been our savior but there are days I am simply too tired to be in the kitchen.

In comes tamales. We made a HUGE batch for New Years. We fed our friends. We gifted some. And still we have a freezer full. These will be a God send on those nights I don't want to cook. Additionally Mr. Peculiar made a double batch of kibbe and stuffed grape leaves. We are now stocked with excellent homemade reheatable foods.

In addition, this weekend, we will be canning our own tuna. Over the summer Mr. Peculiar and the boy went on a fishing trip. They brought home tuna. Loads and loads of tuna. It was vacuum packed and frozen and has been in our freezer ever since. It's time it got used. As such we are going to can it. I don't own a pressure canner but we are borrowing one from a friend.

Now what does all of this have to do with gift tags? Well nothing really except they are also born from a frugal vein. These gift tags pictured are for my shop. I've adopted that owl as my logo and like to include a tag with each order. I've also taken to sending additional tags as a little gift to accompany the purchased item. Beautifully I can make them at home -- a tag punch, my stamp and pad and a hole punch. Voila. These tags are made from envelopes. Those wonderful envelopes that come with bills. What a fun way to recycle, 'eh?

And now I will finish rambling. I have a library book waiting for my attention. Oh yes -- and the girls and I have to finish reading Harry Potter. I must admit I'm a touch sad. We are nearing the end of the very last book of the series. Whatever will be read after this? Indeed some research is in order -- books to capture the attention of a preteen and seven-year-old.

And now I am going to join the hubby for a taste of his fine beer. Have a lovely evening!