STEM Toys for Girls (and Boys)!

This video has been circulating on Facebook the last couple days on my feed.

I love the concept and it got me to thinking about the toys I enjoyed playing with as a child versus the toys I received for birthdays and Christmas.  I often requested STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) based toys: rock tumbler, microscope, Legos, Texas Instruments (TI) stuff, etc.  For Christmas, I most often got dolls and all their associated accouterments.  My brother most often got Legos, Erector Sets, K’NEX, TI stuff.  The year I requested a microscope for myself – my brother got the microscope and I got a Barbie RV…I was hurt and angry.

While I was never discouraged from playing with by brother’s toys (well by anyone other than my brother) the message was clear STEM toys were a boy’s thing.  I wish my parents (and adult siblings) had realized that they were being somewhat exclusionary.  I applaud more STEM based toy options being available.

In general, I am happy that Goldie Blox is redefining what girls’s toys should look like. I am however kinda sad though that all the “girl talk” will dissuade some people from buying these kick-ass toys for my son (or the boys in their lives). Do I really care if my son plays with a toy that is marketed primarily at girls? Do I care that my son might play with blocks that are pink and purple? Not anymore than I care if my daughter plays with toys marketed to boys or that are *gasp* in primary colors.

This Goldie Blox set (below) will likely be one of the kids’ joint Christmas presents this year along with another STEM based toy set!

For the second STEM based toy joint present,  I am thinking along the lines of:

1) Tinker-Toys are a classic. We currently have a wooden set, that is showing considerable wear, and I am contemplating picking up an all plastic set made by K’NEX.

2) Gizmos and Gears: My brother had a set of something very similar to these and we both loved them.   The only downside is that unlike Tinker-Toys and K’NEX these gears are somewhat limited to the parameters of the set – not that that stopped us from rigging our gear set up to Legos and such to make some nifty contraptions. 

Sets I am holding off of until the kids are a tad older:

1) K’NEX provide infinite building possibilities.  It isn’t that the kids aren’t ready for a set like this as much as Lucas is really, really into Legos right now and is this year’s focus to expand that set.  Plus, I can only handle organizing one system with tiny parts at a time.

2) Domino Rally: This starter set comes with a marble run tower, a bridge and of course plastic dominoes.  There are many expansion packs with various themes (many very “boy” oriented) but I will stick with the basics because knowing my kids these will end up being used along with other building sets for applications outside their original intent.  My brother and I used them in our Rube Goldberg-esq contraptions as kids.  This one I am wavering on these a bit as lining up dominoes can be frustrating business and Lucas is four…and asking a four year old to line up dominoes is just asking for a frustration induced tantrum of epic proportions. 

3) Snap Circuits:  There are many different kits but this would be the first I pick up for the kids and then we could go from there.  They can be a bit pricey but are available at Kohls and if you stack your coupons, sale dates and cash back bucks you can get them for a steal. 

S.T.E.M based toys open up a whole new world of learning, problem solving and creativity something that is important for both boys and girls!

~xoxo~

Surviving the Furloughed Worry Load: General Tips

This is our first furlough experience (my husband has been home now more days than I care to count) but not our first go round with feeling the “lost income” pinch.  So here are some tips and ideas for surviving the furlough with as minimal worry as possible and hopefully your sanity intact.

Take stock of where you are at financially.

How much do you have in emergency savings?  Investments?  Don’t have much or anything in savings?  Furloughed government employees, you might be able to take out a TSP loan. (you should have been provided with TSP loan information when you were sent home; if not it can be found here).  If you are a civilian that has been laid-off due to the government shutdown. First check into unemployment. Then look into whether you can pull from your investments and only if absolutely necessary your 401(k) or IRA.   Yes, there are tax penalties but they may be better than not paying your current bills – crunch the numbers and/or talk to an accountant or financial planner***.  Being armed with information never hurts and sometimes just knowing you have an last ditch emergency plan in place can ease your mind tremendously.

Rent/Mortgage

If you rent talk to your landlord and give them a heads-up of your current work status.  Reassure them that you don’t plan on not paying rent – just that things aren’t as fluid as they were last month.   If you own – talk to your lender or bank.

If you have enough in emergency savings pay as much in rent/mortgage as you can in advance.  It sounds counter-intuitive but you are spending for some peace of mind that you know rent/mortgage is covered (or mostly covered).  It is money out that  won’t get spent elsewhere and you know it’s been paid and your landlord/lender isn’t going to come knocking – talk about added stress.

Car Payment

Same thing, contact your lender and apprise them of your situation.  You have a job waiting; you are getting back-pay; see if you can negotiate an alternate payment plan for the future.  Also consider paying in advance if you can manage that.

Credit Cards

Contact them too it won’t hurt for them to make a note on your account.  Try your best to make the minimum payments.

Student Loans

Check into filing for a forbearance – you are temporarily unemployed.  Most loan servicing agencies offer forbearance periods of one, three or six months.   I strongly encourage  that you to try and pay your monthly accrued interest – any unpaid interest  gets added back to your principal balance during a forbearance.   Also please note if you take out a three month forbearance and you go back to work after one you must inform your lender.  They will assess if you may continue the forbearance as scheduled or if you need to resume regular payments.

Electric/Gas/Utilities

Use less starting now.  Adjust your thermostats to two degrees higher for A/C or two degrees lower for heat or if you are lucky and live somewhere that the weather is pleasant turn it all off, open some windows and enjoy the fall weather.

Food/Groceries

This is where you can save the most because you are 100% in control of what goes in your cart.

First stop eating  and drinking (alcohol or five-bucks coffee) out.  Make your own morning coffee at home. Added bonus: you don’t have to change out of your pajamas (mine are ratty and don’t match but are oh so comfy just definitely not for public viewing – unless you are my child’s bus driver…pity them).  Buy beer, wine, etc. at the store…or if you are industrious like some friends of mine who make their own beer and brew up some “Congressional Fail Pale Ale” – I named the beer and am quite proud.  (I won’t be drinking any – damn Celiac!).

Inventory your pantry, fridge and freezer.   Clean your fridge and look at what you have…then you can start to plan and budget.  Meal planning a month at a time is the way to go in this situation.  There is so much I could cover on just this topic.  I will get more in detail in the near future.  (I just remembered I still owe my readers a picture of my rearranged living room – I am in a bit of a gluten hangover fog – so sorry!!!).

All The Extras

Duhn, duhn, duuuuuhn…so these get cut.  In our house that means going to the movies gets replaced with staying in and watching our movie stash or what is available for free on Hulu.  If you pay for Hulu+ or Netflix then I recommend you stick with what is available there – you are already paying for it.  Another example, the 5k I was planning on – not going to do it – well I might run three miles but I won’t be paying the registration fees for that particular event.  Our special anniversary dinner out – it’s on the bubble (In December so it might still happen but most likely will end up being a home cooked meal type thing).

All the little Autumn specific things we were planning to do corn maze, hay-ride, pumpkin patch might not happen now.  They will be replaced with hot chocolate making, baking, and grocery store pumpkin carving/painting.  Halloween costumes will be recycled from last year or up-cycled to new costumes. I will try to do posts on these topics as well as this furlough continues.

Gym fees, if you don’t have a contract then stop paying and work-out at home.  This isn’t forever and I am not at all recommending that you stop exercising (check below for ideas to keep or start moving on a budget).   If you do have a gym contract and are not going then by all means start going! Seriously, you have the time so don’t let that money go to waste!  If you have a gym membership that you are using (read: you rock) – keep it up and check into any member rewards programs that your gym may offer.  You may have earned some free sessions or vouchers to try new classes.

Assess finding part-time seasonal work or temp agency work.

Halloween stores – employees get discounts.  Haunted Houses need people to perform the scares…it could be fun?  Yes, it is minimum wage but it is something.  Temp work often pays a bit more than minimum-wage, maybe not as much as you were making but again it is something.  Please be sure to check at your local staffing agencies first – they often will have the more true short-term positions and you would also be supporting a local business.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t utilize the larger nationally branded staffing agencies. Here are a few to get you started:

Manpower

Kelly Services

Labor Ready

Find ways to reduce your anxiety and worry.

Feed your soul.

If you enjoy reading: Read those books that have been sitting there, taunting you. Trade books with friends.  If you have a Kindle/Nook/eReader, then check out free and public domain books available for download online. Reacquaint yourself with the local library.

If you enjoy crafting: Pull out that stash of yarn, or sewing stuff you never have time for.  Catch up on those scrapbooks with those supplies that are just chillin’ in a box.

If you enjoy exercise/running: Yep get out there and do it.  Need some accountability? Then set up exercise opportunities with friends.  Pair up with friends and go for a walk, run or ride.   Help someone who is “behind” you fitness-wise to reach their goals – you will feel great too. If you rent an apartment check out their gym fees instead, you might save some money.  Our apartment complex has a key card you pay $25 once for unlimited access.

If you enjoy baking: (pace yourself – don’t go too crazy and undo all your exercise above) Try to stick with only what you have on hand and make something tasty and fun.

If you enjoy time with friends: Host a potluck or a clothing swap, organize a multi-family garage sale, host a crafting session or if so inclined a girls-slumber party or guys-only Monday night football party.  Get creative.

All of that is great but boredom is still setting in:  Volunteer somewhere! Organize a coat or food drive (food pantries are partially federally funded and a lot of non-government employees depend on them for food and are hurting too), get some friends together and rake someone’s leaves (people with a newborn, recent surgery or the elderly).  Do a random acts of kindness challenge.  Remember the idea is to feed your soul!

Try to Remain Grateful

It is easy to grumble when money gets tight but one thing I have found is gratitude keeps a person happy.   Hand write letters of gratitude to people who have made a difference in your life.  Make a conscious effort to thank those around you and smile.  FYI this will feed your soul too!

And Finally Try to Remember This: 

“Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good.”

 (source)

Note:  This is as much a personal pep-talk as it is encouragement to anyone who, like me, is freaking out a bit, melting down and trying not to have a worry induced anxiety attack.

:)

What specific steps have you taken during this furlough or a temporary job loss to help trim the fat and stay positive?

~xoxo~

***Disclaimer: I am not a financial planner and any and all advice given in this post are suggestions based on personal experience with temporary unemployment and several other times of financial transition and turmoil.  Please consult with your accountant or financial planner when dealing with taxable investments as everyone's situation is different.

Past the Storm

For anyone who is still following this blog from back when will know that this past year has been difficult for me on several fronts.

At the end of September last year one of my bridesmaids was murdered by her husband.  It has been crazy and hard and something I might talk about from time to time as the whole thing has changed me and brought up a lot of emotional stuff from my early childhood, pre-adoption.

Then I have also had some heath issues and was officially diagnosed as severely gluten intolerant but my biological mom was diagnosed with full-blown Celiac a month after my diagnosis (I opted not to get the intestinal biopsy).  With her diagnosis I am pretty certain that I also have Celiac.

While a diagnosis like this isn’t fun, it is an answer and now after three months 100% gluten-free I am feeling so much better.  I still have bad days but they are getting less intense and less frequent.

The most recent thing is my husband who works for the USDA was placed on furlough…which sucks…but I am looking on the bright side and putting him to work around here. The first big thing was rearranging our everything room (living, dining and office).  It finally “works” for us and all four of us can actually sit around the table for dinner now.

The table is likely my favorite piece of furniture we own at this point.  I have other things to share too and I hope to get some photos up for you tomorrow.  Thank you all for being so patient with me as I worked through grief and healed up physically.

~xoxo~

Gluten Intolerant with a Chance of Celiac

Recently, I had some blood-work drawn to determine if I had the auto-immune disease Celiac Sprue.  Those labs came back with a negative Celiac panel.  However,  it doesn’t mean that I am not a Celiac.  It means I was negative at the time of the test for certain antibodies.

The lab tests did reveal that I am deficient in a variety of essential nutrients.  Which points to a mal-absorption issue with the most likely cause being Celiac.  The doctor also reviewed my past labs and found that I have been deficient for some time in a variety of nutrients.

There is one test that could give me a definite diagnosis – a endoscopic upper GI biopsy.  I opted (at this time) to not undergo this test.  Partly because the test is a tad expensive but also because I would have to continue to eat foods containing gluten for another two months* in order to undo all the healing that occurred while I was eating gluten free for the past year (previous to my self-induced torture of ten weeks of consuming gluten – six weeks prior to the blood-work and four while I waited to consult with the doctor) .

I chose to be satisfied with the diagnosis:

“Gluten intolerant with a chance of Celiac.”

Okay, so that isn’t what the doctor said exactly.    I do have a firm diagnosis of Gluten Intolerant but Celiac was neither ruled out or confirmed.  The technical diagnosis is non-celiac gluten intolerant or (NCGI).

I may never know if I am a true Celiac but with the severity of my symptoms and the established evidence of mal-absorption, I will be living like I was diagnosed with full-blown Celiac.  This is a decision my doctor fully supports.  She put it is as such, “With the severity of your symptoms you should consider no amount of gluten ‘safe’.”  She even did air-quotes. :D

The option to keep making myself sick in order to get a diagnosis just seems unwise, especially when I already know how to feel better.

*Also to re-run the Celiac Panel.

What does that mean in my daily life?

It means that my environment needs to be 100% gluten free.  It requires me to be paranoid not only about my food, but with how my food is prepared.  It means I will become that person in the restaurant asking a million questions about how the food is prepared and what ingredients are in it.  It means I have to buy gluten-free cosmetics and lotion and sunscreen.  It means I have to wash my hands if I touch anything that contains gluten.  It means Steve has to wash his hands and face if he eats gluten before he touches me.

What happens if I consume gluten?

Gluten intolerance isn’t an allergy that triggers a histamine response. I won’t have an obvious and dramatic reaction to gluten as someone with say a peanut allergy does.  I will not swell up or break-out in hives but the reaction is just as real.  It is something I feel immediately, like a wave of fire passing over my brain – you will not be able to see it.  If you don’t know my situation you probably will have no idea it is even happening.

Gluten intolerance and Celaic produce an autoimmune response.  It is the same-system ones’ body uses to attack a virus to kill the evil illness causing invaders except that for some reason a NCGI or Celiacs’ autoimmune system will also begin to attack healthy tissue.  My body essentially will begin to start attacking itself from within.  Within a short amount of time I will start to get a headache.  It will take about a week (maybe two) before my body completely ceases antibody production – so my body will continue to damage itself for well after ingesting gluten.  For a week I might have a myriad of symptoms ranging from forgetfulness and mood swings to every. single. stomach. issue. known. to. humankind as my body rights itself.

The jargon term for the accidental consumption of gluten is “glutened”.

Here is a compilation of possible symptoms Celiacs (and NCGI) people have:

via: GlutenDude

Of the above symptoms I have in the past two years experienced over 40 of them with varying severity.  In the “Behavioral” category I have experienced 12 out of the 14.

Why am I practically writing a dissertation on the subject?

Because gluten is in more than just bread and pasta. It is in cosmetics and lotion and over-the-counter meds, like generic Tylenol, and is in soy sauce and a number of bbq sauces and in Play-doh and sometimes it feels like it is hiding everywhere just waiting to rear its ugly head. Even microscopic amounts of gluten can set off a reaction.  In other words gluten-free toast toasted in a toaster which normally toasts regular toast will also toast my brain.  *evil grin at my own tongue twister cleverness*

Basically, cross-contamination is and will be a huge issue. I might seem like I am just being overly picky, or demanding, or being a diva.  I am not…the disease is just a p.i.t.a. (translation for those not up with the lingo: pain.in.the.arse) (side note: waaah “pitas” – something else I can’t eat)

My tortillas can’t touch flour tortillas or any surface in which a flour tortilla has ever resided…and my bread cannot be toasted in your toaster but will have to have its own little pan (which I will most often bring along).

I don’t expect anyone to re-order their lives for li’l ole’ me (unless your initials happen to spell E.G.G.) like in situations where I might, oh, come to stay at your house for a few days while road-tripping through Texas…or even when I visit for a potluck, picnic or bbq.  I will bring my own munchies and/or cook for myself (or everyone if you desire/just want a break from cooking/want to try my food because it is so freakin’ awesome).

Just keep in mind that if I wipe your counters down it isn’t because I think you are a lousy housekeeper; it just my being paranoid about the evil microscopic gluten particles that might still be inadvertently lurking about.

I am also certain your sesame-chicken really is the bee’s-knees but will have to decline because of the wheat containing soy-sauce.  I will decline seemingly normal and safe foods – like bacon… regular bacon isn’t gluten free…neither is sausage…or lunchmeat…or the majority of processed foods.

More on the lengths one has to go to to prevent cross-contamination here in this wonderfully concise blog post from Accustomed Chaos.

What can I eat?

I will continue to enjoy the vast majority of the foods that I love such as meat and veggies and fruit and grains like rice and quinoa and eggs and dairy.  I enjoy a variety of rice and quinoa pasta products that are very reasonably priced.  They also make a whole bunch of gluten free junk food – cookies, brownies, chocolate covered pretzels, etc.  There are even gluten free ice cream cones now. They all cost about $100 a box, just kidding, but they are all a bit pricey.  In perspective that is a good thing; it means that cookies and such will solidly resume their place in life as an every once in a while treat.

Please, please, please don’t be disheartened if I ever turn your gluten free goodies down. 

The gluten free label doesn’t necessarily mean they are gluten free enough. I have to trust the brand and please know I have done a large amount of research on the subject – partly through trial and error.  More on how some “gluten-free labeled” foods aren’t gluten free enough can be found here.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying and will be sincerely touched and feel loved and understood when anyone makes any effort on my behalf.  Understand any refusal will be based my own experiences, research and possibly even paranoia.

Chocolate? This is one of those areas I will have to be careful with.  I can no longer have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…or Snickers…or 3 Musketeers…or any commercially manufactured in mass, candy bar.  I can eat chocolate; it just has to be gluten free…and there are plenty of high quality chocolatiers that make safe chocolates.

Beer? A point of some debate in the gluten free world…yes some beer is gluten free all on its own…some is not.  I will pass on it if offered – even if it is labeled as gluten free largely because I still have a reaction to it.

 Tequilla, Rum, Whiskey, Vodka, Wine?  Most liquor is a-okay.  Woohoo!  I will forgo them though as I heal and like everything else it will be trial and error to find the right fit.

Corn tortillas and chips are also okay…but once I get all the gluten out of my diet, there is also a huge likelihood that I am going to jump firmly on the non-GMO bandwagon. Food dyes, they are also on the hot seat.  I will save those soap-box rants for another day, however.

And about that bacon…thankfully there are gluten free options on the market.  Hallelujah, all is not lost!  It too is pricey at about $7/half pound(ish).  It does go on sale though and I will be greedily stocking my freezer full…because, well, it is bacon.

Note: This post was part of a facebook note and email I wrote to family and friends as a way of giving a heads up to everyone as to the the what and why of my decision to officially go completely gluten-free.  I decided to share here as well because I have had so many “I eat gluten-free” related misunderstandings like “it is a fad” or “a little bit won’t hurt you” or “you used to eat it without any problems.”  Guaranteed someone you know is dealing with this or some other disease that on the surface seems odd and when one has a health issue of any kind it is always nice if others approach with patience, understanding and  hopefully empathy.   Celiac and gluten intolerance is a disease that much like diabetes requires a complete overhaul of one’s diet but substantially differs from Type-2 diabetes in that there are no medications to take to fix it and it cannot be cured, reversed or exercised away…it is forever. 

~xoxo~

Last Week

Exactly a week ago, today, the creek behind our apartment looked like this…

behind our apartment

snow

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natural area behind our apartment

Essentially, it feels like we live in a postcard…

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snow day

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the hike bike trail

I helped build a snowman…

small snowman

small snowman

The snow receded for the weekend in time for my mother-in-law’s whirl wind visit…we did a lot…well ate a lot…and I have a thing about taking pictures of people eating…

Then the day she flew out it snowed again but more and more signs of spring are peeking out at the edges of melting snow…

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spring flowers

~xoxo~

Planning with Polyvore: Online Planning Tools

We have spent the greater portion of the last few weeks playing “drive the husband bonkers by moving every piece of furniture in a 800 sq. ft. apartment”.  If you have never played it is quite fun.   The exasperated looks, the you are crazy glances – all part of the fun.

I haven’t any pictures to share – yet.  Why? Because each room has at minimum two sizable boxes waiting for a donation run to Goodwill and the husband’s truck bed is brimming with snow.  Oh and I haven’t dug my car out of the snow and now packed ice. I had spent a great deal of time planning these changes.  I used my two favorite space planning tools:

Urban Barn’s Make Room : Icovia Room Planner

This is one of the most user-friendly, web-based floor plan tools I have ever come across.  You can use Urban Barn products in your floor plan or a set of generic furniture symbols.  The best part is that it is completely free!

I have been using polyvore forever.  My original polyvore account predates my old blog (My Texas Nest).  I have used the mood board creator to plan everything from parties, rooms, and fashion.  After Pinterest it is my go to for time wasting goodness.   Pinterest is great for collecting inspirational images but Polyvore is great for creating your own inspiration.

Which is something I have been doing the last few days.  Here are the results:

New ideas for my “everything room”…

Living
…and bedroom.
Bedroom

One of the things I love about both of these online tools is that it helps me visualize, work with what I already have, and fill in any gaps –  topics I will try to expand on in a future post.

~xoxo~

Playing Catch Up

This is an update mainly for family who wanted pictures of parties, snow play, etc.  A little glimpse into our winter and the start of spring

Lucas’ Birthday – Jake & the Neverland Pirates

His birthday was Jake and the Neverland themed because he is still all things pirate…but the Avengers (Iron-man and Thor) might be getting the upper hand.

His birthday was in January…it got dark around 4:30…all photos are taken with either flash or lamplight as there was no “natural light” to be had.

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Buckey and pirate loot

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Close up of Buckey – Jade made the sails.

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Drinks iced down in treasure chest

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A Happy 4th Birthday!

He got some more Jake and the Neverland toys for his birthday and tickets to the play, “How I Became a Pirate!”

Jade’s Birthday – Un Monstre A Paris

We ordered, “A Monster in Paris” online after I read reviews on it.  The French movie was never released in the states but an English version was created for release in the UK.  Love the movie and so did Jade and this was what she wanted for her birthday.

The main characters are Lucille, known as the “Angel of Paris” and Monsieur Francouer, the “Monster” (in the white hat, blue scarf and mask).  The movie is fun and very different than many of the animated flicks released in the States.

Jade was too excitable for any pics of her – she was in a white “of period” (1910) dress and angel wings and spent much of the evening jumping around singing the songs in the movie.

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Eiffel tower cupcake topper surrounded by sunflowers.

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Simple croissant sandwiches (for the more picky palates), sunflower seeds, and angel wing cookies.

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Sunflowers and the Eiffel Tower.

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Steve’s mask – he wore for a special dance with Jade. ;)

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Jade’s “Lucille” hat.

Jade got a guitar and some pretty hair combs (also elements pulled from the movie) for her main birthday presents.   We then watched the movie again and she and her dad danced in costume to some of the songs.  Sadly I wasn’t able to catch them dancing on camera.   Jade is now taking guitar lessons and is learning a lot.  She is enjoying being seven.

I have to include a couple photos of Jade since Lucas has gotten more play and she noticed.

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playing in the snow

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snow angel

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before her first soccer game

~xoxo~

Thrift Store Tablecloth…or Curtain?

tablecloth curtain

Over the last several months I have been giving life a lot of thought and my purpose and all the things that we ponder after losing a loved one far too soon.  I realized that I was trying too hard, not being myself to “fit into” what was trendy and of the moment.   It was satisfying up to a point but then there was the next trend and I wanted it too…and then entered my quest to thrift or craigslist it.  It was becoming a vicious cycle of discontent.

I am moving toward trying to be more authentic to my own personal aesthetic and less swayed by what others are doing.  Instead of trying to recreate specific looks on a budget, I have set out on a quest to collect things that have meaning to me or that make my heart skip when I cross their path.

This little tablecloth was one of those things.  I know it is just a piece of embroidered linen and has no substantial value besides my own liking.   I unfolded it, expecting to find a stain or a hole and was surprised to find it was in perfect condition.  An image, from a book I once owned that I can’t remember the name of, popped into my head.  It frustrates me that I can’t remember the book but it was similar to this image below (courtesy the archives of Honolulu Star from way back in 1997).

I of course found this image on pinterest after a brief search for “tablecloth curtain”.  Which by-the-by tablecloths are an inexpensive option if you desire patterned curtains but cannot afford lengths of drapery fabric.  They come in various curtain appropriate lengths 95-inches to 106-inches – depending if you prefer  barely skimming the floor or fabric puddles.

on a cloudy day

on a cloudy day – vintage table cloth $4.99 from Arc Thrift

Of course, full length drapes aren’t practical for a kitchen.  This little gem of a curtain is the perfect size for our kitchen window.  For the photo I left the blinds closed to prevent the back-lighting from completely obscuring the embroidery.  Most days, I fully open the blinds and the softest filtered light fills our tiny kitchen.

I realize that the, “Only buy what you love,” mantra is one I have stated before.  The difference is not falling in love with something simply because it is on pinterest 1,000 times over but rather because it truly resonates with your own sense of self.  Which in our consumer driven/image fed world is something that is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between.

Here is some more vintage tablecloth to curtain eye-candy:

dottie angel

a sort of fairytale

apartment therapy

If I ever find a cut-work tablecloth similar to this one (above) I may use this shower curtain idea.

~xoxo~

 

and then came spring…

This blog stopped cold last fall and I apologize for my absence.  We had made the move from Texas to Colorado which was a huge adjustment.  Then four months after our move I received the heart-breaking news that one of my favorite people and bridesmaids had been murdered.

Then came winter;  the combination of the cold, the dark and the smattering of various viruses, mixed with grief has made for what easily ranks as one of the most difficult seasons of my life.

As the days are lengthening; the winter blues have begun to succumb to to the light.  Life feels a bit brighter and lighter.  We still have the trial to face in the coming months and that will bring another wave of grief and unanswerable questions but hopefully the light of spring and summer will continue to diffuse the storm.

This winter was not without some bright spots.  Steve and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary in December. Lucas turned four in January and Jade seven at the end of March.  We may just have settled on a church to finally call home.

Warmer weather is cultivating the desire to nest again. Please stay tuned!

~xoxo~

Sami

Happy Halloween!

While Jade went to school this morning, Lucas got to dress up and go looting and plundering…I mean trick or treating at Steve’s office.  Tonight we are meeting up with some friends to go trick or treating.  I will post pictures of that adventure (hopefully tomorrow).

We wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween!

~xoxo~

P.S. Thank you for your understanding of my malaise as of late.  I am doing much better and have been working on the house a bit – we are rearranging furniture this weekend.  I will have things to share soon. Thank you all for your patience.