Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Shall Hereforth Be December 27th

Does anyone else find it slightly INSANE that we shop, wrap, decorate, bake, sweat, bleed and swear for weeks and weeks and weeks at FULL price just to have everything be 90% off the next day?!?!?

I was at Chez Target today (we needed plastic baggies and cat litter: how glamorous...) All of their Christmas shwag is 50% off. The clearance racks are bursting with 30 - 75% off joy. Mervyn's is closing its doors for good tomorrow - everything in the store is 90% off. (I wasn't strong enough to brave that chaos after wandering aimlessly through Target for three hours, trying to figure out where they have moved everything to post-remodel...) Even our local crafting store, Beverly's, has a one day sale today with ALL Christmas goodies 90% off. OldNavy/Gap/JCrew/LLBean/KodakGallery - all have MAJOR sales going off like firecrackers in stores and online.

90% off. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?! 9-0! OMG, dude!

Our economy is in the tank, I'm jobless, Matt's company has already laid off half its workforce... So why couldn't we all just wait until today to "deck the halls" with toys and candy? (Is See's having a sale? I'm so there...) Would it really kill us to wait a few extra days if it meant that we could be slightly more fiscally responsible? Or is their a deeper message to ponder here?

"What does this all mean???" That we don't really need that crap that we're scooping up "since it is 90% off, after all!" ...or that companies have over-stocked? ...or that our consumer-driven endless-supply-needed culture is, perhaps, in need of such a ginormous wake-up call as a "great" depression?

Too much to ponder with a Target-sucked-brain. At least the horrific Christmas muzack has stopped... replaced with love songs and Valentine's Day decor. Good grief.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

..and the gifts are done...

This Christmas is very different for me - so many changes this year...

- Our first Married Christmas (how exciting!)

- My first Unemployed Christmas (how... exciting?)

- My first MassiveNumbersOfIn-Laws Christmas (really exciting! Nieces and nephews, oh my!)

- An attempt at following the Advent Conspiracy as closely as possible (helps with item #2 on this list...)

- My brother has a new girlfriend, my best friend/PLP (platonic life partner...) and her husband have moved to Atlanta, I'm completely off dairy, our house is more focused on a baby in a manger 2000 years ago than a gift under the tree, my favoritest Sarah is expecting her first baby in March, only one more month of a Bush in the White House and I discovered this year that I love fava beans.

In an attempt to reign in the crazy gift-buying that I seem to get swept up in every year, Matt and I decided that I would make most of our gifts, as my days have been rather freed up as of late... (grimace/grin) It seemed like an innocent and easy way for us to be mindful of our finances and put more meaning into our gifts... It quickly transformed into an all-out obsession and time vacuum in which I made fleece "ugly dolls" for the seven kids in our lives, crocheted my way through my MIL, dad, brother and husband's gifts, developed bath tea bags with lavender and chamomile from our garden, baked a billion cookies, went cross-eyed sewing purses and sachets and skirts and aprons, became incredibly frustrated with watercolors and wasted an hour trying to get a sticker off a picture-frame-glass before finally finding the GooGone... Ha!

But in all that, there is such a sense of accomplishment and happiness as I look over the baskets of gifts that I'm loading into the car today. We didn't go overboard. We were mindful of special treats instead of toss-out crap. I was able to watch Pride & Prejudice and North & South a gazillion times while crafting...

There is nothing wrong with a store-bought gift. It has simply been a luxury this year to make many of our own gifts. And for that I am grateful.

Wishing a Merry Christmas to you and yours,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dear Mr. Darcy...

Dear Pride & Prejudice,

I can hide it no longer. I am having an affair with North & South.
It started as an innocent friendship, but quickly developed into a full blown four hour a day torrid obsession.
You had been my only companion while sewing, crocheting, painting and crafting my way through 20 Christmas gifts. But I strayed. Don't blame Netflix - they only introduced us. They had no idea what would blossom.
You gave me Sir Lawrence Olivier, David Rintoul, Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen. But she gave me Richard Armitage.
You will always be my first true love. I hope that you will take me back with open arms when the Other must leave through the post. Until then, I must admit, Mr. Thornton's cravat has me in a tizzy.

(I have an unnatural obsession with men in 19th century period costume...)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Missing: Black Turtleneck. Reward!

This morning I had an 8am interview at a fantastic local organization. I found out about the opportunity yesterday at 3pm, so there wasn't much time to prepare - or to freak out. Yip!

However, imagine my dismay this morning when I could not find my BLACK TURTLENECK SWEATER.


The most basic and holy of wardrobe essentials, gone!??!? What the heck am I supposed to wear now? It's FREEZING!

I ended up layering other black sweaters with black trousers, heels and a beautiful crimson wrap, but still... not as good as the turtleneck. (sigh) I need a black turtleneck sweater - stat!

Here is a glimpse into the closet carnage that went along with the horrifying realization that I did NOT have the right black turtleneck sweater... I didn't even have the wrong turtleneck sweater! Geesh.

If you've seen my sweater, please tell him that I miss him very much and want him to come home. There's no need to stay away - I promise to wear him more! It is winter, after all...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bring the rain...

It rained today.

Praise the Lord.

Rainy days are made for slowing down and remembering to breathe. For special together time, relieved of the pressing burdens of so many projects about the house by the spell of water that falls from the sky.

The old and tired sanctuary was frigid this morning, keeping us early birds awake (like we could sleep with Jon Talbert speaking... oh please...) We sang the gorgeous and magical Christmas carols that I've been missing this advent season (how can you NOT sing carols during advent? Sacrilege!!!)

We made our way home for our first married rainy afternoon, exhausted from four shows and a "acting-high" that finally wore off right after church. I watched my bird feeder slowly fill with water as ever-changing drops plodded down from the swirling blue-grey sky. The soil in my veggie patch became a landscape of mini craters from the larger droplets and small hail that decided to hurl itself downward in a brief flurry of angry water. Doused and dense, the garden shone in the perfect afternoon darkness that creates such magical color saturation.

Matisse and Matt curled up on the couch for a long nap while I baked cookies and prepared soup for dinner. The heater hummed most of the day, keeping the damp chill at bay. Sweats and fleeces were donned, with thick socks for the tootsies and mugs of spiced cider as hand warmers. We snuggled with a movie during supper and took turns dashing to the freezing garage to change laundry loads. (I bet laundry rooms are all inside the house in the Midwest...) I love a man who lets me warm my perma-cold feet on his warm legs...

Today, we did nothing... and in that nothing was everything. Ah, bliss... Thanks rain!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Patience is a virtue... unless you are a parent or child care provider. Then it is a necessity if you value your sanity.

Feeding a ten month old is hilarious, frustrating, painstaking and deliberate, all at the same time. With a vocabulary of approximately two words and four other random syllables, getting a clear message across to me when it comes to "food time" involves face-puckering, slapping the spoon out of my hand, pushing any incoming utensils or bite-sized pieces as far away from the mouth as possible (including on to the floor for their 13 year old weimaraner,) covering her mouth with both hands (really cute) or HUGE entire-body-shaking-giggle-infested-wide-eyed-hand-clapping-joyfests when I actually get it right. (Again, REALLY cute.)

If she feels particularly generous, her favorite word will be pulled out in conjunction with these jumping bean joyfests:



This means, in infantspeak, "hooboy! she gets it! finally! geesh!" Riley's favorite thing on the planet, besides her wonderful and uber-rad-loving parents, is their dog Monte. Dang is he ever patient with that kid! They are pretty adorable together - but that's another story altogether...

Today I discovered the power of pomegranate seeds. OMG. "DOGDOGDOG!" I was afraid the highchair would crash over from her enthusiastic jumping bean moves! Thankfully all was safe in the land of Oz and we both had giant grins plastered over our faces - thanks to the fruit of the dead.

Oh, how I love red.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

wordless wednesday (get yours now!)

My latest fun - tapestry purse with wooden toggle closure and handmade "apple" button. (And linen curtains... and a refinished vintage table... joy!)

Purses available for sale in any custom color/fabric/trimming combination!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cloth Diapers, Breastmilk & Sleepytime

Yesterday was the greatest work day of my life. Period.

My crazy lifelong dream of being a nanny has come to fruition in the form of part time childcare for the happiest, softest, brightest and most captivating ten month old on the planet. Miss Riley reached out with invisible fingers, tangled them in my heartstrings and gently turned up the corners of my mouth in the first moment of my employment.

Gone are the fluorescent lights, stale air, politics and depression of the cubical world. Even if this chapter of my life is but a moment, it is one of smiles, learning, sharing, wonder, dancing, jeans, preparation and joy. One of cloth diapers, patient feedings, not-so-easy "sleepytime" and a ten second attention span. Does this mean that this is an easy job? Not necessarily. I have never been on such high alert while at a job - one short day and I was ready for a VERY early bedtime. But is it a job that I can actually believe in? Darn tootin'.

Too often in this lightening-fast-paced-e-world, "work" entails clicking keys, reading nonsensical and repetitive paragraph after paragraph, drowning in the buzz of radiating fake lighting and learning to live with a constant HVAC-induced headache. We have ergonomic chairs, keyboards, calculators, mice, desks, pens, pencils... Does anyone else find this ridiculous? We are a workforce contorting our bodies and minds into such unnatural positions that we have spawned an entire industry dedicated to the treatment and prevention of stress- and repetitive-motion-related injuries and complaints. Good Lord. Talk about ironic.

So, off I trot to spend the day building block castles, reading cardboard books, delighting in the seedpod of dandelions... perhaps not a "realistic" list of work activities for today's reality, but then again, what is reality?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unemployment is NOT for the faint of heart...

For the past 13 years, I have worked almost every week in an office of some sort, with a semester off my first year of college to get settled in to the swing of "life out on my own..." (Yeah, that went well...) When I was 14, my mother arranged for me to work as an assistant at a local small business management firm. After work, three days a week, I would hitch a ride with the company owner's son and file, type, sort, label, water, dust, mail and post myself into oblivion - for three hours. THREE. At the time three hours was F-O-R-E-V-E-R, dragging on until, finally, my dad pulled up outside and I skipped over to the timecard area to write my "out" time for the day.

11 jobs, seven years of schooling and 13 years later, I have been unemployed for almost an entire month - the longest that I have been without something structured to do since summer break between junior high and high school. Time has no meaning - I have no idea what day it is, what time it is, where I am, if the Apocalypse has come and gone...

I am searching for a job - my daily ritual of combing thru craigslist, simplyhired, santacruzjobs, ucscjobs, santacruzsentinel - but y'all, there ain't much out there. I'm sure that others in this situation would relish the opportunity to do NOTHING all day while collecting unemployment, but unfortunately my body and mind have completely and fully rejected that scenario as unacceptable.

Sooooo... I find myself washing dishes and floors, rearranging cabinets, reading the entire Twilight series again - twice, cooking new dishes, baking cookies and breads, refinishing furniture, sorting thru old photos, cleaning out the closets, seriously considering posting every single last item of *crap* that we own on craigslist, planting a victory garden, pulling weeds, making ridiculously long and involved to-do lists, reading blogs, getting up-to-date on political news sites, paying bills, contemplating a million DIY Christmas gifts, dusting off the sewing machine and making personalized "ugly dolls" for our seven nieces and nephews from scratch, crocheting hats, memorizing lines for the Christmas play, preparing to sew a new skirt and handbag to see if I could possibly make more as gifts, designing our Christmas cards, setting up our church advent season decorations and stage set, working on new jewelery projects... sketching, sanding, sawing, seeding, scrubbing, stewing, scanning, stalling, singing, sorting, staining, stretching, snuggling, sensing, screaming, straining, searchingsearchingsearching...

Almost everyone that knows I am out of work has advised me in their most sage/condescending/jealous/all-knowing voice that I should see this time as a gift and use it wisely. Which is great advice... advice I would GLADLY take and follow and relish if it weren't for the tiny detail of insanity+debt=not so feasible. Does this make me wish that perhaps we had chosen slightly less expensive rings? You betcha. Not paid for everyone and their mother to have their hair done at the wedding? Oh hell yes. Saved more while I was making ridiculous loads of cash and completely stayed away from Kodak Gallery, Sierra Trading Post and Old Navy's websites? *BLEEP* yeah! Stuck to the cheap food and eaten out WAY less? DARN TOOTIN'! Can I change that now? Dammit, no. Have we changed our ways DRASTICALLY in the past few months? Again, you betcha. And this past month, with us both being without pay, we have SERIOUSLY been frugalgroovin'...

The surprise?

It's quite easy to spend WAY less. Quite. Well shoot. Now you tell me!

The projects that I've been tackling have all somehow skirted around the main thing that I would love to achieve in this season of time - my art. Painting, carving, creating, molding, DOING... Something is in the way, holding me back from my easel. Everyday I see a new image or color or vision that I need to capture on the canvases that are strewn about the house, closets and garage. But I am held back by unseen ties that bind my arms to my sides and whisper into my ears can't do it... you aren't good enough will never look like you want it too... So I am held captive by my self doubt and dance about the house, doing other projects to keep me from the paints. But they are there, yearning for my fingers to brush over them, screaming to me to USE them... if only their screams were louder than the whispers.

This has been a tough month for me, not knowing what to do or who I am without the identity of a job. Isn't it ironic that we so pointedly define ourselves through our work? "What'syournameandwhatdoyoudo?" The beginning of all new acquaintances. So who am I? And what do I do? Who have I become in the years since my first job? What do I do in the years ahead?

Suggestions welcome.