without a doubt

By In blog — December 30, 2018

I have noticed lately as I am out and about running errands, that I am talking to myself while trying to make selections. It’s the time of year where decision making is commonly at its highest and I need to run my choices by someone. Since it’s just me running errands, I get to talk to myself.

“Is this the 1000 sheet one ply toilet paper? Yes. Good, that’s the right one. Okay, are these the paper towels that can rip off at different sizes? Sweet. In the cart they go.”

“Hmmm…would they like this? How much is it? Am I going to be able to go searching somewhere else? What’s that smell? Mmmmm….fried chicken. Should we get some for lunch? Yes, of course. Why would you even ask me that question. That was a statement, not a question. Go find that chicken.”

I’m no stranger to these personalized discussions. They go on all the time, often in my head. I also think my jokes are quite witty, and can crack myself up. There’s no wit like your own wit.

This time of year brings on a lot of, “Oh shoot, I forgot to do that – better add it to the list” kinds of conversations with myself.

I do talk to the horse across the street and tell him things about my day or run something by him. So, I don’t always talk to myself.

It’s not a clear picture but he’s adorable. He loves to chill out.

My cat and I thought we’d be frolicking this month working on puzzles, catching up on Fixer Upper and Pioneer Woman, reading some seasonal fiction and maybe painting and sewing up some dish towels. She’s been holding her own and wondering where I am. Me? I’m always headed out the door. But I’ll get an afternoon of frolicking in before the next week is over if I have to force it and then stay up late to be caught up from frolicking. It’s the point. The holiday season must have some frolicking in it.

(I’m wearing an old maternity top that I could not part with because it is so dang comfy. I can only wear it in the confines of my own home.) My cat doesn’t look like she wants me alongside her frolicking but she does.

I also thought I’d be meandering the countryside doing my shopping at local small businesses with a seasonal beverage in hand now that all of my kids are in school. Who has time for that? (I ask myself.) Not me. A budding relationship with my mail and package carriers has begun since we live in a new place now. I was dubbed the “catalog lady” early on by my mail carriers and I had been so looking forward to fleeing the catalogs once we moved. Apparently, they can smell your trail when you leave.

I guess there are worse things to be dubbed.

It’s also the time of year where I often wish for peaceful quiet moments to fill your days but I’m changing my tune this year. A quiet peaceful moment tucked into our days here and there are certainly little nuggets of joy, but when chaos is often the prevailing daily encounter, I’ve tried to make sure that I am pausing here and there to appreciate the hustle and bustle. After all, it’s a part of the holiday season and one that I enjoy, more when I look back on it than while I am going through it, but it’s enjoyable at some point. So, as this holiday season swells around you, I wish you humor to enjoy the chaos around you and the grit to join in.

Our chaos found us with flour all over the bellies of clean jammies from cookie baking. (Yes, I do wonder why I did baths first.) My little helpers were frustrated by the cheap paper that I bought which was plagued by tears and tape that always ended up not where they wanted it to be so I ended up helping my helpers and not doing my own wrapping. We painted ornaments for our Christmas tree that never ended up on the tree, but are still in a bag waiting for mom to have the time to hot glue the twine on them for hanging. I also never finished painting my project because I was helping my little painters. It was a wooden wreath for our front door. It’s just green. Plain green.

Barbie and a gal pal came to the cookie party too, I see.

I never did get to read “Winter According to Humphrey” but since it is just the beginning of winter, I still have time. And hope.

I never made another batch of my favorite spice cookies or cooked up the apples we received from our local Christmas tree farm for homemade applesauce. The kids did not get to try piping and flooding on their cookies. I’m not a royal icing fan, preferring homemade frosting, but it was more about the “trying” and not the “eating” and it’s just my own preference, not meant to become a tradition that my little peeps have to follow. Although I could not refrain from sharing the “why” to my own preference…

I’m sure Santa became very tired from waiting on me to finish my wrapping that caught me by surprise so that he could come in. I thought I had been much further ahead. What was I doing all season? An electrical circuit blew in our house just days before Christmas that included the outlets for the fridge and washer. Of course. Who needs a cold fridge for holiday food? And who needs to catch up on laundry? Dirty counter tops and a muddy floor a few days later found me with my electrical circuits working again after the electrician had to pull out about a hundred outlets to test for the bad one. It’s one way to get your floors and counter tops sparkling again for the holidays.

Christmas Eve found us hosting a cable technician because the electrical issue days prior left us without internet. For someone who complains about technology you’d think I would have been okay with that, but how else would I get my bills paid? No time left to mail them or call in my payments at that point. Some things left to the last minute don’t go away. Procrastinating to pay your bills? Don’t try this at home kids.

The fixer upper farmhouse that I have loved and stalked for years became available as an option for us to purchase…right in the holiday season. Of course. Many days were spent looking at various aspects of the house to see if it would be a good decision financially for our family. The verdict is still out. It’s an old house. I need more information. The sellers are very patient with me. There are other people interested in this property. They are very patient with me too.

While hanging out in the toy aisle at Target the other day waiting on my wee ones as they searched for the perfect toy to buy with the gift cards that were burning holes in their pockets, right after a holiday that spawns new toys, I spied an Eight Ball on the shelf. Do you remember those? If you do, you know that they know the answers to any question about everything and will give you the honest answers you’ve been searching for. (It’s not the eight ball for a game of pool. Don’t talk to that ball or people will think your’re nuts.)

I reached out and grabbed the box and asked this all-knowing Eight Ball if we would be the ones in this fixer upper farmhouse dream of mine and it clearly and quickly replied, “Without a doubt.”

I also talk to Eight Balls.

Then I promptly showed my husband our future. After all, what the Eight Ball says is real. Everyone knows that.

Soon into this holiday season, I decided to stop and smell the chaos as it unfolded, for it was my holiday season. It’s what would make great stories when I recalled my month. It would make me chuckle. I’ve never laughed over perfectly cute ornaments that I was proud of nor a holiday that went off without a hitch. (I’m not sure there ever has been one.) I don’t have pictures of the beautiful cookie making moment I did with my kids. (Has there ever been one?) I have pictures of floured bellies, dough on my floor and cookies on baking sheets that have been man-handled so many times only a dad would eat them.

So…chaotic holiday and winter moments are wished upon you from me, myself and I. And my cat. And my horse neighbor. And probably the Eight Ball. I left it in the store so I cannot ask it.

Can you believe we will be settling in to another year in a few short days? Last year at this time I was preparing for a giant leap of a cliff as we packed up to move without any sort of direction and here I am a year later. What could possibly happen this year?

I need to buy that Eight Ball.

Tune in, my BFF’s, and buckle up…it’s about to be a bumpy ride as we fly around my bubble map of dreams.

My cat is waiting for me. So is my to-do list.

“Which one will I choose?”

I ask myself…not the Eight Ball.

P.S. It’s getting close to a New Year – have you thought about a word that will become your theme word for the year? Mine is looking like it might be “hospitality” and I’ll tell ya about it in the next post. Sometimes when you’re striving, you’re not thriving.

Happy Chaotic New Year BFF’s!

 

time for an update on the awkward bird

By In blog — October 30, 2018

Hello my favorite BFF’s!

Welcome to my new BFF’s and it’s good to see my old BFF’s. I figured it would be a good time to update you on what is happening with “The Awkward Bird”, especially if you know that we’ve moved, which was supposed to bring me closer to my bubble map of dreams.

While we were preparing to move, I read something that compared big scary moments in life to diving off a cliff. That is exactly what it felt like to me. We had been brought to the edge of the cliff and were about ready to jump, not knowing what the landing would be like. It’s not my first cliff diving experience, but each one is different and big and scary. Shortly after I read that comparison, a friend sent me a card that mentioned jumping off a cliff and our net would be waiting for us. I love those connections in life!

We jumped and moved over the summer months, but we didn’t exactly land.

Not yet.

We can see a net below us but we’re not close enough to reach it.

Not yet.

Our shirts got stuck on a branch that was hanging out about three quarters of the way down and we’re flopping around a bit. Luckily, we’re close to the ground, we just can’t quite figure out how to land.

If you are new around these parts, “The Awkward Bird” is me. It’s also my website. And it’s also my future country shoppe and any other wild dream I can think up. I began this adventure a few years ago as my husband and I faced some future “forks in the road” and I have slowly grown. The time has come where our youngest wee one is now in kindergarten and we jumped off the cliff to make a move. Those were the two major prerequisites for the next steps of “The Awkward Bird” country shoppe.

But…the best laid plans usually change and we find ourselves in transition and not yet settled from our recent move. We’re currently renting, which has us in a stalemate, and our major important priority is to find a family home to purchase or build, but alas – nothing has come up yet. Being patient has never been one of my strengths.

So, we wait.

Well…what’s up with “the bird”, you wonder?

Back story: About a year ago, my website was hacked and all of the brilliantly witty and in-my-mind award-winning content that I had created was gone. Not a crumb of it was left, not even from my previous website (“Just Like Perfect!”). After a few weeks of working with my giant world-wide hosting site I realized that my content wasn’t coming back. So, now what? Was it a sign that I stink as a blogger and the world needed to be rid of my content forever? Was it a sign that my often overwhelming world was in need of an overhaul and I was supposed to give up this piece because it is time consuming and I am needed elsewhere?

After some deliberation, I knew that the world needed me and my blog and I really needed you and it.

I decided to build my website again and keep moving forward, but at a slower pace, and just hang out in limbo with it until the time would come where I could begin to give it the direction I had been waiting for. It was the last year my youngest would be by my side on a daily basis since the school day would gobble him up soon enough and I knew that we had a big move in the works. I wanted to savor the “last” moments in my world at that time because changes were a comin’.

A year later, which is now, I am able to start looking for local website design and hosting companies. I never want to spend three weeks on a phone wondering why no one can find my website content when I pay for backups, but they would surely be able to dredge up the sordid events and indiscretions of my youth – if I had any, that is…which would have happened even before the internet ever existed. (I’m 47. Let’s just get that out there.) I have slightly researched local marketing and branding companies. I am looking locally for a physical place to maybe set up a studio and warehouse of sorts, to house the inventory for the online portion of my country shoppe. And to be a local “pick-up” place for shoppers in my area so they could avoid shipping fees if they so desired. My house would be too messy. You can’t go there. I don’t want to clean my bathroom every day.

I’m still surrounded by a few moving boxes and I have no idea where we’ll hang our soon-to-be-needed snow pants and winter coats. Our rental has very few closets and storage so I’ve had to put on my design hat to come up with some solutions. Look out summer gear, winter gear is taking over. My horizontal spaces are still covered, but I’m beginning to think that has more to do with me than it does that all of the places I have lived lack enough horizontal space and storage.

My eyes have been looking longingly at a place in town for a future site for my “real” country shoppe. It’s just land at the moment because the diner that was there is now gone. That means I’d be starting from scratch. Scary. Expensive. It’ll have to wait because we need a house first. Well, and the land is not for sale.

In the meantime, I’m slowly researching other ideas to get me up and running and moving. My husband cleverly surmised that whatever we start with, needs to include some kind of food offering. He’s right. But that opens up a giant can of worms as requirements for offering food are much different than the requirements for offering retail items. Another world I need to research and flounder around in. Scary. Expensive.

So, my BFF’s, that’s where “the bird” stands at the moment. Closer. But not yet there.

And…not to be the one to add stress to your moments, did you realize that the “holidays” are almost upon us? The time is NOW to get some balance in that there to-do list of ours or we’ll be swallowed up whole only to be spit out in January wondering what happened and if we missed anything.

Go forth, my favorite BFF’s, and make moments that matter. Life is busy, ya know.

Aaryne

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

more bon-bons please

By In blog — September 26, 2018

Hello.

Is it me you’re looking for?

I’ve been thinking about you all summer and wondering what kind of summer fun you were up to. My hot summer weather started late but it has lasted a long time. It has been a super hot and rainy season and the trees and grass are still very green, not fall-like at all. Although a couple of the trees in our new digs are sticklers for routine so they have dropped some leaves despite what their peers are doing.

This was the summer that we made a move toward a new home and a new adventure. One that would bring me closer to my bubble map of dreams, including starting my Awkward Bird Country Shoppe.

Panic. Excitement. Fear. Giddy. Panic. Disbelief. Thankfulness. Wow. Pinch me. Panic. Right on track. A lot of work.

Just a few of the feelings that crop up at any given moment during the day.

You may have noticed that the menu up top looks like you might have the option to shop. “Perhaps, just maybe, did she open her online shoppe finally after all that yakking about it?”

No, not yet. But…I was playing around with a feature that is available to me and my old website here wondering if that might be the answer.

I need more research and at this point, I am thinking of leaving it to the pros so that I can be sure I am offering a secure and wonderful shopping experience. Baby steps but they’re steps.

Yes, there are still packing boxes in my world. I was planning to be done with them by now but our adventures went in directions we had not planned on so I do not see untangling myself from that relationship any time soon, and some days, I feel like we may never part ways. We decided to rent for many reasons, so that puts us in a temporary state of living for an undetermined length of time until our “forever home” surfaces. Until then, I’m sorting through boxes to find the things we need to exist and we will store the rest. That just means the boxes are hanging out in their own rental waiting for me. Forgotten but not gone.

Scary.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Our move was full of blog-worthy content but I’ll save that story for another moment. I can’t relive it right now, it’s just too fresh. Various issues with movers, crazy hot humid weather, multiple road trips and a week long visit from the food poisoning fairy are just a few of the moments that joined us on our move adventure. Being that I am still trying to settle in and make a home, even a temporary one, I find myself craving a bit of a reprieve from “the move”. What I really want is to eat more bon-bons.

All of my children are now in school full-time and I had planned on taking the first few moments of that change of season to do everything else but work.  Instead, I cried, and then began unpacking, shuffling things around and created the giant to-do list that comes with a move. It’s been ten years that I have had a wee one by my side most of the day so this is a bittersweet change and a big change for many reasons. Once my country shoppe dream begins, I will be a super busy gal again navigating a completely foreign world.

It’s time for a bon-bon.

I know that whatever season of life you are in, the back to September routine changes for most people and it includes structure and expectations that we were able to let go of over the summer months. You will have your own to-do list that is much larger than you care to think about.

Let’s escape and eat bon-bons together. There’s nothing like the pleasure of “putting your feet up” and doing whatever pleases you to avoid your to-do list for a while. It’s a way to ensure that you make moments that matter every day, which will add years to your life and a smile to your face every day. Really.

I have been able to add an almost daily walk to my routine because one of the promises to myself with my kid-less time was to get back to a regular exercise routine that often went by the wayside when I needed to fit it in at night while my kids slept. I’m pooped at night! On my walks, I daydream about the kinds of bon-bons I want to eat instead of working on my to-do list.

When I open my box of bon-bons, the biggest one that is covered  with all sorts of goodness, is a whole day of nothing work-related. I’ll need to work up to that one because there is just too much to do right now. But, I’ve discovered that there is a sweet pleasure in the teeny bon-bons that we can sneak in, maybe even more pleasure than having a whole day to goof off.

Ooooo, look at that one! I want the vanilla bon-bon with some delicious nuts just waiting for me to take a bite. That’s me and my books sitting outside on these end of summer and early fall days just taking in whatever nature sends my way while I get lost in the words on the pages in front of me. That’s a staple bon-bon and one I need more often than I allow.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

The smooth and creamy hazelnut bon-bon in the corner of my bon-bon box is me doing one of my favorite art hobbies like drawing or painting. Creating a picture for a new note card or fabric design is delicious!

See that deep dark chocolate bon-bon over there? It’s coffee-flavored with an espresso bean tucked inside. That bon-bon is a moment spent savoring some chicken wings and other “bad for you” snacks while watching the TV shows that make me happy – Fixer Upper and The Pioneer Woman.

Tucked right in the middle of my bon-bon box is a pretty treat rolled in sprinkles. A few hours spent meandering around a cute little village to look in all of the cozy mom and pop shoppes can send me to the moon. It’s also a wonderful way to spy some great presents for my gifting list because these shoppes often have gifts that you don’t see in every store. Fabulous! There’s probably a little cafe or diner right around the corner too when I find myself famished from all of my shopping adventures and ready to nosh.

One of my most favorite bon-bons (have I said that already?) is to go to the movies solo and tuck myself up in a seat with a respectably-sized bucket of extra buttery popcorn and a Diet Pepsi. Maybe some pizza or a hot dog too if I feel so inclined. Napkins are optional. My favorite movies are usually kid-related, probably because of my youthful age and demeanor…ahem, and the one on my radar right now is The House With A Clock In It’s Walls.

Okay, now I really need a bon-bon. There are just a few more things to complete on my to-do list in order to free up a moment for me to hang around eating bon-bons. You need to make room for some bon-bons in your days as well. You know what they say…”All work and no play makes an awkward bird dull.”

What’s in your box of bon-bons?

 

 

summer traditions

By In blog — July 02, 2018

So, I know you’ve been wondering what is happening in my world. You probably find yourself thinking, “What is going on with Aaryne, The Awkward Bird? Is she still packing boxes?”.

I found this pic on my phone. My kiddos will ask to use my phone and take pics once in a while. I’m not surprised that boxes showed up!

Yes, I am still packing boxes but that activity is dwindling. When I started purchasing boxes, I cleverly decided to try to use sizes that I might also use as shipping boxes when I start my online Awkward Bird Country Shoppe over this next year. Then I would be able to reuse them and reduce waste. But I soon realized that my boxes are labeled with the box contents, and I label on three sides of the box because it never fails that the one side you label is covered and inaccessible by other boxes when you need to read what is in the box. Now, someone will get their delightful shipment of goodies from The Awkward Bird online shoppe in a box labeled with my unmentionables.

Awkward.

We have some good ideas though to jazz up the boxes and hide our packing inventory lists.

Summer is here in some fashion, whether it’s triggered by the sunny warm weather you have at your place, the end of school, or the picnics and BBQ’s filling up your calendar. You may also have a special road trip or vacation coming up that signals summer is here.

Or it may be triggered solely by the calendar saying it’s so.

Being a seasonal girl, I’ve been waiting for summer weather to prove to me that it really is summertime.

I’ve been thinking of our summer traditions and there is something so comforting in those moments that we look forward to every year when summer hits. Our weather has been very gray and chilly and wet up to this point, and it made me realize that although there are other signs of summer, despite the weather, my bones can’t catch up to the seasonal change until the weather is warm.

“Shorts and flip flop” warm EVERY day.

Right now, we flip flop between warm and cold days, hanging out more on the blue end of the thermometer. But, we are enjoying a heat wave now and I’ll take it. It feels like summer.

We’ve been to the beach.

We strolled along for a beach walk and came back to find our towels and beach bag tossed about, wet and sandy. I immediately suspected that bullies came along and kicked sand on our stuff but soon realized that we had plopped everything too close to the water and a wave came and sullied our belongings. My magazine and book were completely water logged and my beach bag was filled with sand. Our towels were a wet sandy mess. Sigh.

We have enjoyed watching thunderstorms roll in.

I love to go outside and watch it all happen.

And I hang out as long as I can, then I retreat inside.

I just love storms. But not every day.

I also messed with my hair again.

I decided that I wanted to use more of my natural plain brown hair, and just brighten it up around my face instead of using highlights over most of my hair as I have done in the past. I bet you’ve been wondering about that too. There is a very slight sprinkling of gray hairs showing up, but I’ve been assured that they look like blond highlights. You need to surround yourself with people who will tell you those things.

Well, I highlighted too many bangs and the color stopped lightening at bright orange, so I needed to repair that fiasco with a brown semi-permanent hair color all over my head. I was patient enough to wait a few weeks for it to wash out and blend in, then I highlighted just a few teensy weensy hairs around my face and it worked. I feel like “me” again. But, this time with more brown hair, my natural color, and I am enjoying it. In about a month or two I will become restless with it again, but I’ll take the current contentedness.

This was pre-messing around with my hair. I found this on my phone too. Kids.

I think I was babysitting my son’s doll. Either that or getting into my stance for Sumo Wrestling.

We began our annual smoke-out-the-neighbors campfires and had s’mores already.

And, yes, I have been able to snap a few of my favorite sky pics.

Love my wide open sky.

We have our annual road trip to NY this summer. Yay!

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Our local McDonald’s has this on the bathroom door and I had to put in in my file of fun and clever ideas for my own shoppe someday.

I also spend most of my road trip time in the bathrooms so it is a fun nod to my road trip moments.

Yay road trip!

Yay summer!

Yay traditions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so what’s fun for me?

By In blog — May 30, 2018

My youngest has been saying this a lot since he graduated from preschool a few weeks before his siblings will finish up school for the year. The problem for him, is that they have lots of fun end-of-year school activities going on that they are excited about and he is just stuck home with mom and her mile long to-do list.

So, every day he wants to know what will be fun for him. I had to break it to him that not every day can be full of fun wild activities and that his siblings would prefer to be stuck home with mom.

But, yesterday, I asked him what would be fun for him. He suggested that we go to the beach.

So, we made a deal that mom needed to get some things accomplished in the morning and then we would have a picnic at the beach for lunch.

We are blessed to live close to a few beaches, the closest being a lighthouse beach on Lake Michigan. It’s the kind of place that always feels like we’re on vacation when we go there and we rarely ever go. It’s less than five minutes away. Why is it that the most wonderful gems right in your own neighborhood get forgotten?

Oh ya.

Because there’s more to some adventures than meets the eye.

If you have ever gone to the beach with kids, you know there is nothing relaxing about it. And just try to tell them it is time to go home. I dare ya.

But, my littlest muffin and I ventured to the beach and we both had fun.

Even though he had to use the restroom right after we got out all of our picnic foods. “My bad” for not taking him there first.

He calls it the ocean and that is exactly what it looks like.

And the wonderful scent of lilacs was fun for me.

He enjoyed his day and so far today, I have not heard him ask, “So, what is fun for me?”.

i love inventory

By In blog — May 21, 2018

That’s right. I love inventory.

There.

I’ve said it and I feel free.

In these days where the current trend is to get rid of your stuff and to live meagerly in order to fully thrive, I’ve discovered that I love my stuff. All of it.

I love options and choices and selection. I love rotating my linens for the season and my mood.

I love changing the pictures on the wall seasonally.

I love selecting my morning coffee mug

and my dish towel for the day.

This is one of my newest designs.

I love this design too.

Today is a gray day so I defiantly selected a bright yellow dish towel. Take that, sixth rainy cold gray day in a row.

I love when my neighbor makes us her Rum Cake.

You all know I’ve been packing boxes for an impending move since January, I’ve said it enough. (And by the way, I am sick of packing boxes. That’s the downside of loving inventory.) We have a lot of stuff. But I can make a case for keeping everything that we have, and if I can’t, I do purge it. And that, my friends, is the key to keeping the stuff that we have. Do we love it? If “yes”, it stays. Could we use it down the road? If, “yes”, it stays. There will always be another time to purge.

I’m a purger by nature but I’m also a practical country gal who doesn’t like to throw things out. I’m always thinking there might be another use for something. How do you balance those two sides of yourself? (A question I ask of me a lot because there are so many sides to me.) When we moved out to Wisconsin, we purged everything that didn’t fit into our apartment or our life style at that time. Then we eventually bought a house and it looked vacant even though we had moved in all of our stuff. The cute little bistro table we bought to replace the family-sized boring table we brought with us from our house in NY was now not big enough to seat our new growing family at our new house in WI. There are more stories like that and I learned from that experience to not be so hasty to purge. Money doesn’t grow on trees ya know, and now we needed to replace many of the things that we had purged. I scolded myself more than once for needing to purchase something that we had already had, but let go.

With my dream of opening a country shoppe, I have held on to every little table and furnishing that may help start me out on that adventure to cut the costs of trying to start a new business. We might not need it in our house anymore but we might need it in my shoppe. So, it stays. Or maybe I will re-purpose it to sell it in my shoppe, so, it stays.

The toys in our house get used and are loved. I purge the few things that no one has any real interest in, but more often than not, we play with it. Or maybe we will play with it as we get a bit older. So, it stays. I love to pull out a bin of toys when someone says they are bored and watch them excitedly rediscover the things in that bin and what they come up with. That’s how I look when I rediscover a stash of table cloths or tea cups that I had tucked away. Giddy!

I find it hard to purge something that we already own, just for the sake of paring down our belongings, because I know that there is a 50/50 chance we would be purchasing it again. Keeping it allows me to say, “No, we do not need that”, and that is a fun thing to say.

The key for me is to keep only what we love, or would be useful, and to store most of it, only displaying what we will use at that moment. I love my stuff but I can’t live with it all out at one time. My living space needs to look like I have purged and that we are living a meager life and thriving because of it. But there’s a giant stash hidden away. Now, it is in boxes, but it was on shelves in my basement so it looked like a stockroom. Heaven.

Whenever I get to open my boxes and rediscover my treasures, I’ll be like a kid in a candy store. And I think the only reason I want to open a country shoppe is so I can have more inventory…

 

starter spaces & studios

By In blog — May 01, 2018

There is a magazine called “Where Women Create” and I have enjoyed it over the past few years as I started creating on a more regular basis. They share the stories of women who have worked hard to be in a place where creating is more than a hobby and the spaces that they create in are varied, but wonderful. Often the kind that one fantasizes about moving into someday.

I’m fascinated by people’s stories, especially their journeys and their process. As I looked at all of the creating spaces that were shared in this magazine, I found myself wanting more of the pictures and stories of their spaces that they first started in and wondering if their current spaces really looked that fantastic on a daily basis.

I know mine doesn’t.

Where do you create? What does that space look like? Is it solely for creating or is it a mixed use space? Does it make you happy no matter what it looks like or do you crave something different? Do you have matching bins? Do you keep it clean? Can you even find anything? Do you have to pay your bills there too? Are you in a corner, a basement, or an attic or even a closet? Were you able to take over a whole room? Do you have a dedicated space with enough room for you and all of your tools?

My current creating space houses my many creative adventures – drawing and painting in various forms, photography, writing and book creating, for starters, as well as my computer, because it assists me in my creative adventures. I also pay my bills here, check in on my daily runnings of Domestics, order items online, work on projects such as photo albums, write thank you notes, and plenty of other tasks. My family often sits here to use my computer and I always find stray items from my kids hanging out on my desk.

I have a desk and some shelves in a room that I share with my kids and my cat and their hobbies, as well as a TV and a small couch. That is my creative space. I affectionately call it “my studio”.

It’s messy. All we need is a bathroom, a fridge and a hot plate and we could call it a studio apartment. We are jam-packed into this room and we love it.

But I can definitely be found fantasizing about a “real” studio. A space that is large and airy where there is always available table space. Maybe even a patio with a cozy chair where I sit with my coffee to get grounded before I start creating. In this fantasy creative space, each creative adventure of mine has its own space and every tool has its own place. I have hidden storage for the projects that I am working on that I can’t just pick up and put away yet. I even have some cozy room for my kids to be in this “real” studio with me. There are lots of windows and I am surrounded by things that make me happy and inspire me. Ahhhhh…dreamy.

In reality, would I ever be able to actually do real creative work and keep it looking like I never worked in there? I doubt it. But I know that there are people out there who can pull this off. Are you one of them?

A theme that I noticed as I read the articles of the women who were highlighted in this magazine and their journeys to the wonderful studio spaces that they had moved into was the complete love that they felt for the first places they created in, their starter spaces. Those spaces were often just small corners or rooms in their homes that they carved out to create in. They were messy, not full of matching bins and where they might need to tend to other tasks too. I know that I absolutely love this small squished in over-worked creative space that I am in right now.

As we prepare to move, I find myself looking at new places wondering where my next creating spot will be or if there is even room for one. The super cool fun places have outbuildings that could be mine, all mine. But I know I would still want a space in my home too so I could be connected to my family when they are home and I need to create or am inspired to do so. So many questions. Is there a bright space for my food photography? Do I have room to start my online country shoppe and store the items that I will sell? Is there a dedicated space that can always be ready instead of me having to clean and clear before I can get creative? Why did I have to be a dreamer? Can I really raise chickens with their pasty butt and all the other scary things my chicken books are advising me on? Will all of the clear lidded containers I purchased really make my kids pick up their toys in the next house like I believe?

Do I really want to keep my messy roommates?

It’s my Happy Place but I do enjoy wondering what my next space will look like.

If you want to share your creative space and the juicy details on what it really looks like on a daily basis, add a comment here or head over to the The Awkward Bird Facebook page and share your pics. (I showed you mine, now you show me yours!)

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/awkwardbird/

recharging is for the birds

By In blog — April 17, 2018

In my last post, I mentioned a book I was reading called, “The Joy of Doing Nothing”, that discusses the benefits of taking time each day to find ways to detach and well, do nothing. By doing so, you would increase your productivity and there would be positive benefits to your mental health.

I’ve been taking these daily breaks for a long time now and I break them into two categories. For me, they are either to recharge or to pause and notice the moments going on around me. We get so busy being busy that we forget to notice the daily tidbits that happen all around us. Those tidbits are what changes the day from being the same old thing – get up, work, get supper, finish up work and go to bed – to being a day full of things to talk about that are beyond the grumbles of the regular routine.

For me, in this season of life, the early morning hours are my recharge time, or moments to do nothing. I’m fried at the end of the day and I’m aware of the to-do list that did not get accomplished by the end of each day, so I would use the evening hours for accomplishing, not recharging, if I stayed up.

But in the early morning hours, I have a whole day ahead of me with the fresh promise of accomplishing everything I will set out to, even if I never have before. I still believe. The early morning hours fill me with the slow energy of the world waking up around me. In the colder months, I sit in the dark with my coffee and look out a window listening to the heater keep our home warm. My cat is always by my side purring. And that is it. No other sounds from my home. My brain needs that quiet to recharge.

Winter feels like it is lasting longer than normal this year and I have noticed that I am antsy to get outside in the mornings. My favorite way to recharge in the morning is to sit outside with my coffee and listen to the world as it wakes up around me. As luck would have it, we were blessed to have a few teaser warm days recently and I brought my recharging self outside on one of the warm mornings and my soul hit new levels of recharging. Being out in nature, even if it is just barely sitting outside my back door tucked in a bathrobe trying to hide from all of the new residences going up around me so I can keep pretending we live in a field, is my fave. The birds were as happy as I was and were incredibly noisy, as they always seem to be in springtime. It was loud. But it was wonderful. It wasn’t noise that required anything of me so I could sit with my coffee and soak it all in. And it was warmer. Ahhhhh.

Recharging is for the birds. I needed them.

Then it snowed.

And it iced.

And I lamented my forced retreat back into the closed up house to recharge. Still more winter ahead.

But then I discovered that the birds were still tweeting outside, even with the snow.

I have been housebound with a sick wee one and he felt that he needed fresh air (his mother’s kid for sure) so I opened a window. As I sat in the moment with him, I could hear the birds tweeting away. That connection to the birds and the outside world was a great recharge moment when I was feeling a bit cooped up.

Then he fell asleep and I eventually was freezing because I couldn’t close the window and make noise to wake him up. He was toasty warm under blankets and he was actually breathing well and not sniffly, so it seemed that the fresh air really was what he needed. I wasn’t about to change that because I was a bit of a weenie.

Alas…there will be more snow tomorrow so I’ll be snuggled up listening to the heater in my house as I recharge for a bit longer but that moment outside recharging with the birds is where I am headed soon. And since I still have a sick wee one with me, we may open that window again for some fresh air and I bet those birds will still be out there tweeting. Apparently, they are warriors not weenies.

Where will you recharge today?

a moment to notice

By In blog — April 03, 2018

There’s a reason that my tagline, “Life’s Busy. Make moments that matter.” is my tagline. I learned a long time ago that I never stop being busy so that meant I needed to change how I made moments or they were never going to happen. Especially the small moments.

I used to think that once I was past the busy moment, then I would have a moment to notice and enjoy the things I had put off to the side while I was busy. But eventually my brain noticed that I kept being busy and kept missing out. So, I trained myself to pause every now and then to be present in my day or when something came up that needed to be savored.

It’s been a long time now that I have been in training for noticing my moments and most days it happens automatically, but I do still need to rally the voices in my head periodically to keep on track.

Preparing a home and a family for a future move definitely falls into the “busy” category and it would be easy to let my moments pass so I can “git ‘r done”. But then, life will certainly be busy on the other end of the move.

A book that I recently picked up and have started reading goes right along with my desire to notice moments. It’s called, “The Joy of Doing Nothing”, by Rachel Jonat.

I’ve noticed that it’s impossible for me to keep up the busy pace of daily life if I do not pepper in moments to recharge, or in her words, do nothing. Taking some alone time in the morning before every one wakes up to sit quietly with my coffee is one of my fave ways to recharge. When the weather gets warmer, it is even more fun to sit outside and listen as nature wakes up around me and soak in the energy of the world. I also like to take time at night as the world is tucking itself in for the evening, again, especially when I can get outside. I’ve been a weenie and do not go out as often this year while it is cold, but I have been known to bundle up and sit outside with my coffee too. About every three weeks I fantasize about having a whole day to myself to recharge. I get to a point where I want to move at my own pace and not have to say a word for a whole day. Definitely a fantasy.

My kids were the ones to notice that the Robins had returned to our front yard tree. I had seen them, but didn’t really notice them.

But, in my defense, it’s still winter-cold here so what are the Robins doing here already? I’m still in winter mode and do not even comprehend that spring could be peeking at us.

They love to eat the berries on this tree, which is the whole reason I wanted this tree.

I have noticed that my beloved sky and cloud pics have dropped off. And it’s because there are many more houses sprouting up around us now that enter my picture and cut off my skyline, so the pics are not all that amazing.

Plus, I do not like to post pics of people or their homes or their belongings when they do not know about it. That feels like a big “no-no” to me.

I did notice that there is a big difference in the statement, “My son and I were painting.”

I actually love to paint rooms in my home so this was relaxing to me, aside from fearing that my paint would be interfered with in some capacity and cause a mess. That paint color is called “Cottage Lane”. My first home was black and white, way before the current trend hit, but I ended up with a blush-colored carpet because I had to buy from the clearance section and white was not an option. Blush was as close as I could get to white. That’s where I first started to realize that white was not as cozy as I liked but blush created a warmth that I need in my home, and is still a neutral to work with my desire to change out my decor often.

This paint color is very neutral but has a sunny peachy tone to it. On a sunny day, the happy feeling it surrounds us with is wonderful. But the amazing trick is that on a gray day, the walls still are happy and cozy and warm. Perfect.

I have noticed that the color I have been enjoying the most recently is yellow.

My yellow dish towel is my fave.

The little yellow lights in my kitchen for ambiance are yellow. Love them. (Those potatoes are waiting for my oil-less fryer. Can you say “homemade fries”?)

The glow from behind the bunnies in the forest is yellow.

The sunbeams in my house are more vibrant and yellow.

I am loving yellow right now.

I noticed this nut in a heart shape on our front lawn while I was standing outside freezing as I supervised a kiddo on the road. I actually passed it by, then decided to go back and get it. Yes, I could leave it for a squirrel but I’m a bit of a squirrel looking for a nut these days so I feel qualified to have this nut.

I noticed that the nagging question I have had in my head as I have worked all along on my cookbook was finally answered at a time in my life when I can handle it. I am using a site called Blurb to create my book because they offer an amazing template that allows me to basically design each page as I want to. Heaven. But it is expensive to print a copy of the book and I always wondered how “stuck” I would be to have to keep my book with Blurb once it was created, mostly because of the price. But, it was the only option I had available to me and I decided to just dive in and deal with issues as they arose. That time for issues is now and I am in a much better place to handle pondering my next moves than I would have been when I started this book.

Currently, I am working on a journal for you and it involved me taking my self-publishing adventure to the next level. My coloring book for Big People was like being on the Easy hiking trail. This project moved me to the Intermediate hiking trail because I am creating the book on Blurb but looking to self-publish it on another site. As I worked through some technical questions with their customer service, I learned of the limitations of Blurb if you want to print and sell many copies of your work. It’s expensive, at least for the projects that I am working on using their tools, unless you can justify printing a crazy volume.

I am able to switch gears and try recreating my journal book on my own computer and will see how that fares. But this trail will not handle my cookbook. THAT is on the Skull & Crossbones trail.

I became excited at this new turn of events because I have been toying with the idea of getting the creative software needed to create books for my very own self. For a long time, the learning curve was just too much for me to handle, but now, in light of these new developments, I am pushed for new solutions and this seemed like a good time. But, alas, I have not kept up with the speed in which technology changes – as always – and am learning that I cannot just purchase this software anymore, but need to pay for a monthly subscription to have this Adobe software. This practical and cheap country gal cannot wrap her head around needing to pay a monthly fee for the software just yet. At the moment, I am busy. I will not be spending much time on the computer working on my cookbook for a few more months so paying for the service at this moment is wasteful.

But…on the other end of this move starts the journey to my online shoppe and the need for marketing materials and time for developing my cookbook and other book projects. So I am tabling this need for adjusting to technology and will most likely be ready for it in a few months.

Although I noticed that I will never be happy about paying a monthly fee to use a software program.

What will you notice when you do nothing?

 

blind faith

By In blog — March 14, 2018

My husband heard this on the radio recently and it has become the tagline for our days – “It won’t be easier, but it will be better.”

We have started discussing the next chapter in our family’s book and it is exciting and scary and completely fueled on blind faith. The adventure would start with a move, and then all the things that happen up to and after that. Nothing about it has been easy.

In fact, I partly blame it for a giant headache that has been plaguing me. The kind of headache where medicine doesn’t seem to help and now your stomach feels yucky because you have had too much medicine. The kind of headache that throbs to tell you exactly what pressure points you should push to dull the pain. Ahhh, a slight bit of relief. But the minute you take your fingers off the pressure points, the pain comes back. Then it becomes the kind of headache where you wish you had something that would keep pushing on the pressure points so that you didn’t have to. So, your desperate pained brain gets clever and you come up with a country solution that your dad would be proud of and your husband would be happy to never ever walk in on.

It’s not lost on me that my shirt, from my husband just so you know, speaks of my awkwardness as does my phone cover.

So, adding a hair clip, with some paper underneath (which was later switched to toilet paper because the paper was too slide-y) to my nose provided pressure to those points. And the hard buttons on a reversed headlamp pushed on those points. Ahhh…

I’m past the worst part of the headache now but every step of this new chapter threatens to bring it back.

Remember – “It won’t be easier, but it will be better.”

Yes, okay.

Perfect is boring.

Yes, okay.

I’ve been having a recurring dream where I enter a dark room with some other people that I know (I can’t remember who they are now that I am awake) and I use the light from my cell phone to help us see a teeny tiny bit. It’s not really scary, just more of an unknown that we need to navigate.

No help needed to interpret that dream.

The term “blind faith” makes me think of strong will, trust and confidence. Then, when I am in a moment of life that requires me to have blind faith, I have none of those qualities and I want to hide, turn back the clock and take back every dream related thing I said and did that got me into this mess.

Every so often, I spend time with the voices in my head that speak to me like “mean girls”.

“Do you really believe that’s gonna work out? A ha ha ha ha ha! Just go back to living a normal life girl, you’re on a path to nowhere. That’s never going to happen.”

Luckily, my blind faith comes with the feeling that “I……..must…….keep…….going.” All of the alternatives are actually worse than putting everything I have on blind faith and forging ahead.

The tricky part about it all is that blind faith could have led you exactly where you wanted to go a thousand times in the past, but it’s possible that it will fail you this time.

Then what? Or maybe it’s better to say, so what?

We know that a move at some point is a definite so I have work to do. When the chips are down, I start packing.

Or I read about all the adventures waiting for me on the other side of this headache that are all new hobbies and will surely give me a new headache.

Or I plug along on the projects that I have committed to finishing this year, and especially before a move. I may never find them again if I have to pack up mid-project.

And I head off on culinary adventures that are far less risky, but no less thrilling. I’m late to the Sriracha Sauce party, as usual, and mostly because I don’t know how to pronounce it, but nonetheless, I have arrived.

A daring move by the spouse at a restaurant recently moved us into the Sriracha World.

He jumped.

I followed.

Our adventure juices are flowing now baby.

And when it all gets to be too much, I always have a fall back.

Sunbeams.

“Is there room for momma on that couch? My world is too much for me right now kitty-kat.”

Or homemade french fries.

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“Life’s tough when you’re tiny. Protect all our children.”