Thursday, November 3, 2016

October Recap...Where does the time go???

November?  Already!?  Where did October go?  I know I felt pretty busy in October, but it wasn't until November arrived that I realized just how busy we'd all been.  The weather changed, cars got repairs (heck, a car got stolen and found - Valiant's girlfriend's car, to be specific!), a room got painted, I made it to book club for the first time in months(!), dogs got sick, dogs got better, sprinklers got blown out in anticipation of the freeze, I even covered for a friend at her work so she could get some much needed time off.  Obviously, I didn't take pictures of it all, but I did take some random photos:

I put up a few of my favorite Halloween decorations, but with no little kids at home, I didn't feel like going all out.  I have three of these wrought iron spiders in various sizes and just love them...this is the smallest one:

I also put up our ping pong ball bats...they just make me smile whenever I see them.

Not bad for a ping pong ball and googly eyes!!
I got some awesome bird feeders to replace the generic plastic ones I've had forever...and, as you can see by the picture I just took, the birds are fans and empty them quickly as they prepare for winter. 
So pretty when they're being swarmed by birds...
I even managed to get a new barbecue cover on Superman's barbecue before the three weeks of rain came...the leaves?  They have to wait until tomorrow...I did the front yard today.

Ready for winter!!
I did a lot of sewing.  Some of it was sewing for my friend Cassi at Piping and Pleats...and a c couple of the projects were incredibly large cushions.  Seriously large.  I had my sister in stitches on Skype watching me stuff the cushion below into its say it was stiff would be an understatement.  I was wrestling the sucker into submission!  Check out this before and after:

Just to give you an idea of how large this is:  That cushion is lying across a couch and each of the
 floor tiles visible in the before picture are 13x13" tiles.  The cushion was large!!
I finally pulled the trigger and bought some embroidery software to enable me to do more with the embroidery functions on the Brother SE400 my family bought me four years ago.  I went with Sew What Pro for $65 because I don't even know what I don't know, so I couldn't see a reason to spend more on Embrilliance.  At some point, I might switch over, but for now, I'll see how it goes.

I love binding PDF documents - software instructions, pattern instructions...binding
makes them so easy to use.  They lay flat when they're open for reference during a project.
After quite a bit of trial and error, I decided to go for it and embellished a couple of toddler sized Halloween t-shirts for Aunt S's baby first time embroidering something other than names on anything and my first time embroidering on clothing.  It wasn't easy, but I was pretty pleased with the results.  (Plus, toddlers aren't perfectionists!!)

Ruined Cash's first shirt, otherwise both would have been and learn...
In the middle of it all, I had a birthday and Superman and Charming got together to get me these:
Who doesn't love red Vans?
Oh, and my sister requested some Halloween pillowcases made from some of the most fabulous fabric...the pictures she sent me didn't do it soon as the fabric arrived, I was itching to get the pillowcases made and shipped off to her.  They were such a fun project!  (And it's really awesome when your family likes what you sew enough to ask for more!)

Best fabric ever!!  (It reminds me of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.)
And, as October wound down, Buttercup and I helped close down our beloved CrossFit 509.  It has been our gym home for five and a half years and I was heartbroken when the owner had to make the difficult decision to close it down.  Still, when you're lucky enough to have your gym become part of your family, you help with even the sad stuff.  When all the equipment is gone, you're just left with just a sad shell of a building...very sad and weird and all of that...even Honey was bummed...
I had to chuckle at the scuff marks above the blue stripe...wall ball marks!  Bahaha!
We finished off October by going to dinner on the kids got too old for trick or treating, we started a new tradition...this is our 6th year doing it...PF Changs was pretty tasty.

There you go...some of the stuff that went on in the Nagle5 world in October.  Now I'm ready...let November roll on in!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When You're Depending on the Internet for Pretty Much Everything...

...and your internet starts having a problem the day before your IT professional husband takes off for far off places, it quickly becomes a problem.  We use the internet for television, we use the internet for music, we use the internet for shopping, we use the internet for getting library books (because we're lazy that way), we use the internet for banking and paying bills, we use the internet for our landline, and we use the internet for, well, surfing the internet...seriously, we use the internet for everything.  When I say "internet problem", I actually mean the internet keeps going down completely, as in, completely not there!!  I tell you, we've become so spoiled, I was looking at my Roku-hooked-up television and asking it, "what do you mean, "Not Connected"?  We were just watching Defying the Nazis on PBS!!!"  (Or, the finale of American Ninja Warrior!!, or that new show The Good Place!! -- it really depends upon which night we're talking about here...)  Trust me, though, it was a PROBLEM.

So, in addition to not whining myself when I discovered we had a big internet problem, I had to be mature and parental when confronted with a teenage daughter who WAS NOT HAPPY about the internet problems. (The internet problem required her to use a lot more data on her phone and her speed was throttled back!!!!)    Interestingly, your son doesn't care--he just uses the internet at his girlfriend's apartment - problem solved.  Sigh.  Anyway, when you discover the problem is, in fact, at your end and NOT at the CenturyLink end, it becomes an annoying problem which YOU have to solve.

Fresh out of the Amazon box--still in cellophane--waiting for Superman.
 Actually, you just tell your husband who is off adventuring in far off lands that there is a BIG INTERNET PROBLEM and he has to fix was in the marriage vows he said all those years ago and adventuring doesn't absolve him of that responsibility.  (No, seriously, it was in the vows...check the fine print.  Never mind that we were married long before the internet was a thing.  The "handle the internet problems" vow is right that after the "fix all the car problems" vow.  Check it'll see that I'm right.)

The cellophane is off and, if you look carefully, you can see my cell phone in the background off to the right and you can see there is an active call on the screen.  This was the part where Superman was starting to tell me what to do.
When you tell your IT professional husband that you're having a problem with the internet, he does magical things from those previously mentioned far off lands, logs into your home modem, verifies the problem is, in fact, on your end (because he's pretty sure you don't really know what is going on with your home network and its three different wifi networks--yes, three!), and jumps onto Amazon and orders you a whiz bang router to solve your problems. 

Apparently this lovely router will have four channels (upgrading from our current three) and will solve the bandwidth hog problems we'd been having before we had the "real" internet problem.
This huge thing arrived on my front porch this morning.  Doesn't it look impressive?  After a brief phone call this evening, it is now powered up and plugged into our modem.  That doesn't mean it is busily solving my internet problem.  That will require Superman to log in and configure it to his liking in the wee hours of my morning, so I will have another night of internet problems, but this, my friends, is the light at the end of the tunnel (or so I'm told!)

Monday, September 26, 2016

I'm Reading a Terrific Book Right Now...

...but you might not want to read it if you're easily offended by the use of the f-word.  Just giving you fair warning.  This book is fabulous, but it is not for those who can't get past that particular curse word because it is liberally sprinkled throughout the entire book.  (There!  That is my disclaimer, but I truly hope you won't let the word put you off because the book is terrific.)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k - A Counterintuitive Approach to Living the Good Life by Mark Manson is a brand new self-help book which doesn't really fit into the mold of traditional self-help books.  The author's premise is that the pursuit of anything really just makes you focus on the lack or inadequacy of that thing in your life and because we don't understand that fundamental idea, we're not carefully choosing on what we expend our energy and emotions.  The first chapter is called titled "Don't Try".  (Not very rainbows and unicorns, is it?)

"The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience.  And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience" - Mark Manson

He writes:  "...Our crisis is no longer material; it's existential, it's spiritual.  We have so much f**king stuff and so many opportunities that we don't even know what to give a f**k about anymore."  [I warned you about his love of the f-word.]

He sites British philosopher Alan Watts "backwards law" -" the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place" regardless of how much of that something you might already have. "... The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you.  The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become trying to get there."

Anyway, all of the above is in the first chapter...the author also uses Buddha, Megadeath and Metallica, and the Beatles to make his points.  He makes so much sense both about how we got here and how to get out of here...especially for those of us who are looking around and wondering what the heck is going on with people...his language might be crude, but his clarity is refreshing.  Be brave and just substitute a word of your own choosing for "f**k" and read the book.  Seriously, if you're the least bit interested and can get past the liberal use of the f-word, this a fabulous book and I highly recommend it. (Oh, and Superman says the guy who reads the audiobook version does a fabulous job, if that's your chosen medium.)

Oh, and if you do read the book and love it, or if you're not sure you can stomach his writing style, he writes a successful blog at Mark where you can read more.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Where all our money goes...

When our kids were little, the majority of our money seemed to go to Target.  I seriously loved Target.  Clothing, toiletries, shoes, toys, electronics, cleaning supplies, garden, holiday d├ęcor--even our live Christmas trees  came from Target (when we lived in California)--and our artificial tree we picked up at the 75% off post-Christmas sale, which I used to love.  Honestly, pretty much everything we wanted could be found a Target.  It was convenient, it was inexpensive, and it was cute enough.  I have never been a fan of their grocery store side...they don't stock anything I use, so it has never been an added attraction for me.   (Hey, I'm not proud, I'm just being honest here.)

Not my favorite store anymore...

As I was breaking down boxes for our recycle bin, it occurred to me that I spend almost no money at Target any more.  Seriously.  Almost nothing.  Three grown children plus the convenience of online shopping has changed entirely how I shop.  Now, these boxes, plus a regular Costco run,  are pretty representative of where our money goes these days.

These are my go-to "stores", these days...  For just about anything and everything...Amazon gets most of my non-food shopping dollars...what can't you find of Amazon?  Plus, Prime give us terrific television.  So, free shipping plus great television programming?  It's a win-win in our house.  (Also, did you know if you order via Prime, they'll even ship to an APO/FPO for free?  Pretty cool, right??  We learned that last time Superman was overseas and utilized that feature a lot during his last adventure.)  For fabric, when I don't find what I want at JoAnn's--my beloved Hancock Fabric's went bankrupt.    I know lots of people love Hobby Lobby, but I find it overwhelming and their fabric selection is pretty slim.  (Oh, and I'm also a huge fan of for unique fabric, too...I spread my fabric love!)

Isagenix:  Yes, I admit it...I even feed my family via online shopping: we get our nutrition shakes via the UPS man, too!  We had to stock up  for Superman to be able to take a five months supply with him, so we had a LOT of these boxes coming through our door this summer.  (Seriously, do the math:  2 shakes a day x five months = a LOT!) 

Don't get me wrong. I still shop at brick and mortar stores:  Bras need to be tried on at VS, candles need to smelled in person at Yankee Candle, and I'm all in for a quick trip to TJ Maxx in search of some treasure for the house or a Home Depot run to further progress on some project, but I almost never think of going to Target.  It's not just because I'm old, either.  My teenaged daughter doesn't shop at Target much any more, either.  I guess Target didn't grow up with my family...maybe they're still the go to destination for young families?  Do people still love Target?

Same home, same family, but completely different shopping patterns.  Now you know just how random I can be.  This is the stuff that pops into my mind. What about you?  Does your heart still beat a little faster as you approach the doors to your local Target?  Or are you, too, keeping your local UPS driver busy? 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When the winner of "Who is your favorite human?" leaves the country...

When he wasn't travelling, Superman loved to begin his days at home playing "Who's your favorite human?" as he would dole out treats to the dogs...

Jack is a pretty boy!
Jack, our youngest at only three, has taken the end of the game hard...despite the fact that Superman was, in fact, really just a close second to Jack's true favorite:   Buttercup.  Jack loves Buttercup the most, but the same day Superman left was the day classes started at the college for Buttercup, so she's gone all day this week, too.

Buried in his Minion blanket...Jack is sad.
Even his Minion blanket isn't cheering Jack up...

Poor Jack!

Poor Jack.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Adventure Continues...

Well, after a bit of a false start earlier this year, I really am dusting off this blog...and here's why:

So, this happened yesterday!

After four years stateside, the itch grew too powerful and Superman has headed off into the wild blue yonder again!  My blogging is a great way for him to feel like he knows what's going on back here in the wilds of Eastern Washington.   So, to catch you kids aren't "kids" any more:  Charming is 25, Valiant is 20, and Buttercup is fast approaching will be a bit of a balancing act for me, sharing the fun bits without compromising any of the kids' privacy, but, hey, it should be a piece of cake, right? 

2 Gorilla boxes and 2 huge bags...

A question:  If you knew you had to pack everything you'd possibly need for the next four and half months (minimum!) before you'd be able to restock anything, would you be able to fit it into these boxes and suitcases?  Where he is going is pretty FPO/APO service, so anything he wanted had to come with him.  We're talking clothes, gym clothes, toiletries, bug spray, sheets, blankets, towels, five months of nutrition shakes, shoes...even a shower curtain.  Frankly, I was amazed how little Superman took...I've been trying to figure out how little I could get away with...I'm pretty certain I'd need another Gorilla box at least.

Your entire life in two boxes 32" x 14" x 12"

 The Gorilla boxes are a terrific way to get a lot of stuff safely from here to there--a friend of our ordered them from the PX at Fairchild for us, as they're standard in the military--hard-sided, but light...I found the suitcases on QVC, of all places, and they collapse down to the size of a college textbook (with the wheels inside), so they will require little to no space to store.  This isn't our first time doing this, so a lot of thought went into how to get all this stuff packed.  Still, you're looking at $1200+ in luggage fees. 

The best part, though?  I just got word from Superman that all of his luggage joined him at his final destination!!!

Anyway, there you have it...this is what is new this week in the Nagle5 world... stay's never dull around here...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Aberdeen - A Tale of Two Sleeves

One of my goals in 2016 is to sew clothes I'll truly daylight...with pride.

A tall order indeed.

So, with that goal in mind, in February I got brave and made myself an Aberdeen tunic out of French terry fabric.  It was NOT a 100% success, but I learned a lot and it turned out well enough that I wore it IN PUBLIC a number of times, so it definitely counts. 

I added 6" to the length of this tunic and cut it in a 2x to get the look I wanted.
First things first:  Aberdeen is a pattern from Colette Patterns.  It is a downloadable PDF with almost terrific instructions for even the most beginner of us. It t-shirt tunic pattern, designed for knits...lightweight to sweater weight.  (Honestly, my French terry didn't have enough stretch, but that was ignorance on my part and nothing to do with the instructions.)

Going for an oversized tunic, I decided to make the pattern in 2x.  I wanted a sweatshirt tunic that would skim over my hips and fall below my butt.  The only adjustment I made initially was to add 6" to take into account my height of 5'10" and the slightly longer than normal length. 

All in all the construction went well.  The only struggle was adding the neckline band.  I think the instructions for inserting the band could be clearer...I really wasn't happy with the smoothness of the point of the v neck and the instructions really weren't clear to someone who had never done one before. 

See that weird rumple?  I couldn't resolve bugs me!!
A quick internet search did NOT net any clarification, either, so I just muddled through.   Overall, though, my first Aberdeen came together beautifully and I did some things pretty well, if I do say so myself.  The overall neck band turned out well, with the exception already noted.
Look at how clean that looks...
  Look at this collar band neat. The band met in back just perfectly!

Look at those bands meeting perfectly in the back...just gorgeous!

...those points line up perfectly.  The double stitched hem (a necessity with fabric that wants to roll!) also came out wonderfully.

A steady hand sewed those parallel lines! looks like the work of a twin needle, but it wasn't.  It was my mad skills at the sewing machine!

I confess, I was pretty pleased with myself when my Aberdeen was completed...

...right up until I tried it on. 

The sleeves narrowed too quickly for my long arms and were just too tight on my forearms (and I don't have big arms!).  I was so disappointed.  Ignorance fail, definitely. I should have known the arm length would need to be modified.  Duh.  So, I seam ripped the forearm seams and wore it around the house to see if it worked in other ways.  One day of wearing and I decided the tunic was worth trying to save.  French terry is sooo comfortable and I had just enough fabric left to take a chance on trying to modify the sleeves to redeem my project. 
New sleeve...3" added.
I calculated that I needed at least three more inches in sleeve length, as the sleeves narrowed too soon on my long arms and barely fell below my elbow.  That meant changing the angle of the line of descent from the dropped shoulder to the forearm hem.  So, I took the existing sleeve pattern, added a three inch strip of paper to the forearm hem and redrew the lines from the shoulder to the hem.   That way the shoulder wasn't altered in any way and the ending sleeve opening wasn't just took longer to get there. Since the tunic is batwing construction, I then just sliced off the sleeves at the dropped shoulder seam and attached my new sleeves.
Completed (again!) with longer sleeves.
 Success!  It worked beautifully and gave me an eminently wearable tunic for the cold winter months. 

In the grandest of compliments, the tunic has since moved to my teenaged daughter's closet.  For the win!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Gluten Free Cornbread - Quick and Easy (Updated!!)

Sorry for inadvertently posting of a draft post... probably not a good read, was it?  Anyway, this is the complete post with the recipe details.

In a wheat-free world, it is a struggle to find recipes for "old favorites" which don't just leave you longing for the original.  There are some really terrific gluten-free flour mixes out there, but as most of them contain tapioca starch/flour, we can't use those, either, so our baking possibilities are narrowed even further.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered Krusteaz Cornbread mix.  It is quick, easy, and contains nothing my family can't eat.

Still, I'm not a fan of buying box mixes if I don't have to, so when I saw how well the cornbread turned out using Krusteaz convenient mix, I went searching for a wheat-free recipe which was still quick and easy.  With a quick search, I found this terrific recipe from "Gluten Free Mommy".  (Have I mentioned I love the internet?)

from Gluten Free Mommy

1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 to 3 Tablespoons of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt) together in a med. bowl and set aside.

Melt the one tablespoon of butter in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet or 8/9 inch round baking pan in the oven. This takes about three minutes. (Note: I just used an 8 x 8 pyrex pan.)

Swirl the butter around the pan coating the bottom and sides.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and 1/4 cup butter. Add this mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

Pour batter into the hot skillet or baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm.

Nothing weird, fancy, or hard to source.  In fact, I ground my own rice flour in the Vitamix, so I only had to buy cornmeal.  Both my husband and my son were amazed how quickly this came together and how easy it was.  That said, the next time I make it, they've requested I alter the ratio of rice to cornmeal...they want more corn flavor.  With a recipe this simple, I'm more than willing to play around a little to give them just what they want.

Now, back to Spring Cleaning...

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tote Bag - Success (with a little big of failure!)

Erin Gilbey of Dog Under My Desk has written some of the best patterns for purses and tote bags.  Her instructions are terrific and the photos accompanying each step demystify the process.  As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite aspects of her patterns is her insistence that no exposed raw edges be left in the finish product.  The resulting bags are just so much nicer and so much less "home made" looking. 

As always, spiral bound for ease of use during the project and storage later. 
Last week, I tackled the Outta Time Tote for the third time, this time sticking exactly to the dimensions stated in the instructions.  I've made it twice before, both times modifying the size to suit my purposes.    (Did I mention her patterns are easily modified for size and, in this case, dimension?)  Anyway, for this one, I stuck exactly to the pattern for the dimensions, creating a bag which is taller than it is wide. 

Finished dimensions: 14" tall, 12" wide, and 3" deep.  Really nice size.
As you can see, the bag came together beautifully. 
Structured enough to stand on its own when empty!
 For structure, I followed Erin's instructions and used SF101 woven interfacing, but instead of batting, I used Bosal Fusible Foam.  Pellon makes a fusible foam, too, which is nice for when I run out of my Bosal, as my source for the Bosal has been exclusively Amazon and running out is annoying.  The floral fabric is a Mary Engelbreit fabric, the straps are black webbing (instead of fabric), and the lining is just inexpensive cotton.   The zippers are #5 zippers of my spool of zippers by the yard.

My favorite part:  Black piping running up the panels and added to the zipper as well. 
I fell in love with this fabric, but my favorite part of this bag is the addition of the black piping.  I am especially glad I decided to add it to the zipper installation on the front pocket.  The piping just frames everything so elegantly.

Embroidery fail:  poor color selection ruined the whole thing.
What I didn't love and actually deemed a fail was the embroidery I added to the front pocket.  I picked the wrong color and the embroidery doesn't really show at all.  I should have gone with black instead of picking a color which matched the lining and coordinated with the outer fabric.  Unfortunately, until the bag was completely together, I couldn't see the problem.  Next time,  I must remember:  Contrast, NOT coordinate!   So, while the embroidery is technically well done, I deem it a fail.

Terrific overall bag, but the embroidery disappears...sigh.

On to the next project...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pink Camouflage Wristlets

I have a dear friend who loves pink camouflage.  Seriously loves it.  For Christmas, I surprised her with a tote bag  (which I forgot to photograph) out of pink camouflage and, as anticipated, she loved it.  Really, really loved it. 
Pink camo - who knew??
Now, personally, I'm not a huge fan of pink camo (really, of any camo);  I don't understand it.  Are you hiding in the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us?  I just don't get it.  Still, it was a labor of love and she truly loved her Christmas present, which was my goal, after all.  I decided to use the leftover fabric to surprise her with another gift and I ended up having enough fabric to make a little something for her daughter (another fan of pink camo), too. 

Mother - Daughter gifts...
(I always by extra fabric when I'm making something specific...I'm terrified to run out of fabric.)  Anyway, it turned out that I had just enough fabric to make two of Dog Under My Desk's "The Essential Wristlet". 

Spiral bound from my local copy shop.  Lays flat for me to flip
through the instructions as I sew along, one step at a time.
If you haven't discovered Erin's patterns, you're in for a treat.  Her instructions are so detailed, and her photos so clear, you just can't go wrong.  Since I've been making her stuff, my skills and my confidence have increased tremendously.  Plus, I love that her  "thing" is that she loathes exposed unfinished seams, so you always have a nice, polished result when you make her patterns.

Pocket detail on the inside of each.
So, back to my project.  Two Essential Wristlets with boxed corners.  I also decided to embroider each woman's name on them, for a little added touch. 
Awesome pattern nets awesome results!

I think they turned out really well.  The wrist strap is detachable and the bag measures 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches, so its a really nice size.  I think my friend and her daughter will be pleased.  Best of all, no more pink camo in my fabric has all found its rightful home.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Food for Thought

Photo credit:

"It seems to me that no matter what religion you subscribe to, acts of kindness are the stepping-stones to making the world a better place--because we become better people in it."

 -Jodi Picoult

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Adorable Baby Coat

My son's friends had a baby last's a strange thing when you realize your kids are legitimately old enough to have friends who are married with children...I guess that means it is highly unlikely that I am still only 27.  Reality might be setting in...

Anyway, my son's friends had a baby girl last summer and I just made her the most adorable coat.   (I'm a terrible photographer, but trust me, this coat is truly adorable.)   I got the pattern from Etsy.  I really like the indie patterns available for download.  The ones I've found have tended to be terrific and the instructions make them oh so doable, even for a novice.

Too cute for words...I love the texture of the outer fabric.
The outside of the coat is a polyester suiting fabric...the texture makes it substantial without being heavy.

Love this bright, happy cotton print.
The lining is a lightweight quilting cotton.

Matching buttons...too cute!

The hood is designed to be folded back to show the lining.
I used the Hearts Hoodie pattern from Puperita. 

My local copy shop binds my PDF patterns for me.  Love the ease of this format!
It generously includes sizes from newborn to 5 years old.  Now that I've finished the coat, I can recommend the pattern with confidence.  It really was a breeze to make.  The directions were quite clear and easy to follow and the results were gratifying.

Just what a well-dressed baby needs for spring!
Will a 6-month old baby girl appreciate it?  Nah.  But her mom sure loves it!  Definitely a win.

Friday, February 5, 2016

You know you have a good life when... realize that you are fortunate enough to catch 99.9% of the pens that go through your washer BEFORE they end up in the dryer.  (We just won't talk about those sneaky lip balms.)

...and a 9-year old girl invites herself to your house to color with you (and she's not even related to you!!)...

Yes, my life is pretty good.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Really Is Enough...

Over the past few years, I've watched as my children chart their adult courses, trying to determine what they'll want their adult lives to look like.  It's fascinating.  One dreams of wealth and one secretly dreams of writing the "Great American Novel"...pretty typical stuff.  But one of my kids wonders why modest dreams are discouraged.  Why is it that we can't aim to have a job that allows us to provide well enough?  Are dreams only worth pursuing if they're flashy?  Do we really have to "go big or go home"?

This blog post by A Life In Progress is bouncing around FB right now and this blogger tackles the same issue, far more eloquently than I. "What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between. Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?  But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?" Interestingly, the comments on the post are as powerful as the post itself.  She is not alone.  There are a lot of us asking the same questions about life. 

It seems to me that we need to start asking ourselves what definition of excellence we're using?  What definition of successful are we measuring ourselves against?  What value judgment are we placing the adjectives we use to define our lives?  Why are words such as "small", "simple", "plain", and "humble" deemed negative?  When we flip a coin, one side is not inherently better than the other, so why are we judging our lives in such a manner? 

I have loved being a stay-at-home mom.  Seriously.  I love this simple, unexciting-to-many life.  I don't dream of huge purchases (although the carpet is pretty bad!) or a lavish lifestyle.  I can't even imagine myself living that way.  I love my old car, it does the job for me.  I love CrossFit, even though I suck at it.  I love sewing, even though I still haven't made my own wardrobe.  I love having all these animals (four dogs, two cats, three birds, and one hamster, at last count!), even though it feels chaotic at times.  I love having time for my family and friends (although my sister and I really need to live in the same time zone!) and for learning new things and making friends where I live and being part of the community.   I especially love my family, even though they're crazy making at times.  I love myself, even though I'm not young or beautiful or skinny or cellulite-free.    

Before I lived this life, I was a secretary.  I loved that job, too...I love being behind the scenes, helping everyone stay on track.  I never wanted to be the Big Boss...I just liked making the Big Boss's life easier.  I've always been this way, as far back as I can remember.  I liked working at McDonald's when I was 16, I liked being a receptionist when I was 17, I liked being a hostess at a restaurant when I was 19, and I liked being a dispatcher for small company when I was 22.  I like When I was a very little girl, I wanted to be a nurse, never a doctor, because doctor's rushed in and rushed out, while nurses stayed to take care of the patients.  I've always wanted to be the caretaker.  It's just who I am and it is good. 

When I remember I like who I am, and ignore the messages of "not enough" the world sends, life falls into place.  My family is happy, my household hums, my spirit sings, and I have joy and friendship to share.  

So, as I counsel my child who is going to be rich, I say, "May I have a small guest house on your estate?".   

When I talk with the one who is secretly dreams of writing something that will be received with worldwide acclaim, I say, "Keep've always loved it."   

And, as I counsel a child who wonders if modest is enough, I have to say, "Yes, it really is enough".  

We need the modest and we need the flashy.  We need the quiet and we need the loud.  We need the chaos and we need the calm.  And we need everything in between.  There is a place for each of us, if we're brave enough to fight for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sleeve Garters-- Perfect for Your Baggy Sweaters

I'm sure we've all seen the images of a bygone era where men wore sleeve garters which looked something like this:

Photo Credit: Western Emporium
These were functional staples of a man's wardrobe, designed to customize the fit of his shirt and protect it from the grime of the day. 
Photo Credit: Norman Rockwell Museum Store

We don't see them often today, although even David Beckham gave them a try.  (Who knew?)   Having said that, this is NOT a post advocating you encourage your husband to adopt them.  Not even close.

It's sweater weather and I love oversized sweaters, but I don't like baggy cuffs and dangling sleeves.  From getting in the way to being a danger when I'm cooking, my sweater sleeves need to be kept off my hands.  Using a pony-tail holder has worked to keep my sleeves up and out of my way in a pinch, but cutting off the circulation in my arms really isn't fun, so I really needed a better alternative . I headed to my computer for inspiration.

Photo Credit: Quaint Street- Ebay
I remembered these mom had a pair or two in the 80s, and, while I loved the idea, they were too small for my forearms way back then, so they definitely might be a problem now (that whole circulation issue).  Still, I pulled up Amazon and gave them a quick search and you can still buy them here, if you're interested.  When I pulled up those bands, though, the sleeve garters for men came up, too, and an idea was born.

I decided to make my own sleeve garters out of ruffled elastic.  I could customize the length and the color to suit my needs, plus I could do this project really, really inexpensively.  Ruffled elastic comes in many colors at your local Hancock Fabric or any other fabric store.  It runs about $3.00 a package (use a 50% off coupon and it will be even better).  I have a lot of black sweaters, so I made my sleeve garters black to blend in.

 I cut two lengths of elastic each half an inch larger than the circumference of my forearm (where I wanted my sweater cuffs to rest).  Then I sewed the ends together to make a circle and a sleeve garter was born. (Be careful not to twist your want your bands to lay flat.)

After that, it was a five minute sewing project (no machine needed if you don't have one!) and I had sleeve garters.

Just slip the garter on the outside of your sweater sleeve and roll it into the cuff as you roll (or one fold and then push!) your sleeves up. 

They stay up all day without cutting off your circulation as long as you measured your elastic correctly.  (Honestly, it was much more difficult to take a picture of my own arm than it was to make the sleeve garters.)

You can use them for any kind of sleeve that you want to keep higher up on your arm...blazers, blouses, sweatshirts.  Super simple problem solver!