Organize, ya’ll!

Organizing for the new year?

I know, it seems like it’s a cliche, doesn’t it?  All the stores use January to put organizing items on sale but pump the breaks a second.

Don’t buy immediately, sort and donate first.

Also cliché you say?  Well, I’m here to tell you that most Americans have TOO MUCH stuff. Whether its saving too many plastic grocery sacks, coat hangers, extra t-shirts, or nail polish, everyone has a collection of something that can be edited.  Can you give extra stuff to a friend?  How about donate to Goodwill?  Are there some things that should really be thrown away.

Do that now.

You will breathe easier and have more space.  You don’t need bins to store more stuff you won’t look at in another year.  In case you don’t understand what I mean, I would refer you to George Carlin’s riff on STUFF which is just genius and 100% relevant today.

If you need places to put your “stuff” consider recycling things you already have, like covering cardboard boxes in cool papers or fabrics like THIS.

This was life changing when I found out a better way to store my plastic grocery bags.  These are great for bathroom trash bags, poop scooping, packing lunches and when you have too many, most stores have recycle spots where you can turn them in.  THIS is what I do with them and store them in a coffee can!

One of the most liberating decisions I have made is deciding to work on a capsule wardrobe.  Right now I am in the sorting/donating/inventory phase.  You can find great printables and instructions on my Pinterest board HERE.  Also check out the app STYLEBOOK.  While I haven’t started loading in pictures, this is pretty amazing and will simplify my life in the long run.

Follow along with me as I work through Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  This gives great, manageable steps to get your shit together without feeling overwhelmed by it.

First task today:  MAH OFFICE

8a9059e7-1184-46ce-bfc2-99494cbc49ac

You can follow along with me on my Instagram page HERE to see my progress and solutions that cost little or no money.  It’s not about buying expensive solutions that just contain more stuff.  It’s about cleaning up what you have and appreciating the purpose of every single thing or getting rid of it.

It’s okay. You can let go of some things.  Let’s do this.

UPDATE:

Done with the office cabinet, now it’s on to my fancy (not really fancy) “library” this weekend.  Hopefully it goes as well!

office

 

Always a Little Wonky

This week’s got me like:

krabs meme

When I started trying to narrow down exactly what it was, my head kept correcting me.  I said “WOW, what a week!” and my head went “You mean, what a month, what a year, what a past few years.”

This is exactly why I have self-esteem issues. 

Let’s ignore for a bit that I talk to myself.  Everyone does that, right?  It’s just sometimes, well a lot of times, life in general is freaking overwhelming.  Between school, being a caregiver, being a mom, trying to be an independent person, doing what I have to and trying to find time for something fun, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

There’s not enough time in the day, y’all.

School is chugging along.  I am having to contend with trying to pass and instructors that will not allow even a comma out of place.  When I am say they won’t allow it, I am saying you fail if you have more than four errors.  BIG FAT F.  That stings, I don’t care how old you are.  I know that I don’t/can’t/won’t edit myself but this is a HUGE stumbling block to trying to get out of this Master’s program.  I have three more months.  Say a prayer to the old gods and the new for me…I just need to be done with some bit of dignity left.

I have been writing about Little Monkey a long time.  Every time I go backwards and look at pictures here, I am reduced to a puddle in the floor.  I have said before, the idea that she will be 16 this summer is mind-blowing.  We are making college dream sheets and planning visits and trying to work out the what/how/where.  It is daunting.  The first two were real clear about what they wanted to do and had real decisions made pretty quickly about where that would be but this one, man, this one wants the sun and the moon.

emma louI’m not kidding.

Little Monkey wants to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor, apply to NASA and become an astronaut.  I blame Interstellar for this.  She watches this movie all the damn time and can’t stop.  She has been obsessed with the stars for as long as I can remember and taking her to Huntsville last year did nothing to help quell that fire.  It’s my job to encourage her, right?  Despite it being a hard road, despite it being complicated, despite it being such a narrow field…I am the MOM, I HAVE to encourage.  She is pretty much a bad ass, so who am I to say that she can’t do something?  The world takes enough from you.  I am looking forward to her punching the world right in the face and saying NOT TODAY WORLD. (If someone can, it will be her.)

My long list of projects continues to grow.  We got all the carpet pulled up but now can’t decide between all hard wood or partial carpet.  It makes my head hurts.  My table is a little too wobbly for the amount that we use it so we are going to build this pedestal, twice, and remedy that.  That means I need new equipment from Kreg but I will figure that out eventually.  Then there is the painting.  The living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, outside stuff…

Did I mention I have a headache?

miss kiwiMy sweet old lady dog hasn’t been doing well.  I knew this would happen, it’s just never something you are prepared for, I don’t care how old you are.  In and out of the hospital for weeks, the ladies at Paws and Claws have been fantastic but I am afraid it’s the beginning of a long struggle.  Today she is happy and I am happy for that.

Summer is coming, that’s something to be happy about, right?

My packed calendar tells me I am wrong.  Truthfully, I am always a little wonky.  Being less busy or less worried about things might make it worse.

How do you keep from loosing your mind these days?  Maybe you can lead me by example. Lord knows, I need it!

 

 

 

My Nerdy Kitchen

BEFORE Kitchen cabinets and Little Monkey being goofy
BEFORE Kitchen
BEFORE Kitchen wall

Living in a 100 year old tiny house is difficult.  There is always something breaking, not working or needing updating.  While I have advocated down sizing before (and still do) it can pose quite a problem for a cook.  There are many things I don’t need in other rooms of the house but the kitchen is one of those where I still don’t have every thing I need, much less every thing I want.  One of the problems posed by this little space was where to hang our nerdy artwork.  Because there was an empty wall in the kitchen placed where nothing could go against it if you wanted to maintain any sort of emergency exit plan (read here:  between two doors) it ended up this was the art wall.  From there the kitchen project began.

For most people, I am sure I don’t have to explain the importance of paint colors. You CAN use dark colors in small spaces but it has to be the right dark color (see my bathroom below).  This tiny house was painted on the main floor in awful pink tinted beige with dark burgundy accent walls.  The result was a house that was dark and depressing at best.  Marry this with really badly done mint green cabinets and it just got worse.  When we first moved in, we weren’t really sure where to put all our pieces because clearly cooking had to take place but there was so little prep space that it became a chore.  We tried several configurations, none of which helped.  We finally started a couple of months ago, one project at a time, until we finally arrived at the finished project this weekend.

AFTER Kitchen wall

Yes those are comic books and Daleks.  You don’t have to like it but it is quite representative of our household. While the old table we gave a facelift isn’t quite Tardis blue, its close enough for you to get it.  Someone, solely the fault of Halo, we went down a deep rabbit hole into very specific nerdy art with candy and/or cupcakes involved.  It’s sad.  I have added a great print from Amy Houser and I fear I will never stop looking for them.  Currently paint and glittering a sign to hand that says “Make Cupcakes Not War.”  See what I mean?

As a side note, the master tiny bath was redone as well.  It was previously a God-awful shade of blue that did not “brighten” anything.  Combined with a poorly hung mirror and a light fixture above it hung 8 inches too far to the right made for a depressing bathroom.  Though I went with a darker color, it ended up looking much richer and simply repositioning the light and mirror properly, results in far more light reflecting and a happier room.

AFTER bathroom, Darby approved

Shades of orange, chalkboard paint, take some cabinet doors down, add Big Foot fabric and BAM!  Shouldn’t all rooms be happier?

Politics, Smut Peddling and My Year of Ups and Downs

Politics and My Real Life

I will go ahead and get it out of the way.  For those that know me, I know you are surprised that I have been silent on the matter.  That is strictly because I have been so damn busy.  Here goes–I am not sure why people even CONSIDER voting against their self-interest.  To say that I am continually dismayed by the state of civil discourse in this country would be an understatement.  If in my own family we so oppose each other’s opinions that the topic is off limits, I don’t have any hope for any change nationally.  So let me just give you some facts:

1.  I was married to a service member during the initial Iraq invasion.  While he is my ex and turned out to be a jerk, personally, I think it gives me some credibility to speak to the fact that the soldiers were lied to about their reason for entering that country and the result has been catastrophic for both our countries.

2.  Currently, I am married to a disabled Army Veteran.  His experience has been in the wonderful international destination that Afghanistan has become and later, Gitmo, Cuba.  I have held his had through PTSD episodes, nightmares, night sweats, tests, more tests, emergency visits, counseling appointments, frustrating goose chases that VA appointments can turn into.  I do think this gives me some credibility to speak on the subject.

3. President Obama signed a bill that allowed uninsured (like me) and those with pre-existing conditions coverage (my kids) and a number of other amazing things.  He also signed a bill that allowed me to become my husbands Primary Care Giver through a VA program.  This stipend allows me to facilitate every single thing necessary for him to get all the appointments, treatments, etc. that he needs without the fear of how to navigate a part time job and his critical care.  President Obama signed the Fair Pay Act and supports the right for me to make the decisions I need to for my own body.

Democrat or not, I can tell you that President Obama is the one that has done the most to directly impact my family.  Met with a crushing debt instead of what President Clinton left for President Bush, he has had a nearly insurmountable task.  He has begun a drawn down from two countries that we shouldn’t have occupied in the first place, trying to relocate prisoners in Gitmo that THEIR OWN COUNTRIES WILL NOT TAKE BACK, and some how try to help calm the fears in this country that our economy is permanently broken.

I wouldn’t want to be the President for all of the money and power in the world.  He was handed a Congress that lauded the fact that their job was to get rid of him and block his every move.  That should embarrass us all.  We can disagree but there are MANY things that could have been done to help us further along but simply because they were Democratic lead and sponsored, they were shut down.  It’s disgusting.

I support President Obama.  I hope you will too.

Smut and Those who write it

Whether you approve of Fifty Shades of Grey or not, there is no doubt that by now, you have probably heard of it.  I think that, overall, is a good thing.

I have been writing erotica since 2007.  My first piece was published on a The Erotic Woman blog and later, I had a relationship with the wonderful people at Love You Divine.  In both situations, I used the pseudonym (Mistress Cassandra) because at the time, despite many great literary pieces of erotic being accepted, working as a “smut peddler” was not a common and socially acceptable role.  What previously drew whispers, hushed tones and outright shut down of discussions now elicits endless questions and interested parties.  Since the popularity of Fifty Shades, everything has changed.  Overall, I think this is good.  Or at least I think that, until I see something like THIS.  There will be constant discussion now to define what one thing is versus what another is.  While I may personally think the BDSM subject matter is not reflected correctly, the author however is able to write whatever the author wants.  Clearly it’s sold without anyone having concern for the way it is perceived so who am I to pass judgement.

We have such antiquated opinions in this country about sex and about the human body in general.  I grew up in Europe and seeing someone partially clothed in a shower gel commercial there was not uncommon.  No big deal.  Here, we get ridiculously excited over “wardrobe malfunctions” but also have a society that supports a Jersey Shore culture and new shows like Honey Boo Boo’s.  You can’t have it both ways America.  Stop telling people what kind of sex they can have, what they can read about it and what kind of person you are if you write it when you have shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and send people on “private dates” where they can spend the night with each other.

I don’t get it.  So I keep writing.  This year for my Nanowrimo project will be an erotica novel under my own name.  Hopefully Fifty Shades gives me a little better chance of not getting hate mail and ostracized.  Or not.  Either way, I will keep writing.

My Year of Ups and Downs

Some of you know I had some serious stuff going on at the beginning of the year.  What went from a little test to a bigger test, to a procedure and then a bigger procedure nearly broke me.  As a Mom, the hardest thing in the world for me is the idea that I can’t take care of my family.  I try to let the older ones find their way and not intervene but having one still at home filled me with panic and anger.  It doesn’t make sense why things happen to people that try to do the right things and walk the path of good intentions.  I thought I was that kind of person so for me, anger often took over much of my days that weren’t filled with profound hurt and sadness.  It affects everything you do.

The result was this:  after a particularly horrific week in which I thought my husband was having a stroke and I had a huge problem resulting from the stress I was told I was having an emergency hysterectomy.  Although I have had all the kids I intended to, the finality of it was not lost on me.  I am not sure that is something anyone can really grasp unless it has happened to them either.  For the record, there is a lot of horrible crap on line about hysterectomies.  (Health situations are generally not the best subjects to Google, for sure.)  I have to give a shout out to Hyster Sisters, a great site/forum where you can get real information about what is happening and join a group of people going through the same crap.  I found it to be the What to Expect When Expecting of surgical procedures.  It answered questions I desperately needed and calmed me the hell down.

I am nearly six months post surgery now.  I feel SOOOOO much better.  You don’t realize sometimes how something that makes you sick can affect all parts of your body and mind.  Do I feel I deserved to go through what I did?  No and I am still damn angry about it sometimes.  Am I better off now?  OH YEAH.  Full speed ahead!

Archery Madness

Thankfully, I healed quickly because my year literally went nuts shortly there after.  Most of you know Little Monkey has been competing in archery competitions but mid-year, she decided to take it to a whole new level.  Rather than me writing about her, I suggested she use her journaling she does during archery class as a prompt to chronicle her experiences.  Monkey has met some amazing people and formed friendships with international archers as well.  She has set some lofty goals, started writing blog posts and will only be busier next year.  For now I am handling her linking and photo uploads but she is learning and loving it.  If you are interesting in following her journey, she has her own site, Tumblr and Twitter.  While I have a Pinterest where she hosts “Little Monkey’s Board” it is largely nail polish and crafty related so be forewarned!

Wrap Up

So I migrated to WordPress because iPage became so restrictive!  I am happy that I could pull in the posts from my old Blogger page but sad that I lost my iPage content.  WordPress gives me some cool features and I can post multiple links and pictures that I needed so YEAH!  Thanks for sticking with me through the changes.

I am still writing at Almost Nerdy, hanging out on G+ and Twitter as well as handling a Tumblr page of my own, one for grad school and one for our newest pet/internet star.  I am on month 4 of a 12-month Masters program with Fullsail University for a Masters in Education Media and Design Technology and getting to try out some new emerging technology.  My research blog I have to maintain for that program is here and my emerging technology reviews I had to do are here in the event that you are interested in either.

Tons of DIY projects are ongoing right now so you will see that stuff posted soon!

Later peeps!

DIY Done Right

 One of our favorite things to do, besides art projects is to decorate.  Always having more ideas than money, this was one of those times to use both skills.  After a long marathon session of 9 X Design episodes, we fell in love with Ann Carrington’s work.  While I am confident it will take winning the lottery to afford one of her pieces, the girls and I decided we were going to try an art project INSPIRED by the great and wonderful Ann.  We started by taking a large piece of denim we already had from another project and used a bleach pen to do the outline of a peace sign.  From there, using primarily vintage buttons from Ebay, we started (or rather I started) sewing buttons onto the fabric.  This monster task illustrated to me why Ann has a great team…GEEZE it was time intensive.  As days melted into weeks, we decided both to switch to various glues and add multi-media elements.  My wonderful boyfriend added his carpentry skills by building a frame and stapling it on.  When completed, there was actually a section of the project that represents each person in the house. We incorporated old keys, foreign and domestic money, political buttons and sheet music just to name a few things.  Little Monkey (who is a great fan of Nate Berkus, as am I) decided this would also be a great I Spy piece and constructed a list of items and a key.  Despite all the work, I think the finished product came out well.

Paired with lamps I scored on serious clearance at Target, a clearance bowl from Pier 1 and a ten dollar orange platter I found at Walmart it looks great.  Both kitchen table are made from old doors.  The white buffet table, one I scored in a Galveston Island junk shop for 35 bucks and the other, the former front screen door from my Grandparents house in the 70’s.  The legs came from Ikea (both sets on sale) and a local glass shop provided the tops.  My chairs and bench on the other side I already had in a previous kitchen incarnation and I painted these from red to beige.  Even the light fixture was a clearance item from Home Depot and the baskets under the white table, Longaberger that I purchased 10 years ago.  They have served me well for the cost and have gone from living room toy catchers for little ones to comfy cat bed for our aging flock of furry babies.  The vases/candle holders on the kitchen table are punch cups from a pottery punch bowl set from Thailand.  Not too bad if I do say so myself!