Friday, November 30, 2012

Interesting statement/quote

I found this image today and it made me pause. I don't always do my best...sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I just want to do the bare minimum so I can move on to the next thing that is pressing for my time and attention. There's always a next thing, right? And when I do my best I rarely give myself permission to say it's enough. Too often I fill my head with the "what if's" and "why didn't I?" and feel sad that I can't give 100% to everything and everyone all the time.

I'm sure I'm not alone in that...and this isn't a sob story. But sometimes it takes a few words to make you stop and really think. It leaves me with the question: "Why don't I follow this idea?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's been nutty!

When last I wrote, I mentioned that things in my tiny speck of the world have been incredibly busy. No busier than many other people I am sure, but still a whirlwind for us! :)

August & September was full of school prep for the kids. Abby started Kindergarten, which she has been looking forward to for at least 2 years (when Davin started). She was nervous and excited at the same time. No tears for my little champ...she stood proudly in line with her new classmates, said a few shy "Hellos" to some of the other children, and when her teacher came out she happily went inside with her class.
Davin started 2nd grade (oh my goodness, how is that possible already?!?!) and for him it was all "Wash, Rinse, Repeat". He was excited to see his classmates again and do "boy stuff". :) This year he is at a new door at the school so for me it was tough because I had to choose which child to stand with in line! Davin was so excited to leave me, so I went with Abby. He was in good hands with his class, and I barely got a kiss and a "Bye Mom!" before he dashed off. :) Love that boy!

This year I was also elected as the PTO President for the school. I was the Secretary last year, but as our previous President has moved on with her older children it was time for a new person to step up. Sadly, our school has a low parent participation rate...for lots of reasons I think, mostly that so many parents work and many just aren't sure how to "step up". I don't think they don't want to help, but it can be kind of scary to just jump in. It was for me. But it's an important part of our school, so when I was asked if I would be willing I said yes. Now, I also knew what the challenges would be. I work full time so I can't be at the school as often as many other PTO members, but the VP and Treasurer are closer to the school, one works from home and the other works nights, so they have been great at stepping in and filling in when I can't be there. I will say though, it's hard work! Fundraisers, communicating with businesses, volunteers, teachers, meetings, websites, you name it and we are doing it. :) I don't know if this is something that I can do for years down the road, but I hope that we can build a solid parent base who can chair projects and teams so that the three of us aren't solely responsible for all of the events and projects. And most importantly, to build "a pipeline" of future leadership at the school.

My husband finished his last season as the high school tennis coach this fall, so he was occupied for most of August through October. Practises daily with the team and tournaments on most Saturdays - oi vey! He has done it for a number of years, but after this year he decided that he wanted to step down so he could be with the kids more. With their schedules getting busier and busier it will be helpful to have the extra pair of hands! :) I love that he is so involved with the kids, and being a teacher, he is able to be home with them after school - a huge help for me, since I usually work until 6pm or so.

The fall was also full of soccer practises and dance classes. Both kids wanted to play soccer, and practise was on Tues and Thurs at 6pm, at different schools! Yikes! We (I) made it work, dropping Davin off first under the supervision of his coach until my hubby could get to the field after tennis, and I would take Abby to hers. Games on Saturday mornings and by the end of October I was very glad to wrap that up! :)

Dance class this year is on Tuesday as well, so we had to let the coach know that we couldn't attend soccer on that day. This year, she was moved up from the intro Kinderdance session to Mini, which is the first opportunity to focus on individual classes. She couldn't decide which she was interested in, so in the end we opted to try to Mini Combo program, which is Ballet, Tap and Jazz back to back. It's nice that it's all on the same night, but Tuesdays become long nights when we are at the studio for 90 minutes. I have discovered though that if you ever need to catch up on the latest teen sensations, spend time at a dance studio...I've been caught up on all of Taylor Swifts music by now...on repeat. Yay. *wink* Abby manages the classes pretty well so far...I was a little worried that she would be really tired on Wednesdays, but she seems to be doing fine so far. She is loving all three classes and is really excited that she will be dancing in three numbers at the recital in June. That also means three costume changes, but so far the studio has been really conscious about appropriate costumes for the girls ages so I am sure she will look cute. :) I still have a tough time with makeup on a 5 year old, but after seeing how they look from the audience I understand the concept of stage makeup...and at least I don't have to put blue eyeshadow on her! :) Can you tell I didn't dance when I was growing up? I was climbing trees, so this is all new to me! lol

My job has been super busy this fall too. We closed a major exhibit on September 30, which brought in a fair few folks and left us all a bit winded. :) But we have now moved on to the holiday programming and I'm just working through all of the piles that went untouched when we had lines out the door. It was a good problem to have! :)

We spent a lot of time going to see the Detroit Tigers play this summer and fall.

We were cheering them on as they made their way to the World Series. Sadly, they were handily beaten but not before hubby and I had a chance to see one of the games! What a fun (chilly!) night we had!

I interspersed that with visits to the Physical Therapist 3 times a week to work on my back issues for about 5 weeks. Ugh. I have some compression on one of my discs so it causes pain and numbness in my left leg/foot. It helped, though I think I might be dealing with this permanently, so thats frustrating. But I did love the heat packs at the end of the sessions! lol

Let's see, where does that bring us? We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for 10 people, and I had a lot of fun cooking and cleaning (ok, not so much fun cleaning!) for a couple days before hand. On Friday I worked, and then we dashed off to another family gathering. I was kicking myself that I didn't take any pictures, but we were having so much fun talking, eating and playing that no one remembered to take any! Good times though! I do have two pictures of Thanksgiving...of the Frozen Lemon Gingersnap Pie we made...very lemony, but very good. The kids made the ice cream by hand using this method. I also made a Pumpkin Roll, using my best friends mom's recipe - delish!

On the crafting side, I had to table a lot of projects because I was just too busy. I had hoped that I could get my Etsy shop up and running in September, but that definitely didn't happen. :) I haven't made a card in poor colored pencils and Copics have been sitting forlornly on my desk since August! I finally unearthed them yesterday when I had a chance to clean off my desk...they were buried under a mountain of things! :) I'm hoping that I can finally get back into the the very least get some Christmas cards done for my family! I have been doing some yarnwork though. Crochet especially, but also some knitting. My mother sent me loads of yarn that belonged to my grandmother. She has had to stop knitting because of arthritis so they decided I should get it. I was so excited! I will miss my grandmothers work...she was an amazing knitter and I still can't bear to part with any of the things she has made for my kids, even though they can't wear the sweaters and socks and hats anymore. I just love them too much. I love the yarn that she gave me, and whenever I open the boxes I get a lovely whiff of her house. I love it, and I hope I can do her justice with the projects that I make from it.

I was gifted knitting needles and crochet hooks from an employee last year after his wife passed away, and I prefer to use those for many of my projects because I know how much she loved them. I suppose its sentimental, but of all the people who could have recieved them, I was the lucky one. I don't think I could ever turn someone down if they offered something like that to me.

I was super excited when a friend on Facebook saw a photo I had posted of a Hello Kitty hat I made for Abby and asked if I would make a hippo hat for a shower gift. I had never made a hippo hat before, but I did some research of other earflap hats and then scaled the patterns down to fit a newborn. It turned out pretty cute I thought! :)

I'm also working on this baby blanket in teal & tangerine (I am loving these colors!):

Still working on my first pair of socks (I kind of lost steam for them, but I'm determined to finish), a scarf for myself, a winter hat for Davin, and a doll blanket for Abby:

I just finished a couple of knit dishcloths (I love those for really scrubbing things!), a few preemie hats for the local NICU and a couple of coffee cup cozies for a coworker.

I've also been doing a bit of hunting for some vintage goodies that my end up on my Etsy shop site...what do you think of these little finds?

Wow, this has turned into an incredibly long post! If you have stuck with me through it, I think you can see why I haven't been blogging much. :) I've been around though, as I mentioned before. Now that I finally caved and got a smartie phone I am addicted to Instagram and update my Twitter page more frequently than before. Feel free to drop me a line and say hello! :)

Now that Thanksgiving is done I don't have to listen to Christmas music in secret anymore and I am slowly bring out the decorations. It has turned quite cold here in Michigan, so I am stalling on putting out the twinkle lights, but it will look so much more like Christmas once we finally bite the bullet and do it. :) By this weekend, I promise. We are supposed to reach 50 degrees this weekend, so perhaps I can coax hubby onto the ladder when it isn't in the low 30's like today. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I saw it on Pinterest & I tried it!

The other day I was spending some quality time on Pinterest (yes, totally justifying the time sucking wormhole that is Pinterest - and I love it!) when I stumbled across this cleaning tip. It caught my eye immediately because I have been living with a disgusting mess on my stove for years. Yes, years. When we bought our house in 2006, I was excited to host our first Thanksgiving dinner for our family. In the process of cooking dinner, the milk I was heating boiled over. Since I was in the middle of cooking dinner I couldn't very well turn everything off, wait for the grill to cool down and then scrub everything down. What I didn't realize is that burned milk is a pain in the rear to get off!

Can we all give a collective "EWWWWW...!"

Over the years I have tried any number of cleaning products "guaranteed" to cut through even the toughtest grease and stains. All to no avail. So when I saw this, I thought I might as well give it a try. I didn't have anything else to lose at this point, right?

I happened to have some Ammonia in the house (leftover from the previous owner, who passed away in her 90's, bless her heart) so I pulled it out at following the instructions, stuck the blackened mess of a grill in a Ziploc bag, added 3 tablespoons of ammonia and sealed it up. After only 10 minutes I was already seeing some change in the color or the ammonia (see how it's slightly discolored in the top left corner of the bag?):

The blog post suggested leaving the bag for 12 hours, but I wasn't able to do that, since dinner had to be made. But I did give it 9 hours. Then I took it out and scrubbed it with some regular dish soap and water.

Here is the final result:

Literally "squeaky clean"! 

I couldn't believe it! It actually worked! I still have a small spot that needs to be cleaned, but considering what I started with, I was more than pleased. What was great was other than dealing with the ammonia smell when the bag was opened (they aren't kidding that it smells like cat urine - phew!), it was very hands off. Perfect for me since I work full time and don't have the time to scrub for hours at a time (which I have done before trying to get all this junk off!).

By the way, the bag at the top of this picture shows what the ammonia looked like in the end. Wow...gross!

I know that I have been missing in action for quite a while and I am very sorry for that. I've been around, just so incredibly busy this fall. I hope that things have settled a bit now so I can start blogging again. I have been missing it...I must have sat down a dozen time to start a post and something or another always interrupted me. Story of my life lately - my poor craft table has sat untouched for weeks now. I have been doing some knitting and crocheting though and will have to put together a "catch-up post" so you can see some of the things I have been making.

One of the things I have been excited about is I finally broke down and got a smartphone. So I am now also regularly on Twitter (@livelymind) and Instagram (@littlecreativenest) which I am having way too much fun with, so feel free to catch up with me there as well. :)

Has your fall been super busy as well? Does it feel overwhelming? How are you dealing with it?