Mud Balls in the Basement

Mama's a Mess:

Bryan shared this with me this morning. I have a tendency to collect in a similar way – scraps of paper, ticket stubs, random colored wrist bands, etc. Since the fire I think it’s gotten worse. We lost a lot of family photos and memories. Many of the losses I don’t think have even been accounted for yet (they may never be). Reading this makes me want to start scrapbooking or art journaling again right now. It’s hard to realize that it’s the essence of a family or a person or a relationship, even just a moment in time, that you’re really trying to hold on to when you save that scrap of paper. The longer they sit – the further away that essence and story becomes if it can’t be captured in some manner.

Originally posted on - catherine whittier:


I can’t seem to let go. It’s not so much the practical things. It’s the words scrawled on little slips of paper. It’s the cement-hard mud balls that were rolled up by tiny hands. It’s the heartfelt message on a Christmas tag. It’s the smooth rock from a happy shore.

Bereft of so many of my own childhood memories, I have always clung to little things. I’m so obsessed with not losing something meaningful that I have been known to dig through my children’s trash as they purge their bedrooms. “WHAT!! You can’t throw that away,” I gasp, as I snatch it and add it to my pile.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not real big on ticket stubs or figurines.
It’s the more important things — like the little construction paper leaves we cut out at Thanksgiving time. Each of us would take one out of the basket, which sat in the center of the table, and write on it what we…

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Happiness Habit: Rename your Project

Go figure….I found a great book.  This one, Get in Done, focuses on moving beyond procrastination to fulfill your creative desires by taking it all just 15 minutes at a time.  It’s really something how much you can actually get done in 15 minutes.  What’s even more interesting, in my own life and I suspect in yours, is how many ways you can find 15 minutes.  Since I started reading this I started waking up earlier and grabbing some time before I had to get in the shower.  I started measuring what I wanted to accomplish each week, in regards to reading or being creative (even exercising) in 15 minute increments.  Just the main theme of this book has broken down a number of barriers for me.  And that is just the beginning of what it really has to offer.

One of my biggest takeaways to date was a great suggestion for motivation block.  As a creative person I’m looking for inspiration and fun in what I’m trying to do.  Yet when I would sit down to create a to-do list, or set my creative priorities, it would look something like this:

  1. Start blogging again.
  2. Sew myself some clothes.
  3. Create new jewelry designs.
  4. Finish household DIY projects.
  5. Develop a plan for a floral and decor rental business.

Pretty cut and dry and rather direct if you ask me.  To the author’s point, sometimes we’ve been living with a project for so long that the name of it is now associated with a sort of punishment every time we think about it.  That was definitely my case.  I had wanted to start blogging again for a year.  Every time I sat down to think about restarting or revitalizing the blog, though, I was just frustrated and anxious about the fact that I ever stopped in the first place.  Her exercise in Get It Done suggests renaming your projects to give yourself a fresh, perhaps lighter and less oppressive, perspective on what you want to accomplish.  One step to it:  work swiftly and begin writing down a few possible fun, silly or sexy names for the project in question.  I discovered as I started that it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected to rename all my major projects.  One idea would turn into another, and into another and before I knew it I had EXACTLY the right name for each.

By renaming your projects to something fun and, sometimes, more meaningful it makes it less like work and more like creative play – which is exactly what artists and creators need to get inspired and get moving.  I haven’t started all of them yet, but when I stop to think about what I want to do creatively I get excited every time.  So, what are my new projects?

  1. (re)making Moe:  Little did I realize that when I renamed the blog project it would actually inspire the new name for the blog itself that I had been searching for.
  2. Rip It and Zip It:  Because my sewing aspirations involve not only from scratch/pattern sewing but also a lot of thrift and vintage redesigns it totally works.  Utterly cheesy? Yes.  But it feels far more fun than simply “sewing”.
  3. Grammy’s Jewelry Box:  My grandmother has always been a HUGE inspiration for me.  She did everything.  I still have a small jewelry box (that was actually my grandfather’s) that I dig through just to reminisce.  I remember being little and digging through a big bin of my mother’s old costume jewelry for hours just taking in the pieces.  Man do I wish I had that bin today.  The name Grammy’s Jewelry Box wraps all of that into one simple statement for me.
  4. Our New Old House:  When the restoration of our house was finished after the fire and we talked about moving back we called it our “New Old House”.  As a result, this project rename was way too easy.
  5. Ultimate Garden Party:  This project really revolved around everything I love about decorating with flowers or decorating outdoor spaces.  I spent about a year working in a flower shop and I miss it frequently.  What I would love to capture through this project is that perfect outdoor space, for weddings or for parties, combined with the sense of a street-side flower market.  Exactly what is states – my ultimate garden party.

Renaming these projects didn’t just make it easier to think about working on them but it kick started my creativity overall.  I have continued to add idea after idea to each of these over the last 2 months since I took that one simple step.  Do you have a project your procrastinating on?  I can bet you it has a crappy, homework like name.  Spend just 15 minutes today – pick one and rename it.  The magic will follow on its own.


From the archives: Empowering wives to joyfully serve (!?!)

Yes, you read that right and no, I didn’t drink the kool-aid last night.

I was poking around on Pinterest this morning, one of my revived favorite things thanks to the ridiculous convenience of my new Kindle Fire (thank, you baby), and came across the “31 days of love marriage challenge”.  Hmmm…I’m always interested in fun ways that we can enjoy each other and our marriage so I decided to take a look.

After the jump was a blog called Time-Warp Wife: Empowering Wives to Joyfully Serve.  WTF?!!

I started to look a little closer and it turns out the idea of the 31 days of love challenge was created by a group of christian bloggers with the intent for “women to live beyond ourselves, to put aside our preconceived ideas of what romance should look like, and seek out true love that is sacrificial and intentional”.  Okay….a little Stepford Wives but could be interpreted differently.  For example,  I am truly in love with my husband and I sacrifice from time to time to keep him in a good place or to ease our joint household burden.  I do things intentionally that I know will make him happy or help him enjoy life in general.  That’s just what you do when you’re in love….

But wait, what’s this?  “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”  Now you lost me….

There’s sections for housekeeping, time management, BRIDES IN TRAINING (that one freaks me out the most) and it goes on and on.  I started attempting to read the challenge.  Being of an open mind I can always take the “God” out of things that make sense to me.  I didn’t get very far…

Day 1 – What’s God’s definition of love?

Forget about God, how about having your own definition of love.  For me?  It’s not being able to get out of bed and start the day sometimes because you are so madly, crazy in love that you just want to keep the rest of the world shut out for a little longer.  It’s finding your other half to share in all these crazy adventures – someone who makes you 100 times better when they’re around and who always has your best interests in mind.  It is definitely NOT finding someone that you can serve (unless you’re getting kinky in the bedroom but that’s a whole other story). ugh…

Day 2 – Welcome Home Daddy

“I try to practice self-control and function in the wisdom God gave me by going to bed early so I can rise early to have my praise and quiet time with God.  If my heart and mind are not set on my First Love – the Lord Jesus Christ, then my attitude towards my Second Love – my darling husband, will not be of the Spirit, but of my flesh.”

So many places, where do I start?  There’s the breakfast devotional where everyone eats a small feast mom pulled together, probably after she’s been going already since 5:00AM, while she reads “the word” to them.  Then, when Dad gets home at the end of the day Mom and children take all of his things from him, give him a foot rub and park him in a recliner until the dinner that has been timed oh so perfectly to provide him with a 30 minute respite (per his request, mind you) is ready.  Apparently, this is part of teaching the children to respect Dad.  Forget Dad in this case!!  Sure, he’s been at work all day.  But how about some respect and relaxation for Mom for busting ass to keep it all pulled together like a 1950’s issue of Good Housekeeping! Oh, but that’s the sacrifice part.

All of this comes from Sunny who, by God’s grace and mercy, obediently began her journey towards biblical submission after 5 years of thinking that she was more spiritual than her husband.  This is where I stopped reading.

So, here’s my additional thoughts.

1.  Ladies, if you are doing all of this to support your husband’s spirituality I have a feeling that 50% of you are being had.  If all you do is try to drive your husband’s spirituality forward (and seriously, all your cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and make-up retouches are the answer?) then yes, you probably are more spiritual than your husband.  You should be allowed to own that, if nothing else, as thanks for your hard work.  I know you’ll say I’m missing the point and, trust me, I am truly grateful for that.

2.  Jesus Christ must have been an ungrateful, disrespectful little brat.  Who the hell do you think brought him into this world?!  Yet the men take the starring role and are expected to be served?  How does that make any sense to any of you?  You’ve been duped – just another point to prove that the bible was nothing more than an effort to control a population, to make people submit to a ruling body and to abide by their rules.  Back in the day when people didn’t have any advanced scientific capabilities and everything that happened in the natural world was a scary thing that had to be explained it may have had it’s place for some people.  Today it enrages me to think that people still heed these words as written without any modern interpretation.

3.  While you think your love is of the spirit and not of the flesh, I feel sorry for those of you who in your ever submissive state are probably raped repeatedly by your husbands.  How can that possibly be, someone may say.  I won’t even expound on this idea because you know and everyone else knows.

What makes it all worse?  These are the people that a large portion of our population want to select to run our country!  I don’t believe that there is an absolute direct correlation between this whole submission movement and the Mormons or the idiots that the republicans have running for office but I do believe that Christianity all boils down to a lot of the same basic principles.   I will always fight to keep your beliefs out of my politics.  You have no right.

Now, get this…I, too, have beliefs.  I believe there are things greater than we can understand at work sometimes and whether they are scientifically based or supernaturally based I have no idea.  I believe in fate and destiny but I believe that it is a product of my own actions and choices and I will absolutely refuse to just  sit by and passively accept everything that happens to me, assuming that it is the act of some single, supreme being that I am supposed to trust implicitly.

Guess what else?  I believe in gods.  All kinds of all pantheons.  I believe they are the embodiment of feelings, actions, or events that just needed, somewhere along the line, to be personified to help people put things right in their mind.  I believe they can act as focal points for things that you want to make happen in your life.  Case in point, our little statue of Ganesha that sits in our office.  It’s a focal point that reminds me that barriers in our business efforts and our lives as a whole can be removed and aren’t absolute.  I cannot, however, assume that will happen without any effort on my part and still be a reasonable person.

Lastly, I believe in love.  I believe in soul mates.  I believe that the feeling I got as a teenager or a young adult watching some cheesy guy-finally-gets-girl teen movie is out there somewhere – you just have to find it.  I always knew, in my heart, that it could be possible.  I always longed for it.  Then one day after 15 years it was standing on my doorstep.  Do I think there were forces at play and strange coincidences that aligned just right to allow for that to happen?  Absolutely.  Whether it was molecular or supernatural or because of the flying Spaghetti monster I have no idea.  I’m also not worried about figuring it out or putting a label on what causes it.  I’m more worried about enjoying it while I have it and encouraging my children to do the same one day.

And speaking of Jimmy Fallon…

If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have this AMAZING video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt to enjoy.  I may have posted this already (I know I throw it on Facebook randomly every few months) but it never gets old to me.  And it’s Monday so we could all use a little bit of happy to get the week started.

Happy Monday, everyone!  Boom, boom, boom….boom, b-boom, boom…

How “The Voice” infiltrated my life.

There are two reality contest shows that I would say I actually look forward to watching.  The first is So You Think You Can Dance.  After 13 years of ballet, tap and jazz training as a girl there’s no way I could NOT watch that show.  I feel like every week you get to witness at least one piece of art.  The second is not nearly so noble.  I’m not sure if it really counts since it basically presents the same contenders, or some combination thereof, season after season after season.  Yep – I’m a long time MTV Challenge addict.  While my interest ebbs and flows depending on the castmates signed on to participate in any given season, I think it’s safe to say that it will take a little while for me to walk away from that one for good – unless C.T. never comes back.  That might make it a easier.  But I digress…

brian johnsonBased on the title, though, this post is actually about The Voice – a reality contest that I never expected I would sit down and watch.  I don’t particularly like singing shows.  I have never watched a season of American Idol.  I appreciate the fact that I will never sing like that and that it requires skill, training and practice but I get bored – quickly.  So how is it possible The Voice has managed to work it’s way into my weekly routine?  It’s because of this guy – Brian Johnson.  When I started at my new job back in November, Brian was actually just on his way back from taping the initial rounds of the Voice.  By last month, he was leaving his position at my organization to pursue his music career – making all of us pretty optimistic that he was making it to the live playoff rounds (which I didn’t even really understand at the time).  The energy both from Brian and from the rest of my co-workers about him is contagious.  You can’t help but get wrapped up in the competition and hold your breath waiting to see if he’ll move forward.  Adam Levine hit the nail on the head this past week when he talked about how Brian just truly wants to sing.  If there’s anything that I can say about Brian, just from observing him indirectly for that period of time, it is that he is absolutely everything you see him portrayed as on the show.  He is sweet, friendly, open and authentic.  I’m excited to watch someone so real get to pursue their passion at such a level.

Unfortunately for me, though, this means that every Monday and Tuesday I’ve been on my DVR watching a voice contest that, without Brian, I really wouldn’t have much interest in.  I see the same characters and hear the same songs and approaches week in and week out.  It’s just not for me but somehow it’s insidious.  I now find myself stopping on the radio every time I hear that new Maroon 5 song.  I catch myself singing the chorus to a cover from the prior episode randomly for days at a time.  And I stop to watch videos like the one below, featuring Adam Levine and Jimmy Fallon, when I should really be digging into my jewelry or cleaning the house instead.

SIDEBAR:  It certainly isn’t without reason to think that I actually would have watched this video, regardless of the Voice, because Jimmy Fallon is a genius and anything that is trending that has his name on it is sure to be a win.

So now, I’ll spend the rest of my Sunday trying to get some momentum going.  First I better check and make sure my DVR is ready for tomorrow night, though, with it being the top 12 and all…..

Off My Bookshelf: Random Edition

I collect books.  I love to read, but I must admit that I have only read 25% of what sits on my shelves.  If I walk into a Half-Price Books or browse the bargain section of any other bookstore I will be sure to randomly pick items that peak my interest.  After all – they average about $5 a piece!  How could I go wrong?!  One day my free time will outweigh my other time and I will be lucky enough to have shelves and shelves of interesting material at my disposal, right?  That’s my theory at least.

That being said – here’s a couple of my favorites from my latest bargain round-up at Books-a-Million.  Pretty much completely unrealted, aside from the fact that I’ve only been able to crack a few pages of each so far.

Devil’s Knot:  The True Story of the West Memphis Three

As the back cover reads, “In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt’s The Devil’s Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three.”  I’ve heard of this story many times over, a number of my favorite bands have songs in reference or tribute to these three, and while I understand the basics I’m enticed to read the details.  I’m not good at true crime stuff – I’m intrigued by serial killers but can never make it through more than a few chapters before I have to put it away.  I, stupidly, tried to read Helter Skelter once and caused myself nighttime stress for months.  Hopefully this won’t have quite the same impact.  Time will tell.
Night of the Living Dead:  Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever

As a huge fan of classic horror movies (monster movies, more so) anything on the topic catches my eye.  I love the “behind-the-scene” kind of stuff.  It all goes back to when I first picked up “Nightmare of Ecstasy:  The Life and Art of Ed Wood” off  a shelf in the back room of the comic book store I was working at (I was probably 14 tops).  That book solidified my love for B-movies, classic monsters and almost anything shot in black and white.  So far I’ve read through the introduction of this book, a written walk-through of the film, and it recreated everything I love about the film.  I’ll see how the rest holds up but it will be a good addition to the collection nonetheless.

Hyperbole and a Half

I had no idea what this was when I picked it up other than it seemed witty and there were comic strips and cartoons mixed with written stories.  I didn’t realize until I just looked it up on Amazon that the author, Allie Brosh, has a blog by the same name.  Here are the author’s words from the back cover:

“This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative—like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it—but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!”

This one I can definitely digest in bite-size chunks.  Perfect for my schedule and just right to counteract the fact that when I can finally sit down and read (usually at night) I usually fall asleep after about 15 minutes.

What’s happening to our girls?! (aka. social media can really suck)


Seventeen Magazine – 80s/90s


Seventeen Magazine – 2014


I am an avid Pinterest user.  I could spend hours scrolling through my feed repinning recipes, project ideas, clothes, and everything DIY under the sun.  I love visual reference – which is probably why I can’t buy a cookbook that doesn’t have pictures.  I’m addicted to the volume of inspiration and ideas that I have at my fingertips.  I introduced my 11-year-old stepdaughter to it as a way to help her explore and capture her own ideas hoping that she would begin to develop her own style and interests.  And I must say – THAT is certainly what has happened.  Looking at her pinterest boards, though, is like staring into a little microcosm of the major impact the internet and social media is having on our kids, especially our girls, today.

I know we’ve been hearing it for years.  I know I experienced the impact that ever more “racy” TV was having on kids first hand when my 9 year old son wondered why he couldn’t watch Family Guy or South Park like all of his friends.  We see it all the time in how our kids interact (or really don’t interact) with each other on a daily basis now.  My husband and I feel it every time we walk into a video game store and try to buy a co-op game that we can actually play together, in the same room.  But looking at the evolution of this little girl’s feed recently made it even more obvious, and more scary.

I remember the really stupid things I did between the ages of 13 and 21.  They varied in theme across those years, and some were much, much more stupid than others.  If I back up to my pre-teen years, and think about where my ideas, dreams and inspiration came from, I realize that the sources were really few and far between.  There are a handful that stand out:

  • Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books
  • BOP and Seventeen Magazine
  • Sleepovers
  • A bulletin board in my room that was covered, every square inch, with pictures of cute boys cut from said BOP and Seventeen magazines (my own analog Pinterest, I guess)

My books and magazines were driven by what my parents would actually let me buy.  Once in a while a friend and I may have gotten our hands on a Hit Parader or Cosmo that belonged to an older sister or aunt.  Overall, it was a lot of work to find things that were really out of line for where I was in life at the time.

As I grew into high school and I fell in love with all things grunge and sought out the punk and alternative (goth/emo equivalents of today – only way better and not just veiled boy bands) music I truly enjoyed, I had to seek these things out.  There was no Hot Topic- the style required some personal investment and couldn’t be bought pre-packaged off the shelf.  There was no iTunes – I hunted down the little hole in the wall record shops where I could find the import version of a Nine Inch Nails CD to complete my collection.

Today, the sugar plums that dance through my 11-year-old daughter’s head are decked out in heavy eyeliner, “scene” hair and cut up black band t-shirts.  Her Pinterest feed is full of girls between the ages of 16-21 who look like they would fit in perfectly at either a biker bar or some of the more hardcore punk bars in the area.  Now, let’s be clear on my issue with this.  When I was 11 or 12 years old, did I not dream of being a glamorous teenager with nice boobs and the cutest boyfriend?  Of course I did!  That’s why I covered my bulletin board with pictures.  It’s normal and it’s healthy – it’s how we all learn to explore and consider new ideas and ways of presenting ourselves.

So what’s different, you may ask?  What’s so scary? I didn’t have as much at my fingertips.  I learned the most about sex from a book that my mom bought for me, that I found in a desk drawer before she actually give it to me.  I couldn’t go online and find a corresponding video that would perfectly illustrate what I just read.  My parents enforced rules about my appearance – and better yet most of my friends parents did too (which really helped with the peer pressure).  Even so, I still did some really stupid things.  Comparing that to what our kids have access to today makes me wonder how much more stupid their mistakes may be – and how much sooner we may need to be ready to deal with them.

As I sat down to think about what I wanted to say on this topic, I googled “fashion trends for young girls” (naturally).  Here are the image results:

fashiontrendsforgirlsNot completely horrible.  Not much different than the Seventeen magazines I was reading.  There’s one picture here that really stands out to me , though.  Can you guess which one?


Yes, I would bet that out of that whole image search, this is the one that would show up on my 11-year-old’s Pinterest board.  Why?  Because she looks like she’s about 12 and she’s dressed like she’s 21.  We are no longer presenting young girls with images of older girls dressed in fashionable outfits.  When our young girls can have pictures at their fingertips of girls their own age wearing these “fashions” it no longer becomes an aspiration (and I get a little sick to my stomach even thinking that someone would “aspire” to dress like this – but we are talking about pre-teens here) but a reality in their mind.  They think they can and should be dressing exactly how they dream.  That’s where we need to help them draw some lines.

||SIDEBAR:  How would I restyle this girl to be age appropriate in my mind?  First – ditch the slutty heals and put ballet flats on her instead.  Next, get rid of the make-up.  Enjoy being able to walk out of the house with natural skin glowing while you can!  It will take more work the older you get.  Limit the jewelry to one necklace and bracelet.  Wearing too many accessories looks trashy at any age.  Lastly, put a freaking tank top on under that top and not a bra!  Bras are not an acceptable alternative to outerwear.||

So, that’s a whole lot of complaining and maybe just a little productive solutioning.  How do we fix it?  Globally – we can’t.  We can only take responsibility for the young girls whose lives we touch personally.  We can only strive to be a role model and to help them find their way, just like our parents did for us (if we were lucky enough).  It’s cool for little girls to dream – frankly, it’s downright necessary.  What’s most important is to help them separate dreams from reality at the right times in their lives, and hope that they get it in the long run (because we all know they most certainly will not get it every time in the short-term).  Take a look at what they are looking at, pretty frequently if you can, and help them translate those images into a version that fits where they are right now.

I’ll leave you with this little ray of light I found on my Google travels this morning.


Tolly is a 14 year old fashion blogger, originally from the UK, who has been blogging since she was 11.  Her goal it to become a fashion designer and she is probably the most authentic 14 year old girl I’ve ever seen.  This what our girls need to be able to find in the tangle of the interwebs.  How luck if this is what they all aspired to be.