Happy Merry

A week spent in the mountains makes my heart happy and my life slow down.
Cheers to a fabulously relaxing vacation where I left the house 3 times in a week to go to antique shops and the grocery store. The drive home may not have been to wonderful but an extra 3 hours in the car is a small price to pay for such snowy bliss this xmas.

This was the scene under our tree before I packed up all the shiny gifts and managed to fit them in 3 boxes - one that we were taking over to Meggan and Ben's so it could go to Sarasota in our absence.

The early drive

EG in the car

Obligatory road trip car photo

The first snow we saw in South Carolina

Finally in Tennessee. Early, meet your cousin Bethany.

Hates the beach, loves the snow.

Every morning on the breakfast table, at least three kinds of home made jam.


The last morning of free roaming

Hi Florida, after three extra hours on the road we're home.

I love a vacation that is full of food and naps and movies. We spent a lot of time just relaxing with my brother and Kathryn - drinking the xmas gin and playing apples to apples.

side note: My brother and I are now so similar that we both gave our dogs red hoodies for the cold, gifted each other the same bottle of gin (Hendrick's), bought woodland animal dog toys for the girls, brought Apples to Apples to play together, and then Kathryn picked out the exact blush I already love and use for us both. We win.

So many sweets and snacks and really, I wish I could stay for weeks at a time. The peanut butter chocolate pretzel sandwich things were the biggest hit of my treats. Oh, and my dad couldn't get enough of the rocky road brownies. I'm glad I didn't make chocolate popcorn as Erin and Craig sent up a great big bag along with other goodies from Deb's chocolate shop. Things like dark chocolate berry bark and gingerbread toffee. My mom outdid herself too with 7-layer bars, 4 kinds of oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies and a lot more.

Let's just say I'm making a cake to bring to work for tomorrow and I won't be eating any of it. My teeth are choco-ed out.
I can't wait to ring in the new year - now to see what's going on around town!



Good things are happening again.

Or, the bad things have stopped because we've accepted them and are working past it. It's hard to tell sometimes. Whether the storm of crap has ended and that's why it's easier to breath, or if it's because you started looking beyond the now and the universe follows your lead.

I smiled a lot more last week. Collin worked in Orlando Monday night through Wednesday and I used the nights to pump out the xmas ornaments we're gifting family and friends. Productivity really helps to bring me out of a slump.
Then a spontaneous ladies' night at 101 with the girls Thursday melted a little stress from the week and started off a weekend of relaxed company.
Bonfire and beers with the dogs at Cindy's Friday night and after a busy Saturday daytime (errands, work, errands, enameling) she came over to our place and we watched Fight Club on TV and did nothing. It was great. Even got to hang out with Collin after he got out of work because I was still awake!

I finally got Dave Ramsey's book in at the library, too. Picked it up while I was out running those errands on Saturday (like dropping off an etsy order at the post office).

Crap. Now we have to actually start doing the real work.

Good timing though - at least more this week than the last. I think if this book had come in in the thick of financial stresses I might have been a bit overwhelmed and emotional to read it properly (aka without extreme guilt and self-loathing). However, in a better space I realized that we are alright. From reading a little about the baby steps we managed to accomplished #1 ($1000 savings) a long time ago and it turns out the debt snowball was what we were already doing. Well look at that. I will say that we were tested by this last months emergencies - real ones like vet bills and necessary car repairs - and got discouraged. It's nice to have $1000 in savings but what do you do when all your emergencies in a two week span total double that amount? Cry. If you're me. Also if you're me you break the cardinal rule and put some of that shit on those credit cards you hadn't used in about 6 months (Dammit!) so that after xmas you can start the new year off by paying off those newest charges asap before getting back to baby step #1.

I'm constantly having to remind myself that we just started this process and we're so young. When I do, I am super stoked on our potential. We're still 5.5 years from 30. Finishing step 3 (the real emergency fund of 6 mo. expenses) is the goal and hopefully with motivation we can also save up a hefty home down payment with a great rate on a 15 year mortgage.
Who really knows though, right?

I'm determined but I'm still a little anxious about "living like no one else now...".
Some of his more radical ideas I just can't swallow for ourselves. Like, we could sell Collin's drums, but really? No effing way. And if we do that and sell some furniture we could move into a littler apartment but it's the same deal.
I'm not there yet (if I ever will be). I want to stay here because I think it's unfair to have a large dog in too small a space and we have too many benefits that aren't monetary. Like access to the Thomas Center for dog walking, great neighbors that help us not have to board Lucky when we travel, a utility bill half paid for by our landlord in exchange for letting her use our address as her own, updated (safer) plumbing/hvac/fireplaces and do you know how much it costs to move? A lot.
Most of it though, we're going to do.
Some expenses will just have to go - like the "credit protection" I have on my amex and vices we simply do not need to keep feeding. We need to keep better track of our stuff - Collin especially with tips and freelance, his variable income. We have to know exactly what we have so we can make sure to live well within our means. I have to be better about the budget, too. It's all to easy to say that I can spend extra at the grocery store because we're eating out less this month but if I don't do the math and don't move the money, it won't happen. It will all just over spend.

We're also lucky that we've been able to provide for ourselves in unexpected ways this year. Just this past couple weeks when we're really struggling, I make 4 sales on Etsy and Collin gets a fat stack of subpoenas. Maybe I won't get those prescription sunglasses right at xmas, but I'll get them sometime and I want more to be out of debt than anything else right now.

January will see a lot of mint.com and spreadsheeting, I tell you what.
Much love to the coming 2010

(much love to my 100th post)



That I was once a high school cheerleader.

Came across this on the sidebar slideshow (say that 5 times fast, eh?) and had to reminisce for a moment. Ahh the bruises and sunburn and fabulous arm muscles.
I actually wore that uniform to school on many an occasion. And I'm pretty sure the skirt came to just below my ass. How can you respect a dress code after walking the halls in things like this?

Truth is, I quit cheerleading at the start of football season after it was revealed to us that because of 9/11 we weren't allowed to fly to Dallas for the national competition we'd won a bid for at cheer camp that summer (sidenote: that was the first time I ever went to Gainesville!). What a bummer. I was definitely not in it for the football or social implications. The cheerleaders weren't really at the top of the totem pole as far as popularity went at VHS.
We had a great football team (State Champs '00) and still do actually - whatup Trey Burton. That's just not what I loved about the sport.

So goodbye tiny skirt and bloody noses.
I went back to the world of ballet and blisters.



One week (less now even) until the big show at GLAM!
(What happened to October and November? Sheesh.)

Since my last post I've been trying to finish up the loose ends involved in preparing for my first craft fair. The show down at Vicki's was cake - send my items and show up for the opening party to eat, drink, and maybe talk to a few people about my work and the process. Mostly just eat and drink though.
This one, I have to provide everything I need to both attract people to my area and make me look professional enough to want to buy something. Except the table, that comes with the registration and I am SO EXCITED about that.

Kim over at The Sassy Crafter has graciously put some fabulous tips on her blog for n00bs like me that were an awesome help in addition to the various Etsy.com resources for those just breaking into the craft fair scene. Now, it's all coming together. I cannot wait to take a million photos next weekend of everyone's amazing items and all the pretty smiling faces supporting Gainesville's local artists.

In the past 10 days I...

Enameled on fine silver for the first time. WHY DID THIS TAKE ME SO LONG?
Watched the Gators kick butt - twice!
Raided Smiley's Antique Mall for vintage baroque picture frames
Enameled necklaces, bracelets and another bowl
Perused the Gainesville Fall Arts Festival with Eve, eating an arepa and a mug of lemonade/cherrywine mix
Attended an art show at Daacha where I saw many friends and watched collaborative painting and my friend Adam drumming inside a box.
Spent way too much more money on supplies
Took advantage of and used our new gas fireplace every night since it's been installed
Worked a full 40 hours at the lab
Celebrated with friends for Cindy's birthday at The Top (nom nom corn nuggets)
Walked Early and Foster to the dog park
Got jealous of everyone who had Veteran's day off work
Ate delicious food out in Archer with Gabe and Jen, finally seeing Religulous
Got paid
Listened to Metal played in the second bedroom
Assembled more and more and more for the show
Loved on Lucky all warm from sunshine in the open windows

It has been busy, but lovely.


fantasy vs reality

Last night I made spaghetti and meatballs. With half of one of those frozen garlic bread loaves with that are so good with their too much butter and seasonings built right in.
It was a really simple night.

I got home early from work and we relaxed and watched TV. Collin watered and looked after the yard while I started dinner. We went on a walk with Early down to the Thomas Center as the house filled with the smell of our meal.
After it was all done and we were both satisfied we just kept looking at each other and smiling these wide, bright grins. These looks on our faces kept saying, "I love you. And I love our life together." and we were both so sincere.

I said last night to him that I wouldn't change a single thing about my life. That I have not the tiniest piece of my life to complain about. Now, I know this isn't the first time I've felt that way. I've been in just the right place and time in my life before; happy and fulfilled. Now though, the present, feels more permanent. It is more permanent. I'm older now and more aware of what I need to make me happy vs what I want that could make me happy. In the past years I've been successful in sifting through the both and really focusing on my needs - things like a loving partner, a comfortable home, a handful of good friends, a satisfying yet enjoyable job.
These things I now have.
Sure there are parts of my life I would improve on; debt and Collin's school status are the two big ones but I'm not worried about them because we're actively working on all this together.

Yet I find myself asking whether I am simply settling or lucky to have found this place where I want to stay and raise a family? Why would I run off to start over in another city when I'm not unhappy here? I think it would take some miracle job for Collin and I to make a move and I just don't see that happening. Some of our friends are becoming restless though. Many moved here for college and are just tired of this town. I understand. Had I moved here for the same reason we would have probably jetted off to some other corner of the country by now. Maybe not though. I'm not a wet blanket or anything, I just like stability, and the comfort that comes from living in one city longer than two years. As Collin said to me once when we were still long-distance-dating, "I'm not a waffler". A handful of friends are starting to put some roots into our community as well. One just bought a house this past year. I find myself even more content knowing that we could be building the extended family we reach out to for the next 20 years.

I once heard about a study that stated womens fantasies were much more frequently about domestic life and milestones rather than sex (to hell with trying to find it, this was so so long ago). I want to say that they simply asked of both sexes, "What are some of your fantasies?" and let them answer openly without prompting. Thoughts about getting married, owning a home, landing a dream job were frequently first thought of by women - I am not surprised. This is me, but especially after marriage I find this to be true. Is it this way for most married women? Is it because we know we can have good sex when we want (assuming our husbands are similarly willing to drop anything for a romp) and these are the things in life about which we aren't sure? Are fantasies supposed to be your ultimate dream reality or something you can have if you're just patient and work hard?
Am I doing the fantasy thing wrong? Or am I, in part, living my fantasy already?



Thanks Chris!

I hope your new lady friend has a happy birthday later this month
Also thanks for helping me to cross off (or in my case, turn pink) #26 on my list of 101 things to do. Even if we did kind of cheat because we did the whole thing in person and then I just asked you to "buy" it on Etsy so I can get some sales feedback. You're a true friend.



The woman who runs this event contacted Meggan through Etsy.com the weekend of our art show at Heart's Desire. While I was a little bummed she didn't find me herself (I have Gainesville as my location, too!) Meggan was kind enough to pass on the event information so I could apply for myself.

An email to the SassyCrafter, a week of wait, and I'm in!

The show will be November 22 just a few blocks away at the Thelma Boltin Center downtown. Just one week before this will be the Downtown Arts Festival - a much pricier and bigger event taking over all of downtown with booths full of paintings, glasswares, jewelry and street food. OOOOhhh the street food at an art festival - don't get me started. I already have plans to walk around the festival like usual, but this time with fliers in hand for our own show the next weekend.

I also get to cross another item off my 101 in 1001 list (sell at a local art show).

I know I'll be working like a mad woman with just about a month to make everything I'd like to sell. All while constructing our Halloween costumes (Thor and Sif, husband and wife Viking Gods) and letting myself have fun for Gator football, The Fest/Halloween weekend, and an occasional Thursday Ladies Night at 101 with the girls.
Of course, with all this going on I signed up for another show coming December 4th. My friend Megan (one G - I know a lot of Meg/g/ea/h/ns) works at the Lighthouse Center for the Arts down in Tequesta, FL. She's started an amazing monthly event where young artists come to show/sell and demo their work on a Friday night. Food, music and tasty beverages are all part of the fun and I am really excited to go.
It's been too long since I've seen Megan and I'm all for another opportunity to sell my pieces. I am really nervous about doing a live-demo and talking in front of people though. Something tells me the library card I picked up last week will come in handy as I try to research some more on enameling technique and teaching so I can be clear and concise. I think my worst teaching nightmare involves dropping a piece of 1500F metal and glass, setting fire to the table and building. Unlikely, but my work table at home has the burn marks to prove this has happened before. I don't know if I'll be making much for this show specifically (unless I sell out at G.L.A.M.) but who knows. The show at Heart's Desire ends on November 30th and I am going to try to get anything that didn't sell a few days early to take home with me after Thanksgiving and bring to the LCA event.

Oh, and I have those custom orders from friends and family that have been trickling in these past couple weeks. Thanks facebook, my business appreciates your social networking capabilities!


my 101 in 1001

I mentioned this challenge back in January, and I guess I never got around to posting it here (or completing the list, for that matter). Cleaning up at work last week I found my list. Sure it only had about 60 goals on there but I figured that since I'm almost a whole year into this thing, I might as well round it out to 101 and put it in writing. I've actually accomplished more than I expected and after months of not even looking at this list. Surprisingly (or, not surprisingly?) I haven't completed a number of goals on that list that seem so simple - I have to keep them on there and get motivated - no back tracking to erase things I have yet to do, even if I'm incredibly tempted.

I'm setting my start date at January 1, 2009 since thinking about new years resolutions was what led me to find the 101 in 1001 in general. I had a hell of a time thinking of a full 101 things. Am I not that creative? Am I not adventurous? I think I just have reservations about putting things on the list that are counter productive to each other. Like, wipe out half of our credit card debt while listing vacations we want to go on.

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Start Date: January 1, 2009
End Date: September 28, 2011

Completed item
Working on it

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Artsy Fartsy
1. Learn watercolor technique for enameling
2. Paint a portrait of Lucky
3. Sew cute pillows for the living room (March 2009)
4. Finish Collin's Converge skateboard
5. Re-finish the round table with the glass top
6. Make a wedding album for Erin and Craig (May 2009)
7. Put all of Matt's radio show cd's on the computer (June 2009
8. Get Collin to organize said music on the hard drive (April 2009)

9. Backup all photos to hard drive (April 2009
10. Create something using GIMP program (July 2009 - business cards)

11. Make wedding album for guest photos, cards, and pre/post wedding events March 2009)
12. Take a class at UF or use their resources (Screen prints in November 2009)

13. Nashville, TN
14. Boston, MA
15. NYC
16. Gem mining in Tennessee (June 2009)
17. Charleston, SC
18. Visit 3 giant heritage oaks 1, Cellon Oak Park

Material Girl
19. 4 skirts for everyday wear 1, 2, 3, 4
20. New couch(es) or steam clean the ones we have
21. TV stand for bedroom (June 2009)
22. Have more than 1 pair of wearable jeans at once (September 2009)
23. Have aquamarine from Mexico set in wearable jewelry
24. Finish Collin's tattoo in color or get his Rollins tat

9 to 5
25. Start store on Etsy.com (July 2009)
26. Sell an item online to a stranger (December 2009)
27. Sell an item in person (October 2009 )
28. Get in an art show/festival (October 2009)

29. Get in a local art show/festival (November 2009)
30. Make back all money invested in enameling (December 2009)
31. Set up hard and computer filing system
32. Get a raise at the lab each year 2009, 2010, 2011

33. Hang photos and artwork in the frames that are laying around (August 2009)
34. Purchase a rug for the living room (June 2009)

35. Re-cover dining room chairs (March 2009)

36. Create better enameling workspace (July 2009
37. Clean under the fridge and oven (August 2009)

38. Get renter's insurance
39. Tend to the fishtank monthly for 6 months in a row 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
40. Collin and I live with no roommates (August 2009)
41. Landscape the yard (April 2009)
42. Bake 5 bread recipes (5/5 - no knead bread, MS dinner rolls, bagels, pizza dough, fruit tarts)
43. Go through and purge old cooking magazines for recipes (May 2009)
44. Write down favorite original recipes somewhere (August 2009)
45. Go 2 weeks in a row without buying groceries
46. Sweep/swiffer the kitchen and bathroom every week for two months
47. Make a compost bin for outside and small container for daily use inside

48. Stop using credit cards entirely for 3 months (1, 2, 3)
49. Get life insurance (May 2009)
50. Pay off 50% of all credit card debt
51. Create a budget and setup online monitoring (September 2009)
52. Contribute to 401k at work (March 2009)
53. Save 1000$ emergency cash (November 2009)
54. Quit paying for vices (August 2009)
55. Start to save for an emergency fund (February 2010 - baby step #1 accomplished. again)

Health and Self
56. Find a general practitioner and get a physical (January 2009)
57. Find a dentist and have a routine cleaning (September 2009)

58. Fix crown (December 2009)
59. Get wisdom teeth out
60. Quit smoking cigarettes for 6 full months (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
61. Chart cycles for 2 full years (4/10-4/09, 4/09-4/10)
62. Fix up a bike and ride it to downtown
63. Get prescription sunglasses
64. Go 6 months between hair appointments for 1 year (December 2008, June 2009, 12-09)
65. No fast food for 1 month

66. Make 3 new girl friends (Cindy, Eve, Rachel (again))
67. Meet 3 more neighbors (Tom, Melissa, Rod)
68. Go dancing downtown
69. Send a friend in Boston a present for "no reason" (June 2009)
70. See my laark ladies once a year each (at least) 2009, 2010, 2011
71. See my parents once a year (at least) 2009, 2010, 2011
72. Send out Xmas cards each year 2009, 2010
73. Go to 1 Gator game each year 2009, 2010, 2011
74. Send Piper a surprise present (April 2009)
75. Have 6 parties over the course of the 1001 days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - NYE '08, St. Patrick's '09, St. Patrick's '10, Piper's 4th Birthday picnic, housewarming at 931, Labor Day Chili Dogs

76. Adopt a dog (July 2009)
77. Talk about a time line for building our family (January 2009)
78. Have a "nice" dinner date every 2 months for a whole year 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
79. Take professional photos with Collin
80. Walk the dog together to the dog park each week for 2 months 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

80. Donate clothes to hospice (January 2009, May 2009)
81. Donate to operation catnip once each year 2009, 2010, 2011
82. Donate 10 cans of food
83. Give $$ when asked by a homeless person (August 2009)
84. Gift food to a neighbor unexpectedly (January 2009)

85. Buy from the farmer's market 5x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

86. Go to the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit (September 2009)
87. Visit the Natural History Museum (not butterfly part)
88. Visit the Harn Museum of Fine Art
89. See the nutcracker during the Christmas season
90. See a performance at the Phillips Center (Ben Folds, March 2010)
91. Spend a day at Newnan's Lake
92. Try 6 new restaurants around town 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - reggae shack, peach valley cafe, boca fiesta, mexico lindo, ichiban, shooting star
93. Visit the Tree of Life Meggan always talks about - Cellon Oak Park
94. Walk around the Spring and Fall arts festivals (spring, fall)
95. Go to two Downtown Friday shows at the community plaza (June 2009)

96. Visit the Cedar Key seafood festival
97. Float down the springs (in a canoe)
98. Hike Paine's Prairie and/or visit for a meteor shower
99. Tour the Lakeridge Winery
100. See more of St. Augustine with Tom and Melissa than just their house
101. Take Early to a dog friendly beach (October 2009)


One Year

I'd be posting all about my wonderful weekend celebrating the opening of the art show and the first anniversary of my marriage.

My nose is buried in my new book.

The Year of the Flood, the latest by Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid's Tale in high school and wrote my final research paper in Dystopian Lit juxtaposing Oryx and Crake between it and Brave New World. Sigh. Now this is a sequel (of sorts) to Oryx and Crake and so far, so good. I read she is writing a third for the group and you can bet if things continue as the last 75 pages have I'll be reading it as well. I'm making it obvious that I have a crazy love for utopian/dystopian novels. Anthem was the first (as I'm sure it was for many teenagers in American schools) but it was just the beginning.

Collin bought me this book for our first anniversary. We decided a while ago that it would be fun (and cheaper?) to stick to the time-old traditional anniversary gifts. Paper it was for Year One. He had some help with this pick, but I gave him a few ideas that I would love all involving paper. I was excited to see the package on our couch this past Sunday when we arrived home after our weekend away.
I was also happy to see a bottle of champagne left chilling in our fridge by our awesome neighbor/friend/cat-feeder Craig.

For his gift I ended up purchasing Collin a ticket to go see Deathklok again this year in Orlando when they come on tour. They're playing with two of his other favorite bands even! It may seem more romantic to buy tickets for the both of us but when I really thought about it I wanted to gift him a night away with the boys, too. It's purely coincidence that this second gift actually saved me another forty bucks ;)


In Review

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

So this was a year. One of just many of the future if we are lucky. If not, at least we got life insurance in this span of the past 365+.

We've done more than this together, and more apart as well. Dealt with health issues, road trip vacations, working multiple jobs and a new member to the family who ate our ipod (to his dismay) and a nude high heel (to mine).
It all works out in the end.

I sure as hell hope that people are right when they say your first year of marriage is the hardest. I don't think they are, but if so, we're set for a great life.
I love this home we have and our little family of four (when you include the fuzzy black children of ours). Next year will hopefully be more of the same. Days and months flying by. Filled with love and smiles and good things. There are hardships, but this partner I have here, he gets it. He knows how to support me. When to shut up, when to talk, when to draw me a bath and when to start doing the dishes. He cleans the litterbox and doesn't take it personally when I don't finish the sandwich me made me because it has too much mustard.
I love him. More than I ever expected.
and he gives me more love than I ever knew possible.