Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treading Water

Grief is an interesting emotion.  You would think since I've been surrounded in it on a daily basis over the past 20 years (give or take a few days) that I'd have a good grasp on it.  And frankly, for the most part I genuinely believe I do.  It's been just a little over 3 years since my father passed away and I'd say 90% of the time I do my utmost best to keep my emotions about it at bay.  Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad, but it's how I exist and it seems to be working for me thus far.  However, every once in a while I get taken off guard by the power of grief and its relentlessness to take over for short intervals here and there.

Tonight Gage, Eric and myself went for dinner for Eric's birthday, and just as we were pretty much wrapping up, a young girl in her early 20's walked in and was seated at a two person table.  It was clear she was waiting for her dinner date to show up.  When the waitress approached her I heard the patron tell her that 'her dad was just parking the car and he'd be right in.'  A twang of jealousy overcame me.  Just a mere sentence like that.  Silly, I know.  And then he walked in.  Their interaction caused a lump in my throat and my nose to tickle a bit.  My eyes immediately started to water.  I didn't get it; they weren't over the top.  They didn't even hug hello.  It was just the casual way he spoke to her and how she smiled at him while she talked.  It was clearly an easy conversation between a girl and her dad.  And man was I green with envy.  I had to swallow my tears.  It came over me that suddenly and that powerfully; like an undertow.   It's a good thing I was sitting because it could have taken my feet out from under me.

Three years.  I'm good!  I can talk about my dad and laugh and smile.  I'm well on my way to recovery.  Aren't I?  I'm suppose not.  I can keep trying to fool myself.  I can paddle through the day with a smile on my face and bury my emotions like the best of them, but once in a while the truth surfaces and I'm reminded that I've lost such a huge, mega influential person in my life...a steady, a constant, a norm.  And maybe I'm not adjusting to change quite as awesomely as I think I am.  Every once in a while I'm reminded that I'm not a robot.  Every once in a while my emotions get the better of me.  Sometimes it hurts.  Just for a few minutes and then I find something else to focus on and I smother it down below the surface.  Most of the time I'm not even consciously aware that I'm doing it.  

Sometimes I think I need to learn how to swim in my grief for a little while.  I tread from time to time, but sometimes I think I need to dunk my head under water, fully submerge myself, and hold my breath for as long as I can.  But drowning terrifies me.  Even when it's metaphorical.  Treading will have to do, because I'm pretty sure I'm a long way from land and I'm not a very good swimmer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Model for a Day

Is it normal for people to find reasons not to do things that would please themselves?  Is it human nature to play the martyr role?  Does it naturally happen when you become a parent?  You tend to become less self absorbed?  Or does it just magically happen when you transition into adulthood, no children necessary?  

I'm not too sure but I find at this point in my life that I'm more inclined to spend any extra money I might have on my children or my house.  I have to consciously talk myself into spending money on something for me.  Usually.  I've been trying to make a concerted effort lately to find a happy mix of it all.  Obviously I'm not oozing with money so it's not often an issue but when I have it, lately I've been trying to look after everyone, including myself.  

This is my 40th year my lovelies!  FORTY!  Like fo' real??  Yes, for real.  I can hardly believe it myself, so I'm sure my mother is struggling with it.  But it's not like I'm struggling with it.  Quite the contrary.  I'm embracing it and welcoming it.  Forty is the new twenty!  So I'm making more of an effort this year to make it MY year!  Greedy? Perhaps, but no one I'm legally responsible for is suffering for it, so I'm good with it.
 
So in this year of the Holly (It's actually the year of the Horse, but who's being petty?  Both start with an H.) I have scratched off one of the items on  my list of things to do at least once!  I've always wanted to do a photo shoot.  Back in the late 80's/early 90's it was a Glamour Shots thing (Thank goodness I didn't bother with those!  Or maybe it would have been awesome to have them too!).  For the past few years Pin Up photo shoots seem to be all the rage.  I constantly looked at photos wishing I was brave enough to step outside of my comfort zone and rich enough to fork over the money.  Then last summer fate found a way to step in (Do I believe in fate?) and I won a gift certificate for a basic Pin Up photo shoot with the lovely Michelle Boulay (Michelle Boulay Photography) from a friend's Stag and Doe night.  The gift certificate covered the bulk of the expense (hair, make up application, one outfit and three edited prints) so I scrounged up some extra cash and upgraded that package and booked my shoot a couple of weeks ago.  Now I got to use a couple of outfits and get more photos in the end.  

Michelle was awesome.  Like I said I was out of my comfort zone and completely nervous about looking like a moron whilst trying to pose like a model with zero experience.  I am 100% positive there were tons of those awkward photos in amongst all the shots she took, but she was kind enough not to share them with me.  Thank you for that Michelle!  Before my actual appointment we chatted back and forth about what my expectations were (I had none), what kind of background/theme I wanted to use/do (I had no preference) and what to generally expect.  So when I got to her place I was more excited than nervous.  

She had so many little sets around her space.  It was like I entered a time vortex back to the 1950's.  I loved it immediately.  She had a vintage dining set, lamps, furniture, hair salon, and more props than you can shake a stick at.  I loved it all.  Her dressing room looked like a costume department threw up in there.  Clothes, shoes, hats, everywhere!!  So many options!  We ended up going with some clothes I had brought with me.  We knew they'd fit and I think she was excited to work with the colours and outfits she wasn't used to working with. 


Michelle, aside from being a great photographer, is also a hairdresser by trade.  So she did my hair and make up for the photo shoot as well.  She also prefers to rely as little as possible on Photoshop and as much as possible on her actual camera skills.  I almost wished she hadn't told me that.  I'd talked myself into a state of calm knowing she'd just Photoshop all the bad stuff out.  Nope!  Eeek!   Now I was worried I'd spend all this time, effort and "money" and I wouldn't get a shot I was comfortable with but more importantly loved! (I am my harshest critic - aren't we all?)   I was so wrong.  She sent me so many wonderfully, fun shots.  I am so pleased with the results and I would recommend doing this to all women out there.  I swear, I felt like a model for 4 hours that day.  She has so many package ideas, Pin Ups are only one of them.  


So this my friends, is what 40 looks like, and I'm loving it!  Thanks for the great experience Michelle!  Be sure to swing by her web page and check out her talent and if you're in the Niagara Region and interested in something like this, reach out to her and ask your questions.    






Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elegant Fridge Magnets

I can tell that Spring is around the corner since I'm starting to jones a little for garage sale season to begin.  I even spent one day this week cleaning out my craft area and taking a mental inventory of what I have waiting to be transformed.  I mostly just wish that I could blink my eyes and shit I want done will be done, but Eric isn't good at getting the projects I have in mind started, much less finished.  I sometimes wish I was so much handier with tools.  One day...I keep telling myself.

So for the time being I found a cute little craft, that was more simple than I should even bother to state, to tie me over until I can move on to other projects.  That being said, this is a project I`ll probably do again and again.  I figure the supplies will be so much cheaper when purchased at a garage sale rather than a thrift store.

I ventured out on a mission for gawdy goodness and somewhat succeeded.  I purchased myself seven brooches between Goodwill and Value Village.  They ranged anywhere from $2-5 bucks.  Like I said, pretty certain I'll score better deals with a garage sale, but I didn't really want to wait.  I then sought out some button magnets at a local dollar store and found great success!  They were about 10x cheaper here than at Michael's for the exact same thing.  The rest of the stuff, I had.


I used those green thingy's to cut the straight pin contraption off the back of each brooch.  Far, FAR easier than I was anticipating.  Get yourself one of those cutter things.  Definitely worth the investment.  Then I applied some Gorilla Glue to the back of each brooch and affixed the appropriate sized magnet.  After a few hours (though to be safe I left them over night) they were fulfilling an entirely new purpose!


Now they hold up amazing comics that sum up life in my house purr-fectly.  They also make super cute little gifts too for those girly-girls in your life.  I've already given one away.   So if you must clutter up your fridge with papers and magnets, do it in style!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Friends. I've missed you!

I figure I'm slacking on the blog posts, so I'll catch y'all up Christmas card letter style.

Dear friends:

Merry Christmas to you and yours!  I hope this letter finds you well.  It's the middle of February, so I'm just a tad late getting this out to you all.  Whoa, can you believe it?!  The middle of February??!!  Is that good or is that bad?  I shall ponder that.  Bad because as I creep up on 40 this year I have come to the obvious understanding that I'm on the downward slide closer to the grave now.  So the quickness of these days flying by is a little unsettling.  However, it's the middle of February, and do you know what that means?  The days are getting longer again and soon the nice weather will be here.  I'm fairly certain the snow won't melt until July, but as long as the air is mild, I'll be okay with that!  Besides, I've been missing my 'nightly' runs.  Really, I swear.  It's so crazy to acknowledge that, since I've hated running pretty much since Ali Darnay beat me at the 100 metre dash when I was in Grade 8.  To be beaten by a grade 7 kid...oh the humanity!!  *shakes fist*  Honestly though, I'm looking forward to lacing up my shoes, popping the ear buds in, leashing up the dog and clearing my head for a half an hour (or so) and surpassing small goals each time I go out.  This year we signed up to do the Warrior Dash with friends in July, so I need to get this 5K thing well under my belt before then.  We had so much fun a couple of years ago doing the Zombie 5K that I'm eagerly anticipating the Warrior Dash this summer.  I think I'll be in a much better position physically this go around.

So what's been going on with us lately?  I feel like I haven't really shared lately.  Sorry, life gets in the way. No, that's not really true because if life was getting in the way I'd have so much more to write about.  I think I've just gotten into the habit of accessing Facebook through my phone that I've gotten away from the source of convenience for blogging (my computer).  So let's see....let's see....What's happened, what's happening and what's coming up for this gal?

Lets start with the mundane shall we?  Work is work.  I made it through another annual round of employee evaluations unscathed, but no richer.  Go me!  Now I just have to find the motivation and desire to start and finish the evaluations for my own employees.  There isn't much more I loathe than doing these.  It's not that I have huge issues with my staff.  Far from it actually. They are just so tedious and boring and blah, blah, blah (the evaluations, not my staff)  Even writing about it has me drifting off.... So ya, work is work.  I'm still blessed enough to confidently state that I love my job (most days).  So there's that.

This year there are big plans for my 40th birthday party and they are already well under way.  Eric's helping out with some stuff and has something secretive up his sleeve.  I'm sure it will be awesome!  A hall has been rented, invitations have been created, music playlist started, and my secret birthday party Pinterest board is filling up with different ideas.  I want it to be kept fairly simple, but fun for everyone.  Being in the death industry and confronted daily on my mortality has made me push for a birthday party this year.  You just never know when something will happen, so I'm doing my best to make memories while I'm here!  Saturday, September 20th folks in the know - save the date!  I'm so looking forward to hanging out for the evening with as many of my friends as possible and I was also super excited to learn that a friend from a far away land is planning to come!

Gage's $11,000 mouth (overall) project is finally coming to an end tomorrow.  The poor guy was born without three permanent teeth so now that his braces are finally off and his teeth are where they should be, we can move forward with a fixed bridge so his mouth will have a full set of chompers!   I think he's looking so forward to completion and no longer having to wear a retainer with fake teeth all day everyday.   Maybe next year we can go on a vacation instead of having to buy Gage teeth.  Wouldn't that be lovely?  And it also makes for a great segue into my next paragraph.

I've taken this week off work.  I was in desperate need of some non-work time.  No plans to go anywhere.  Just some scatterbrained thoughts about doing stuff around that house that probably won't actually get done.  You know, stuff like spring cleaning.  So I spent the day yesterday cleaning our bedroom and Eric's office/my craft area.  Three garbage bags and two donation bags later...I feel cleansed.  Onto another room sometime this week (maybe).  I'm also trying to fit some real life visits in while I'm off as well.  Today I got to steal a quick visit with my favourite month old twinnies.  Friends of ours had a baby boy and girl a month ago and I just love holding those little babes.  It's nice to hang with their parents too.  We'd gotten away from that for far too long.  So just another reason why babies are pretty awesome.  By the way, what is it about holding a new baby that's so calming?  And then on Thursday I am going to enjoy some amazing Indian cuisine at Moksha with Lesley and finally some time over the weekend we'll hook up with Stu and Tina for some yummy breakfast grub.  So ya, trying my hardest to have more human interaction with the people that mean something to me.  Don't worry, if we haven't hung out yet or recently I'm getting there!  I promise.

But before dinner on Thursday, I get to do something I've always wanted to do but have been a little shy, nervous, apprehensive about doing.  Last summer I won a gift certificate at a stag and doe for a Pin Up photo shoot.  I finally got around to contacting the photographer and made arrangements to do my shoot on Thursday.  She has numerous vintage 'sets' but I'm still so undecided as to what I want (theme, costume, etc.).  I figure it's just easier to give her carte blanche, as she knows what she's doing way more than I do. I'm so green when it comes to this sort of thing.  Just the idea of it makes me nervous, yet excited.  I don't have a clue how to pose for a picture...but I'm looking forward to seeing what she can pull out of me while I'm there.  I'm sure I'll blog about that experience once it's done and I have some photos to post.

Eric and I are also making plans (outside of my Pinterest boards and deep in the recesses of my head) pertaining to home renovations for the next few months.  I think the main project this spring will be to paint our aluminium siding to freshen up the outside of the house.  We'll do it ourselves, because we're handy insane, when I'm off for a week in May. I've already researched it, and it doesn't seem too hard, it's just going to be time consuming.  Eric's also done some patch work on some of the walls in our bedroom so we'll end up having to paint that once he gets his cast off his hand in a couple of weeks (snow shovelling casualty).  I have so many other ideas I'd love to see come to fruition over the next year, but I need to be financially realistic.  With Eric being laid off we've found ourselves in a catch 22.  More time at home to get stuff done, but less money to have it become a reality.  One baby step at a time.  I'm not sure I'll ever get another vacation!

Both boys are doing well.  Gage finished Semester one of Grade 11 (GRADE ELEVEN! WTF??) with a decent set of grades and has started a relatively easy second semester.  Roan has struggled immensely through the first half of his year (Grade 7) prompting us to re-evaluate the benefits of medication.  He's been off meds for his ADD for about 8 months now, but we've discussed with his teachers and included Roan himself in the decision making and we've decided it's probably best for him to get some assistance with his concentration.  So he's started a new prescription (much different than the first go 'round) and he seems to be responding well to it both in school and personally.  So hopefully he can pull his grades up and move on to Grade 8 in a much better position.  I hate seeing him struggle with school when he's capable of so much more.  

So I guess that's a quick synopses of what's been happening with us and what we are anticipating over the next half a year or so.  I should probably come up with reasons to blog more frequently so I'm not subjecting you to this sort of post again any time soon.  I'll do my utmost best going forward.  I hope Santa is good to you all.  Many blessings for a peaceful holiday and a prosperous new year!  

Until next time, start getting excited about an upcoming birthday party!

Holly



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ten Dinners in Two Hours

So I gave myself a little bit of an unspoken challenge this month.  I figure if I don't say them out loud and they never come to fruition then it's not a true failure right??   Any who, I challenged myself to making my life easier on myself one little bit at a time.  And with that I decided to attempt a feat I saw originally on Pinterest.  A 'making dinner easier for myself' challenge.  There isn't nothing I hate more than having to plan out dinner in the morning when it's the furthest thing on my mind or coming home after 8 hours to decide what to make for dinner (and usually everything is frozen).  That kind of hatred leads to eating in restaurants a lot and with Eric laid off, that's not terribly conducive to our wallet and bank account.

I found an ideal starting place at Mommy's Fabulous Finds.  Ten crock pot recipes prepped in one night to pull out and use over the next week and half.  All of the recipes I used can be found on her blog.  The ten I prepared are listed in the link above, but she has many other crock pot recipes on her site you could try for variance.  It took me about one hour and 45 minutes from taking the food out of the cupboard to putting the freezer bags filled with dinner into the freezer and cost me around $120.00.  Each recipe feeds 3-4 people. Not terribly bad, if you ask me.  I originally went through all the recipes and created an entire list of everything I would need.  Then I started crossing off what I already had in stock and what I was left with was the most detailed grocery list I've ever compiled.

The ten recipes I made tonight are:

Savoury Pepper Steak
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Teriyaki Pork Chops
BBQ Cranberry Chicken
Honey BBQ Chicken
Pork Carnitas
South western Chicken Chili
Sausage and Peppers
Apple BBQ Pork Tenderloin
Pineapple Chicken Burritos

Like I said, all the recipes can be found right HERE!   Thanks to Mommy's Fabulous Finds for doing the majority of the leg work and making this little challenge easier for me.  I'm really looking forward to the pay off for this.


Initial Feature

As most of my readers know, I posted a 'tutorial' of sort on how to make an ornament letter "wreath-like-thing" a few weeks ago.  Well, I was invited to share that posting on a crafting blog for so many others to see!  I'm not sure why validation from 'real crafters' means anything to me, but it sure does.  I still struggle to label myself as a 'real crafter'.  I don't think I've earned it yet.

So my point of this posting is to invite you to check out my feature on Anne's page:  Creative Life Blog. Perhaps you can find some inspiration to create your own initial art work.  Today's my feature day!  But, it's also important for me to thank Anne for thinking my craft was worthy enough to include in her 31 days of Letters, craft ideas.  And if you are here visiting from Anne's page, drop me a message or subscribe and follow.  A party is so much more fun when there are more people attending.

Thanks Anne and thanks to everyone for your kind words about my crafting projects.  They are fun to do and your praise makes them even more rewarding.