Monday, December 31, 2012

ARC- Acts of Random Chaos

Every year I do a lot of preparations for Christmas. I usually have most of the shopping done by Thanksgiving (yes, I'm one of those people!), handmade gifts are almost finished and I begin a huge bake-a-thon the could probably feed a  third-world country.

Think I'm exaggerating? Last year I filled six five-gallon buckets with three kinds of cookies. At twenty to thirty dozen per bucket, that's one hundred and twenty dozen to one hundred and fifty dozen cookies! Oh, and I baked banana bread too, but I forgot how many at this point.

What did I do with all those cookies? I gave them as gifts- after taking a share off the top for my family of course!  Now that my son is a teenager, that share has gotten monumentally bigger in recent years!

I was hoping to do something similar this year, but because of the late move I won't be able to do any baking- at least until January! I just tell everyone I'll be a bit late- and no, I won't be making as many this year- or should I say next year!

Comparing this year to last, things have still managed to be at the same chaotic level that they always are, but the priorities have shifted- there is no baking binge- I'm rushing to unpack. There is no present wrapping day- the kids are getting one or two gifts each and not a treeful. Time and money are just a little too tight because of the move. We don't even have time to decorate the tree we have on the porch- and I'm surprised we even remembered to water the darned thing, no less decorate it!

I miss the chaos of cooling racks all over the table and counters. I miss the smells of baking cookies while the Christmas music played, the arguments of who got what cookie and how many, and why didn't I bake cut-outs, because then they could decorate the snowmen as reindeer-saving, Star Wars Jedi Knight Commanders and sparkly, sugar coated Snow-Fairies.

Then there was the traditional Christmas Open House we would host, complete with homemade cheese and cracker trays, little finger quiches, vegetable trays, and other assorted goodies that almost made the kitchen table buckle. We still have the fifteen kinds of cocoa and assortment of thirty types of tea, but it's no fun unless you have twenty people wanting a drink at the same time!

But there is still time to plan my Acts of Random Chaos. We plan on having a house warming party sometime near the end of January. All that pent up baking and catering energy has got to go somewhere...right? Besides, I'm sure people will be suffering from Christmas withdrawals or the winter blahs, so I'll be helping them! Right?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ditching the Emotional Junk Drawer

Since moving to a new house, I'm finding boxes filled with things I never knew I had- or wanted to have. All those doo-dads that fit into junk drawers all over the house, for no real reason except to have them 'just in case'.  In case of what? I seriously doubt any emergency situation is going to call for used birthday candles or those assorted screws I found five years ago!

I won't allow junk drawers in my new house. They have no purpose, and all they do is take up space. 

But wait a second- what kind of junk drawers do we have in our heads? All those stupid little thoughts that remind us of our failures, dumb things we did, and bad decisions we made throughout our lives. You know the ones- those thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and sting nearly as much as the original event. 

Like the time I entered a Renaissance Faire Octoberfest contest and did so badly I won a prize for worst poem? I beat the guy who was half-drunk and ended all his poetry with 'And stuff.' I pride myself on spinning verse well, and even though that happened years ago, it still stings me to this day.

That's a junk drawer thought!

But how do you get rid of these thoughts? It depends on the thought itself. In my case, I plan on making it back to that contest and try again- even if I don't win, I faced one of my biggest fears. That's what matters!

Basically, if it's something I can change, I will. Forgiving someone who's really hard to forgive. Learning from mistakes. Letting go when you can't change something- this is a big one for me, because some things (like relationships, someone's cherished item I'd broken) just can't be mended, no matter how hard you try.

And when that thought comes back to haunt you, fling it back out into the trash. Tell it that it has no relevance anymore. You aren't like that now, you've left that behind- anything to turn that thought in the opposite direction- and out of your head.

These thoughts are like stray animals- keep feeding them and they'll never go away! Don't let these junk drawer thoughts stick around to clutter up your life. Fight those emotional battles! Challenge yourself! Change them from 'How could you have done that?' to 'I beat that!'

Declutter your mind, and stop tripping over your own thoughts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

New House, New Habits?

It's finally happened. We've moved!

The rental home we were in was a little bigger, but had a lousy floor plan. The only thing I'll miss about the old place is the storage space- it had cabinets everywhere, and a decent sized basement. Our new place is a little smaller (at least according to the paperwork we signed), but the floor plan is more open and brighter. It reminds me of a beach house, without the glass doors to the deck. And that's the way I like it!

After color coding my boxes and labeling the contents, the move itself went off without a hitch. Only three boxes were placed in the wrong areas! But oh, the stuff we've accumulated after living in the the old place after thirteen years! ('We' meaning me, by the way) And that was after I'd gotten rid of a ton of stuff! It was a sight to be seen.

Our kitchen is full of boxes. Full. As in 'barely can slide around all this stuff' full. Half of it is dry and canned goods, which had to go down the basement because there's no pantry. No worries- I plan on making one out of a closet. Either that or knock out the neighbors wall and use some of her space- I'm creative like that.

Mealtimes were an issue, because it's really hard to cook food in your bare hands. Luckily for me I'd made one-serving dishes within the two months before the move, so we had something to heat up for the past few days. Unfortunately, most of the meat-potato-and-veggie meals are gone, and all we have left is soup- at least four kinds.

It was like finding buried treasure when I found my frying pans! Yes, the box was marked, but they shoved it waaaaay in the back of the pile. Tonight will be grilled ham and cheese, to go with the soups. We will probably be having soup until Jesus comes at this point!

I was surprised at just how much stuff needs to be tweaked in a new house. Okay, new used, but new to us. I've also noticed a lot of stuff missing- like clothing poles in the closets, a missing shower curtain bar, and the fact that there are absolutely no cable wires anywhere. Not to mention the improvements we wanted to install, like cabinets, shelving and turning a closet into a small pantry.

I want a fold-up table with storage so I have a place to knead dough without pushing it into the bottom of the toaster on the counter. No one wants to knead dough on their counters anyway- it's hard to keep your buppies out of the way!

The kids have already unpacked their rooms. Of course they have clothes poles in their closets to do so. Mine will be done tonight, and I can finally get this ton of wearable fabrics off the foot of the bed. At this point, I feel like a hoarder!

I've adopted an attitude of 'If it Doesn't Fit, It Doesn't Stay'. The problem is I'm coming up with all kinds of ideas to store the stuff so it will stay. Like my sewing room.

The sewing room is even more stuffed than the kitchen. I probably won't have this space in order until January....2078. Instead of the mish-mosh of cabinets and dressers I used at the old place, I now have nothing to store the fabric. The dresser went to my son (who was the original owner until I nabbed it when it didn't fit into his attic room), and the cabinets were sold because they were just too darned big. Now I get to look at all the pretty things in the IKEA catalog and dream of a new-improved sewing space- like shorter dressers that will also serve as tables to lay out fabric!

Most of the pictures I had in the old place were so faded by the sun, we had to toss them. So I get to look for artwork too- or make some, when I get my sewing space in order. I already have ideas for home decor for around the windows and doors that just might be awesome enough to sell in the near future!

Until then, I make notes and unpack boxes. Lots of boxes.

Thank you God for your bounty! You brought us to this house and got us through a lot in the process of getting it. Thank you for a house that's warm all the time, for boxes filled with stuff that we need (for the most [part), and for friendly neighbors!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Wisdom of Words

I love words. They can express all kinds of emotions and degrees of emotion. I love playing with words and using them in a way to both entertain and educate. Words can be used to make people laugh or cry in a good way.

They can also be used foolishly and stupidly. This is especially true of those who do not possess the ability to refrain their fingertips upon yonder keyboard when making certain statements. Like the one I saw today.

I have a few children on Facebook who are both relatives and the children of friends. That makes me very careful about what I post, because little rabbits have big ears- even if those ears are fourteen years old.

There was a post made by one of these kids, asking for suggestions for how he could bring in extra funds for his family. I was so proud of this young man, for this was not a plea for his own gain, but to better his struggling family. Everyone had made some great suggestions, and I had suggested maybe he start his own business. I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't think he was capable. But the post below mine had shocked me:

Someone had posted, 'You could sell coke.'- and he didn't mean the soda.

I had to read it several times to believe it. I thought is was a snarky friend of his, but here it was an adult relative. Really? An adult put that as his response? I called his mom to give her a heads up. Apparently this relative thinks comments like that are funny, and it was dismissed as foolishness. But I had to many other kids would have been influenced by this post? How many other kids reading his reply might be influenced? Especially if they took it seriously, not knowing this guy was a butt-head. (the mom's words, not mine- though I couldn't agree more!)

Facebook has an age restriction of fourteen, but we all know there are kids a lot younger than that that have their own pages. And if you have children as part of your friends list, please, please be careful what you say. You never know when a joke will be taken seriously by a child.

I will not apologize for getting all mama-bear and watching out for posts like that. If you are my friend and I see your kids doing or seeing something that's inappropriate, I will let you know about it. And I expect the same from you- that's just how I'm wired. That doesn't mean I'll tell you how to deal with it- but I'll make sure you're aware of a potential situation.

We all know there are butt-heads online, and yes, even in our families (sometimes more than one!), so take care and watch over your children and make sure their influences are good ones. And don't forget, there is a reason Facebook has an 'Unfriend' button!