Monday, February 28, 2011

Almost spring

It's officially almost spring!  Never mind that it's been in the 60s and 70s in Atlanta for about two weeks.  Today we are supposed to get a thunderstorm!  A real, honest-to-goodness spring storm.

This weekend I was in the mountains of north Georgia forcing people to sing.  More on that later.

The space bar on my computer isn't working very well.  It is making this typing stuff take a very long time.

In the meantime, I share this post from kind over matter.

by Liv Lane

This morning, I heard a local radio DJ complaining about someone who had written a series of mean emails. The DJ told his co-host, "I could get angry or aggressive, but I prefer to kill ‘em with kindness." The co-host agreed. I cringed.

I know people who say this believe they’re taking the high road. But that age-old adage – "kill them with kindness" – still implies that you’re seeking revenge, just in a non-traditional way. Okay, so you’re not going to beat your foe over the head or engage in verbal warfare. Good decisions. But you still have a subtly devious plan: to confuse and bewilder your opponent with compliments and niceties. Perhaps all those saccharine-sweet gestures and comments will break down your rival’s willpower or cause him to flee the scene altogether!

Well, guess what happens when you feign kindness to fend off another person’s negativity? The act of being so disingenuous starts to eat away at you. You start to feel out of sorts and uneasy, wondering why the situation isn’t improving. To fill up that pit in your stomach and make yourself feel better, you find yourself gossiping about that person, tracking their every move, rehashing conversations in your head. Truth serum, people: your insincere kindness isn’t killing your antagonist; it’s killing you.

Here’s the problem: kindness is not meant to be used as a weapon. It is innate and unconditional, genuine and whole-hearted. Real kindness comes from a place of compassion and benevolence. It fills you up while lifting others up.

On several occasions this school year, my eight year old has come home feeling deflated by mean comments from a classmate. When this happens, I remind him that the main reason kids try to hurt other kids – with words or actions – is because they themselves are hurting inside. Same thing with adults (you’d think we’d eventually grow out of it!). No one on Earth who feels secure and loved feels a need to create drama or be unkind. Appreciating this universal truth kicks your compassion for others into high gear and frees you from the chains of "playing" nice.

Try this on for size: when someone makes you feel bad, allow yourself to feel bad for them. Wait – what?? I know – it sounds odd and feels uncomfortable at first (but hey - no more so than living a lie in an attempt to kill someone with kindness). Now, I’m not telling you to shut up and put up with another person’s nastiness. I’m saying that before you respond, remind yourself that drama queens and bullies have one thing in common: damaged, bleeding hearts. So, before you give in to that guilt trip or react to those untruths they’re spewing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it make sense to fight someone who’s already wounded?
  • Would I benefit in any way from escalating the tension between us?
  • Am I going to let another person’s antics have power over me and my amazingly resilient heart?
  • Could I find comfort and instigate change by being gracious, grateful and caring?
Recognizing that this person is hurting deeply enough to lash out is important for your own sanity (though there’s no need to verbalize this to the person; let them figure out their own issues). On top of that knowledge, remembering that you’re far too wise and strong to let their negative talk and tricks have power over you can be deeply transformational. You’ll actually want to be authentically considerate in your responses. Not because you want to kill them with kindness, but because you want to bless them with kindness.

It may take time. It might take patience. It will take courage. But anytime you genuinely connect with another human being, walls crumble and hearts open. Real kindness moves mountains. Even grouchy ones.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday!

My birthday is 3 weeks from yesterday.  I know this because when I checked out a big stack of books and CDs at the library yesterday the due date was March 15th and our library has a 3-week lending policy.  So, yay!

But yesterday I also received an early birthday present!


...was an...

...electric sander!!!

Cue happy dance!  

Thanks mom and dad!
I can't wait to get this thing and our bedroom furniture together!  

Also, do you know how fancy I am?  Today I saw this image on a fancy people blog:

Do you recognize anything?  Do you?  Do you???

I feel so validated.

Big Babies

First my friend Jennifer shared about a million awesome blogs which forced me to finally use my Google reader to keep track of everything.  Why did I not use this before?  So much easier!

Then one of my favorites, kind over matter, posted about Jonathan Mead and linked to an article he for Zen Habits called "How to Stop Acting Like Such a Big Baby."  I love this.  I think my favorite part might be the opening quote.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain 
but it takes character and self control 
to be understanding and forgiving.” 
—Dale Carnegie  

I have one of those complaint free world bracelets.  It lives on my pen holder.

But I forget.  We loooooooove to complain, don't we?  Especially when we think we have an audience.  Facebook statuses, I'm lookin' at you.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good venting as much as the next girl but I try to be picky and choosy about where I spend that energy. 

Back to the million and a half blogs that I follow now, the one that I am newly enamored of, the one that I want to make out with, is Kelly Rae Roberts.  Be my friend?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I like your booty

I mentioned recently that I am reigniting my love of tolerance for crocheting.  I made S a super simple charcoal gray scarf.  It basically looks exactly like the picture and her photography is better so you can just imagine mine.  Then I started to make a bag and quickly remembered that I lose interest in projects before the spray paint dries so I sought out a finish-during-three-sitcom-episodes kinda project and found these booties!

Actually, that's not exactly true.  First I tried to make these.  But they were hard and made me angry and I hated them.  Then I found my new love.  

I made two pairs for my friend who is having twins and then I bought about a million colors of yarn so that I can keep making them.

The blue and brown ones were made exactly to the pattern and the white ones were adapted slightly.  I made the whole thing white and only did the top trim in pink and then added pink trim to the strap.  The buttons were FREE from my favorite discount fabric store. 

I am in love with these adorable things.  I might open an Etsy shop just for these little darlings.  But first I need to stock up on free buttons!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tour des pillows #2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

Thank you for continuing on our tour.  I hope you enjoyed stop number one, the bow tie pillow.  I realized that pillows are not that exciting so we're going to cram all the fun into one blog post for the rest of my amazing creations.  Prepare to be amazed.

Pillows 2 and 3
The red one is made out of $1 fabric from the discount fabric store and the chevron pillow is the same fabric that I used for the bow tie pillow painted with craft paint.  I made the pattern using masking tape.

Pillows 4 and 5
These were prototypes for a couple of Christmas presents.  The covers are from Ikea. I printed the letters on cardstock, cut them out, and stenciled them onto the fabric.  Then I cut out the letters, fray-checked the edges, glued the felt behind the open letters, realized it would need more than glue, and then used embroidery floss to stitch around the letters.  Cute but more time consuming than I anticipated.I ended up using a direct felt-applied-to-pillow-cover method for the other ones.

Pillow 6
During the first year of Buddy's residence in our home he thought that our pillows were really nice treats.  Inside this cover is one of his victims.  But now it looks brand new and not doggy chewed!  I used that same bow tie pillow fabric again and cut out an applique using the good ol' print out on cardstock and outline method.  The ampersand is made from leftover fabric from our piano bench and I used red thread for the stitching. I think this one is particularly cute. :-)

The end!  Can you tell I'm not obsessed with the pillows anymore?  I was SO EXCITED to share them but now I'm so over it.  Hence the mundane descriptions and mildly awkward narratives - evidence of my fickle fancies.  Now...NOW...I'm enthusiastic about baby booties!  As in little baby shoes, not little baby tooshies.  Get excited people!  If you're having a baby soon and you are my friend, you will probably get some!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Operation Remember How to Ski

We went.  We saw.  We skied.

I got bruised and the snow started to melt.  We went home.

Friday was our experimental day of skiing in preparation for our trip to Alaska.  Not experimental skiing, but a skiing experiment.  It had been 10 years since I had been on the slopes and a few years for S so we thought we should probably work on our skills before we embark on the wilds of Alaska.

We drove up to North Carolina.  Yes, there is skiing in North Carolina.  Prior to Friday we had both only skied in Colorado so it was a bit of a surprise to drive up to the "resort" and see this:

And then on the ski lift you gaze upon this:

Uh, where's the snow?  

Oh, there it is.

So it wasn't exactly a winter wonderland.  It was also in the 50s and 60s.  They did have actual snow on the slopes, manufactured just for us!  And it wasn't too bad until about noon when it started warming up and more folks arrived, then it got a little too slushy.

Good news: We remember how to ski!  Yay!  I'm not saying I'm awesome, but I am saying that there were two falls that day and neither was me. 

Bad news: my boots badly bruised my shins.  Except without any visible sign of bruising, just intense pain.  I felt like a beast skiing with my shin injury.  I'm basically Lindsey Vonn.  Unfortunately it ended up cutting my day a little short.

And the final good news: I got to use my give away bag!  It is very, very yellow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

True love

True love is a mother-in-law who sends you flowers for Valentine's Day even though you haven't given her a grandbaby yet.

They were for S too but I'm the one who got to enjoy them all day today.  See my paperwhites beginning to sprout?  I think they were motivated by the beautiful flowers sitting next to them to be all that they can be.

S got me flowers also.  I got him a pizza.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tour des pillows #1

Our walls are pretty full, we don't have room for any new furniture, and though our little townhome needs a lot of work, we rent it so we cannot give it the love it deserves.  Therefore, I have been making many pillows.  Since I do not own a sewing machine, this is a pretty good time sucker for my part-time workin', no kids, don't really get motivated until the evening lifestyle. 

I would like to share my pillows.

Pillow #1 - the Super Bowl pillow

I did actually watch the super bowl.  Remember?  I like football now.  But I also made a pillow.  I was inspired by this and ended up making this.

It's a nice addition to our guest bed.  I decided to forgo the poofy bow in an effort to make it a little less girly.  I do try to remind myself that a boy lives here and that I should take that into consideration sometimes.  I think it looks like a snazzy bow tie, don't you?

Break down of the costs...
Ikea cushion: $2.99
Fabric from the discount store: $1.00
Random thread: $0
Total: $3.99

Thank you for taking the first stop on our tour.  There are four more to go! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

More Valentine freebies!

I have much love for these artists who provide free printables for various occasions.   Here are two more!

First, an adorable vintage-inspired card and matching envelope. Get it here.

Second, amazing fruit stickers for Valentine's day.  So cheesy but so cute.  Get them here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Better together

In our little family, I do our taxes.  Well, in 2011 we don't really "do" our taxes as much as plug numbers into a website.  It's basically Facebook with fewer YouTube links.  So, in our family I plug the numbers into the website.  On Friday I began this process.

I'm not sure how many of you don't actually know me in real life.  I'm guessing not many because, well, that seems like a pretty good guess.  But if you do not know me in real life then you probably also don't know that my real job is in music: music therapist (it's a thing), music teacher, and singer.  S is a teacher.  This means our respective W-2 and 1099 piles look like this:

S - 1

It also means we always have to pay taxes in April.  I don't mind paying taxes, I really like the police and fire departments and our paved roads and the library and healthcare (that's right, I said it, it's gettin' all political up in here*), it's just painful when it's one lump sum.  So this year I decided to see if it would be advantageous for us to file separately.

Turns out, it's not.  We save money by filing jointly.

Is it weird that this result made me glad?  I was happy, maybe even relieved, that as a couple we would both benefit from doing this one little thing together.  I guess this is how I hope most things in our marriage will go - by being in on it together we will both end up with a better result than if we had tried it alone.  But sometimes I worry that it's not working out that way, especially in our current state of uncertainty about our professional and locational future.

I wasn't sure if "locational" was a word but blogger didn't put a wavy red line under it so it must be.  Did I mention that I'm applying to PhD programs?  It's words like "locational" that take you to that level.

Anyway, I would just like to thank the federal government of the United States of America and the government of the state of Georgia for affirming my marriage.  We will show our appreciation by writing you a hefty check in a month or so.  You are welcome.

*But not really, this isn't that kind of blog.  Not yet anyway.  Please do not help us get there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

There, there my pretties

I can hear you all in the wind whistling through the trees...

"Renee, why are you not showing us the amazing crafts that you are making?  You are the ONLY person on the internet making crafts.  The ONLY ONE!  When you do not post a craft there are not 2 bazillion other people out there posting projects infinitely more awesome than yours - there are not!  So we are sad and are crying every night."

I know, I know. I am sorry.

I do actually have some things I want to share because adult life is nothing without show-and-tell but I want to actually finish them first and then I will show and perhaps also tell.  Here's what I'm working on:
  • a pillow
  • another pillow
  • a couple of finished pillows
  • some fabric for a pillow (sensing a theme...)
  • reigniting my love of tolerance for crocheting
  • a scarf for S
  • some beyond precious crocheted baby things
  • spray painting a lamp
  • recovering the lamp shade
  • a spring wreath
And, how could I forget?  My giveaway goodies came in the mail!  Yippee!  So now I have camcorder.  That means I am now a filmmaker.  A filmmaker with a brand-spankin' new Vimeo account.  That's right, you heard me, Buddy's gonna be a star!  Don't you see it?

While you wait for my DIY genius, here's an over-the-top-in-a-good-way lady who has a crazy number of helpful tutorials: Centsational Girl.  For serious, she'll tell you how to do pretty much anything.