Saturday, January 13, 2018

Things I'll need to remember while my husband is gone

My google maps is set, my phone is synced, it takes a bit of rummaging to turn off the hazard lights, but I pull out into the blackness of the early winter evening and I know I'll be fine. I've already blinked back the two tears that threatened to spill over and swallowed the tight throat away and I remind myself, "I am a strong, capable woman!"

I was. I am. After all, I change all the lightbulbs and spackle the holes and have a fondness for all things Home Depot, even if I do ask for help. I run my own business, create my own spreadsheets, fear no small noises in the middle of the night. I am the major contributor to our family income while my husband gets his masters, for crying out loud. But twenty years of marriage has worn comfortable patterns in the carpet of my life and even a two week stint apart from my husband disturbs the roles to which I've become accustomed. 

I try to remember the things I'll need to remember. 
  1. Don't stay up past 10 to watch chick flicks to avoid the inevitable: a king bed half of which will remain cold.
  2. Lock all the doors before bed.
  3. Set out trash on Tuesday mornings.
  4. Turn the fan on BEFORE crawling into bed, getting all comfy and realizing it’s quieter than normal. 
  5. Ask teens for work schedules to determine who can give the youngest rides home from play practice instead of winging it. 
  6. Change alarm to be later than normal because there will be no one to share coffee with, but early enough to make myself coffee.
  7. Make a list of books to finish to help avoid the black hole of Netflix.
  8. Treat the hot tub. 
  9. Call girlfriends for coffee and crafts and hot tub nights.
  10. Buy wine.
  11. Make an appointment for a massage to use up the gift card from last Christmas.
  12. Buy milk. Always need more milk for daycare. 
  13. Make appt. for nails. It's been three weeks girl. Your fill is soon to turn into a full set.
  14. Make a menu plan so I can lose 10lbs before he gets back.
  15. Just kidding on that last one. Sorta.
I'm home from the airport, and after a two hour delay and multiple phone calls to me while he waited on the tarmac, he's finally on his way to a warmer climate, and some manual labor his dad can't do after recent surgery. He's going to have some fun and so am I. 

But I still hope these two weeks fly by. Life's just not the way I want it when he's not here. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Microphone and a Stage: the Perfect 13th Birthday Party

The day started off with a two hour delay thanks to yet another MN blizzard, but before I was even out of bed, my phone beeped, announcing an email's arrival, and school was canceled.

Not one minute later, Megan charged into our bedroom on the morning of her 13th birthday and hurriedly announced her stress about the day, and her plans for the party, and how will everyone be delivered?

Can you drive them, mom, pick them  up? Can you? Can you?

She fussed and pounded out texts and hurried around and I just wanted a few more minutes of blizzard gifted sleep.

I didn't even wish her a happy birthday.

When she first began planning her epic dance party, oh, something like four months ago, she talked of our large kitchen, and moving the table out and turning off the lights and playing music, and I knew this house wasn't big enough for her dreams.

Our living room is postage stamp small. It's filled to the brim with just a sofa and loveseat. The kitchen is large, but not for 13 13 year olds and their energy and drama and giggles.

So off to church we went, armed with balloons and some accidentally matching table clothes I bought years ago. It was, thankfully, the last day of Robb's 2 week stint of unemployment, and my daycare kids were napping.

 Somehow, all the girls from the 7th grade came, save one with family plans, and two from the 8th. they braved icy roads and a mean wind, but they made it.

They ate walking tacos and hovered around the chocolate fountain. Mitchell played DJ with Megan's compilation of YouTube music videos and took requests - his dream come true. Everyone got their mic and stage time for Karaoke which included my own three singing "Radioactive". I would show you a video of how gifted my kids are, but my phone had no more space for a video. Of course.

I did get this photo of my kids teaching everyone the levan polka and also numa numa. Good times. They just make me giggle with happiness.

There was only one instance of teen tears in the bathroom, which was easily fixed with smoothies made by my very own barista husband. The chocolate fountain went baserk at one point, spinning chocolate everywhere, but I did I hear something about "best party ever" and "how will I top this next year?" so I think I can safely assume the party was a success in the eyes of the giggly, dramatic, karaoke singing, pyramid making teens.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

What to make as party favors when your daughter plans her own birthday party

How my daughter is turning 13 tomorrow escapes me. I mean, I know the logistics of how these things happen and time passes, but as of tomorrow I will have two teenagers living under my roof, and that just sorta startles me. I feel 25 at most. But Mitchell was two when I was 25, so I'm quite obviously not that young anymore.

But here they are, tall and lanky, with appetites to match, knowing more than they do, and they live here with me and they are mine.

She has lists and made invites and texted me all the info and all I really have to do is go to the store and buy it all. She's got plans that way. She out-plans me. Every day.

There's a lot of pressure in all that planning. So I do what I do best with pressure. I make stuff. It's therapy for me, and when so much is never done and the parenting job is forever, I sit in the quiet of the day and finish something.

I finish 13 leather bracelets (Instructions here) that I hope the whole passel of 7th graders will like, but you never know, she says, and that's OK. You just never do know about that age. We will have something to give and that is good.

And the party will be awesome, because she is, and she planned it.  :)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Renting, Contentment and Brass Hardware

We rented for about 7 years before we moved into this "new" rental in town, following 7 years of home-ownership. (We sold right before the big housing crash.) It was never our plan to rent, but then we found that farm, and fell in love. I prided myself in my contentment even though we didn't own and I couldn't change and paint and be as creative decorating as maybe I would have liked.

Meanwhile I enjoyed waving fields of corn, long walks down the driveway and views out every single brand new Anderson window.  The carpet was also brand new, as well as everything else in that house, save the charming old woodwork.

The winter was another story, but I was cozy and warm,  and I loved seeing the wind drift and dapple the snow in waves. The country was second best, coming from a childhood of growing up on a lake.

Yes, I was spiritual all right, "suffering" in my rental home and learning through the lack of a mortgage tying us down, that "this world is not my home."

Then we moved to town and I found out I had not really learned that lesson in contentment.

This house has acoustical ceiling tile in the bathroom, painted over wallpaper paste, and dark low pile Berber in two bedrooms. Oh yes, and peeling kitchen cabinets with brass hardware. Did I tell you Mitchell shares a room with my office? He's glad to have the computer so close, but the poor kid (ahem, teen) has no privacy as his room opens directly to the living room, and kitchen.

It's cozy and the utilities are cheap, the kitchen is massive and the garage is so heavily insulted it stayed a balmy 20* inside even when the temperatures dropped to a wind chill of -40*, but it has definite quirks.

And they irk me.

We have goals that we are making progress toward, but I'm ready to be in a house with quirks that I can do something about!

Yesterday my issue of Martha Stewart Living came and was a bit astonished to see this page spread on brass.

My kitchen with brass hardware (and cute little girl in tutu.)

I know it's not the same, and I can't paint my cabinets grey or replace my woodgrain laminate with white silestone, but my hardware is on trend! 

We are where we need to be, and if I can't be content with all the little annoyances of a house-not-my-own, at least I can be content with that. 

And with my brass kitchen hardware.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11-12 

Monday, December 30, 2013

{So}Sartina Peppermint Lip Bliss Balm and my as-good-as Burt's Bees Recipe

True confession time: I have an addiction to Burt's Bees lip balm. Who doesn't, right? It's minty goodness soothes the chappest of dry Minnesota lips. And dry Minnesota lips are, unfortunately, easy to come by around here.

Last year I ran across a recipe for a Burt's Bees copycat lip balm on Pinterest, and I was soon ordering lip balm tubes on Amazon and gathering the ingredients to make my own lip bliss. That first recipe was ok, but it disappointed in texture and stay-ability. Other recipes included many more ingredients which was not cost effective to me. I wanted a simple, natural recipe.

After a little playing around with ingredients and amounts, I am finally satisfied! My {So}Peppermint Lip Bliss Balm (available for sale in my Etsy shop) has the perfect amount of spicy, tingly mint and great weather protection stay-ability.

{So}Sartina Peppermint Lip Bliss Balm and my as-good-as Burt's Bees Recipe:

2 oz. beeswax
3 oz. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. pure lanolin
1 tsp. vitamin E oil
25-35 drops of peppermint oil
25 empty lip balm tubes

  1. Melt beeswax in saucepan on low.
  2. Add coconut oil, lanolin, vitamin E oil and melt.
  3. Add peppermint. 
  4. Carefully fill tubes. Reheat as necessary to keep mixture liquid.
  5. Cool.
  6. Cap.
  7. Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Roundabouts and Riches

They say life is a journey but in certain areas sometimes I feel like we're stuck on a roundabout. Around and around we go, seeing the same exits, the same road marks, and knowing the way, but never getting off. Maybe this time around, we'll get off, but around we go again.

We are trying to be honest with ourselves about where we are and what our goals are and sticking to them, but it's hard. 

You know that because you've been there too. 

We're grown ups, but if we're honest, there are parts of us that don't want to be and we whine like our own kids: why is life so difficult? We're bookends to 40, after all. Shouldn't we have this figured out by now?

But no. We don't. And if we think we do, we are lying. Sorry, but there it is. There's only One who really knows and has it all figured out, and we trust Him and seek Him and try to take the next step .

Follow His steps.

But gosh darn. It's hard.

It's so much easier to pretend and not look at the budget or whatever that THING is that is hard at the moment, but it is necessary and God's got it anyhow.

And then two days after my friends prayed for my tears and the day after I created this lovely printable wall art to remind myself truth,  He showed us up.

He does that, you know. He shows up and He shows off.

He's got your back, and He goes before you and though it may seem He runs late, He is with you. You can trust Him. 

Life IS a journey - a beautiful one - so let's not get stuck on the roundabouts. Let's get out on the open road and enjoy the scenery of a God at work! 


The above art is for sale as a download in my etsy shop. The purchased version will be watermark free, of course. :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Birthday Bunting

I've never been so happy to have saved a few scraps from the big crafting purge of our move. These are scraps of men's dress shirts already hacked up to make aprons. The sleeves and backs were the bits left. Who saves stuff like that? Uhhh. Me. 

 I am just beside myself that they happen to MATCH my kitchen! 

AND matching yarn!! Too much accidental coordination, I tell you. It's too good! I can't stand it!

I probably should have ironed them, and the edges are rough, so it's not perfect, but neither is this house, and neither are we. My favorite home decor blog's tag line is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Good enough is sometimes best, and necessity sometimes spurs the best creativity. 

The birthday girl wanted paper streamers and balloons, and I was feeling the pressure to buy more than we could or else disappoint. It turns out I already had just what I needed.

We all like this much better anyway.

Don't you?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On a Whim. Leather Inspiration for {So}Sartina on Etsy

A little more than three years ago, I turned my hobbies into a business and opened up an etsy shop. I figured if my husband could own his own business, so could I. Not that we are competitive by any means, but I wasn't gonna let him have all the fun! I would love to say that it was begun with research and web stats and current trends in mind, but this is mostly how things work with me:

 My creative projects are often born of the random availability of supplies and whim.

  Oh look! There on the rack! Pennies for leather. I wonder what I can make? Hmmmm. 

Digs out phone from purse, touches the screen for the Pinterest app and quickly types "Leather DIY." The screen fills with images.

Ohhhh, that's so cool. I can totally make that. It's a good thing I have an etsy shop, because I know what I'm going to be busy making the next few days. I wonder if there is more leather here on the rack....

Rummages quickly through two whole rows of jackets, blazers and suits.

Nice! Pink, red, brown, bone, cream, green. I wish there was teal here somewhere. Oh well, I think these will work. 

Yep, that's pretty much how my brain works! Creativity cannot be conjured. For me, at least, inspiration comes unexpectedly and rarely on time. (BEFORE cyber Monday {the internet version of Black Friday} would have been nice.) But came it did in the form of a trip to Goodwill, and that's all it took for me to design a whole new line of jewelry, and the inspiration to redesign my business card and header.

I am slowly filling my shop with new things, so go check it out! Even if the black and cyber days have passed, there is still time to order for Christmas!

While you check it out, I'm off to battle snow caked roads for my weekly trek to tag sale Tuesday. Let's hope I find more leather!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Moving, Winter, and the Sounds of Change

Last night I finally found the box of mittens and scarves and hats and, this morning, in the rush to push the kids out the door, down the crunchy snowy sidewalk and onto the bus, we unknotted scarves from previous play and sorted mittens. I supposed it was about time this chore got done since the cold weather came LAST week and the snow is finally being bob-catted from the berm in the middle of every town street. So, I was a little late. No frostbite was seen or felt, however, and we were none the worse for wear.

On August 1st we moved to Waconia. Back to my hometown, the land of The Lake, and cute little downtown shops and Catholic church bells ringing and Target. We left wide open spaces, cows moooing, a spacious farmhouse that I had finally gotten organized and decorated the way I wanted, our "En-Gedi", unplowed roads in winter and high utility bills.

Old Town Hall 

I think God himself led us to live here, (a block from a movie theater, my favorite coffee shop, the bubble tea shop, chocolate outlet, consignment shop and new church campus) though sometimes my dear husband balks at the presumption of such claims. We moved because it made sense financially. But I believe that when we "trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on [just] our own understanding, He will make straight our paths."

We have hearts that more than anything want to do what He wants, so I think he leads even when we think we are being logical. Even with all our logical decision making, only God could have known the dominoes that would fall when we moved. One by one, each decision led to another, and the resulting feeling that this season is divine gift.

The other evening, as the snow fell softly and turned the night white, I lay cozy in bed, but missed the farm and the howling and shuddering wind that came with storms. It's quiet here in town, at least the weather is. The intermittent tractor sounds carrying across the open expanse have been replaced by the clatter of garbage trucks and snowplows, delivery trucks and postal traffic. As I thought about how I missed the isolated sounds of the gales galloping unhindered across 200 acres of bare open fields, the windows began to shudder here in my town home. Evidently some sounds never change.

Comforted, I fell right to sleep.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gifted Days

Gracious me.

A full year has alternately labored and flitted away, and here I finally sit again, with coffee mug in hand, at a different desk which sits in a completely different house than the last time I tapped keys and jotted lines for this space.

The house is quiet. The fridge softly hums. My kids are gone for the day and I have exactly one hour before another's children will enter my space.

My how life changes, meanders, turns, the unexpected waiting around the corners of life, gifts if we will see them as that.

The season of decorations and holiday music and advent readings is upon us, and my heart seeks a pause. I reflect on what could have filled the unwritten posts, the journey of the past year's days.

This year's simplified Christmas decor 

Days are gifts, not always the kind we want, but the kind we need, the kind that require pruning to make space for the new gift. This year was especially filled with that kind of gifted day, and though I still mourn the old at times, I am beginning to be more thankful for the simpler new.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above,b coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,c who does not changed like shifting shadows.

I hope to share here a little more frequently than once a year ~ ha! ~ and fill in this year's story. Bear with me as I clear the cobwebs and extra stuff from my cerebrum with each blog post, just as my garage gradually empties one craigslist post at a time. ;)