My daughter looked at me the other day, right in my eyes so that she knew she had my full attention and said, “Mom, I think Jane is a feminist”. (Jane is one of her friends. Except I changed her name; anonymity and all that). She said it with a sort of reverence, as if a feminist was a mythical goddess, something you either were or weren’t, by birth right. I asked her if she knew what a feminist was and she said it was, like, someone who believed women were better. She also mentioned that “Jane” hates all of the boys, so she must be a feminist.
I realized that feminism was not something we had ever talked about. We’ve had discussions about racism and bullying and accepting differences in others. And she is wildly compassionate and steadfastly righteous when it comes to those things. I snatched the opportunity to explain that a feminist was someone who believes women deserve the same opportunities as men. The explanation I gave was spontaneous. I didn’t really think about it. It was the simplest way I could explain it, but it has stuck with me these last couple of days. I also explained that you don’t have to hate boys to be a feminist. In fact, boys can be feminists, too.
I have a confession to make. I have a secret resentment toward feminists. I work outside the home and I always have since my daughter and, then later, my son was born. I’ve always wanted to stay at home with them. I’ve always felt that it would be better for them and me if I were around more to take care of them and the house and to host play dates and bring them to activities after school. Instead, we make do with scheduling things around work schedules. It feels like the family comes in second to work and it’s all the feminist’s fault. They had to burn their bras and get jobs and now the 21st century mother has to go to work every day because two incomes are the standard and how on earth could anyone manage to make it on one income? I mean, the cell phone bill alone!
Except it’s not the feminist’s fault. The key word in my off the cuff explanation of feminists to my daughter was “opportunity”. The women ahead of me gave me the opportunity to work outside of the home. And I really am grateful for that. My job provides income for the family and it does have the occasional moment that makes me proud and feel like I’ve helped another human on this planet.
What I’m beginning to understand is that being able to work outside the home is only one opportunity bestowed on to us. We can take that opportunity, or we can pick another path. It may not be the easier path or the familiar path, but if I walk it, then it will be easier for someone else to someday. Like, maybe my daughter.
I remember reading a post by Katie Bower of Bower Power. Her husband had lost his job and she wrote about how difficult it was for him and the weight on her shoulders of being the sole provider for their family. She committed to do all she could to bring in extra money for the family. I thought, here is a young woman with two little boys and a home to take care of AND who also happens to have a successful blog that could provide for her family. She’s a stay at home mom with a full time job that can bend to her family’s schedule. And I dare say she loves that job. Katie Bower is a feminist. Barefoot and pregnant and a feminist. She’s blazing a trail that I could follow. It’s another opportunity for a woman. We can stay at home, we can go to work, or we can try something a little weird and see if it works. That’s what the women before us have handed down. The opportunity to choose.
Sherry of Young House Love (pause for moment of silence. God, I miss them) is a feminist, too. She and her husband were at the pinnacle of their profession as bloggers. And then they decided they didn’t want to do it anymore. So they chose not to. They shut the whole thing down and chose something else. Can you imagine the guts that took? Clara has a mom who took every opportunity she wanted, until she didn’t want them anymore and then she said no. What an amazing example for her children.
Then there is Janelle of Renegade Mothering, who says the F word. Like, a lot. She writes fearlessly. She says things that I know I felt and didn’t even have the guts to allow myself to say out loud, never mind write them down for everyone on the planet to read, including her own MOTHER! But you know what writing that down and publishing it on the World Wide web does? It reaches scared moms who have no idea what they are doing and who feel alone on this planet and who are certain they are doing everything wrong and feeling all of the wrong things and gives them a moment of solidarity. That’s a life line for a lot mothers. If that’s not feminism, I don’t know what it is.
To the women like me who work every day in an office or a school or a bank or a warehouse or wherever and then spend every other waking hour making up for lost time with the family and to the women who stay at home with their kids and volunteer at their schools and then traipse all over town to soccer and swimming and karate and piano and to every woman in between who is doing everything they can to raise a family and build a home, you are a feminist. You’ve taken your opportunity and you are clearing the path a little more for your daughters who will come after you.
I finished one corner of my bedroom makeover. Don’t worry, I’ve given myself the whole year to get it completed, so I’m right on track.
I don’t really have a before picture of this area. Just picture it empty. Cause that’s what it was. There was nothing there. Now I have a nice place to sit down and put my shoes on. Or take them off. Also, I can see those beautiful original paintings from my spot in bed.
Yes, I did say ORIGINAL paintings. No, I didn’t win the lottery. The one on the left is from my local ReStore and I basically stole it from them for $5. It was framed and everything.
This picture isn’t doing it justice. It’s called Basket of Flowers and it is unsigned, but is of the Maruyuma school. I know because it says so on a plaque on the back. It dates to the late 18th century. Pretty cool for 5 bucks. I did some research (fine, I googled it) and it has been valued at $200-$300!
I don’t know much about this second painting, but I got it from my favorite thrift store, Fiddleheads in Canton, MA. If you’re in the area, stop by. It’s worth it. But if you buy the green midcentury circular mirror, I will hunt you down. Just kidding. (Totally not kidding, don’t buy it!). This painting was also framed and marked as original art. I paid $28 for it. Not a steal like the one above, but still a price I’m happy to pay for real art. Also, there is a bird in it, so, of course I had to have it.
I did end up going with the snake plant for the room. I got it at Home Depot for $12. It has one super floppy leaf that I don’t know what to do with. Should I chop it off? Will the plant get mad if I do that and die instantly? Should I tie it to a stake? I don’t know. This is a lot of responsibility for me. (Interesting aside… When I was in college I had a plant. The plant fell behind my mini fridge and stayed there for basically the entire semester. When I was packing up for the summer, I found it. It was obviously in bad shape. I gave it to my mother and she brought it back to life! My mother is an amazing woman. She can raise humans AND plants).
Alright, so I’m on to the next portion of the room. The laundry couch.
I’ve decided that for the Bedroom Year I’m going to tackle the bedroom starting in one corner and then work my way around. I’m going to start with the corner where I want to add a plant. Mostly because that feels like the easiest place to start and I am so not motivated when it comes to house stuff right now and I’m hoping that this will give me a kick in the pants. Step one in adding a plant to a room… Pick out a plant. Baby steps, people.
This is a Chinese Money Plant. I think it’s absolutely stunning. It can take low light, which is what I have. I haven’t been able to find many places to buy it on-line, but what I’ve found has been in the $10 range for a small pot.
Below is a Philodendron. These guys are pretty fool proof. As in, this fool can’t kill it. They grow like crazy and the leaves are pretty. I was thinking something with more height, though, so I don’t think this one is a contender. Maybe somewhere else in the house.
This one is a type of Palm that I found on Thrifty Décor Chick . It reminds me of my hair in the morning.
Below is a snake plant, but I would like to call it something else or I fear I will not be able to buy it based on the name alone. I love the variations in color and the height. It’s supposed to be un-killable, too. I read that it can be ignored for weeks at a time. Sounds like exactly the amount of care I can offer. This is a strong maybe.
This is a fern. I love the shape and the texture. I also love the dark green color. This is what I’ve had in mind all along and I think I’ll probably land on this, but I’m going to do some in person shopping before I make a final decision. Hoping to have that little corner of the room done this weekend!
You may have heard that we’ve had a touch of weather in Massachusetts. I will say this. My front yard looks like a landscape from another planet. We are surrounded by 6, 8, 12 foot mountains of snow. Everywhere. It’s excellent weather for sitting in the house and doing NOTHING. Until you get so bored of nothing that you have to do something. I decided my something would be experimenting with the watercolor paints I got from Michael’s a while ago.
Let me preface this by saying that I have not had an actual art class since high school and even then I didn’t have any real talent or skill. What I’m trying to tell you is that even if you think you stink at art, you can still have fun messing around with watercolors. And probably other kinds of paints that I haven’t tried yet.
Here’s a sample of what I made. Yes, I left out the giant stack of stuff that came out REALLY bad. They might be a fun blooper post some day, though. There’s are my favorites.
I can’t lie. I love this one. It was super fun and easy to make and it’s colorful and I feel like I could slap it in a black frame with a mat and no one would know a crappy not-artist made it.
You may know by now that I am obsessed with birds in decor. Not birds in real life so much, but on a pillow, a plate or a curtain and I’m totally buying it. This little guys nose appears to be coming directly out of his eye, but he doesn’t seem to be worried about it, so neither am I.
One of my favorite quotes from a book that I read whose name I cannot remember. It’s in this post, though. (Yes, I’m that lazy and it’s also already after midnight). Lettering with watercolors was difficult, but I find lettering with a pen difficult, so, I’m thinking with some more practice this could be better.
I’m obsessed with this one and I know I will find myself making it over and over again until I get it just right. This was so much fun to make.
Four more birdies for you. I made these guys all in one sitting and I think it’s so funny how not one of them looks like the other. Obviously the colors are different, but all four body shapes are fairly different. Especially that little purple dude. Sorry, buddy. One thing they all have in common: bad feet.
This one couldn’t be simpler, but I really, really like it a lot. It might be in a two way tie for first with the 3D stained glass looking boxes.
Pretty little abstract, floraly number. For your viewing pleasure.
I can’t decide if I like this little peacock or not, but I do absolutely adore his comb over. I don’t know how that happened. I just thought he needed a little something on his head and that’s what happened. Maybe it was because I’ve been watching Better Call Saul and he has a comb over that is pretty fantastic. Let’s call this guy Saul the Peacock.
I wasn’t going to post this because it was so crazy easy, but then I took some pictures and I just adore how it came out, so I decided to do a quickie tutorial.
Embroidery Floss – I used three different colors and 1-2 skeins (? is that what that’s called? the little packet thingies the embroidery floss comes in?) And mine was ombre floss, not solid. You can choose whatever suits your fancy.
Skewer – Like you use to make a kabob (or you can look in your yard for a stick. Which I totally would have done if we didn’t have literally four feet of snow outside).
Wood beads – Coordinated to your chosen colors
1. Decide how long you want your embroidery floss to be. Cut a piece that is double that in size and then fold it in half and tie it with a loop knot around the skewer.
2. Repeat step 1 like a million times with each color of embroidery floss. Not really a million, but it will feel like a million.
3. String some beads randomly on your embroidery floss and secure with a knot.
4. Trim the bottom of the floss into a shape you enjoy. I like triangle. You might like straight across. Someone else might go for willy nilly lengths. It’s totally up to you.
4. Use another piece of embroidery floss as a hanger.
Done, son. You can google loop knot, by the way. I don’t have the kind of brain that can explain to you how to do that.
A wise man once said, “You want to go into forty the way you want to come out of it”. Ok, it was Bill Rancic. And he may have been quoting someone else, but for some reason it has stuck with me for years.
I’ve documented occasionally my desire to be thinner, healthier, stronger, more energetic (see here and here and here). In each of those posts, I’m pretty sure I promised updates to keep myself accountable. I didn’t update because I never succeeded. I’m heavier now and eating more poorly and exercising less than ever.
I’ll be forty in 3 months. I’d love to lose 20 lbs and be stronger and more energetic by my birthday. Why? Because being chunky is not fun. I love clothes, but not when I’m chunky. I don’t want to sort of not want to go to Great Wolf Lodge with my kids because I don’t want to wear a bathing suit. I don’t want to take naps every Saturday and Sunday. That’s a lie. I love naps. Revision, I don’t want to *need* to take a nap every Saturday and Sunday. I want to wear cute things now that I FINALLY know what cute things are. Most of the time. I admit, sometimes my clothing choices are questionable.
So, if I want ALL of those things, why can’t I just do it? I don’t have any medical reasons to not lose weight. I only have the reason of “I want to eat cookies and brownies now and I don’t care what effect that may have on my health”. Basically it’s like being a two year old when it comes to food.
I’m choosing a restrictive diet that I’ve done before and had success with. I know the pitfalls of restrictive diets, but I need something that will give me some strict guidelines and a plan and not many choices. And also a cheat day. You know, for the two year old. It’s the Four Hour Body diet. Google it if you’re interested. I don’t want to link to it because I don’t want to say I’m recommending it for anyone but me. Not that it is unhealthy, I just think it’s probably not for everyone. It’s similar to Paleo, low sugar, no dairy, no grains. But also NO fruit (weird and I don’t know why, but I’m not a fruit lover, so it doesn’t bug me). So that leaves lean meats, eggs, tons of veggies and beans. And the beloved cheat day. One day a week that you MUST cheat. I’m talking apple turnovers, fried foods, brownies, all of it.
I started planning today and I came up with a list of foods I will plan to eat.
Eggs (boil or scrambled or deviled), lean meat, beans, veggies, a little peanut butter for a pick me up and a couple of semi sweet chocolate chips at the end of the day. And variations of these, of course. Egg bakes, chilis, soups. But for the most part, I want to keep it super simple and keep the fancy stuff for cheat day. I did prep a bunch of chicken for the week and I do want to share that recipe with you because it came out DELICIOUS.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 lb Chicken Cutlets
1 T Olive Oil
1. Heat up the olive oil on medium high while preparing the chicken
2. Pound out the chicken cutlets
3. Mix together spices
4. Sprinkle each side of the cutlets with the spice mixture
5. Cook cutlets until done
These came out really delicious. It will help to know I have them to eat all week. Provided my husband and kids keep their hands off of them!
I know there is another facet to this and that is exercising. I’m committing to doing 20 minutes on the elliptical every day AND choosing one fun looking exercise pin to try each day. I know I have set myself up for failure here. But, going with the keeping it simple theme, I want to just commit to every day instead of some concocted schedule that I will get confused by. Just do it everyday. If I miss one, no biggie. Do it tomorrow. Just don’t miss two in a row.
And, lastly, I’m going to experiment with keeping a running diary of this thing. It will be somewhere on the blog. It will be short, probably, and it will be hard numbers, info about what I ate and what I did for exercising. And probably a LOT of complaining at first.
Alright. That’s that. Let’s do it.
If you’d like to follow my progress click the graphic below!
Bloglovin & WordPress – 30 Followers – Met and exceeded, 31!
Network with other bloggers – 5 comments/week and research Blog groups. Implement a method of tracking this. Nope. Didn’t do it. Thought about it a few times. Never did it. Dang.
Increase page views – December – 5,542 – Goal for January – 6,000 – Kicked this goals butt! 8,048 page views in January. And I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it. Keep reading.
Stick to the posting schedule. At least a little! – I’m going with achieved. I was pretty consistent last month.
Do more research and pre-planning for posts. – Gotta love these goals that aren’t technically quantifiable. Yes, sure, I did this.
Photo shoot practice 2x per month. When I wrote this, I meant in addition to when I shoot pics for the blog, so, no, I did not achieve this, however, I did you use my light kit on most of my photos and found a DRAMATIC difference in my pictures which basically directly led to more page views.
So, for February (yes, I know we are 7 days in already. I have been goal-less for 7 days!):
Increase social media presence/followers
Pinterest – 550 Followers – Lofty goal in short month! Due 2/28
Hold steady with page views. This month is three days shorter and while I am close to the same average page views, I’ll be happy if I can stay around 8k page views this month.
Work again on the look of the blog. I think the header picture needs an update. Same pic, just crisper.
Get back to more house posts. I love craft stuff, but I don’t want to leave the home decor in the dust.
Find and start a free photography tutorial. (I’m cheating a little on this because I have already found one. I just haven’t started it!)
Alright, I promised to tell you how I increased my page views by by 45%. I had three projects accepted on Craftgawker and 1 accepted on Dwellinggawker. Guess how many page views I had referred from those two sites? 1,142. Crazy, right?
So, what are these gawker sites, you ask? Well hop on over and take a look! But don’t forget to come back, okay?
Back? Is it, like, two hours later because you got sucked into the pages and pages of gorgeous crafts and smartly decorated rooms? I know. It’s insane.
So, how did this baby blogger, poor photographer get on a site that includes the likes of A Beautiful Mess? (*WARNING!* Click that link only if you have another 2 hours to get lost in a beautiful craft and smartly decorated room hole). It was easy, except not at all easy. I submitted a picture and a couple of words about that picture that linked to my post. The submission process is incredibly easy. I had beginners luck on my first submission and it was accepted on the first try. Second one, same thing. Third and fourth, not so much. I submitted pics that were rejected the first time on the third and fourth projects. But, what is great about the Gawker submission process is that they give you very concise criticism of your photo and/or post so that you can fix the issue and then re-submit. I ended up editing and re-submitting my last submission 3 times before it was accepted. It’s totally worth the effort.
And finally for this very wordy post, the dolla bills:
Adsense: $23.40 – increase of $12.66 from previous month – Total for the year: $23.40
PayU2Blog – $5.00 (I missed two quick turnaround assignments) – decrease of $15.00 from previous month – Total for year: $5.00
We have a winner! Last week I announced a contest in this postcalled Choose My Next Craft Adventure. The votes are in and have been tabulated. (No hanging chads were identified. Google hanging chad for a recent American History lesson if you don’t what that means). And the winner is:
That’s the inspiration photo from House on the Way. Pretty, right? And the instructions sounded pretty simple. You can access the instructions by clicking the picture, or clickhere. Once I got the hang of it, they were easy. But at first I thought this was going to be one of those FAIL posts where everyone gets to laugh and laugh at how horrible I am at crafting. But, the more rosettes I made, the more I liked it. Be sure to click over to House on the Way for full instructions, but I’ll give you a couple of changes I unintentionally made:
1. I usually do measurements for crafts like this by sight. It’s not super important to be exact. I was supposed to use tissue paper cut into 6×10 inch rectangles and I think mine were actually bigger than that. It worked out though because my rosettes came out super big and fluffy which gave my wreath a different look than the inspiration.
2. I used a few different colors of pink tissue paper and I ended up with an ombre effect. This was not an artistic choice, more like an artistic mistake that worked out in my favor. I could only find multi colored packages of tissue paper (because I was lazy and only went to one store). Luckily, I love the look of the ombre!
3. Each rosette took one full sheet of tissue paper, so try to estimate how many rosettes you will need to make (I made 16) and that’s how many sheets you will need.
4. The tutorial says to use florist wire for securing and tying off the rosettes and I think this is the best option. I didn’t have any on hand so I ended up using some thin ribbon and it worked out fine.
I’m so thrilled with how this came out:
It took me a couple of hours to make (however, I was watching the Super Bowl while I was making it, so that may have factored into my time) and it cost about $3 for three multi colored packs of tissue paper. I only used the three variations of pink that were in the packages, so I also have a TON of leftover tissue paper to use for another project! Woo hoo! I actually think I’m going to give this wreath to my mom. I know she will love it!