Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Pointless Lists

Eric is up early this morning, banging around the house as he gets Abby's room ready to paint. I'm kind of surprised she hasn't crawled into our bed yet to get away from the noise, but maybe she's just excited to be getting rid of that horrible green she chose when she was 10. Anyway, Eric has picked painting the bedrooms as his winter project (I told you that boy never sits down), and that's how he's using his vacation this week. I tell you what, things get done in this house. 

Right now I'm feeling very grateful because A) I thought I had erased my entire post, which I began working on last night and was 90% finished, but I got it back, and 2) all in all, this has been a pretty good year. Maybe not the best year ever, but when you tally the bad alongside the good, the good comes out on top. I think sometimes you just have to choose to have a happy heart--or that's what my mother says, anyway, and so far the evidence points to her being correct. Hey, we made it through the year. That's wonderful in itself.

Tonight our little Walker Four will make Pad Thai together and maybe watch a movie. Eric and I will most likely be in bed by 10 p.m. Abby will probably stick it out to midnight. This sounds like a most perfect New Year's Eve to me. All my favorite people! And tomorrow, Johanna will bounce out of bed at 7 a.m. and we'll see what kind of mischief we can get into to start the new year off right. Probably we'll make pancakes. That's as mischievous as we get in this house... I don't know, maybe we lack creativity.

Anyway, Happy New Year, my internet friends. Thanks for reading my pointless ramble.

Pointless list time!

Books read:
I finished Stephen King's 11/22/63 early in the month and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was kind of heartbreaking at the end (and also kind of confusing because would the world really rebel like that?), but was totally worth the effort. I've read some comments about the pacing, but I thought the pacing was fine... I mean, you have to work up to these things, right? Anyway, highly recommend.

My next book was Courtney Carver's Mini-Missions for Simplicity. I follow her blogs and find her to be rather a breath of fresh air (she's so dang positive!), and figured this would be something I'd enjoy. And it was. Lots of good ideas for simplifying your life. And this is why I am now flossing my teeth every day in the shower. (Don't judge.) It's not a "this is how you become a minimalist" kind of book, but rather "you've already been simplifying, and here are some ideas on how to expand on what you've done." I recommend this one, too.

And then I downloaded Dangerous Women, a compilation of short stories by a variety of authors, because I wanted to read "Virgins" by Diana Gabaldon. Um, that's an Outlander story, and I think by now everyone knows how much I love Gabaldon's books. I regret nothing, even if this is the only story I've managed to read so far. I have 20 more to go...

Christmas update:
We had three Christmas' this year, which is about par for the course. We opened gifts with my parents on Dec. 22 (usually we do it on the 23rd, except someone scheduled basketball practice for that night. And by "someone" I mean Dad and Eric, just to be clear) and found out that our Very Minimal Christmas Present* this year is a trip to Leavenworth, Wash. TOTALLY EXCITED. We spent a lot of family vacations there growing up, but I haven't been back in ages. It will be so fun to share this with Eric and the girls! My parents are awesome.

On Christmas Eve, my parents hosted another gathering, this time with my in-laws, my Aunt Ann and Uncle John and cousin Seth, and my brother Tim. Well, and the Walker Four and my parents. Anyway, that was really, really fun--we mostly just talked and ate Mom's wonderful dinner (hellooooooo, Orange Charlotte!), exchanged small gifts (I scored coffee!), went to Mass and then came back and played one of my mother's patented Christmas games. This one involved wrapped packages and stealing. Somehow they all do...  

Johanna woke up sick sick sick around 3 a.m. Christmas morning (way too many sugary treats. Her stomach totally rebelled, as it is prone to do) and I had a mild IBS attack, so Christmas Day wasn't quite as much fun as I'd hoped. But Santa came (of course he did, our girls rock) and the girls opened their gifts (they each get three plus whatever Santa brings) and we hung out together until about noon, when Eric and Abby went off to Eric's brother's house for a Walker gathering and Johanna and I stayed home to nap (okay, that was just me) and cuddle up to watch "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Tangent: We love and adore that movie.  Anyway, so it wasn't exactly like I'd pictured, but still, not a bad day, either. When you look at it from the whole? I don't know, work with me, people.

Project 333 update:
I picked my items for the January 1-March 30 round of Project 333 this weekend (I'll post details later) and am feeling pretty good about where I stand. This time, I plan to stick it out the entire three months instead of switching things up monthly. I'm excited for the challenge. We'll see if I'm singing that tune in a month or two. :)

Things I've learned:
You cannot eat like a maniac from Thanksgiving to Christmas and expect to feel good. (Fine, I already knew that. I just forgot.) Making my coffee with a brewing cone is the best decision I have ever made. (Um, more or less. Marrying Eric is up there, too.) Watching 3-4 grade basketball after a freshman game is kind of enchanting. (That one I really did learn.)

*I admit, a trip with my parents to a really cool locale doesn't seem very minimal at all. Sometimes minimalism is ironic...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of the year pointless thoughts

The other day Johanna told me that she hadn't figured out what her New Year's Revolutions were going to be. She was wondering if maybe I had. I don't usually make resolutions, but now that we're talking revolutions, I'm totally in. Except it's sort of a lot of pressure. No one ever expects to keep a resolution for more than a couple of weeks, but a revolution? That's hardcore. That's serious. So I've been contemplating my options. It's fun to think about, anyway.

Also: Now I say "New Year's Revolutions" and everyone thinks I've misspoken. No. This is what it's called now, forever and ever. It's kind of like how I still call hand sanitize "hanitizer" because that's what Abby called it when she was three. Kids are fun.
December was surprisingly sunny.
This year went fast. I guess it didn't seem very fast when I was stuck in the middle of it, but wow, the past couple months have flown by. Thanks to the blog, I can remember what even happened. Because I'm at that point in my life where yesterday and ten years ago are all pretty much the same in my mind.

Highlights (?) of 2013 include...

January: The Sort of Remodel commenced and I somehow managed to not lose my mind. Also, we learned Skilly had been misnamed.

February: The Sort of Remodel is finished!

March: I got pink eye! That sucked, actually.

April: Abby got Confirmed. That was kind of an ordeal.

May: Johanna made her First Communion. Two big parties in two months = exhaustion.

June: Abby's 8th grade promotion! (And no party!) We had a Very Minimalist Christmas with my parents and my brother, and it was awesome.

July: I made homemade mint extract for the first time. And turned 41.

August: Johanna's backyard carnival was a hit. We survived a Very Canyon Vacation.

September: The girls started school and Abby and I got kicked out of a bar.

October: I started Project 333 as a way to step up my minimalism game. Johanna was the Lone Johanna for No Reason for Halloween. And my cousin's wedding in Seattle was really fun, even if it was a quick trip.

November: Thanksgiving! Not shopping on holidays that are supposed to be about family and gratitude!

December: Christmas was fun, and we're looking forward to our annual New Year's Eve Walker Four party. Because that's how we roll.

I'm not really sure what else to say about 2013, except that it happened and now it's over. How's that for philosophical? I like the fresh start a new year brings. I'm ready for January 1.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Abby Texts: Princess Bride

The scene: Abby had a MAJOR HUGE science project in December that took up a lot of her time. Of course, that didn't mean she stayed caught up on her work... so the night before it was due (incidentally, the last night before Winter Break), she pulled a very late-nighter (not an all-nighter. Just stayed up until like midnight or something) and was pretty tired and stressed by the time science class rolled around the next day. You need to know that because otherwise, mints and a movie in class would probably not mean much. :)

Abby: Dude, Butcher gave us mints and let us watch the Princess Bride.

Me: Nice!

Abby: Haven't seen it since I was little and now I like understand.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Eve princess story

Our Christmas Eve view. Sunshine!
Johanna and I braved the elements (in which I mean: Full sun and unseasonably warm weather. It's AWESOME) this morning to gather foodstuffs for various Christmas gatherings. I guess maybe I should have done my grocery shopping earlier in the week because blast!* It was crowded. We had to park in the boonies and walk. That doesn't happen very often in our Small Little Town.

Anyway, that's not even the story. The story is that we were in the produce section and who do we see but Belle! Or a three year old dressed as Belle. I was all, look! A princess! and then told her how beautiful she was. She beamed up at me and told me she was wearing Belle's dress, and I told her again that she was a lovely, lovely princess. Her dad was all, what do you say? and she was like, thank you! and I was like, I used to have one who dressed up like Madeline.

I did, too. When Abby was three, Aunt Ann sent her a Madeline costume for Halloween. Abby did not care if it wasn't October 31--she wore that thing all the time, complete with wig and hat, whenever the mood struck, which was often, and no matter where we were headed.

Of course, Abby is 14 now, so our costume days are way over, and Johanna announced early on that she's not a princess, she's a person, so I never even had such an experience with that kid. (Mismatched neon knee high socks with green capris and a purple shirt? All the time. Actually, that's what Jo is wearing today. Embrace who you are, that's my motto.)

So what I'm saying is that seeing a Very Happy Princess in a Very Crowded Grocery Store was awesome. Every time I spotted that kid I had to laugh. She was just so dang excited to be out in her princess dress. It was a nice contrast to everyone else (myself included) who was simply trying to endure.

Merry Christmas, Belle.

*Thanks again, Thesaurus.com, for giving my mother one less thing to worry about! (Hey there, Madre!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Minimalism: A win and a loss

A win
I was at my favorite coffee roasters yesterday picking up my free pound o' beans (punch cards are kind of a pain, but also kind of awesome) when I saw this:
Small picture. Oh well. 
In case the picture doesn't translate into something you're familiar with, it's a "Brewing Cone." Essentially you brew your coffee right into your cup with this thing. They use them in coffee shops, apparently. Well, not really the coffee shops I frequent, but anyway, I've been curious about this whole ordeal for a while now. Like... three weeks or something. Joke. Since I read this post on Tammy Stroble's Rowdy Kittens blog... a few months ago. Whatever. Let's just keep it at "awhile," okay? Jeez.

I have been quite unhappy with my Black & Decker coffee pot (you can see a picture of it here) for longer than a while. It essentially works, but all the bells and whistles that prompted me to buy it? Conked out early on. The only thing I like about it is its reusable filter. I have not had to buy paper filters in, like, a couple of years at least.

Long story short, this thing cost about $3.50 at the coffee shop, which seemed like A) a kind of a cheap investment and 2) a way to get my lug of a coffee maker off my counter. You know what, people? I like a clean, clear counter. That's what minimalism has taught me.

Peg, the owner (who rocks), let me try the cone on over my Kleen Kanteen to gage whether or not this contraption would work for me (I have this insulated "kanteen" in navy and it is the love of my life. Also, this is the only time I have ever endorsed something with a misspelled name. Pet peeve. JUST SPELL IT RIGHT!) and it was perfect. So I got one. And this morning I tried it out for the first time.

Peg gave me some pointers: Don't bring your water to a full boil; that can make the coffee bitter. Bring your water to a near boil and let it sit for 30 seconds and then pour it over your grounds. So that's what I did. And you guys! This was the best coffee I have ever, EVER managed to brew in my own house.

So that was awesome. Other reasons I am in love with this thing: Easy to clean, easy to store, easy to pack up, great to take camping (theoretically, since I've only had it a little over 24 hours and we have not been camping in that time), no more electronic coffee makers that are destined for the landfill in two years because hello, quality is for sucks on those things, and I *think* the grounds and filters are compostable. Let me Google that. Yes! 100% biodegradable!

That's $3.50 well spent.

A loss
Johanna came home with a note from the third grade teachers at the beginning of the month saying that instead of doing a class gift exchange, they would be collecting small items to fill six shoe boxes--three for girls, three for boys--to send to children in need. Johanna was completely jacked about this idea, and so was I. Are you kidding me? Best idea ever! At the store, she picked out toothbrushes (I had sample toothpaste and floss at home from the dentist which she also wanted to put in. Who am I to stifle good oral hygiene?) and crayons. We put these items in a bag and got them to the school before the December 10 deadline.

So imagine my surprise when I go to pick her up tonight and see a literal excretion-load of excrement by her backpack. (Thanks, Thesaurus.com! You've cleaned up my language considerably!) I was all, uh, what is this? I thought you weren't exchanging gifts! and Jo was all, my teacher was getting rid of her junk.


So what exactly did Johanna come home with?
She's named the snowman "Charles."
Stickers, a photo craft frame kit from that weird foam stuff, posters, "the real story of Santa" on what appears to be restaurant place mats, an ornament with cotton balls and googlie eyes to make what I can only assume is St. Nick himself, and Charles the Snowman, which is basically knit over Styrofoam balls. Also, Charles' nose is about to fall off. Oh, and four candy canes.

Totes* disappointed, peeps. I made her shovel up all her "treasures" into her room, but I'm itching to just throw it all in the trash. She'll notice this soon after receiving it, though, so I must be crafty and wait until school starts back up in the new year. There are only so many fights I'm having in a day, and also: It's not easy having a minimalist for a mother.

And yeah, I said trash. What else am I supposed to do with this? The thought makes me sick, but I just don't think it's fair to pass it on to some other sucker. 


*I started saying "totes" and "adorbs" ironically, except then I said them too much so now I say them un-ironically, but I feel bad about it, so I think that generally makes it okay.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Abby Texts: Basketball love

Abby: Let me ditch practice and I'll give you a dollar.

Me: Make it a five and you're on.

Abby: Five dollars.

Me: Do I hear ten?

Abby: Twenty. Please.

Me: Wow. This is getting serious...

Abby: Wheeeee.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Very Minimal Birthday

Holy crap, you guys. I just spent an hour and a half writing about Johanna's Very Minimal Birthday, but it's all wrong. The words are there, it's just that there's too many of them. Ironic, right?

Well, anyway. Johanna's ninth birthday was Friday the 13th, and, like last year, she asked if she could have a slumber party to mark the occasion. Also like last year, it did not occur to her to ask to invite more than three friends. This is when raising your kids with low expectations really comes in handy.

Unfortunately, the Nutcracker was taking place on Saturday, and a lot of her little friends were involved with that ordeal. So we could only field a team of two. That turned out to be rather lovely, though. They were all of similar creative personality, so instead of sitting around making cranberry and popcorn garlands like I'd planned, they spent a lot of time stomping around outside in the mud, on a Quest To Find the Queen's Crown.

But hey, we had cake, and homemade pizzas, and a movie before bedtime. We had the lights out at 10:30 p.m., but I have a feeling it was at least 11 p.m. before they settled down. And then they were up before dawn.

Her present was the party, so I asked that no one bring anything else. I just explained that we're trying to stress experiences over stuff, and no one seemed to think that was too weird. It's all in the spin, I guess. I always feel a little rude for assuming that people are automatically going to bring presents (thanks for the complex, Miss Manners!), but I'm not leaving life lessons to chance.

Aside from the party, we gave her a set of books she'd been wanting, and were prepared to go to Walmart (ugh) to let her pick out a Lego set, except our Walmart had a terrible Lego selection, so she asked if she could go with Plan B. Plan B ended up being a Monster High Password Journal, which she has been wanting for a couple of years now but I've been putting off because Password Journals do not typically get great reviews online. But she is so happy.

The end. I have no conclusion, except to wonder if this is perhaps Johanna's new birthday tradition. And whether it will ever occur to her to ask for more than three guests. :)

P.S. I probably should have mentioned that birthdays have always been pretty minimal in our household, mostly because I am mentally unable to handle even the whisper of a thought of throwing some kind of birthday bash for 30. I've done those kind of parties for very special occasions (baptisms, First Communions, Confirmation... does Thanksgiving count?) and it's exhausting. Anyway, so that's why Johanna doesn't bat an eye at the thought of a no-gift birthday slumber party. Because just the slumber party is a step up from what she usually gets. Apparently we were minimalists before we were minimalists...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Abby Texts: Street cred

Abby: I hate science.

Me: Me too! Let's be bffs!

Abby: No Mom. It would ruin my street cred.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just another day at the office

Yesterday this guy came into the office munching on peanuts and then he's like, it's rude of me to be eating, except that doesn't stop him from continuing to eat, and I figured that with the superpowers I possess as a mother (I've seen ALL SORTS of gross things) I could totally handle the scene, but it turns out I couldn't because not long after he said that, a peanut fragment left his mouth and hit my desk and that's kind of a deal breaker as far as my personal strength goes.

The end, I guess.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Project 333: Month 3 list and thoughts

Some o' my items.
Since I gave myself permission to make my first Project 333 extravaganza a learning experience, and thus able to switch things out after every month, I decided to take a hard look at my closet and the items I didn't wear very much during November (or, in some cases, at all) and start fresh in December.

Well, sort of fresh. My favorites stayed put. The rest of it got piled on the bed. And then I commenced with "shopping my closet." You're supposed to box your extra clothing up, but mine is just in my wardrobe. Potential trade-ins were also tossed on the bed, and I began mixing and matching and kind of tearing my hair out.

Because you know what? I haven't really missed anything that's been in the wardrobe at all. Still, I pressed on. I tried very hard to make my denim shirt work, but decided that I don't actually like it very much, plus it only went with a couple of things. (Turns out my favorite dress pants do not work with denim shirts. Ah, well.) I also tried hard to make a relatively new grey button down work, but... I just couldn't. So anyway, yadda yadda yadda, a bunch of my wardrobe-bound clothing ended up in bags to give away. If anyone wears a size medium to large and wants to look through my stuff, you're welcome to it. :)

I also ditched some things that are wearing out and/or I'm just not into anymore. A couple items that are seriously wearing out but are staples stayed in my closet--they're on my list for replacement, but until I find something suitable, I'm going to just make do.

In order to make 33 items (because I was down to 26 and I didn't really want to go that low... mostly because I'm too scared), I added back a few things that I subtracted for November. I know, that's crazy talk, but I promise to ditch anything that I don't regularly wear January 1. (Maybe I really will wear those long-sleeve button downs when it's freezing outside? Or maybe I will finally get it through my head that between the idea and the reality falls the shadow. I'm apparently a slow learner.)

Anyway, I am still surprised at how much I have learned from this exercise (wants verses needs and what compels me to shop--boredom, mostly, and misplaced dreams), even if I am cheating this go-round. I *think* I'll be able to hack it for the January-March period like God and Courtney Carver intended. (Here's the Project 333 link in case you're interested.) That's the goal, anyway.

My December list of 33 items:

Black long-sleeve t-shirt                 
Navy long-sleeve t-shirt
White long-sleeve t-shirt                
Black tank top
White tank top                             
Navy t-shirt
Black t-shirt                 
Black/white dot button down shirt           
White button down shirt                 
Teal button down shirt                 
Dark grey button down shirt
Black button down shirt
Black cardi                             
Orange/red cardi
Grey cardi
Plum cardi                             
Teal cardi                             
Black turtleneck sweater     
Beige jacket                             
Denim jacket                       
Black skirt                             
Denim skirt                             
Purple skirt 
Beige skirt     
Grey plaid skirt     
Grey pants                             
Black pants                             
Beige pants                       
Dress denim                             
Scarves: Teal, red, black, navy, orange           
Coat and gloves                       
Shoes: Danskos, boots, ankle boots         

Friday, December 6, 2013

My worst day

Ten years ago today, my general feeling of "something's not quite right" was confirmed when I miscarried after 8 weeks of pregnancy.

Ten years ago today was a Saturday. The sun was shining. Abby was four. Eric was at his parents' house helping his father with a project. Abby and I had planned to go to the craft bazaar at the local Methodist church (which we did) and then to the store to get a wreath holder and candy canes (which we did). I felt terrible. I did my best to ignore it.

Of course we ran into all kinds of people everywhere--my friend Mara's parents, acquaintances I'd only talked to via email for my column--and everyone was in the mood to chat. By the time Abby and I were back in the car headed home, I couldn't ignore the fact that I was basically in labor.

So I breathed in and I breathed out between contractions, took Abby to my mother-in-law (who met me at the door and told me to get the hell off my feet), and came home and died. Well, not literally. And then Eric came home because his mother found him and told him the news, and he let me cry and that was that.

Ten years later, I feel blessed. This morning, as I was taking the girls to school, listening to Johanna plan her birthday slumber party and Abby talking about her sucky basketball team, I wanted to pull the car over for a group hug. Ten years ago was the worst day of my entire life. Exactly one decade later, I have two healthy, lovely girls. I can remember the kindness of my sister-in-law, who came to sit with me because she didn't want me to be alone, without cringing from remembered pain. I know when I can't be strong, Eric can be strong for us both. I know that people really love us.

I've been rewriting this next paragraph all morning, and it's still not perfect, but here's what I want to tell you: Please don't be afraid to talk about miscarriage, whether it's your own or someone you know. So many of us have experienced this, and it's comforting to know that you're not alone--and to know that you will live through it. And I can tell you firsthand someone going through a miscarriage isn't likely to forget they are, so you won't be jarring them to reality if you ask about it. It's uncomfortable when people veer away from the topic, actually--it's all you're thinking about, and being able to freely express your sorrow / feelings / whatever is a relief. Um, that's all.

Oh, and P.S. On December 8, I saw a doctor to confirm that I had miscarried--which I had, completely--and exactly one year later, that was Johanna's due date.  I tell you what, people, coincidence or divine intervention, I don't care. Johanna is our own personal miracle.

P.P.S. This was a hard post to write, and I normally don't share quite so much of myself on the blog, but I felt it important to do so. My next post will be happier, I promise.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Morning view

They say when you start talking about the weather, you've run out of things to say.
That sounds about right...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Pointless Lists

I took an inadvertent break from blogging this week. Not planned, but it was kind of restful. I love writing, but sometimes I love it kind of less. Also, my public (hi Mom!) doesn't have internet this week due to a provider switchover, and hence, no one has been bugging me about my lack of posts.

Well, whatever, I guess. I have lots to write about now, except I can't remember what those things are. Sometimes being 41 is exciting like that.

Oh, here's something, though: Johanna and I were walking around a store (probably Walmart, the bastards, because she wanted yarn for a weaving project similar to this), and she was holding my hand and telling me all the things she was thankful for: Existence, her family, having arms and legs, and eyes and ears, and being able to ride a bike. I was like, that is the best list EVER.

Also: Today is Eric's 43rd birthday. And I would just like to say that I really love that man.

Pointless list time!

Books read:
So I meant to reread Allegiant this month, but... Tris! I just couldn't. But I thought about it a lot. What I did read was a lot of old Outlander because I love Jamie and Claire (and I tend to skip to the parts that are just about them, I'm rereading, who cares?, I'm on the last book now and I'll do what I want).

THEN. On November 22, I just happened to be on Facebook (that's been less and less these days, it's kind of driving me nuts over there) and saw Amazon had Stephen King's 11/22/63 for $2.99 on Kindle for that day only. This is a book on my list, so I jumped on it. (I've learned that if a book is not on your list, you should not buy it, no matter how cheap it is.) I'm only 40-percent through (it's like 800+ pages, thank God I don't have to lug it around, have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle?), but am enjoying it immensely. Well written, interesting storyline, likable characters. I've been trying to take my time and not barnstorm through the thing, as is my usual habit when reading. Reading slowly is hard for some reason...

Thanksgiving update:
We had two Thanksgiving dinners this year, which was kind of exciting. Since we knew we were eating twice we tried not to overdo it at any one stop, but still sort of failed on all accounts. I mean, I was so full I didn't get a piece of pie.

But it was a great day. We spent time with Eric's side in the early afternoon, then went to my parents' house later that evening. My brother Tim came to town this year, which was awesome--he works quite antisocial hours, so we don't get to see him very much. Maybe that's why, when we do see him, it feels like a party. Anyway, it's always fun to spend a day with your favorite people, and we saw all kinds of our favorite people that day. Plus I got to tell the story of when I was watching a then three-year-old Cody (he's a sophomore in college now) and learned that boys love peeing outside. He seemed kind of proud.

Project 333 update:
I struggled hard in October with my picks, but this month went very smoothly. Looks like my black cardigan, black long-sleeve t-shirt, black/white button-down, denim skirt, black pants, jeans, scarves and coat were the big winners this month (yes, I keep a graph so I can tell at a glance. I told you I'm anal). That's a lot of black. I just dig it, I guess. Out of my 33 items, there were 7 that I didn't wear at all. I'm trying to decide if I want to make a new list for December, switching out items that I didn't wear for things that maybe I will, or if I want to just keep on keeping on with what's in the closet. This first Project 333 block is a learning one for me, so I'm okay with either option. It's amazing to me that with a closet so small there could be things I didn't even wear... but it makes getting rid of things I thought I couldn't live without that much easier. Because clearly, I already AM living without them.

P.S. Still no one has noticed.

Pointless thought:
Shopping on Thanksgiving Day is a thing now, and it is apparently called "Brown Thursday." Does this make anyone else besides me think of poopie underwear? Because that's the image I get: People walking around with filled pants. I don't know, maybe I just have problems.

Um, and no. No, we did not partake in any of that madness. In fact, I gave a mental high-five to all the businesses who remained closed--some even on Black Friday. I can respect that kind of a stand.

Things I've learned:
Looking through Brown Thursday / Black Friday ads with my mother, safe and warm at her kitchen table, is extremely entertaining. Skilly is NOT interested in sitting in empty boxes. (I did an experiment. My cat is an anomaly.) Johanna has a lot to be thankful for. Abby may not be fast, but when your strengths lie vertically, you still make the basketball team. Visiting with family and friends is THE BEST.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Positively... a post

So I just wrote a long post about a lady who came into our office on Monday, but now I'm wondering if maybe it's not the most charitable thing ever and that I shouldn't publish it after all. Ah, well. It was only an hour of my life. The thing is that I'm getting kind of tired with the snarky comments and stories I see all over the internet--because why can't we just be nice, people?--and here I am, making fun of someone just because she had the misfortune to annoy me on a particularly busy workday. Not cool, Trisha. Not cool.

So let me tell you some positive mini-stories instead:
Faux artistic moon in the trees shot from this morning.
(I promise the moon is there...)
We spent this weekend in the Land of My Birth, and we got to see so many people whom we dearly love and who (yay us!) love us back: Ann and John, Seth and Ashley, my grandparents, Jan and Doug, Bethie, Clara and the super adorbs Maggie Mae. And my parents, who were visiting too. And then my brother Tim called as we were driving home and I talked to him for like two hours. All awesome. All positive!

Cranky Steve (who has a bad head cold and is now Melancholy Steve) announced yesterday that cats and raccoons aren't supposed to get along, but his cats AND his raccoons are now sleeping under his front porch together in perfect harmony. That is... okay, that is alarming, but he was so happy. Positive!

Skilly just jumped up on my lap and is showing how much he loves me by scratching the crap out of my legs and biting my arm!

Also: Coffee! I've been making myself a fancy drink for the office that consists of my regular coffee and milk, but with a dash of hot chocolate and a splash of my homemade vanilla syrup. That is quite delightful. Positive!

It is colder than heck outside, but the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day. I'm wearing a turtleneck sweater and feeling pretty warm and snug and grateful that I can look at the view without having to actually go out and freeze. Positive!

Now I'm thinking of the homeless and/or disenfranchised who don't have anywhere warm to be. Not positive. I do have a coat in the closet that Johanna has outgrown... I'm sure I can donate it to the school for someone who needs one. That makes me feel better. It's not the war, but it's a battle. Positive!

I have some tomato soup in the refrigerator that is destined to be my lunch. I love a nice warm lunch on a cold day. I'm a big fan of lunch. Yay lunch!

I really love my job and my coworkers. Going to work really just feels like some cool place I get to hang out for a few hours every day. Positive!

Now Skilly is attacking my throw rug and showing it who's boss, and the good news is that he's attacking the rug and not my feet. Oh, wait, he got sidetracked and now he's cleaning himself. You know what? If that's not a positive note to end on, then I don't know what is.

Happy Wednesday, internet friends!

Friday, November 15, 2013

I do what I can

So my dad calls Wednesday morning to say that he hit a button or something on the computer and now the mouse was doing everything backwards--up is down, down is up, left is right, etc. etc. etc. Would I come to the house before work to fix it?

I have sort of a techie role in my family (and Eric's too, but less so these days since I threw a fit and bought an iMac three years ago. TOTALLY WORTH IT). Well, I WAS the technology coordinator at the middle school for five years. But that's just because I was straight out of college and my youthful enthusiasm hadn't been squelched yet. Also: The principal didn't care that I was an English major and had zero experience with computers up until that point, and seemed to think it perfectly logical to have me installing CD drives and memory chips and software and whatnots. It was kind of awesome in that I learned a lot really fast. I didn't know what I didn't know, so I just did it.

So I get to my parents' house around noon. Mom and I start chatting, and Dad is like, let's stay focused here, people. Side conversations later, and we're all like, sir, yes sir! So I follow him down the hall into what used to be my old bedroom but is now their computer room, and sit down to see if I can sort this thing out.

It is WEIRD trying to get a mouse to move when it's going the opposite of all your directions. I struggled to get to the finder so I could get to the whatever thing that allows you to set your mouse preferences (that's totally legit lingo right there. I'm an ex-technology coordinator, I know these things). Finally I maneuver the cursor to where it needs to be and click to open.

Except the mouse is not clicking.

I look down, and the mouse? Is pointed UPSIDE DOWN. So I put it right-side up and hallelujah! Problem fixed.

"I'm a computer genius!" I crow, arms raised in my best Rocky impersonation. I'd have punched air too, but I didn't want to hit the computer or my parents--it's not the biggest room ever. Mom and I were ready to collapse from the awesome. Dad asked me to please not tell anyone.

Um, oops?

I'm counting this as a win.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cranky Steve probably has rabies

Yesterday I worked seven whole hours, which was awesome, actually, even though Eric and the girls were off for Veteran's Day. Abby volunteered at her grandmother's DAR function and Eric and Johanna worked on fixing the leaky master bathroom shower... and I got to hang out with fun people, meet a couple who were driving from Alaska to Chile on used vegetable oil, get my hand squeezed really hard by a 76-year-old woman who was pretty pleased to have made me yelp (she shook my hand at least four times, and by the end I was all, jeez, I get it already!), ponder how sometimes being at the front desk is like being a bartender without the alcohol with Jody in Sales, save $10 on desk calendars for the office, and write about the latest batch of Jesuit volunteers that have come to town for an upcoming news edition.

And it didn't even seem like work.

Anyway, so Cranky Steve was in a really talkative mood and kept stopping by my desk to share little bits of his life. One of his favorite topics is His Raccoons, which he's tamed to the point of insanity. These things will come into his house, steal his tuna sandwiches off the table, and sit in his recliner. I mean, that's nuts, right?

This article by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
makes me think that Cranky Steve has not read this AT ALL. 

So yesterday he's all excited and tells me about how he got a hug on the leg by one of his little rabid friends. He's all, you know that one who likes to put his paw on my paw? and I'm all like, paw to paw interaction, got it, and he's all, well, last night I brought him out a bowl of kibble and he hugged my leg before eating, and I was like, um, and shared his rabies with you? And then Cranky Steve was offended that I would dare think his little pals would be diseased-riddled varmints, but seriously, you guys...

Raccoons. In his house. They're practically rats.

Except Steve says they're closer to dogs than rats and that rabies does not exist in the Pacific Northwest. Since I am not about to go friend a bunch of raccoons, I'll just take his word for it.

11/12/13! That kind of makes me happy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Abby Texts: Sophomores

Abby: Dude does nobody else smell the sophomores bc im tearing up and nobody seems to be reacting to the smell.

Me: Maybe that's your superpower.

Abby: And being able to wake myself up from dreams.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Project 333: Week 5 recap

You guys, I have made a serious error in judgement.

Before starting Project 333 (of which I have no regrets, by the way--that's not the error), I would have told you that I wear EVERYTHING in my closet. Every dang thing. And that I am particularly fond of button-down dress shirts. I probably have 15 to 20 of the things with various sleeve lengths because I see them in the store and I'm like, I love that. It looks crisp and neat. Plus I work in an office. If a button-down dress shirt doesn't scream "office," then what does?

Here's the thing, though: I've been keeping daily track of what I'm wearing (because I'm anal, okay? Shut up) and button down long-sleeve dress shirts? I wore a total of 11 days out of 31 (the month of October). Compare that to t-shirts (long and short-sleeved plus my tank tops): 29 out of 31 days. Sometimes, yes, I wore those things underneath a dress shirt, but more times than not I just tossed a cardigan over one and called it a day. Paired with dress pants or a skirt and sometimes a scarf, I like to think I didn't totally embarrass the family.

Basically this month I learned that I don't really like button-down dress shirts as much as I thought I did. So it's kind of unfortunate that I have so many. I think maybe that's why I was feeling so frustrated getting dressed every day, even with a smaller wardrobe to choose from--it was filled with things I thought I liked, not things I actually do like.

Weird lesson. I did not expect that.

Anyway, new plan: I have a fresh batch of 33 items for the month of November. Most of them are the same as what I started out with, but I cut back on the button-downs and added to my t-shirts. And this time, I grouped a couple of things together to get just 33 (looking at you, shoes and scarves). I tried to concentrate on neutrals as a base and rely on my cardigans and scarves for color:

  1. Black long-sleeve t-shirt
  2. Grey long-sleeve t-shirt
  3. Navy long-sleeve t-shirt
  4. Black tank top
  5. Navy tank top
  6. White tank top
  7. Orange print tank top
  8. Navy t-shirt
  9. Black t-shirt
  10. Black/white dot button down shirt*
  11. White button down shirt
  12. Teal button down shirt
  13. Dark blue button down shirt
  14. Black cardi
  15. Orange-red cardi
  16. Plum cardi
  17. Teal cardi
  18. Grey turtleneck sweater
  19. Black skirt
  20. Grey plaid skirt
  21. Denim skirt
  22. Purple skirt
  23. Grey pants
  24. Black pants
  25. Twill pants
  26. Black cords
  27. Dress denim
  28. Jeans
  29. Scarves: Teal, orange, black, navy
  30. Shoes: Danskos, boots, flats
  31. Coat and gloves
  32. Beige jacket
  33. Denim jacket
Well... we'll see. So far, though, Week 6 has been rather less of a chore. I'm giving myself permission to redo the list again for December if need be. There's definitely a learning curve to dressing with less. I had no idea trying to have a minimalist wardrobe would require so much work. ;)

*I bought this shirt--which is a rather lovely thing--at the Goodwill Boutique downtown. It gets a lot of comments. Anyway, the point is that I thought it was navy, but just last Thursday I discovered it's actually black. For some reason the tiny white dots give it a navy look in the sunlight. I don't know, it's still awesome, so whatever. I'm kind of glad because black is easier to navigate.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Pointless Lists

The Lone Johanna For No Reason.
October! Happy Halloween! This year Johanna is dressing up as "The Lone Johanna For No Reason," which means she's a motley assortment of green cape, Iron Man mask, Eric's OSU Beavers jersey and a pair of pajama bottoms. What to the ever, people. I made the cape, by the way, using the Little Red Riding Hood costume my Aunt Ann (hi Ann!) made me when I was like five or something as a guide. And because I don't own a sewing machine, I used the leftover no-sew tape I found in my sewing basket (there's irony for you) that I suspect is from the curtain project I undertook when Eric and I were first married... 18 years ago. Huh. Well, mission accomplished, anyway, and Johanna loves her cape (even if it will never win any prizes), so we're calling it a win.

Also: Why do people get worked up over Halloween? It's a cute little kids' holiday. We need to relax, America.

Um, what was I talking about again? I forget. It probably wasn't that important anyway.

Oooh, but here's a story for you: Last week, Eric went elk hunting with his family in Eastern Oregon. This meant that the girls and I were lawless in the house for a full seven days. It was kind of awesome. There was a lot of recklessness around the dinner table especially--the apple hand-pies Johanna had made at my parents' for dessert became a side dish one night, as an example of said lawlessness. That's what happens when you don't have any adult supervision. I actually shrugged my shoulders as I wrote that. This week we're back to normalcy (I'm a big fan of normal), and proper side dishes have been served and prepared. AND proper dinners, in case you were worried. Not quite as exciting, but there's only so much excitement I can take at my advanced age of 41 anyway. True story.

Pointless list time!

Books read:
So I had been waiting very patiently for Allegiant by Veronica Roth to be released Oct. 22. I had it pre-ordered on my Kindle and everything, so basically I woke up, downloaded it, and that's what I did that day. One thing about my Kindle Keyboard--it's not all that easy to flip ahead, so I am forced to read without spoilers. I know, right? BUT THEN. Abby had me pick up a hardback copy at the bookstore, and I had some time, and I flipped ahead... and was completely and utterly crushed. I've had a few days to work though my emotions now, Thank God, but wow, talk about a roller coaster. The book was just as fantastic as the other two in the series, and I highly recommend all three of them. They are wonderful. Just steel yourself for the ending. War, you know, pretty much sucks. And I think the ending is actually a good one... now that I'm over the shock. I always read a book twice when I first get it (once quickly to see what happens, and then again to savor), but I haven't been able to read this one over yet. Because, hello, CRUSHED. I will, though. Mostly because Abby keeps encouraging me to move on with some other of her series and I am just not ready to let Tris and Tobias go yet. I mentioned I love these books, right? I really just do.

I forgot to mention this before, but I attempted to read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (maybe last month? Maybe this month?) because it was on sale for my Kindle and, knowing Abby had to read it for Advanced Freshman English, and never having picking it up on my own, decided to give it a go. I think I lasted maybe a hundred pages before I deleted the thing completely--that's right, people, even off my Amazon Cloud. It was terrible. Why is this a classic again? The writing style, the ease in which Ender can do anything... it was just too dumb. Abby has to see the movie with her English class, so lets hope that Harrison Ford's handsome face is enough to save the thing. (I'm not going to link it, either, because I don't want to encourage anyone to read it. Seriously. Don't read it.)

Canning update:
There isn't one. I've done nothing all month. No peach jam as my go-to Christmas gift this year. I hope its fans are forgiving.

Project 333 update:
Ann called to tell me that dressing in all black isn't goth, it's European! That's much cooler anyway. So I'm embracing black again. Which is a good thing because that's half my wardrobe. I would also like to throw this out there: Fleece lined tights? Are like the greatest invention ever. Toasty!

Things I've learned:
Adult supervision is kind of necessary. It is possible to put your socks on when Skilly is in your lap, though it's not the easiest thing ever. Apple hand-pies are actually not the worst side dish ever because, you know, apples. Are healthy! Real letters still do come in the mail if you're lucky enough to have a friend who will write you one. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Abby Texts: Concussed with a side of Ender

Abby: Hit my head on the mat room floor we were playing a game where you drop to the floor and now it hurtssssss.

Me: Concussion? How many fingers am I holding up? I'm sorry!


Me: At least it sounds cool.

Abby: So we're doing Enders game like standings in english and so like we do activities and we all have standings. I'm fourth. Swagggg.


Me: Andrew? Is that you? Get some clothes on!

Abby: Dude yolo. I was second for awhile there.

Me: So proud.


Abby: My head is like wooooah. Not bad though :)

Me: Maybe that's concussion after effects?

Abby: Lolol don't think I'm that concussed or I'd have blacked out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And so it begins

I found something in Johanna's backpack this morning that has me fairly furious: A series of notes between her and a friend, written during the after school program, with Johanna asking the friend why she was mad at her, the friend responding that it was how Johanna was acting, and Johanna saying she was sorry, but how was she acting?

And the friend couldn't say.

Here's why it makes me furious: I know what it's like to be on the receiving end of such a note, of not knowing what you've done, left only with a vague sense that you are not good enough without any idea of what "good enough" even means.

I just spent an hour writing about my own experiences with being bullied by my supposed friends, from elementary school on up. Including college. But it's too raw, and much more than I ever show people. Even people I'm the closest too. So I can't bring myself to put that out there on the internets for the world to see.

Here's the gist of the thing: I had a hard time. The only thing that saved me was that I ended up with some real friends who taught me that I was okay just the way I was, that I didn't need to act a certain way to make people like me; that just being me was enough. They will never know how much that meant to me, and means to me still.

God, that's still saying too much...

Um, anyway, so as you can see, this note in the backpack of my 8-year-old has stirred up some rather deep emotions. Because I don't want my precious, eternally happy child to feel that she has to be anyone less than herself. Her second grade teacher told me last year that she's never met a kid so young who so completely knows who she is already.

I don't want her doubting who she is.

When I asked Johanna about the notes, she got embarrassed and tried to take them away from me, but finally she told me what had happened. I told her that she does not need to change "the way she acts" because how she acts is fine. Then, seeing her confused face, I told her how girls sometimes try to make other people sad just to feel better about themselves. She seemed to grasp what I was trying to tell her. I certainly hope so.

But now I'm wondering if I should mention it to the after school care coordinator. I don't want to be one of "those parents," but I don't want my child bullied under the guises of friendship. I also don't want to start something worse.

Girls can be so, so mean. It's been that way forever, which makes me wonder: How do we ever make it stop? Bullies come in all forms, and from "good" families, and at all age levels. My worst bullies were college-aged Christian Evangelicals. (And I'm not saying that to blame Christian Evangelicals, just to make the point that people you assume would act one way often don't.) What makes us this way? Why do we have to tear down other people just to make ourselves feel better? Why not lift people up instead?

So... no one ever comments, and that's cool, people, but I'd really like some thoughts on this other than my own. Because I've got a lot of baggage. And I'm not sure I'm seeing what is really there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Project 333: Week 3 recap

  1. Wow, I'm sick of black.
  2. Oddly enough, though, I could wear a black t-shirt (long or short sleeved) and a black cardigan every day of the week.
  3. I bought a new black sweater to replace the one I didn't like.
  4. Um, and a new teal sweater.
  5. And ended up cycling out a few items to make room / have different options.
  6. Because the weather has been GORGEOUS.
  7. And I needed more clothing suitable for the 60s and 70s.
  8. Degrees, that is. Fahrenheit.
  9. I had to take a pair of shoes to the cobbler, too, because I popped the decorative button off at work by tripping on some boxes that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THERE but whatever, I'm not bitter.
  10. Much.
  11. Okay, TOTALLY BITTER. 
  12. See? That cute little button.
  13. What I learned during Week 3 is that having color? Is kind of important for your general sanity.
  14. Especially when the weather is sunny and lovely and awesome.
  15. Because otherwise, I just feel all Goth.
  16. Which actually, I probably am anyway.
  17. Lost my train of thought.
  18. Still no one has noticed and I'm deep in Repeat Land.
  19. I feel kind of ridiculous not being able to make it a month with my preordained 37 items.
  20. Such is life.
  21. And I also kind of feel like instead of thinking less about my wardrobe, which is kind of the point, right?, I think more about it.
  22. Maybe because I'm a Project 333 newbie.
  23. I was only going to go to 20.
  24. That didn't work.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Abby Texts: On Coffee and evil vending machines

Abby: Geometry makes me want coffee.

Me: Life makes me want coffee.


Me: How are you going to get it? That is the problem. No transportation.

Abby: I'm going to um. Run to db*

Me: Do you have money? Because otherwise...

Abby: Lol no because the vending machine ate my dollar. :) U SHOULD PROBZ BRING SOME HOME FOR ME.

Me: Then you'll be up all night

Abby: No I won't! I promise I'll sleep!


Abby: Passing the vending machine of all evil and I kicked it mmm yes.

Me: Good. Show it who's boss!

Abby: Kicks viciously at the vending machine. RIP dollar.


Abby: I'm going to avenge the dollar. I need you to get me some toilet paper, whipped cream, and duct table. And some dutch bros. Purely for morale ;)

Abby: The most necessary part of this is the dutch bros. THE WHOLE PLAN WILL GO AWRY WITHOUT IT.

Me: Ahem. I see how it hinges on coffee. IT ALWAYS DOES.

Abby: Caffeinated is better than decaf in this plan, though either will work.

*db = Dutch Bros.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Project 333: Week 2 recap

After the first week of Project 333 and the positive lessons I had learned, as well as a few random feelings of plain awesomeness, I was unprepared for what happened in Week Two. Namely: A case of the blahs.

This confused me at first. I have plenty of clothing choices. And I actually like the clothing in my closet. So why was getting dressed stressing me out?

Then it hit me: I was trying to wear only the clothes that I hadn't worn the first week. I really hate being told what to do... even by myself.

Forget that. After two days of trying to wear all the things, I bagged it and went with how I always get dressed in the morning: Something stands out that I really want to wear, and I build my outfit from there. I was much happier with the outfits I wore, and, as it happened, I managed to incorporate one or two previously unworn items anyway.

Clothing. Is weird.

P.S. What I've learned about working from a capsule wardrobe is that Fall is one crazy dude. I go from wearing sweaters and long sleeves to pulling out my flats and tank tops. In like a 24-hour period. I've managed to be comfortable regardless of the weather with my 37 items, though, so whatever, I guess.

P.P.S. Still no one has noticed.

P.P.P.S. I've come up with some interesting combos I probably wouldn't have noticed before with all my clothes distracting me and whatnot. My navy tank with my orange-red sweater? That was my hit of the week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Johanna Show

Johanna has decided that for Halloween, she's going as The Lone Johanna For No Reason. "Lone as in lone wolf," she explained, "like without a pack. Like I run without a pack." This is actually not true. She literally has kids following her around. My theory is she's so quirky and happy that they just want to see what she'll do next. I know I do.

Apparently this costume requires an Iron Man mask, a black cape, Eric's Oregon State Beaver's t-shirt and pajama bottoms. "Sorry, Mom, we're going to have to go to Walmart for this stuff," she added as an afterthought.

Also: She's purposely trying NOT to match. Um, except she never matches, so I'm not sure what the logic is here. You'd probably have to be eight to understand properly. Anyway, my mother has been charged with keeping an eye out for an Iron Man mask--she gets out more than I do. And I REALLY do not want to go to Walmart.

Crap, I totally have to go to Walmart.

Johanna spent all her free time one fine Monday evening working on this equation. Can you solve it?
Answer: Infinity. DUH.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Project 333: Week 1 recap

(I don't expect I'll do recaps EVERY week, mostly because that will be really boring, but also because I imagine I'll run out of things to say about it eventually. I mean... right?)

So guess what? It's the end of week one and I've worn 31 of my 37 items. I know because I'm keeping track. Call it being anal curiosity. I never really pay much attention to what I wear, so it's kind of interesting to see what I'm actually using.

Here's what else I learned during Week 1 of a "limited" wardrobe:
  • 37 items is plenty.
  • That white tank top I added as an afterthought was my most worn item of the week--four times.
  • I decided on my denim jacket at the last minute--I also have a fitted beige jacket I love--and I'm glad that's the one I chose because it goes with everything (I probably wouldn't have worn the beige at all). I wore it twice this week.
  • I'm pretty sure I'd have forgotten about my flats if I didn't just have three pairs of shoes to choose from. 
  • I really do not like the black cardigan I inherited from Abby (online order that didn't turn out quite like she had hoped). I am itching, itching, itching to replace it, but I don't trust myself in stores just yet. My high-brow theories tend to get tossed by the wayside when I'm confronted by pretty clothes.
  • It's way easier to get dressed when you don't have so many options.
And of course no one has noticed what I'm doing. I'm pretty sure no one will ever notice even when I start majorly repeating items (that's my Ugly Shirt Theory: Everyone is so worried about their ugly shirt that they don't even notice yours). It's not about them anyway.

Oh, hey, I also don't mind wearing things a few times before washing them. Dudes, I work at a newspaper office. It's not like I'm running marathons. I'm just sitting around writing stuff.

So no regrets for jumping on the Project 333 bandwagon. Bring on Week 2!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My first attempt at Project 333

I'm not exactly the poster child for counter culture (I'm a bit too uptight for that), but I do tend to like things that are... different. I think that's why minimalism appealed to me in the beginning. It's the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be doing (which is consuming. A lot). I'm a big fan of exact opposite. It's not that I'm trying to be contrary or anything. It's mostly that the exact opposite is a lot more interesting than the mainstream.

So when I first heard about Project 333 a year or two ago, I was immediately intrigued. To break it down: You pick 33 items that you wear just that for 3 months. But it's not a lesson in depravation (you can replace items as needed); it's about simplifying.

I mean, that sounds kind of awesome, right? Kind of weird and really different from all the consumer-ladden messages out there in the world. But while it appealed to me, I wasn't sure I could actually do it. I hadn't come out as a minimalist yet--I hadn't even begun to think about what minimalism might look like. I guess what I'm saying is that I wasn't ready yet.

But my life has changed a lot in the last year, and I don't have to think about what minimalism would look like anymore because we live it every day. (Or, I should say: Eric and I live it, Abby lives it until you start talking about her books or clothes, and Johanna is a hoarder.) But I haven't bothered with my closet yet, not really. I've gotten rid of a lot of items... but I also bring in a lot of items. I mean, I really, really like clothes. And I tell myself I don't have that extensive of a closet anyway. (Fun fact: Yes, I do.)

But still... this idea intrigues me. And that's what I've been working on for the last couple of weeks: A pared-down wardrobe. The fall cycle of Project 333 started Oct. 1, but I started two weeks before that, using the extra time as a dress rehearsal. It also took me that long to figure out the rules. I am all about rules. (I told you I'm uptight.) My biggest issue was what counts in the total and what doesn't. I mean, undies don't count, but do scarves? Shoes? Jewelry? My coat? My "weekend clothes," which includes my one pair of jeans and my only sweatshirt and my extensive long-sleeve t-shirt collection? How about tank tops, which I wear underneath my clothing?

In the end, I decided to include everything that wasn't an accessory. Or my PJs. And somehow managed to get it down to these items (it took three tries, though, full disclosure):

7 pairs pants: black cords, black dress, grey dress, beige, what Eddie Bauer calls "driftwood," jeans, denim dress
3 skirts: grey plaid, black, purple
1 dress: black/white
1 coat: black dress
1 sweatshirt: navy/thrashed
5 sweaters: black, grey, plum, orange-red (cardigans), grey turtleneck
1 jacket: denim
8 button-down shirts: light grey, dark grey, black, white, plaid flannel, navy/white dots, dark blue, teal
3 tank tops: navy, white, black
2 long-sleeved t-shirts: white waffle, black
2 t-shirts: black, navy
3 pairs of shoes (all black): boots, my dress work shoes, dress flats

That makes 37 items, in case you're counting. Well, in my defense, I'm counting my coat and my tank tops, and tank tops are practically underwear, okay? Still, it turns out 37 items is quite a lot. Except I have this nagging doubt that something is going to come up and I won't have adequate clothing, or the right clothing, or... I suppose that's most of the point of this exercise anyway, to prove I can. I'm ready for the challenge.

To give myself an idea of what I'm actually wearing (I worry about not having enough, but I feel guilty about having four more items than what's called for in The Rules), I've turned all my hangers backwards. When I wear something, I place the hanger forwards. I'm just kind of curious, you know? Will I end up wearing everything, or will I still only wear 20% of what's in my closet, which is average? (I was going to link Internet Proof of This Fact, but whatever, everyone knows it, just Google it, see? I was right.) Although I'll have to let Eric crunch those numbers for me because, ick, math.

So... I'm coming out as a Project 333 participant I guess is the whole point of this post. I'll let you know how it goes. So far, on day 3? Not so bad. :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Pointless Lists

So. September. Three months left of 2013? That seems kind of insane.

September was busy. School started, which meant beginning of the year open houses for Abby and Johanna. Eric and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. We participated in the local CROP Walk as a family (except we walked right past my parents house and ditched Jo), Eric and I volunteered at the local Hops Fest (which ended up being way more fun that I'd expected), and I worked at the elementary school book fair for three straight days (um, an hour at a time, it's not like I moved in or anything).

At the book fair, I spent most of that time telling cute little first graders that the $2 they brought from home would not buy them the $12.99 Dora the Explorer book they wanted. Talk about guilt.

And that's pretty much all that happened, except for that other stuff I don't feel like talking about. Fun fact: That's one of my pet peeves on Facebook--people writing purposely vague things. Don't do that! It's okay that I just did because I did it ironically.

Never mind. Pointless list time!

Books read:
This was a busy book month. It's all Abby's fault. She keeps talking about the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, and then I realized the first book is a mere $3.99 on my Kindle, so I thought, what the heck. I've wasted more money on that on a crappy mocha.

And it turns out that Divergent and its sequel, Insurgent, are fantastic. I could not put them down. I read through them as fast as I could just to see what was going to happen, and then I reread them more carefully, and then I went back and reread all my favorite parts, and then I pre-ordered Allegiant. And the good news is I only have to wait for about three weeks before it's released!

Um, and then because I'm kind of a fangirl, I purchased Free Four (the knife-throwing scene in Divergent as told by Four) and The Transfer (a short story about Four's Choosing Day). Um, and pre-ordered both The Initiate and The Son and The Traitor. I have a wait ahead of me for those little chapters, though.

Anyway, I think I love these books so much because the writing is fantastic, the characters are well fleshed out and believable, and the world is compelling. If you aren't a big fan of bad things happening to characters you love, though, don't read this. It's not a pretty world. But it is excellent. Highly recommend.

So after all of that, I was depressed, and Abby made me read the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Or, should I say, the first three books (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass, which, technically, I'm not quite finished with). BOOKS, people, real books. And wow, they're heavy and awkward. Beside the point. These books are interesting, but not so interesting I want to download them to my Kindle, which is why I'm soldier on with Abby's paperbacks. The author uses a lot of writing tricks that are kind of old hat, so you know what is going to happen even when the characters are clueless. The dialog is the best part of this series. There's some stuff that made me laugh out loud. Oh, and when Clary gives Simon a pamphlet on coming out to your parents to help him tell his mom that he's now a vampire? That was AWESOME.

So... it's not Divergent-good, but it's readable and kind of fun. Maybe you have to be 14 or something to truly get it, I don't know.

Garden update:
Sad, sad, sad. We have tomatoes. We have basil. I've gotten four zucchini THIS YEAR. That's about it.

Canning update:
I was all set to can peach butter but then my peaches rotted because that's what happens sometimes when it rains just before harvest--fungus. Well, that's why you know your farmer, people. I got a refund and all was cool.

Things I've learned:
Skilly only likes to cuddle when he's wet and gross. (Smelly cat, indeed.) There's a place in the next town over where you can get your shoes fixed. I can not be trusted in the Goodwill Boutique--too many pretty things--and all my minimalism ideologies go right down the drain. Homemade tomato soup is the bomb. It's possible I need to update the prescription on my glasses as depth is once again alluding me. One of my favorite words to write is "chaos." Spending all your free time reading on the porch in the sun (or curled up in your favorite quilt on the couch when it's raining and cold) is not a bad way to go.