26 August 2009

Hole In The Wall

How to bring light in the darkness in eight simple steps:

Step one
Build the window frame. Careful measuring is crucial here!

Step two
Take a break to clean the gutters. Not really necessary for proper window placement, strictly speaking, but much appreciated.

Step three
Cut a hole in the wall. This is a VERY scary step.

Step four
Remove the cat from the new window opening. Essential.

Step five
Place the window. Enlisting the help of a good friend for the heavy lifting rather than working with your wife on this step is better for your marriage and her back. Unfortunately no wife means no photographer.

Step six
Take pride in your work.

Step seven
Mentally prepare for an eternity of grubby fingerprints on the glass.

Step eight
Enjoy the view. And the light!

Ryan did good. Real good. And did I mention he figured out how to light the oven without blowing up the barn, too? My husband rocks, people!

And never before have I enjoyed window washing this much!

25 August 2009

Romancing The Slugs

Lola's latest animal infatuation is slugs. Every morning and every evening she goes on a slug hunt around the barn. She is totally and utterly fascinated by them. She coos over them, tickles them with feathers, and is delighted and disgusted at the same time when she touches them with her finger.

Her new found love was set off by a pair of mating slugs. When we said they were making babies, all she heard was 'babies' and since everything baby is cute, slugs are cute too.

It is a little strange perhaps, but I understand. I once hand fed a slug a piece of bread (the large opening on a slug's side is its mouth) on a hiking trip in Wales. I even gave my temporary friend a name: Charlie. Lola likes to feed the slugs pieces of apple.

As long as it keeps them out of my garden...

21 August 2009

No Guilt, No Glory

Yesterday I went to pick up Lola from daycare after work, as I do every day. The front door was locked and no-one answered when I knocked. I walked around back to find Lola, Dylan, Franklin, Carla, and the dogs playing in the backyard. They were having a blast together.

Lola was very happy to see me but when it was time to go home, she told me "No." She wanted to stay. After going back and forth on the subject for a little bit, I did what I usually do in these circumstances; I gave her a hug and a kiss, said good bye and walked away, fully expecting her to come running after me, as she always does.

It backfired. She was absolutely fine with me leaving. That was NOT supposed to happen. I walked back up to her but no, she really was intent on staying. Carla told me it was fine with her and that I should enjoy the unexpected night alone with my husband. And so I did.

I love having the occasional night off, but this time it didn't sit well with me at all. I felt a little heartbroken. (Of course the melancholic classic rock song playing on the radio the entire way home didn't do much to lighten the mood.) I thought of all the things I do not do with my daughter. We have never been to the zoo together. We do not do crafts together. We hardly ever go to the park together, or go swimming. Lola does all these things, but with Carla. Not with me.

I know this sense of failure I have is self imposed. Not working, or working less, is not an option at the moment. And I am extremely fortunate and blessed in having found Carla. I leave my daughter in very capable and loving hands every day. I do for my family what needs to be done in the best way possible. But that doesn't lessen the feelings of guilt. And that makes me sad. And not just for Lola but mostly for myself, truth be told. Which adds on even more guilt.

Motherhood, it truly is a source of joy. And of guilt, just as much.

Moving House - US Style

10 August 2009

Bye Bye Barbie

On my seventh birthday I became the proud guardian of Barbie. My Barbie had long, dark brown hair, and when you moved her legs, her arms moved as well. I LOVED her. With the help of my crafty grandparents and parents, I created and collected boxes full of accessories for her. Clothes, furniture, and linens mostly. And of course Ken, the overly tan male barbie with plastic hair, followed by Skipper, the teenager, were later added to the family.

My sister had a collection of barbies as well. Her accessories were even cooler. She had the RV, the horse, and the bicycle, if I remember correctly. Together we played and played, inventing elaborate story lines and turning all sorts of household supplies into useful items. Dish pans were transformed into swimming pools, plant stands turned into stairs.

When I outgrew Barbie, she disappeared into the trunk in my room, along with all of her clothes and furniture. The trunk that held all of my childhood memorabilia. It has accompanied me to every home I have ever had, including the barn. Over the years I have sorted through it and thrown stuff away, but never Barbie or her luggage. I have always held on to her, secretly hoping I would one day have a daughter to pass her on to.

And that's what I did this weekend. Lola loves to play with the barbies at Carla's house but I hadn't given her mine yet. On Saturday, however, the two of us were upstairs reorganizing my clothes when I pulled out Barbie and everything that comes with her.

Lola was delighted! She has played with nothing else since. The glue on the furniture is old and not holding up anymore, and the pile of 'to be fixed' furniture is rapidly growing. But Barbie is still her fabulous self. She hasn't changed a bit!

It was so much fun watching Lola play with my barbies. We emptied the boxes onto the floor and she sat amidst it all, picking everything up and examining it carefully. She even took the barbies to bed with her.

I caught myself being very protective of Barbie though. I spoke of "my barbies" to Lola and watched her like a hawk. Thirty six years of guardianship is not easily surrendered. But the time has come to let go. I am not lending Barbie to Lola after all, I am passing her on, as I had always dreamed of. She is Lola's now, and she can do with her as she pleases.

Except cut her hair. Or polish her nails. Or use make-up on her. Or markers. Or crayons...

04 August 2009

Back To The Bucket

There was a little incident awhile back involving the renters, medicinal plants, and the Sheriff's Department. It resulted in one renter being arrested and the other two moving out in a more voluntary manner. When Ryan and I walked into the house after they left, our courage sank into our shoes, to use a Dutch expression. The gentlemen had managed to totally and utterly trash the place in the few months they had lived there.

After a short bout of "Why us? Why does everything have to be so hard?", we once again pulled ourselves out of the depths of our misery by our hair, in true Baron Von Munchenhausen fashion, and went to work. We cleaned the place up, fixed the plumbing and the bathroom, painted the kitchen, and replaced the appliances. And then we put our 'Quaint Fifties Cottage' (we know a thing or two about marketing ourselves) back on the market.

We truthfully stated in the ad that the house looked nicer on the outside than the inside. That was also true last year but at that time the house was still furnished, covering up the fact that it is a tired, old house. This time the house was 'naked'. It took us about two weeks to find new renters. Three college girls would love to live in Snug Harbor. They moved in this weekend. They are very excited about being able to paint the interior. So are we.

It was nice to have the place all to ourselves, though, if only for a little while. To be able to use the entire backyard, to have cookouts, to run around naked, to swing in the apple tree. Not to mention having a washer and dryer, hot running water, and a bathroom! But all good things must come to an end. We cannot afford not to rent out the house just yet. So back to the bucket it is.

02 August 2009

Homeward Bound

Our bags are packed and we're about to go home. Tomorrow morning we fly back to the North West where the temperatures have dropped to a nice and comfortable mid seventies. I am happy to be going home, to be honest. Pam and I both are. Not that we didn't have fun. On the contrary. We had a blast! The show was a great success - we even made a profit - and we definitely found a new group of customers.

We earned our money, though. I have not worked this hard in a looooong time. As soon as the doors opened, thousands of women and a handful of men swarmed inside. And each and everyone of them stopped by our booth, it felt like. Pam did Make & Takes non-stop, and I rang up the customers all day long. No time to eat, to drink, to pee, let alone walk around the show and do a little shopping ourselves.

Today was our day off and we were going to be tourists. We had big plans to go to the Epcot Center, or do something else touristy. But our legs did not feel up to it. Instead we slept in, had breakfast in bed, and lounged by the pool. A lovely end to a lovely trip.

And now I want to go home! I miss my loves.

Crazy Crafters

Marketing Skills

Taking Bello Modo on the road is fun, inspiring, and exhausting. It is a great way to meet customers and suppliers, to discover cool new products to add to our already extensive selection, and to find inspiring examples of presenting products and samples. Some displays are eye candy in the truest sense of the word.

We have several different inks, stamps, and paper crafting tools in our online catalog. Ranger, one of our suppliers, was present at the wholesale show. We stopped by to say hello and take a look at their displays. Their Star is Tim Holtz, designer and marketeer extraordinaire. He has given his name to a line of tools and accessories. High quality and fun stuff. He was at the show, too. Standing room only at his demonstrations and long lines for his Make & Takes.

Ranger has beautiful displays of their inks, powders, and paints. Every color is presented in a uniform way, literally painting an attractive picture for their customers.

While taking a few shots of Ranger's displays for reference, I noticed one of the products in particular. Take a closer look with me:

It's sanding paper. Tim Holtz Sanding Paper to be precise. Three tiny strips of two by seven inches. Retails for $2.00. For an extra dollar you can buy a five pack of nine by eleven inch sheets at your local hardware store.

Designer Sanding Paper. Now that is an example of genius marketing. My hat off to you, Mister Holtz!