Finding My Place (part deux)

Since the day I decided to venture out on my own and buy a house 11 years ago (and subsequently marry the realtor), I’ve had this deep-rooted desire to sincerely connect with a small town community.  I’m pretty sure it stems from having moved so much as a child, but whatever the case, I’ve always wanted it.  I had this idea that it would be charming to walk downtown to the deli, or bakery, or antique store – and they’d know me by name when I walked in (and naturally, a small bell would chime as the door to their shop opened).  I would feel connected to those people in a very small-town kind of way – the kind of way where they would ask how my husband was doing, if I was going to grow my heirloom tomatoes this year, and if my cat – Leroy – was still afraid of the vacuum.

Of course, at the time, I had no husband, I’ve never grown heirloom tomatoes, and cats are well – cats.

pissed cat

But I still moved into said Small Town and started patronizing the local businesses.  At first, all things were rosy and rainbowed, set against the scenic river backdrop.  My old, tiny home’s walls thick with possibility, promise, and just a little lead paint.  But in time, as I restored my home and attempted to make new connections, the dream of living in “pleasantville” started to fade.  To my dismay, many of the downtown shops I liked so much closed as the real estate market took it’s historic nose dive in 2008.  In addition, I wasn’t always able to find the things I needed downtown and (admittedly) the Big Box Stores started to win when it came to furnishing my home and, well, eating.  But, it was still a small town with nice people, adorable homes, a scenic river, and that charming small-town vibe, complete with 4th of July parades and Christmas tree lighting ceremonies.

And so, we stayed and persevered, and fixed up this little home, and trudged through the toughest financial times we’ve ever faced.

After 11 years here, I’m happy to report that business downtown has been on the uptick recently and real estate is getting better.  At the same time, though, I’ve not connected in the way I really wanted to with my community, and I’m feeling sad about this.  My husband and I have often waxed sentimental over the fact that we’ll miss this place when we move.  Unfortunately, that means leaving my current small town – because there really aren’t any homes for sale in my town right now that will suit our needs.

silly house

And so, in the hope of attempting to atone for the sin of not fully connecting with my current small town, I’m hoping to start over  – I want to truly connect with the next town in which we live.  I’ve been getting excited about what new people, events, places, and adventures I’ll be having soon.  Luckily, we’ve found a great home in a nice, small town (that unfortunately doesn’t offer as much “downtown” as my current town, but it’ll work nonetheless – there is, afterall, an antique store, thrift shop, deli, flower shop, pizza place, quilt store, and watering hole… what else do we need?).

There are a plethora of positive aspects to this move – but there are also some things that make me a little sad.  While I’m ridiculously excited to be making this move, to a new town, where I can fulfill my wish to start over, make new connections, and find my place – all while learning from, and respecting, the place I’m leaving – I realize that I will inevitably miss my current community.

Especially the river.  I’m really going to miss the river.

river

But, when everything pans out with this new house, I’m sure I’ll get distracted by the many new adventures I’ll be having, along with all the DIY/Restoration/Decorating things on the horizon, too… it is, afterall, an old, historic home in need of some love.  Fifteen rooms’ worth of love, to be exact.

All of which will make excellent blog fodder!

Wish me luck.

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‘Tis the Season

busy mom

Just when I started to think I had to “do it all” this year because it’s “Baby’s First Christmas” … and we’ve gotta Make ALL the Memories (!) (oh-my-God-it’s-snowing-put-on-the-snow-gear-where’s-the-camera-get-outside-right-now-don’t-slip-and-maim-yourself-let’s-get-this-done-before-naptime-wait-her-hat-doesn’t-fit-oh-gawd-the-dogs-just-tracked-in-a-crapton-of-snow-c’mon-let’s-make-memories-yayyyyy) …and inevitably I’ve started to get just a little nervous/anxious/worked up/loud/Leona Helmsley about it…

I read this:

To The Mamas of Littles During the Holidays

It is just what I needed to read – and if you’re a mom of little ones, you need to read this, too.

Now, all is right with the universe, there are sugarplums dancing, and my feet are up with wine in my hand.  Because, I’m not going to go batcrap crazy this year and push myself so far that I miss it.

I don’t want to miss it.

“It” being the most important parts of Christmas – those moments with family and friends, specifically, my husband and daughter.  And I don’t need to festoon each moment with something from Pinterest.

I started on my simple Christmas journey a few weeks ago when I decided that not every single Christmas decoration I own has to be displayed this year (including the craptastic 6 foot tree that I still have from college that fell over last year and broke some of my favorite ornaments, sending me – at the time pregnant, emotional – into a complete “I Hate Christmas” tailspin).

No, I don’t have to go overboard to be overjoyed.  A few twinkly lights here and there, a handful of small Christmas trees, a wreath, some music.  There will always be music.

It’s going to be a beautiful Christmas, because we are just going to be.

White Friday (my un-black Friday)

It’s gotten a little ridiculous, folks.

black friday 1

I mean, don’t you think so?

All of this craziness for stuff?

We really don’t need more stuff.

hoarding

The truth is, we need more time with family, friends, and maybe reusing, re-purposing, and recycling the things we already have.

upcycle 2 upcycle 3 upcycle 4

Ok, so it’s not fair of me to tell you that you should be doing crafts, but I think you can agree that we really don’t need more stuff.

I went shopping on Black Friday about 4 years ago and it was awful.  Admittedly, I didn’t start out at 4 in the morning, but I did get out the door around 9.  I managed to shop at about 5 different stores and bought pretty much, well… nothing.  I think I may have bought a pair of cute fuzzy socks for myself, a shirt for Chris, and some log-cabin-y items for my kitchen.  I think I may have also scored a couple of good deals on wrapping paper and craft supplies.

But, here’s the thing:  I didn’t get home until 9 pm.

And I’m not sure I saved enough money to justify being out all day, eating practically nothing (an Auntie Anne pretzel is really nothing, when you think about it), and not spending some quality couch-time with my husband (something I would give a limb for nowadays).

AND… I still had to go out multiple times over the following weeks to complete my Christmas shopping anyway.

So, I stopped shopping on Black Friday.  And I did it just in time, too.

toysrusopenat5

This is what it’s come to?  People bolting up from their Thanksgiving dinner to rush out to buy more stuff?  Geez.

“Grandma, that was a great meal, but you know what’s greater?  Getting a bunch of new toys for my bratty kid who doesn’t even play with the toys he/she already has!  Thanksloveyoubye!”

And don’t tell me y’all weren’t drinking some wine with that turkey and then decided to DRIVE.

drunk turkey

Anyway, I now spend Black Friday at home.  I call it “White Friday,” because I spend the day cleaning my house.  It doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, but for me, it kind of is.  I’m in my pajamas, I’m eating turkey day leftovers, and my husband is around helping.  We put on Christmas music, get silly, and have a good time.

I think this is a far better choice.

Maybe you shop on Black Friday because perhaps you don’t have family around (or you can’t stand your family).  Or, maybe it has become a “tradition” to shop on Black Friday.  Well, that’s fine, but consider this:  what about the people who work at the stores?  Is it possible that they have families and they don’t want to be working?  Is it possible that they work anyway because we have a crappy economy, they don’t want to lose their job, and because of crazy-Black-Friday-shoppers, they MUST work?

Maybe it’s not about Black Friday, but maybe just how CRAZY things have become… like the stores opening right after Thanksgiving dinner?  And the fact that people are trampling each other, fighting, shooting, stabbing… all for… stuff?  What happened to “peace on earth and good will towards men” and women/children/retail workers?

Here’s the thing:  if no one showed up on Black Friday (or on Thanksgiving Thursday), the stores wouldn’t be open.  It’s consumer supply-and-demand, folks.

If you must shop this weekend, consider doing so on Small Business Saturday.  Go downtown, visit a local small business (no, this does NOT include your “local” Walmart) and support their business.

I’m not here to be the judge and jury of Black Friday shoppers.  Really, it’s none of my business how you spend your Thanksgiving or Black Friday.  But I do ask this:  if you are going to shop on Black Friday, at least be kind to others – especially those working this weekend.

black friday 3

Happy Holidays!

Neighborhood Creative.

Walking your dogs around a small town has it’s benefits.

Tonight Chris and I were walking Rex & Maggie and I remembered that I needed a little bit of black ribbon to complete one of my current crafts, and out-of-the-blue, I decided to stop in to one of my town’s local sewing stores.

Just Make It Sew is a charming, well-stocked sewing and notions store located on the main street through my town.  And yes, as  you can tell by the photo, I do live in one of those adorable, picturesque, “oh-honey-wouldn’t-it-be-nice-to-live-here” towns. 

JoAnn, the shop owner, was more than willing to accomodate my need for some “quarter inch black ribbon” as she dug through a box in the back of her store.  She sold me the ribbon for a great price and while we were talking, I glanced around her store and realized that I don’t shop my main street vendors as often as I should.  And that my hometown main street can probably meet many of my creative needs.  Best of all, Just Make It Sew offers classes, too – so even if you’re not well-versed in the art of sewing, you can be.  It’s a great store.

Thanks to JoAnn and her shop, I was able to finish a craft without handing over my money to yet another big box store.  And that is what “neighborhood creative” is all about.