June 1, 2016

Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shone down.

That’s what it feels like when something huge happens and your life finally seems to be going your way. Like the universe is tipping it’s hat at you. “Congrats!” It silently says.

I’d like to present the largest and by far, the most challenging graphic design project I have ever worked on. I was tremendously fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work freelance on the design layout of the 125 Anniversary Edition, 68-page journal for University School, a well-established, all-boys private school in Cleveland, Ohio.

The theme of this journal is ‘Makers’, which highlights the innovative teaching style of the school. Being that it is quite hands-on, as well as academic, the articles also showcase the impressive achievements of former students whom have graduated and have gone on to accomplish tremendous things. Among them, James Parks CEO of Fit Bit, who is featured on the cover.

US has a tried and true format that is used for sections such as Class Notes, Valley to Heights, Athletic News and Obits, that the school has been using for years. With featured articles such as Teaching Makers, The Power of Makers, Maker Mentors, as well as the 10-page spread welcoming the new Headmaster, I had a little more creative freedom to add my own design elements, which I loved.

Many heartfelt thanks to those close to me who offered boatloads of support and encouragement, because it totally helped me feel confident enough to pull this off.I am extremely grateful for the experience. It pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and has forever changed my perception of myself as a design professional.

Check out the link below to see the digital version.

University School Journal Spring 2016

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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December 31, 2015

~*happy new year’s eve 2015*~

Joel in headlock with Cam on his shoulders.jpgJoel and Arden looking cozy on couch.jpgI don’t know about you, but for me, this was the fastest moving December in all of time. Like blink of an eye, it was gone! Thanksgiving ended, there was caroling with Arden’s Girl Scout troop (the cold rolled in just in time for that!), making holiday cookies & dough ornaments with Arden, festive Christmas cards, and the whirlwind of shopping. Suddenly, it was already Christmas Eve. Normally, I am super awful at getting the tree up. Most years, it has debuted ON Christmas Eve at like 3:00 a.m. (after we get back from Cleveland and wrapping presents) Seriously. This year, adamant that it show up a bit earlier (and to make amends for getting in trouble at school that day) with much muttering under her breath, Arden herself pulled out the boxes and drug up from the basement. All 3 pieces of our Christmas tree. It was heartwarming, sweet and I was super thankful since my tailbone still killed from falling on it (HARD) roller skating. Erin in front of old door in dining room.jpg

At the start of each new year, I swear I’m going to enjoy every.single.moment. Take it in as I experience it, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  I’ve gotten better at making time for the important things, like fun and not just working. I suppose having a demanding toddler makes you do that. Sort of. (it also makes you feel crazy!) Winter rolls on for seemingly ever. Spring takes it sweet time arriving, but once it does, it’s glorious!  The school break in Summer goes way too fast, then boom, Fall is here and petal to the metal, one holiday after another and POOF! it’s over. That’s how my life feels.

This year, I tried to be more accepting, less critical. Embracing flaws and easing up on expectations of perfection, for myself and my family. I dare say, they like me a bit better because of it. I’m not quite as stressed and it teaches Arden that some things don’t need to be just so because migraines aren’t worth it. For now, I will strive to do better. To work hard, accomplish dreams and bring more happiness into our home. Wishing everyone the same for your 2016! Our house with Christmas lights.jpg

 

 

 

November 15, 2015

The House That Reading Built by Donalyn Miller

Source: The House That Reading Built by Donalyn Miller

November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.

The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.

Now onto the side yard.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.

Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.

August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

May 26, 2015

‘A’ is for Allergies & Assassins

Seasonal allergies hit us pretty hard this past weekend. Between the heat and the breeze, the seemingly innocent, white cottonwood fluff whirled around everywhere. We laughed at the black Chimney Swift that lives in our eves as it attacked a puff floating by. With it’s nest near, it turns out, it clearly had the right idea. Later than evening, while trying to escape a slight fever, sinus pressure so bad it made my jaw ache and a nose running like a faucet, I finally fell into a fitful sleep.

The next thing I knew, I am part of a small team of highly trained, covert, black-clad individuals planning a sneak attack. It turned out that one of our people had defected from our operation. There was a high probability that the perpetrator was going to deflect to the enemy lines. We had many adversaries, each being more deadly than the last, so we were sent on this mission to take out the rogue. Good intel led us to an abandoned mining entrance on the side of a mountain, where our former colleague was in hiding. We moved quickly, checking for possible traps and mines along the way. The defector didn’t anticipate our arrival, at least not so soon. Working together, my team was able to take her out adeptly.

In a stunning twist of the plot, it seemed not everyone in the group was apprised of whom exactly it was that we were hunting. Upon seeing the fallen female, a male member lost composure, suddenly turning and firing on the rest of us. We later learned that the two had recently begun seeing each other on the sly. Fraternization was strictly prohibited for this very reason. It was sad, but with heavy fire coming my way, there was no time for sympathies. I had to act fast, because at this point in the game, it was each person for themselves.

etsy Mystery intruige print copy

I stumbled out of the rocky caverns back into the blinding daylight just in time to see the new foe make his escape. Quickly starting my hidden ATV, I sped after him. He was surprisingly fast, using the rugged mountainside to his advantage. Seizing an opportunity when a lone flatbed truck passed by, I sped up and jumped my 4 wheeler directly on the back. The landing was a bit turbulent, but this option offered me a chance to focus. We engaged in a Western type shoot-out, me using my vehicle as a type of shield, while barely balancing on the edge of a moving truck. My gun was an odd combination of a taser and a mini-harpoon. It was around a turn when I finally nailed him. I watched as he fell down the mountainside and landed on the rough pavement. I’d have to send a fresh team to ensure he was dead. I didn’t need any surprise visits seeking vengeance in the future.

At this juncture, I awoke when Arden popped her head in our room, before heading to play with Cam in his crib. I excitedly relayed my adventures to a groggy Joel, then stumbled downstairs listening to Arden happily chat about the newest addition to her Camping/Planetarium diorama. Bathrooms with no toilets. Because she doesn’t know how to make a toilet out of paper and the villagers can just wipe it up as they go. (Ugh!) While Joel brings Cam down and runs to the store, I begin making fried potatoes for breakfast. In a few minutes, I check on Cam only to find that his diaper is so overly full that the inner gel balls are leaving a sticky trail behind him as as he quickly Army crawls along the floor. Scooping him up, I peel off his pajamas to wash him in the kitchen sink and resign myself to thinking that (for now) only in my dreams, am I a badass.

May 18, 2015

The TRUTH about LYING.

The other day Arden told me that someone close to her had confessed they had lied to her. She seemed confused about the scenario, so I had to do my best to talk it out. She asked if I had ever lied as a kid. I said I had. Her eyes widened. I explained that growing up we weren’t allowed to have treats. Cake, candy, cookies, pretty much snack food in general, was all off-limits except special occasions. Even sugar cereals were a rare occurrence. As a parent now, I get that they were trying to keep us healthy, but seeing my dad eat a bowl of Breyer’s ice cream every night, when we weren’t allowed to have any seemed unfair. Or when my step-mom baked cookies, yet my step-brother and I were told we weren’t allowed to have any, was kind of mean. So yes, we snuck into sweets. Most of the time getting caught and when I did, I totally lied.

For me, the problem was and remains that, I’m a terrible liar. I have a tell and it’s pretty obvious. I’m straight-forward, so when asked why I lied, I tried pointing out their erroneous ways of parenting. As one might imagine, it was not well received. There was a particular incident where my dad went to get ice cream out of the locked chest freezer and it was gone. He was completely dumbfounded. Listening his utter disbelief while having a discussion about it with my step-mom was practically comical. Like one of those kids movies, where the dad is a bumbling idiot and the mom totally clueless. Except soon enough, we got called before the judge and jury to confess our crimes. I hadn’t even eaten the ice cream, but totally agreed that it was a stupid move to finish it off and throw away the container.

good bad card pic for blog copy

What seemed to eat at my dad the most, was how someone got it the locked freezer. It required a special key, as the lock was oddly round. It’s wasn’t just left laying around either. This highly-prized, tiny bit o’metal was kept away from us at all times. One day though, when the parents were gone, we got creative and figured out a way. It required taking tiny sewing scissors and clamping them on the lock, then pushing in and turning in one fluid motion. It totally took practice, but I was dedicated. A few months earlier, in order to help myself to some Christmas cookies that were frozen for storage, I had gotten good.
After multiple interrogations this particular night though, I cracked. I retrieved the tiny scissors and demonstrated how the freezer could be opened. Part of me expected to be congratulated for my cleverness. For putting an end to the mind-boggling conundrum. Unfortunately, the belt didn’t see it the same way.

Being that Arden is 6, I give her the short version. Yes, I snuck cookies, I got caught, I lied and I got punished. What she almost hilariously fixates on, is the fact we weren’t allowed to have goodies. In Arden’s world, she lives for sugar. It’s permitted in moderation, but she’s a kid and often tries to negotiate more. My reasoning is that she hopefully will have a better relationship with food. To not gorge herself like it’s her last meal, like I did with a dish of M&M’s, at a rare slumber party I was allowed to attend when I was 12. I tell her that it’s hard to understand, but there is a very fine line with lying. Saying that you like someone’s cooking or gift they gave even when you don’t, is okay. That because the person is being genuine and thoughtful, it’s important to keep your opinions to yourself in order to spare their feelings. To purposely be deceitful and hurt others for one’s own ill-gotten gain, well that is not okay.

A few days pass and I’m not sure she understands my point, that is until I pick her up from school. She explains that a classmate/sort-of-friend (who has become known for taking other kid’s things) asked to borrow Arden’s play glasses, promising to bring them back the next day. Arden tells me that she thought about it and decided it was best to let the friend just play with the glasses at recess. Explaining to her that she didn’t want her to forget the glasses at home. She said “She probably wouldn’t bring them back, Mama. So I did not let her borrow them.” I tell her that I am proud of her and she asks “For making up an excuse?” To which I say “No, for not hurting another person’s feelings, while making a good choice.”

May 12, 2015

~*what I know now*~

For years, Mother’s Day has always been a reminder of the one I lost. It was difficult and has always made me angry and resentful. I’d see friends photos, smiling with their mothers or hear them say about how they practically talk to their mom every other day and wonder what that was like. Intrigued, to have someone that cared to hear about my life and accomplishments. To lend a hand or give me advice. Who was totally on my side and there to guide me as I tried to figure out life and how to navigate it. Who, if I made a mistake would say it was okay and that I could just start over or try again. I don’t know what that’s like, nor will I ever. I have always felt exposed. Out on a pinnacle. Alone.

When I was in my early 20’s, I read a book titled ‘Motherless Daughters’. The only thing I can recall from that book, was that once I had my own child, my own daughter, that I would start to heal. I wanted a daughter so badly, not for that reason, because I didn’t actually believe it. Although when I see her play, at times I see myself. My little girl self. What I would be like just having fun, enjoying life and not worrying about my mom being sick and who would take care of me next, if anyone. It’s bittersweet. I am glad I can give that to my children, but deep down still crave it for myself. In my mind, there is a part of me that feels like my mom gave up. Like I wasn’t worth living for, even though my adult self rationally knows how badly ill she was and how it consumed her.

Arden feeding ducks Mothers Day 2015 copy

I can tell you, that having children has done wonders for me. It has brought me back to myself and continues to do so. It’s a daily struggle though. Part of me always thinking I would be the mom that plays and always has fun. In reality, my practical side is making sure Arden has worked on her homework, gotten in the shower readying for bed or dressed for school. It’s me telling her to stop playing with her brother and finish her dinner. I’m always hurrying, trying to be on task and it rather sucks. The other day, she was singing and my thought was “Oh my gosh! Just be quiet, life is not a flippen’ musical!” At that mere thought, my hand flew over my mouth, because I have ALWAYS been of the opinion that life should have a soundtrack, just like in movies. It genuinely disappoints me that doesn’t really happen, so I try to help it along and play music all the time instead. That thought though, left me panicked, horrified and so relieved I hadn’t said it outloud.

Cam on first swing FP mothers day 2015 copy

Yesterday, we started out having the best day. Joel has always gone out of his way to make Mother’s Day special for me. There was brunch, gifts, a nap, the park. And then we pushed it. We went out to dinner and it was a disaster. Cam sat in his car seat fervently grabbing and kicking a laminated drink menu beside Joel. He would screech if you tried to take it away or offer him a bottle. Arden, despite advisement not to, managed to eat 4 rolls, which she threw up all over herself as we were getting ready to pull out on the street heading home. As I water boarded my daughter in the parking lot in front of onlookers (because her hair was full of vomit), I couldn’t help but feel that this was not how my special day was supposed to end. Annoyed and frustrated with smelly, crying children.

Today is a new day and I tell Arden that we all start over. I try to explain that I know that 4 rolls is too many and try to prevent her from getting sick by telling her so. That moms know lots about cause and effect. She is intrigued. I hope she will listen next time, but she probably won’t. And in that moment, I realized that even if my mom had been around to give me advice, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.

Erin Arden Cam FP mothers day 2015 copy

April 30, 2015

Today, I made a complete spectacle of myself for one hundred dollars.

chuck norris approved

Let me explain.
We’ve been in contract with people to buy Walmar for 2 months.

Today was the day it finally, officially sold.
The entire process has been such an extremely trying debacle.
We pick up back in January, when we started working with our new realtor. She swore she could get it sold. However, after having it on the market a few weeks her optimisim completely faded and she wanted to drop the price. This was hard for us, because now it was under what it was originally purchased for. An offer did eventually come, of course even lower. The realtor insisted we accept. I declined and countered. I also sent over the receipt of a brand-new high-effeiciency furnace/ac installation after the buyer’s realtor stated that it was old and needed replaced.

Well fella, I rememeber that day very well, the day the furnace went out. Arden was only a few months old. I put her in a furry, little, cream snowsuit to keep her warm, quarantined off in a bedroom with a space heater. I froze my butt off, being upstairs working on an order, while the new install was taking place. It was before Joel. Ironically, he could have installed it for a fraction of the price and time. It cost over $5000. I rememeber it well and no, I wasn’t about to get short-changed over it. For those that don’t know, furnaces last a lot longer than 6 years, more like 25.

The realtor did nothing. She offered no support. She acted like it was her first sale, asking us if we had previous comps for sales in the area. (Wouldn’t this have been done first thing?!) It was at this point we realized once again we were on our own. I declined the buyers requests for new windows (for the few we didn’t replace) and for a new hot water heater. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing one, they just wanted new. We pointed out that this was why the Home Warranty was being provided. Finally an agreement was reached with the buyers. Unfortunately, they were in a lease and either we could pay for them breaking it or continue paying the mortgage and utilities for the next couple months. So we did the latter.

Fast-forward to today. Our realtor was too busy vacationing to bother to show for close. The guy from the Title Agency was going over the price break-down for what was owed. He obviously wasn’t excited to be dealing with us. I’m sure my reputation of difficulty had preceded me. He explained how we had to have taxes pro-rated, escrow refunded and then he reached the Home Warranty. The price was inflated from what the realtor originally quoted. He argued that I had signed the contract and it was binding. When I disputed it, he then managed to find the counter offer, where I had previously requested a lower Home Warranty (because the realtor had tried inflating it before.) In a split second decision, I explained that I would not be signing the rest of the documents until it was corrected. Let me just say: AWKWARD. They told me the sale would fall through and that I could get sued. I said to get the realtor on the phone and get it fixed. After 10 minutes they came back fast-talking how they indeed managed to talk to the realtor and find a lower warrenty and how I would be refunded $100.

It’s not a huge victory, I know, but it’s my money. It didn’t effect their paychecks. (They probably all met for drinks after work to talk about that crazy *itch they had to deal with.) It’s not okay though. I’m taking a stand on being taken advantage of. (How often do they try to pull that with other sellers that don’t notice?) Afterward, as I called each utility to have them shut off, I could see the invisible ropes of my burden getting untied. One by one, they separated from me until an enourmous, unseen weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I may win my group’s weight loss challenge after-all.🙂

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