Saturday, December 31, 2011

Five steps into 2012

Resolutions schmezolutions. I'm not one to make them as a big thing at the end of the year. I would *like* to lose 10 lbs and *love* to save some extra money this year. Will either of these things happen? Doubtful.

The key to successful resolution-making is planning concretely to implement the change. That's where I fail with the weight thing and the money thing. I would enjoy it if some love-handle fairy zapped mine away while the Gringotts goblins added some dinero to my bank account, but that's unlikely to happen since I'm not putting energy into making it happen. This is putting aside the imaginary nature of fairies and goblins, but since we're talking about 10 pounds and extra money, it's all fiction anyway.

I see more success in the mini-resolutions I make to get through every day of my life.

"I will fold this laundry before I start another load."

"I will read through to the end of this chapter before I let my eyes close."

"I will not buy boxed mac and cheese for the kids when I go grocery shopping."

Small, actionable goals are how I keep our household running. I'm hoping they'll also help us move forward with our G-house makeover. It will be fun for me to put into writing the projects we hope to accomplish before this time next year, and, yeah, maybe it will help keep me accountable.

(1) Ballroom makeover. Sadly, this will not be THE ballroom renovation, but we are going to transform it into a family room and playroom. Plans = I haz 'em.

(2) "Secret bathroom" redo. We have a horrid half-bath off the mud room. The big girls nicknamed it "the secret bathroom" because the door looks like a closet door, and the bathroom itself is about half the size you'd expect. Except for the toilet and sink crowding up the space, it would make an excellent panic room. This whole project intimidates me, but it must be handled in 2012.

(3) Fireplace face-lift. I want to replace the dark slate on the fireplace surround. I have a vision, but the materials are so $$. I'm not sure it's worth it. I am brainstorming a classy knock-off.

(4) Portico fancifying. We have a lovely exterior entryway, but I am a little lost about how to furnish it. The style of this house is so unusual. It's not like grandma's old wooden rockers would look at home here. We're going to figure out a solution so we can enjoy the shade this summer.

(5) Art. The walls in this house are bare. We need some art, badly.

That sums it up. What are your big plans for 2012?

Friday, December 23, 2011

It really does feel good to be a gangsta

I love buying and giving gifts (LOVE!), I love making spreadsheets of stuff to buy, stuff bought, amount spent, ship date. I love watching people's faces when they open that perfect little treasure picked out just with them in mind.

The wrapping can suck it.

Just this morning, I was sweating over the gift mountain--stacks of Amazon boxes and etsy mailers in a corner in our bedroom. My mom always had a gift wrapping ritual. She'd plan approximately three Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings wrapping bunches of gifts, listening to Carpenters Christmas Portrait, and sipping my grandma's family recipe for eggnog.

Me, not so much.

I let it pile up, stress about it, then end up wrapping 34 gifts at once, cursing under my breath while I try to form perfect corners and match the wrap pattern where I sliced the paper just so. I also match the paper to the tree theme, by color. And I usually run out of tape.

This year it all became too much. I have four kids, a Christmas Eve lunch to host tomorrow, a house to clean, billable work to do, pecan pies to make, and a brother to take to dinner for his 25th birthday. Something had to give! I decided to take advice from the Geto Boys, whom you may know from the soundtrack of Mike Judge's cult classic Office Space. Their wisdom is, simply, "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta." *Probably not good for little ears*

And how does that relate to gift wrap? First, wrap and rap are homophones. That's an easy enough connection. Second, and more importantly, the point is you do what you gotta do, and you own it. So this year, I am wrapping free form. If it didn't come in a box, you're going to get a squishy gift half-ass wrapped without the pattern matching across the jagged tear line. That's right--TEAR. And instead of matching the gift wrap to the tree, I'm using up all the folded up, hoarded paper I came upon during my holiday organization mania.

Instead of giving myself anxiety over gift-wrap perfection, I am going to create the most hideous showstoppers you've ever seen under a Christmas tree. Just like the tablecloths I can never manage to iron before a party, butt-ugly wrap jobs will become an MBG trademark. People will judge my feelings for them based on how terrible their gifts look (inverse ratio).So far, so good. I'm feeling really merry and bright while I cackle over this totally un-MBG like wrap off.

Happy holidays, my friends. I hope you get many lovely gifts shrouded in shockingly unappetizing layers of fug. And if you're getting something from me, you can bet on it.

The Owen Epilogue

Our neighbors are now fostering Owen with intent to adopt. Funny how the world works sometimes :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sad ending to a short story

I had hoped Owen would work out for our family. He is a gorgeous, gentle boy. Alas, my allergies kicked in over the last couple days, and last night I woke up wheezing with a constricted chest.

Allergy shots can take years to create tolerance, and that's just too long to deal with the severe symptoms I'm having. Greyhounds are known for being gentle on allergy sufferers because they lack an undercoat, but I guess I am not meant to be a pet owner. 

The whole family is sad, but I know Owen will be in the right home soon. I hope his new family loves him up. He's such a sweet boy!!

If you are interested in greyhound adoption, google can help! Search "greyhound rescue" and your city. You probably have a group nearby, just waiting to place pups with people who will take good care of them.  <3

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The G Family is growing by leaps and bounds...

I have big news. Huge. Eighty-four pound news, actually.

The G Family has a new best friend, if you know what I'm saying...

Right next to me, a certain handsome red brindle greyhound would like to announce that we are officially "fostering with intent." This means if all goes well in the next few days, we will be adopting Owen, already nicknamed "O" by Lil C.

Pics to come later. Right now we're busy bonding <3

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It burns!

Baby, it's cold outside! Grab a skewer, load it with marshmallows, and cozy up next to the G Family's first fire!

We had a fireplace at the old house but never used it. I had an irrational fear of gas-starter poisoning. I'm over it now. *double checks flue*


I didn't take anything down from our typical mantel decor. For the holidays, I just added to it: lit garland (pssssst: Dollar Tree! Grab some $1 garlands, layer them, and string them with lights!), a set of extra-large nutcrackers as stocking holders, and of course each kid's stocking--marked with an initial ornament for the requisite monogram detail.

My little clay bowl that always hangs out on top of a stack of books now holds gold ornaments, and the holiday cards we've received from friends and family are tucked gently behind the giant map, which is sporting a brightly lit grapevine wreath attached by a hook that is just out of sight from the camera.

P.S.--Dear Santa, I still need some candlesticks for my candelabra. Kthx.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time for a long winter's nap?

Preferred tune: Away in a Manger

The porch is alight thanks to sticks from our yard.
Our wreaths say we're poor; not when viewed from afar.

This quatrain wraps it up, though decor took three days to make.
Money for time is the trade when crafting for saving's sake.


Now for some note-filled prose. No energy for paragraphs with transitions. The rhyming is the most coherent piece I have to offer tonight, which is more than a little pathetic.

1. Our front doors desperately need to be sanded and re-stained. I'm embarrassed. It's on the list!

2. The wreaths are lit with LED lights. The "G" is affixed in the center of each with a 3M wire hook. I wrapped the tail ribbons around the Gs to make it seem like the letter was suspended. It's just POV trickery. Here is a pic before I finished wrapping the ribbons:


3. The branches are a very loose interpretation of a presentation in Restoration Hardware (camera phone pic below):


I was not about to pay $15 per bundle of birch branches, so I asked BG to saw these from a junky tree in our yard. Bonus: It has red berries and looks a lot like holly! The little disco balls are Winter Solstice ornaments from World Market, purchased with a 20% off coupon.

Here's a closer look at our branch pots:


The branches extend to the ground. I covered the stems with burlap, weighted down with a brick, and tied with ribbon. Then I put coconut fiber around the open iron planter. Another brick is nestled in there in case the wind whips afool. The lights are strung up the back of the planter. This is a camera phone pic, so it's not very vibrant, but I hope you get the idea. The bows are made by moi. I was a bow-making savant this weekend. I even helped my neighbors with their bows!

4. The project cost about $100 out of pocket when all was said and done and materials we didn't have on hand were purchased. The crappiest wreaths I found this size (30 inches) were $100 EACH, and that's without porch lights and ribbon. I consider that a win.

5. Voila!


Happy holidays!! Please link to your festive outdoor creations in the comments.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm sweating and am covered in glitter

I'm not known for my patience. I think BG's least favorite phrase around here is "I think we should..." because it ends with something I'm absolutely going to pull him into for the weekend because I just cannot stand to wait an hour or day or whatever time period seems logical to normal people. Lately I'm in a manic organization kick and must put things away NAO. This past weekend, after my productive visit with BFF-J, BG and I attacked our holiday closet. Tis the season.

Unfortunately, there are no before pics. This is not a pride thing, which you all know because I have proven I have no pride when it comes to showing the dirty secrets of the G house. It's a dead camera battery thing. But I did grab an after pic of the consolidated bows, ribbons, and tissue paper when the batteries were charged. I tamed the wild trimmings in a storage cube:


Items may or may not be color-coded. It's mania, I tell you; I can't be held responsible for my actions.

Filing tissue paper by ROY G. BIV [I kid. As you can see, the logical place for violet was the middle because all the blue and green could be neatly tucked in the binder pocket] is in my comfort zone. It gets my adrenaline pumping then, eventually, comes the calm. Occasionally I am gripped by the desire to craft, which is something very outside of my happy place. Though crafting never really ends well for me, I commit to my inevitable failure, grab some coupons, and brave Michael's or Hobby Lobby. What is it they say about the definition of crazy is doing the same thing expecting a different outcome? Too much reality. Or did I just break the cycle?

Yesterday after browsing some positively glamorous wreaths at One King's Lane, the creative bug bit. Since ready-made wreaths cost much bucks, I knew I could do cheaper, if not better, so supply shopping I went. At dusk and in a slight drizzle at about 40 degrees, I loaded up four kids in the carpool-mobile and hit the road. My wreath-making just could.not.wait, you see. Only by the time I got home with all the goods, it was dinner time, then bath time, then bed time, and oh you have more homework, well come do it real quick time. All day today I looked forward to coming home to my project, and even though I was working or running the roads until the sun went down, I wasn't about to let a little thing like darkness stop my plans.

I started with two large grapevine wreaths, a large poly-resin "G," spray paint, and a bow, which I made. BTW, did you know that grapevine wreaths--at least the ones I bought--are still made in the USA? Heck yeah! They're very inexpensive and have a lot of great texture. Could someone please make me a grapevine wreath spokesperson? I'd kill that job.


Did you hear me when I said I MADE A BOW!!! Actually, I made a matching (close enough) pair of them. Here's a closer look:


Alright, be kind. I'm a n00b in the bow-making world.

I'm going with a mix of metallics for my wreath--silver, gold, and copper. The "G" was a little too gold for my taste, so I took to it with "Champagne Silver" spraypaint.


Ah, that's better :) And is anyone surprised that I'm going to work a monogram into this situation?

I also sprayed the wreaths--first with a coat of bright silver, and then with the goldish silver.

And that's how the story ends, for now. I'm going to let everything dry overnight and then assemble them and then hang them. All with BG's help, of course. Hey, hon, I think we should...

I have a vision, and it must be realized!