Houston Half Marathon 2017 & Shit Sandwiches

I admit, I was really not looking forward to the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Though I had signed up enthusiastically the same day that I ran the year prior and Mark was pumped up and excited for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I was  dreading it.

Year after year, I’ve been undertrained for this race. Now that I’m on the edge of thirty, I know that its getting more and more dangerous for my long term health. I sign up with the best of intentions,  but I always seem to find an excuse. This year, it was 20 degrees and windy on training days. Last year, it was that I was busy with the move. It’s always something, and it doesn’t help that the most important runs for the timing of this race are during the holidays.

It wasn’t just that. I was feeling really overwhelmed with the fact that I was heading to Houston and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see everyone who I wanted to see. I get lonely up here, so I was pretty bogged down about it. I kept reminding friends and family, “remind me I’m NOT doing this race again.” “The weather is too cold up here, I’m NOT doing this next year.” “Don’t let me sign up again.”

Spoiler alert: I signed up again for next year.

kelsie-oreta-2017-aramco-houston-half-marathon

What Sandwich?

One of my favorite authors and by far my favorite public speaker on the subject of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert, says “The question is not, ‘What do I love?’ The question is ‘What do I love so much that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes along with that thing?”.

In her book, Big Magic,  the above video, and podcast, Magic Lessons, she argues that it’s not just about finding what you love, but it’s also about acknowledging that whatever it is you love comes with a truckload of things that are distressingly bad and accepting those things as well. Love something so much that it’s all worth it.

My Shit Sandwich

As I mentioned, weather here in Connecticut during training isn’t so great. The timing of the race isn’t ideal. Years prior, I saw far more people I knew from Houston–on the course cheering, volunteers, runners. That part was a little disappointing. The heat and humidity expected on the day of the race called for a yellow flag. And yeah, I was sore.

Then there was the waiting. Mark runs the full marathon, and though I thought I had made plans for someone to pick me up, there was a misunderstanding and I found myself sitting in my salty, sweaty, rained-on, yuck for a few hours alone getting more sore and exhausted by the second.

Why I’m Eating it Anyway

I saw my dear friend Kellie of Yoga-Run-Repeat before the race & we caught up. I joke about being raised by the streets of Houston, but it’s true: all of the stories of mayhem, madness, and juvenile delinquency unfold as I run this course. There was hardly a single spot unoccupied by people cheering for their loved ones, funny signs, helpful people who brought along donut holes and treats for complete strangers. The encouragement felt by the surrounding community is unparalleled.

Marathon spectators are what it’s all about. I know it can get boring on the sidelines, so I act really ridiculous whenever I catch someone’s eye, I cheer for them A LOT, say silly things, just act crazy and make people laugh. Though I was embarrassed that Mark put ‘Tiny Kelsie’ on my bib again this year, a volunteer saw it and said “You ran last year!” Then got embarrassed that she knew. I can’t blame her for noticing, I spend more energy encouraging people to cheer than I do running the race! The last mile I was raising the roof to the bigger crowds and it was like making a wave happen.

People were telling me that they were proud of me. Who I don’t even know. I’ve done so many bigger things in my life with little to no recognition, and all I have to do is run around for a couple of hours and that random stranger was proud. That’s spectacular.

I can’t not do this race. Remind me next year when I’m forcing myself onto a treadmill for a few hours while it’s snowing outside.

2017-aramco-chevron-houston-half-marathon-medals-2

Guitar-Shaped Chalkboard DIY

I always admired Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie window displays. They’re always so creative. So once, back in Houston, when I saw that some things they used for displays were on sale, I jumped at the opportunity. One was a painted plywood troll that’s taller than the ceilings of my current house, and the other was a raw piece of plywood shaped like a guitar.

Something like a million years later, I decided to turn it into a chalkboard for Tobias’ room. I assume you don’t have a piece of plywood shaped like a guitar hanging around the house, but you can always mimic the idea with a plain rectangle, or try your luck at advanced jigsawing.

Materials:

Tools:

Steps:

1. Prep the wood surface by filling any holes and sanding. Then, paint. I liked this color so much that I bought it before I knew what project it’d be used for.
diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-4

2. Trace outer edges. I just rubbed the crayon’s side along the sides of the wood.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-2

3. Freehand draw inlay, cut out, trace onto craft plywood.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-3

4. Apply liquid nails, smooth over with a spackling knife.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-5

5. Use a vice or something heavy to keep it in place while the adhesive dries. During this time, I also planned out how the chalk would attatch to the board.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-6

6. Drill small holes for the strings.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-7

7. Use a pipe cleaner to help shove the twine through. diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-8

8. I abandoned this project for several months, as I couldn’t figure out what to use so that the chalk would lay horizontal. During my craft clean up, I came across a business card holder that was left behind by our Houston real estate agent, Judy St. Julien. It was perfect! I used wood glue to adhere. diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-12

9. When it came time to hang, I bought these guitar hooks and painted them black, to match my son’s room.diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-9

10. All hung!diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-10diy-guitar-shaped-chalkboard-with-attached-chalk-11

Tobias uses the chalkboard to make a mark every time he spends 10 minutes practicing his guitar. Once he reaches a certain amount of marks, he gets a treat! Though he’s the one who wanted to begin to learn the guitar, learning something new is tough. And it’s really tough to start new habits, practice something that you’re not quite good at yet, and stick with it. I don’t usually use incentives as a parenting technique, but once he’s in a habit it’ll be much easier (and far less painful) for him to keep going.

It looks cool and it’s practical.

7 Cheap (and FREE!) Wall Art Ideas

I mentioned in my 2017 Resolutions that I’m working toward “my version of minimalism.” What started as reading Marie Kondo’s book at the beginning of 2015 has turned into a process of weeding out all of the excess: from too many bookmarks on my browser, relationships that don’t serve me, cutting out social media accounts and slowly but surely dissipating many material items, I’m on the road to living with less.

When I say “my version” of minimalism, that means that though I subscribe to the “buy less, own less” method of thought, I have no intentions of living with the minimalist aesthetic. Minimalism to me means being surrounded by art, memorabilia from my travels, photographs, bright colors, whimsy and having a cozy, warm home while still having space in my life for experiences by the boatload.

That being said, I like to keep the things that go on my walls beautiful, useful, and inexpensive without looking like I raided a Bed Bath & Beyond sale section of generic reproduction art prints. (But if you’re into that, that’s cool, too!) The following are a few cheap and free ways I’ve added art into my home.

FREE Printables!

If you have a decent printer, downloading printable wall art is one of the cheapest ways to go about getting unique artwork for your walls. Many free printables can be found via Pinterest search. You can also find some higher quality ones for about $5 on Etsy. In my case, each printable serves a purpose. The Smart Kids Books printable from RedHillPrintables is the perfect parental propaganda to hang in my son’s room so that he can be constantly reminded of our values as a family. A sign in my mudroom advises guests to remove their shoes upon entering my home (though it rarely works), and I refer to the seasonal produce prints I have hung in my kitschy kitchen when picking out recipes to follow.

Banners

cheap-and-free-wall-art-to-decorate-apartment-26

I’m a little biased, but I think hanging year-round banners like my Roam Sweet Roam banner adds a little celebration to the every day. Make your own banner with the tutorial and printables in my archive.

Type it!

cheap-and-free-wall-art-to-decorate-apartment-23

More Parental Propaganda! When I saw a similar print from The Old Try, I knew I just had to have it for the kiddo’s room. Then I saw the price tag. After finding a similar font face and spending time on Photoshop getting it just right, I had a perfectly worthy reproduction.

Ads

cheap-and-free-wall-art-to-decorate-apartment-21

I’m leaning toward minimalism now, but I’m a recovering craft supply hoarder who had a habit of keeping random things with potential. This one worked out-a Kate Spade direct mailer that was just the right size for the logo to be out of the picture. A witty phrase above where I hang the dog leash, if I do say so myself.

Tapestries and Woven Art

You may remember my post about using a hula hoop for a grand scale weaving and how I finished it off. The flowered tapestry is one I bought from Peru, soon to be hung upstairs. Adding fabric art helps absorb some of the sounds that this old, tiny house doesn’t always muffle from room to room, and it adds cozy.

Public Records

fairfield-county-smaller

I love curating things that span many different decades (and even centuries!) as I pull together my eclectic home. This 1856 hand drawn map of Fairfield County will be soon on my living room wall,helping as I conquer all that it has to offer. I’m going to have it printed large, but with a large file of the map free on the Library of Congress website, I’ll only have to pay for printing.

Goal Reminders

I’m no lifestyle guru, but hanging my bucket list, vision board, and marked off map in my office help remind me of how far of come and keeps me focused on my goals and values. I often catch a glimpse of these items (that I put together six and two years ago) and reevaluate if I’m taking actions everyday toward my goals or just following the status quo.

There ya have it! Seven inexpensive things I’ve used to decorate my home. What are some inexpensive things you’ve done to decorate your house? Let me know in the comments!

Hiking and Ice Climbing the Catskills: Kaaterskill Falls, New York

Before we went hiking in New York on Christmas, the three of us took a different scenic day trip to The Catskills.

It was my brother-in-law, Dennis’ idea to head that way when planning their trip up here. I didn’t know much about the area, other than the name sounded awfully familiar. If you’re not from this part of the U.S. either, and it sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s where Woodstock happened. And where Dirty Dancing took place. The area is a pretty big deal as far as pop culture goes.

A day trip there wasn’t near enough time to do all of the things that The Catskills has to offer, but we did a gorgeous hike in, and Dennis got to do a little bit of ice climbing.

winter-ny-hiking-and-ice-climbing-in-the-catskills-kaaterskill-falls-1

As the marker mentions, the area is historic as well. The Hudson River School was the first homegrown art movement in the United States and Kaaterskill Falls is one of the oldest tourist destinations in America. Continue reading

Hiking Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park, New York

Every Christmas Eve, I stay up extra late either wrapping up a DIY gift with the help of some elves, making sure everything is in its place so some fat guy can eat my delicious cookies and make a mess of my house, then my son can wake up the next morning and thrash through gifts from our family. If you’re a parent, it’s surely a familiar scenario for you. But what to do after the gift-opening frenzy, other than build elaborate toys and carefully place stickers within the guidelines of plastic molds?

I think we have a new tradition, on top of the cookies.

(Everything is on top of cookies. We surely can’t go without cookies.)

christmas-cookies-and-carrots-for-reindeer-santa

The holidays were extra special this year, because my sister and brother-in-law stayed with us. My brother-in-law is outdoorsy in a way that I feel like mentioning anytime he comes up–“Yeah, he climbs mountains. That’s his thing. He climbs ’em all over the world and ice climbs with picks and all” and my sister, Somer, is a really talented photographer. So they were more than willing to do some day trips and exploration. YAS.

After the hurricane of gift opening, we were lazing about and figuring out how we’d spend the rest of the day. I mentioned a few Connecticut state parks, and wondered aloud if they would be open or not. Next thing I knew, it was decided. We were heading to Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park in NY. It’s almost exactly two hours from our home here in CT.

It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s scenic, like most drives here. When we finally get there, this is what we see on a closed gate to the parking area:

christmas-hiking-in-new-york-minnewaska-state-park-sams-point-2

Awkward. Continue reading

2017 Resolutions

Tomorrow is day three of 2017, but with the boy returning to school, the man returning to work, and I beginning to freelance, it seems like day one. So much excitement, I can’t seem to sleep. I’ll keep this short and sweet.

In 2017, I will…

  1. Pursue my version of minimalism.
  2. Continue to improve with maintaining the budget.
  3. Spend more time creating, less time looking for inspiration.
  4. Social media: who needs it? I’ll take some time away from my online presence outside of blogging. It isn’t serving me.
  5. Hit “Publish” more often. Let go of perfectionism. Post those old drafts.
  6. Become an Ironman.

& I’ll be okay with having six resolutions and not seven. Yes, seven is a better number than six. Refer to resolution 5. 😉

Large Scale Circular Woven Art DIY

It all started with a hula hoop.

Remember the blog post about making woven art with a hula hoop? I had that piece hanging above my couch for all of these months, but there was one thing that was bugging me nonstop: the scale.

DIY Circle Weave on a Hula Hoop with TinyKelsieTinyKelsie living room progress with circle weave and mid century couch

It wasn’t big enough for the space. I’ve been studying styling small spaces for quite some time, and during that time, I’ve learned that larger scale items in a room, assuming they aren’t crowding it, make it seem less cluttered and larger. So that child-sized hula hoop wasn’t going to cut it.

I eventually found an adult sized hoop, and even wrapped the outside in yarn before second guessing going forward. The nearly-begun project sat in my basement for a month or so, before I saw this guy:

15843802-b43b-45dc-b03e-a4958aa0dd05-1

Well, not with the artwork on it. This frame, originally gold, was found at a thrift store. On their once-a-season half price day, I snatched it up along with the most hideous beginner oil painting of a swan one has ever seen in it. Seriously–it was dreadful. Surely it lowered the cost of the high quality frame it was in, so THANKS :).

After painting it and stapling chicken wire to the back, I used it to display Tobias’ ever-revolving artwork at our first house. Lacking a hallway, and frankly, any unclaimed wall, it was in T’s room before I made that over, later finding its home in the basement, right next to the hula hoop.

So, one could almost say that this project found me.

large-circular-woven-art-diy-tutorial-3

And it was simple enough!

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Staple gun loaded with staples

Materials:

Steps:

  1. Decide where in your frame you’d like the hoop weave. I wanted to draw the eye up, so the center of mine is as high as it would fit with the existing weave.
  2. With the frame facing away from you, pull one end of basic yarn through the hoop, closest to the outer edge of the hoop. I suggest doing so near where the original warp thread was for a cohesive look.
  3. Keep pulling until the end of the yarn and the yarn closest to the ball are long enough to reach from behind the frame, through the hoop at its desired positioning, back to the inside of the frame, with an additional 2-4 inches.
  4. Staple yarn on back of frame.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have as many warp threads as you did in your original weaving. It should look like this: large-circular-woven-art-diy-tutorial-6
  6. Get to weaving! Because my warp threads were so far apart, I didn’t do as many fancy weaving techniques as the last portion of the weave. I did do some finger weaving and traditional braiding off of the loom with different yarns.
  7. With each line of weaving, staple to the back of the framelarge-circular-woven-art-diy-tutorial-5
  8. When the weaving is complete, cut all excess threads.
  9. If you don’t want to be able to see the wall behind the weaving in open areas, and to prevent damage when hanging, cover the back with poster board and tape around the perimeter.
  10. Hang it up!

large-circular-woven-art-diy-tutorial-3large-circular-woven-art-diy-tutorial-2

The first portion of this project was far more time consuming than this was. It didn’t take long at all, and I think it’s 1000 times better now that it’s finished!