A Simple Trick to Get Free Stuff, Declutter, and Make New Local Connections

I know that title sounds like clickbait, but hear me out!

Gift Economy

Have you ever heard of Freecycle or Buy Nothing Project? Each are worldwide organizations created in order to waste reduction within your local community. Some people call these types of communities a “gift economy.” It’s all about sharing your unwanted used items (or, you know, the ones you planned on using, but didn’t) with your neighbors. Instead of donating the items you no longer need or want to Goodwill, you’re giving directly to a neighbor or someone in your town, with the possibility that you’ll receive something else you want or need for free as well. Continue reading

My QuaranTeam: A FaceTime Photo Session with Jordan Ashleigh

During early quarantine, it was trendy to have a family portrait taken on your front steps. A photographer would come, stand 6+ feet away, and send you an edited shot free of charge, with the request that you would make a donation to the food bank or another charity. It was popularized in our area by local photographers Jenna Stern and Michelle Gurner. But I saw friends getting their photos taken for “The Porch Project” all the way down in Texas.

Another thing that I saw a few families do was a FaceTime photo session. I wasn’t really sold on the idea until I saw Jordan Ashleigh‘s work. I loved how her vintage vibe worked with the quality of the FaceTime photos, rather than against it. I had to have some of her work!

We scheduled the shoot on Memorial Day, and that afternoon we had our first visit with another family since the quarantine began months before. It was the beginning of a new era–reintegrating with friends. These pictures are extra special to me, as they represent the end of the strictest of this (first wave?? hopefully only) quarantine and the ways that our little fam spent our individual quarantine time.

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40 Days and 40 Nights of COVID Quarantine

Day 42. I feel surprisingly good. I have a thing about limbo. I love the game (I’m under 5 feet tall, I always win) but I can’t stand the feeling. Can’t stand the in-between. It was a huge struggle for me when we moved across the country. I wasn’t sure if we were moving, where we would move to, when our first house would sell. It was similarly difficult when we had sold our second house and were waiting to move into the home we’re in now. I’m adaptable. I can handle what is thrown at me. But waiting for the pitch, I get impatient.

For some reason, I don’t feel that limbo pressure today. Monday, I pressed my ear to my husband’s chest, my arms wrapped around him. I said, “I miss my old life. I miss my friends. I miss my gym.” Continue reading

DIY Eric Carle Inspired Rainbow Craft for Toddler

I wanted to get in on the covid quarantine rainbow hunt, like I described yesterday in my post about messages of hope during the pandemic, but my 20-month-old son isn’t quite old enough to draw a rainbow and my tween is a little too old to be interested.

I’ve seen a lot of Eric Carle inspired tutorials on Pinterest, but most people don’t get his steps all the way correct.

He did an interview with Mr. Rogers on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood many years ago where he showed his exact process.


What people frequently get wrong when emulating Eric Carle is that he didn’t use traditional paper for his creations. He used tissue paper. You know, like the gift wrap kind.

This makes the medium harder to work with for toddlers, causing tears. But it also allows more dimension and light to filter through.

After the little guy painted sheets of different colors (we used finger paint, though Eric Carle uses acrylics) I cut the sheets into arched strips, then taped them together on our window.

Viola!

COVID-19 Quarantine, Day 36: Signs of Spring and Messages of Hope

There’s a lot of imagery that defines this strange, restless, panicked time. Major monuments, tourist destinations and airports without crowds. People queuing outside with gloved hands on their shopping carts, face masks covering their nose and mouth, waiting their turn to shop in Trader Joe’s. Masks on face after face. That look of fear as someone is walking on the same side of the road in the opposite direction as another and they don’t know how they’ll keep six feet as they near.

Coronavirus covid facemask on mannequin

Local boutique in Fairfield with mannequin modeling a paper face mask

Those are the images of social distancing. I realize that the imagery is far more grim in the hospitals, but those experiences are not mine to share.

gratitude front line rainbow hunt fairfield county
As I near the end of week five of social distancing, I have more hope than I did throughout the first month, like when I posted on day 10, day 14, and day 25.

hopeful messages covid coronavirus quarantine

It’s not because things are looking better. Our corrupt federal government is awarding 80% of coronavirus stimulus money to millionaires, rather than struggling Americans. The Trump administration is handing out $55 million allocated for PPE to a bankrupt business with no employees or equipment to make such items. Trump is taking advantage of this time to share more intimate conversations with Putin. He’s discouraging democracy by spreading mistruth about voting by mail and taking a page out of a dictator handbook while forgetting about the American Constitution while claiming to have ‘total authority.’
rainbow hunt covid coronavirus quarantine hearts fairfield county

The home front has its challenges as well. We’ve been baking bread and eating non-perishables for weeks as we make our groceries stretch as far as they can. With this stretching, though, last week we found ourselves stressing. My husband and I were bickering about what our tween was eating almost every day. Catching him sneaking snacks became a really big deal. We were forgetting that being extra safe was a choice, not a sentence.

On top of that, a tween doing what a tween does: complain. A toddler doing what toddlers do: tantrum.hopeful messages in fairfield county during coronavirus quarantine
If you’re thinking, ‘where’s the hope in that?!’ I get it. I think it’s primarily that we’re settling into routine, and that we had a lot of sunshine this past week. It’s a few hours my husband’s blocked off from meetings during my toddler’s nap time so I’ve gotten alone time walking around my town–time to BREATHE that I hadn’t had quite enough of before. It’s back to being a collaborative couple, looking for ways to take care of one another. More time playing catch & frisbee outside, more hands in the dirt gardening, more sword fights with sticks against the little guy. It’s getting a brand new book in the mail after suffering through a couple of low-quality thrifted ones I never got around to reading before (I see now why). Those little moments I decided I would seek out in my last post about the quarantine.
Sometimes those little moments of light are ignited by messages of hope I’ve seen on my walks, or people have shared on our county’s rainbow hunt Facebook page. Little reminders of the beauty after the storm. Sometimes it’s seeing a fully bloomed tree, a splash of color that reminds me that nothing lasts forever.

These are the images I want to focus on. Individual people and families taking time out to uplift a stranger in a time of crisis and despair. A reminder that even if our government is failing us, the American people are still good hearted and deserving. That we’re surrounded by heroes, big, small, willing and many who didn’t sign up for this, but are fighting anyway.

Times are hard, but the best I can do right now is to share a bit of the beauty, gratitude and kindness that I’ve come across during these times.

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rainbow hunt during coronavirus pandemic fairfield county

ranbow hunt fairfield county covid coronavirus quarantine

Westport Connecticut hopeful rainbow hunt wall coronavirus

Black and White Graphic Murals and Wallpaper

Lately I’ve been dreaming of adding a graphic, sketchy mural to the walls of my dining room. Below is some inspiration with their sources. This is definitely one of those projects that requires a lot of chutzpah, so please let me know if you like the look!

black graphic brushstroke circle mural wallpaper

Ferreira Design
This is one of my very favorites, I love the brushwork, the curves, and the ease in which it seems it was created. Though this is a popular pin on Pinterest, it was difficult to find the source and I know nothing of the technique used.

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COVID-19 Quarantine: Day 25

Spent week three of social distancing trying not to succumb to despair. Hope feels like a distant memory, but I have to remember that any moment in time is just as fleeting as spring-it comes, it blooms, it withers, and new things are on the horizon.

Daffodils in my backyard

I don’t have a lot of hope for what’s happening, what will happen next or after that. Dark times are here and more are following. But in dark times there are still bright moments. You find something someone else planted, years before you, in your own backyard. For brief moments, your home feels just like home, not the fortress from fear of what surrounds us. There is still sunshine, flowers, food in the pantry, and love even in a world full of sickness, death, greed and corruption.

Positive thinking and self care won’t cure the hurt I feel for the outside world, but as I go through this fourth week of #quarantine, I’ll try to shift my focus to the moments right in front of me.

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