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.

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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.

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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.’
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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

A Story About Our Colorful Mid Century Modern Inspired Woodland Nursery

Around this time last year, I shared my pregnancy announcement. I showed y’all my babymoon in Paris portrait session, but aside from that, it was radio silence over here about anything baby. But yes, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy in the summer.

Birth announcement foil balloon zero days old

As you know, we moved to our new house recently. What you may NOT know is that we moved in exactly three weeks before I gave birth.

My pregnancy was less than ideal, and at one point I was put on bed rest. So when we moved in, I wasn’t able (nor did I have enough energy) to get started on my projects! It was looking like the baby would come into the world without a space to call his own.

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Introducing: Home Number Three

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may know that my little family is now living in house number three. The first was a little mid-century ranch in the the Westbury subdivision of Houston, Texas. It was a foreclosure and we did quite a bit of renovations prior to moving in. We lived there for a little over three years, decided we were moving to Connecticut, then I shared a before and after of our first home.

Next up, we owned a little Cape Cod style home. It was smaller than our previous home, but newly gutted with brand new just about everything–pipes, electric, windows, drywall. Brand new. It was small and on a small lot, but it had a really lovely view of a pond directly behind it, and I’d hop in my kayak in my backyard and row around a bit sometimes. We also had the pleasure of seeing a lot of wildlife in our backyard. It was lovely, but then came time to move, again. So, I shared a before and after of our second home and a subsequent post about maximalist decor in a small space.

Now that I’m back to blogging, I’ll introduce you to home number three.

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One Room Challenge?! No Way!

one room challenge guest participant

In October, a local designer I befriended here in Fairfield, CT, Kate Smith, took part in Calling it Home’s One Room Challenge. It seemed like so much fun! I’m not quite a designer, but working on my house is by far one of my favorite ways to spend my time. I took note that the six week challenge happens twice a year, and decided I’d give it a go during the next time around.

Here’s the jist: it’s a six-week challenge to complete a room makeover from start to finish. Each week, you post about progress and link back. Simple enough, right?

I hope so. Hopefully I’m doing it right. Turns out, it started YESTERDAY. So, I’m late to the party. Regardless, I find that I get things done far more efficiently if I’ve got a deadline, or, as I often call it–a fire lit under me.

First thing’s first: the before!IMG_4610

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A Day in Cusco Itinerary, Coca Tea + Rides with Strangers

Alright, y’all. We’re two months into 2017, and politics aside, things have been terrific. Regarding my 2017 resolutions, I’ve been kicking…cans and taking names.

Well, except for one. That whole “Hit ‘Publish’ more often/post old drafts I haven’t finished thing–yeah, it hasn’t been happening. Until now!

Over the summer, I went on a life-changing trip to Peru. I wasn’t blogging regularly at the time, and when I got back into the habit, there were many adventures but felt like it was ‘old news.’ PSH. I’m sure someone out in the interwebz will find this as useful when planning a trip online as my most popular travel posts: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest & Monkey Park Iwatayama, Road trip from Denver to Yellowstone National Park, and The Bio-luminescent Palawan River + Island Hopping. Even if it isn’t, why NOT post? It’s my website, I do what I want.

So, let’s do this! Here’s the first of a series of posts about my seven day trip to Peru, where I knocked off my bucket list item of visiting MACHU PICCHU!

24 Hours in Cusco

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How to Combine Two Woven Rugs into One

Before I was living more deliberately, I made many shopping decisions that weren’t all the way thought out. This rug was one of those. At Homegoods, I determined that I liked it, but couldn’t think of where I “needed” it. When I overheard another woman looking at the second (out of two) I bought it. That store has such a quick turnover, I didn’t want to miss out!

I got it home and, of course, I still didn’t have a place for it. Maybe if it was bigger? A few days later, instead of returning it, I bought the second one! It was still there! It must be luck, right?

These are the methods of thought I now know to be incongruent with my values. Even as I continue to purge excess, I still try to see where things would fit, given the right project. In this case, my upstairs hallway was the perfect length for them to run top to bottom.

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They moved around a lot, and I wasn’t fooling anyone. If you have two traditional carpets you’d like to attach, head over and buy some fiberglass carpet seaming tape and follow the instructions over at Ugly Duckling House. But if, like me, you have two woven rugs that won’t give the illusion of being one with some tape, Continue reading

Thomas Edison National History Park: Laboratory and Home Tours

I first heard about Thomas Edison’s Laboratory being in the U.S. park service after seeing a picture of it on Mike’s Photo Blog. My eight-year-old son is fascinated by all things chemistry and has dreamed of being an inventor since he learned the term, so I knew one day we’d make it over in that direction.

Before my sister & brother-in-law’s visit, where we hiked Kaaterskill Falls and Sam’s Point in Minnewaska, my stepsister, Allie, came for a visit as well.

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We spent most of the time relaxing, sharing girl talk, and cooking together. After I dropped her off at Newark Airport, I thought I’d check and see how far the Edison Lab would be before returning home. It turns out that that the museum and park are only twenty minutes from EWR!

Please excuse the quality of the following photos; I had only my phone with me and the weather was absolutely miserable on this particular day.

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It was nice that the weather wasn’t that great, because the park wasn’t busy. Not at all. Anti-intellectualism could be the reason that there were only a handful of people at any given time during the hours we were there, but I’d like to think it was the weather.

After paying my $10 entry free (Tobias, and all children under 16 are free), we first made our way over to the lab for a demonstration about chemistry.

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Did you know that Thomas Edison not only made advancements to the light bulb, but he also created a rubber alternative from genetically modified Goldrenrod? How about that he was once known as the Wizard of Menlo Park, because when he invented the phonograph, people were so astonished by hearing recorded voices played back that they deemed it magic?

With all that it takes to impress someone these days, isn’t that just the quaintest thing?! A magician for playing back sounds! Continue reading

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.
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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.

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.

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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