Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Curly Girly

I've spent a lifetime, well hopefully just half a lifetime, disliking my hair!  It was too puffy, too curly, too frizzy, too anything but straight.   So I have spent most of my life wearing my hair up (the easiest way to straighten it and the least effort!)  I was born with curly hair and a lot of it!  Every hair dresser since I can remember has said "You have a LOT of hair!"  

I actually even went through a stage where I permed my hair.  Usually my friend Shannon did it for me but I remember once going to a salon and having the hairdresser say "Wow!  You're hair really took to the curl!"  I looked in the mirror and realized that my shoulder length hair looked like Annie's.    Even though perms were the thing to do in the 80's I already had curly hair.  I didn't need a perm on top of it!  Every major life event I would try having my hair "done".   For sophomore prom it was so curly it looked terrible.  I had the hairdresser wash it out before I left so I could leave with it wet and had a chance for it to dry before my date arrived at my house for pictures.   Junior prom I don't think I bothered.   Just made those bangs stand up as high as possible and probably had a perm as well!  Egads!  

When I was in college I never understood the whole "let's get ready to go out" theory that my friends subscribed to with showering and doing makeup and getting dressed all over again.  Wasn't the effort of "getting ready" once a day enough?!   Even for my wedding I tried to straighten my hair.  It was at the end of August at the height of New England humidity.   By the time my hairdresser had done my hair, my flower girl's hair and my maid of honor's hair my hair was already getting frizzy.   "Add some curls" I said.  Otherwise I'm just going to look frizzy in all my wedding pictures.  

When I had Kelsey I fell in love with her ringlet curls.   I recognized how absolutely beautiful her curly hair was but still straightened mine.  The only time my hair is ever fully down is when I've been to the hairdresser's and she's blown it out for me or at the end of the day and in the morning when I have "PJ" hair.   My friends always know when I've been to the hairdressers if my hair is down.  

Out to birthday sushi with my sister-in-law, brother, Rod and I.   Hairdresser day.
Lindsay's hair was straighter but she still had her curly days especially when she was little.  She now has the hair I always wanted.  Stick straight and so smooth and never frizzy.  I play with her hair constantly.  It feels like silk.  It is beautiful.  But it is her hair, not mine.  She has the Stephanie and Laurie hair I've always wanted!  She often wants her hair curled for special concerts and occasions.  By the time we get to school for the event it is stick straight.  We try! She loves her straight hair!

Haley's hair is somewhere in the middle.  But it was curly just like mine when she was little.  I'm sure it will get curlier and curlier as she gets older like mine has.   She straightens it somedays but mostly wears it curly.  

Kelsey wears her hair curly somedays and straight others.   It has taken me watching my girl's embrace their own hair for me to come to love my own.   My hair is impossibly easy to do now that I have stopped fighting it!  I comb it out in the shower and put coconut oil on my ends.  I add either a curl cream or a straightening balm and comb it through my hair.  Either way it is curly! Then I throw a clip in it to let it dry.  No blowdryers, no brushing, just air drying.   If I'm going to go out with dry hair I just have to plan in advance because it takes a while for ALL this hair to dry.  

If you have curly hair don't wait as long as me to embrace it! (And you know who you are!!!!!)  Love the hair you are given, straight or curly or wavy, long or short, thick or thin.  Find a hairdresser who understands your hair, ask friends and even strangers what products they use if you like their hair.   Embrace the hair you have been given.   It took me way too many year, far too many tears, and numerous botched visits to the hairdressers, and lame attempts at fancy hairdos for special events for me to learn.  Learn from my mistakes!  At first your friends and other people will notice and comment every time you wear it down or curly or differently but after a while no one will notice and it will give you the freedom to do whatever you want with your hair depending on your mood!   

I loved this Dove campaign when it came out for my curly girls.  But forgot to embrace the message for myself!  

Maybe I'm just lazy now or finally coming into my own
but it's so much easier to embrace the hair you are born with!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Warm Weather, Wine and Whitewashing!

A perfect February vacation with a nice blend of home & NH, friends & family, and skiing & chilling.   We started the week at home and then came to NH on Sunday afternoon.  The Nealon family joined us Sunday night and The Smith's and King's had rented my brother's house so they came over to join us after dinner.   They insisted on walking home and then proceeded to get lost walking back and ended up spending 45 minutes wandering the dirt roads and finally throwing snowballs at Duck Head when they couldn't rouse us!  They have requested Myles Away signs to mark the path back to Chris and KT's!   We skied Sunapee Monday with 19 of us!!  So fun to see our little and big munchies all skiing together!  And to see Kelsey back on the slopes again after her back injury.  She didn't miss a beat!

Me & my guy.  Thanks Laurie for the pic!
We came back here that night and had a huge Mexican potluck and feasted!  Fun to see our kids get along as well as we all do!!  So glad ML and Moc rented my brother and KT's place.   It would have been cramped fitting everyone in Duck Head with everyone's ski gear!  Truthfully we've never fit four families here.  Three is a squeeze and ideally just two families fit best in our small quarters.  When the kids were all in my kitchen I realized how big they are all getting!!  And none of them are full grown yet!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these women and their kids! So fun to think we went to elementary school together and now our kids are great friends! 
Tuesday we went to a small spot in Claremont called Arrowhead Recreation for tubing and many of the kids tried snowboarding for the first time.   The price can't be beat.   The lines were insane when we arrived but when we realized the entire place was run by volunteers we saw it through a new lens and MaryLee and Eric were even teaching other's kids how to use the tow rope and ski and snowboard.  It was a gorgeous day and so much fun tubing and snowboarding together.  The Kings and Nealons left that afternoon and the Smiths and Henry hung out with us that night before hitting the road.

Our boarders.  Brennan was their teacher since he was the only one that had done it before!
Please Mom can the Smith's come over tonight?!  
Wednesday we had a family ski day and skied over 23 runs.  It was unseasonably warm and we enjoyed skiing with our jackets off!    Before we hit the slopes we chatted with an 85 + skier he even had the patches on his jacket to prove it!  He was watching us all get ready and said nothing better than a day skiing with the kids!  Later we chatted with another senior on the chair lift who pointed us towards his favorite double black diamond Goose Bumps!   Rod and I rode up with a man and his son in the afternoon and mentioned we'd been at Arrowhead the day before.  He couldn't believe it as that is where his dad had learned to ski when they grew up coming to a tiny little lake you've probably never heard of called Crescent Lake.  He described the exact turns and dirt roads and signs on trees to our house.  Turns out he was in the very next cove in a cottage called Haven.   Small world!  Big messages.  These are the memories our kids will treasure for a lifetime!  So glad we are able to share them with them!!
Love skiing and riding the lift with my girlies!
I ended up staying in NH a few extra days this week while the kids and Rod headed home to work, hang with friends and sleep in their own beds.  They all wanted to go home but I didn't.   So I stayed. Me and the dogs.  I didn't have a car and I had whitewashing on my brain and plenty of food in the pantry so I was good to go.   I coordinated rides for all the girls activities so I knew I could stay and Rod could work and off they went.   We had skied all day so I was already tired but I poured a glass of cabernet and got started!

First off was the kitchen.   We had known we might start whitewashing this week so we had all the supplies but when the Smith's came over Tuesday night we realized we weren't going to start together.   I had forgotten to pack work clothes so I basically spent the next two days in pjs so I didn't wreck my good jeans or yoga pants that I'd brought for skiing.   I've never whitewashed before so I decided to start behind the fridge.  Two cups white flat ceiling paint mixed with 1 cup of water.   Brush on one board at a time and wipe off with a cotton cloth as you go.   When I first started I felt like you could barely tell the difference and I wanted a dramatic change in the kitchen.  We have a lot of pine walls in the cottage which I love and find charming but in the kitchen with only one tiny window it is very dark.   The space is small so I wanted it to feel brighter and airier and perhaps a little bigger.  I sent Rod lots of progress pictures in case he hated it and had second thoughts.  Not sure what I would have done about it if he had!!

About half way done!

I love painting.  Besides the arm, finger and hand pain I find it very relaxing.  I was thinking yesterday that it is almost meditative to me.  I've been so sick the past few months and so unable to accomplish anything but daily living that it felt good to dive in and get some work done!  I don't mind staying in NH alone.  I enjoy the solitude and quiet especially when I have something that would take Rod and I multiple nights to accomplish in 2-3 hour stints.  I'd rather put in a few 8-10 hour days and plug away at a job than do the same over the course of 9 nights!!  My arm was killing me at the end of day one.  Ten hours may have been pushing it.  I could barely throw the ball to the dogs!  But then I started the master bedroom!  Why finish one room when you can finish two!

I did rest for a minute...my outfit for 2 1/2 days...pjs!
I love the lake and Duck Head cottage.  But I have a hard time relaxing when I wake up to at least 4 shades of wood in one room.   Time to do something about it!  
The view from bed day two. I like it! Time to get up and finish!

Getting there!
Finally getting my groove!
The view from bed after I finished!  I just had to lay down!
This before and after makes the worth work it!
After I finished I cleaned up, took a shower, changed into some new clothes, sat in the windowseat to enjoy the view of the lake, visited with my sister-in-law and nephews, played ball with the dogs and took a nice long walk.  It's so warm here today.  I had the door to the balcony open while painting.   Perfect night for a fire.   Rod and the girls will be here any minute!!

View from a windowseat.  Feels good to sit down after two straight days of painting! 
Warm enough to relax outside.  Or is it?  Sadie looks confused! 
Fog coming off the snow on our walk.  
Ready and waiting for my family to join me for the weekend at Duck Head!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Organized Pantry

Sometimes you need to make a mess to clean up!  Rod helped me pull absolutely everything out of our VERY messy pantry.   I can't even reach the things on the top shelf so needed his help to even empty this space out.   I've wanted to tackle this project since the beginning of the year but being on the verge of a sinus infection for three weeks did not make the thought of leaning over and being in a small space that appealing to me.  I'm happy to say that I feel almost 100% now.  Better enough to finally tackle this project!

"Please organize me!" my pantry was begging me!
We moved everything into the playroom/art room across the hall so it was out of the way and we weren't tripping over it all.  I knew there were a few things to get rid of (old meds, expired foods, random stuff that I had no reason to keep in the first place).  Mostly I knew I needed to move the wrapping paper supplies out of the pantry.  We have the playroom/art room with a nice sized closet across the hall.  In fact it is the only closet besides the front hall coat closet in the entire house that isn't it a bedroom.  It has served as nice storage for the playroom for extra games, toys, and art supplies and a few years ago I turned it into all art supplies.    This would be the perfect spot for our wrapping station.  The pantry is small and narrow and Rod can barely fit in it on a good day but having bags and wrapping paper and ribbon spilling out everywhere is certainly not conducive to helping to keep the space clean and organized and functional.

What a mess!
Time to figure what is even in all these boxes!
I also needed to figure out what was actually in there and why it was so messy.   And I needed to paint the back of the door.  I think by the time our kitchen was finally done we were just done with not having a kitchen and moved back in and never looked back.  We did the bare minimum to the pantry and painted the outside of the pantry door but never painted the walls, the shelves or the inside of the door.  We actually decided that we did not need to paint the walls or shelves this time either.   We are really the only ones that see this pantry and it would be an extensive job and take a lot of my time and with my claustrophobic tendencies I'm not sure I'd see the project through to completion.  I'm the painter around here.  Rod will do the tough to reach spots that I can't reach on tippy toes on the top of a step ladder but I do the majority of the painting.   And I just wanted to get everything back in the closet, know what was in there, and have it neater and more functional and usable.

Containers are lifesavers in a space like this.  My biggest motto is "everything in it's place" which is hard to do when you don't have containers and organizers.   I was excited to do this project until I actually walked in the playroom to get started and said out loud "What have I done?!"  I wanted to turn around and walk out and go run errands, exercise, walk my dogs, anything but tackle the mess.   I took a big sigh and knew that once I got started I would feel such a sense of accomplishment.  I love organizing but getting started is hard for everyone, even those of us that enjoy it.   I tend to sit in the middle of a big mess in a room and just start.  I have one bag for trash, one for recycling, one for donating and then I just start sorting by categories and purging as I go.   Food, patio dishes, baking supplies, cleaners etc.  I don't get up and put things away in the middle.  I don't leave.   I make a pile near the doorway with things to put away after I'm done and I just keep on keeping on.  So many people start organizing and go to put something away in another room and then get distracted and don't come back to do the work.  I find if I stay in one place it becomes very manageable to me.   In the end I have a whole bunch of things I'm keeping all grouped together and I have one bag of trash, one bag of recycling, one bag to donate and one bag or pile to put away.   Methodically going through everything at once gets the job done faster too and it makes the whole task feel less overwhelming,  once you actually get started.

I grabbed a few large brown baskets when I was out recently with this project in mind.   I wanted to be able to pull out baskets to see what was in there but otherwise used cardboard boxes or bins and baskets I already had in the pantry or around the house.   Once you have the items you are going to save and keep you need a bin to keep like items together and contained.   Ideally ones that best suit the space so that every area is accessible and usable.

A bin for paper plates & tinfoil trays, behind that is a box with canning supplies
& a plastic silverware tray.  On the floor below is a larger bin with additional paper supplies.  
A large bin that is easy to pull out with extra pantry items.
Storage on the left for boxes of extras and storage in back for
fun kid kitchen items like a cake pop maker, ice-cream ball,
fruit shape cutter, etc.  Before they were on higher
shelves and forgotten about and out of reach.  
Bins that were practically empty in the playroom became storage for items that
were previously in bags and inaccessible and forgotten about in the mess of the pantry.
That lower basket has extra napkins with more behind it.  That small shelf is made by our appliance
garage in our kitchen sticking into this pantry space.  
One bin for cake making supplies and one for chocolate making.
Light cupcake trays at the very top of the closet so they are accessible
but out of the way and easy to get down from the very top because they are light.  

Once the door was painted and dried I hung the racks back up.   Since the pantry is hard to access it is nice to have snacks for the kids lunches readily accessible in the door, along with spoons & straws for lunch boxes, we also keep meds in here since we have a small bathrooms that don't have a lot of storage this keeps medicine out of reach of smaller children that visit but easily accessible for us to what we have.   If you haven't gone through your meds recently I suggest you do.  Some of ours were quite outdated even though I swear we just recently (5 years ago!) went through them!

Extra pantry items.  We tend to keep extras in here.  When
we are getting low on an item we put it on the shopping list and
keep it in here until we are out of the original.  

We also keep larger items like trash bags that take up more room in here.  
I love these simple wire narrow shelves. We
had them on our basement stairs off our kitchen in our
old house for additional pantry storage.   They work so
well for being able to see everything you have.  
This was before I painted the door but felt so good
to see the floor again!  Even have room for a stool tucked in
to reach those higher shelves.  Without all that clutter it
makes me wonder if we have room for one more shelf in the middle?
What do you think Rod?  
Ah to have an organized pantry again.   And to be able to see the floor again!  Sometimes you just need to empty out your closets and put everything in it's place again to feel organized.  I actually only had one small bag to throw away and a larger one of things to recycle.   Things tend to accumulate behind closed doors and before you know it you've shoved so many bags of "I'll deal with that later" that the space becomes inaccessible and really unusable.   It feels good to tackle the clutter.  One closet at a time!  I'm thinking the front hall closet is next....And then maybe our bedroom closet....We tend to go through the girls closets more frequently to see what fits and what they need for the new school year but adults aren't under those same yearly "purge the closets" schedule.  Maybe we should be!