Enjoying the Holiday Season

In case you don’t know, my birthday is December 25, (yes, really). The whole Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year, one giant celebration with my birthday at the center.  I love the whole magic of the holiday- the closer it gets to December the more I feel the fabric of our communities change. There is a kindness, a gentleness (I’ve never been to black friday- maybe it is an exception) a sense of wonder that overtakes everything.  I just love that feeling. For most of my adult life I have held out on Christmas, I felt that I had to wait until Dec 1 before I decorated, baked, listened to carols etc.- everything needed to wait until that magical date on the calendar. That was just how I had always celebrated and made the season special.

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Last year was a stressful time for me, I was a bit depressed about of our life situation, some family stuff and really overwhelmed with planning a huge Christmas party for my church. I needed that Christmas Cheer sooner than December 1, so I started listening to music and watching Christmas movies in November. It helped….but what really struck me is how I felt AFTER Christmas. Much has been written about “Post Holiday Let-Down“, its something I always felt and figured was just a normal thing that happened after a big celebration. After last year, I found that for me, celebrating the holiday longer (starting earlier than Dec 1), made me ready and GLAD that the holiday was over. There was no let down last year, just a pleasant acceptance of the fun we had and the desire to move forward!

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With that little life lesson learned, I’m starting the Holiday’s today- Nov 1. Guilt free carols, baking, house decorating, Christmas movie watching and more! I’m not jumping straight from Halloween to Christmas, but I am lumping Thanksgiving and Christmas into “Holiday Season”. I’ll be hosting both holidays this year and am looking forward to decorating and building traditions in our new (and forever) home.

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m going to do a “Gratitude-30” month again.  Today I am extremely grateful for a strong and healthy body, for the health of my family. It might seem silly, but I am grateful our bodies function as they should- my fingers, toes and legs work as they should. I am so thankful for health. Why don’t you join me in this month of gratitude? Comment here and tell me what you are grateful for today….

Weekend Re-cap

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This weekend was a balancing act between Pinners Conference, *new* house projects and being a wife/mother. The balancing act is starting to get old…I’m SO READY to be in our home and settled!  Six more days until we move…

I had a great time teaching embroidery and helping Bonnie with her class- but most of all I loved chatting and spending time with Stephanie and Bonnie. The older I get the more of a homebody I become, but I sure am glad I got out of the house and spent time with these inspiring ladies I call friends.

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I decided to really take a break from everything today (well, I did spend a wee bit of time on craigslist looking for tables and couches for the new house….and maybe an hour combing through Stephanie’s archives for a picture I remember seeing once upon a time that I wanted to use as inspiration for the girls room). But that was it!  I cooked dinner for my family, something I haven’t done in what feels like ages, I made chicken tikka masala and brownie sundaes for dessert. I didn’t pack anything, I didn’t even visit the house today.

I’m grateful for the rest that honoring the Sabbath can bring from our daily struggles and busy-ness. When we got to church I was so tired I thought I might fall asleep, by the second hour of church I was feeling much more awake and I enjoyed a great Sunday School lesson and then a relief society lesson by one of my favorite teachers. It was about family and how we can strengthen and protect our families.  My role as mother is something I have been thinking a lot about in the last few months.  Back in August I introduced myself to someone new and unashamedly said I was “at home with my kids” when asked what I did for a living. That was the first time in my LIFE that I didn’t feel ashamed, or less-than for admitting that I am a SAHM (the person asking me was a working single mother). It took years for me to get to this point. I feel like I finally see and value my role in our family. I find it kind of funny that my husband has always seen and valued my role as a mother and wife at home, while I was blinded by voices and societal pressures around me.

This is not meant to add any fuel to the fire of women fighting against each other over who is a better mom. I think as women we demean ourselves when we play that game.  Its hard to be a mom, period. As women we need to stand by our sisters and support them in the choices they make and not tear each other down.

After my day of rest I feel ready to tackle my to-do list for the week…
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Paint and repeat

Every weekday morning for two week I have sent the kids off to school, dressed in paint clothes and gone to work on the new house. I typically spend 6-7 hours a day working at the new place. It is more physical labor than my body is used to, I wake up each morning with sore muscles. We’re making progress, the bedrooms are ready for the carpet to be installed. (and Yes, it turns out we ARE ceiling painting people, thanks to three GREAT friends who came to help me.)

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I took last weekend off and didn’t step foot in the new house, I just needed a break. I spent my Saturday evening watching the General Women’s Conference that my church puts on twice a year.  The older I get the more I enjoy the experience.  I felt so moved by each of the talks, so many things I felt applied to me and ways I needed to become a better person. One of my favorite things about conference is to marry my favorite quotes with beautiful pictures- I just love making those memes!

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I’m looking forward to this weekend which is two more days of talks by LDS church leaders…and maybe a little “eye resting” on the couch.

Not For Fun

DIY home remodeling is not fun. People don’t do their own remodeling because its a great kick in the pants (well, maybe it is, but more figuratively), they do it because there are desperate to save a buck or two.

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I feel like I have shleped all over the east valley looking for high quality carpet at a discount price (pucketts) but to really get the best deal you hire a separate guy to install it. It seems like everyone has a guy who does ___________ (fill in the blank). So we bought the carpet and hired “the guy”.

Next up is painting and priming (but not in that order) the newly textured walls, and deciding if we are the kind of people who paint ceilings (I don’t think we are).

Its been a busy week with house projects, and oh ya, I’M STILL RAISING THREE HUMANS. Time management and planning ahead is the ONLY way to get through this. Last week I sat down and meal planned crock pot or simple recipes for the week. Every morning I’ve only had to check the list and drop something in the crock pot to guarantee we can still eat a hot meal as a family.  Today I left the *new* house at 5:30, had dinner on the table by 5:45 and was out the door again by 6:10 to attend a church meeting.

I got home about 9pm and collapsed on the bedroom floor.  I can only be on-the-ball so much before I break.  My 6yo (who should have been in bed a half an hour ago) walked in and asked if I’d give her a hug and a kiss before bed, people, I just could not be a responsible adult person anymore, I told her “no, I just can’t.” She happily turned to her father and asked him if he could. Single Parents out there- you all are AWESOME-EST, because you just keep on being that responsible adult, cause there is no one to get your back.

I’m exhausted. But so so glad to be exhausted over this, it was a hard three years for us as renters (emotionally, we have the BEST landlords) and we are extremely grateful to be home owners again.

 

 

Adventures in home buying…again

After three years of renting and waiting for the house/price/interest-rate stars to magically align, we finally bought a house.

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Our patience paid off and we were able to buy a home in the neighborhood we’ve always wanted to be in. The house was built in 1977, and we are the SECOND owners!  The house looks exactly like it did when it was built- it has not been updated at all.  The dining room/living room walls are covered in BURLAP wall paper, the kitchen and bathrooms are all wallpapered too.  We’ve owned the house for less than a week and it already looks like a construction site.

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After attempting to remove the wall paper myself (water, fabric softer, special spray and a steamer), we decided to hire someone. The wallpaper was laid directly on the dry wall, so not only did it need to be removed, it also needed texture.  I think it was the best decision we’ve made so far!

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This week we will be painting and installing baseboards. Hopefully by next week we can start installing the floors.  We’re not really big DIY-ers, but we’re trying to do as much as we can ourselves to save money. Have you remodeled a house? I’d love some pointers!

In the in-between time I’m trying to get ready for Pinners Arizona– happening NEXT MONTH! I’m teaching a hand embroidery class. We’re making this darling Arizona themed sampler, you can register and use my name “heatherhales” to receive 10% off all your class/registration fees. I’m really hoping a lot of people sign up, hand embroidery is a dying art, its so easy to learn and so fun/versatile/portable that I love sharing my skills with others.

img_4807 This is my latest personal project, the pattern comes from a handlettered design created by One Artsy Mama. I’m hoping to turn it into a hot pad and gift it to a friend.

Pinners Conference -Phoenix

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I feel like the last three weeks have been a whirl wind of back-to-school shopping, meet the teacher nights, last minute sports physicals and various other things.  My little sewing machine sits forlornly staring at me every time I walk into my bedroom. I’ve got a million and three projects I want to start, but I just can’t seem to find a chunk of time to start even one.

Last night I said “Enough, you must create!” While my girls were playing with the neighbors I stitched this sweet little strawberry up. It was gratifying just to start and FINISH a project in one sitting. I love that embroidery can be quick like that.  I’m thinking I’ll turn this little guy into an outside pocket on a skirt for my youngest.

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If you’ve always wanted to learn hand embroidery and you live in the Phoenix area; I’ll be teaching this Arizona Sampler at the Pinners Conference in October.  My friends Bonnie and Heather are teaching along with so many other talented people.  You know you’ve got projects that have been sitting on your pin boards for just shy of forever- this is your chance to MAKE those projects and learn some skills.

If you use the PROMO code “HEATHERHALES” you can save 10% on your tickets. I’d love to see you at the conference and can’t wait to share my love of hand embroidery.

Summer Roadtrip

This summer we drove 4,513 miles in two weeks, hitting 11 states (not including Arizona). The main purpose of the trip was to go back to Kansas (where my husband and I met while attending KU) and visit with friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was an absolute blast!  I lost track of how many times I told my husband we should move back. BECAUSE KANSAS IN THE SUMMER IS GREEN!

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After visiting our Alma Mater, we attended our friend GR’s annual firework show.  It was a great show, probably one of the top ten I’ve ever seen, but the best part was helping with the root beer floats and being able to see so many people I knew years ago as they came through the line with their children.

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After Kansas we went to Nauvoo, IL. It was beautiful and educational. The two weeks we had to make this trip were just about the right amount of time, although I wished we’d had a few more days to spend with friends and an extra day in Wyoming. When planning this trip a friend told me that her family would create a theme or a motto for their trip- you know to give everyone a lens with which to view their experiences. Our unplanned motto was “Keep your hands to yourself”, as we found ourselves chanting this multiple times a day.

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After Nauvoo we went back to Missouri to spend time with my Sister & Brother-in law. My kids were over the moon because their Aunt & Uncle let them take rides and drive the golf cart- I think it was the highlight of their trip.

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We spent the next two days driving across the entire state of Nebraska (that was the day the check engine light came on, and we couldn’t find a decent park to eat lunch at) and Wyoming. Those were LOOOOONG days, for everyone.

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The good days and wonderful experiences far outweighed the long days in the car.  We are so grateful for friends and family who put us up for a night or two; the Garcia’s, the Gordon-Rosses,  and dinner with the Tenny’s.

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We average about six to seven years between trips like this. Next time we do this our oldest will be out of the house….which makes me sad. I’m so not ready for our family structure to change; but I’m glad they will have these memories.

Internet Worthy House

Dear Pinterest-

After three years of living in this rental house I finally hung something up on the living room walls. It started before breakfast when I was scrolling through FB and one of my groups announced an estate sale a mere 5 min from my house.

“Self”, I said, “lets go! Lets go find a treasure we don’t need and probably can’t afford.” As I’m rather obliging, I threw my hair in a pony, woke the kids to tell them I was leaving and off I went. As luck would have it I found more treasures than money in my pocket but settled on two late 60’s arm chairs.

After I got the chairs set up in my taupe/beige-y living room I realized the room lacked any color and character. “Paint! It needs paint” I said to my daughter, “Today is the day, we are painting today!”

Of course I went straight to you so your interweb of pins could tell me what color I should paint my bland living room. Oh, but pinterest, the over abundance of color. It was too much and I simply couldn’t decide.  I sort of lied to my daughter and said, “Oh, not today, Daddy will be mad if we paint without letting him pick the color too”. Which is the truth, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from painting today if I had found a color I loved.

I sat in my new chair and pondered what to do. The mirror, the lovely aqua mirror that has been sitting on the floor in the living room for three years! “Today is the day, I am going to hang it”, I thought.

Oh my heavens! The fiasco of hanging a heavy mirror is not even funny. Especially since I have only used a power tool one other time in my life. I had no idea what I was really doing and took eleventy million trips between the garage, the living room and google because I forgot everything under the sun and only had a vague idea of how dry wall screws work.

But Look Internet! I hung the mirror!

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It looks tiny in comparison to the large and empty wall space all around it. There should be more, but I’m tired now. I know the space does not and will probably never look like the living rooms of IG and pinterest, and today I am ok-ish with that.

I’m pretty sure my friends will not stop liking me because my house looks bland or boring. I’m fairly certain my kids will still be moderately cared for in our mismatched brown house, although I secretly think a perfect house might make perfect children and perfect everything because that is what you, sweet Pinterest, have been whispering to me for years.

I’ll admit to being a bit nervous about new people. People who don’t know me and like me yet, they *might* judge me on my house…I guess I’ll just have to be extra kind so the new people in my life will be so blinded by my shiny kindness they won’t be able to see the not quite perfect-ness of my home.

Maybe in another year or so I’ll get around to making some colorful pillows for the couch…but then again, maybe not, because that would mean picking a color scheme and accents and maybe actually painting….I haven’t got energy for that. I’ve got kids to raise, a husband to help and vintage clothing patterns to sew.

xo

Heather

 

Vintage Pattern Review

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About two weeks ago I moved my sewing room into my bedroom so that my girls could each have their own room.  Of course there isn’t near enough room in the master bedroom for all my sewing stuff,  there are still boxes and bags of fabric and pillow forms all over my room. Monday I decided I couldn’t wait for everything to be perfect to start sewing again and I started a blouse.

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The pattern is McCalls 5120 from 1959.  It was super simple and straight forward to sew.  I originally sewed the tucks at the waist line but didn’t like the look (it gave a nice nipped in waist look, but it would have been uncomfortable on my daughter), so I unpicked them. I also made the neck a little wider so my daughter didn’t feel like she was choking with the top bottom done. I debated about doing the buttons vertically, which is typical for dress shirts, but decided against it as there wasn’t the traditional placket. Altogether cutting and sewing was probably 3-4 hours.

The fabric is an in house designed AGF print, Chic Flora, that I picked up the last time I was in Houston visiting my mother. After I finished the blouse I realized my daughter had nothing to wear with the shirt!  Which was really not a bother, just an excuse to keep sewing.

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I whipped up this super simple Simplicity 4763, wrap skirt in a navy corduroy that my friend Janet gifted me. The pattern I have is a waist of 26″ and 36″ hip.  Even though it was cut for an adult figure, I knew as a wrap it would be very forgiving. I omitted the pockets and the contrasting top stitching and cut 5″ off the length. After cutting out the three pieces I probably spent 2 hours total sewing this up, it was very simple.

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My daughter was a little worried that the wrap would show her underwear, but there is enough overlap that everything is covered, even in a twirl.

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I love this skirt so much I want to make one for myself!

Happiness- 30

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I don’t know that this interview was meant to be too terribly thought provoking, but it was, for me. I thought about what makes people happy and how much or little we need to be happy. I know intellectually that I have a pretty good life, but sometimes the emotions of that get lost in the first world dramas of my day.

In the fashion of Whole 30, I’ve decided to create a Happiness 30. Thirty days of making an actual list of what I am grateful for that day. Because I need accountability, I will be posting my daily list on my Instagram account- and occasionally linking over here.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, has identified 12 behaviors that lead to greater happiness. I’ve decided to focus on six of those behaviors as a way to gauge my own success over the next thirty days.

  • avoid social comparison
  • practice acts of kindness
  • express gratitude
  • learn to forgive
  • intense focus on the present moment
  • practice religion and spirituality

If you’d like to participate (I really would love to see what this looks like for you!) please tag your photos #happiness30