Friday Reflection: The Christmas List

 

Making a Christmas list is a new thing for me.  I know every year you get asked what would you like and maybe, if your lucky, you have one or two things in mind; but to make a whole list?!  It wasn’t until I started celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family that making a list was even something I needed to think about.

In my family we don’t make lists.  My dad writes us a check every year, period.  After spending all that money on gifts for others, we’re always grateful for Dad’s check.  My mom, well she starts shopping or making presents as early as January.  Heck, it’s not unlike her to go take advantage of the after Christmas sales and hoard those goodies for next year.  Basically giving her a list in November or December is pretty pointless, her shopping is usually done.  Now there a four kids in my family, what about giving them a list?  Growing up my father would take us to the mall in December, give us each a set amount of money and let us run free until our shopping spree was done.  You could let another sibling know what you wanted as long as it was $20 or less and available at the mall we were going to.  So really these things got decided on the fly, at the mall.  Even now as we’re older, our incomes and states of employment vary so much it’s hard to ask for things from them.

Given these family traditions, I really value a good, thoughtful gift.  (See my last post about Quilts!)  Each year under the tree there’s a lot of OK things, some really horrendous things, but always a couple of spot on gifts.  And each year my siblings and I gather around our piles of open gifts and laugh (especially over the horrendous things) then swap gifts as needed.  I’m laughing now just thinking about some of those gifts.  One year I got an early ’90’s style mid-drift baring sweater, covered with huge sunflowers.  Oh it was bad, sweaters should not bare mid-drifts!  My mom has since turned it into the cutest armrest covers.  The thing is, I now value the humor the bad gifts bring to Christmas, almost as much as the Ok gifts.  😉

My husband’s family brought a whole different set of traditions into my life.  Being a much smaller family of 4, they make each other lists and then divide the list between themselves.  My in-laws also go to the mall with their kids, but instead of everyone roaming free they shop together and when they see something they want someone buys it.  Of course my Mother-in-Law buys a few surprises for them as well, things she thinks they’ll like, but mostly there aren’t too many unknowns under their tree.  It was a bit of culture shock for me to enter into these traditions.

The first year we went Christmas shopping with the In-Laws, she kept asking if I would like that when I picked something up.  She followed me and in every store she would find a way to ask me if I wanted something.  I got uncomfortable very quickly.  I was suddenly in the spotlight of her generosity and had no idea what to do to get out of it.  Mr. Pea finally had to tell her I was uncomfortable, and at the end of the trip I let her buy me a small $10 item I was going to buy for myself anyways.

Now, my mother-in-law is a very sweet woman!  She certainly didn’t mean to make me uncomfortable, this is just how she shops with her children, and I am now one of her children.  It just took some adjusting on both our parts.  The next year I gave in and made them a Christmas list.  Having never made a Christmas list, I approached it like I do a shopping trip.  I gather up all the things I like in the store bring it into the dressing room and probably buy one of those thing.  So I made a huge list of things that caught my eye, but didn’t necessarily want, in hopes it would give them ideas of the kinds of things I like.  Not only was this too much, but I had sent it to my family as well, so there was no hope of coordinating.  Epic fail!  Last year was by far the easiest, we still had items left on our wedding registry to be purchased.  There was no need to stress over my lack of Christmas list etiquette.

Based on how nicely things went last year, I have a new approach this year, the Amazon wish list!  With the wonder of the internet I can even add items from other websites to this list, and once it’s purchased it’s removed from the list, just like a registry.  So I can send it to my family and his as suggestions, without all those people needing to coordinate.  Plus much like pinterest, I can use it to bookmark larger items I want for the house or to buy my husband.  Thank you Amazon for this handy tool!  Hopefully, this year will go as smoothly as last year.

At least I just had to learn to ask for things, Mr. Pea had to learn to find the humor in the random assortment of gifts from my family.  😀

Here’s to the Quilt

I typically end the week with a Friday Reflection post and in a sense this is partly a reflection.  For my High School graduation I was given a quilt.  It was made just for me by a family friend who sadly passed away not so long ago.  At first I wasn’t quiet sure what I would do with it, but I was touched she would go to the trouble to make this for me.  So it came with me to college and immediately became my favorite thing to curl up under.

Here is the quilt in my college suite, I pray my younger brother will forgive me for posting a picture of him sleeping.

This quilt has graced every couch, in every apartment I have ever lived in since I was 18.  Today it is still the blanket on my couch that my husband and I cuddle up under almost every night.  For nearly half of my life and ALL of my adult life (outside my parent’s home) this quilt has been with me.  It holds memories of late night gab sessions with roommates, days of being sick as a dog, days of being sad or happy, but mostly it has taken the chill out of any room and kept me and those I love warm.

So it was a great honor when Mr. Pea’s family friends, Denise Konicek & her husband Richard, wanted to make us a quilt for our wedding.  Knowing how significant the gift of a quilt is, I was deeply touched.  Denise brought preliminary sketches and fabric to the rehearsal dinner.  She emailed us for personal preferences here and there on some of the design details throughout the year.  In honor of our first anniversary (and their thirtieth) she had us all over for a lavish brunch and unveiled the quilt.  We were floored to say the least at how beautiful, how detailed this quilt is!

Here we are being presented with our wedding quilt

The quilt incorporates several traditional tiles including, true lover’s knot, steps to the altar, wedding rings, and finally their wish to us, peace & plenty.  These tiles all wrap around our intertwined initials.   How incredible is this quilt?!  To top it off each square has its own unique stitching pattern.

 

True Lover’s Knot

This quilt is an instant family heirloom!  It graces our bed and keeps us warm while being light and cozy.  It changed what was once just a bed into our marriage bed.

Thank you Theodore for the beautiful quilt that holds so many memories for me, and thank you Denise for this treasured family heirloom!  I know this quilt will hold generations of memories for our family to come.

You can find out more about Denise and her quilting at deelightfulquilts.com, or her incredible tiling at www.denisekonicektiling.com

Theodora & my mother created several children’s books together before Theo’s passing, you can find them at www.barnesandnoble.com/c/theodora-choffel

 

Happy Friday!

Friday Reflection: Careers

Haha, Architect Barbie!

I just realized today that it has been about 9 months since I last worked in my field of “architecture”.  I put that in quotes because my last job was technically in exhibit design.  Anyways, I also realized that I have not missed it.   This realization is a bit troubling to me.  I have worked hard to get where I am, but now that I have taken a step back from my career, I realize the work itself is not what I loved about the field when I was in college.

In Architecture School, we designed our own projects, we drew everything by hand, and made models.  We also traveled a LOT!  I loved college!  I know there is a stigma around architecture students never been seen in the light of day, but that’s because we were having so much fun in the studio.  We were passionate about our projects and our work, and surrounded by other passionate artists.  Sadly, an architecture firm is anything but this.

Maybe that’s not entirely true, there are firms out there that capture the studio spirit.  I just feel lost and a little let down it wasn’t all what it was cracked up to be.  Lately, I find myself missing being at home.  Not because I want to sit on the couch and watch full seasons of Gray’s Anatomy.  I miss being in my studio upstairs getting lost in my drawings, lost in my art, while still having the time to have fun in the kitchen creating wonderful meals every night of the week.  Man, I miss those meals every time I pop a frozen pizza into the oven.

I do not have a nice tidy answer as to where to take my career from here, but I do not need to have one just yet.  In the meantime, I will just keep chugging along letting my sub-conscience work the kinks out.  It’s good to reflect on your life from time to time and adjust the things that aren’t giving you much fulfillment.  Then again I know I am a dreamer and you can’t chase down every dream.  Happy Friday!

Architect Barbie found here

Friday Reflection: Life at a Coffee Shop

Working at Starbucks has brought back a lot of high school memories for me.  I worked three jobs in high school, often at the same time, and my favorite was the coffee shop, Cafe on the Common,  a close second was being the range-aide for the NH-DMV motorcycle training course (aka cone girl).  😉   If you are wondering how I got a job setting up cones for the course, it was because my step-father was one of the instructors.  Finally, I worked on the events staff at the Governor’s Inn catering mostly weddings.

Me making a sandwich at Cafe on the Common

Cafe on the Common was amazing, it was only open for a couple of summers, but non the less a very fond memory for me.  I worked with my friends and served a lot of friends too.  It became my group of friends hang-out spot.  It was much larger than your average Starbucks, it had served ice cream and sandwiches too, but it was a lot slower than the store I’m in now.  I can remember having time to do a bit of homework or getting in some study time while on the clock, no way could you do that at the store I am in now.  There was a “sober” biker gang that would come hang out on our decks every night and boy did they come in useful.

The Gangs all here!

I remember one night a drunk guy came in and was hitting on me while I made his sandwich, (I mean come on don’t I look hot making that sandwich up above!), well he decided he didn’t like this counter between us and actually tried to come behind the bar!  Man, those bikers were in the shop showing him the door faster than I could even register what was going on.  Not only did they give us a bit of security, and a lot of humor on our shifts; they were by far our best customers.  Funny thing was the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street hated them, but we welcomed them with open arms.

The owners had a son in college, so him and a couple of his friend were usually the shift manager.  I remember how cool we all felt hanging out with the college kids. LOL!  I even managed to bring the owners son as my date to the high school prom, but that’s another story all to itself.  These guys started a poetry night and when they went back to school I took it over.  I had the best time creating the fliers to put up at school, and I even got a good turn out each week.  For my opening night I got my parents to sneak in behind the crowd to play hand drums while I read my angsty teenage poem, emphasizing words like HATE and FEAR, now that made an awesome opener!

The college guys, my prom date was the one with the green hair. 😉

It was a sad day when the cafe closed.  It is now a doctor’s office, named Clinic on the Common, if you can believe that.  I had to go to the doctor there once and it felt so wrong to be there.  All of my memories inside of that place were defiled in some ways.  You just can’t go back sometimes.

I loved those green pants!

However, because I have such great memories of working at that coffee shop, it lead me to work now at Starbucks.  My memories haven’t steered me wrong.  I really enjoy working as a barista again.  It’s not my forever job, but it is an enjoyable one.  The people you work with and even the customers you serve make work fun and light.  I appreciate the job even more now that I am older too.  I love that I can leave whatever stress there may be at work.  It does NOT follow me home! I also really enjoy getting out and interacting with people all day.  I don’t even mind the opening shift at 6am.  So if your high schooler or college kid is looking for a fun/ cool job, I would highly recommend a cafe job.  Likewise, even if you are older Starbucks can be a wonderful place to work and grow.

 

Friday Reflection: Chores

No one really likes to do chores, but I think we all enjoy the results of a clean, tidy home.  I am convinced there are certain chores each person disdains above all others, for me it is mopping (and ironing but mostly mopping).  I HATE mopping.  I would rather clean the toilet than mop.  Mr. Pea isn’t too fond of mopping either so, as a result, our house does not get mopped up very often.

When spring cleaning rolls around, Mr. Pea like to vacuum.  He does a VERY through job of this too.  With two cats in the house he can spend hours vacuuming every nook and cranny.  I usually clean the bathrooms and the kitchen but neither of us touch the mop.

There are times when mopping is unavoidable, like after a New Year’s party and the floor is sticky from spills, but generally those don’t come around all that often.  Today I broke down and mopped the kitchen floor.  The dirt spots where everywhere and I can only take so much.  It didn’t even take me that long, but ugh, I am not expanding into the living room that’s for sure.  Lol!

I am not sure where this hatred of mopping came from.  My mom doesn’t mop all that much either, but she’s never claimed to hate it.  Honestly, I think it’s the fact that you have to sweep first.  Mopping seems redundant after you’ve swept a floor clean.  Then once you are done mopping you can’t use that room for a while.  For instance, immediately after mopping the kitchen floor I needed to get in there.  You can’t win.

I am happy with the results though! 😉

As an aside, I’ll share a childhood story about chores.

I did not like cleaning my room as a kid and figured out one day how to make it go by faster.  I hid all my clothes, clean or dirty, under my bed or in piles in the side of my closet.  Then I stayed in there playing with toys long enough to make it seem like I had done a good job.  When laundry day would roll around I took all my hidden piles out to be washed, only to throw them back in the closet or under the bed when my mom returned them to me.  I got away with this for maybe a week or two before my mom started questioning why I had so much laundry all the time.  She started seeing clothes she knew she just washed and that I hadn’t worn.  It was then she discovered what I was doing and broke down into tears.  Let me remind you my mom was doing laundry for a family of six!  I felt so bad I had brought my mom to tears.  I didn’t understand how much laundry she was doing for everyone.  I also didn’t understand that she would rather be playing too.  As a punishment, I had to do the laundry that day, for everyone.  She also stood over me and watched me fold and put away my clothes for a good while after that.  I understood why this was such a big deal to her.

Now it is my second nature to fold and put away clothes immediately.  This drives Mr. Pea a little nuts.  He HATES folding about as much as I hate mopping.  Therefore it’s really sweet when he does fold, especially my clothes.  He likes to fold my clothes up as small as possible, so it always makes me laugh when I open a drawer and see a very little stacks of shirts.  That’s love right there!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday Reflection: Dating

They really should give waiters photography lessons.

I read a blog post last night about someone’s bad date, and it got me thinking about all the good, the bad, and the ugly that goes into dating.  Lord knows how happy I am that stage of my life is over!  I have tried to figure out which story to share with you guys, but the truth is now that I am writing there is only one man I want to write about.  I am lucky enough to call him my husband!

I resisted dating Dylan at first.  You see I was into boys that weren’t all that into me.  Sure they liked me, but building a relationship with a guy that just likes you is next to impossible.  My younger self, thought this made them a “challenge.”  Ha, I am glad I wised up!  I hit a point in my life where I realized this wasn’t where I wanted to be.  I was living with 2 other girls, a bit younger then me, and still repeating this rather lonely, dead-end relationship pattern when it hit like a ton of bricks one day, it was time to move on!  Don’t get me wrong, my roommates where great, but they were at a different point in their lives and that was ok.

I went on craigslist and found a girl my age renting a room in a very nice apartment, so I took it.  I met her friend, Dylan, just a few days after moving in.  She had been mentioning him to me since we first met.  I was just going downstairs to get my laundry when I heard the bell ring, I knew it was him.  I remember thinking on my way back up the stairs (laundry in tow) “What if this is the guy I am going to marry?  Oh god and here I am doing laundry!”  Haha, we met in the hallway for a whole two minutes and that was it.  That was in fact the first time I ever met my husband!

Well maybe a week later my new roomie took both Dylan and I to her company BBQ, then she promptly left us to fend for ourselves.  Knowing no one else there, we got to spend a good amount of time getting to know each other.  There was even a moment, late in the evening when the moon was out, where we almost shared an alcohol induced kiss but Dylan was not so induced and held back.  He was our designated driver after all.

After that night Dylan started hanging around our house, a LOT!  I quickly decided he was too nice of a guy for me, but we became good friends fast.  Heck, he was practically my third roommate!  Speaking of roommates, Dylan and her had been more like casual acquaintances before I came along, so she was taking this new attention as a sign that he was into her.  Yes, she had originally set out to set us up together, but he was calling her to hang out since he didn’t really know me very well yet.  Let’s just say signals got crossed.

About a month later, I had my wisdom teeth removed (all four of them).  With me on drugs and my face swollen up like a chipmunk’s full of acorns, Dylan came over practically every night with my absolute favorite food in hand, mashed potatoes.  It was then that I started using my drug induced sleepiness as an excuse to curl up next to him.  It was also when we started holding hands under the blanket.  Hehe.  I felt like I was in middle school again, holding hands with a boy in secret!

Roughly, a week later I was leaving for a trip to the UK with my friend, Jenn.  Before I left Dylan and I shared our first kiss.  For the entire trip that was all I could think about!  I knew this guy was going to be different.  When I returned from my trip Dylan and I started dating and he asked me to be his girlfriend MAYBE a week later.  Although, we later decided to celebrate our dating anniversary on the day we went to that company BBQ.  I was thrilled, but my roommate on the other hand was not so pleased.  She had a boyfriend of her own at the time, but she was hurt when we got together.  It was not long before I got a place of my own and not long after that, that we bought a place of our own.

Dylan and I became inseparable very quickly.  He is my best friend and biggest supporter.  Everyday we find we love each other a little more, even when we thought we couldn’t possibly love one another anymore.  I think back on the guys I dated or had a crush on and, even though it hurt at the time, I am so glad none of them worked out.  Life told me when it was time to meet my man, my soul-mate, and I listened.

Friday Reflection: Friday the 13th

Some people really dread Friday the 13th, but I am not one of them.  I was born on a Friday the 13th.  There are women that go to great lengths not to have their baby’s born on that particular day, and I thank my lucky stars my mom was not one of them.  Friday the 13th has always been my luckiest day.  Amazing things happen to me and even to those around me when one rolls around.

Need proof?  Today, Marnie Karger from Crafterall, is the featured Etsy seller on West Elm’s blog.  At the end of the editorial, among the links to her shop and her blog, there is also a link back to my blog and my interview with her.  What?!  West Elm is linking backing to my blog?!  Amazing!

I have taken Marnie’s advise about how to become a better seller on Etsy,

Read through the How To Sell Guide, the Featured Seller and Quit Your Day Job interviews. Attend the webinars for newbies and watch other videos on photography, tagging, writing descriptions, and social networking.

In one of the webinars the lecturer points out that it takes a lot of luck to be a top seller on Etsy, but then she goes one to say “luck is a skill”.  I thought that was an interesting statement.  She points out that we prepare ourselves everyday for that lucky break.  I felt lucky and honored that Marnie said yes to the interview in the first place, but all I did was ask.  When we put ourselves out there, we create our own luck.

If you feel Friday the 13th or even the #13 is a bad omen, then you are preparing yourself for that bad luck to happen to you.  When you focus on the negative then that is what you will see.  Since I’ve always viewed it as my luckiest day that’s what I have seen.  I think by changing others perspectives on this day they start to see the good things that happened to them that day, not the bad.  So I hope my good luck rubs off on you too today!