New Years and Resolutions

Let’s do this.

I would like to explain that I’m writing this post at 7:00 p.m. on New Years Eve. Andy and I spend our New Years here at the house together, and often go to bed before midnight because we are incredibly excited. Also, the thought of staying up super late to either a.) drink too much or b.) be around people who drink too much isn’t our fancy. Heck, staying up super late normally isn’t either. Though I also don’t really do New Years resolutions, I thought I would give you a couple. Sidenote: this couple turned into twelve. I guess I had more to say than I intended with this post.

  1. Commit to having faith in my own views, regardless of others views (while still respecting others views), and really listening to myself and what makes myself happy.
  2. Focusing on becoming a stronger, more confident woman that will be a great role model for my future children. I want to teach them that even if you’re prone to anxiety it by no means means it has to rule your life. This means essentially not getting rattled by external things I cannot control. The essence of the tree who stays upright while the wind is blowing around.
  3. Watering and nurturing the good seeds of emotion in my life and letting the others dry up. This doesn’t mean being happy all the time or never getting angry. It means accepting the emotions I feel are constructive and watering them to flourish, and accepting the ones I feel are not constructive, acknowledging them and then making a conscious decision to change my attitude.
  4. Stating every day what I’m thankful for.
  5. Trying to be more present.
  6. Buying less plastic bottles. We don’t buy a lot now, but definitely trying to buy less.
  7. Drinking more water. I rarely feel thirsty until I’m incredibly dehydrated, I need to work on sipping water all day regardless of thirst level.
  8. Being awesome. Let’s just consider this one done already.
  9. Writing on the blog more. Say what?! Yep. That’s a resolution. It doesn’t mean it will be a lot, especially because I’ve seriously refocused on really living in the moment with my family and friends (which means less photos) but hopefully there will be more than in the last few months.
  10. Disconnecting. This might seem in conflict with number nine, but it’s all about priorities. I’ve all but deleted my Twitter and Instagram accounts. I realized I was spreading myself too thin. I’m on computers all day at work, dual monitors at that. By the time I get home at night the last thing I want to do is turn on my laptop, sit down, and write a blog post. Or write one when I could be snowmobiling with Andy. Or snuggling with the dogs. Or breathing deeply as the warm fire in the wood stove crackles and warms my skin. Or just taking a quiet moment to myself to rebalance. It means the less I do the other things online, the more likely I am to express myself here. Taking little snippets of life and putting them on Twitter and Instagram, for me at least, decreases my desire to write. You’re getting more tidbits, but less quality material. Less quantity, better quality. I’d like this to mean a better quality life. A better quality presence in the moment ahead of me and not always through my camera lens.  A better quality of material here on the blog. By disconnecting from the computer more, I will be connecting with myself, my family, my real life around me, and by default, my blog more.
  11. Learn how to turn a wooden spoon on the lathe.
  12. Finally – I want to eat more creme brulee this year. I’m not all insightful all the time. Sometimes I just want to laugh until I blow snot out my nose on accident and sometimes, I just want to eat creme brulee.

Well, this post was going to be a holiday wrap up of things we did over the last week or so but you know what – it turned into something else all together so I’m going to let it be just that.  On that note, a photo of Rosie doing one of her favorite, albeit rare, winter activities so you can laugh. (No worries, we go super slow and are incredibly careful with a hawk eye on Rosie when we have the snowmobile out).

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Holiday wrap up to come!

xo,

Heather

Happy Holidays Ya’ll!

Wait, did I use ya’ll right? Is that even spelled correctly? I somehow feel like it isn’t. I just need to stick to my roots so let me rephrase this New Englander style: I hope you all have a wicked awesome Christmas, New Years and/or merry and happy any other holiday you so choose to celebrate!412138_585127171502397_739451465_oI wanted to say I’m so thankful for each and every single reader. I know I’ve gone a little silent in the last couple months to focus on and enjoy my non-internet-computer-life more, but I simply wanted to send a virtual high-five to everyone and tell you that I adore you guys. I was going to write an update about everything that’s gone on but I figured I would write out a list of everything I’m grateful for in 2012 instead. With everything going on in this world lately, it makes you stop, take a deep breath, and realize how fragile life is but also how many wonderful, loving, people are out there in this world and that the majority of this world are kind people who will rally for each other. It makes you stop and realize that the stuff you’re dealing with that seems like a big deal just simply isn’t. It’s very humbling.

Here’s a short list (with long explainations) of the big things that happened in my life this year I am so thankful for. Well, the first one isn’t something that happened this year but is rather one of the biggest reasons I keep this blog going when I sometimes don’t feel like writing.

  • My Grandmother. My Grammy is my last living grandparent and she reads this blog every single time I write and writes me an email. She actually is probably one of the biggest reasons I kept writing my updates over the last few months. I absolutely love getting her emails after and hearing about what she liked about my post, and to hear what she’s doing with her day. I save every one of these emails. She is by far one of my favorite people on this planet. She’s so so kind, but a total spitfire. I wish everyone knew her, she’s wonderful.
  • Being a bridesmaid in my cousin Lisa’s wedding. Being in Lisa’s wedding was special for so many reasons. Lisa and I are very very close, like sisters really. We were as close as we could be growing up considering we lived so far apart, but it wasn’t until my Memere got sick in 2005/2006 that we spent every weekend with her and my Pepere that we became super close. My Pepere, Lisa and I were the Three Musketeers. Being in her wedding and watching her marry a man who loves her so much and treats her so well made my heart leap with joy. Also, right before we walked down the aisle (but thankfully were still hidden from everyone) one of my chest enhancing inserts fell down through the dress and hit the ground. I looked in my dress and realized the other one was missing but it hadn’t hit the ground yet. We couldn’t find it. Imagine three girls lifting up my dress and shaking it because we knew the other insert was somewhere caught in my dress. Sure enough, it fell out, I threw them down the stairwell of the church and about 10 seconds later I walked out. Oh, and the clasp on my dress broke. Not only do I not have a remote amount of chest, but the clasp wasn’t tight either. Thankfully nothing fell down and thankfully, oh thank GOD, that insert did not fall down as I walked down the aisle. Though, it would have been utterly hilarious. There are two other reasons I was so happy to be in Lisa’s wedding. My Pepere got to be there, and he passed away after an unexpected event a few months later. We were both so incredibly happy Pepere made it to Lisa’s wedding. He got to see both of us married and that means the world to us and I know it meant the world to him. 522248_10150601221811050_534527066_nThe final reason I am so happy I got to be a bridesmaid is because I got to meet the incredible ladies that were also in the wedding. I had never met Lisa’s friends Michelle and Kim (though I knew my cousin Beth, you know, since she’s my cousin). Kim and Michelle ended up being two of the nicest and sweetest girls I’ve ever known. They are both just funny and genuine. Kim is so quiet, but oh Lord do not let it fool you because the girl has a sense of humor. She really is incredibly gentle and sweet though. Her girls were the flower girls and her little boy was so sweet to me. At the reception he told me all about a date he planned for me at a chocolate shop in time square in NYC complete with a ferris wheel ride. I told Kim to watch out with him in the future; he’s about as cute as they come and the four year old has serious game. Then there was Michelle. She is so kind and yet doesn’t hold back. Her and I were like two peas in a pod but she is also one of the strongest people I know. I got to meet her husband Steve who is currently battling stage four colon cancer and despite him being the one fighting it, he had me laughing so much at the reception. By the way, all of you please keep Steve and Michelle in your prayers. Steve is in his early 30’s and has a very young son with Michelle, and unfortunately chemo and radiation don’t seem to be working anymore. Please keep them in your prayers (Michelle is far right).535862_10150601225341050_1997293994_n
  • Being a bridesmaid in my friend Laura’s wedding. When Laura asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding on Marthas Vineyard this year I was beyond thrilled. I’ve known Laura since high school and she is one of my very few friends I still keep up with as regularly as we can. We can not see each other for years and when we do it’s easy, lovely and wonderful. She has a sense of humor and a soul that anyone would be thankful to know. I think that’s a thing with me – I like my friends funny and able to joke around, but with a deep heart and soul. Laura perfectly personifies this. Plus, we’re hilarious together visually. She’s a tiny platinum blond while I’m a tall brunette. With flats I tower over her, in heels? Forget it. In all honestly, it meant so much to me to be there with Laura on her wedding day. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to travel very much, but I would have traveled anywhere for her wedding. She makes me feel like a better person just being around her and she brings out the best in me.  Her wedding signified the first time I ever went to Marthas Vineyard. It’s also where I got to see some people from my past and it was so nice, and it’s where I became friends with another bridesmaid who is, and I know I say this a lot, hilarious. I mean it, spending five minutes with Brittany and you will be in tears and your sides will hurt. She stayed in my hotel room the first night a group of us were there. I had an extra sleeper sofa in my room and Andy wasn’t with me so I told her to crash with me. I am an early bird and definitely not a night owl. So, while everyone else went out drinking Laura and I headed back to the hotel so she could get some sleep and I could get some quiet time. I gave Britt a key and told her to let herself in. At about 2:30 in the morning I hear the door open and a hilariously intoxicated Brittany jumps onto my bed in belly flop style and yells “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.” I about pissed myself laughing in a half asleep stupor. This doesn’t even begin to explain her. She’s hilarious. She’s vegan. She’s crunchy. She’s perfect. I feel like this photo sums up Britt, Laura and the weekend perfect.  Britt writes a vegan cooking blog called We Heart Vegan. Go read it. Also, ignore the gang signs being thrown – it’s a joke no one else would find funny unless you knew Laura in high school. Let’s just say she was a little G back then. (Yeah, Britt, I stole this from your Facebook page. You love it.)
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  • Our one year anniversary. I admit it, I just remembered to put this one in. When you’ve been together almost nine years you forget the one year thing sometimes. We were married for one year back in May and while we did nothing special to celebrate aside from going to up to camp (which we agreed to keep doing every year) with the rest of the family, I loved it. I’m so grateful we have each other. I don’t think he quite understands just how thankful I am for him. I tell him, but I hope he knows deep in his heart just how much I appreciate him. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. We’re you’re typical married couple – yes we do argue, yes we do get annoyed with each other now and again but he’s always the bees knees to me.

    Photograph Copyright Alexandra Roberts Photography
    Photograph Copyright Alexandra Roberts Photography
  • Starting house renovations. I’m not sure I really have to document much of anything here since so much of it is already on my blog. Needless to say, after five years of waiting I am thrilled we have renovations underway. Living in a renovation zone isn’t easy and I won’t pretend it is, but I’m also not going to say it’s super hard either. There are days it’s more frustrating than others but for the most part you just remind yourself that every single day you’re 24 hours closer to the dream. I have an incredible husband who is one of the…no, scratch that, IS the hardest working person I know. I’ve never known anyone like him and I’m not sure I ever will. He’s one of a kind and I’m so lucky he’s mine. Back off ladies.
  • Losing my old job and starting a new job. This was definitely one of the most stressful things that happened this year. When I found out in June I was losing my old job doing marketing in the construction industry it was a huge hit. Not only had I just lost my Pepere, but we had just torn our house apart literally the weekend before. It was a huge blow. I had until September to find a new job and yet nothing was panning out. I was getting rejection letters, or silence. I couldn’t land an interview for the life of me despite the fact I had a great resume. The economy scared me, we weren’t sure what would happen and it took it’s toll in a lot of ways. We decided to have faith in God, know He would provide and keep moving on with the renovations. Then on a leap of faith I applied to a job that I knew I was perfectly qualified for but had a huge title. Not only did I get an interview, I got the job. I was out of work for three weeks but only unemployed for two. Because of the deal with my old company it meant I only had to take one week of unemployment benefits. Our faith in God proved to be true and I know that he directed me to this job. It honestly is such a perfect fit for my skill set and I have the best boss I could have ever asked for. Not only is he understanding, he gives me shit and it’s funny. Like I said, I like funny people who have a good heart and he’s one of the good guys.
  • My health. This might sound a little odd considering my post I wrote on anxiety, and the fact that (I haven’t mentioned it here) I’ve been sick and have lost a lot of weight because of a digestive disorder I have, since about mid-October. We realize now that the havoc it’s been wreaking on my body, along with stress from this summer, is a big part of the reason my anxiety hit me so hard in November. When your body is that messed up it’s bound to take a toll in other ways at some point. The fact is though, whenever these things happen it makes you stand up for yourself and see what you’re made of. What I mean by this two fold. It makes you step back and re-evaluate your lifestyle and come out on the other end better. It helps you be stronger and strengthen that voice that you can do and get through anything and set aside the “what if” voice. The truth is, my anxiety has steadily been getting better and my digestion is slowly on the mend despite still dealing with a new symptom that is steadily (but slowly) getting worst. So why does this make my list? It makes my list because I’m thankful that all of this made me rediscover the strong woman inside of me. The woman who refuses to act like a victim and coddle herself. The woman who refuses to sit there and feel bad for herself. It made me re-find the strong woman I am and I really like that woman. I’m also so grateful for the healthcare I have with my new job, and that I have healthcare in general. I understand how amazing this is. I’m thankful for a supportive husband who is there for me when I need him. I’m thankful for an incredible medical team who have my back. I’m thankful for a loving and wonderful family who have helped me through some of the rougher patches. I’m thankful for my ability to listen to my own body and do what’s right for it, including forgoing Western medicine to give Chinese medicine a shot again, and to already have it helping far more than Western ever did. I’m thankful that this “set back” in the last month means I will be entering the new year with a reminder of who I really am. More than any of this, I am so thankful SO VERY thankful that everything I have is treatable somehow and isn’t fatal. I look at everything in this world and everything going on with sickness and hurt and it makes me realize that this is nothing in the scheme of it. Yes it’s sometimes tiring but who cares, I can take a nap, I can go get a massage or accupuncture. Everything I have is treatable and I am beyond grateful for that and I acknowledge this anytime I start to get frustrated. I push that voice out of my head and listen to my strong voice. My voice that says none of this really matters and who immediately becomes so thankful for all of the little things around her. I feel like maybe I’m not explaining this part right, but this is about seeing the silver lining and acknowledging that when your body is out of whack it’s an awesome chance to be grateful for the opportunity to re-evaluate your lifestyle and how you treat yourself.

As it turns out, these little things in life, all of the little things, add up to all of the big things. Snuggling my dog by the wood stove in the morning. Feeling my husbands warmth as I bury my feet by his side on the couch. Smelling granola cooking in my kitchen. Having a boss who is so understanding. Watching snow fall. Hearing rain ping off the steel roof. Hearing my mothers voice tell me I come from strong women and I’ll be fine. Hearing my Dad’s voice tell me he loves me. Laughing at my sisters antics.  Talking to my best friend. Hearing a child laugh. Talking to my cousin. Hearing wood crackle in the stove on a cold evening. The feeling of my mattress on my back. The breathe of my dog on my side as she settles in to sleep with her head on my chest. A car that gets me to work and back. A paycheck. The sound of a hammer. The sound of my husband and brother in law talking. Reading a needed and welcoming passage in my Bible. Heading into the mountains to get the crisp air in my lungs. Making an inappropriate joke. Laughing at an inappropriate joke. Laughing in general. Making other people laugh. Spreading a smile.

Whatever those little things are, they matter. They matter and they make up this big thing called life. My 2013 resolution is to strengthen the voice of the strong woman within me and every single day take a mental note of what I’m thankful for. It’s a year of coming into my own and saying goodbye to my twenties. It’s recognizing a certain pattern of thinking of I have in 2012 and being so thankful for really recognizing it, and now being able to work on changing it and strengthening the parts about myself I love. It’s starting to feel a shift in what I consider important in my life and what is worth worrying about, and of taking care of myself in so many ways, so I can take care of others.

So those are the things I’m thankful for in 2012, what are you thankful for? Did anything big happen this year that made you so happy, or something maybe not great that opened your eyes to something that changed your life for the better?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

xo,

Heather

Oh, and I guess I should throw in there that I will try and be more organized and keep my house cleaner in 2013. I mean, everyone has to have at least one resolution they know they won’t keep, right?

Wire In The Morning, Wire In The Evening, Wire At Supper Time, When You’re Building An Addition, You Can Wire Anytime!

When you’re renovating your own house, you do a lot of it in the evenings after you’ve worked a full day at the office. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing when it comes to the wiring of the addition, with a couple weekend days thrown in. I’m happy to say we’re almost done downstairs, and the upstairs is completely finished.

Andy and his brother are very good at wiring but I got to get in on it once too with their guidance. I drilled some holes, and ran some wiring to the one outlet under our double bedroom windows. Who’s proud? Two thumbs pointing at this girl right here. To be fair, they did 99% of it, and I just helped Andy decide where some of the outlets should go.

Here’s the quick breakdown:

At the top of the stairs we’ll have a “closet”, but unlike a regular closet, this closet will hold an electrical panel and a heat recovery ventilator. We already have an electrical panel in the basement, so I was confused as to why we weren’t expanding that one instead of putting a new one upstairs. Andy explained it by simply saying it means a lot less work not having to run the wiring into the basement, and it will make access easier in the long run. I know he knows what he’s talking about and let’s be honest, I just care about what the fixtures look like in the end.

The heat recovery ventilator will be down the line and the best most nontechnical way I can explain it is simply to say it takes the heat from the air/wood stove and exchanges the heat into fresh air coming into the house. With a house that will be as airtight as ours, it’s an important thing to have. You can read more about them here if you want the technical details.

Obviously nothing is hooked up yet, we would never leave hot wires hanging out like that! One of the most important steps in running wiring is obviously not to have the wiring hot, but to also label every single wire as you go. Don’t try and remember what runs where. You can’t see it in the photo above, but each wire is labeled both at the breaker end and at the outlet end. You can slightly see this labeling in the photo below.

Here’s a better view of some of the wiring in the master bedroom. The round blue box up top is for a hardwired fire alarm, which we’re putting throughout the house. This way if one alarm goes off, they all go off. We use a wood stove fairly exclusively, including while we sleep at night so it feels doubly important to make sure we have a serious fire alarm system in place.  Add in that we use propane for cooking instead of natural gas, and it means it just makes me feel a lot better to know there’s a hard wired system in place. Despite the fact if the propane blew up the fire alarm would have little help, but it still makes me feel better. Oh, and every alarm also has a carbon monoxide alarm in them too which is just as, if not more, important.

(Yes, we also keep a seat up here. I told you the sun is pretty awesome up here. Sometimes you just want to come sit in the morning sun in your soon to be bedroom, or see the evening sunset. Not too bad people, not too bad.)

One of the other things you’ll always find up here with us is Rosie. She loves being with us and couldn’t care less about loud noises. This particular day she discovered the bathroom plumbing and was quite perplexed by the toilet pipe. She stood like this with a furrowed brow for a good five minutes and kept looking at me for clarification. I wish I got on video when she stuck her nose down it and you could hear her sniffing quietly echoing throughout the pipe. She’s a keeper.

When she had enough of the toilet pipe, it was time to get serious. Chewing sticks, that is.

And so it all goes, drilling, wiring, repeat. I would be remiss to end this post without one of Andy’s “throw-it-together-for-free” ideas to help make running wire easier. Who needs an expensive wire spindle when you have plywood, screws, and a pipe?

That’s all for now! Once we finish the downstairs wiring we’ll have the inspection, and after that it’s onto insulation and drywall!

Oh, and I have an upcoming post for you. Here’s a hint – between $20,000 and $30,000 worth of items for free and not from a sponsor (because I have none), but from my husband being the man. It’s pretty unbelievable. Then again, he never ceases to amaze me.

xo,

Heather

P.S. High-fives to anyone who can name the jingle I made the title of this post from!

It’s A Very Mooey Mooey Christmas

Let’s take a break from the house renovations, a break from the holidays, and a break from everything that’s going on in our lives we’re working on and smile at the photos of these cows up at the farm, from this past spring. The farm hasn’t had enough love here on the blog in the last few months, and these cows deserve some face time.

Why?

Cause they’re awesome.

Oh, and while we’re at it – if you click on any of these photos they will be full size so you can print them out and frame them, you know, if you want a giant cow snout somewhere in your house.

Merry Christmas and you’re welcome. Cow snouts are perfect.

xo,

Heather