Monday, January 31, 2011

In which I get mail...

Sometimes readers send me things. I love getting things in the mail. As a matter of fact, getting the mail everyday thrills me. What treasures will the mailbox hold? A glossy home magazine? A mysterious love letter?

Usually it's just bills, but sometimes it's a complete surprise.

This is what arrived in my mailbox this week. Julie sent it to me because she knows what I love. Which do I love more? Julie or chocolate? It's a very close call.


This week I was also very surprised to find a package addressed to Shiny Red Houses. There are three men who I know read my blog. My dad, my husband and Michael.

Michael is a funny guy. He has no kids. He is not married. He has fancy cats. He reads my blog and sometimes he sends me stuff. This time he sent me two books.

I adore these books. Home Comforts is a comprehensive explanation of how to clean and care for your house.

Martha's Homekeeping Handbook is astounding. She tells you how to do everything. I am spending a lot of time right now looking at her pictures of closets. I love closets. Will someone please send me a closet in the mail?

Why did Michael send me books about housekeeping? The cats told him to.

You may also be wondering where I have been this week. I am almost too embarrassed to tell you.

I have been watching Bones for hours on end, letting the filth and squalor of the house pile up while I imagine my life as an FBI agent. Or more specifically, I imagine my life with this FBI agent.


A dream boat.

Okay. Send closets or Seeley Booth. Hell, send both!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The speed of me in the cold.

Well, as my cousin up north and my sister wife will tell you, it's been wicked pissah cold in the northeast this week. The temperature dipped below freezing during the night and barely crept above ten degrees during the day.

Very. Very. Cold.

I, as you may know, like cold in general. But I noticed a strange thing during this cold snap. Once the temperature dipped below twenty degrees, I lost my ability to move more than a few feet away from the fireplace. I dressed in hobo layers, parked myself in front of the fire and sat. I could not muster the energy to take care of laundry or dust or make dinner. Those things required movement and movement was just not in the plan.

I sat and considered all of the things which needed to get done and the furniture I wanted to rearrange and could not do it. I spent several days like this.

I had just about given up on ever getting anything done when a strange thing happened. I stopped being cold. Just like that.

I got up, started the laundry and began hauling furniture around the house. I swept and dusted and rearranged like a mad woman! I was back!

Then I left the house for a bit and noticed a curious thing. The car thermometer read thirty-five degrees.

Apparently I am built like a very fussy car. I will only run above twenty degrees and under seventy-five degrees. I also need premium chocolate and a maid, but I am pretty sure that at this point the analogy breaks down.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We have a winner!

Our winner is Robin!

She won all of this great stuff!

She left this comment:

Blogger Robin said...

Hey There, I'm Robin from Indiana and I am glad that I stopped by. That would be a very interesting rug but you better put a rubber mat under it and it will stay in place. My favorite ice cream is chocolate chip mint and I am really drawn to that little red and white creamer. I always love your humorous writing.
Congratulations Robin!
Email me your address and I'll send you your prize!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I am an idiot, Part 487...

How many times have I begun a post with the words, "I am an idiot."?

I do not know. Nor do I know why I continue to be an idiot; it just seems to be one of those things at which I excel. I will say that there seems to be a very strong correlation between impatience and idiocy.

Having said all that, I think I am ready to begin my sorry tale.

On Thursday, I got a message on my computer that my start up disc was almost full. The reason this message was vexing me more than usual is because I wanted to download the next to last episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent with Bobby Goren. I have been waiting for just the right mood before treating myself to those last few episodes with my favorite detective.

Usually when my start up disc is full, I get up off my bed, get my external hard drive and transfer a bunch of pictures to it, thereby clearing up space. On Thursday, I am sorry to say, I was just too lazy to get out of bed to retrieve the hard drive, so I thought I would be very clever and run a disc sweeping program which would locate files I did not need and delete them.

I ran the program. I deleted many things. Then my computer crashed and would no longer accept my password.

That is how I came to spend two hours with my butt perched on the exceedingly uncomfortable stools at the Mac Store getting my computer fixed.

Observations from the Genius Bar: Every genius working there had a beard and has been trained not to laugh at people like me who inadvertently delete all of their utilities, passwords, itunes library and pictures. They were very, very kind. They put in a new hard drive for free since mine was just limping along and even managed to salvage a few things from the old one.

After surviving the shame of the Mac Store I felt that it would be a good idea to step into Godiva for some medicinal chocolate. Four chocolate covered cherries, a hot bath and I was nearly recovered.

Now I am thinking about cutting my hair short. Again. After spending a year growing it out.

Am I being an idiot or inspired?

I may need an intervention.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In which I swoon...

I have been hoarding my February issue of Martha Stewart Living, saving it for a quiet moment when I could savor each page of home perfection.

Tonight that moment of quiet occurred in the bathtub. I ran the water super hot, got in and cracked open the magazine. I had made it a few pages when I audibly swooned.

It was a linen closet, a truly magnificent linen closet.

1. I do not own a linen closet. I barely have any clothes closets, never mind an actual closet with shelves devoted for linens.

2. I cannot fold sheets. I am sheet folding illiterate. I wash the sheets and then kind of crumple them up and shove them into a box under my bed.

3. My kids sheets aren't even on the same floor as their beds.

My house is a linen closet failure. There are no neatly folded stacks of lavender scented, color coordinated sheets sitting upon clearly labeled shelves. I am coming to realize that I may die before I achieve this goal.

In other news, I finally realized why my house has smelled weird all day.

Good news: It was not a dead bird.

Bad news: Lily had taken some rinsed, but by no means washed tuna fish cans out of the recycling and had a game of three card monte going on in her room.

So, that's my day. Squalor, tuna smell and gambling. You?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A brand new homeschooling blog...

There's nothing like a day of snow and laundry procrastination to get the creative juices flowing!

I started a new blog about Secular Homeschooling! Go check it out!

The Secular Schoolhouse

It's an irreverent and informative site for homeschoolers and homeschool wanna-be's alike!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A little bit of blogcleaning...

Today I spent some time thinking about blogs and content.

I follow a lot of blogs, and up until about five minutes ago I had them all on my blog roll sidebar like the dutiful little blogger that I am. However, I realized that of the almost forty blogs I follow, only a handful provide interesting, well written content. I like pretty photoshopped pictures and extravagent giveaways as much as the next person, but what I really love in a blog are honesty, humor and vulnerability.

With this is mind I have updated my blog roll. The links are somewhat random. Some reflect my interest in home design and decor. Several feature homeschooling and at least one features a fiddler. Each has something which brings me back to their site again and again. I urge you to check them out.

Dooce is a rock star in the blog world and she deserves it. She writes with clarity and humor and knock you in the gut awesome.

Angry Chicken is who I would want to be if I could sew. She homeschools and sews and makes her own deodorant and yet is still completely cool. So worth a read.

Motherhood is Not for Wimps is fantastic. Read about her baby who shrank and then grew. You will cry, you will cheer, you will read into the night.

Derfwad Manor features Mrs. G who is my homeschool hero. She's funny and irreverent and I adore her.

Belgium Waffle and Irretrievably Broken are the co-joined twins of the internet separated by an ocean. One lives in Belgium. One in the US. They write about parenting, divorce and small mammals. Most importantly, they write very, very well and very, very honestly.

There are a handful of blogs I read not just because they are interesting and well written, but also because I love the writers. Julie Rants, Deckside Thoughts, Pom Pom's Ponderings, Verbatim and The Left Handed Housewife are wonderful. They are funny and smart and they answer my emails. I love them.

My goal for this blog is to write well, to write honestly and to make you laugh. If I miss my mark then read one of these other blogs which will surely satisfy you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recent junk treasures and a Shiny Red Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who delurked and introduced themselves! It was great fun to get to know you all. I responded in the comments and have decided that I will continue to reply directly in the comment section to my readers. Resolved!

Before I announce the Shiny Red Giveaway, I wanted to show you a few things that I have found in my junk wanderings lately. For some reason I have been coming across a lot of textiles which I cannot seem to resist.

I found this blanket back in October when we visited Arizona. It lives on the couch and often has at least one dog sleeping on it.

I think this piece is a throw rug of some kind but it seems like it would be very slippery. The colors thrill me. What would  you do with it?

This is a crazy little bit of an afghan that I found yesterday while out junking with Amy. I love how some of the yarn has felted in the wash.

I found this crate yesterday at Urban Renewals for 2.99. You can't tell from the picture, but it is a beautiful pale blue. It is already on my porch holding winter boots.

This fun basket is all of my favorite things- vintage inspired, colorful and useful!

Are you guys ready for a giveaway?
I am offering some of my very best junk to you, my most beloved readers.

One red and white canister perfect for hiding chocolate from loved ones...
One pretty bird ornament...

One shiny red and white creamer...

One long white shabby chic mirror...

One red and white chicken feed pillow envelope...

And one black, yellow and white apron, stylish enough to make every housewife look like a queen!
To enter, leave a comment here. Tell me who you are and your favorite flavor of ice cream. That's it! I'll randomly select a winner in one week on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6pm EST.

Good luck!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Homeschool thoughts, updates and miscellaneous whatnot...

Before I get too far into my incoherent ramblings post I want to share a fun activity with my homeschooling and traditional schooling friends. Eryn from Hearth2heart is running a wonderful Valentine Exchange. If you are interested in participating just head on over to her site and fill out the survey.  This is a great way for your family to enjoy making and receiving lots of Valentines!

I really love Valentines Day. It's fun and romantic and involves lots of chocolate! This weekend I am going to stock up on Valentine craft supplies so that the girlies and I can get busy making cards. I also love to check out kid friendly magazines and websites for Valentine craft ideas. I got my copy of Family Fun which has some really cute ideas for making Valentine's at home. Where do you go for new holiday craft ideas?

In other homeschooling news, I have been following #homeschool on Twitter. This is an extraordinary way to find other homeschoolers and find out about what they are doing and how they are doing it. It was from someone on Twitter that I learned about homeschooling from January to December instead of September to June. I'm thinking of giving this schedule a try because it would allow us to stretch out our studies better and allot more time to projects and field trips. Do any of my homeschool readers employ this method? I'd love to hear from you!

Speaking of hearing from readers, today is Delurking Day! I have to tell you that I love to hear from you in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or email. It is a lovely feeling to put words out into the world and know that someone has enjoyed them. I try to respond to people when they leave comments, but I can only do that if you include your email address. Another thought I have is to start replying to folks directly in the comments. Would readers think to go back and check for a response there?

Finally, I am putting some items from my scary basement treasure stash together for a giveaway which I will post some time this weekend. I also have some new junk treasures to share with you this weekend!

For now, please leave a comment! Tell me who you are and a little bit about yourself and I will respond, I swear on my best box of chocolate!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Preparing for snow...

Here in my little suburb of Boston, the news around town is all about the big old Nor' Easter we are expecting to come during the night and kill us all dead. Weather drama is my very favorite kind of drama. I start storm tracking days in advance of the first hint of snow and have my snow provisions stocked and ready.

My snow provisions include, but are in no way limited to:

1. Husband who will snow blow and shovel. This is a critical provision and critical to my enjoyment of a blizzard.

2. Ice cream. I don't think I really need to explain this.

3. One raw chicken. Chicken roasts beautifully on snowy days.

4. Murder mystery. I am reading Lie Down With The Devil by Linda Barnes and am enjoying it very much.

In addition to planning for the snow, I am thinking about culling some of my prized junk and having a junk giveaway at the end of the week. What do you guys think? Do you want my junk?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tiger Math!

We began school again this week, after what felt like a months long hiatus. Actually, it was a months long hiatus. Somehow between our Arizona trip, David's 40th birthday and the holidays we never really got back into a good school groove. That all changed this week when I sat the children down at the table and cracked the whip.

We began a review of fractions for my big girl who hates math. I understand hating math. I hate math too, so I bring a lot of sympathy to the table.

When Rebecca was moaning about fractions, I reminded her of her dream of working with big cats someday.

"Honey, the day will come when you will need to know how much medicine to give a tiger. You will need to be able to add and subtract these fractions so that he can be given the life saving dosage of antibiotics or heart medicine. The tigers are counting on you!" I said.

Apparently, this was all the motivation she needed.

She likes visual aids so she fetched a few tiger stuffed animals and approached each problem as an opportunity to save a feline life.

"This kitty needs tapeworm medicine!" she declared.

This is one of the reasons I love to homeschool. We are able to take an abstract concept and make it relevant and worthwhile.  Homeschool readers, how do you make difficult subject matter go more smoothly?