Saturday, January 31, 2009

A New Project for The Kramer Angle



I'm thrilled to announce I've joined a group of other women as a contributor to a new blog called Project Create a Home . Each of us will be writing about a topic we're interested in, i.e., cooking, decorating tips, technology, etc. I've signed on to write about a new venture I'm embarking on (no, I'm not climbing Mt. Everest, I'm far too lazy for that!), and I plan to announce details of it in the next couple of days. So, please stop by Project Create a Home and be sure to check The Kramer Angle for big news in the coming days!

Simple Joy


When you have two boys ages 12 and 10, Gameboys, Wii, and Gamecube factor into your life pretty heavily. I'm a mother that doesn't understand the fascination with video games; I think it's a waste of time. My kids don't spend an inordinate amount of time playing them but I'd be lying if I said we haven't had a battle or two over what I'd prefer they be doing.

While we were in Ohio for the holidays one of my brothers gave my youngest son an old pogo stick his kids had outgrown years ago. My son was thrilled and while he happily tossed it in the back of the van for the drive back to the east coast, I was certain it would be just another toy getting too little use, languishing in our garage with all the others.

But my son has surprised me and has been pogo jumping in the morning and again after school. He's certain there's a Guiness world record he can break if he just keeps on practicing. It brings me joy that he's having so much fun with a nice, classic simple toy, one we all had when we were kids. Not to mention the fact it's impossible to work the Wii controller when you're bouncing down the sidewalk on your way to a world record.

Monday, January 26, 2009

TAGGED FOR A "ME ME" - It's All About Me

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers by visiting their sites, reading their posts and leaving a comment regarding their daily ruminations. One of the blogs I really enjoy reading is Southern Whimsy written by KD. She tagged me to play "ME ME" a few days ago, but unfortunately I had that little situation with the tabloids to deal with, (you know, the whole Obama + me photo thing) and so I'm just now getting to it.

So, a "ME ME" is just what it sounds like; it's all about me. (IT'S ABOUT TIME!!) I have to write six random things about myself and then pass the "ME ME" on to some other bloggers. It's a fun way for all of us in the blog world to get to know each other. So, here goes, six random things about ME ME ME!

1. My family thinks I need to go to rehab. Yes, it's true, they've been harping on me for a few years that I need help. I don't know why but they think I have a drinking problem. Apparently they think I drink too much Diet Coke. Yeah, well, whatever....
2. I have always wanted to be a comedian. Humor gets you through a lot of stuff..
3. I have perfectly straight teeth and naturally curly hair. (I wish I could put that on a resume!) I've never cursed nature over the teeth but I've had some irritation with the hair.
4. My children are my gifts from God.
5. My Outs and Runs never counted.
6. I couldn't think of a sixth thing to say so I just asked my youngest son what one word he would use to describe me and he said "creative". So, there you go, I'm "creative". (Thank God he didn't say "PSYCHO"!)

So now that you have that useless information go check out some of my favorite blogs:

Chrissy at http://theapothacaryshop.blogspot.com and I share the same design aesthetic. When I first came across her blog I was amazed because our decorating style is so similar!

I'm also passing it on to Lori at http://sudsnjewels.blogspot.com. I met her through Etsy a few weeks ago because I'm in the process of launching my new venture (more about that in coming weeks) and she's going to help me with one angle of it. My son wouldn't think I'm creative if he used Lori to measure me against. The girl has it going on in the creativity department!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mystery Woman?

Geez, so I showed up as the "mystery woman" in one photo with Obama..........
Photo Effects. Billboard in Motion
And then 60 Minutes tracked me down at the beach.....
Photo Effects. Old TV set
The paparazzi have been following me around town and I've ended up in the tabloids.....
Photo Effects. Reading News
And the next thing I know some French guy is painting my portrait... It's unbelievable!
Photo Effects. Oil Painting
Okay, so I just spent the last hour playing around on this great website: loonapix.com. It's a free photo editing site and it is really cool. It obviously kept me amused...!

JOYFUL FRIDAY


It's Friday so that means it's time for my weekly "What Brings Me Joy" post. What brings me joy today is having a wide open afternoon with no commitments, no laundry and a quiet house until the kids get home from school. So I'll be lounging on the couch with my ultimate Gulp size cup of Diet Coke at my side and this month's Southern Accents magazine that arrived in my mailbox only moments ago. Pure joy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Feeding My Magazine Addiction Just Got Tougher


A couple of years ago my husband was paying the bills when he came across multiple invoices for my magazine subscriptions. At the time it was Cottage Living, Southern Living and Traditional Home up for renewal. He started to rant and carry on that I was spending a fortune on magazine subscriptions and questioned how many I had. I quickly did the tally in my head (the ones already mentioned plus House and Garden, Country Living, Vanity Fair, Home, Midwest Living and Better Homes and Gardens). Apparently he thought that was too many (Too many? Not enough!) and did the quick calculation that we were spending about $120 a year on decorating magazines.

Being fast on my feet I quickly pointed out that decorating is my one addiction, my hobby, and my passion and that perusing magazines brings me great joy much like golf does for him. And to say my husband likes golf would be an understatement. He loves it. It's his passion and he's very good at it. So in order to stay good at it he has to play alot. And as you probably know, golf is not a cheap sport. It's not like basketball where he can just go grab a ball and head to the driveway and play some hoops. No, golf requires shoes, clubs, greens and cart fees.

So I pointed out that he plays golf an average of 5 - 6 times a month with a conservative estimate (depending on the course) of $30 a round. He sat in his chair, checkbook open, pen in hand, looked at me and said "Should I renew for one year or two?" I tell you, the man's not stupid!

It looks like we'll be spending less on magazines this year though because sadly times are also tough in the shelter magazine world. This morning's Washington Post newspaper reported three of my favorite magazines: Cottage Living, O at Home and Country Living (my perennial favorite) have all announced their demise. With fewer magazines to peruse nightly, I'm going to have a lot more free time on my hands. I may actually start watching television. What are the good shows these days?

BREAKING NEWS........I went to the Washington Post online to see if there has been a correction to the announcement that Country Living is one of the magazines that is shutting down and discovered they changed the online version to read Country Home. A couple of other readers posted comments questioning the accuracy of the original article in today's edition. Turns out they must have been confused and it's Country Home not Country Living. Either way, I'm sad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Witnessing History - From the Comfort of Home

9:45 a.m. Well, my husband and I are sitting on the couch in the family room watching the start of the inauguration. My friend Laurie and I debated back and forth as to whether to go. She's on her way over to watch it with us on the big screen. Regret is starting to set in as I see the television pictures of the people on the mall waiting. The metro station parking lots were already full at 5:30 a.m.

9:55 a.m. I'm feeling better because Charles Gibson on Good Morning America just pointed out that those of us sitting at home watching it on television will see everything as it is happening. (Including the commercials that are on right now.......)

10:30 a.m. and I'm there....in spirit....









11:30 a.m. Laurie and I are watching the inauguration (and I have to admit it is nice and warm inside) and so far I haven't had to wait in line behind her for the bathroom! It's actually going well!

11:45 a.m. Turns out I'm closer than I thought I would be!




11:55 a.m. Aretha just sang. Laurie and I are now experiencing major regret..........

12:00 p.m. Oh, this shot? That's just me and the President of the United States of America Barack Obama! Turns out being there in spirit is pretty amazing too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

TO GO, OR NOT TO GO, THAT IS THE QUESTION

I live about 30 minutes from the nation's capital and right now, people are swarming into the city from all over the world to go to the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday and I can't decide whether I want to go or not. Actually, let me re-phrase that, I want to go, I just don't know if it's worth it. I've been to a couple of inaugurations (Clinton's first in 1993 and George Bush's in 2005) with my mother and sister and we had a great time, so I've experienced it before. But for weeks, the Washington Post has been reporting that just getting into the city is going to be a logistical nightmare for people. So I asked a good friend of mine, a high ranking, highly respected law enforcement officer for the Capital Police what he thought I should do.

He didn't say "stay home" but he did point out that 1) without a ticket I won't see much, 2) it's going to be incredibly cold and 3) by watching it on tv at home, sitting on my couch in the comfort of my own home I won't miss a thing. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't need to be present on the mall in Washington, D.C., to be a part of history being made. I already am. We all are. And it feels good.

(I suspect it will feel even better on Tuesday when I'm sitting on my couch, nice and toasty, with plenty of snacks and no line to the bathroom!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

JOYFUL FRIDAY

Earlier in the week I wrote about finding joy in every day living (which is also my blog's tagline) so I thought I'd continue with the theme to close out the week. Friday is my favorite day of the week for a variety of reasons, (the model home furniture clearance center is open, it's the last day of school, the promise of the weekend to come, etc.) so I've decided to make Fridays my "What Brings Me Joy" day and each week I'll post one thing that brings joy to my life.

I left my house this morning at 8:00 and got home just after 3:00 this afternoon, which is unusual for me because I'm usually in and out of the house on most days. When I got home, our sweet dog, Daisy (a.k.a. Crazy Daisy the Goldendoodle) greeted me like I had been gone a month - she was so happy to see me. She brings me joy! (If only my mere presence could elicit the same response from a human being!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blogger Fun - Photo Tag


One of the best things about blogging is "meeting" fellow bloggers who stop by my blog, share a comment, or send an e-mail just to be nice. It amazes me that there are people all over the world (I got a comment from someone in India!) taking the time to read my blog. What amazes me more is that there are people out there, living their lives, doing their thing, blogging and willing to share everything they know to help new bloggers like me be successful. Random strangers making a positive impact on my life definitely brings me joy!

One of my favorite blogs, (with hands down the best blog name) is written by my new friend in the blogging world "Tardevil". Ever since I jumped into this thing and came up as "The Kramer Angle" she's been so supportive, always willing to help me out and eager to offer tips on how to improve my blog. You're going to love her blog and can check it out at
http://confessionsofa40-somethingmamaqueen.blogspot.com/

One of the fun things bloggers do is "tag" each other or give awards every now and then to blogs they like and sweet Tardevil has just picked me to play "photo tag" and now I'm "it".

So, to play, you go to your digital photo file, and find the fourth photo in the fourth file, post the photo and explain what it's all about. In my case it turns out to be "Pearl". You may remember I posted a photo of her before in my holiday decorating post. (Scroll down to see her all dressed for Christmas.) I found sweet Pearl at an auction and I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. She's not like those other dress forms you see all over the place, all teeny, tiny, nothing but wire and cuteness. They're a dime a dozen, and even though I love them too, they're just not special, like Pearl. She's a real woman; all curves and attitude!

The truth is she freaks my friends out. They think she has a Hannibel Lector kind of look going on. What do they know? I think she's fabulous!

So, now I get to pass the tag along, and I'm sending it to my other new friend, Lori, who just started her blog last week and she's off to a great start at http://sudsnjewels.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TOO BUSY TO SEE, HEAR, FEEL?

In my last post I wrote about finding joy and that the personal mantra I try to live my life by is "Above All, Know Joy". My in-laws sent me the following story and after reading it, I wondered what I would have done. Would I have recognized the magic of the moment, allowed myself to enjoy it or would I have kept on walking? Read it, think about it and tell me what you think you would have done:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:


If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, on one of the finest instruments in the world - how many other things are we missing?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ABOVE ALL, KNOW JOY

I have a personal mantra and it's "ABOVE ALL, KNOW JOY". It's all about feeling joy, seeing it and appreciating it through every day living (hence the tag line on my blog) and I really try to live my life by it. Some days it's tougher than others to feel it though.

I wasn't feeling too joyful when my 10 year old accidentally spilled a Big Gulp size cup of water on my brand new, two week old MacBook recently. (Apple store: "Liquid damage? Oh no, the warranty doesn't cover THAT!") There definitely wasn't much joy in my heart when the washing machine broke right before my 20th wedding anniversary. (Goodbye diamond anniversary ring, hello Maytag!)

But for the most part, I try to be joyful and obviously some days it's just easier than others. There are all kinds of things that bring me joy and so I've decided to start posting about some of those things. So, how about you? I'd love to hear what brings you joy or if you have a personal mantra?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Instant Ancestors


My family didn't come over on the Mayflower. I don't come from a long line of aristocrats whose family stories have been documented in countless biographies or cinematic epics. No, the history of both sides of my family is pretty much the same as most Americans. At some point our ancestors took a boat over from their motherland and made their lives in the United States.

They were hard working Irish (well, sorta), Swedish and English folks who did what they had to do to earn a living and raise a family. I wish it had been different; I could totally see myself as a Rockefeller or a duPont, living in a mansion, enjoying the good life, reflecting on my family's history, and looking back on old family photographs.

But since I don't have that, I've had to be a little more resourceful. I buy my ancestors at flea markets and auctions. It's true, instant ancestors can be had in the form of photographs for a few bucks at any antique store or flea market in this great country. Because my grandparents and great-grandparents were too busy earning a living and settling in this country there wasn't much time or money to document their lives through photographs and scrapbooks, so there are very few family photos being passed down through the generations.

Which must be one of the reasons why I feel so compelled to buy lots of old photos of people I don't know. About 15 years ago I stood in the blazing sun at an estate auction in Southern Maryland for hours for the chance to buy a box lot of photographs and family letters written by a woman to her children. The letters documented her family's lives and described in great detail their history; from relatives fighting in wars to when her family had slaves. It was fascinating reading and I could not believe no one in the family wanted to keep its history intact. I paid $30 for what was in my mind, a privilege, to safeguard the history of one family. And although I was thrilled to be the highest bidder, it also made me very sad. It broke my heart to think no one cared enough to save it. There's a part of me that hopes my own family's history, which is not quite as epic as the Rockefellers, but certainly not without its own drama, doesn't end up at an auction; up for grabs to the highest bidder.

So, I'll keep creating my wall montage of instant ancestors, one auction at a time, and maybe, just maybe those sweet souls staring back at me in the photographs will know that someone wanted them.

In the meantime, say hello to my new ancestors. I bought them at an auction today. Good looking, aren't they? It runs in the family.........


Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Little Melancholy

I spent most of yesterday taking down the Christmas decorations and it made me melancholy for the old days. In my rush to get the house decorated I didn't really take the time to reflect on our ornaments and how they represent my children's lives. Every Christmas I give them a new ornament that reflects their interest from the past year.

My youngest son, Jacob, has had a love of frogs for as long as I can remember so he has lots of different frog ornaments from over the years. My oldest son, Shane, loves sports and fishing so his ornaments have reflected those interests. So as I took the ornaments off the tree I thought of each of my children and how their lives are represented on that tree; and it filled me with a melancholy mood.

Life is going by so fast! Wasn't it just yesterday they were two and four and they were both obsessed with cowboys? I held the cowboy hat and horseshoe ornaments in my hand and they look brand new! Their fascination with Star Wars has given way to "Calvin and Hobbs" and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Life is good, so good, but it scares me how quickly it is going by. I want it to slow down! The ornaments representing my boys lives, now 10 and 12, reminded me of that yesterday.