Sometimes on weekend days when Mark isn’t working, we wake up with an urge to look for an adventure. This is about as spontaneous as we get these days. Like most families with school-age kids, our lives can feel over scheduled. We’re bound by school days and vacations, and boxed in by the kids’ extracurricular activities and our work lives. I know it’s just temporary since the years that we have with the kids before they turn into teenagers who’d rather do anything but hang out with their parents are running short, but for now, these impulsive weekend drives satisfy that itch (well, almost).
Locust Grove was Samuel Morse’s old estate – a summer house like so many of his fellow wealthy contemporaries used to own. The daughter of the new owners who purchased the house in 1901 set up a foundation to preserve the house and stated in her mandate that nothing was to be removed, nor anything brought in. So the walls have the original fading linen wallpapers, the cupboards are full with liquor and medicine bottles half full, and shoes were left peeking under the beds. It almost makes you feel like you’re a voyeur and it’s kind of a trip to think about how old everything is.
I’m pretty sure that when the girls grow up, they’ll remember how their crazy mother dragged them to all these old mansions along the Hudson River and Long Island. I don’t think they’re quite old enough, however, to know what it means to humor somebody, so I’m going to take their attentive attitude on these tours as genuine interest. They’re also studying American history at school so the details of this era are pretty fresh in their minds already. Me? I just like going into old houses.
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That first day after the holiday rush is over is both a relief and a strange letdown. It’s fairly hard to explain because it’s such a weird mix of feelings and I wonder if other business owners feel the same way. I walked around all day yesterday in a haze – this after getting excited the night before about wrapping up another holiday and thinking about all the business related projects I want to get started. I think it’s a combination of not knowing initially what to do with myself and the crash from a high. But it’s done, another holiday done!
Next year is the year I turn my focus back on the business; we have plans – we’ve always had plans – but they always seem to get derailed by other life things. But as we move into year 8 of the business, it’s time. I’m working on making this a priority for 2015 and trying to clear my schedule to make it happen (despite the fact that I now have a job). In the scheme of things, they’re small changes. We’re not opening a store or writing a cookbook, though those two things always come up when we think about how static we feel sometimes, particularly since pretty much all of our friends have opened up their own spaces and written a book, but I suppose we’ve always moved at our own (snail’s) pace. But I can tell you that earlier this year I was in meetings about a book; then life happened and it just didn’t seem like the right time anymore.
I also think about how in past years I always ended my day writing a post, even during holiday madness times. What that means is that I made it a priority back then. And now? Well, I’ve expressed before that it’s been a struggle. Even with good intentions to write, it’s been harder to put the words down. I think like a lot of bloggers, Instagram has replaced the blog. It’s easier and spontaneous, less commitment and the engagement is better (so if you’re instagram, let’s connect!). But I won’t give up on this space. Posts will be fewer and farther between and there’s a far smaller circle than there used to be, but it I’ll still hang around if you will.
We’re looking forward to a quiet weekend. Actually, no…a LAZY weekend! We’ve usually done holiday markets the last shopping weekend of the season, but this year we decided to skip it – and I’m glad. A weekend of pajamas, hot chocolate, games, and maybe a little holiday adventure sounds really good right about now.
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This is our 7th holiday season. It hasn’t exactly been the kind of craziness where we’re running like chickens with our heads cut off or pulling our hair out in stress. Not yet anyway, but we did feel some of that holiday stress tonight. It’s always hard to gauge what kind of December we’ll have – order volumes change from year to year (and with it our sanity level), but every year proves to be a little different no matter how prepared you think you are for it.
I went back on the blog yesterday and read over the entries around the holidays, all the way back to our first in business. It’s something I like to do every season this time of year, I guess to see where we’ve been and how we got here, and to laugh at the memories of how stressful the holidays can be now that we have a little distance from those particular memories. Like how our fan belt fell off the car while driving during a delivery run; or the time the car stalled and wouldn’t start up in the middle of Times Square (another delivery mishap); or the year we did a holiday market for 9 straight days during our busiest days in December and nearly died trying to keep our booth stocked with product. There have definitely been years where tears were shed. Last year we made over 900 s’mores gift boxes and that was a big production we didn’t think we could handle, but we survived somehow with a little help from friends.
This year our shipping deadline is Monday, Dec 15th for Christmas delivery. I hope everyone is having a having a nice holiday season!
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When you go through a life changing event, the first holiday season is often like a test. There are many conflicting emotions, so much so that you almost want to just turn them all off just to avoid the clash. I can understand why some people are numb to the holidays; I get it now.
But we had a really good Thanksgiving surrounded by many cousins. The girls love having a lot of family around and it isn’t often that we can all get together like this. Geography now separates many of us, but since our parents are no longer getting together like they used to, we make that effort to keep the family going, just like when we were spending every holiday together as kids. Even with so many us together over the holiday break, it doesn’t hide the fact that there is someone missing. It may even magnify the absence of that person.
I visited my grandmother on Thanksgiving. Her studio apartment is always too warm, in the way that old radiators in NYC apartments sizzle and clank as the heat travels through the network of pipes. She has photos upon photos of family on every surface, many of which are old snapshots that have faded through the decades and some that are newer pictures of great grandkids. My grandmother is 92. Whenever I see her she tells me to take care of my mom the same way that my mom is taking care of her now. She tells me it’s good that I had 2 girls because they’ll take care of me too when I’m her age. She always manages to say that it might be the last time we see each other every time I visit.
After all the cousins left our apartment on Saturday, we went to our local tree lighting ceremony. I don’t think we’d ever been in all the years that the neighborhood has held them and we were surprised to see such a crowd and even news crews covering the event. Local businesses donated treats and carolers sang holiday songs. It was festive and it definitely felt like we had stepped into Small Town America (by the way, who else gets verklempt at that small biz AmEx commercial with the Simon & Garfunkel song? Well played AmEx, well played). Our neighborhood works hard to promote Small Biz Saturday and encourages neighbors to shop local – and rightly so, but in truth, many local businesses in our area have struggled with rising rents and online shopping. So many of us are trying to figure out this new economy.
I guess we’re officially in the season now, though Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year so it all feels a little less special now? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m a little less in the mood this year. There’s still time – 23 days to be exact – to feel that holiday magic.
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This year seems to be the year where I’m making good on some promises I made to myself early in the year. Some promises have come up empty when they don’t get fulfilled year after year, but for whatever reason, this one’s has been different. Maybe it’s some cosmic force at play that tries to balance the good with the bad – isn’t that a nice thought? Or maybe things come into your life only when it’s the right time.
The ironic thing about having a job is that I feel like I have more “free” time. Ok, scratch that because things are always busy around here no matter what, but what I mean is that I feel like I can schedule things without fear of every plan getting usurped by a last minute freelance assignment. What some people don’t realize about freelance is that even though you’re your own boss, you’re sort of a slave to your clients. It’s its own brand of “golden handcuffs”. You don’t want to say no because you don’t want to risk losing that client and you don’t want to say no because you might regret it when work dries up. What often happens is that you find yourself in an impossible schedule where you’re juggling too many things and working non-stop. It’s a perpetual cycle that breeds it own version of being on that hamster wheel.
So imagine my surprise when I realized that having a set schedule begets a different kind of freedom I haven’t had before (more or less – I’m still freelancing a bit on top of my job right now. What was that I just said about not being able to say “no”? Oy vey). I got rather excited when I realized that some of my time away from the office would be entirely mine again. That meant carving out regular time to work on our business, something that always seem to end up getting pushed to the back burner, and also making things with my hands.
I met my friend RJ in the early years of Etsy when the community seemed much smaller and we were all stumbling our way around twitter. I’ve been wanting to play in her studio, on her invitation, for quite a while now, but I was never able to find the time. I finally cleared my schedule this month for 2 sessions of studio time and it was the best time I’ve had in a while. Art therapy, I guess. There’s something really therapeutic about working clay in your hands and hand building objects. Can’t say whatever I made is good, but who cares. It wasn’t about making anything good and I suppose that’s the point of it all. Drawing and painting is still a bit too intimidating because these are things I studied for years, in a highly rigorous academic setting, no less. I *should* be able to do these things, right? Wrong. Insecurity, self doubt, and lack of practice does a number on anything that should make sense (hi, piano), no matter how many degrees you’ve earned. All of that goes out the window. But clay. It’s something I’m not familiar with aside from a wheel throwing class I took while in college (doesn’t everybody take a pottery class at one point?). So here’s another check mark on the list of positives this year. I’ll take what I can get, but it was a big one.
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