Monday, May 8, 2017

Memos, Mail & Me: On The Road Again

Linking up with Sian and all the Mondayers...

I went to Belize with my sister Deanna


- we both were desperately in need of...

... some away time


... some down time

... some disconnected time

and Belize was just what the doctor ordered!
Visiting the Mayan Ruins at Xunatunich



It was fantastic! We spent most of the time just chilling and getting to know the staff at the resort. Except for the one day that we did a day tour to the mainland - hiked the mayan ruins at Xunatunich, zip-lined through the rain forest, and went water tubing through a cave, and came home physically exhausted but emotionally exhilirated.


And could barely walk for the next two days! We exercised muscles that have likely gone long unused. But it was what my spirit needed to refresh. Just what the doctor ordered.

But the doctor would have advised against this....

Got this my last day at the resort while sitting in the shade, under an umbrella... not just a sunburn, but some kind of rash on my legs and tops of my feet... possibly an allergic reaction to the kelp we waded through for all of about 30 seconds... itched, burned, stung for days.  I came home May 1st and the rash is finally gone, just sunburn remains, waiting to peel...

And now it's May 8th and I'm on the road again - back to Rockville and Baltimore for work.  And suddenly I'm not dreaming of away time... can you believe I'm dreaming of just staying home for a bit?

Mail?  Just bills and sales flyers. 😒

Monday, April 24, 2017

Memos, Mail & Me - Life is Full

Yes, I've been noticeably absent again.  😞

March went by so quickly.  And then I blinked and we were 3/4 of the way through April.  How did that happen?

I've written to you all dozens of times in my mind. Somehow making the time to get here and post just doesn't happen even when I have stuff to say.

I miss blogging.

I miss YOU.

I can't make any promises that I'm really back... but I'm trying.

March was a banner month at the Andrews household.  Really and truly.

Rachel found a new job at a really good starting salary for a recent college grad working for Entercomm in Bala Cynwyd.  An honest-to-goodness full time job with a salary and benefits!  She started March 6th. After her first day driving into the city and back, she came home and announced that she was OVER the commute.  Three weeks later, on April 1st, we moved her into an apartment in Manyunk.  An eight minute commute to work. She has her own bedroom with a private bath, but shares the common space with three other young women.  It's a nice place - not great parking, but she's happy to be in the city and that's what matters.  She is now really on her own for the first time and it is scary and exciting and frustrating and fun all at once. And her support network is a mere hour down the highway.
My orchid plant blossomed - which seems to happen every other year.  But the flowers are gorgeous this time!


On March 17, after FOUR. LONG. YEARS. of searching (while employed at a soul-sucking slave labor IT job for a company that makes a practice of purposefully demoralizing their employees), Jay was offered a new job which he started on April 10th.   It is similar work and similar pay as what he was doing, but so far the new job is super laid back and his boss seems pretty nice.  So yay!

Then, on March 23rd Becca FINALLY got her letter from Lehigh Carbon Community College and she was ACCEPTED (YAY!!!) into their highly competitive Physical Therapy Assistant program. They get like 200 applicants a year and only accept 35. She will start in August. And we are breathing a collective sigh of relief ... because Becca has both A.D.D. and generalized anxiety disorder, the waiting for an answer so that she knows where her life is head next was stressing her out big time. The girl absolutely requires routine, consistency, and long-term planning to stay sane. But now we know and she can move forward. She is so excited and we are all pleased and so proud of her.
I bought myself sunflowers for Easter.  

We had unseasonably warm temperatures back in February (yes, it has been that long since I chatted with you all), but then along came snow storm Stella in mid-March and dumped nearly a foot in our neck of the woods.  Our very confused daffodils, which had started shooting up way too early, were buried.  And yet...

After the snow cleared, they still managed to flower, although the heads were laying on the ground.  April 14th.




















We also have a profusion of these:




























I don't even know what these are, but they came up on their own several years ago and have multiplied each year.  Now they look like an intentional planting, in big bunches in the front shrub bed.

Over the last week, Spring has really taken over.  All the trees are leafing out, the flowering trees are filled with blossoms, it is all so pretty and green... and yet, I've felt oddly disconnected from it all this year.

I leave on Wednesday morning for a girl trip with my sister Deanna.  We are headed to a tropical island.  We are planning to sit in the sun, read books, walk the beach, and generally just take it easy. As a plus, there is truly limited internet access and I won't have cell phone service as I'm not activating an international plan.  So I'm hoping this will be just what my soul needs.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Memos, Mail, Me: Happiness Is

Hello Sian and all the Mondayers!

My favorite mail this week was this:




























I mean, how can you not love a brown paper package tied up with string?  Inside was the cutest little book:

And throughout the book Deanna had colored things and drawn hearts and written cute little comments.  Adorable!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Memos, Mail, Me: The Shop

So I'm finally creating the time/space in my life to take a stab at joining in with Sian and the Mondayers!   Hello!

My most interesting bit in the mail in this past week was this book:
Image resultI just completed a 28 day challenge based on the book The Fast Metabolism Diet - which required changing your allowed list of food every 2-3 days. Having found it confusing and difficult to get into the flow, I was looking for a new challenge that would continue the healthier food choices but would be simpler to follow.  The concepts are very similar.  The biggest differences - the FMD allowed certain carbs (oats, brown rice) two days a week but limited healthy fats (oils, avocado, nuts, seeds) to three days a week.  The Whole 30 eliminates ALL grains including the "pseudo" grains like quinoa and all legumes, but allows healthy fats every day.  Both eliminate wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, and corn.  So I'll be starting the Whole 30 tomorrow (took a couple of days off because I haven't yet done my meal planning and grocery shopping for the week).  I'll have to come back after trying a recipe or two and let you know what I think!

On to the "me" bit of this missive -  a story I've been meaning to tell for a long while now... as you all know, after getting bitten by the flea marketing bug, Jay and I opened "Shop" at the Black Rose Antiques Mall in Allentown in September of 2015.  I managed to post a few interesting finds and then fell off the blogging wagon and left our progress untold.  So...

We were really just hitting our stride at Black Rose and making rent most months when, with less than two weeks notice, the management told us the Black Rose store in Allentown was closing and we needed to have everything moved out by the end of May.  They promised us that a new store would be opening in Phillipsburg N.J. with a target date of late July.  But we didn't want to have to put all that stuff in storage, nor bring it home... which led to a frantic search to find a new home. Which we did.

We opened at Quaker Antique Mall, less than 15 minutes from home, on June 1, 2016:

So this was the space we moved into at Quaker.

This is what the booth looked like in October after we were well settled in (in fact, starting to bring in Christmas items).  The space is long but narrow enough that you can't create two aisles.  The only way to use the space is to pile things against all the walls and leave the center open for people to come in.

It was when we were in the process of moving in that we quickly realized that the space simply wasn't large enough for all the STUFF we had moved out of Black Rose.

So we added a second smaller booth at Quaker - shown below.
A teeny tiny corner booth with a lot of visibility that we affectionately called "guy land" as most of the stuff that ended up in this section was tools, tool boxes, lanterns, cars, and well.... guy stuff.

We had both booths from June 1, 2016 until last weekend.  In mid-December we finally got word that Black Rose was opening up in their new location in Phillipsburg N.J. - with an opening date of January 1, 2017.

So the week between Christmas and New Years we pulled some STUFF out of Quaker Antique Mall and pulled a LOT of STUFF out of our living room and moved into our new space at Black Rose in Phillipsburg:
Coming in before the store was even open to the public had its advantages.  We were able to scout a booth that is right on the main aisle between the front door and the back door of the store.  And although this one is oddly shaped, it has a LOT of wall space for hanging items. And is fairly well lit and has very highly ceilings, providing a more open feel.

On the down side, this location is a 50 minute drive from home, so it is not possible to check status more than once a week.

It took us no time at all to get to the point where it is already over stuffed and we are hoping for some big sales to move items out and thin the inventory a bit.

Last weekend we moved the last items out of guy land and ended our lease on the smaller space at Quaker Antique Mall, retaining the larger space there, in addition to our new space at Black Rose.
 And that is how I have come to have not one, but two shops, in two very different locations.  With apparently very different clientele.  Stuff we had FOREVER at Quaker has sold quickly at Black Rose.  Other things seem to sit at both locations.  We'll be moving items back and forth between the two stores until we learn what sells best where.  We are also navigating two very different sets of "rules" - one store provides no reports, pays out once a month, and charges a commission on top of rent - the other provides a daily email of items sold, pays out twice a month, and doesn't charge commission, but does charge for credit card sales.  So we have to determine if one or the other is particularly more profitable or if it is all just a wash and we're happy in both locations.  Either way, when flea market season opens again in April, we'll have a much better handle on the type of items to look for - no longer novices in the business!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hello 2017!

Normally I would have my year well laid out before it even began.  With the merger at work, the time I would have spent reviewing 2016 and planning for 2017 was diverted to other endeavors and I have entered 2017 feeling somewhat unprepared.

I had my own favorites among all the signs at the
Frisco Mercantile. I'm including some I took that weren't
in Melissa's post.
And yet, not entirely...

My word for 2017 made itself evident to me as early as last October.  I lived with it, thought about it, searched for alternatives, but ultimately came back to the word that was whispering in my ear... SELF.  Not as in SELF-ish, but as in SELF-care, SELF-discovery, SELF-fulfillment.

In trying to crystallize my intentions for 2017, I used SELF as an acronym for the following:

Show up and Be Seen.
Express Gratitude.
Love Yourself. Love Your Life.
Feed Your Soul.









My areas of focus for 2017 include:

Authenticity - be true to myself, be more self-aware, stick up for myself, ask for help when I need it, don't be a doormat, be vulnerable, allow my friends and family to get to know the real me, stop hiding behind always being the responsible one and putting everyone else's needs first.
Gratitude - express gratitude every day. Tell people when you appreciate them. Write thank you letters. Keep a gratitude journal.
Health - Eat better. Move more. Make self-care a priority. Get a massage at least monthly.
Adventure - Try new things, visit new places, really live out loud.
Creativity - take nature walks, participate in online classes, unleash your inner artist and give her lots of time to play, explore, and discover.
Simplicity - continue to declutter all the excess from my life so that I have the time for all the other good things.

While I can readily admit that some of these items have been on my intentions list for years, I have the deep sense that with my focus being on meeting my own needs first, this year will be different for me.  That said, I also felt strongly that I couldn't keep doing the same things I've been doing all along and expect different results.  So I'm really changing it up this year!  I did NOT enroll in FIT 2017.  I love, love, love Cathy Zielski but I needed some new input into the health portion of my journey.  I did NOT enroll in One Little Word.  I admire Ali Edwards and adore the whole word of the year concept, but I felt I had more than enough experience with her prompts (I've been in her class every year since she started it) that I didn't need that this year to keep my word and my intentions front and center in my life.   

On the other hand, I adore my online classes and communities and wasn't about to give that up!  So for 2017, I'm enrolled in:



A Year In The Making - this class with Karen Russell (you may have heard of her from her Photographer's Workshop classes) actually started last September and is closed.  Each month we have four focus goals/intentions - one is for decluttering a specific area of the house, one is health-related, one is personal growth related, and the last one is a focus on a specific photography skill.  

AYITM and all that goes with it probably would have been more than enough to guide me through the year, but there were two other classes that really spoke to my soul, so I signed up...

The Magic of Myth - with Elizabeth Duvivier - is about the hero's journey.  And somehow I feel like this year I am on a journey to become my own hero. This class is also already closed. So I'll learn some things about myths and how they still apply to our lives today and immerse myself in a little bit of woo-woo kinda stuff and hopefully find some solid takeaways for my life.

Wanderlust 2017 - taught by Kasia and Jamie Avery - is a yearlong art journaling class with a host of special guest teachers including notables such as Dyan Reaveley and Lorraine Bell.  And I jumped into this one with all my heart because I seriously MISS my art journaling in the worst way!  I'm hoping that having paid good money for this course will motivate me to actually spend some time getting messy - it's the "feed my soul" part of this year's intentions!  And if this one interests you... it is still open!  And at $99 it is a really fair price for all the content.

Basically what I've done is add three year-long classes on top of a full time job that is expanding and pushing me well beyond my comfort zone, and a part-time job running not just one, but two, antique shop sites.  Add to that my commitment to get back to blogging and I think I've got the perfect recipe for my own kind of crazy beautiful life!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Goodbye 2016...

I know it's been like FOREVER since I've been here...

... you all seriously do not want to hear the details about all the hoops and crazy I had to jump through at work to get our big merger to happen on December 31, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. as advertised. But it did!  And now we roll up our sleeves and begin the work of truly integrating these two companies... I predict more months of crazy ahead...

... what happened since I was last here?  Hmmm... Thanksgiving, Jay's Birthday, Christmas, New Years, ...

While the world was busy falling apart with shocking political votes, immigration crises, wars, the Zika virus, etc., the Andrews family was busy having a fantastic year!

We had a graduation ceremony...
Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, outdoor

A couple of quick trips to the shore...


















which always involve Manco pizza... mmmm....


















...An amazing family trip to London to see the Harry Potter play...
... a meetup with blog friends!
...then on to Edinburgh, where I managed the climb to the top of Arthur's Seat...
















... my FIT feat for the year! Between the royal mile, Edinburgh castle, and Arthur's Seat, I clocked over 25,000 steps that day!...

...Sarah moved back home from D.C. at the end of August.  Inside of three weeks she got a new job (Program Manager at Lehigh University's Executive Education department), quit the old one, bought a car, found an apartment in Bethlehem, and moved back out... a LOT of adulting happening there!  I love having her so much closer to home.  And during that 3 weeks of madness, she also managed to accompany me on a trip to visit my mother ...
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing, eyeglasses, closeup and indoor
...where we snuck in a brief meetup with Melissa!

...At the end of October, I donated 9" of hair...

I like this length so much better!  My family doesn't, but then they don't have to wear it, wash it, style it....
...Becca found a job as a Physical Therapy Aid and dropped out of nursing school.  The pressure was killing her.  She's applying to a couple of programs to become a Physical Therapy Assistant, something I think she will excel at!
...Rachel accepted a job as Administrative/Marketing Manager for a Real Estate team, doing their website work, brochures, flyers, etc. and inputting data on listings to the multiple listing service.  They are both still at home and saving money to move out... maybe next summer... and I've told them both repeatedly I'd be happy to have them stay here IF they would just clean up after themselves!  Really, it's ridiculous...

...We had a great Christmas - here's the photo of Jay and the girls that will go in his Birthday book...

and the photo of all of us at the Golden Pheasant Inn for Christmas Eve dinner...

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling
...the extra is Becca's boyfriend Kyle.  We had a lot of fun with the christmas crackers... first time!

...On December 27th we moved into our new shop space at the Black Rose in Phillipsburg, N.J....


Other than the furniture pieces, the vast majority of the "stuff" you see here came out of my living room and to say I'm glad to have it moved out would be a gross understatement!  So we are now running two shop sites, this one and one in Quakertown... but I never told you all about that, so I'll have to catch you up in a future post.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Across The Divide

I cried myself to sleep last night.  I awoke to a grey, gloomy, rainy day in which Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. I'm still processing.  I think I'm grieving for the loss of the America I thought I knew and loved.

Let me preface this by saying politics is so not my thing. I usually don't discuss it publicly because I have family, friends and co-workers who don't think the way I think or believe the way I believe.  I respect their right to think and believe differently. I don't want to alienate or hurt anyone or destroy friendships that are otherwise enjoyable over a difference in ideology.  Although I am extremely grateful for the right to vote, there isn't much about the process I enjoy. In fact, I detest the incessant phone calls, heaps of mailed flyers, and endless negative advertising that we are forced to endure in any election year.

This campaign year was the worst ever. I was unhappy with the choice of candidates, embarrassed that this was the best America could offer for the highest position in the nation,  praying that a strong third party candidate would arise that I could get behind.

When it didn't happen, I spent a lot of time clicking through articles and trying to divine just what each candidate was promising to accomplish if elected. Trying hard to ignore all the bashing of the other candidate and all the negative advertising and just get down to the issues. Not easy, considering that neither candidate did a stellar job of clearly articulating their plans.  I knew Trump wanted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but no clue what he would put in its place. I knew Clinton was promising to create jobs, I wasn't clear on how. The protection of equality for all (regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ability), the protection of our environment, the protection of a woman's right to autonomy in her own medical decisions, the protection of those seeking asylum from terrible situations not of their own making, among other things, informed my vote.  

As I was watching the election coverage last night, I was dismayed to learn that the support for Trump wasn't really about being Pro-Life or defending the right to own guns (maybe some of it was). It was about an army of poor working class white men (and women?) who feel their voices have been marginalized in favor of every other segment of the population (minorities, women, the disabled, LGBT, non-evangelical Christian religions, etc.), whose pay has stagnated, who have been left behind by the country that they loved. I imagine it is hard for them to accept that the country is growing and changing, and that soon they won't be the majority. Last night they made their voices were heard, loud and clear.  As a nation, we have to own that maybe we didn't listen when it mattered.  Maybe they have a point that needs to be considered.

But it hurts my heart that this economically disenfranchised group were so desperate to change the status quo, to shake up Washington, that they were willing to chance a vote for an openly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-mongering, violence inciting, tax cheat for the hope of a different future. I believe that the majority of these folks are decent, honest, hard-working people who don't condone the hate rhetoric spewed during the campaign. At least I hope so. If not, our country is far more screwed than I imagined.  I'm not naive enough to miss the factions of white supremacists who would love nothing more than to kick to the curb everyone who doesn't look or think or pray like them. That kind of hatred exists everywhere in some form.  But I like to believe that they constitute a rather small percentage of the population.  At least I hope so.

So today I'm processing what went down.  The pragmatic side of me acknowledges that in another week or month (or maybe not until after he takes office), everyone will settle into the reality that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States.  They will move on with their everyday lives.  The stock market will settle. We will begin the arduous task of trying to reunite this country. We are far more divided than I knew or was willing to believe possible, as evidenced by the nearly even split in the popular vote.  

Already Trump has surprised me. First that he won. And second, that his victory speech was almost presidential. He didn't gloat. He sounded sincere about wanting to be the President for "everyone."  (Which I admit is totally at odds with comments he made about women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, and Muslims during his campaign).  I hope that Trump will bring some good to this country, that by shaking up government he will be able to make a positive change in some way. I hope he will prove wrong all of our fears about his capability to fulfill the highest calling in the nation. I hope that his "crazy" was an act, a means to an end, and that we are not giving a man who is truly mentally ill the keys to the kingdom. I don't have to like him at all to hope he succeeds as our President. I will join the rank and file in granting him a peaceful transition to power and pray that he is a quick learner and can step up to the job of being leader of our country.

As for me, I can't change the results of the election, but I can accept them gracefully and without rancor. I can work within my own sphere of influence.  My intention is to live my life as fully and as happily as I can. To be as kind and generous as I can. To commiserate with those who think and believe like me.  To reach across the divide to those who don't, and to find common ground to move forward. I intend to let my light shine as brightly as I am able.  And I hope that whatever good I do, whatever love and kindness I show, whatever light I shine, will help to balance the scales against fear and hatred, and help to light the darkness.