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...
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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 ...
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...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...

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...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.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rachel and Becca

Rachel and Becca turned 23 on Tuesday.  We celebrated with a dinner out at the Cheesecake Factory. My last post about them was right after their graduation.  What about since then?

Rachel is still living at home, still looking for a job.  She waitressed a lot of hours at the Piper Tavern at the beginning of the Summer, but then gave up her regular hours at the time of our trip to London.  She fills in occasionally now, but mostly is home binge-watching television or meeting up with her friends.  I'm hoping she finds a job soon.  She really wants something in or around Philadelphia as she wants to move to the city and try on city life.  Fingers crossed!

Becca finished her Internship at Doylestown Hospital Cardiac Rehab.  She is now back at Bucks County Community College, working to get her Nursing degree.  We've agreed to continue supporting her through this next round of education, assuming she does well this semester.  It's kind of make or break on that front.  Becca works as a nanny for twin 21 month old boys on Monday and Tuesday, has class and lab on Wednesday and clinical on Thursday. She uses Friday to study and work on the Kinesiology class she is taking online. It is a full schedule.  And then she does her best to spend as much of the weekend as humanly possible with boyfriend Kyle.  She's also found a very supportive study group which is something new for her, but is already proving helpful. They've managed to teach her long division!  She's the youngest student in her group - most of them are in their 40's and 50's.  I think she has become their pet project.

So, we aren't quite empty-nesters just yet. And we are still settling in to having them home full time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

London and Edinburgh

I went! And I've been back home for a month already. That doesn't even seem possible...  Here's the highlights:

Tower Bridge. Learned that it isn't the London Bridge! Went up to the glass walkway thing and looked down. Freaked out one of the family members. Lots of efforts made by certain family members to get the "perfect" Instagram worthy photo here. (On MULTIPLE occasions). We also saw Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, Big Ben... you know, all the basic touristy stops.
 Buckingham Palace. That tour was a LOT of walking - it ends somewhere around the back and it felt like miles to get back where we started.  Tried to watch the changing of the guard, but by the time we were done the tour the crowds were so thick it was literally impossible to see anything.
This is what started it all.  If you have a chance, GO! The play was fantastic and well worth the price of admission, including the expensive plane fare to get there.
 Stonehenge.  Everyone wants to know was it bigger or smaller than you imagined?  I'd say it was right on par with what I expected. And I'd love for someone to figure out why the folks who did this went to all the trouble when they were nomadic... It was cold and windy up there and we weren't dressed for it. But enjoyed it anyway!
Salisbury Cathedral. It was raining when we went in, but looked like this when it was time to leave. The building is absolutely gorgeous. Spent a nice couple of hours here.  They have the magna carta on display.
 Tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury with my blog friends. Me, Mrs. Wookie, Alexa, Jacky, and Fiona.  It was so wonderful to meet all of them and I felt so honored that they would take the time out of their schedules to travel to London to see me!  Jacky made me a beautiful mixed media montage of London and Fiona gifted me with the cutest little tissue holder (that came in very handy up on Arthur's Seat).  But the best gift of all was just getting to sit and chat with them for two hours. It was over so quickly!
 The remains of Duone Castle in Scotland - one of the sites for filming of the show Outlander.  I walked in some of the same places as Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan).  Really cool.
View of Scotland from the top of Edinburgh Castle.  This is where we started our last day in Edinburgh - after hiking up the Royal Mile to get there.
And this is the view of Scotland from the top of Arthur's Seat.  This is where we ended our day after touring several places along the Royal Mile (Mary King's Close, Holyrood Palace, lots of gift shops).  I trained all spring and summer to be able to make this hike and I DID IT! Admittedly I huffed and puffed and cursed my way to the top and arrived red-faced and breathless.  Hit a personal best of 26,659 steps this day (over 11 miles) and a lot of those steps were uphill. But the view was so worth it and I think even my family was a bit impressed that I'd done it!

London was fun, but far too busy and fast-paced for my tastes. I feel like I can say I visited, saw most of the important sites, and have no need to rush back.  Scotland was more my style. The scenery was gorgeous and since we only had two full days there, I feel that we hardly scratched the surface of what we could have seen.  I'd love to go back and spend time in both Scotland and Ireland.  We also found that staying in small flats with a family of five and doing everything together was, well, maybe just a touch more family togetherness than we were all prepared for!  The flight home was blessedly uneventful and I was back to work the next day (what was I thinking???).  I can't believe it was already a month ago.