a week ago.

i spent last weekend in DC with this girl

we had fun.

we rode bikes.

we shopped.

we walked. a lot.

we ate. a lot.

the perfect scarf for allison…at eastern market.

(and i found the perfect coat, which i will share later!)

more eastern market finds.

fresh fish at eastern market.

we laughed. a lot.

we talked. a lot.

we enjoyed afternoon lattes. and a cookie.

then i had to go home.

it’s good to have a best friend. it’s good to spend 4 day weekends with that best friend.

day 19: sweet.

my sweet friend elizabeth gave us a sweet gift of yummy & sweet apple butter!

Can you get any sweeter?

i was so concerned with getting these shots, then properly putting my camera away that…

i dropped my breakfast face down onto the dirty kitchen floor.

this is when dogs come in handy…they did the clean up for me!

{notice milo’s face is blurred….that’s because she also loves elizabeth’s homemade apple butter and is licking the floor as quickly as possible so as not to miss a single morsel of tastiness!}

oh, and yes, i did make myself another english muffin slathered in apple butter, how could i not?!

the b-line trail.

angela, lola, max and i walked on the b-line trail yesterday morning…here’s what we saw

carrot in the sky

max just wants to keep movin’!

this weekend was gorgeous. now…let’s take a minute to acknowledge how amazing it is to enjoy temps in the high 50’s in january…in indiana!

can i get a what-what?!

{if you are in bloomington, the above mural is a must see! it is guaranteed to make you smile!}

are you happy?

happy is a term we tend to use often, perhaps without thinking about the meaning. sometimes it is used lightly, insincerely, or in place of a more descriptive emotion. other times we use this word with intense feeling, gratitude and are completely aware of the magnitude of happiness.

i think a lot about happiness: am i happy? what makes this or that person happy? when have i been happy? what makes me happy? what is happy? is happiness even definable? why does my definition of happy change…does it change? am i happy enough? why am i unhappy? was i happier when….? why does this or that make me happy? why does this or that make me unhappy?

are you happy?

while on our trip to washington, dc, lola and i played this game- “are you happy?…. i’m happy!” i’m not quite sure how it started (or maybe she was already doing this and it was just new to me) but every time she looked at me with big eyes full of  2 year old sincerity and asked “you happy?” it made me extremely giddy-joyous-happy! i would reply with “yes! i am happy! are you happy?” and lola would giggle and say “i happy!”.

happiness for me is children- their laughter, their wisdom, their raw emotion, their ability to make people smile.

sometimes i ask mike out of the blue, “are you happy?” he almost always stops what he is doing, looks into my face and chuckles a little before saying, “yes, of course i am happy!” he thinks it’s a little silly of me to ask this, but i really want to know. i want to be sure he is happy- all the time- with me, in our life together, in this or that moment.

happiness for me is seeing my husband smile.

i find that i “check in” with other people i love too. i will ask my mom “are you happy right now?” when we are driving together. she laughs and says “yes, silly! of course i am happy!”) i worry about her, my sister, my aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws…i want my family to be happy, whatever that means to them.

happiness for me is a close and content family.

i even ask myself “are you happy?” occasionally. i find myself smiling when i am completely alone, and say, “huh, i’m happy right now!” i think it occurs to me that i am happy because there have been times in my life when i was decidedly unhappy. miserable and sad and lonely and lost- not at all happy. during those times if someone were to ask me “are you happy?” i may have tried to lie, but it would have been unconvincing.  i wouldn’t have meant it. i tried to be happy and i struggled with the question “what is wrong with me that i am not happy?” so, now that i feel happiness on a daily basis, i appreciate it, i honor it, i acknowledge it, and i celebrate it!

happiness for me is acknowledging/feeling happy in the here and now!

allison is by best friend. we have known each other for 9 years now. she is my oldest friend. i often tell her we are only still friends because of the work she put into our friendship. that is not to say i love her less…it is only to say i am terrible at holding on to people. i tended to push away rather than hold on. allison showed me it was safe to hold on, even rewarding! she has loved me unconditionally, given and taken advice, allowed me to be a friend and to rely on a friend. she is more to me than i even have words for.

happiness for me is allison, a best friend that never ends!

there are always aspects of our lives that could be better- more time, more money, less stress, more this, less that…. sometimes we achieve more and find we are still wanting. sometimes we get what we want and don’t even notice. but sometimes, we work to achieve more or less and find the happy balance.

happiness for me is finding and keeping my balance.

i recently realized that i was missing a community. i needed friends, people like me, women with the same interests and desires. i needed people to share with, to talk with and to be with. so, i sought out my community. for awhile i tried immersing myself into the “family” community, but i found that made me extremely sad because those people all had something i desperately wanted- children.(unhappiness for me is wanting what i don’t yet have)  i wasn’t ready for that community. so i searched more and found a community of women artists. they are artists, wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters, daughters….they are women who share my interests and my dreams. i mention these women a lot and that is because they make me very happy. i treasure the friendships i have developed and look forward to developing more!

happiness for me is being part of a community and finding friendship.

if you are a regular reader, you may know that the last year was an extremely difficult year for me and mike. i had 2 serious back surgeries which resulted in me spending a LOT of time in bed recovering and out of work for over a year now. as painful, stressful , and depressing all that felt…i still look back and think “yea, i was happy”. why in the world did i feel happy during this past year amid all the sadness, disappointment, struggle and pain? i had mike. i had family. i had friends. i had good doctors and physical therapists. i had hope. and now, i have moments when i stop in my tracks, smile from ear to ear and say “i  am pain free right now!” that makes me extremely happy! mike and i have worked very hard this past year to budget, cut back, and find alternatives…we fought, felt frustrated, stressed and scared. but we are in a good place now (not cushy, by any means), but we are making it- because we work together to make it work!

happiness for me is feeling relief from pain. 

happiness for me is being a successful team with my husband.

you may be wondering what sparked this long post about happiness. yesterday morning i finished a book called hector and the search for happiness by francois lelord. at first i found it cute, but also a little silly…i wasn’t sure where the book was going and had a difficult time getting used to the writing style. but the last few chapters really made me think about my own thoughts on happiness- what does happiness mean to me, how do i measure happiness, what does happiness look like for other people? hector travels around searching for these and other answers. he finds many “lessons” of happiness, like lesson no. 11- happiness is having a home and garden of your own.  and lesson no. 1- making comparisons can spoil your happiness.  many of the lessons hit home with me (like lesson no. 11!) some i hadn’t thought of at all. lesson no. 1 is interesting to me- making comparisons can spoil your happiness…even comparing yourself now to yourself then can either spoil or make happiness! you often hear people say “that was the happiest day of my life”, “i have never been happier”, “i can’t imagine a happier moment”, “i am happier now than i have ever been”… i myself have said some of these things. does that mean that i am truly happier in this very moment than ever before? i think not. i think we have moments of happiness throughout our lives and the most recent moment, day, experience, etc feels the happiest. that is not to say that this moment or that moment can truly pale in comparison…or even be compared at all- happiness is relative– just like pain, love, sadness, loneliness, and most other emotions. what matters is the here and now.

all that said…i challenge you all to acknowledge your happinesstoday, tomorrow, in the past, and in the future. and read hector and the search for happiness… (cause it’ll make you think and it is really quite funny- in a dry humor sort-of way!)

other things that make me happy right now

opposite of far

making things

animals:

(namely- milo, bruce, frankie, kitty, goats, chickens, foxes, owls….you get the point)

good food…and junk food

hot beverages

traditions

taking photographs

bon iver

old books, new books, borrowed books, overflowing bookshelves

a thoroughly cleaned and organized house

a messy, hectic, lived-in house

holidays, holiday decorating

snuggling under my down comforter with a book in the morning

cuddling/snuggling with mike and my pups

……and so, so much more!

i would *LOVE* to hear from you, my dear readers, about what makes you happy, your definition or understanding of happiness, or any other thoughts you want to share!

{i haven’t heard from many of you and would love to know who you are, what makes you tick, and why you read my blog!}

thanks for reading!

thankful weekend.

happy {belated} thanksgiving!

i am thankful, grateful for my ridiculously awesome husband, family, friends- old and new, being *mostly* pain free, my sweet pets, beautiful weather (and rainy weather too!), successful business, finding community, feeling content and happy…and so, so much more!

thursday.

we had a very relaxing turkey day. like, really, really relaxing. the most taxing thing we had to do was drive to cracker barrel to have dinner! my mom came to bloomington (on her harley!), we sat around, had some yummy dinner (without all the cooking!), watched the last 2 harry potter movies, then went to bed! ah…glorious!

harley mama…bundled up cause it’s cold when you ride in november!

turkey day sky

see…ridiculous how awesome this guy is!

snuggled up

friday.

every year on the day after thanksgiving the square in bloomington is illuminated at 7:30 pm. it is joyous, it is bright, it is community!

us

the harding family

little izzy

pretty downtown window

the lights!

ang & max

us again!

love.

saturday.

2011 holiday market! (i won’t repeat those photos!)

and…i had the pleasure of photographing my elizabeth’s family at her brother’s house!

long driveway

izzy…can you believe those eyes?!

holiday spirit abounds!

{elizabeth’s family photo’s to come!}

sunday.

i spent a few hours at paper crane

the rainy & cold weather was a welcome reminder that it is almost december!

i remember when holidays made me feel so sad. i couldn’t be with my family and it broke my heart. i feel SO far away from those feelings now. not only am i closer to “home” (meaning where my mama lives!), but i feel at home where i am! (home is where the heart ishome is wherever you are… and all that!)

if i can’t be with extended family, i still have family right here, in my cozy home with mike and our pets and with my wonderful friends!

*i would love to hear what you did this holiday weekend too! i hope it was a good one!*

it’s november.

another month has come and gone and i am left saying “how did it slip by so quickly”. october was the busiest month for us so far this year! here are some near family october highlights (not at all in order!):

*we enjoyed family time in indy*

jockamo pizza in irvington

*we joined friends to watch good friend matt halvorson  (and serenity fisher) play at max’s place*

*we created some family fall traditions*

amazing acres with gretchen

*allison came to town!*

(then moved to DC to start her new job!)

alli & lori at brianne’s wedding

*lola, lola, lola*

build, destroy, build, destroylola wanted grammy to build towers on her bellylola rearranging her paintings on our refrigerator

*we celebrated a beautiful wedding between 2 amazing people*

bride & groom- brainne & alex

mr. & mrs. white!

beautiful bridesmaids- lori & adri

there was a LOT of love and & joy in that barn!mike and greg grew creepy mustaches (per the brides request)

*mike turned 30!*

birthday card from mike’s mom

*opposite of far made it’s mark & some cool custom orders*

(see more custom order masks & costumes under the “custom order” tab)

opposite of far shipped all over the country, including alaska- AND to london, france and australia!penguin mask- made for a family of 4fox mask with white earssnowy owl for a hedwig costume

*opposite of far enjoyed the irvington halloween festival*

the boothelliana with near&dear doll flora in a fox masknew friends dan (& hillary) of  kin ship press (LOVE THEM!)

*my little sis got engaged!*

the happy, newly engaged couple

the ring!

*******************************************************************************************************************

See…busiest month ever! And those were just a few of the highlights! 🙂 Here’s to November being (a little) less busy!!

’round here.

as you may know, i have been a super busy girl lately- cutting, sewing, packaging, and sending up a storm! i am still reeling because it all happened so fast- last friday night i decided it was time to post the masks…and by the end of the weekend i had more orders than i knew what to do with! i have found my rhythm, my balance, and my happiness in success this week, though it has been a challenge-  and i still find & collect stress here and there like it’s my JOB, but that ugly bugger will never leave me alone, i just have to deal!

half- HALF of today’s shipment:

frankie is impressed

so impressed, she could eat the tablecloth!

do you see my new banner up there? well, my very talented friend callie designed that for me! she also designed my new business cards (which i should have by the end of the month), my new etsy banner, my new link button, and my facebook photo! i LOVE the work callie has done for me! if you are interested in contacting callie to design a unique logo, business card, or other goodies for your business e-mail her at: schlemmermediadesigns@gmail.com

thank you callie!

i took another lola break on saturday. actually i took most of the day off to catch up on stuff around the house- boring stuff like laundry, dishes, tidying up…and not so boring stuff like baking, cooking, cleaning up the yard, and planting garlic! the lola part was the best though! mike and i took her out to dinner and had a blast! we sure feel lucky to be “auntie” and “uncle” to that little lady!

highlights of our evening with lola:

lola singing a “money song” after dinner, lola seeing herself in the mirror with the owl mask on, and lola insisting on trying the salsa “mone”, and “mone” and “mone” even though she  was burning her little mouth!

(the money song goes like this (so you can sing along): “money, money, mo, mo, mo, ma, ma, money, money, ma, ma, mo!” <repeat>

saturday night mike and i had a mini-date in our backyard. we had a fire in our new-to-us chiminea. (thanks gretchen & ken!) we love having fires- we find it so relaxing. it makes us slow down. we chat and we also sit in perfectly comfortable silence. it feels so nice to be close, snuggling by the fire and just together-without distraction.

mike loves playing in the fire! he kept adding dry leaves to get this effect!

yesterday i worked my butt off! i have some pretty cool orders to send out today- 8 of my fox masks will soon be seen around…LONDON! and another little fox will be found in ALASKA in a few days! i have also sent masks to: california, south carolina, west virginia, indiana!, boston, new york, connecticut, georgia, texas, pennsylvania, alabama, north carolina, chicago, ohio, oklahoma, oregon, and tennessee!

i love the thought of my masks bringing smiles to peoples faces all over the country (and in europe too!) they have been ordered by entire families so they can all be foxes for halloween! so cute! i hope i get some photos!

so…this morning i am taking it slow to catch up a little here and remember the importance of simple things like- breathing, eating, sipping tea, and enjoying a moment. i have a LOT of work to do today, so i need to fuel up so i can get through it all without knocking myself out. tomorrow allison comes to town again (we are SO lucky!) and i want to be able to enjoy her time here!

my delicious breakfast: hot tea in my favorite mug, red grapes, and my homemade pumpkin turnover!

okay…back to the grind! at least my days are filled with doing what i love! stay tuned for stuffed fox dolls- my new addition to the *opposite of far* family! (i was planning him in my head this morning while waiting for mike to wake up! he’s gonna be GREAT!)

see all those masks? (20, to be exact) they will ALL be sewn, trimmed, and shipped out TODAY! yikes…better get to work!

baby, baby.

i apologize for my absence. i have been busy with best friends, babies and family. angela had little max 2 days ago after being 3 days overdue. on sunday night she told allison and i “it just seems like i’ll never have this baby!” well, max heard that loud and clear and decided monday (sept. 19) would be his birthday. unfortunately everyone had traveled home by the time he made his entrance. those of us who were able to stay (or come back) gushed enough love, took and sent enough photos to make the others feel like they were there too.

at first lola was a little unsure about this new baby taking the attention of her favorite people

                        snuggle time with mama, still eyeing baby max

                        now lola is ready to meet her new baby brother

everyone is doing well. they are now a family of 4, just like that! max is a perfect little thing and lola is excited to have a real live baby to cover, pat, feed (fake bottles) and hold (or try to!).

they all will be home soon and will begin the process of balancing this new little member in their family.

“baby, blankie.” lola has work to do with this baby- cover, pat, cover more, touch his eyes, cover again, pat, pat!

lots of love to angela, matt, lola and max!

p.s. angela, you totally rocked this pregnancy & birth. way to go dude!

p.p.s. and just because this is my blog:

 

saturday.

this afternoon i went to the farmer’s market/ a fair of the arts to visit the lovely Talia of conduit press and Sally of  sadly harmless. both their booths looked great! it was quite a hot day but full of energy and happy people! markets are stressful and don’t always pay off  financially, but the energy keeps you going back (as an artist).  just the exclamations of people admiring your art can make a long hot day worth the effort.

conduit press

sadly harmless

i hope Talia and Sally, along with all the other talented artists, had a great day!