Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I was a Neo-Homesteader Lifestyle Blogger

Despite the typos and badly aligned photos and other detritus in my posts, this is not my first blog. In fact, I have had many others over the past decade and a half. The one I kept the longest would be best classified as a "homesteading, coming into adulthood, parenting, lifestyles" sort of blog back when blogs were only somewhat classified. I kept that blog for almost ten years and during the time it was active, I had two farms, two children, got married/marriage fell apart, traveled through my 30s into my 40s, moved back to the city and started a career.

Back in the days of the homesteading life, I met so many other bloggers and some I have remained RL friends with many over the years despite distance and lifestyle changes. Most of our lives changed pathways as we grew older or our children grew older or our needs changed. Some grew with their homesteads, starting businesses or writing books, others gave up the ghost for new adventures  (I am in the latter group).

If you glance at my blog list on this blog, I still have some from my old blog listed despite no updates in 2 or more years. Some had already faded away and the URLs were lost between my old homesteading blog and this one. I am always hopeful they will come back and let us in on how they are dealing with life in general. I still follow many on new social media like Instagram and Facebook. I still feel as if I have known them as neighbors and friends and I hope they are all doing well. I  miss the community we had back then.

Today, while watching the news, I saw the story of a for-profit mommy blogger quitting due to the stress of having to create great money-making posts full of ideas, thoughts, happy children/marriage and "98% bullshit" (her words). Part of me feels empathy for how addicting and competitive blogging can become and part of me wonders why we ever became a competing blogging society full of pretty facades, graphic designer perfect sites and impossible ideals in the first place. They call these bloggers "Influencers", but what they influence, to me, is this strange, fake idealistic bar being set for us and, even though you may try as hard as you can, we will never meet this standard. For one, time is an element that makes this impossible. I am a full-time employee, a single parent, a single woman, borderline hoarder collector, home owner, dog mom, and community advocate and I barely have time to make sure my socks match most days. What I remember from the blogging days of yesterday was the sharing of our lives-the raw honesty (marriage stress, parenting stress, fatigue, mismatched socks), the fumbles and heartbreak (animals dying, crops failing, debt, or weather blues), the celebrations (childbirth, holidays, great crops and baby animals), the juggling of deadlines (work, parenting, farm, seasons, life), and our individual goals and dreams. I have to say I loved those days of few sponsored posts and simple, online journaling.

Now that is not to say I would begrudge someone who makes a little money or products from their blogs or that I don't read these blogs. Some of them are so interesting, pretty and colorful like a bag of jellybeans! I can see how much work they put into creating a beautiful, tailored online 'zine. And, back in the early days of blogging, I was occasionally contacted by companies to try out and write about their products and it made me feel proud. I can't say I wouldn't again say yes to trying out products and blogging about them. However, constantly happy blogs-you know the ones-full of perfect children, perfect décor, perfect meals, perfect figures, perfect photography and perfect projects, well these are really not as interesting to me as ones with a true snapshot of life. I am talking about blogs full of self-growth, real life experiences (including the painful moments), weird interests, change, failed and successful projects, celebrations when something actually does go as planned mixed in with the happy moments and just, well, full of real life moments. These blogs, like a real conversation with a sibling or friend will always hold a place near and dear in my heart and make me feel a little more like I have been a part of a much bigger society.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Potty-Life Part I

I'm baaaaaackkkk!

And, true to that greeting, if you really wanted to put an image of me all toothy smile and crazy eyes peeking around my shower curtain, you would not really be that far off from reality.
But, more on that in a second…
First, I’d like to back story it up a few months…errr, a year-ish and get caught up on why I abandoned this blog place in the first place. I swear it was not intentional!
1. As they are wont to do, the Universe has really thrown me some fast, hard shitballs in the past few years. As I mentioned in the last episode, I went through Hell otherwise known as Divorce. It was a true “Dallas” style divorce, complete with lots of drama, bitterness and mean attorneys; however, it was minus the big money and mascara-running crying scenes. Oh, wait…the crying scenes were definitely there, but the lawyers pretty much cleaned out the meager emergency fund, the tiny equity and worthless stocks, plus they even took the found-change jars and then gave us bills. As the saying goes, the only winner in divorce is the money-grubbing, soul-sucking, conflict –causing attorneys. Unlike other life events, divorce cannot be corralled to one single moment in my life. It was not like a wedding date or a birthday or even a blessed death date and no one warns you that divorce happens in a series of torturous showdowns for years to come. But enough about all of that, I am finally divorced, got the Shotgun House and I can finally duct tape back the pieces the attorneys and my ex left me and move forward. And, slowly and carefully and frugally, I have inched forward.

2. Next up on the shit-storm list has been my employment. This, too, has taken up chunks of my spirit, energy and time, but at least this circus of horrors provides a paycheck. It seems, being the youngest on the small workforce in my state (and this is probably the last time in my life I will ever be able to utter that statement) has left me the “last man standing” as every single one of my co-workers retired in the past couple of years. My employer, a huge entity in all our lives, has not back-filled and so my workload not only doubled, but tripled, then quadrupled and then…I lost count. Needless to say, other than a supervisor, I am literally (and mostly figuratively) an Army of One. I hear a rumor we may actually be hiring another person soon and this may make things easier. I won’t begrudge this point as I actually feel blessed to have a great job in my field of study (biology) and I am proud of the work we (as in me, myself and I) do.
Army of One-Note the eye rolling.
3. And, in narrowing the list down to the big 3 of shit-presents from said Universe, I will mention one other thing. It is house related. My other house, a small rental in another state, has been a huge albatross in my life. First, I had to evict a rotten tenant that helped me decide I will never, ever (probably) have another tenant. After eviction, the house could not be sold due to the issues in #1 (court-ordered hold on assets; I use this word loosely). So, it sat empty, yet cared for by my step-father. However, despite my mom and companion’s generous efforts, the house was broken into and all of the copper stolen. This was a huge blow and now I have another house to rehab besides the main one in this blog. I am sure I will share stories of that house as well as I mend her damage and hopefully get her on the market by the end of the year. In case you are wondering, the house is a cute 1933 tiny house before “Tiny House” was a TMed by hipsters.
So, back to the main topic of the blog: What do you do when the Universe insists on throwing poop at you? You remodel the bathroom is what!

I tried to create a scrapbook account of the Shotgun House bathroom rehab. In future posts I do plan to improve in the photography department and rely less on potty-mouth words, I promise (hopefully).


2012: Here is the photo the realtor took of the bathroom. I can't give credit because I can't remember the listing broker's name, but he took this in early 2012 (in case you can't see that timestamp). I will give him credit for not only photographing a small space, but making it look way better than it actually was. 

2013-2016: I bought the Shotgun in July 2012. I pretty much left it just like that for 2 years and then, in late 2013, I started to tear it apart  by removing/replacing the broken shower surround and tearing up the yucky vinyl flooring. I then lived with it in that stage for more than two years! I'm on the Slow Rehab Plan (SRP) for La Casa.


I tried to recreate the Real Estate photo complete with crappy light

2016: Current state of things is that it is almost done. I still need to install trim at the ceiling, figure out a light switch, door hardware, and install the new light fixture, but overall I am really happy for how it is progressing. The great thing about buying an abandoned, forgotten home is that you can reimagine it through your own eyes. The house, to me, has a gypsy spirit and a mysterious, New Orleans-esque vibe.














 Here are some of the features:
  1. I replaced the nasty stock vanity that was falling apart with the base of a Victorian sewing machine ($10 estate sale purchase), a found tabletop (Cheers to Big Garbage Day and free!) and a porcelain sink bought at Habitat Restore for $5. Because this house had some other crazy rehabber at some point who also liked reuse as in whatever was on the super-clearance racks at Home Depot, I had to make due with the current plumbing layout. Eventually I plan to change it all out so it looks and behaves much better. I also need to hide the loo paper.
  2. Shower surround is new stock from the Home Depot. My ex-roommate helped me replace the stained, broken one that was in there. I trimmed it out to give it a more fancy look. Sometimes, one must give in to modern to get a job done.
  3. The tiles were purchased from the Habitat Restore for a forgotten cheap amount. They are grey and green and I made a "rug" pattern. I like them, but they are super hard to keep clean (. I am not too happy about that because I think I am related to Pigpen from the Peanuts, I have two boys and two dogs, so they will probably always be dirty. A couple of tiles also slipped during installation and I missed them! It bothers me greatly to see these out of alignment, but C'est la Vie-the labor was free.
  4. The color of the bathroom is a smoky grey violet (best seen in photo below on the left) and I love it. It is kind of a darker color and I've heard you are not suppose to use dark colors in a small space or else it will make it look even smaller. The space is roughly 36 sq feet-I am pretty sure I am not going to fool anyone with the illusion of space if I painted it all white. I feel quite chillaxed in there and the color goes great with my Mexican artwork collection 
  5. The majority of the décor came from the thrifts*, gifts or travels. I am in the process of paring down the belongings and I was really selective to what would stay. Here is what made the cuts (you'll have to "I spy" for them in all the photos): Alligator dish (gift from friend);  candle (gift from friend); jar of bath salts (jar thrifted, salts a gift from my kids);  she(thrifted); mirror (thrifted); hand towels (Target Halloween clearance); Mexican Artwork, pottery & Ex Votos (thrifted and travels); Madonna bust (thrifted); tarot card sign (eBay).
  6. I am working on the towel bar which is genuine Ohio River driftwood and these really cool towel hooks. I'll update this in Part II.

*Thrifts: secondhand stores, flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, etc.

I linked my post up with this fun event:
Tuesday's Linky Party #85