Balance

Over the past couple years, there have been a quite a few requests for the ‘word of the year’ necklaces.  Each woman chooses a word that is her word for that year.  Sometimes it’s ‘Courage’.  Sometimes it’s ‘Strength’.  Sometimes it’s ‘Faith’.  I’ve never chosen one for myself.  Probably because by the time I think about making one for me, it’s June and the year is half way over.  This year, I decided to make one.  My word for the year is ‘Balance’.

I think every mom has this same struggle.  The daily struggle of her list.  Whether it’s mental or written down, that list is always running through her head.  If it’s not, I want her secret.  As a work at home mom, my list may be a little different from some but it still needs balancing.  There’s a problem with my work though.  A really good problem….I LOVE my work.  Love, love, love it.  So, how do I balance my work and my personal life when my work is my personal life?  Every time my work is a little slower, I cherish those weeks that I can try new recipes, make a couple of crafts, organize a closet (or three), garden, spend way too much time on Pinterest, have a shopping trip with a friend, get my hair cut.  Each night after the kids are in bed, I gravitate towards my office.   Every night, I have my best friend who wants me to sit with him on the couch.  Another balance issue I need to work on.  That time after the kids go to bed is my quiet time.  My time to think, create, or just be.  But, it’s also OUR time.   And I need to remember that and cherish that.  So, lucky him, he’s going to watch ‘The Taste’ with me in a bit.

For years (I’ve worked from home since our oldest was a baby), I’ve tried to find that perfect balance.  The balance of doing ‘cool, fun’ mom things, housework, and ‘work’ work.  As my business grows, each busy season I tell myself I’m not going to go through another busy season without hiring help.  Then, the next roll of orders comes in and I can’t seem to find the time to think about hiring help.  Does that make sense to anyone other than me?

So, even though I have no magic answer tonight, I do have my new necklace.  I have had these oval pendants for a long time and decided to stamp ‘balance’ off to the side to remind me that even though my life is not perfectly balanced, it’s still a beautiful one.

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Canning Mandarins

 Last summer, we started canning.  After a few months of no canning, I thought it was time to get the jars out and try something new.  Mandarins.

I love mandarins on Chinese chicken salad and so why not can them before we can’t find any in the stores.  This was a super easy canning project that was finished up within 1.5 hours…with about 5 minutes to spare before Downton Abbey started last night.

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Here’s what you’ll need (besides the obvious canning supplies):

5 lbs. Mandarins

Simple syrup

Easy Canning Method:

1.  Peel those mandarins.  Helps to have a helper and thank you Mr. Farmer for volunteering

2.  Pack peeled mandarins into 9 pint size jars

3.  Make your simple syrup.  I ended up making a 2:1 ratio because I didn’t want to risk having bitter oranges.  6 cups of water, 3 cups of sugar.  Bring your water to a boil, then slowly stir in sugar.  Keep stirring until it’s boiling again and allow to boil 1 minute.

4.  Pour simple syrup into jars with mandarins, leaving 1/2″ head space.

5.  Wipe rims clean, put your lids on.

6.  Process in a boiling water canner for 10-15 minutes.  Remember to not start timing until after you’ve reached a full boil.  I like to get my water almost boiling while I’m doing everything else. That way, when it’s time to process, you don’t have to wait too long for the water to heat up.

7.  After the processing, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then take out of water and line them up all pretty on the counter.  Resist touching them for 24 hours.  *Easier said than done*

And…hopefully, that’s it.  I’m going to allow them to sit for about a week to really let that simple syrup make them taste like candy.  Then we’ll have a salad or put them on salmon before grilling.  Yum!

Happy New Year

September. 2012.  That was the last time I blogged.  Wow.

Here’s to New Years resolutions.  I have a few of them.  Want to know them in no particular order?

1.  Blog more.

2.  Eat more whole foods.

3.  Drink more water.

4.  And all the other normal ones everyone else picks….exercise more, relax more, you know….

The flu/cold bug has been in our house for 8 days and so I’m getting a little annoyed, irritated, whatever you want to call it.  Right now, my oldest is taking his 2nd nap of the day and I’m going a little stir crazy.  Just when one family member gets better, another one gets sick…then the one that got better gets sick again.  Help us!  But…I’m trying to look on the bright side and am thankful this bug didn’t enter our house until after my peak season.

I have so much to be thankful for that 2012 brought to my family, my friends, and my business.   Here’s to 2013 and all it’s wonderful things it’ll bring.

Happy New Year!

Celebrities, VIP Access, Back Stage Passes…one crazy night

Let me warn you, this past Friday night wasn’t your typical Friday night.  Well, unless you’re famous…or part of the press…or an agent…or a sound tech guy…you know, one of those.

I’ll start this story at the beginning.

A couple weeks ago I get about 7 text messages in a row from our cousins, the Flemings.  They went like this, ‘call us’, ‘hello’, ‘where you at’, ‘answer us’, ‘it’s important’, ‘CALL US’, ‘YOU’RE FIRED’.  You get the jist.

So, I call them.  ‘What do you want?’

‘What are you doing Friday, September 21st?’

‘Uhm…probably working on orders.  Why?’

‘We need you and your camera.’

‘Uhm…ok.  But why’

‘We’ve been hired to shoot an event at EMP (Experience Music Project in Seattle) and we need another photographer’.

‘I’m not a photographer’.

‘Ya, but you know how to use a camera and you know how to focus’.  (They’re so nice to me.  They own Fleming Photo Studio…check it out)

‘I’m in.’

That’s how it started.  A couple days later, more phone calls, more texts.  Details, details, details.

Let’s fast forward to the good stuff.  Friday.

Cathy picks me up and we head down to meet Randy and the rest of the ‘hired help’ at the EMP, who have been there since Thursday setting up. Cathy and I roll on in and there’s just a tad bit of nerves going on.  We have a few hours until go time so we get a tour of the EMP, I meet a lot of people (including Ted and Casey who work for Flemings), and get the run-down of how the night’s going to play out.  Oh, and we get in-ear CIA official head-sets.  Wow.  Now I felt cool.

See the little curly wire behind my ear?  You can tell I’m bored, can’t you?

Guests were scheduled to start arriving on the ‘purple’ carpet around 5pm.  They wanted us to shoot different places around the event so Cathy headed to the main entrance where the limos were and I started shooting them walking into the building.  Randy ate donuts and played solitaire on the computer.  Or was it minesweeper?  I can’t remember.

Ok, not really but he and Ted were sitting behind their computers uploading our pictures as they came in, editing them and splashing them across a couple big screens during the event.

About a half hour early, guest started to arrive.  Nerves…again.  But let me tell you, these guests knew what to do.  They were all dressed up and ready to pose and have their pictures taken.  We took pictures for quite a while and then before we knew it, it was time to come in and get ready to shoot the main event.

All of a sudden (ok, I actually volunteered to go up there), I was ushered up to the VIP lounge on the 4th floor, which overlooks the stage.  On the stage was none other than Danny Gokey, from American Idol, warming up.  The natural thing to do is hang over the balcony’s railing, try to get pictures of the top of his head, right?  Well, I’m doing this when some ‘VIP’s start coming in.

Uhhhhh…what do I do?  Just start snapping pictures of them drinking their drinks and eating their fancy food?  I guess, right?  So, I start shooting away and I focus in on some guy and start clicking.  After about ten pictures I think to myself, ‘Gee, he looks familiar’.  I discretely pull out my phone and google who I think he is.  I’m so classy.

Phone in one hand, camera in another…here I am trying to look professional while confirming that yes, that was Steven Baldwin .  Insert heart racing…palms sweating.  Not because I have the hots for him or anything, but come on…it’s Steven Baldwin.  His brother is Pete Schweddy!  (sorry).

So, I take some more pictures and then realize I should hang over the balcony again and get some pictures of Danny.  After a couple shots, Mr. Baldwin is standing right next to me.  Oh. My. Goodness.

I’m sure he didn’t notice the weirdo sneaking cell phone pictures.  If he did, oh well.

 I play cool (har har) some more and make my way around the lounge to get some more shots of important people , doing important things and then head on down to switch my memory card with Randy for a new, blank one.  This is about the time the concert is about to begin.  Let’s go back stage to get some pictures of the crowd from the view point of the performer.

There I am, back stage while Danny performs, while the president and founder of Solavei speaks, and then Cee Lo Green performs.  I’m excitedly taking pictures when someone says, get on up there and take pictures from onstage.

‘Really?  I’m allowed to do that?’

‘Sure, why not?  Just don’t get in his way’

‘OK!’, I basically scream because I’m so excited.

Here comes Ms. Sneaky, with a monster lens (you know, to look the part) and I take those steps one at a time.  Next thing I know, I’m kneeling on the front of the stage snapping pictures, I’m hovering behind the guitarist getting that viewpoint, I’m basically anywhere but in their way.  Such a rule follower.   Well, that is until I’m doing an army crawl with a giant camera and all of a sudden a roll of tape comes flying at me.  Ooops.  Apparently, I was in the way of Cee Lo’s sound guy.

‘Oh no!  I better get out of his way!’

After the celebrities did a couple songs, we had to shoot their ‘meet and greet’ out by their trailers.  More pictures, more moments of me freaking out because I couldn’t get my flash to work, more sweating and shaking.  At one point, Steven was just standing there, so I just HAD to jump on in and have Randy take our picture.

He just has a ‘look’ doesn’t he?

The last part of the event was a longer performance from Cee Lo.  I was smart and got on the opposite side of the stage this time and managed to get some great shots.  I like this one.

Cee Lo is a fantastic performer.  He had the crowd going and he was so much fun to watch and listen to.

If you’re still reading this novel,  congrats.  I’ll get to the end.  Basically, I was taking pictures with the Fleming team well into the night and I had an absolute blast.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Pretty please!??

HUGE thanks to Randy and Cathy for offering this experience to me!!  You guys are the BEST!

Week in Photos

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We picked our peas.

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We went fishing.

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We caught fish.

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We taught little hands to reel in fish with a fly rod.

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We jumped into hay piles.

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We had fun in the hay maze and on the slide.

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We went in fire trucks.

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We picked raspberries.

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We made raspberry jam.

Time for a little break

First off, let me tell you how thankful I am for everything my business has done for my family and myself.  It has been such an adventure the past 2 years, full of learning and creating.   I have had this wonderful sense of accomplishment since I started and it has felt great…but….I’m feeling overwhelmed.

During the Holidays, my business gets very busy.  It keeps me working most the day and into the night.  While I’ve had some wonderful time off with my family this year, I haven’t had the type of time off I’ve felt I’ve needed for a while.  The prep before vacation isn’t normal prep.  The prep involves trying to get every order out prior to leaving and then after the vacation, it’s back to orders and laundry.  I have been feeling for a while now that I need a vacation at home.  A vacation where I need to just be a mom and a wife.  Not a business owner.

I’ve been thinking about this for over a month and feel like now is a good time to take some ‘me’ time.  Now, I know I can’t stop working but there’s more to my business that doesn’t involve actual stamping that I miss and need to catch up on.

Plus, summer’s going to be here in the Pacific NW tomorrow, just in time for fireworks and BBQs.  The 10 day forecast says it’s going to be nice.  This is MAJOR for people in the Seattle area.  And to celebrate the 4th and summer, I’m taking a break for a while.  When I say a while, it may be a week, it may be less, it may be more.  I’m not sure.

Tomorrow will be all about family, friends, no laptops.  The next day, I’ll be wrapping up all outstanding orders and then shutting things off for a little bit.  I have a mental list of things I want to do during this time.  Here’s what pops in my mind:

  • Ride Bikes
  • Go to the zoo
  • Plan my 6 year olds birthday party
  • Create new designs
  • Organize my freezer
  • De-clutter my garage
  • Talk to friends
  • See a movie
  • Read a book
  • Can something
  • Make a summer fun list with the boys of all we want to do this summer
  • Garden
  • Wrap up some business details
  • Make some Pinterest food
  • Relax
  • Blog about all this

This list could go on and on.

Enjoy your 4th of July tomorrow.

~Betsy

Happy Friday

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Our boys finished their last game of T-ball last weekend.  This will be our first weekend with no t-ball and I know we are going to miss it.  Miss watching Jack play with his new friends.  Miss having Henry repeatedly telling me he’s hungry the whole time. 

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They finished the season, received their medals and now it’s on to summertime fun.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!