Four-legged fun.

All other plans for the weekend have faded in comparison to some news my sister gave me yesterday. With very little fanfare, she and her husband brought home a new puppy the other night.

Did you catch that?! A puppy! With floppy ears and a waggy tail and soft, shiny fur! And a fat little tummy for rubbing!!

I will have photos of this momentous family development on Monday.

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The cute little cottage that wasn’t.

Do you ever have times when you suddenly have a fabulous exciting bit of news that you’re dying to share but you don’t happen to see any of your friends so you don’t tell them? (Alberta, this is exaggeration — you are my friend.) And then the news ends up not happening, so you’re really really glad you didn’t tell anyone because then you’d have to go back and retract it?

Well, that happened to me this week.

When I was poking around the Pensacola Craigslist rental ads the other day, I found one for a little two-bedroom house/cottage that was right in our price range. So I started making inquiries and things seemed to just get better and better. I mean, the place has hardwood floors, a newly remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, a fenced-in backyard, and a PORCH SWING. Seeing as porch swings figure heavily in my southern living fantasies, this seemed to be absolutely perfect. My active imagination ranged from a few tasteful redecorations upon moving in to future purchasing plans and how we are going to fit all of our (future) children into one bedroom.

And then the bad news started rolling in. The damage + pet deposits are huge, we’d probably need to start a lease a month before we arrive in order to hold it, and it’s really just a little too far from the school where Josh will be teaching. Conclusion? It will cost lots of $$$ that we don’t have, both initially and in the long run, and it will require a lot of house-type maintenance that I’m sure we’ll be up to next year.

So aren’t you glad that I didn’t tell you about the darling little cottage that, for 24 glorious hours, I thought we might move into?

In other news, I am actually getting closer to opening that second Etsy shop that I mentioned a long time ago. I finally ordered new double-sided business cards and postcards during lunchbreak (after procrastinating for, like, 3 weeks), so I just need to a) print some more stuff, and b) think of a cheap-but-tasteful packaging scheme. That’s not too bad, right?

New postcard.

I’m afraid that I’m not going to solicit opinions about the cards since I already ordered them and don’t want to know what I did wrong.

New businesscard front.

But consider this your sneek peak, to be followed by the Real Thing if you place an order. :)

New businesscard back.

Hooray, I’m not crazy.

Sorry about the lack of artsy/craftsy posts, folks: we are finally OUT of the old apartment (after cleaning, dusting, washing, sweeping, mopping, and touching up just about everything…I really want that damage deposit back!) so things should get back to normal sometime soon. Well, as normal as they’re going to be for the next few months. I squashed my first spider in the bathroom this morning, so I guess they’re getting over their initial shyness.

Anyhow, as part of the reward for finishing the apartment — and just because it’s summer blockbuster time — husband and I have been taking in quite a few movies at the local cinema (much more than usual, I should add, seeing as this is probably our last summer with two incomes and no kids). We recently caught matinees of Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones, and Speed Racer, and, contrary to all reviews and judgments of those with better cinematic taste, I think I might like Speed Racer the best.

Me and the ten-year old boys sitting behind us.

Seeing as my taste and that of the younger generation rarely intersect, I was initially a little nonplussed by this. But then this morning I saw this post over on Apartment Therapy and decided that maybe I’m not crazy after all. The movie looks uh-MAZing, people. The color palette and filming style is like a Japanese cartoon come to life, but most of all, the HOUSE is spectacular: everything from the furniture to the posters to the cups in the kitchen are absolutely perfect and done with an amazing eye for retro-kitsch detail.

So if you like that kind of thing, you should see Speed Racer. You might need a few advil afterward (for your splitting eye-overload headache), but it will be worth it.

(I think I own that coffee pot in turquoise!)

Just the usual breakfast pandemonium.

Most of you know that, after moving out of our apartment, we have set up temporary camp in my parents’ basement (their legendarily spider-filled basement, I should add). This is giving us the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with the folks and save a bunch on rent.

I don’t know how many of you have ever moved home for an extended time after having completely moved out, but it’s always an exciting process to remember all sorts of things about your family that you had forgotten. And then if you’re married on top of it, your spouse has the opportunity to see your fam in a whole new light.

Take this morning, for example. This morning’s events included:

  • me scrounging around piles of boxes in two bedrooms to find clothes, shoes, etc., to wear
  • me realizing/remembering that it is unkind to take a long, hot shower anymore, as there are three people in line afterward
  • me laughing with husband about the dog’s incredibly piteous early morning whines (her kennel is now right next to our bedroom)
  • me pouring dry cereal back into the box after I discovered another, tastier kind in the cabinet
  • me watching Cat, the Vietnamese high school student who is boarding with my parents, play with our dog, who has escaped from the bedroom
  • husband wandering around and asking if my mother (who was supposed to give him a ride to Pullman) had forgotten about him
  • father and Cat suddenly and inexplicably rushing out the door, coffee thermos and books in hand, at 7:50 am
  • father pulling all sorts of random things out of the back of the car so that four people can fit in it
  • husband and I (still confused) trying to figure out where mother’s car is and what is going on
  • father patting down all of his eight pockets for the car key and explaining a complicated transportation system that includes meeting my mother and sister at a breakfast restaurant and several people changing cars
  • father driving furiously down the hill to the restaurant and while I try all the cell phone numbers to make sure they don’t leave before we get there
  • father actually cutting in front of an oncoming vehicle in his haste
  • father pulling into the tiny restaurant parking lot only to find that a moron has parked his truck in a manner that makes it impossible for us to get by
  • father contemplating the complexities of the parking situation and how people don’t think about what they are doing and how we are going to get out of there
  • mother and sister showing up (cheerful and well-fed) to swap cars and blow kisses at us through the window
  • father sliding through mother’s now vacant parking space and rushing to get my sister to work by 8 am
  • sister pondering what would happen if father actually “jumped out” of the car, as he proposed
  • father laughing at sister, who is really quite amusing
  • father and sister exiting vehicle in a rush, me taking over the driver’s seat
  • me asking father if he is absolutely positive that he is not forgetting anything (no, he has everything)
  • me getting ready to drive away and hearing him yell my name and ask if his key are still in the car
  • me pulling into an empty parking space (thank you, orange 2 permit) and walking into office at precisely 8:05 am

I tell ya, breakfast-time was never this exciting when we lived alone. :)

(Tim, this is mostly for you.)

The advantages of bandits.

Back when it was beginning to get cold last fall, I became somewhat obsessed with The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake. It has the most perfectly northernly winter-ish sound to it, and I listened to it for a week of mornings on the bus before I eventually got around to making out the lyrics (for some reason, this tends to take me a while).

When I did, the song “Bandits” really stood out to me.

Did you ever want to be overrun by bandits;
to hand over all of your things and start over new?
While we were out hunting for food
our house was being robbed.
I caught an apple and she caught a fox,
so I caught a rabbit but she caught an ox.

So upon our return, we found everything gone
which for us was no loss
and we started over
with a rabbit and an ox.

My brother left a comment on the last post that there have been “times when I’ve secretly hoped that my apartment would burn down.” While I do not at all mean to downplay the suffering of losing all your possessions in a fire or tornado or hurricane, I know exactly what he means. When it comes to getting rid of things, I think that we would all prefer a clean sweep — like pulling a bandaid off quickly — to slow and painful sorting and decision-making. (For another look at this issue, see this excellent article by a former high school classmate.)

The problem we encounter, however, is that it generally doesn’t happen that way. There is rarely a quick fix to the amount of belongings we have accumulated: we have to open all the cupboards and closets, pull out dusty boxes, unpack the contents of crowded shelves, and choose what to keep vs. what to give away. This is such an upleasant prospect that I, for one, tend to put it off until some majorly stressful event like moving leaves me with no other choice. And we don’t even own a house, so the magnitude of our problem is a lot less than that of someone who’s been living in the same place for twenty or thirty years. (For example, I think it’s fair to say that several members of my family dread the day that my grandfather’s house comes into our possession because it is just so full of stuff. And all of it has a story and a sentimental reason to be kept, and it’s going to be a very emotional ordeal to sort through everything.)

In contemplating my desire to accumulate and the reasons why I think that I need everything I have, it’s way too easy to blame it all on advertising. I mean, it works — hey, that’s a photo of a fabulous CB2 vase that I never knew I needed! — but it’s certainly not the sum of the problem.

In my life, I think that I bring a lot of this attitude upon myself because of my ongoing obsession with design blogs. I spend way too much time looking around and planning out my next apartment purchases, even if they never actually end up happening. I love checking Apartment Therapy multiple times a day because I know that every time I do I’ll get new eye candy. Sometimes I come away with cleaning or organizing tips, but more often than not I just want something…something nicer than, or in addition to, what I’ve already got.

And if the blog world doesn’t do it to you, how about your favorite magazines? I think that Martha Stewart must own four or five large warehouses full of antiques PLUS all of their proper antique-y storage devices. Sheesh, the lady doesn’t just collect pretty pillowcases: she has stack after stack of Irish linens that have been perfectly pressed and stored on their own wooden hanging racks in the attic of one of her houses that is regularly aired out for freshness and exposed to just the right amount of sun. It’s probably a little unfair to start making fun of Martha’s foibles since a) it’s easy and b) I do enjoy quite a lot of what she does, but yikes! Have you ever really contemplated the kind of maximalism (not to mention perfectionism) that she endorses? Who can live up to that?!

In the end, I always end up at the tension between diagnosing my problem and actually doing something about it. It’s easy to say that I own too many dishes or read too many blogs and much harder to take that extra step of doing something about it. (Or not doing something that I enjoy and don’t want to give up.) I don’t want to stop reading my favorite set of blogs because I don’t want to fall behind — as though I’m so fashion-forward! — and lose touch with what’s en vogue in the world of furniture design. Stating this makes me feel kind of ridiculous, but it’s true.

So…

What to do?

What do you do?

Are there any examples you’ve seen of acheiving a nice balance in this area? Of keeping enough things to fill and decorate a simple little apartment, but successfully saying “this much and no more” and sticking with it?

If so, please share!

Back in the office chair again.

Due to a computer swap and an unexpected Outlook glitch, I found 396 unread emails waiting for me when I sat down at my desk yesterday morning. In one account.

(It turned out that at least 300 of them were duplicates of old emails — each of which had to be carefully, individually weeded out — but then I discovered another 70 or so in a separate file. Oh, and then there were the 78 in the other account.)

Not my idea of a “welcome back” present.

Enough about work, though…I’m sure you’re dying to hear all about the moving sale. (Right?) Well, it was Big. Since I spent most of my time running around with a distracted look on my face, I neglected to take any photos of the absolutely enormous quantities of stuff that we sold. So suffice it to say that we filled up our kitchen counters, some cabinets, two bookshelves, a desk, a table, a couch, and a lot of other miscellaneous shelving with sale items. And, quite to our surprise, most of them sold.

We like to think that our friends got most of the good bargains and that our dishes and toaster and blender and ottoman will be quite serviceable to someone else for years to come. I view this part of the sale as being successful in that needed items were redistributed from people who can’t use them anymore (=us) to people who can.

In other ways, though, I found our moving sale to be kind of disturbing. It was a little shocking to line up all of our possessions and find out how many of them we didn’t actually need. As husband mentioned to me later, we accumulated an awful lot of goods in order to meet what we projected that our needs were going to be, not what we actually found that they were. The wedding registry is a classic example of this — we registered for a number of kitchen gadgets and towels and whatnot that seemed so essential at the time and yet turned out to be just a bunch of stuff to fill up the cupboards. And my registry was a lot smaller than some of the others that I’ve seen!

As I was ferrying boxes back and forth, I spent some time listening to NPR’s coverage of the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in China. And as I thought about the people who had just lost everything, I felt very disgusted with my desire to accumulate: I have spent so much money on what is unnecessary, even within the context of our affluent sociey.

Back when we were initially tallying up our moving expenses, I worried that we wouldn’t have enough money to re-purchase all of the things that we were selling after we move to Florida. Now, however, we are wondering if a lot of these things actually need to be replaced. A lot of the furniture will be, for sure (bed, couch, dresser? I think those are pretty important) but a lot of the do-dahs and decorations and dishes just aren’t necessary. We packed only the four stovetop pans that we really use and sold all but one set of dishes. The new goal: to not immediately buy back all the rest.

I have more thoughts about this issue and would really like to hear what you all think as well. How much is too much? How do you justify a lot of your belongings when you know that other people own far less? What things have you gotten rid of that you later missed, and what have you kept that is completely unnecessary? I think that there’s good grounds for discussion here, especially since it ought be more than hypothetical and involve some actions in the end.

But for now, I live you with my favorite quote by William Morris: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. 

What do you think?

A big big big moving sale.

Spending all of yesterday digging through piles of old insurance bills and artwork didn’t improve my mood a whole lot, but things are beginning to perk up today. Most of the wall decor in the apartment has come down, which is a sure sign that Something is Happening. We have also started pricing various items and it is a bit odd to look at the familiar dining room lamp and find it labeled “$10.”

Speaking of labeling, the number of round orange sticky notes has been escalating to the point where I wonder how we are going to display everything that’s for sale. For you, local readers, this is a good thing: Do you need champagne glasses? a leather office chair? a tv? ironing board? vases? We got ’em. And because we know that some of you don’t enjoy getting up early to go yard sale-ing on Saturday mornings, we are even providing you with a special, Friends-of-the-Gibbses Preview Sale. (If you’re reading this, you qualify.)

The nitty gritty is:

Preview Sale: this Friday, 8:30-10:00 or so PM
Yard Sale: Saturday, 8:00 AM – noon
For Sale: various pieces of furniture (couch, table and chairs, cabinet, low credenza, side tables, desk and hutch, nice office chair, misc shelves, etc.); dishes (set of Ikea dishes, set of vintage dishes, lots of assorted coffee and tea cups, glasses, etc.); kitchen wares (nice Cuisinart pots and pans, blender, toaster, toaster over, microwave, serving utensils, etc.); linens (new and vintage placemats, tablecloths, etc.); wall art (various posters and prints, including some of my own work and a couple of prints by Emily of The Black Apple); books; records; cds; and tons of stuff that I am forgetting.

Oh, and I am also clearing some fabric, notions, vintage patterns, and art supplies out of my craft room. And I am getting rid of some sample prints — including the first run of alphabirdybet letters — from my shop, as well as nice prints of older art school work and a pile of hand-developed photographs.

Sound like fun? Please help spread the word (Facebook invite, anyone?) and stop by on Friday or Saturday! Even if you don’t buy anything, it will be fun to survey our ridiculous amount of stuff and say hello. :)

The Office (my own version).

I try not to blog about work very often since it’s all-too-often going to be a complaint or a story that ought not be made public. So I didn’t say anything about my glorious last seminar EVER last Wednesday and how I managed not to mess up the speaker’s schedule or the A/V equipment. (This was in fact a high point of this semester’s seminar series, as (a) all manner of scheduling problems have arisen with recent speakers, and (b) I have have consistently dealt with projector and laptop problems, which result in 60 people staring at me and pondering my incompetance as I fumble with various cords. Not fun.)

Today, however, I am unable to think about anything besides my job and am going to go ahead and write a bit about it because a lot of you readers are my friends and I would really appreciate a little moral support right now.

Most days of the week I dread coming in to the office and spend the bus ride thinking about all the things I need to accomplish and how many of them can go wrong. Now, I generally manage to avoid most of the unpleasant fruits of the imagination (like that meeting with your boss that you are sure is going to be horrible and then turns out to be pretty good in the end). Lately, however, this hasn’t been the case, and the correlation between “that which I am dreading” and “that which actually happens” has been unusually high, which is causing me to lose faith in the it’s not going to be that bad philosophy.

Take this morning, for instance. Yesterday afternoon, one of my “bosses” (whom I really, really like) asked me to call a last-minute meeting of an important committee. Five minutes after I cheerfully sent the email, I started to think about what he wanted to talk about. And I became convinced that he was going to announce his resignation.

I spent all of yesterday evening and all of this morning pondering this possibility.

And then he did.

To clarify, I am not upset at the decision itself. He is a very overworked and overstressed man, and I had been wondering for a while how he managed to keep going. The particular job in question is purely voluntary and waaaayyyy more than any sane person can fill while managing a productive, fully-funded research program. I am very happy that he doesn’t have to do this any more.

Quite selfishly, however, I am upset that I am losing someone who was kind, personable, and easy to work with, as I doubt that his replacement will share all of these characteristics (this person is TBD, by the way, so I am not referring to anyone in particular). It sounds cheesy, but he was my friend as well as my boss and I will miss seeing him every day. I am also faced with the situation of needing to pass along large quantities of information to this new person and my yet-to-be-hired replacement at the same time as I help plan and manage an international conference, finish all manner of program-related projects, overhaul a large website, and write a fairly complete manual for How To Do My Job before I wave goodbye on July 25. Just thinking about it makes me kind of nauseated.

So I am hoping that, given these circumstances, you will forgive me for not coming up with exciting blogging topics, new photos, or new art for the ol’ Etsy shop. I simply don’t know how to do it all.

(If you would, please pray that we can sucker convince someone else to fill the position that is being vacated as soon as possible. Otherwise, either I or our rather unwieldy committee will need to pick up a lot of slack, and I don’t think that the results will be pretty.)

Finis.

I finished my photo-sorting project last night. Well, the wedding photos are still left to do, but those are far fewer and can be dealt with later.

As I look at these (very grainy) photos, it doesn’t seem as though I downsized all that much.

It’s hard to communicate just how dense everything is — each of those little tiny books contains, like, 60 photos. And then there are the big ones, the medium ones, and my two half-hearted attempts at scrapbooking.

All of which has been reduced to this.

So let me assure you that I sorted and selected and threw a lot of photos away. The orange box is full of negatives, since they don’t take up all that much space and I can’t bear to part permanently with some things just yet. But even so, my photo collection has gone on a major, major diet.

Ahhh.

Now on to the rest of the apartment.

(The cabinet above is a sneak preview of our moving sale, which will be next Saturday, May 17. It’s, like, 10% of the kitchen/random decor items that we’ll be getting rid of, so if you’re in the market for some stuff be sure to drop by! We’re having a special preview sale at our place on Friday night at 8:30 pm, for those who want first pickings…)

On clutter.

This post on Apartment Therapy is worth reading.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, a coworker kindly informed me that the remaining Ren Fair posters are available at (where else) Tie Dye Everything. So if you’ve emailed or left a comment wondering if you can get one and I told you that you can’t, I was wrong…just toodle down to Main Street and pick one up for free.