Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Spring 2021 Sewing Class Update

Hi friends!  I have a very long list of things to do today, but I had to swing by quickly to share something with you.  I'm so excited at the progress I'm making in sewing class! 

This morning in sewing class, I pinned and sewed together the dolphin body, nose, tail and tummy pieces!  The fabric doesn't line up correctly on one side, but it's the same location that I have to hand sew after turning it and stuffing it, so I'm hoping that I can manipulate that part by hand.  Regardless, I'm so proud!  It looks like a dolphin!

This week, my instructor brought in her plush dolphin that she completed last night so I could see what it'll look like when it's done.  It's super cute!  I can't wait to finish mine!

Hopefully, mine will be done after my next class.  I have a few small tweaks to make next week, then I can turn it and put the stuffing inside!

After I finish my dolphin, I'm planning to join the class project to make pillow cases.  I don't think it'll take me two classes to complete them.  While they're moving ahead to another project, I'm hoping to work on the valences for our living room, kitchen and dining room before class is over.  My fabric actually just arrived in the mail from overseas yesterday.  After putting off ordering it for three years, I finally have it in hand!

Hopefully by the end of my spring sewing class, I'll have a plush dolphin, pillowcases and some valances to share with you!  I've only got three classes left so it's time to put it into high gear in order to get everything done!  °o°

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Blog Layout and Design

Today, I'm outlining the upcoming major changes in my journey to update and rebrand my blog.  As I've mentioned many times, something that I've really wanted to do for a very long time was to update and personalize my blog.  When I started back in 2013, I knew absolutely nothing about building a website, coding, HTML, or anything blogging related.  All I knew back then was that I enjoyed writing and telling stories.

When I started blogging, I wasn't even sure if it was something that I was going to do long term, or if it was just a season in my life.  I never imagined that I'd really enjoy it and still be going strong 8 years later.  If I'd known then what I know now, I probably would have taken more time to set it up properly back in the beginning.

I've learned a lot over the past 8 years.  I've read so many different "how to blog" posts online.  I have a secret Pinterest board that's filled with blogging links.  It appears that everyone has an opinion on the "correct" way to do it.  I've learned a lot through these posts, but the greatest thing I've learned is to go with my gut.  So that's what I'm doing.

After a lot of waffling back and forth, I've decided to stick with Blogger.  Some people change to Word Press but I've been really happy with this platform.  According to people who "know" more that I do about blogging, Word Press will give you more customization options, more flexibility, etc. but this blog is a passion project, not my full time money maker.  Maybe if I was more serious about it, I'd want to look into other options, but for what I'm doing, this is working.  Plus, it's easy to use and navigate.  As nervous as I was about updating my blog, Blogger has made it easy and stress free.

Plus, I haven't actually looked at all of the options at my disposal in years.  When Eliot and I were working with Elissa on her new blog, I realized how many options I really had.  When I started my blog, I simply went with the website layout I liked best, and I made a few changes at the very beginning.  I never went out of my way to change the background photo or the colors.  I added a few gadgets, but left it at that.

While playing around with my blog in an effort to try to use it as an example to help Elissa, I realized how many options I had to customize layouts.  While she played around with different options for her new blog, I explored the possibilities of layouts, colors, fonts and more to update my own.  When I started my blog, I didn't spend any time looking into the possibilities.  If I'd known how many customization options I had at my disposal, I probably would have done something much sooner.

I'm happy with the way my blog is laid out for the most part.  I don't really see that changing very much as I'm happy with the text layout and sidebar.  After posting my first blog update post, that same night I started to tinker with updating my sidebar.  A few minutes later (and after almost 8 years) I can finally say my sidebar is wide enough to accommodate the images without cutting them off on the right side!  If only I'd known how easy it would have been to fix it.  That's been driving me crazy for years now.

There are a lot of other things I'd like to tinker around with as well.  I've wanted to add pages and to streamline the labels on my posts for a few years.  When I first started my blog, I was willy nilly with the labels and I often used way more than I needed to in each post.  (That's using Etsy rubbing off on me.)  In order to help people find what they're looking for (including myself) it'll be easier if I update and streamline the labels.

I'd also like to add some pages to my blog.  Most bloggers have a separate page for a longer "About Me" page and I'd like to do that.  I've also always wanted to add a page introducing our friends and family that I frequently reference on my blog.  In addition to that, there are a few legal pages that I want to add in order to start doing the affiliate marketing that I plan to start doing over the next few months.  Plus, I'm hoping that I can use the pages feature to make it easier to separate some of my reoccurring and segment posts.  I'd love to have a quick way to find more of my posts like DIY, style and Disneybounding, our house, merchandise, small shops, traveling, and holidays.

Finally, the part that I'm most looking forward to is updating the design of my blog.  I went to college for interior design and I love color so this comes as no surprise.  I'm looking forward to changing the background photo from the blurry window view.  I am also really excited about updating the colors and maybe even the fonts.  It's amazing how different it already feels even though I've only updated my blog header photo so far.  My logo was with me from the very beginning and I've grown attached to it.  But at the same time, I'm ready for a new look.  And it's time to freshen up a bit!

If things look a little out of place over the next few weeks, please give me a little bit of grace as I'm not sure how long it will take me to make these updates and changes.  I'm not sure exactly how I want the final look, so I might play around with a few different combinations while in the process of getting there.  In the end, I'm hoping it will be more streamlined, modern, easier to navigate and that it will feel more like me.  °o°

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Juggling Act

So much has been happening the past few weeks... I feel like I'm in a time-warp.  Time is flying by, yet I feel like I've been much more productive this past month.  I've been sharing a lot about our daily lives more recently, but I thought I'd do a quick check in.

Not much has changed overall.  Eliot and I are still working hard on orders for Happily Ever Hatter and Snowblade Creations.  We're still occasionally watching Hallmark movies that we haven't seen when we can tape them on our DVR.  We're also keeping up with watching the Sharks hockey games.  We're still watching more news than we probably should be, but we're staying informed while keeping it on in the background.

I've been keeping myself busy with my blog updates and my sewing class.  The plush dolphin I'm working on this class is slowly coming to life.  It's been a bit of a struggle to conceptualize the finished project since it's more three dimensional than any of my other sewing projects thus far, but it's been a lot of fun to learn!

When Eliot and I aren't working on our businesses or taking a break while watching television, we've been working really hard cleaning our house.  A few weekends ago, we spent 3-4 hours just cleaning our bedroom and organizing our clothes.  Eliot has also been working on his office here and there.  Obviously, my office was completely cleaned out due to Squirrel-Gate.  Now we have to clean and disinfect everything before we put it back together.  It'll be a lot of work, but I keep telling myself that my office will be finished sooner.  After we get my office taken care of, we're going to use the storage unit to our advantage to get the rest of the house finished.

Honestly, our not quite launched businesses are where it feels like there's a lot going on right now.  I mentioned that Eliot's been playing with our new Glowforge and that we're one step closer to getting our home decor business off the ground.  The laser cutter has opened a lot of possibilities for our businesses as well as for personal projects.  I've got a lot of home decor that I want to make to personalize our house.

What I haven't told you is that I've been taking an online business coaching workshop this past week.  It popped up as an advertisement on my Facebook newsfeed last week and I was immediately interested in it.  After doing a little more research, I signed up and I'm so glad I did it.  I first had the idea for this new business back in January of 2018.  Since then, I've settled on a name for it and I have a ton of ideas.  (It's another idea list, full of more lists situation.)  It's very different than both of our current business models where we sell completely on Etsy.  This is totally new to me, and I've learned so much.  Coaching week has been well worth the $10 I paid to participate.

The greatest thing it's given me is confidence.  I tend to dive in completely head first and simultaneously hold back when I have new business ideas.  In the past, Eliot and I have bought supplies for a lot of things that we've never ended up pursuing.  I think that's caused me to be a little more careful as of late because I don't want to keep buying supplies that I won't use to make products.

This idea has always been one that I've wholeheartedly wanted to pursue though.  I've actually been planning to dip my feet in- even hoping to develop it last year so I could launch something between Halloween and Christmas.  Then, COVID happened and I lost all of my motivation.  In hindsight, it might have been the perfect time to launch it, but I was in over my head so much with the pandemic and my Mom's surgeries.

This online coaching workshop has given me the confidence to not keep pushing it off indefinitely.  There are a lot of other beginners in the group, so I feel less out of my league.  Plus, there are a ton of other women who started out at the very beginning with nothing but a good idea like me, and now they have a successful business.  I've been so inspired and motivated that I wrote down over 20 new ideas for this business- many of them that are exciting and kind of revolutionary.  I took so many notes during each workshop.  I also wrote my ideas in my notes, but I did make a copy of the Post It Note Challenge we did so I'd have an example of the layout for future reference.  (This photo is zoomed in and intentionally vague so I don't overshare my business ideas.)  

I took all of the motivation and inspiration I've felt this week and I've run with it.  I've lit a fire under my own butt.  In fact, I ended up taking the plunge and setting up a new Gmail, Instagram, Facebook page and Etsy shop account for it Wednesday night while I had the Sharks game on in the background.  Now, I've at least secured my name on all of those websites.  The business idea is still going to take a little bit of fleshing out, but I ran a few ideas past Eliot and he was fully on board.  I'm back to my original plan of trying to get something out for Halloween and/or Christmas of this year.

Plus, this business is going to require me to be super organized and to have my ducks in a row.  The more businesses Eliot and I open up, the more on top of things I have to be.  We've made leaps and bounds this past year with juggling both Happily Ever Hatter and Snowblade Creations.  We know that we'll have to be hyper focused adding our home decor business to the mix.  And this other business is going to put us in a completely new league from what we're used to- but it has great growth potential.

Moving forward, I'm expecting this juggling act to be what my life is.  It's always been a bit of a balance, but what's different is that I finally feel like I'm getting where I want to be.  The house is no where near being completed, but we're going to get it there and we've made a lot of progress recently.  (Squirrel-Gate might have even helped that situation... even if it was a pain in the butt.)  Eliot and I have made so much progress with our businesses this past year as well.  Now, we're closer to opening the home decor business.  I'm planning to start focusing more on my clothing line soon!  My blog is looking better and I'm so excited about updating it.  And now, I'm also working on this new business idea.  I'm juggling a lot, but I feel excited, inspired and motivated.  

And as long as that continues, I'm going to keep perfecting my juggling act.  °o°

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Name Game

Whew... so much stuff is happening behind the scenes right now.  Between my sewing class, Squirrel-Gate, working on the house and keeping up with our businesses, I'm juggling a lot of balls.  But I'm still making time for my blog updates.  I feel like I'm at the cocoon stage of transforming from a caterpillar into a butterfly.  I'm keeping my blog update to do list near by while I work on checking things off.  The next section that I planned in my blog updates was to work on my name changes.  Today has been a whirlwind of social media changes, new logos and updating my new web domain links.

Earlier this month, I worked on making a temporary "logo" photo for my blog header and Facebook cover photo.  I didn't want to spend too much time on it since it's only going to be temporary.  But since I'm not 100% sure how long it'll be before I have time to invest in making a new logo and header design, I still wanted this one to look nice.  I opened up Canva and I opted to use the same template that I used on my Happily Ever Hatter Facebook cover photo that I showed you a few weeks ago.  

I changed the text over to my new blog name and tagline.  Then, I went through all of the fonts until I found one that spoke to me.  I really like this one and I might use it in my final logo design.  This script is modern and fun, yet professional looking with a touch of whimsy.  Finally, I uploaded photos that I thought would work for the time being.  I included the one of me Disneybounding with Minnie, one from Eliot's and my Magic Kingdom wedding photo shoot, a picture of me riding on Dumbo during our honeymoon and one of Eliot and me at Disneyland wearing Happily Ever Hatter ears.

I love how this came out!  It's still pretty minimal, but it works for now.  In the future, I'm hoping to do something that's more personalized.  I'm hoping to learn how to use a digital sketchbook program on my iPad.  Then, I can create designs with my own sketches.  I also had an idea to make some seasonal blog headers and Facebook cover photos, but that'll probably be farther down the line.  I'd love to be able to keep my blog design updated based on the current season or holiday, but that will depend on how hard it would be to keep changing it.  I guess we'll see how the redesign goes!

I had planned to continue on my roll with blog updates last week- then Squirrel-Gate happened.  That derailed my progress, but I have been able to re-focus the past few days.  Earlier today, I spent about an hour updating my social media pages.  

I figured that changing my Facebook page name would be the easiest so I started there.  Boy, did I misjudge that.  Facebook has done a lot to change their business pages over the past few years.  I consider myself pretty tech savvy with social media, but this one took me a while.  I had to look at a few how to guides, and in the end, somehow I stumbled upon the name change page.  I'm not even sure that I could get there again if I tried, but thankfully I don't plan to change my blog or page name again.

When you update your name on Facebook, they tell you that it could take up to 3 days for them to verify the changes.  Thankfully, my name was approved and switched over in a few minutes- before I even took one last screen shot of my My Disney Life page.  I also updated my Facebook web extension so it also reflects my new page name.

Changing my Instagram was a lot less difficult, even if it took me a few minutes to get into the correct location.  I'd already figured out what I wanted my new name to be, so it was just a matter of going in and typing in the new one.  After I finished changing my Instagram name, I added the link to my Facebook page.

Ironically, the easiest part of the blog name changing process was the part that I have stressed out over the most.  It only took me a few seconds to update my blog with my new website domain!  Blogger also took the guesswork out of it.  I was worried that people having the old website wouldn't be able to find me, but I was able to add the new website and keep the existing blogger webpage as well.  Now, you can find me at my new website address, and the old web address forwards you to it!  Easy peasy...

Finally, I just had to make a few quick updates in order to officially finish changing my blog name.  First, I updated the website link to my blog over on my Instagram and Facebook pages.  It's the first time I've used my new web domain!  (I still can't believe I have my very own website!!!)  Then, I updated the link to my Facebook page from the picture on the side of my blog.  After that, I uploaded the new header photos (aka my temporary logos) to both my blog and my Facebook page.  While updating the blog header, I also changed my name and my description.  After double-checking my list, I confirmed that I had completed all of my changes for this round of blog updates!

The name change step of my update process took a bit longer than I was planning for it to.  I only spent just over an hour doing it, but I thought I'd have this part completed a week ago.  But life happens and I'm not going to beat myself up for it like I would have in the past.  I'm only human and I'm getting a lot better at giving myself grace.  

Now that my social media and blog name changes are finished, I'm getting ready to dive into the harder stuff.  But, it feels good to take a minute to stop and celebrate this moment.  After many moons of wanting to update my blog name, I'm finally there!  °o°

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Squirrel Saga Continues...

Well... the universe has jokes.  As soon as I post that we're thriving other than Squirrel-Gate, the universe back-checks me into place.  Yesterday morning, I awoke feeling pretty good about our current lack of squirrel situation and how Eliot was finally going back to work after a week.  When I came downstairs, I did a bit of a backtrack... ("Were there that many markings on the outside of the door?  I don't think so, but maybe I'm just losing it...")  I left the house for my sewing class feeling a bit less confident.

When I got home from my class, it took only a few minutes before I heard it.  The unmistakable sound of a squirrel scratching against the inside of the door.  "Not again."

It had been a full week since we definitely knew the squirrel was in my office.  This Monday, Eliot and I spent one entire stimulus check to have someone come out and seal the entire exterior of our house.  Eliot was finally back to work after taking a week off to deal with the house and the squirrel.  I was finally feeling an actual sense of relief.  And both of us had stopped having problems with intense anxiety.

And now, the freaking thing is back in there.  I could scream out loud in frustration.

Thankfully, I didn't; but I did text Eliot to let him know.  After a few excruciating hours of waiting, Eliot finally returned home with two more live traps.  (The other two are still set in my office, with a feast but he won't go near them.)  Why the squirrel had to come back and go back in there I have no idea.  There's no food in there.  Eliot and I have cleaned most of the stuff out and put it all in the new storage unit at this point.  

I'm worried now that it's a pregnant Momma squirrel trying to find a place to have her babies, or that babies are already in there.  Why is our kitchen a picture of perfection without a thing out of place when there's tons of food available for a squirrel to pillage?

Ugh, I just don't know anymore.  We still have more questions than answers.  But one thing is for sure, the squirrel(s) want to go in and out of my office under the door.

Once Eliot arrived with the traps, we set them up right outside my office door.  We kept the towel stuffed under the rest of the door, but we removed it from the area where the squirrel clawed the hole.  Aside from the trap being there, the squirrel had access to leave my office again.  I figured this was our best course of action to capture it.

Thankfully, it didn't take long.  In fact, less than 30 minutes later, at 6:54 pm, Eliot and I officially caught the squirrel in the live trap!  It took a few minutes, but I could hear it testing the waters trying to leave my office once it knew the trap was there.  I held my breath tight and sure enough, we heard the loud bang of the trap closing.

Eliot and I both let out a whoop and then a sigh of relief.  The squirrel was tossing and turning around inside trying to escape.  We both got up to make sure that the hooks were secure.  Then, we gave each other a high five and prepared to move it outside.

Eliot went outside and put the cage and squirrel in the back of the truck bed while I got dressed.  (Someone was already in her PJs.)  It settled down after a few minutes and we leaned in to get a better look at it.  It was definitely a red squirrel like I said from the beginning.  (This Maine girl knows her red squirrels.)  And it was pretty cute, but only in the cage.  (It wasn't so cute when it was running around my house.)  

Both Eliot and I took a few photos and videos once it had settled down.  It seemed as perplexed by us as we were with it.  We told it we weren't going to hurt it.  Then, we moved the cage into a larger box so we could transport it safely in the back of our Jeep.  (We planned to take it to another location away from our house.)

When we arrived at our destination, Eliot took the cage out and placed it on the edge of the parking lot.  It took the squirrel a few seconds to realize it was being released, but eventually, he jumped out onto the grass and bounced away.  He stopped about 30 feet away to look back at us, then he jumped off into the night.

Eliot and I are both pretty relieved.  I would have preferred that he hadn't come back, but at least we got him out- both alive and safely.  We're not sure if there are more of them in the house, but we've got the second trap set up right outside the door to catch any others that try to enter or exit my office through the little hole in the door.  As of right now, we haven't caught any more.  We also haven't heard anything thus far.

This has been a really long week, but thankfully we've been able to keep a sense of humor throughout it.  My brother Jeremy has sent me a few funny videos and pictures of his little Ty Beanie Baby squirrel.  After I told him that we caught it, he sent me a picture of his squirrel in jail.  I've also been singing "Squirrels in my Pants" from the Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb all week.  At least it's made us laugh.

Hopefully, this is the end of our Squirrel-Gate saga.  Universe, if you're listening, this is a good place to end the story.  It has a happy ending and everyone is happy.  Plus, I don't have time for another squirrel adventure.  This girl has a blog to revamp, mouse ears to design, desk accessories orders to fill, and much more magic to make.  °o°

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

One Step Closer...

It's an exciting time here at the Cady household.  There are so many things happening all at once- but somehow, we're thriving.  Other than last week's Squirrel-Gate fiasco, things have been going well.  (Full Disclosure: This was supposed to be posted last Tuesday, but after finding the squirrel in my office, my priorities quickly changed.)  Now that we're almost recovered from our unscheduled squirrel problem, the exciting news I wanted to share is that Eliot and I are one step closer to officially launching business number three and making another one of our dreams a reality!  

We have been talking about opening up a home decor shop for years now.  After the success of our 3D printed mouse ears for Happily Ever Hatter, we always knew we wanted to expand into home decor.  We even made a bunch of product samples and were pretty much ready to photograph and start listing them.  Then, we took a breath and started to plan the business logistics and that's where everything fell apart.

We had great ideas and were ready to sell them.  However, due to their size, they took up at lot of time on the printer.  Plus, they also took up a lot of material.  By the time we figured out the cost, it just didn't make sense.  If we had an influx of mouse ear orders, we'd be strapped for time on the printer.  We tossed around a few different ideas, but in the end both of us were a bit apprehensive so we tabled it for the time being. 

In truth, we both knew we already had the answer.  Back in 2015, Eliot came across a laser cutting machine that was on a crowdfunding website.  At the time, we didn't have enough money to invest in it but Eliot still mentioned it to his mother and father.  A few days later, Eliot's mom had two on order- one for us and one for Eliot's parents.  

We then went through almost 5 years of waiting and anticipating it's arrival.  Due to the machine's crowdfunding and not being fully developed, the company was still working out kinks in it's manufacturing.  Plus, it broke all sorts of crowd funding records when it made more then $27,900,000 in 30 days.  It took years just to fill all of the pre-orders.

In February of last year, our "new toy" finally arrived safely at our house.  It arrived in four different boxes between the machine, the laser and the filter system... but it was finally here!  Even after being told not to touch the boxes, Eliot had to open it up.  I arrived home from a brief trip helping my parents out (during one of Mom's procedures) and it was already taking up our entire kitchen counter.  It was so big and heavy that I couldn't even lift it to help Eliot move it.  How he got it up there is still a mystery... 

Quite a few weeks later, my brother Jeremy came up for Mother's Day and he and Eliot were able to safely move it down to the basement.  It took us another chunk of time to find and get furniture that was large and strong enough to hold it.  Finally, after a few more months our Glowforge had it's own furniture and a place to call home!

Saturday March 6th, Eliot went downstairs to turn it on and play around with it.  After getting everything set up with the software and machine, he called me down.  We were ready to make our first print on our Glowforge!  I took video while Eliot pushed the flashing start button.  It was so cool... yet there was a lot of smoke inside of the chamber.  We reminded ourselves that it was cutting and engraving the wood with a laser, but we were still alarmed.  Plus, some of the smoke was seeping out.  Blech!

After about 16 minutes of waving our hands around like crazy people trying to disperse the smoke, the print was done and we had our first piece!  Eliot and I were both really excited about the print... but disappointed at the amount of smoke (it really stunk!) in the machine.  Thankfully, after an email to the company, Eliot realized that he had accidentally changed a setting that controlled the filter and fan speed so it shouldn't happen again.  I had visions of us having to move the entire unit out to the garage!

The evening of Sunday March 14th, Eliot went downstairs to make a few more test prints.  This time, he made sure to check the boxes correctly and he also changed the settings on the air filter.  Low and behold, no smoke seepage!  The smoke that was created was sucked in by the fan and went directly into the filter.

Not only was that exciting, but when he was done a short time later, we also had three more prints!  They were going to be tests... but because they came out so seamlessly, they are now the samples we'll be constructing to use for our new business.

Now, we can create the same products as before, but at a fraction of the time.  It will also be at a fraction of the cost.  The Oswald pieces took 5 minutes to cut out of wood using the Glowforge, while it took around 6 hours to print on the 3D printers.

After years of waiting and anticipating all of the things we can do, we're finally able to start making magic with our laser cutter.  I've got a list that's so long.  I've even got lists of my idea lists.  But we're finally able to move forward with these products.

Over the next few weeks, Eliot and I be working on our home decor business when we're able to.  Squirrel-Gate threw a wrench in our timeline, but I'm not going to stress out about it.  I'm sure it will be at least a few more months before we have products ready for our official launch anyways.  But after years of putting the home decor business on hold and waiting, we're finally one step closer and moving forward.  °o°

Saturday, March 20, 2021

An Update on Squirrel-Gate

Hi friends!  I don't have much time to stop by, but I wanted to give you a quick update on Squirrel-Gate.  It's been a long week... and it feels like Tuesday was forever ago now.  Eliot took the rest of the week off from work and we've put all of our business stuff on hold while we deal with the squirrel and the house.

The good news it that we haven't seen anymore of the squirrel, but the bad news is that we haven't seen anymore of the squirrel.  That's pretty much been our motto all week.  The last time we definitely knew he was in my office, was around 6:30 pm Tuesday night.  Like I said on St. Patrick's Daythe squirrel left quite a bit of "sawdust" from clawing my door and he might have escaped my office that way.

Since I last checked in, a lot has happened.  We had a pest control place come over shortly after my post Wednesday while I was at Walmart getting containers.  He didn't think the squirrel was still in the house, so that was good.  Still, Eliot and I made an appointment to have him come back on Monday to seal any potential entry points along our house.  There aren't any clear openings, but apparently critters are crafty and can still find ways into the house between our siding.  We're just relieved that after Monday, that shouldn't be a possibility anymore.

On Thursday, Eliot, my parents and I all decided that we were going to rent another storage unit as a temporary solution.  We went over to the same place we have our other unit, and thankfully we were able to rent another one down the same hallway as our first one.  We're using the new one to store all of the stuff from my office while we take everything out to clean and put it back together.

Since then, we've taken a few trips over to the storage unit to drop stuff off.  Eliot's got a really good control on cleaning my office up.  He's gone through everything to check for the squirrel before we put things in containers to bring over.  He's packaged up about half the stuff in my office.  This weekend, we're going to try to finish packing everything else up.  Then, we'll work on cleaning and disinfecting everything left in it.

The other advantage of getting a second unit for a few months is that Eliot and I can move stuff from our first unit down the storage unit "hallway" to organize in the new unit.  Our first storage unit is completely full but we didn't put things in there as neatly as we should have.  Now, we'll be able to organize all of that too.

Overall, this whole Squirrel-Gate fiasco has been a giant pain in the butt.  However, it's also been a small blessing.  My office was one of the last rooms I'd worried about finishing in our house.  Now Eliot and I have been forced to clean it out, and by doing so, it will be finished sooner than it would have been.

The disadvantage to this has been that this week has felt like we've been sucked into a timewarp.  Both Eliot and I have had a hard time sleeping, but I think that's just stress coupled with the time change last Sunday.  I'm hoping we can get back into a rhythm next week because this week has been filled with little sleep and lots of short naps.

Unfortunately, my to do list for this week has completely gone out the window.  I had two or three planned blog posts that I wasn't able to finish.  Eliot and I are also hoping to get caught back up with all of our business stuff that had to be put on hold.  We've still been printing things but nothing has been assembled or finished.  Hopefully, we'll have a productive weekend and next week we'll be able to get back into the flow!  °o°

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day 2021

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!  I certainly hope the Luck of the Irish is with us today.  Eliot and I are 24 hours in to what I've dubbed as "Squirrel-Gate".  Yesterday, when I came home from sewing class, I discovered we had a red squirrel in our house- specifically my office.  Since then, it seems as if time has come to a complete stand still.

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I immediately called Eliot and told him to come home.  Then, I called my parents who told me to close the door to block the squirrel in there.  I did reluctantly, as that's the one room of the house that's mostly remained untouched since we moved in.  I still have piles of boxes and stuff that we stored in there where it'd be "safe"... or so we thought.  I'm going crazy trying not to stress about what he could be destroying in there.  I have so many collectible things and dolls in there waiting to be put in their spots in my office or in other rooms of the house- not to mention my art supplies.

Long story short, Eliot came home with a live trap that he bought at Home Depot.  We set it with peanut butter and graham crackers but the squirrel won't go in it.  (Or if he has, he's not setting it off.)  Yesterday, he freaked out a few times when he realized he was trapped in there.  We could hear it bouncing around and knocking things over.  At one point, I even saw his paw from under the door while he was frantically scratching at the door trying to find a way back out.  

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After hours of sitting quietly in the living room, we ended up going into Biddeford to Walmart right before they closed to see if we could get another trap.  They didn't have any, but we picked up a few other supplies: steel wool, peanuts, and gloves.  He still wasn't in the trap when we got home.  After a few more hours of hoping we'd hear the trap go off, we went to bed thinking that he'd get hungry at some point and go inside.

This morning all of those hopes went out the window when we saw the trap was still set.  There was a bunch of "sawdust" outside the door and right inside it.  Apparently, he was trying to claw his way out under my door where I saw his paw.  The inside has a hole big enough for a squirrel to fit in, but he didn't make it through all the way.

So Eliot and I went to our next plan, opening the window and the screen.  He hasn't budged, but we do think he's still in there.  Eliot's already called a few pest control people and we've got one on standby in case nothing else works.

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Eliot is currently filling up the containers we bought at Walmart with stuff inside my office.  He's hoping if we can clear some stuff out, that the squirrel won't have as many places to hide.  Plus, we'll be disinfecting and cleaning everything before we put it anywhere else.  At least in the containers, it's all contained safely away for when we have time to clean and disinfect everything.

We haven't heard a peep today.  Eliot and I are not even sure if it's still alive.  We've read varying reports online about how long they can go without water.  We've upped the ante since he won't go out of the window willingly.  I've been blasting the Hamilton soundtrack and making tons of noise cleaning things in the kitchen.  We also put my cell phone in my office playing really high pitched noises that squirrels hate from Youtube.  I'm kind of shocked that he hasn't found the window now that the house is getting obnoxious.  That's why I'm wondering now if he's even able to get out or if he's already succumbing to not having any water for 24 hours.

We just don't know what to do.  We really thought we'd be able to catch and release him and that would be that.  I'd hate for him to die because he got trapped inside of my house.  I'm usually such a huge lover of squirrels.  They're cute and I love to watch them scurrying around the yard.  But they're not cute inside of my house.  As Eliot said, "there's a special place in hell for this squirrel" after the stress and trouble he's caused.

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This is a huge inconvenience, but I'm trying to stay positive.  I'm hoping this is just the universe's way of forcing our hand to get us cleaning my office and to work on the house more.  We'll have to clean and organize a lot of stuff while we're trying to figure out how the heck he got in here.  We've walked around the outside of the house twice and nothing looks out of place.  The only idea we have is that he somehow got in through the attic.  There aren't any holes or openings in the siding.  We don't have any trees close to the house that he could have jumped from.  We're completely at a loss... 

Here's hoping our St. Patrick's Day is filled with a little bit of luck.  Eliot and I don't want much, just for the squirrel to get out of the house (preferably alive and safely) without much more hassle.  I'm off to Walmart to buy more containers since Eliot's run out of them.  Meanwhile, Eliot will be here waiting and hoping that the squirrel will finally go out the window.  And both of us will be praying that he hasn't done much damage in my office.  I wish you all a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, and one free from squirrels!  °o°

Friday, March 12, 2021

Coronavirus: A Year Later

It's been one year since this got real.  When I think of the moment it felt like the reality of the coronavirus pandemic started for Eliot and me, March 12th always comes to mind.  That was the day when things began closing in quick succession.  Never in a million years would I have predicted how the next 12 months of our lives would go.  It seems like forever ago, yet just yesterday.  And in that time, so much has changed... 

First of all, I'd be remiss not to mention all of the lives lost.  In the United States we've lost over 530 thousand people.  The US has had over 29 million cases of coronavirus that have been reported.  Worldwide, there have been 118 million cases of coronavirus and 2.62 million deaths.  It's overwhelmingly devastating.  I have a few friends who have lost loved ones.  It breaks my heart to think of people saying goodbye to their loved ones over Zoom.  Thankfully, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been dropping in the United States recently.  I hope it continues to drop.

It's been a long year and the thing that has changed the most is that I now have a sense of hope.  As of today, we currently have three vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States.  We've only vaccinated about 12% of the US population so far; but for the first time in a long time, I feel hope.  I have hope that the end of this is on the horizon.  We just have to stay the course so we can cross the finish line.

Today, I thought that I'd do a little recap based off all of the things that I wrote about a year ago.  Back then, I watched the news in horror as things all started to close one after another.  Now, we're watching as things start on the path to reopening.  I'm sure most of you will be aware of all this- nothing I write about will be breaking news.  But years from now, we'll be able to look back at this time.  This post will be a reminder to myself of what happened and of how far we've come over the past year.

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.  In the days leading up to that day, the news about it was slowly taking over the airwaves.  Eliot and I had already started the precautions of washing our hands, using hand sanitizer and social distancing.  I was calm about it, but on March 12th, something suddenly clicked and I entered into the fear, hysteria and confusion.  I went from calm as a cucumber to spiraling as news of closures appeared in my newsfeed.

The NBA was the first professional sports league to put their season on hold.  They later returned to play on July 30th with only 22 teams competing.  All of the players, coaches and staff were put into a "bubble" at the Walt Disney World Resort and the remainder of the 2020 season and the playoffs were all played at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  The season ended when Lakers won the NBA Finals on October 13th.

The San Jose Sharks went from plans of playing in an empty arena, to not playing at all for 10 months.  (The lowest seven teams in the league never returned to play until the 2020-2021 season.)  When the NHL returned to play on August 1st, 2020.  The NHL separated 24 teams into two bubbles- both in Canada.  The Eastern teams played in Toronto while the Western teams played in Edmonton.  Because the season was cut short, there was a wild card round in order to determine who the final 16 teams in the playoffs would be.  That round also determined the seed of the playoff teams.  On September 28th, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton.

Maine had it's first case of COVID the same day this was unfolding.  Since then, we've had over 46,000 cases.  Most of them have been in Cumberland and York Counties- basically where Eliot and I live.  As of today, Maine has had 723 COVID deaths.

March 12, 2020 was also the day Disneyland announced it's upcoming March 14th closure.  I never would have expected it would still be closed a year later.  However, this past week, CA amusement parks have been given the green light to open with limited capacity and Disneyland plans to open sometime in April.

Disney's Mulan was delayed on it's release in theaters.  It was supposed to come out March 27th, but it ended up going directly to Disney+ on September 4th for a premium fee of $30.  December 1st, it became available for everyone to watch with no extra fee.

March 12th was also the day that Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris announced their upcoming closures.  The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened on July 11th while Epcot and Hollywood Studios reopened July 15th.  Since then, Disney cast members and guests have adhered to strict face mask rules.  There are also new hand washing stations all over the each of the parks.  There still hasn't been a return of parades, fireworks, character meet and greets or shows, but Disney has announced that their working on those.  The magic is still there, it's just different right now.

Disney Cruise Line suspended itineraries set to depart beginning Saturday March 14th through the end of March 2020.  Sadly, the cruise line industry has been completely obliterated by the worldwide pandemic.  Disney continues to approach the suspensions every few months, but no one really knows when cruising will be back.

The MLB delayed spring training and the start of their season.  They finally started on July 23rd and had a shorter 60 game season instead of their usual 162 schedule.  The season ended on October 27th when the Dodgers won the World Series.

The Maine Mariners hockey season was put on hiatus.  It ended up being completely cancelled, as well as the 2020-2021 season.  Eliot just saw an announcement that the ECHL plans to return this fall and the Mariners first game will be on October 22nd. 

The NFL returned last fall, with COVID protocols in place to protect players, coaches and staff.  They were able to have the season go by without problems.  On February 7th, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and Tom Brady got his 7th ring.  

In addition to all of the above, so many other things changed.  High school and college athletics were postponed or cancelled.  Universities sent students home after spring break and they didn't return until the fall.  So many students, of all ages, have been learning online.  Those at school wear masks all day and they are spaced 6' apart whenever able.  Conferences and conventions have moved to online or have been cancelled.  Broadway went dark and it remains dark with no idea when it will be back.

Since last year, many people have worked from home.  Eliot's been deemed essential and hasn't been able to work at home.  Thankfully, he's been safe.  Although, it took longer than it should have for his work to require them to wear masks when they aren't at their stations.  But thankfully, they've only had a few cases and *knock on wood* none of them have been in his area of the plant.

My travel agent friends have worked for little pay or for free for most of the year.  (They are all superheroes!)  I haven't had any clients reach out to me during the pandemic, and I haven't actively pursued anyone.  Thankfully, travel finally seems to be bouncing back as people learn to make adjustments to our current state of normal.  I'm hoping to start adverting on my social media pages again in the coming months.

Elissa never did get to go on spring break to South Carolina.  She wasn't even able to return to campus.  After I wrote this, UNE had students pack everything up and move off campus.  Elissa finished the school year remotely from her friend Heather's house down in MA.  Then, she had an online graduation.  And as I wrote about last summer, she stayed with us a few days before Sara came out to drive her back out west.  Even now, Sara's graduation from veterinary school in May is going to be over Zoom.

People have had to postpone vacations, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers and other big life events.  Many businesses are taking a really hard hit.  People have lost their jobs.  Companies have closed.  People are picking up and moving now that they can work remotely.  (Maine real estate has seen a huge boom.)  Things have turned upside down and some people are barely making it through each day.  This worldwide pandemic has affected everyone in different ways... but it has affected us all.

We haven't stopped living our lives, but I have been at home more than ever.  I've been extra cautious when I do go out.  Hand sanitizer has become our best friend.  Eliot and I have so many masks that we've bought.  We limit our trips out shopping, but when we do go out, we're usually gone for hours going to multiple places during one trip.

Happily Ever Hatter's sales have been slow and that's effected us a lot.  Thankfully, we've been able to make up for missing income through Eliot's Snowblade Creations shop.  As of the past few weeks, things seem to be picking up with mouse ear sales.  I don't want to get over excited, but I'm hoping news of Disneyland's eventual opening in April will lead to more sales.  Plus, more people are starting to slowly travel again.

Over the last year I've learned a lot of lessons.  I've learned that it's ok to have fear and uncertainty.  Everyone can feel anxious sometimes, and that's not a weakness.  It's ok to not be ok.  It's ok to reach out for help when you need it.  Everyone can feel lonely sometimes.  I've also learned a lot about patience.  I've learned that I can't control everything... which I always knew but still tried to most times.  I've become even better at going with the flow.  I've learned a lot about politics- more than I ever cared to.  I've learned that sometimes you need a break from the news and social media and it's ok to put people on a "time-out" from appearing in your newsfeed.  I've also learned that if you watch enough puppy and animal videos, the Facebook algorithms will mostly only show you cute puppy videos in order to keep you on their platform longer.

Finally, I've learned the value of kindness.  I've always believed that if you can be anything, you should at least be kind.  Kindness doesn't cost you anything.  If there's one thing that's become painfully apparent this past year, it's that the world needs more kindness in it.  Last year, I ended my post with a quote as we moved into the unknown of the pandemic.  Today, one year later when we're (hopefully) approaching the end to this, it still rings true.  We all need to continue to "have courage and be kind."  °o°

Monday, March 8, 2021

Magical Merchandise: Pair Eyewear

Today, I'm sharing a fun find that will have you looking fashionably spec-tacular.  Back in mid-January, Eliot and I were watching television and relaxing one night when he suddenly asked me if I'd heard of Pair Eyewear.  He was scrolling through Instagram when he happened across their advertisement.  All I had to hear was interchangeable and options and the next thing I know... I'm completely sucked into their website.

I know you're all wondering, what is Pair Eyewear?  Pair is an eyewear company that sells directly to the consumer.  By cutting out the middleman, consumers get a lower, more affordable price on the products.  What makes Pair unique is that their glasses are designed so you can use interchangeable toppers that fit over the frames.  This means that you can customize your glasses with tops that switch out easily.  The tops are connected to the base frames by small magnets- meaning you can change toppers in a flash.  The glasses were designed primarily for kids, but they also have two frames that fit most adults.  (According to multiple responses on social media posts, they're working on making more frames for adults.)  

Basically, it's a way to change the color or pattern on your glasses, without buying an entirely new pair of glasses in order to achieve it.  This design concept was pitched on Shark Tank about a year ago and it impressed all of the sharks.  Pair Eyewear has also been featured on Today, Good Morning America, Family Circle, CNBC, and Forbes.

For someone like me, this is a complete game changer.  Honestly, half the reason that I avoided going to the eye doctor for so long was because I absolutely hate picking out new glasses.  I never know what frame style I look good in, and I feel completely helpless if I don't have a trustworthy girlfriend there to help me pick them out.  (I love Eliot, but he's completely useless as I experienced the last time I picked out glasses.)

After checking out the website, there were two options for adults to pick from.  Simple, not a lot of choices... I like this.  I immediately knew which ones I wanted.  They were sleek and modern looking.  Not only that, but the Larkin style that I selected is almost the exact same design that I currently have.  I like the thick frames that I have now but I wanted something a little bit bigger so my eyes wouldn't be hidden behind my frames as much.  I double checked the dimensions on my current pair, and they were almost exactly the same.  These new ones are a bit bigger... so I went into it with confidence that they would be perfect.  It was a little nerve-racking to order them online- sight unseen and without trying them on, but I was pretty sure that I would love them!

I ordered my new Pair Eyewear glasses on January 18th and they arrived packed in a nice box on February 3rd.  I selected the black adult Larkin frames.  When they arrived, I tried them on right away and I was shocked at how much better I could see.  Things haven't been this in focus for me in over a year.  Plus, I loved the frames.  They were exactly the look that I was going for and I was so happy and relieved!  The Larkins fit my face well and are comfortable.  I'm still going to have my local eye wear store check them, but I don't even think they need to be adjusted at all.  

This week, I'm making the transition into wearing them full time.  My eye doctor said that my new prescription was "quite a bit" stronger than my previous ones.  He then recommended that I slowly adjust myself into wearing them.  Since I've been home so much, I really haven't been wearing them.  However, during hockey games I've been trying to wear them.  I'm having a hard time adjusting to watching the tv and then looking at my phone.  I can feel the strain on my eyes, but I'm hoping by the end of this week, I'll be in them full time.  Now that I'm leaving the house for sewing class, it gives me a good excuse to push myself more.  And I really want to wear them so I can start playing around with all of the fun toppers!

I love these glasses so much that I'm going to order another Larkin base frame in the clear.  Then, I'll have a back up pair if something happens to one of them.  I also need to order prescription sunglasses through Pair Eyewear.  The best part is that I can also use the top frames on those because I'm going to order the same Larkin frame base!

My favorite part of the design of these glasses is that there are tons of options for the frame toppers.  The entire point of Pair Eyewear is to have tons of options.  I absolutely love this.  I've always loved being able to dress up for holidays and seasons.  Eliot and I have a ton of different face masks now for the same reason.  But with glasses, the only way I've had options in the past was if I bought different pairs of glasses and frames, and it's way too expensive to have a pair of glasses for each color... until now. 

There are so many options!!!  They have solid colors, fun prints and of course holiday designs.  Pair also has a Harry Potter, Marvel and an NBA collection.  A few days after I got my glasses in the mail, they released a new Sesame Street collection.  

When I ordered my prescription glasses, I also ordered a bunch of toppers to go with them- 13 designed toppers plus a pink sunglass topper.  Then, the day after I ordered my glasses, they released 25 new solid colors.  I thought to myself "Oh my gosh... this is a dream come true!"  I can now have an entire rainbow to choose from so clearly I'm planning to slowly collect most of the colors.  My wallet is afraid, but my heart is happy.

My wallet has good reason to be fearful as I've already placed a bunch of orders.  As soon as one arrives it seems like I always have another two on order.  I don't have any self-control and I placed two more orders for frame tops within the week of my first order.  Since then, they've released new designs twice a month and I've bought a few more from most of those collections.  I have a bunch of different solid colors and fun patterns.  I also have designs for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter.  Plus, I have an American Flag topper for our patriotic holidays.  (Although, I'm sure they will release more of those soon.)  I also grabbed Buffalo Plaid and Christmas Plaid toppers from last year's holiday collection since they were still in stock!

I absolutely love how they have licensed toppers.  In my initial order, I bought the Gryffindor topper set from the Harry Potter collection.  I also bought a Boston Celtics topper thinking that I could use them for St. Patrick's Day as well as Celtics game days.  (This was before Pair released the St. Patrick's day collection the same day my glasses arrived.  I had barely taken my new glasses out of the box to quickly try them on before I placed an order for four more frame tops from that collection.)  I also have a few of the licensed Sesame Street tops on order but they haven't shipped yet.

It's safe to say that I'm 100% obsessed.  This is going to be so much fun to make outfit combos!  Plus, this will be a fun way to add a little pizazz to my quarantine days.  I'm not really leaving the house or getting dressed up, so this will be a fun way for me to change things up.  Yoga pants, pajamas, and sweatpants have never looked so good!

I can't wait to see what other top frames they come out with!  It seems like they'll be releasing new collections of solid colors, patterns and holiday designs regularly.

I really hope Pair Eyewear will partner with Disney so we can get Mickey & Friends, Princess, and Star Wars designs.  (I'm optimistic since they already have the license for Marvel and Harry Potter.)  I also hope they come out with designs for the NHL and NFL.  I would love to have Disney, San Jose Sharks and New England Patriots frames for my glasses!!!  I can't help but imagine all of the amazing possibilities... 

Even now, I'm having a ton of fun picturing all of the options and possibilities that I'll have.  I can't wait to be able to match my glasses to the season.  This will add another fun layer to my outfits for the holidays.  Plus, this will make Disneybounding next level.

If you're looking for a new pair of glasses for you or your kids, Pair Eyewear is a great choice!  They have frame top options for everyone and they release new designs twice a month.  I can't wait to see what other frame toppers they come out with!  One thing is perfectly clear, you'll look like a vision in these spectacular glasses.  (Sorry, I couldn't help myself!)  I can't wait to see all of the fun outfits I can match my glasses with!  °o°

Please Note: All of these opinions are my own.  I was not paid to sponsor this post, nor did I get any free merchandise from Pair Eyewear.  However, the links I've included to their website are my special link they sent me in order to earn reward points.  If you decide to purchase some, I'd be so grateful it if you'd enter their website through my link!  I'm planning to use my rewards points to get new frame tops for upcoming holidays and more solid colors for Disneybounding!