Home Gallery: The Wall of Frames 2.0

Soon after we moved in to this house, I bought a big frame and print for our living room wall. It seemed huge until I put it on the wall where it looked sadly disproportionate to the room. But still it stayed there, much like my half finished wall mounted shelf in my office. I'll get to it…eventually, I'd think.

About two years ago, I ditched the big print, bought a few smaller frames and put them up, but they didn't fill the space either. I bought a few more frames and made Kevin re-hang the whole thing. (He loooved that. There is nothing he loves more than hear me say, "A little more to the left, more, more, that's too much, back, back. Oh this is all wrong. Forget it." Ahem.) Eventually, it happened. It took the entirety of my 40×40 year, but the frames are up and filled. Filling them turned out to be the hardest part.


All of the art was purchased on Etsy. The only piece I created was the papercutting at the bottom center. I've wanted to try papercutting for some time, but it wasn't until recently that I pulled out my X-Acto knife and got down to work.


It was relaxing and meditative. I thought it would be fun, but I didn't expect to be so peaceful. Which is a good thing when taking up a craft featuring a knife.

40×40: The Thrilling Conclusion

40×40. Let’s start with the low lights, shall we?


What I Didn’t Accomplish

Complete a crochet project – I have the project – bought as a kit to make it easier to achieve – ready to go, but it’s been sitting in my closet for…a long time.

Complete the Couch to 5K program – I got through week three, even though it took me about three months, but then it got harder to use the high school tracks (lacrosse and soccer practices start crazy early and I don’t need an audience of parents watching me) and it got hot, so I took a long break. I’ll restart sometime.

Organize idea binders – I’ve done part of this by organizing the many magazine pages I rip out for future reference. I need to put them in clear sleeves and organize them in the binders. Again, it will happen, some day.

Learn to hem pants, rather get the courage to touch Kevin’s hems – Technically it happened because I have the courage to do the hems, but the time has been the thing that’s hard to find. Maybe by the end of summer?

Eat at Foreign Cinema – This should have been the easiest item to cross off the list. The problem is that my parents are our main babysitters, but they give late notice on when they’re available, and every time Kevin and I had a night out, we couldn’t get into Foreign Cinema at a reasonable time. Reservations at 5 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. aren’t reasonable for me. I’m 40, after all.

Get the journals for the kids up to date – didn’t even start to do this.

Clear out the pre-marriage boxes in our garage – nope. And the sad thing is that it’s only three or four boxes.

Listen to the Spanish language CD with the kids – No lo hiciste. The CDs sit untouched in the console table drawer.

What I Accomplished: A Lot



My mid-term review pretty much covers most of my progress, although several smaller projects were crossed off the list since then. The one goal that was most vague was accomplished, but in a sappier way than expected. When I wrote “go on an adventure,” I had something very specific in mind: a secret trip to Cuba. That hasn’t happened, no laws were broken, so I don’t have to fear being interrogated by the CIA in the middle of the night while wearing old pajamas. (The real penalty is typically a $10,000 fine.)

I’ve wanted to go to Cuba forever. Probably since I was in high school. It’s beautiful and mysterious and not opened to American tourists, making it even more appealing to me. It hasn’t been invaded by McDonald’s and Starbucks. They still drive 1950s American cars. I cannot wait to see it and I want to do that before it is fully opened up to American travel.

Through the years, Kevin has always been the reluctant one, afraid of getting into trouble with the government and wary of the amount of trust it takes for Americans to sneak into the island (we have no family to visit or other legal ties to get us in). That was the adventure part for which I was aiming. It was going to be my 40th birthday expedition. But there was one concern which did get me: money. It’s not like we could whip out the American Express to pay for hotels, travel or food. We had to carry cash and that concerned both of us. I gave up, and when I did, the universe did one of those funny things where it finally provides the answer: I was offered to participate in a legal Cuban trip. It’s a long story not involving a religious missionary group.

But as with life, when a long held dream is finally there for the taking, it may not be right for the time. In this case, the timing was wrong. I’d have to go in May or December and neither time works at all. The plan is that I will be able to go next year, but it’s sad knowing it’s not happening sooner. (Plus I’m a little worried travel to Cuba will loosen up even more by next Winter and Taco Bell will beat me to the island nation. If you think I’m overreacting, go to the great pyramids in Egypt and then turn around facing across the street. Pizza Hut, anyone? Or would you rather have KFC?) This is the downside of being a responsible adult: I could drop everything to go, but my responsibilities are too great. So, the dream remains.

Here’s the sappy part: it was all an adventure. The last 12 months were filled with travel, fun, and new experiences. Even though it was mostly spent watching from my couch, the Giants winning the World Series was such a far off dream, full of ups and downs that ended with a conclusion I never dared expect. I launched a blog with my friend Robyn that was more tense, stressful, and filled with anxiety than one would ever guess. People actually paid (with real money) for my photography this year. I milked a cow! One year ago, I never thought those things would have happened, but they did, and charting the new territory was an unexpected adventure.


I’m a goal setter and a list maker, thus the 40×40 project was perfect for me. I could draft up a 50×50, but that’s too far away, and I feel the same about a life list. I need a near term deadline lest I procrastinate. For this year, I want to accomplish one new thing: quilting. I have boxes of the kids’ baby clothes too sentimental to give away, stored up the attic, waiting for me to get the courage to make memory quilts.


Turning 40


I switched on the radio as I drove away from the preschool this morning. The first song was a live version of Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days and the second was Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. It was the most appropriate 40th birthday soundtrack: old enough to get caught up in the highlights of my younger days, but still hopeful enough to think the best is yet to come.

Overall, I have no problem with 40. I'm wiser than I was at 30, I care less about some things (relationship drama – any relationship, even Facebook) and care more about the right things (being with the people I care about the most and making certain my kids get into the best colleges possible*). Yet, I had a momentary freak out yesterday – in an airport, where the worst soul searching happens – wishing I could slam on the brakes for just a minute. While 40 doesn't bother me, 41 does. It's the never ending passage of time that picks up speed as one grows older. I never thought I'd turn 16 or 21 because the days moved by so slowly, but now the treadmill is running at full speed and I want to take it down just a notch.

I remember my mom's 40th birthday, which to me, really marks my age. I am old enough to remember my parents at my age. Two years into her 40s, while grocery shopping with my mom, I remember her having a conversation with the male cashier (I think the male part is relevant) where she happened to say that she was 40 years old. My youngest sister, sitting in the cart, corrected her as if she was doing my mom a favor. "No mom, you're 42!" My mom blushed and asked my sister if that was necessary. I was used to my mom lying about her age. She had dark Italian hair that was so brown it looked black, making it easier for her to knock a few years off her age.

Kids change so quickly as they grow up. You may not see someone for a summer, then when you do, you notice the kid has grown three inches. The changes are constant and seem to come so fast. Sometime in the 20s, it feels like looks stay stagnant. Yes, hair colors, cuts, and styles change, but for the most part, my friends and I all looked about the same for a good 10+ years. Now it feels like the next change is beginning. It's so odd to run into an old friend and notice new lines on her face. It's not a judgment, it's an observation of time. And if it's happening to her, it's happening to me. While in New Orleans this week, Kevin and I sat on a couch under a window, which is when I noticed his hair was turning gray. He shrugged, as if it was no big deal, but I wanted to ask when this happened. When did the gray hairs happen? Or the laugh lines? Do I need glasses? What did I walk into this room for, anyway? When did we start to age? I know it was always there, happening slowly and quietly, but when you notice it, it's shocking.

This birthday begins a new chapter, but I won't know the story until I look back years from now. My 20s were spent going to college, living in Washington, D.C., going to grad school in Boston, working, moving around some more, and meeting Kevin when I was 27. It was a decade of me. We got married soon after my 30th birthday, ushering in a decade of family. With my kids getting older, they need me slightly less…and less and less with each year. By the time I'm 50, Clover will be in college. So much is going to happen in the next 10 years, and while I can't wait to see what happens, I wish it would happen in slow motion.

*Calm down, it's a joke. We're going to homeschool college them.

A 40×40 conclusion will be posted soon. Spoiler alert: I did not finish the list.

40×40: Read Brideshead Revisited


I bought this book almost exactly 19 years ago and it has been nagging me ever since. I was a freshman in college and a whole group of people I knew loved this book. Really loved it, in the way tween girls love Justin Beiber. I bought it before heading to Spring Break, which was dumb because who reads anything more than a magazine while on Spring Break in Palm Springs? I remember reclining poolside with hands oily from suntan lotion, trying to get some momentum on this book. It didn't happen. Nor did it happen the other times I tried to read it over the past 19 years.

That is, until last Monday night when I cracked it open, with absolute determination to grit my teeth and get through it. Very quickly this time, I fell into it. I loved it. It was finished within days. I can't believe it took me this long to complete.

But I still don't know what made me think it was appropriate reading for Spring Break.

The Advent Stockings are Finished!


The stockings were finished last night, and I woke up with a stiff back to prove it.


I am so happy to have this project complete. It's been years of nagging stress hanging over me that is now gone.


As I sewed the last two, I wanted to hurry – I was so close to the finish line, after all – but I tried not to rush over any details, reminding myself that if I do it right, this could be something my grandchildren use. When they're adults, I'm going to force one of the kids to take the stockings, I'm sure, along with the pet turtle.


My reward awaited me once I finished: hard cider and a brownie from Tartine.


And the joy of knowing this project is finally complete. Woo hoo!