Archive | June, 2011

All is well…

30 Jun

I am happy to report that all is well in the Land of Leslie.

I re-signed my lease over the weekend, giving me another year in my quirky little house. For those that missed it, you can read about my dilemma that was posted earlier this month. After I got the notice from the landlord, I wrote out a reply email that I really agonized over. Being no self esteem girl – it was almost excruciating to have to argue for what I thought was right. I can’t tell you how hard it was to push that send button.

But I did it. I outlined how I’ve paid the rent on time and in cash on the first of every month – never once being late. How I’ve improved the place by painting, replacing the door spring, the shower head, the light fixture, planting perennials and lilac bushes in the front, etc. And their complete lack of notice in springing a rent increase on me. That I was completely blindsided by it since two months before they asked me to stay on with no mention of any increase. I pushed send on my email and waited.

And waited and waited. I was starting to think I was going to be put out on the street. Which is kinda what prompted me to move out my house in the first place. (That, and sleeping on an air mattress in a room with ice on the walls.) I was afraid the sheriff was going to come and foreclose on the house and I’d come home to all of our belongings on the curb. I had a friend reassure me that even without a lease they couldn’t just throw me out on the curb. “Renters have rights, you know.” Actually, I didn’t really know. But luckily I didn’t have to find out.

I was contacted and they did rethink their increase. They came to do a walk through on Sunday, and didn’t even come further than the entryway. They saw how nice that was and said they didn’t need to see anything else. I am thrilled! Although I still think of having to write that email and the confrontation I feared and it still makes a knot in my stomach. I think self esteem is going to be a long time coming. Baby steps, I think. But I did stick up for myself. And I succeeded in my goal to stay put another year.

It may be quirky, but it is home.


I will not be a victim

29 Jun

Greetings all –

Lots of things are a’twirling around in my head. Good things, though, which is a nice change. I am entering into my second year of almost single girl living. I will write about the rental renewal process in another post soon. I am very content right now. Safely tucked into my quirky little house, day job is stable and almost entertaining some days, Blanket Statement is slow since it is summertime now and probably no one except me feels the need for a blanket. But I know there are things I need to be doing to promote it that I just haven’t gotten to yet. Happy Jack is officially back online and I am in the startup mode again with it….setting up Facebook, Twitter, networking, etc. Trying to get the word out. Things are good.

In the couple weeks I was waiting on news on the rent situation I did some introspection. Thanked my lucky stars and blessed my friends who have given me so much support. I made it through the first year on my own. There were some really scary weeks when I wasn’t sure how we were going to do it, but we did. I managed to get the boy’s trip to Washington DC paid off, the girl’s braces paid off, my car paid off, presents under the Christmas tree, and rent money in cash on the first of every month. I had people bless me with the things I needed – a couch, a BBQ grill and patio table, TV, bed for the girlie, my sister gave me a roasting pan so there will be no more silly antics of me with a naked boiled chicken. I had people send me goodies throughout the year…a package chock full of socks arrived one day. Right when I needed them. A box of books and writing tablets, artwork for my walls, gift cards, beautiful hand-made jewelry. Today a co-worker gave me a lottery ticket she bought for me over the weekend.

It really is amazing to look back at the love that was showered on me in my time of need. The emotional support, the financial support – and most of you I don’t even know personally. I’ve always been a very private person in real life. The behind the scenes girl. The one over on the edge of the party, with her back against the wall. Watching everyone else, but never uttering a word. That’s me. Kinda hard to believe for those of you that know me online. Here I’m mostly a chatterbox. I gotta say, I’m trying to integrate the two me’s. Trying to incorporate the confident online persona with the quiet, shy, reserved, no self esteem girl that exists in reality.

That’s my goal for this next year.

I will not be a victim of my self esteem any longer.

Thank you to all of you who are joining me on this journey. The road has been bumpy, but the view has been spectacular. I learn from you all each and every day.

He believed in me

19 Jun

Today is Father’s Day. I hadn’t really thought much about it this year until I saw everyone’s Facebook statuses. My soon to be ex is on his way to Omaha, NE with the girlfriend and my boy. Boy has a baseball tournament this week.

This is a picture of my Dad with his father. I never knew my grandfather. He passed away long before I was born. My daughter never knew her grandfather either. Funny how life does that.

I’m not sure of the earliest memory I have of my dad. He worked a lot. He wasn’t really “into” little kids. He did, however, always support my love of music. I always had a new guitar when I needed one. Sometimes even when I didn’t. Straps, strings, cases – they just mysteriously appeared.

My dad lived for his job, we never really went on family vacations but we always went to the music shows. My sister and I would hang out at the pool, or roaming the halls. Things kids can’t really do anymore. We had a great time. We were also exposed to musicians, all kinds of instruments, stuff kids would give their eye teeth to be around.

My dad drank his coffee black. He smoked Chesterfield cigarettes. He forgot which of us was born in April, which in May. He put cottage cheese on fruit. He ate pizza with a fork and knife. He put butter on everything.

This is probably the last photo I have of my father and me. It was at my graduation from college. I’m standing outside the performing arts building at Millikin where I spent most of my time. I had already moved on from music to art by that time. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He was proud of me.

I was living at home when he got a cold and his voice went away. Laryngitis we figured. Turned out to be a tumor. The doctors gave him 6 months to live. And six months it was – almost to the day. He told everyone he had the “Big C”. He continued to smoke right up until the end. He would send me out to buy cigarettes for him. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done. But I did it. He was dying.

My Dad passed away 22 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. I was 23. He’s been gone almost as long as I had him.

I miss my dad everyday.

Getting back something I had lost

18 Jun

Well friends, I have made the leap into getting Happy Jack Designs back online. I was able to figure out how to do it tonight, so the uploading has begun! Granted, the designs aren’t there, nor the cart, but the “heart” of Happy Jack is back.

And it is kind of strange how good I feel about it. Don’t get me wrong, Blanket Statements isn’t going anywhere. And don’t be surprised if in the near future Lulu’s Toys makes a reappearance too! I think this is the culmination of getting back something I felt I had lost. And I wasn’t done grieving over this either. It needed to make a come back as I’m beginning to feel more like myself again.

I think it is all part of the closing of one chapter and starting another. I’ve been separated for almost a year now. Still no where near closer to a divorce, but that is coming. Baby steps. But the Happy Jack story was put away unfinished. I felt like I was right on the verge of making it. I was beginning to get some national orders, people were beginning to recognize us…but it all came to an abrupt end.

And I just hated the way my life went from then on. I realized I had lost me.

This is the story of Happy Jack from the “About” page on the website. I’d be thrilled if you’d join us on the Facebook page for the time being until everything is up and running on the full website. But go there and check us out too. I’d love your feedback.

Happy Jack Designs was founded in 2004 after I left my job in corporate marketing after 15 years. I suddenly found myself at home in the middle of the day not quite sure what to do with myself. Happy Jack Designs was originally founded as a children’s book basket company – children’s books with all sorts of goodies that went along with the book packed up in an adorable basket. I had two little ones of my own back then, and loved reading, and art, and music, and all things creative, so the idea just sort of erupted.

Along with the book baskets, personalized items became a big selling feature. I had more and more requests for personalized candy bars, buttons, bookmarks. Items for birthday parties, teacher gifts, sports teams, theater performances, the list goes on and on. I would say that the vast majority of the business became the personalized items that you see today.

In the fall of 2005, after a mere 9 months in business and with the business on the verge of taking off, I was forced back to work full-time. I joined our local school district in the technology department and also worked a second close to full time job at the local Target store. Going from that glorious year of spending all my time on developing the Happy Jack Designs business to working 18-20 hour days took an obvious toll on Happy Jack. I tried to continue completing orders during my lunch break from the day job and designing new items during my break times at Target.

As would be expected, Happy Jack Designs suffered in the end, and I basically closed up the website not long afterwards. I still did some custom work for people on an off, but for the most part, Happy Jack was gone.

Fast forward to 2011. I separated from my husband, am now on my own, with one day job, and one fabulous social enterprise on the side. But I still had that itch to restart the business I loved so in 2004. I need a creative outlet. And so, Happy Jack Designs has been reborn. We are starting with a fresh new website, but a lot of the old designs. New goodies will be coming soon, as we begin a new chapter in Happy Jack Designs.

I’m so glad to be back!

The yarden

18 Jun

I have a tiny little yard at my house. No grass, which is delightful since I don’t really have any interest in cutting grass or dealing with lawnmowers at this point in my life. I have a block patio (really needs a lot of work and I have to be careful not to step funny and twist an ankle on it) with little planting areas. One in front of the kitchen, on in front of the girlie’s bedroom and a little border around the patio.

When we moved in the little planting areas were nothing more than weed pits. And HUGE weeds at that. I pulled them all up in front of the kitchen and the part that goes around the patio. This summer I wanted to get the other side done. Increase in rent is going to keep me from doing that. Last year we planted two mini-lilac bushes and some mums (one of my favorites) and some annuals. This year the mums are bigger than the lilacs, and the annuals came back. Well, the ones the squirrels didn’t eat. I don’t really get that one either, but hey, I’ll take it.

Now my problem is weeds are trying to take back over my little yarden (the girlie used to call the outside that when she was little). Weeds all over the block patio. And threatening to take over again. The other side that I didn’t attend to last year is becoming a jungle. So I’m doing some research on organic/green weed killers. Normally I would have just reached for the Roundup, but after learning about the evils of Monsanto I’ve decided to try to conquer this issue in another more respectably conscious manner.

So what do you all use? I’m reading vinegar is a good way to go, especially for the patio area where I don’t want anything growing anyway. Any tips or tricks?



Closet Cyber Lurker

15 Jun

For those of you who don’t know, I have a “day job” that occasionally requires me to be held captive at contentious late night meetings. Tonight in one of those nights. As I am waiting for the excitement to begin I thought I’d post a little something I ran across this morning.

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoy reading other people’s blogs. People I don’t know mostly. I’ve stumbled upon some absolutely fascinating people that way. People I don’t know, who don’t know me, but who enjoy writing about things in their life, and for some reason, I find reading their exploits fascinating. There was a Hollywood screenwriter that I followed for a while who I really liked. I’ll have to dig up her link sometime and share. I’m not sure, but I think I’m a closet cyber lurker. Ok, maybe not so closet.

So today I stumbled up this blog: Hi Tree. And absolutely love her trees! And her other goodies too. Granted I didn’t get a whole lot of time to peruse her blog (that day job getting in the way again) but I intend to. I’m not even sure how much her goodies cost, but I will find out. Just darling stuff.



Snarky Indecisiveness

9 Jun

I just saw a status from a friend tonight that said she wished she was little again when the hardest choice was picking a crayon color. I hear ya Deb! I have always been terribly indecisive. That is one of those life goals I’m trying to work on. Going from knowing what I “don’t” like to being able to pinpoint what it is that I “do” like. So I can make that happen. Bringing things I “do” like to me. Rather than all the other things. It is a lot of sorting through extraneous universe matter just because I can’t decide.

So tonight, I was sitting on the couch with my girlie – got the tunes cranking – and I was working on some web stuff. But I kept running across other things on the internet that were snagging my attention. And I kept coming up with things I wanted to blog about. And of course, I can’t decide which one to put up tonight and which one to save. So I’m doing them both. And it isn’t like I’m going to write anything at all profound, because quite frankly, it’s late and I gotta get to bed!

But I wanted to remind those of you in the Chicagoland area of that time when we had cows. I like cows. Always have. Black and white ones mostly, but really any cow will do. And since I am lucky enough to live in the boonies I can visit real cows on an almost daily basis. I always say hello. In a mooing sort of way. They know what I mean. I’m sure of it.

So remember the cows? I loved them! I wanted one. This one in particular. He spoke to me. I would love to be able to paint one. I actually thought of trying to make myself a giant fiberglass squirrel that I could decorate with acorns. Just to piss off the real squirrels. It would be like a trojan horse but on a squirrel kind of level.

And when I was looking for the photo of the cow that I loved in Chicago I ran across this pic, which I’m pretty sure is going to become my laptop desktop wallpaper. I am enamored with eyeballs for some reason. Grosses out the people I work with. Which gives me that snarky kind of satisfaction. That while naked chickens may gross me out entirely, eyeballs, on the other hand are awesome.

Woot! A feature!

8 Jun


Blanket Statements was featured Monday on Sweet Stella’s blog! Shannon did a fabulous job telling our story and showcasing our photos. I loved her comments too. What a wonderful surprise to come home and see after a long day at the “day job.”

So I “met” Shannon on Facebook on the Artisan Group which is a group of artisans who sell their wares online, through Etsy, Zazzle, Facebook and also provide goodies to be featured at major awards shows like the Emmy’s, Oscars, etc. It is a really neat group to be included in. I haven’t joined in on the award show samples yet, but have been thinking about adding my business cards to the goody bags at some point. It would be neat to have our mission noticed by celebrities.

So check out Sweet Stella’s Etsy Shop and the Artisan Group. Good people. And I like good people!



Take notice

7 Jun

So I’ve been put into a rather perplexing situation.

Several years ago I made the decision to move out of my house. I say several years ago, because I asked for a divorce a number of years ago and then spent the next several years trying to find a place where I could afford to live. And the next stumbling block after that was finding a landlord who would agree to rent to me since my credit has been trashed.

Finally last spring I found a great place and begged and pleaded for them to give me a chance so I could get out of that house I felt trapped in. And they did (after requiring a co-signor and three months rent in advance!). And the year has gone swimmingly. Rent always paid on the first of the month, house clean, I planted lilac bushes and perennials, fixed the storm door, changed the shower head, painted two rooms – I’m clean, quiet, don’t drink, don’t make a whole lot of noise…basically if you don’t see me you’d never know I was here.

At the end of April they asked if I was planning on staying. They said they were happy having me in the home and would like to offer me an extension or another year’s lease. I said great! I’d love to stay! Kids like it here and I sure don’t want to move again. It has worked out great (except for some plumbing issues, but I deal with them).

So imagine my surprise when I got an email last week stating that the rent would now be increased by $50 per month! $50? Cripes, again…might as well be a million! Now I’m in that place that I really don’t like to be in. Confrontation. I really think it is lousy that they asked me about staying two months ago, with no mention of a rent increase, and then drop this little bomb on me with less than 30 days to go until I need to re-sign. Now what am I supposed to do? It took me years to find this place and begging and pleading before they agreed to rent to me.

And besides the obvious discomfort that additional rent cost is going to cause, I am emotionally upset over this. More so than I initially thought. Not just at the fact that I feel kind of taken advantage of – since I did a lot of repairs and extra work around here, but I’m finding myself back in the self doubting mode. My initial joy back in late April of “they like me!” has been replaced with self doubts of “I’m not good enough, I must have done something wrong.” That there must be some deep dark reason that even though I thought I was doing all the right things, bending over backwards to make the place look great, staying out of everyone’s hair, never ever once calling for an issue, yet still it isn’t good enough. Still, even knowing “my story” and the situation I am in, they chose to request more money for the rent. $600 extra.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. I haven’t responded back yet. Emotions still a bit too raw to put anything into writing as far as a response. I’m angry and hurt, and angry and hurt at myself for feeling bad about it. It is my immediate defense to assume I did something wrong. That I’m asking for it. I shouldn’t have to feel like that. But I do.

I guess what surprises and saddens me the most is that I had hoped that they noticed what a good renter I was. I think that is a deep seated issue for me. Hoping someone would notice. I’m not good at “tooting my own horn.” I am the behind the scenes girl. Always doing good and just hoping and wishing that someone will notice. I’m saddened that so few people ever do.

Do me a favor, would you? Take notice of someone tomorrow. It could mean the world to them.

Sharing is caring…

6 Jun

Wow, still dealing with really busy life. Couple updates…the Happy Jack pages are lookin’ good! Still have to host them up somewhere and set up a shopping cart, but hey, the shopping cart part is where I left off 6 years ago! So it’s almost like no time has passed at all! And the neat thing? I was asked just today about making up some bookmarks for teacher’s gifts. If it weren’t for the super busy schedule I’d be Happy Jack-ing tonight.

If you’d like, here is the link to the Happy Jack Designs page on Facebook. At 25 “likes” I can get the Happy Jack Designs custom URL. So please, feel free to “like” away. And share too!

Sharing is caring, after all.

%d bloggers like this: