Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Still Here, Still Gray!


Helloooooooo blogosphere readers, occasional lurkers and silver-haired friends! I've missed you . I'm here still here, I'm still gray, and I just wanted to say: "Hi!" I suppose that it's time for one of my occasional check-ins where I ramble a bit and plop some pictures and words down for posterity's sake and for those patient and good-hearted folks who come around to actually read about what has been new. Thank you, I really can not thank you enough for being here. Y'all are so nice with your comments (on other social media) and your emails and your patronage of The BTW Co.  Thank you!!

I know that How Bourgeois has been quiet these days, but rest assured, you haven't missed anything too exciting. We've just been continuing to stick around home and play it safe. Everyone is well and doing the best that they can.  I thought I would share a few up dates and going-ons from the past six months. I still have a skin care post that I promised to a reader. I started working on it months ago and would love it if I could get that posted. I've been dabbling in skin care for "aging" skin. You guys, this aging thing really snuck up on me! How does life move so quickly? At any rate, I only want to recommend products that I've used for some time, so I had to really go through a bottle or two of an item before I write about them. More about skin care to come.

So let's see... first off, everyone, human and furry are thankfully doing ok. It's very difficult to spend two years inside of a small house together, but we've made the best of it. I think we're pretty good at that. One thing that I have come to realize is that I AM NEVER BORED! Quite the opposite. I need more time in the day to get through all of the things that I would like to do and try, read, watch and listen to. The past couple of years has reminded me that life is AMAZING and there are interesting things EVERYWHERE! It's endless what  you can dive into learning. Aren't we lucky to have the internet? The spark of interest enters your brain, then you type it into a search box and then you are presented with endless information on that topic. You guys, it's SO GREAT! Here are a few things we've been doing (with the help of the internet.)

(Google, how do I groom a dog? Help!)

I think the happiest and most exciting news is that just this week we found out that Noah was accepted into a program for high school students at an Ivy League university out east!!! I don't think I should share the name here until he is home, but Noah is THRILLED, and Jon and I are THRILLED! We're just so happy that he finally has something great to look forward to and that he'll be able to get out of the house, out of town and go do something fun and interesting. 

Here's he is on his first day of 11th grade!

Noah's been working incredibly hard these past few years as a homeschooler. We're very proud of his perservenrance, especially throughout the pandemic. He has continued to take community college classes every semester and just passed his 30th credit with a 3.93 GPA . I don't know how he does it, but this kid has big plans and he's well on his way!

Speaking of education, but not really the same thing, I've taken part in some online classes and seminars. Lots of meditation and mindfulness, and recently, I've wanted to expand my knowledge of consciousness. It has lead me to a deeper dive in eastern philosophy. Did you know that there are MANY similarities between Hinduism and Judaism!? It's fascinating. Although, most major religions share many things with each other.  We are all one!

I've also been spending a lot of time volunteering online. Did you know that you can do that!? Yep, you can! I used to enjoy volunteering (in-person) when Noah was in school. Now I've taken the work up again, but  for now, online. It started a year and a half ago with a neat project that our synagogue was doing called "Plarn Sleeping Mats." I can't remember if I have written about it before, but "Plarn" is plastic yarn that you make from strips of plastic bags. After you have a very large amount of plarn, you take a big crochet hook and crochet these thick, soft sleeping mats. We then donate the mats to homeless shelters and out reach centers where they are distributed to people who need them. You would be surprised how insulating these mats are from the cold, wet ground. They fold up and you crochet a carrying strap too. It took me a while, but I finally got through one and it felt good to delivery the mat back to the organizers. 

After that, just over a year ago, I began facilitating a weekly online Zoom group for people who were mostly at home during the pandemic and needed a little company and support. We have not missed a single week in over a year and I have to tell you, this group is like my second family! I love them dearly and feel like it was such a fantastic way to make life long friends. We really love talking about anything and everything and checking in on each other. 

At the end of summer I began volunteering on a committee for my synagogue as well.  It's a membership committee and we come up with ways to keep current members having a fun and also brainstorm ways to attract new members. I went to one meeting in person when our community numbers were low, but since that time, all of my meetings have been over Zoom. We'll get back together one day. We've planned some fun online cooking and crafting classes among other things, and back in the fall there was an outdoor lunch and activities for kids and their parents.  We're kind of like the welcome wagon too, which is one of the things that I did for four years at Noah's old school in my old volunteer years. 

Finally, I was just asked last week to volunteer my time on a marketing team, also for the synagogue. This is going to be so exciting. I created some digital art and marketing material for new members and also for an up coming event and really enjoyed that experience. Who knows what will come next.

Anyway, I've probably bored you with so much talk about this, but in closing, I do have to say that volunteer work is near and dear to my heart, and has been the plan all along. I was hoping to get back into it this year and amazingly, I have been able to! I'm grateful to have the time to lend a hand and hope that these opportunities continue to grow.

So, speaking of digital art, I've kept up with drawing. I'm always practicing and learning new things, slowly but surely. I took two, short online drawing classes through a site called "Domestika" and learned a lot. I also made an advert for my Stepmom's restaurant and bakery for a local newspaper and magazine!

Another creative outlet that I've been doing is crochet. I sometimes crochet at night. Most recently I made this super easy shell stitch cardigan.  I used Wolly Wonders Crochet's Youtube tutorial of the Women's Shell Stitch Cardiagn.   Really, it is silly easy. This was made from one Caron Skinny Cake. I made this with a free pattern and a $10 ball of yarn!

SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!! The next project had me CRAZY excited because                  1.) I am a Beatlemaniac  and 2.) because I have always wanted one of these.....
Have you ever seen Paul's hand crocheted granny square vest? The one that he wore a lot during Magical Mystery Tour? Well, although I am in love with George, it is Paul who had the fabulous vest, and I had to try to make an inspired one. Here is said Paul's vest.

I just had to try to replicated it! So, I searched high and low for any chatter about the vest online, and sure enough, came across a few patterns on Ravelry. I ended up following the instructions on the blog "Happy Trousers."  She made a GORGEOUS replica for her son. Thank you Happy Trousers, I could not have done it without you!! I ended up modifying the original vest to be shorter and a bit more form fitting. I also narrowed the shoulders, added a border and a pom-pom tie and some hidden closure hooks. So, not a replica, but inspired by Paul's. It was so much fun and I even did something crazy and ordered the wool yarn from the UK! Amazingly, it was on sale and ended up being much cheaper than wool yarn in the US. I really had so much fun with this one. 

Last but not least and most recent, I found a second ball of stripey yarn under the bed and decided to try to learn a new stitch, the Crocodile Stitch. See, they look like scales. I'm making a rainbow hat. 

I FINALY started crafting window decorations again. For many years I would make different window decorations for each season and often each month. I stopped making them during the pandemic for about a year and a half. I just ran out of motivation and steam. Sometime last month I just realized how much I missed it and made some January decorations. They are kids building snowmen and having a snowball fight. Now February's are ready to go up tomorrow. I love how they turned out!!! February's theme is "All YOU Need is Love" in honor of Valentine's Day. Which, btw, happens to be our 18th wedding anniversary!

I do have to say, all of this drawing on a tiny iPad, squinting at stitches of yarn at night and cutting out tiny pieces of paper has kind of wrecked my eyes. I finally went for an eye exam in the summer. So, that was good. I wear my reading glasses all of the time now and it's been a good time playing around with different inexpensive pairs. My big round glasses just came. 

I hesitated to talk about my hair care line in this update post because I don't want it to sound like I'm using the blog to just sell products, because I'm not! I think it would be strange to not mention how things are gong though, and what's around the corner. 

I know that things have been quiet from the BTW Co. as of late.  We struggled for a bit to get all of the ingredients and packaging materials in for our production. It's been a strange time for the supply chain. Also though, our current word-of-mouth advertising has worked well and wonderfully, we have many a returning customer, so we just keep chugging along.  BUT..... BIG, HAPPY things ahead! Oh, I am so very sorry that I can not talk about specific details just yet, but behind the scenes some super great things have been happening, and 2022 is looking to be an exciting year for BTW.  All of your favorite products will be here, all restocked and maybe even some FABULOUS new ones too! So please stay tuned and thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued support. Thank you soooo much. 

I spent a lot of time in the backyard this year. We, meaning 90% Jon, with a little of my help, power washed the deck, stripped off all of the old remaining stain, and then restained it. That was huge improvement and we spent so much time outside reading under the awning. I had my vegetable garden but honestly, didn't do a ton with it because I FULLY EXPECTED MY BACKYARD TO BE TORN APART THIS SUMMER! I don't how much I've written about it but we've been trying to have a small addition built off of the back of our house for...four years!? It has taken such a long time. First we had to interview architects and then once we chose one, the plan for a small first floor master had to go through several re-designs. Because our house is historically designated, we had to go in front of both the historic board and the planning board several times, and we had to apply for a variant. It was kind of a mess and sometimes took months to get on the meeting schedules. Then the pandemic happened when we were finally ready. It is a long story, but I really thought it was about to happen this summer. Well, it was, but then my Mom bought a new house and I let her use our builder and jump in front of us and the rest is kind of a twisted history. So, we're back to square one-ish. I'm rethinking even taking up the small bit of yard space that was slated to be used for the new footprint and would feel more comfortable going back to the drawing board with a new plan anyway. There's no big rush.

In spring, as soon as the ground thaws and it is warm enough, we have a whole row of 6' arborvitae being brought in for privacy , which I have wanted to do for ten years! I'm so excited and can't wait. We've kind of agonized over what to do with the mini-pool too. It's time to resurface again or fill him in. Mini is always in need of maintenance, for the surface and the bricks and the pipes and the filter. All of it. Not to mention constant cleaning. That is a lot for just  24"of water! I have plans for a beautiful butterfly garden where the mini is, but it still kind of makes me sad to think of not looking out at him. I just don't know what to do. 

This year the vegetable garden surprised me with suddenly popping up its own tomato plants this spring. Really! Also some shallots and chives and lettuce. It was really awesome. I also had the chance to plant and experiment with many different kinds of culinary and medicinal herbs and wildflowers! Those are my favorite by far, especially the herbs.

Oh and look!!! Look!!! I was absolutely ecstatic when the city finally agreed to plant a tree in our front yard, which is actually an easement. THANK YOU CITY, SO MUCH!!! I had been asking, basically politely begging for two years now. The large tree that was between our house and our neighbor was very old and fell down several years ago. After they tore down most of the church across the street and replaced it with a giant building, they also took out the beautiful trees and law.  We lost all of our shade and greenery. It was incredibly upsetting. At first the city refused to plant a tree because they said that our lawn area was too congested with underground cables, but after a second year of begging, they actually came out and saw what I meant about our corner lacking the green trees that our city is known for. They did an investigation for wires and pipes underground and decided that we could have a tree planted with a small root system. This is a terrible picture, but I'm telling you, it was the happiest day in November when they finally rolled up and planted our little Silk Lilac tree. Everybody, meet George. We  I names him after George Harrison, and this summer, I am going to make him a tiny replica of Rocky the Stratocaster guitar and laminate it and hang it from one of his branches. :)    I'm so so happy!!!! 

What else? Well, I noticed that I have a lot of pictures wearing a mask if that's something. My stepbrother stopped by one day and was wearing a very fancy mask. He was delivering "800 hot chocolates on a stick and 6 cakes" from their restaurant and bakery to a large office that was having a holiday party. He drove 800 hot chocolates on a stick 250 miles. I don't know why but I thought that was very amusing. I guess I need to get out more. By the way, as a mask connoisseur, my favorite by far for comfort and performance are the BOTN KF94's with the adjustable ear straps. 

One thing that we've really tried to do is to get outside and explore and hike and see new places. Once in a while Noah would join us, like on this gorgeous fall day at Cranbrook.

Usually though, being a teenager, he didn't really want to tag along. A lot of the time it was just Jon, Josie and I. We had some good adventures and visited some trails and state parks that we've never visited before. The kids will grow up, but the dog will always want to hang out with you. 

A little winter snow will never stop a Michigander! We keep getting out. In fact, I think we're supposed to get a lot of snow this week. Somewhere I saw they were calling for 15".  I'm here for it. I want to get outside and shovel.  I love the snow! Noah and I took a snowy Christmas light walk one night. Our little downtown plasters lights everywhere.

We are ready for you snow, and many more adventures.....

(Sound ON)

And you know guys, that's about it! If you've made it this far, I appreciate you reading along through the minutia of my current life. 
I hope all of you are doing well and moving along the best that you can. I appreciate each and every one of you! Keep sparkling!!!

Until next time. 


elizagramer said...

I loved reading your blog update over coffee this morning ☕️ A very warm, cozy, creative, and exciting read😊 Best to you and your beautiful family Lauren!

Christine Lyon said...

So great to be able to “catch up” on all of your exciting and wonderful happenings big and small! Congrats to Noah - he remains one of our favorite people ever and we are all so happy for him here at the Lyon farmhouse!

Lauren said...

Awww, thanks for taking the time to comment Elizagramer. I'm glad that the post made you feel cozy. xoxoxoxoxo!!!

Lauren said...

Hey Christine!!! Many thanks to you and everyone in the Lyon Farmhouse! :)
The feeling is mutual. Hope everyone is doing swimmingly and staying warm. xoxoxoxo!!!

Patty said...


Rachel C said...

Hello!! Thank you for your blog! I've come here since 2014 when I decided at 31 to stop coloring my whites (cause they aren't gray, it's completely white). There were times I qiestioned my decision at age 31, but I stuck with it. I even landed the best job and got two promotions with my white hair in the front and brown in the back. But, alas, I let two comments shake my foundation in 2021. I had a rainbow baby in 2020 at age 36. Skip to 2021 at the 12 month well child check up and the nurse assistant asked if I was the mom or grandma. I was crushed. I cut 15" off my hair thinking it would make me look 37, but then at the 18 month check up I was asked again. Crushed again. Over the last year I kept trying to find a short cut I liked and that I felt didn't actually make me look older. Finally decided that I loved my long hair and that I want it back. But I decided that if I wanted to try coloring again now was the time since my hair is shorter. I got a weave and it looked fantastic. $120 but it looked fantastic....for about two weeks. Then the roots started to show. It's totally not worth it for me to pay that money (and spend that time) over and over again. Plus I feel like I deserted who I was by cutting my hair, always putting makeup on and then finally coloring my whites. It's not who I want to be. I've wanted to send you a message for awhile now, but decided that notes the time. It's so hard to stay strong to what you want and believe when society says different. Coloring one's hair isn't a bad thing, but if you've decided it's not for you, then it's not for you. It's hard to be the young one who's hair fits in with the 70 and 80 year olds. Anyways, I wanted to let you and your readers know it's hard. I appreciate you putting yourself out here on the web. I love your blog posts. So up lifting to know there is someone similar to me several states away. Blessings to you!! Hugs, Rachel

Lauren said...

Oh my gosh, RACHEL!!! Thank you so very very much for writing and taking the time to share your story with us. I am almost in tears, thinking about how those two comments must have felt. I'm so sorry. While comments aren't usually made maliciously, they can sting, right!? I know that going gray at a younger age is EMOTIONAL and difficult. Thank you for reading the blog and for being here for such a long time too. I feel not alone in being a younger (rapidly aging though!) gray haired Silver Sister.

Congratulations on your rainbow baby. How happy. Maybe you are experiencing the following right now- but as my son grew and time went by, my fears of looking like his Grandma lessened a bit. Definitely, I had the exact worries as you did. Once someone walking past me said "Pardon me Grandma!" Then, when I turned around he was surprised and apologized. I have to think that if the nurse assistant had stoped for a moment before speaking, and really looked and though for a moment- they would have known you are not the Grandmother.

I'm so ramble today! I will stop here, but please know how much I appreciate your comment and that sharing your story helps other and myself as well! It's good to know we're not alone in this "adventure." It gets easier with each year , it really does, so from one Silver Sister to another, I'm sending you BIG hugs and hopes for no more silly comments and lots more better hair days. Thanks for being a wonderful example to all of us in shining in your own, wonderful way. <3 xoxoxoxoxoxoox

I'm sorry you had to go through the ups and downs of cutting your hair and then trying a hair weave, coloring your hair....BUT....1.) They're kind of fun! and 2.) It showed you in the end what your authentic YOU really feels like! You learned what feels good on you and that is so priceless. :)
Like you said, if something isn't for you, it isn't for you. No right or wrong way as long as it feels like a good fit!

All of this said, I'm like you Rachel, in that I was trying to figure out what hair cuts age me etc. I've found that on myself, as much as I WANT a short haircut, they age me. I am in desperate need of a haircut right now actually, but nothing drastic. I'm not sure if you are the same, but short, more harsh cuts seemed to add quite a few years to my face. So, yeah, finding a more youthful style can be helpful and it's fun trying out new looks along the way.