Monday, January 31, 2011


Yep, that's what I'm doing. Likely to do it a few more times before I hit "publish", too! I was up at 5:20 this morning in order to make it to W-S by 6:00 (a.m....yeah) for inventory. Then, as soon as I left, I was in Stella & Dot mode, prepping for my trunk show tonight. I'm shocked that I didn't crash at all--it's like my second wind snuck in before I had a chance to crash. So before my body starts to conjure up a third wind and keep me up all night, I'm going to call it a day. More tomorrow--

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Two whole days of beautiful weather (in Central KY, following several days of spring-like temps on the road) got me in the mood for some spring cleaning this afternoon! Luckily, J played along and did a fabulous job cleaning our kitchen! He also hauled the Christmas tree downstairs (don't judge), so I could tackle the living room. It's so nice to have it back to a more normal layout!

I have a Stella & Dot Trunk Show tomorrow (following a very long day at W-S), so I'm glad to have accomplished most of the work tonight. If you're local, drop by! I've got a ton of new samples in and can't wait to play!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday smells like... Charity Breakfasts

I think I mentioned last night that I was not home yet, as we had just made it back to my parents' place in far western Kentucky. Well, after six days and about 1800 miles, I'm finally back at my house! But, before I left town this morning, my parents asked me to join them for breakfast. Now, any other day (or any other time in their lives), they would have meant in the kitchen at their table. No longer.

A few years ago in my parents rural community, one of the local churches started serving breakfast one Saturday morning a month. It was a good way to get folks in the door in a more casual setting than Sunday church and a good way for the members of the community to share the local news and enjoy breaking bread together. Over time, other churches got on board with the idea, too, and they all sort of worked out a first Saturday, second Saturday, etc. rotation. Then, back in the fall, the local Masons realized that in those few months with five Saturdays everyone is left without an option for breakfast. So they've started their own, hosted at the Woodmen of the World building. Today being one of those fifth Saturdays, we headed into town (in three cars, mind you...out there a carbon footprint is a fossil you stumble upon while walking in the woods) for breakfast. Each sponsor charges a little bit for your meal and they all donate to local charities. Given my past life of charging $50 or $75 a plate for a fundraiser, I have to confess that $5 for the plate of food we received seemed a little low to me.

So what did Saturday smell like? Country ham and sausage, eggs--scrambled or fried to order, biscuits, gravy--red eye or traditional, coffee and juice. To borrow a line from a current commercial, it was certainly a good start!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Furnishing Friday: Brass Lamp

Lamp today (left) and lamp in the early 1950's (right)

Item: Brass lamp with red shade

Who Purchased: Grandmother B.

Year Purchased/Received: early 1950’s—we think 1952

Location Purchased/Received: Owensboro

Description: This lamp has a brass base and a red milk glass shade. My Grandmother B. bought it sometime in 1951 or 1952 (we think 1952) after a special glass lamp (worth noting that she no longer remembers what that special lamp looked like) was broken by my mom and her little sister while roughhousing. She bought this one as a cheap replacement that wouldn’t break as easily. We are dating this lamp by the picture on a Christmas Card that we actually just discovered in November. In the only Christmas photocard my Grandparents B. ever sent, the lamp is shown over my mom’s right shoulder. Also over her shoulder, you’ll notice her braids (okay, maybe you won’t, but my close-up picture came out fuzzy). When mom was in first grade, Tommy Dantic from down the street pulled her braids, so my grandmother had them cut off. Since the braids are still present, we know mom was six in the picture, so 1952!

Markings: None. I've turned it completely over and can't find a single marking.

How it came to the MP: In 2005, my Grandmother B. downsized her Owensboro condo in exchange for an assisted living facility in Texas. At the time, my mom took the lamp home with her to western Kentucky. I later needed a lamp in my living room, and mom thought the shade would match the rug we bought on our honeymoon, so she brought it to the MP.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Greetings from Hot Springs!

Y'all might remember that two days ago, I was hassling my mom about visiting Hot Springs, Arkansas. Well, after two days of slipping it into conversation at every chance, she finally relented and we stopped by on our way north today.
For those of y'all who don't know Hot Springs, there are more than forty natural springs on Hot Springs Mountain that flow out just above the city. In the early 1900's people flocked to the springs for their medicinal powers. Later, they city captured the springwater and private investors built huge bathhouses for the visitors. There is even an old hospital built in the early 1930's for military veterans healing from World War I. That area around the springs was declared a National Park in 1921--the eighteenth national park in the U.S.

The National Park Service operates one of the old bathhouses, the Fordyce, as a museum (some are still in operation as bathhouses). It is absolutely amazing, with three floors devoted to the baths and people who used them. I was most impressed by the men's bath hall. It was stunning! The hall made up the central part of the building with other rooms (each designed to meet a specific need using the spring water) surrounding it. Among those rooms was the women's bath hall. In the golden age of bathing, it was advertised as 'equal in every way' to the men's bath hall. Believe me, it wasn't.

While I don't necessarily think of Little Rock/Hot Springs as a vacation destination, you can bet I'll be after J to schedule a trip back. I'd love to stay at the Arlington (built in the golden age of bathing, it is just across the street from the last building on Bathhouse Row), eat at Al Capone's old place, 'take the waters' and enjoy a taste of early twentieth century !

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"My Only Granddaughter"

For today's Wordless Wednesday, I thought I'd share the purpose of this quick trip to Texas--

This is my Grandmother B., known to my siblings, cousin and myself (as well as our spouses, their families, our friends, etc.) as Mur, a nickname my oldest brother gave her when he started talking. She'd be less than thrilled if she knew I was putting this picture out on the internet, but it was the only one I had a chance to take today. I'll do better tomorrow! :)
She loved introducing us to the staff where she lives (The Gregg Home for the Aged--y'all who know Mur will probably crack up as much as I did at how appropriate it seems that she has found her home in a "home for the aged"!). My aunt lives near here and knows the staff well. My mom, on the other hand, can only make it down a couple times a year, so she is known as Mur's "Other Daughter". I'm sure mom was thrilled with the title. I, on the other hand, was introduced as her only granddaughter--an awesome title I've been thrilled to hold for nearly 31 years. My brothers and cousin have each done their part to be sure she has great-granddaughters, but I love holding down the fort for my generation!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Through fog, through rain...

I felt a bit like a member of the US Postal Service today. My mom and I realized last week that I had several consecutive days off this week and decided that there was just enough time to squeeze in a quick road trip to visit my grandmother (of the living room) in Texas. I left Lexington yesterday after the plumbers left and drove the four hours to my folks' in western Kentucky, then we woke up and headed out this morning.

The first leg of the trip was insanely foggy (like, the pea-soup variety of fog), but it finally cleared (mostly) by the time we passed into Tennessee. It came back a bit as we approached the Mississippi River near Dyersburg, but not nearly as thick as it had been . We crossed into Missouri briefly, then made it to Arkansas. We were most impressed to have made it to our fourth state of the day in less than two and a half hours. I guess I forgot that we'd be spending most of the trip in Arkansas.

Just over the border, about the time the rain started, we came to the town of Burdette, which is my mom's maiden name. So what do you do when you're on a road trip with limited time? You stop and visit. Burdette is 105 years old and built on what was once a cotton plantation. There is still a huge cotton farm in the fields around town. At less than one square mile, we managed to drive around, through and back around (and to make stops at two of the three businesses in town--the post office and water company; no one was in at the Burdette Farm Office) in about thirty minutes.

We got back on the interstate and realized it was lunch time, so hopped back off at the next exit to grab a bite to eat. Needless to say, we managed to over-correct the quick time we had been making and between the two side trips, lost an hour or so. The rain got heavier as we approached Memphis, and shortly after turning west on I-40 it turned into snow. Not fun, and mom probably wasn't helped by my assurances that 'we were on the edge of the system' and it'd be 'sunshine and blue skies soon'!

But! Just before we got to Little Rock, what should appear? Why, the sunshine and blue skies! I'd actually started to give up hope (oh wait, we're in Arkansas, where Hope is a place we still believe in!)...

We stopped for the night south of Little Rock and have another 150 miles to go tomorrow. I'm trying to convince mom that we should take a side trip to the diamond park nearby (finders keepers!!) tomorrow before we set out. Seeing as she nixed a side trip to Hot Springs earlier today, I'm not expecting to win that battle, either.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bathroom Update!

Yes, this post is totally worth an exclamation point in the title, but let me build up to that--
I mentioned in Friday's post that I'd been working on the bathroom again. I spent a little time over the last couple of weeks finishing the painting, and then spent a little time Thursday cleaning the floor. Friday, I used our new Dremel (thanks to J's folks for that awesome toy!) to clean out the grout lines where thinset had squished up between the tiles when J laid them back in October. After clearing the grout lines, I tackled the fun task of cleaning the floor. And by fun, I mean not.
In order to get the tiles really clean (necessary for sealing), I ended up laying flat on the floor with a rag and bowl of water. While the rag was useful, I spent more time using my thumbnail to scrape up paint splatters, thinset, and drywall mud that had found its way to the floor. The paint splatters were most surprising, since I was quick to wipe up any paint that dripped last week. It makes me wonder how many microscopic droplets of paint are on the wood floors in our bedroom leftover from last year's paint job in there!
Anyhow, after spending a good couple of hours on the floor (that averages out to just over 5 minutes per square foot for those keeping count), I finished up just as J got home. He was ready to collapse for the night until I explained the reason for getting us so close to done--I'd scheduled the plumber for Monday (today). Needless to say, J found his second wind, and we found the tools (after a quick trip to Lowes to replace the grout float that I know he bought in August) to grout the floor. 72 hours or so later, we've got a floor that looks better than ever.
Today, the plumbers came back to re-install the toilet. Since they came at lunchtime, J came home at the same time and got to meet the guys. We've had the same two for each visit, and will probably have them back at least one more time before we're finished. They were incredibly complimentary of the tile job, and even joked that they felt much safer on the floor than before! I'd say they are right--it's vastly better than that quarter-inch thick trampoline-like subfloor the previous owner left us with!
So here we are today--toilet installed and working great! (As far as J is concerned, this is why this post title is worth an exclamation point. Four and a half months without a working toilet on the main floor, and several near misses on the stairs during an early morning stumble down to the bathroom have taken their toll!)

You can see the new vanity in this picture, too. It will move back towards the wall behind it about four inches, and we still need to have the marble slab countertop fabricated for it. Oh, and J's job this week is to find a new toilet seat for us--that oak, like the old vanity and medicine cabinet, has got to go!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On being talented

I've talked about my Sunday School class before, and even wrote a whole post about our talents, but today's lesson got me thinking more about a line in that lesson's materials. Tucked in the third or fourth page of that lesson was the reminder that talents aren't always positive things. Talents are gifts from a loving God, and sometimes, the things that we think of as negative traits are just talents waiting to be cultivated, nurtured, or worked on.

Today, I (and other adults!) took my class, along with other members of our Rite 13 (fifth-seventh grade) and YAC (tenth-twelth grade) classes snowtubing at a ski resort ("resort" is probably stretching it, but I've no idea what to call it). During the first lesson on, and subsequent conversations about, our talents, I shared that line with my class. I shared with them how I'm a bit of a control freak, and how that trait extends so far that it makes me afraid to fly or go on some fair rides (like ferris wheels). It's not a fear of heights mind you--I love to rappel and, once I had surveyed the situation, was fine standing at the edge of the Space Needle and against the window of the Sears Tower (the elevator rides to the top of those structures was a whole different story). I just don't like feeling bumps and jumps and not knowing why they happen. I spend entire flights explaining to myself why turbulance happens; I practically prevent J from breathing on a ferris wheel for fear of causing the seat to sway in an unexpected manner.

Likewise, while I don't necessary like to be in charge at work or in organizations to which I belong, I like to have good relationships with those who are. It gives me insight into the 'why' behind organizational change that might affect me. The information I can obtain gives me a sense of control.

In the case of planes and ferris wheels (and ski lifts, which I was secretly grateful I didn't have to navigate today), I work hard not to let the fear take over. In this case, rather than letting the trait of fear persist as a negative trait, I can instead focus on developing bravery, creating coping mechanisms, cultivating persistence--all generally considered positive traits, traits more commonly associated with talents in the traditional sense of the word.

In the case of organizational control, I don't have any idea what to do. At it's root, the same fear of a lack of control is at work, but unlike flying, this case involves other people, relationships. How do you let go of control in a relationship? I don't doubt that I have the ability to address this, but I don't know which traits to cultivate, which to nurture...

So what do you think? Any thoughts or observations?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday smells like... Waffles

I've been craving waffles for a few weeks now, and since it turned cold again, the flame isn't working on the cooktop this weekend. Solution? Waffles! Using Alton Brown's Good Eats recipe for waffles (with a few substitutions) and our trusty new KitchenAid stand mixer, Chef J created these:

Yum! And, because the waffle recipe called for wheat flour, I didn't even feel guilty for adding a big dollop of homemade Chantilly Cream! It evens out...right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Furnishing Friday: End Tables

So I realize that this week's Furnishing Friday is going up so late that for some of my readers it's already Saturday. My apologies, but I was on a roll in the bathroom today, and I just couldn't tear myself (and later J and myself) away! Enjoy!

This is the smaller and older of the two end tables.

Item: End tables

Who Purchased: My grandparents B. purchased the first; Grandfather B. made the second

Year Purchased/Received: first—around 1953; second—1958 or 1959

Location Purchased/Received: first—Swope family estate sale in Whitesville, KY (east of Owensboro); second—made in Owensboro

Description: Both are solid wood (I don’t know what type). It is suspected that the older table was also handmade because one of the legs is clearly a different type of wood than the rest of the table (the grain of the wood in the ‘off’ leg looks to be oak). The older table is smaller at 23 inches wide, 17 inches deep, and 29 inches tall. It has two drawers that are beautifully dovetailed together. The second table is stained to match and is roughly the same style as the first, but is much larger at 20.5 inches wide, 25 inches deep and 29 inches tall. According to my mom, my grandfather built the second table to accommodate the lamps I wrote about here. Remember when I said the lamps always sat on each end of the couch? This is when that started!

Markings: First—None that I can see; Second—a tag stuck to the inside of the top drawer with my mother’s name and several illegible words (Seems my mom’s penmanship was passed down from her mother!).

How it came to the MP: We got these tables at the same time we received the rest of my grandmother B.'s living room. As I said before, I remember them sitting on each end of a couch, as they had been (again, in three different houses, with three different couches) since the late 1950’s when my grandfather built the second table. The first table was actually a family piece before my grandparents purchased it at the estate sale. If I understand the trail correctly, my grandmother B.’s father (great-grandfather Corley)’s mother Julia was a Swope. Her two brothers (both bachelors) and two sisters (either spinsters or widow’s—we aren’t sure) all lived together into old age on a farm about 30 miles east of Owensboro. When the last of them passed away leaving no descendents among the four, their belongings (including the older of these tables) and the farm were sold. My mom and her parents attended the sale, which mom remembers being around 1953 or so. We don't actually know that these family members made the table, but we think it is the case.

So that's it for the end tables for now. You may have noticed that I went back and updated last week's post after I learned more. I'll likely do the same to this one, too!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If scientists can change...

If scientists can change the astrological calendar, do you think I could change the regular calendar? I mean, they've added a new sign, so I figure can add a couple of days in the week and it should all work out okay, right?

Here's why: I've realized that Thursdays are my super-productive house day. It doesn't matter what the first part of the week looks like, I don't seem to get a lot of work done on the house before Thursday. Case in point--last week, I spent the first days of the week being snowed in (Right, I realize this means I had 72 whole hours to be productive inside, but I was being snowed in! You can't be productive when the weather dictates that you curl up with something warm to drink and a good movie!!), and by Thursday, I was ready to get things done around the house. This week, we didn't have snow (though it just started to fall, so I'm thinking tomorrow looks good for another snow day!). J was home Monday and I had a Stella & Dot event Monday night, then worked at Williams-Sonoma Tuesday, volunteered a couple of places yesterday and made a cake, and then today--boom--painted my bathroom. Now granted, I squeezed that in between a Stella & Dot meeting and prepping for a trunk show tonight, so it clearly didn't take a lot of time. But that's my point--the desire to nest just doesn't strike before Thursday!

So what do I need to get more accomplished at the MP? More days in the week after Thursday!! I can make this happen, right?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cake love

It had been a while since I did any cake decorating so last week I sent out a call for inspiration on facebook. A Girl Scout friend suggested doing a birthday cake for a mutual friend, who happens to be an Adventure Team facilitator (translation: she likes to climb towers and zip line off of them). What better way to celebrate an "over the hill" birthday than this?


Some days, no matter how good the day (and Tuesday was a pretty awesome day), the universe (or Insight's internet) might keep me from getting a post up. I've had days in the past few months where I would have completely freaked out and focused on the one thing I didn't accomplish (a blog post) rather than the many things that I did get done. Not freaking out, accepting the things I cannot change, taking a deep breath and being okay with it...that feels good.

I'll be back later with a picture for Wordless Wednesday. Have a great day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Night at the other MP

This morning, I received an email from at staff member of the local fondue restaurant--the Melting Pot--asking if I'd like to be their Ladies Night Out vendor tonight. Back story: Since October 2010, I've been an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot, a jewelry company that wowed me with their philosophy of empowering women. I wore one of their pieces to dinner at the Melting Pot with J in November and was quickly asked to share Stella & Dot at their December Ladies Night Out event. I figured it would be a one-time opportunity, so I was thrilled (and a bit surprised) to receive their email.

Long story short (because it's been another long day and late night), I had a great time sharing S&D with a huge group of women tonight. Stella & Dot is still a relatively new company without a lot of name recognition here, and I'm happy that I could give so many women a positive introduction to it. Even if it means aching calves and feet (standing on concrete in heels for four hours wasn't a planned part of the evening!), it was well worth it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A quick check-in

You know when it's this late and I don't have a post up that it must have been a good day. Actually, it's been a good couple of days.

The last 24 hours in a nutshell--J and I were out way past our bedtime last night playing a couple of new board games and talking with good friends (you know you're an adult when the conversations revolve around economic incentives and tax credits).

Today, I was up early for Sunday School (expect a late post next week, too, as I'm heading to a nearby ski-slope with this group!) and church. After church, J and I grabbed a quick lunch before I went to work for several hours (a great day with a little bit of everything to do!).

I left work just in time to meet back up with J and two of my former co-workers and their husbands for a late dinner. You know you've had a good time when you're among the last patrons to leave!

Now, I'm just trying to keep my eyes open long enough to get a post up! I hope you've each had your own special and wonderful weekend!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday smells like... Pork and Pancakes

I love Saturdays--together with Sunday, weekends allow J to flex his cooking muscle and test his chops (ha!) with meals he won't try on a weeknight.

Today, we've been blessed with fire at the MP (Good news: we can cook on the cooktop! Bad news: It just magically came back, so the problem isn't what I had hoped for...), so I just woke up from an afternoon nap to the smell of pork loin with a balsamic glaze wafting through the house. Yum!

In a few minutes, I'll be working on some ebelskivers to take to a dinner tonight. Double yum!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Furnishing Friday: Hedco Lamp

Edit: I'm totally reworking the format of this post, and adding information my mom shared in an email! Look for this to become something of a standard format for Furnishing Fridays!

Okay, new theme for you--Furnishing Fridays!

We've inherited a LOT of home furnishings from family, which I love--J and I enjoy an antique or two, and it feeds the genealogist in me, too! Unfortunately, I don't know the stories behind the pieces occupying space in the MP, and without the story, isn't a piece really just worthless?

My goal with Furnishing Fridays is two-fold. First, figure out what we have. Second, record the history, and the stories that accompany those family pieces, in a place that won't be easily lost. In the words of that new commercial, I'm going "to the cloud" to save the stories!

First up--this lamp.

Item: Lamp (one of a pair)
Who Purchased: My grandmother B.
Year Purchased/Received: late 1950's/early 1960's
Location Purchased/Received: Owensboro, KY, probably Andersen's Dept Store or Purdy's Furniture Store
Description: The lamp actually lights up in two places--one bulb is in the hurricane on top, and the other is down in the lower part of the lamp. The glass is milk glass (I think). The pattern is a bunch of grapes--looks like a gold decal--and a painted dot or leaf motif around the grapes.
Markings: It is stamped HEDCO on the bottom of the base, which seems to be molded metal (brass?). I did a quick Google search on the name Hedco and turned up tons of pictures of similar lamps, many referred to as "Gone With the Wind" lamps. I can't find anything about the company, though, as Hedco is (now, at least) a snow making company.
How it came to the MP: We got these lamps from my grandmother, back when we got the rest of her living room. I remember them sitting on each end of a couch, and if I recall, they had been that way (in different houses, with different couches) since the fifties. Mom confirmed that these lamps were on each end of a couch from the beginning--three different houses (and three different couches!) in Owensboro and two more homes in Texas. I feel a little bad for separating them now!

So here is where you come in--flesh out the story for me! Mom, since I know you're reading, can you fill me in on when and where these were purchased? And why?? Other readers, what do you know about HEDCO? Where can I learn more?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Primitive Cooking

For those of you who know me well, you know that Primitive Cooking has nothing to do with an open fire, and quite frankly, nothing to do with even an old wood stove. No, for the girl (and guy!) who outsourced cooking for the first several years of our relationship, it doesn't take much to reach "primitive" in my mind. This week, primitive means making do without the cooktop. Don't ask why--it's complicated and we're crossing our fingers it will solve itself sometime soon.

Now, as overachievers, once we decided to cook for ourselves, we overdid it a little. We have an oven, a microwave oven, a convection oven, a toaster--really, the options for heating food in our kitchen are pretty much unneccesarily broad. That said, we really like to use the cooktop. Even when something will eventually make its way to the oven, we usually start with some part of it on the cooktop. So living without, and still being committed to reducing our restuarant budget, means creativity in the kitchen.

Lucky for me, my husband rocks at that. Tonight, he baked some bacon in the convection oven, used the fat and other ingredients to make a bacon vinaigrette, then threw together a taco salad with the dressing. Yum!

Where do you do your cooking? What are you favorite non-cooktop recipes?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After three days inside, I guess I'm feeling better and maybe just a bit stir crazy! J will come home to several small changes!

This morning, I sanded down the blistered parts of the bathroom wall and got a first coat of paint on the two walls that were still white (back story: I painted the two "easy" walls of that bathroom three years ago). Two interesting observations--first, the room doesn't look as dark as I was afraid it would with all four walls that color, and second, the new color matches the existing color. I was afraid that the color on the walls would have faded and/or that the paint still in the can would have changed somehow, too. I will definitely have to do a second coat, but am pleased so far. Next up, finishing the floor, then the magical call to the plumbers that J is waiting so eagerly for!

After cleaning up from the bathroom job, I decided I was hungry. Which eventually led to whipping up some spaghetti sauce (seriously, the most delicious sauce ever!) to use in a yummy pizza. I've mentioned before how very brand loyal I am and generally (almost always!) we have a jar or three of Ragu Traditional on hand. Unfortunately, I emptied the last jar last night, and didn't bother to look for another until I'd prepped the pizza crust. So I did a quick recipe search, decided I had everything needed, and went to work. Thank goodness for our food processor!

Want to make your own? Here you go:
One can Hunts diced tomatoes
One can Hunts tomato paste
handful of chopped onions
a couple small handfulls of brown sugar
a dash of chopped pizza pepper
a couple of dashes of Mrs. Dash tomato basil seasoning
two tablespoons or so of chopped garlic
two tablespoons or so of olive oil

After putting in every couple of ingredients I stopped, ran the food processor for 30 seconds or so, then stopped, added a couple more, ran the processor, etc. Obviously, I wasn't measuring anything. I think that's okay and it obviously didn't hurt the end product. I'm totally looking forward to some pasta tonight!

I did some DAR work for a while, then decided I was itching to do something else. What could I do? Oh wait, there's that spot in the drywall downstairs that needs to be primed and painted (what, you thought we finished that a year ago? Yeah...We started it December 2009, but the drywall work just got finished a couple months ago...). So off I went to the family room, can of primer and paint roller in hand. Now, we cross our fingers that the paint in the family room matches as well as the bathroom paint did.

So, thinking that I was done for the day, I curled up with my laptop and a few favorite blogs. Then I came across the Winter Mantel linky party that Beth at the Stories of A to Z is hosting. Of course! I hadn't decorated my mantel for winter! And off I went in search of a garland and wreaths I picked up at Hobby Lobby at an after-Christmas sale a couple of years ago. The wreaths and garland are a kind of grapevine base with feaux crystals, like ice tipping the edges. They are perfect for this time of year--icy and cold and still beautiful!! One went up on the front door, replacing the sleigh bells I put up for Christmas; the other I hung in front of the Paul Sawyier hanging over our mantel. The grapevine trees I put out for Christmas still fit in and the garland looks great draped across the mantel itself. I tried other things on the mantel, too, but edited it back to just the garland. I like its simplicity. So anyhow, here you go!

Lucky for me (and you, if you're still reading!), J came in just as I finished taking pictures, so I think that's all the nesting you'll get from me today. Tomorrow, I'll be braving the cold to run errands and go to meetings!

Play Ball!

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Today's picture: Zep playing with his ball in the snow. He won't play ball by himself any other time, but when it snows, he'll toss the ball with his nose and run after it--so cute!! (The ball is the small dot a few feet to the right of his front paws.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I just realized it's no surprise...

I just realized that it's no surprise I can't think of a theme for this blog. I can't even figure out what I want to be when I grow up or settle on a single job for more than a few years; how on earth can I expect myself to settle on a single topic for a blog?!? I mean, seriously. I'm absolutely laughing at myself right now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Main Bath update!

I woke up feeling better today (still coughing and dealing with a voice that isn't always there when I need it, but still much better!), so I decided to tackle the bathroom. I think the last time I actually talked about the bathroom was here, back on October 9. Now, it hasn't been an entirely quiet three months on the bathroom front, but to assume that three months have passed and we're still stumbling downstairs in the middle of the night to use the facilities would be accurate.

I came back from my trip to find the marble tile in, but we learned an important lesson about natural stone and lippage (the idea that not every piece is the same thickness and that you have to watch how level everything is). After debating, researching, talking to tile contractors we decided, finally, that we could live with tile.

Next step? Paint the walls. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. We took the old medicine cabinet off the wall to find that the PO covered up a huge hole in the wall (and some sketchy electrical work--shocker) with the medicine cabinet we so disliked. A quick visit with an electrician and a long, long, long process with a friend who has drywall experience (and, to be fair, a part time job that turned into long days and weeks in December that kept me from being at home to work more on the house), and we are finally ready to paint.

I picked up primer last week and today threw it up on the walls. One problem (of course!): In one part of the wall--the one part that won't be covered up by vanity and mirror--the paint is bubbling and peeling. Like, I've primed over the existing paint, and the existing paint is bubbling. When I pop the bubble, the existing paint peels.

Now what? Can I ignore the bubbles instead of popping and peeling? Will they grow or will they go away? What caused them anyway? Am I using the wrong primer? Will painting over the primer cause the same problem?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


So I've been doing the daily blog post thing for a week now (roughly...9 days, I guess). Daily blogging is both easier and more difficult thank I expected. In terms of holding myself accountable, it is vastly easier than I expected (even when some posts go up at midnight, like yesterday's!). Subject matter, though? A little tougher than I expected.

When I think about the blogs I read, they generally have a purpose--decorating blogs, design blogs, mommy blogs--there is a thread that runs through the blog that you can see even when a post deviates a bit. This blog was started to keep our non-local friends and family up to date with the big events in our home and lives. Sporadic blogging worked well for that purpose.

So what now? I don't know that daily blogging serves a friends and family blog when there isn't something going on that necessitates daily updates. I like the outlet that journaling provides, but is this the right venue for that? How does a blog evolve?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happiness is a long day with little sleep...

I like to sleep. On average, 9 hours is a good night for me. This sinus infection has completely messed with that, but between naps and nightime, I've done okay. Last night, though, I was up late--way later than usual, and then I was up early this morning. Normally, that would make for a grumpy JE.

Today, though, I woke up to an unexpected snow storm that dumped three inches of the stuff on my little corner of the world. My over-scheduled day took a break. I sat in my kitchen and chatted with my mom while J cooked us breakfast and Zep frolicked outside. As we finished breakfast, the sun came out. It was gorgeous streaming across the fresh snow!

While the cold temperatures will keep the ground white for a while, the roads cleared fairly quickly, and by late morning, mom and I were on our way to the next part of our day--a retreat with a group of state leaders of the DAR. By noon, we were chatting with old friends from across the state. As of this writing (just midnight, there are still small clusters of women tucked away in rooms at our B&B (the Montgomery Inn in Versailles, KY). It's been a long day, but it's been a good one with good friends, good food, laughter and learning--about each other, our organization, and even a little about me. What a blessing it turned out to be!

P.S. If you're looking for a getaway with a loved one, or a retreat for a small group (ten rooms, sleeping up to 26 or so), I'd highly recommend this B&B. We've had great food and accomodations for a very reasonable price!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blessings and Curses

The church that J and I attend has a pretty cool tradition that we like to call "Drive By Blessings". On the feast of the Epiphany (the day the Church celebrates as the day the Wise Men reached the baby Jesus)--January 6--our priest visits parishoners' homes and blesses each at their front door. As a part of the blessing, he marks the front door with the year and letters representative of the Wise Men (and also possibly an abbreviation for the latin translation of something like a blessing on all who enter).

I've been sick this week, fighting a sinus infection that landed me in bed for a couple days. Yesterday, I looked forward all day to our home blessing, sort of my one bright spot in a sea of fatigue and kleenex. When J arrived home at 7:00, I asked if he noticed anything on the door. He didn't. I sent him back outside to check again. Still nothing. Bright spot extinguished, I *may* have cursed the whole blessing process. A little. And maybe sent a smart aleck comment to the priest on Facebook. And then collapsed back into bed.

I woke up feeling a little better, and headed out to work. When I glanced back at the door, I found this--

Looks like the priest had a late night getting everyone in, and we were sufficiently blessed after all. I've heard it took the Wise Men into Jesus' toddlerhood before they reached him...maybe there's a lesson in patience there for me. Maybe sometimes, God has to speak up a little for me to hear Him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking Forward

So finally (almost a week into the new year, but who's counting?) I'm ready to post the Melton Point Goals for 2011. I actually intended to post this Monday or Tuesday, but I found that The Nester (motto: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful--don't you just love that??) planned a linky party for today to share goals for 2011. Full admission, I've never participated in a linky party and I may totally fail, but if I am going to blog more consistently, I figure parties like this will help me keep the ideas flowing. Basically, you can click to her post here, and you'll see all of the other people who are sharing their goals today. They may or may not show up here, too, but I don't think so...

So, in 2011, J and I will:
  • Run 150 miles each.
  • Participate in a half-marathon. Right now, we're looking towards the Flying Pig in Cincinnati, but we are open to others.
  • Continue our weight loss efforts. 25 pounds for JE; 40 for J.
  • Complete the following home improvement projects:

Finish the main bath (seal and grout the marble, prime and paint the walls, reinstall toilet and vanity, buy and install mirror, install new shower curtain curtain rod)

Finish the master bedroom (make and hang curtains, print pictures for photo wall, hang pictures on photo wall)

Finish front of house (paint shutters, reinstall flag pole)

Back of house (rebuild deck using composite lumber, move storage shed)

Library (stain bookshelves, figure out what kind of countertop to install, install built-ins)

Living room--if we accomplish everything else and are feeling a little bored (In the words of President Reagan--Tear down this wall!, and then fix the stairs, paint)

  • Continue to work on our finances. Currently, we spend entirely too much on food for two people (grocery and eating out combined), and we hope to pare down to half of what we spend now.
  • Internalize and live our 2011 phrase--Be alert, for God is a whisper. Read more about that in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Are you listening?

In addition to setting goals for ourselves at the start of each year, J and I also like to choose a quote or phrase to guide our throughts in the new year.

In 2009, we worked at being present. It was an important goal, and it was one we still have to stop and remind ourselves of. It is easy for Type A, perfectionist, anxious types to get wrapped up in thinking about where they should be, what they should be doing instead of simply enjoying time with each other, with friends, and with family. It was important and necessary for our health in 2009 that we internalize this idea, but it is still important that we remember it's importance today.

In 2010, we took the next step--not only did we work to be present, but we worked to be gentle with ourselves and others. I talked a little bit about this last week in the 2010 wrap-up post, where I shared the lesson I learned about being gentle with myself. But, I still have work to do in the other half of the statement--be gentle with others. I really see this going hand-in-hand with being present. How many times do I brush someone off or walk away from a conversation realizing I've no idea what we talked about or how they answered a question? It's because too frequently, I'm not present. I've already moved on to another question, another conversation in my head.

So, admitting that our phrases for 2009 and 2010 will still crop up in 2011, J and I have selected a new one. Again, it is a good next step, as it requires both presence and gentleness with others to be successful. This year, we are taking a phrase from our Sunday church services--Be Alert, for God is a whisper.

While we both grew up in the church, this whole faith thing is still fairly new to us. We spent years rationalizing away what I called the Church of the Puffy White Cloud. So the idea of listening, looking for advice, support, and guidance from God in our day-to-day lives is a stretch. Bute we know that He isn't found only in red letter words; He is in the words of those around us every day. This year, we hope to be alert to those conversations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This Little Piggy

WARNING: There is a picture of feet immediately after the second paragraph. I know some of y'all are not into feet and I just want to give to the heads up to close this tab/window and go on with your day in peace.

There are some bloggers who participate in this thing called Wordless Wednesdays where they post pictures once a week instead of a whole post. I've no idea if there are actual guidelines to this movement or not, but I figure I need something to keep me going this year and if 52 pictures will do it, then 52 pictures you'll get! Oh, and yes, I know that today is Tuesday, but it's late and most of you will find it tomorrow anyhow!

So why are you looking at my little piggies? Because I spent six weeks on my feet for hours on end in super cute, but not necessarily good for my feet, black flats. And wrapping presents, giving myself papercuts with giftboxes (OW!), and slicing pieces out of my fingers when I got a little too exuberant with the scissors on my dovetailed ribbons. So the hubs, in his generous wisdom bought me a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure. Today, I cashed in and returned home with soft, smooth hands and feet!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cats! Cats! Cats!

Proof that a good time (and Mingua Beef Jerkey!) was had by all! The partner who gave J the tickets has awesome seats, and I love when we get to use them! And, we got there early, so we had plenty of time to enjoy some Cattlemen's Association cheesesteaks before the game got started!


Confession: I did not grow up in a sports-minded family.

Now, mind you, this wasn't actually a problem until I was ten and realized that I had just been transplanted into a community that almost scheduled days off for the State Basketball Tournament because the girls team at the high school (yes, "the" high school, as in, the only high school in the county that every other school fed into) had already won a couple tournaments that decade and regularly made it to the tournament. Oh, and this community is in Kentucky, home to the phenomenon that is UK basketball.

To say I was out of place would be a serious understatement.

Fast forward to 2002, when I moved to Lexington to attend grad school at UK. I made it to several football games, but still maintained a safe distance from Rupp Arena.

Fast forward again to 2005, when I realized that my new boyfriend J (later to become the hubs) was a huge UK fan. Like, 'super-grumpy if his team lost; super-grumpy if couldn't watch a game on TV; all plans were cancelled if he got his hand on a ticket' kind of fan. That first basketball season was interesting, to say the least.

Fast forward to today. There has been a lot of compromise, and to be honest, it's probably a 70-30 kind of compromise where J gets the short end of the stick. It's hard to live here without following the team just a little, and it is impossible not to get a little excited when you are one of 20K+ people all cheering for the Blue and White. But he has definitely come farther--not every game has to be watched, among other things. We do try to get to a game every season (well, J still tries harder; I usually get to share the tickets once), and tonight is that night for us!

Wish me luck as I fight rush hour to get downtown (with most of those 20K+ fans) in time for the game!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Some of you may know that I co-teach a middle school (mostly 8th grade) Sunday School Class. The curriculum we follow is called Journey to Adulthood (J2A) and is built around a two year cycle, so I'll be with "my" kids through summer 2012. The curriculum is roughly divided into quarters, and we're wrapping up our first quarter (Self-discovery) this month. One of the things I've loved about this quarter is how much I needed a little self-discovery myself this fall. And, kids really do say the darndest things! I love coming into class with my own pre-conceived notions about where the lesson is going to go, and then have it completely upended by a 13-year-olds observations. I'm really stretching and growing as a result! Today's lesson really struck me and, together with an well-timed sermon, prompted a lot of personal reflection.

So the lesson was based on the Parable of the Talents. For those who don't remember, the short version goes like this. Man goes out of town for an extended period of time. Before he leaves, he hands out money (talents) to three of his servants. Two of them take the money, invest wisely, and double the principle. The third buries his in the ground and returns the exact same money to the man upon his return. Man is thrilled with the first two and offers them better jobs. Man calls the third lazy and worthless (and in my mind, does the Donald Trump "Apprentice" version of "You're Fired!").

So there are a couple of ways to think about this parable. On the first reading, obviously the money part stands out. And for someone as risk-averse as me, it is pretty startling to think about that trait as a bad thing. But, as we plan our budget for 2011, it certainly prompts us to think more wisely about how we spend and use the money we do have.

The second way to read the parable is to use the other definition for talent--the skills that we each have within us as gifts from God. This is where it tied into today's sermon, which asked what gifts we have given, and talked a bit about how giving of ourselves brings us closer to God. (That was a serious paraphrase, with my apologies to Fr. Rob, and I'll link to the podcast of it later so you can listen for yourself if you're so inclined...).

So, combining my thoughts, a bit of the class discussion, and the sermon, here's what I've come up with as the take-away--like the man who gave his servants something of value with the hope that they would cultivate the gift, we too are given talents that are to be cultivated. And it's not just the obvious things like Peyton Manning's great arm or Chef Duff's eye for cake design. Fr. Rob pointed out that everyone, even the bed-bound parishoner can pray for others. So we all have talents that we should cultivate (not that we have to, mind you--we believe in a God who gives us free will--we choose to cultivate our talents by sharing them with others).

So who cares how many letters are behind my name or how large my paycheck is? The better question, for me, is "How are you, JE, sharing your talents with others?" As long as I'm not burying myself in the ground, keeping my talents from everyone (even myself), I'm ahead of the third servant in the parable, right? Yes, there is risk involved, but if stepping outside my comfort zone to share/love/give something of myself brings me closer to sharing/loving/giving and receiving in communion with God, then it has to be worth the risk.

Here's to figuring out what my talents are and finding ways to share them with others! What are your talents? How do you share them?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1

J and I haven't set any goals or chosen a quote for 2011 yet, but I mentioned one personal goal to him last week that requires sharing now. I've been saying I want to blog more consistently for a while now (really, who am I kidding? Consistent blogging has been the totally procrastinated on goal since Post 1.), and in an effort to get there for real this time, I am going to attempt to blog daily this year.

I've no idea how long I'm going to keep this up, but I figure I should at least start on January 1 if I have any hope of getting there. So...more than 22 hours into the new year, I'm finally getting my first post of 2011 up.

SO... *drums fingers and glances anywhere but the computer screen*

I already shared that we don't have resolutions ready to share (procrastinating on making resolutions means you sound better when it's late January before your break them, you know...). I pretty much shared yesterday that there's no news on the home renovations front. (No Dad, I don't have a dissertation topic to write about.) I guess the only thing left to share is job news.

In short, some folks expressed surprise that I was working this weekend. Things like, "Oh, I thought all the gift wrapping jobs ended a week ago!" They did, but I seem to have impressed the folks at WS. The manager asked me to stay on after the holidays to work visuals (make things pretty) for a shift or two a week. It's like gift wrapping, but now I'm making whole sections of the store pretty!

What's funny (kind of funny ha-ha; kind of funny ironic) is that I've seen more GS volunteers in the last two days than I saw all of December (maybe because they let me out of the back room, but anyway...). Okay, that's not the funny part. The funny part is that these were women I worked very hard to impress with my professional job, even when it was a bear to hold together that professional persona. Now, they're running into me windexing a liquid soap display and stacking meatball starter (who knew there was such a thing?!). Unhappy, perfectionist me reared her ugly head for a moment to point out that I'm not a professional making use of my decade of college/grad school. But as soon as she did, I realized that 'gosh darnit, I'm SO much happier now'.

I don't know that there isn't a job out there that will make use of my degrees AND allow me to live a happy life. There probably is. Until I stumble upon it, though, I'll take windex and meatball starter. And a blog to share the stories of my days on.