Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursday--March 31

It's hard to believe that it's taken me four days to recover from DAR State Conference (maybe because I can sleep in or take a nap in the afternoon if that's what I need to get through and be a happy wife when J gets home...), but I'm finally getting caught up!

I noticed yesterday that I hit 200 posts with my Harry Connick, Jr. post, and it's so hard to believe!  (Remember, we just hit 100 back in October!)  So this week, I'm thankful for you--the folks who drop by to see what I've said this week.  You've no idea how much I love the Blogger "Stats" tab--it tells me how many visits we've had, which countries y'all live in, even what Google searches send folks here (Hedco Lamps are apparently very popular!)--and I know that the desire to see something pop up in the stats drives me to post when I might not be feeling it.  Thanks for being those bits of data for me!!

I'm thankful this week, too, for the DAR ladies who have served as my mentors, my cheerleaders, and my surrogate mothers and grandmothers.  One particularly dear friend flew in for our State Conference to not only assist our Pages (younger members who run errands and keep the behind the scenes part of the conference running smoothly), but to assist me.  I cannot begin to thank her sufficiently, but hope that she knows at least a bit of how much she means to me!

And finally, I'm so thankful for J, who kept everything at home running smoothly while I was wrapped up in DAR (and DAR recovery).  From blogging for me to cleaning the kitchen for me, he did it all this weekend.  I'm a lucky girl, and very aware of that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Smile You are Smiling

Lest anyone think I'm going back to using song lyrics as post titles, I'm not, but this post title is totally appropriately a line from a song.  I mentioned Sunday that I had an awesome Wordless Wednesday in store for you.  Now that I've downloaded the pictures from J's and my phones, I'm not so sure (cursing both of us for not thinking to take a camera).

The blurry picture above is of Harry Connick, Jr.  J and I had a chance at the last minute (Saturday evening) to purchase tickets to a fundraiser down in Richmond that featured a concert.  Now, this fundraiser was for a church school and was held in the church sanctuary.  There were maybe 500 people and certainly not a bad seat in the room, but we ended up with an awesome spot and were fairly close to the front.  Harry and his band were wonderful, and J and I had a fabulous time!

Title:  Where or When  J used to sing Harry's version of this song to me all the time when we were dating.  I chose this particular line because we were smiling a lot Sunday night!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Glitter Painting

Last spring, Martha Stewart Living had an article about Glitter Painting that intrigued me.  After reading the instructions and buying the glitter talked about here, I set to work.  Now, I don't generally do well at following instructions when it comes to creative endeavors.  I'll listen to (or read) the instructions, think about the basics that ought to be followed, and set off to create my own version.  I did the same thing when it came to glitter art.  I tried one piece where I uploaded a picture in the program and used that the create my first attempt.  Then, I took the tools I'd learned, grabbed a canvas and sketched out an idea.  Before I show you the finished product, understand that this was for a friend who was throwing herself a pirate themed birthday party, complete with flamingos (No, I'd never thought about putting flamingos and pirates together, either, but she was a one-of-a-kind sort of person).  This piece was her birthday gift to commemorate and help her remember the occasion.  The title of the piece is "Pirate Princess Turns 28" which is what the banner at the top says.  It shows up much better in real life!  Oh, and the yellow lump on her shoulder is her dog.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No Change...

Remember last week, when I prepped you all for nothing to have been crossed off the MP To Do list?  I was sure that wouldn't be the case and just threw that out to manage expectations...  Except that I was right.  I just pulled up the to do list and discovered that I can't cross a single thing off (or even update anything!).  It isn't that I didn't accomplish a lot last week, I just didn't do anything related to the house...or anything crafty so please don't expect much on Tuesday, either!  This week I'm hopeful I will be able to get the plumbers back in (have I mentioned that they've gone missing?) and get a bit more accomplished.  Right now, I'm just trying to catch up on sleep and get my feet back under me after a very long weekend (and not in a good way).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Husband Points

Do y'all have husband points (or wife points) in your relationship? J and I do.  They aren't anything that we actually tally, but they do accrue from time to time, and also from time to time, we have no problem cashing them in if need be.  This weekend, J racked up a lot of husband points!  Not only did he keep the house running and the dog fed while I was immersed in DAR, but he wrote that fabulous blog post for you to read Saturday (or Sunday, depending on when you stumbled upon it in sleepless stupor...was that just me?).  Then today, when I popped in to pick him up before heading out again, I found a spotless kitchen.  What on earth did I do to deserve this guy?  To round out his awesomeness for the weekend, he stepped away from the UK game this evening to do something special with me (you'll see what in Wordless Wednesday).  Now, he had it on the radio in the car, and streamed it live once he was out of the car, but he missed watching it live, and I know that was not an easy thing to do!  The husband points just keep adding up!

I realize it is 11:00 p.m. as I type this and there is practically no way you will read it before Monday.  I do apologize for the sporadic (and late) nature of my blogging this week.  Perhaps by Continental Congress I'll have figured out how to juggle the two more effectively.  In the mean time, expect a late Melton Point Monday, pray I catch up a bit on my sleep tomorrow, and look forward to being back on schedule on Tuesday!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Smells Like . . . Spring or Hotel Sheets?

Hello all, J here.

I write this post to surprise my wife, who is toiling away at DAR state conference with little sleep. The thought to do this came to me while Zeppelin and I took an ill-advised walk around the frigid park walking trail. Despite the cold, I could still smell spring in the air, if a little different. Imagine someone you know who always dresses impeccably. Now remember that time you bumped into that person at Kroger on an early Saturday morning dressed in hole-ridden sweats and a hat, and you have the feeling I had---shocked by seeing the person from a different perspective, but also appreciative for the additional texture and authenticity of the person/season that the experience reveals.

Seasons, like celebrities it seems, are just like you and me, as US Weekly would say.

What about this walk inspired me to write this post you ask? Well, I treat walks as contemplative time. More accurately, my mind recognizes that something uncomfortable (exercise) is occurring and reflexively attempts to distract itself from such inhumane conditions. I, knowing my mind fairly well, prepared for just such an eventuality by taking my phone, loaded with a few audiobooks, and my headphones with me. As I'm walking (well, as I'm sheepishly looking away while Zeppelin scrunches up a haunch and does his business at the most public point in the walking trail), the author's voice booms over my headphones, "Love is a verb. Before one can experience love the noun, he must engage in love the verb. That means caring, empathy, listening and sacrifice for the needs of the other."

Now, I think it perfectly clear that I love (verb) JE, and I have love (noun) for JE. That said, the past few days with her focusing on the DAR conference at a hotel downtown and me managing pain until I can get my wisdom teeth out . . . . let's just say that perhaps I could have done a better job of listening, caring, empathizing and sacrificing, and if I'm having a problem with the verb end of things, it's fair to assume that she's having trouble with the noun end.

I continue kicking all this around while I'm settling in for a nap, as my wisdom teeth and the Cats win last night have meant a string of sleep-starved nights for me. After a while of thinking of how I could do a better job on the verb end of things, I checked in on the blog, and saw the last post.

Now, I do not know how many of you know this about JE, but she dramatically loses effectiveness if she does not get enough sleep. Seriously. In the "standing waiting for her to think of a word that she wants to use in conversation and that word turning out to be 'fork'" ballpark of ineffectiveness. (I attribute it to the fact that she is one of those people whose mind actually works things out while she sleeps. She will go to sleep pondering something and wake up with the answer, one of the many reasons I think she's awesome.) Despite this, JE goes to conference and, like many other women there, loses hours of sleep to support a worthwhile organization. JE's sleep-deprived slog results from her commitment to the DAR and its members, with her passion for the DAR trumping even the physical demands of her body.

JE also is committed to this blog. She stays up pretty late some evenings getting the post just right. She's also learned more HTML just to spruce up the website. And I know the concerns she had about balancing the blog and the conference in the week leading up to the conference, hoping that one or the other will not suffer.

So, knowing all that, I quickly determined how I could best listen, care and sacrifice for JE right now--I could write a blog post. Now, it isn't much. But hopefully, she will get to go to sleep a half-hour or an hour earlier after her long day today. Perhaps she will, before she drifts off to sleep, think of the love she has for me. . . . or at least add a proper amount of husband points to my account.

So here's hoping that JE's Saturday, instead of her early Sunday morning, smells like hotel sheets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

You're getting very sleepy...

Hi friends!  I'm sure you came here looking for a Furnishing Friday post (or maybe you gave up on Furnishing Friday and are here on Saturday!), but I don't seem to have any new pictures on my laptop and I'm completely unprepared to write a blog post (you know that already--this is about 12 hours late in posting!).
I think I've written before about how much I like my sleep.  A lot.  On an average day, I do best with about 9 hours of sleep.  Conversely, when things are a bit stressful and busy, I turn out amazing work by waking up early.  This week (state conference prep) has led to lots of early mornings.  Today is the first "official" day of our state conference, but I've now had three nights of being awake past midnight and back up at 5:00 a.m. to come back to my work with a clear head. 
Y'all, I'm tired!  (Seriously, you should see some of the "words" my fingers have typed in this post.)  I'm pretty sure a hypnotist would find me a rather dull subject today (hence the post title).  I am, in fact, getting very sleepy.
I'll do my best to write Saturday's post, but I'm rather concerned that it might be worse than this one (I'm looking at another short night).  Thanks for hanging with me this weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday: March 24

This is such a busy week, but being busy (for me) just means there are more opportunities to be thankful. My Sunday school students, my DAR friends and mentors, my family--while there are countless obligations that are just barely being scraped by this week, I am so thankful for each! Particularly this week, I'm thankful that my sister-in-law, nephew and niece are back home on Kentucky soil--what a blessing to us all! Please continue to pray, of course, for my brother and the countless others still in Japan!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bowling for Kids Sake

Last weekend J and I joined our game night friends at the annual Bowl For Kids Sake fundraiser of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.  We had a great time and particularly enjoyed cheering on our little friend Clark in what I think was his first bowling game--he beat J, by the way.  Anyhow, does anything say bowling like bowling shoes?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Juggling is a talent, right?

Hi friends!  I have a terrible habit of taking on more than is good for me, and as an avid volunteer, I often take on projects that really need to be followed through on (otherwise I'll feel really, really bad!).  I mentioned yesterday that the DAR State Conference is this weekend, and (as usual), I'm juggling like crazy to keep the DAR ball, the work ball, the bathroom plumbing ball, etc. in the air.  Throw in a spring allergy attack for spending too much time outside this weekend into the mix and you have a pretty sad (but still valiently juggling) JE.  What does this mean for you?  Pretty sad attempts at blogging.  I committed to blogging daily, so I'm going to stick by that committment (this week, at least), but I do think I may go off theme a few times.  I do hope to share the results of some tangible talent next Tuesday, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2011

One room done (again!)

Well, the family room is finally back to normal here at the MP.  Unfortunately, this room has been complete before, so it's a little bit anti-climactic.  But still, having the pool table cleared off and the folding table put away opens up the room so much!  I didn't plan to start on the family room until the bathroom was put away, but it just fell into place for us, and I'm so glad it did!

Here's where we are now:

Main Bath
  • Order vanity top: Ordered and delivered to our house (longest drive ever from downtown to our home with the marble belted in safely in the back seat!)
  • Seal floor: Done!
  • Install base tile
  • Install vanity/sink/faucet: Requires getting hold of our plumbers.  The phone number that worked for six months now goes to a fax line.  We did a drive-by on Saturday and they appear to still be in business (but were closed then).  I think I might try to send a fax and see what happens... 
  • Install new shower curtain rod:
  • Buy/install new switchplate covers:
  • Put up shelves/artwork
  • Trim and install door:  Hinges are installed on the door frame, but the door still needs more trimming to hang and swing correctly before it can be installed. 
  • Buy and install mirror
Family Room--DONE!!
  • Paint wall/ceiling: I painted the ceiling this week, so the walls and ceiling are now complete!
  • Clean off pool table:  This was a faster job than I expected since we had put down a large piece of plastic over the pool table to protect it.  I just took off the tools, folded up the plastic with construction debris in it and put it in a trash bag.  The most time consuming part of the job was vacuuming the dust off the pool table's felt top (because that dust goes everywhere!).
  • Call Stanley Steamer:  We had Stanley Steamer out last summer and at that time we paid for a one-year contract with them for a total of four cleanings.  It was so convenient to just call them up, schedule a cleaning, sign their little computer clipboard and send them on their way! 
Our DAR State Conference is this weekend (I'm actually expecting company coming in on Wednesday), so that combined with working Monday-Wednesday this week probably isn't going to result in much work being done around here.  I'll be sure and keep you posted, though!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lovely spring days

Don't you just love lovely spring days?  After a very long winter (the local school system went roughly ten weeks out of school at least one day), we have been so grateful for warm breezes and sunshine!  Not only did we have our first cookout of the year on Thursday, but J and I spent a little time sitting outside on our deck today, then we enjoyed supper with friends on the patio at a local mexican restaurant.  My dafodils haven't bloomed yet (tucked on the side of the house as they are, they just don't get direct sun), but there are tons blooming in our neighborhood, and yesterday we saw a pair of mallards are we walked around the park behind out house.  The meterologists are predicting cool weather for the end of the week, but it feels like, on this first day of spring, we're finally there!  I hope you're enjoying warm breezes and sunshine wherever you are!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday smells like... Fondant

Super quick post today, partly because I don't have a lot to pick from in the realm of food this week and partly because I'm just really excited to share this picture:

Yes, that's a cake--my 31st birthday cake, to be exact.  J invited several of our friends over for dinner and I used to the opportunity to try my hand at a topsy-turvy cake.  I learned a lot this time and am sure my next effort will be better. On Friday, we split what was left (most of it, in fact) between the two of us and sent the layers off to our respective jobs.  J promises that it was well received at his.

Let me know if you'd like to be the beneficiary of a future cake effort!  I'm always up for the practice!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Furnishing Friday: Gold Rectangular Mirror

Item: Rectangle Mirror in Gold Frame

Who Purchased: Grandmother B.

Year Purchased/Received: Mur bought this mirror after she moved to Sterling Court (around 1988-1989)

Location Purchased/Received: She purchased the mirror at a higher-end antique shop on 3rd Street in Owensboro

Description: The mirror is a large rectangle mirror (19.5” x 28”; 27” x 34.5” including the frame) in an ornate gold frame.

Markings: There are no markings other than handwriting that says “very old” on the back.

How it came to the MP: When she moved to Sterling Court, Mur’s couch was on a long wall with nothing on it, so she purchased this mirror to hang above the couch. It moved to Texas with her, then back to Kentucky with the rest of her living room. We already had a mirror in our living room, so we propped it against the fireplace opening as a temporary solution. Turns out, it was the perfect solution to masking our ‘faux’ fireplace.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday--March 17

Welcome to a special birthday edition of Thankful Thursday this week!  Today, I'm thankful for my parents, who've managed to love me for 31 years; for my friends whose cards and emails I've received this week;, for my brother who, in the midst of coordinating the ground operations of a military base in Japan this week, managed to send me an email wishing me a happy birthday; and especially for my husband, who is throwing me a birthday party tonight with steak, veggies, and my favorite mashed potatoes,simply because I asked him to.  I am so blessed, and so thankful for the blessings I have received.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For you graph-geeks

I know I talked about the earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) on Sunday, but I think that it's severity (and quite frankly, it's "close to home" nature for my family) warrant another post. This week's Wordless Wednesday is devoted to the ongoing seismic activity in Japan.  This picture is a screenshot from the U.S. Geological Survey taken at midnight, eastern time, last night.  Each square represents an earthquake; the size of the square represents the size of the quake.  Most are in the 4.0-5.9 range, though 6.0+ earthquakes (technically aftershocks) do still happen.  On the map, earthquakes the occurred in the last hour (11:00 p.m. Tuesday through midnight Wednesday) would be red; earthquakes in the last 24 hours are blue; earthquakes in the last week are yellow.  I get really excited when there are no red squares, but total, there have been almost 500 earthquakes large enough to be counted on this map (there are about a dozen more just north of where this one cuts off) in the last week.  See that medium sized blue square just west of Tokyo?  Yeah, my sister-in-law was not pleased with that one.  As the first quake really close to where they live, she (and the rest of the family) felt the full 6.2 power of it, unlike the larger, but farther away, 9.0 quake last week.

How can you help?  Visit the American Red Cross website and donate to their Japan Earthquake efforts.  It's that easy.  And, if it's your thing, keep praying.  Thanks.

Oh, and I know this is a much wordier Wordless Wednesday than usual.  It just seemed like a really good picture to post, and I figure you'll forgive me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How To: Turn a Serving Tray into a Blackboard

St. Raphael's recently underwent a pretty impressive kitchen renovation.  The cabinets and walls were painted, the refrigerators and island rearranged, and just a few days ago, the tile floor was replaced.  Near the end of the job (about the time we got involved), someone mentioned that the kitchen needed a message center.  Shortly after than conversation, we discovered two old serving trays, and one of the women suggested turning one into a chalkboard.  One thing led to another, and the pair ended up in my kitchen with what was left from the cabinet paint (Behr Paint & Primer in one).  So, in just a few easy steps, here is my tutorial on how to turn a serving tray into a blackboard. 

Step One:  Find yourself a serving tray.  For us, it was easy, but I think you could find one at a restaurant supply store, or even at a restaurant (if a church had a couple in poor-enough shape to repurpose, I'm sure Applebees could spare a couple!).

Step Two:  Lightly sand your tray all over the front, as well as around the frame on the back (this part will show if someone is looking at it from the side, and you'll want to paint it).  If you don't sand, the dry paint will peel right off the plastic tray (yes, I know this from experience).

Step Three:  Paint the frame with at least two coats of paint.  I used a sponge brush, mostly because it was convenient and what I had on hand, but also to make it easier to get into the curves and crannies of the serving tray.

Step Four:  Paint the center of the tray with chalkboard paint.

Step Five:  Now, I haven't gotten to this part yet, but you'll need to figure out how to hang your chalkboard.  I think that we'll drill two holes near the top and run a length of ribbon through to hang it with.  You might also want to add a tray or basket at the bottom to hold chalk and an eraser.

This week, I've linked back up with Beth at The Stories of A to Z for her Tutorials & Tips Tuesday, and next week, I'll do the same when I come back to this project for Part II: How to Turn a Serving Tray into a Bulletin Board!  (Admit it, you kept wondering why I talked about picking up two trays, didn't you?)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't you just love checklists?

I get to cross more things off the list this week!  A friend commented on how impressed she was that J publicly committed to helping with the To-Do list.  She was right; that was impressive.  More impressive is the fact that he has totally taken the lead in crossing things off!  I woke up Saturday morning to find him working on the shower curtain rod in our bathroom, and that inspired work on my part, too!

Main Bath

  • Order vanity topOrdered (for real this week); should arrive Friday from Louisville.  Click here to see pics from my trip to the stone yard!
  • Seal floor: on tap for this week
  • Install base tile
  • Install vanity/sink/faucet
  • Install new shower curtain rod: Done
  • Buy/install new switchplate covers:  Done: Found some really cool satin nickel switchplates at HD 
  • Put up shelves/artwork
  • Trim and install door: Installation is still on hold until the floor is sealed...and maybe until the vanity and sink are the plumbers have more room to work.  
  • Buy and install mirror: I found a great mirror for an even better price at a glass shop last week.  It will definitely need to be re-framed at some point, but it serves our needs! 
Family Room 
  • Paint wall/ceiling: Two coats on the wall, and it looks good (I was nervous since the paint is left over from painting the room two years ago).  Ceiling comes next!
  • Clean off pool table
  • Call Stanley Steamer

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayers for Japan

I know that I usually use Freestyle Sundays to get thoughtful or introspective with you guys, but today, I just ask for your continued thoughts and prayers for everyone in Japan.  My brother is currently stationed there, and he and his family currently live just southwest of Tokyo.  They, along with everyone else in the country have been impacted by Friday's main earthquake, as well as the continuing aftershocks (there have been hundreds, you guys--I had no idea!), poor water quality (the almost constant shaking has loosened all sorts of sediment in the pipes), and now, rolling blackouts. 

If you click on the link below, you can follow seismic activity around the world (both in list form and through an interactive map) in real time.  I've linked directly to the map of their part of Japan.  A 5.5 magnitude earthquake just hit about 100 miles east of them just an hour ago (click on a square to learn more about that specific quake).  Please take a look, and then say a prayer for everyone experiencing this event.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday smells like... the best tomato soup ever!

I love tomato soup.  For years, my preference was for Campbells Condensed Cream of Tomato soup.  It was getting 'fancy' if I added a slice of american cheese to it, and don't even think of adding anything remotely chunky to it.  Yes, I was a little bit 'white bread'.  Then, I met J.  He couldn't stand tomato soup.  At all.  Somehow, we met in the middle, and now we both enjoy seriously doctored tomato soup!

This week he made a big pot of soup that lasted through one supper for both of us, plus two more lunches for me!  Enjoy!

"Souper" Easy Tomato Soup

2 cans Campbell's condensed tomato soup
1 1/2 cans cream (J just poured the cream into the empty soup cans; no idea how much cream this actually was)
1 can Hunts diced tomatos, drained
4 slices bacon (cook that first, reserve the bacon grease), finely chopped
Cayene Pepper
Salt and Pepper

Prepare the soup as instructed, using the cream in place of milk or water.  Then add the diced tomatoes and bacon.  Add just a bit of the reserved bacon grease.  Add basil, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  Heat thoroughly.  Enjoy!

When we ate this for supper, J served it with BLT sandwiches.  Yum!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Furnishing Friday: Wedding Quilts

I referenced this topic last week, when I discovered Thursday evening that my grandmother H. would need to see pictures of the quilts she gave me to be able to talk about them.  I sent pictures of both the Wedding Quilt and the No-Wedding Quilt to my parents, along with a list of questions.  I'll do my best to match the answers to the format we've established for Furnishing Fridays!

Item: No-Wedding Quilt
Who Purchased: Grandmother H. pieced this quilt and was machine quilted by a woman in the county.
Year Purchased/Received: The quilt was made sometime around 2000.

Description: Grandma pieced this quilt based on the pattern of a quilt used to dress her cousin Hettie’s casket. The pattern has two parts—the first is a pieced butterfly that she then appliqu├ęd onto the squares; the second is a hand embroidered piece of flowers and butterflies. The primary colors in the quilt are white, black, and yellow. The embroidered flowers are purple.

How it came to the MP: This is sort of a funny story. My grandmother quilted a lot, and I used the quilt she made when I was a little girl for years. At some point, she started stock-piling quilts to give to her grandchildren when they married (there are eleven of us total, so she was wise to stock up). Most of my cousins (and my siblings) married right after college (or earlier), but I bucked that trend. One year in grad school, with no serious prospects on the horizon, I asked Grandma if I really had to be married to receive my wedding quilt. Of course, she said yes. Then, that Christmas, I received a big box from her. The card on top indicated that perhaps I would appreciate a ‘no wedding’ quilt, instead. Aside from the public declaration of my being an old-maid (I was nearly 24 at the time), I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to wait to appreciate this special gift from my grandmother.

Item: Wedding Quilt
Who Purchased: My great-grandmother C. pieced this quilt; my grandmother H. hand quilted it.
Year Purchased/Received: The quilt top was piece in 1945; my grandmother told me that she thought she quilted it soon after she retired (so 1984 or 1985), but my dad reports that it was quilted in 1995. I’m still sorting that out.

Description: The quilt top has a lavender background with what my grandmother called a pinwheel pattern. I think it looks a little more like a flower, and would love for the quilters out there to comment on that.
Markings: This quilt has the best markings—on the back side of the quilt, my grandmother sewed on a fabric swatch with my great-grandmother’s name and the year she pieced the top. Grandma also added a tag with her own name to indicate that she had hand-quilted the quilt.

How it came to the MP: Well, I was fairly certain that I had received my only quilt when I received my no-wedding quilt. Then, the night before my wedding (maybe two nights before…I’m not certain anymore), my grandmother came down to my parents’ house with a package. Inside was this quilt, which became my wedding quilt.

I also wanted to share this additional part of the story that my dad shared:

“In general, I might add that your grandmother learned to quilt from her mother, in the 1930s, and she did some when I was little (early 50s), but pretty much quit, after she went to work full-time, teaching. Even though she was working full-time, she pieced one for every grandkid ("kids's quilts", she says, a little disparagingly, as if they hadn't meant much to all of y'all!). Then, after she retired, she really got back into it and pieced and quilted many quilts. As you know, every grandkid who got married got one, and I suspect she still has enough put away to take care of the rest. She won't say, one way or the other.

BTW: I have a quilt top that was pieced by MY great-grandmother as a baby gift to me; That's the grandmother of your grandmother. One suspects it ran in the family, huh?”

As long as I'm not supposed to pick up this hobby, too, right?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday--March 10

This past week has been a busy one.  J and I spent a lot of time at church, prepping for the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, we've squeezed in dinners and lunches together and with friends, and we managed to make progress on our bathroom, too.  All of this activity leaves many opportunities for thankfulness.  Among them:

The women of Stella & Dot.  Now, I mentioned last month how thankful I am for the opportunities this company provides, but I was only beginning to understand the value of relationships with other stylists.  A few weeks ago, I met two other stylists in Lexington.  One of them, Melissa, suggested we hold monthly meetings to brainstorm, share ideas, and offer support to each other.  While not all of the Lexington stylists are into this idea, I am so thankful for those who are, and I find my life being enriched by knowing them!

Lent.  I know, you'd think that I would have been thankful for pancake suppers (and I am!), but I'm also thankful for the reminder every year to be mindful.  This year, I've taken Lent in two parts.  First, I plan to give up fast food.  For the next 39 days (plus yesterday), if I eat out, it will involve a waiter who comes to the table to take my order.  In a pinch, I'll visit a sandwich shop like Subway, but there will be no burgers and fries for me.  Second, I hope to be intentional.  When I eat (at home or out), I will think about each bite I put in my mouth.  In addition, every morning, I will think about my day--what is scheduled and where my time can be best used. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Stone Yard

Remember Monday, when I crossed off "order vanity top" because I was ready to do so and would have finished it by the time you read my blog post?  Well...I did go in to order it.   But then I learned that carrera has a lot of variation (from white to gray background, plus light to heavy veining) and the Lexington shop couldn't guarantee what piece the folks at the stone yard in Louisville would choose to fabricate my vanity top.  So...I got to visit the stone yard!

It's seriously just like what it looks like on TV, and I even got to pick the piece (and even the part of the piece) that will become my vanity top.  This is it, here:

And just for fun, a picture I snapped in the showroom.  This is the quarry in Carrara, Italy where my vanity top used to live before becoming a two centimeter slab of marble and being shipped off to Louisville to be chosen by me.  Cool, huh?

Sorry for the rather wordy "Wordless Wednesday", but I hope that three pictures made up for it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Sharing Talents

According to Merriam-Webster, the word "talent" has about five different definitions. One of them is 'a special...aptitude'.  While broad, this definition is so applicable to many areas of J's and my lives.  Last week I talked about my talent for making paper crafts, and I've talked before about cake decorating, too.  But I also think that according to this definition, I have a bit of a talent for Microsoft Office, too (after helping our priest with the layout for our parrish's lenten meditations, I think he would agree). 

J has a ton of talents as well, like remembering conversations word for word well after they've taken place (for him, this is a great talent; not so much for me...).  One talent that J really only recently realized he has is a talent for cooking.  I love sharing stories of the meals that he has created on here, and we love sharing his food with our friends, but I think the most special use of his talent is sharing it with our fellow parishoners at St. Raphael's.  Tonight, J is heading up a group of men in providing pancakes and breakfast meats at our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.  Shrove Tuesday Pancake Suppers are a tradition in our denomination (and others, too) as a last blast before Lent starts.  J has been working on recipes for weeks, and spent hours at church last night prepping everything. 

I think it's great to be talented at something, but isn't it greater still to share your talents with others?  I love my husband.

Monday, March 7, 2011


One week after posting my to do list for the MP, I actually have progress to report!  (Here that cheering sound?  It's my mom.)

Main Bath
  • Order vanity top I'm going to go ahead and cross this off because by the time you read today's post, it will be done.  Template is complete and I'm heading over to the marble place bright and early to order our top.  With luck, it will arrive Friday!
  • Seal floor -- Still not done, but I've promised J it will happen this week, before the top arrives.
  • Install base tile
  • Install vanity/sink/faucet --Huge progress made on this front.  J and I cut the hole in the back of the vanity this weekend and made sure it fits correctly.  Stay tuned for a post about turning an old dresser into a bathroom vanity!
  • Install new shower curtain rod -- despite J's best efforts (he blamed the dog, but I'm suspicious) to tear down the existing shower curtain rod this weekend, we've not replaced it yet.  I suspect that might happen next weekend...
  • Buy/install new switchplate covers
  • Put up shelves/artwork
  • Trim and install door -- Door is trimmed up and back in the bathroom.  You just have to manually put it in place to 'close' it.  I promised J that installing it correctly is first thing on the list after the floor is sealed.  And new hinges to match the other new hardware in the bathroom are on my Home Depot shopping list.
  • Buy and install mirror

 Sneak peek at the vanity, with the template drilled and sink/faucet in their future places:



Sunday, March 6, 2011


I spent my Sunday morning at church and my Sunday afternoon at Williams-Sonoma, so there wasn't a lot of me left to free-style with today.  Luckily, a friend of mine posted this cute ABC's thing on her blog the other day (Got a question?  Visit her for the answers!), and I decided to use it for a post myself. If you have no interest in reading about me (wait, isn't that what you're here for?), skip straight to the bottom to learn about my first blogging award!

A = Age: 30. For 10 more days.  Yikes!
B = Bed size: Queen, which I find to be just right.
C = Chore you dislike: Cleaning my bathroom.  My college roommates can attest.
D = Dogs: One--Zeppelin--who has been a part of my life for almost ten years now.
E= Essential start to your day: The Today Show.
F = Favorite color: It varies.  I like pink and blue.
G = Gold or silver: Mostly silver, but Stella & Dot is opening my eyes to gold, too.
H = Height: 5’9.5"  (seriously, sometimes it's 5'10", sometimes 5'9" I'm averaging.)
I = Instruments you play(ed): Other than my brief third grade experience with the recorder?  None.
J = Job title: Wife.  Blogger.  Williams-Sonoma Associate.  Stella & Dot Independent Stylist.  Super-Volunteer.
K = Kids: None.
L = Live: Lexington, KY
M = Mom’s name: Millie. 
N = Nicknames: JE...Bella Bestest to J...Punkin to my dad...
O = Overnight hospital stays: I don't think I've had any since I had surgery in eighth grade.  That one was seven days long...and I'm pretty certain that was my first since birth. 
P = Pet peeves: People who don't say please (listen for it--that one word changes an order to a request just like that!).
Q = Quote from a movie: "You have a baby!  In a bar!"--Sweet Home Alabama
R = Righty or lefty: Righty
S = Siblings: Two brothers; both older.
T = Time you wake up: Usually around 7:30
U = Underwear: Yes?
V = Vegetables you don’t like: Green Beans (they hide those little beans inside that burst in your mouth when you least expect it!)
W = What makes you run late: My inability to actually judge how long it will take to get somewhere (I always shave a few minutes off the real time).
X = X-rays you’ve had: When they thought I had pneumonia a few years ago...when I broke my collarbone at age five...surely some other time...oh, and of course dental x-rays.
Y = Yummy food you make: Cake!  And frosting!!
Z = Zoo animal favorites:  Pandas...flamingos...monkeys (and all of their relatives)
Now to the exciting part of the post:  One Thursday, I received a comment letting me know I had been nominated for a blog award.  Me!  For a moment, I was Sally Field at the 1985 Academy Awards!  My new blogging friend Melissa over at Life is Grace nominated me for the Stylish Blogger Award.  In addition to blogging, Melissa and I share a common bond through Stella & Dot, so I know for sure that we have the 'stylish' part of the award covered with our jewelry!  Thank you, Melissa, so much for this award!

The great thing about Blog Awards is that the recipient gets to pass the award along.   This award asks the recipient to share seven things about herself first (I guess I over-achieved with the 26 above!), then to link to her recipients.  Some of these may be new to you, but I hope you'll take the time to visit and learn from each!

Without further ado, the nominees are:
Becky, at Lessons from an Infertile Social Worker.  Becky has so much grace as she juggles her roles of wife, mother and social worker, and she has been so open and honest about struggles with infertility and adoption.
Ally, at Cute on the Cheap.  Tagline:  You don't have to spend a million bucks to look like it.  And she does!  Ally posts pics of her outfits (always super cute and stylish) as well as wear to buy everything--she's like my own personal shopper!
The Great Askini, at A Wondering Spirit.  I know, bloggers are, by definition, putting a part of their lives 'out there' for the universe.  Maybe it's because I have the privilige of knowing GA in real life, but y'all she is so brave to put herself out there, with all of her doubts, and she's inspired me to be a little braver myself.
Janell, at Isabella and Max Rooms.  Another Stella & Dot Stylist (so of course I love her), Janell has a great eye for interior design and her blog is complete eye candy for me!
Bailey, at Peppermint Bliss.  Y'all, I feel like Bailey is my guilty pleasure every day.  She's just so damn cute and perky and optimistic about everything!  And one look at her wedding pictures (check June or July 2010 for pics) will prove she has style.  She's currently in CA soaking up the sun and buying cute maternity clothes, and I'm stalking for daily updates on her nursery.  I can assure you, it will be over the top gorgeous.

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday smells like... Cheese Steak Calzones

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how J and I have started making our own pizzas at home.  This week, we decided to try a variation on the theme--calzones!  And being us, we couldn't just make normal calzones; we tried a cheese steak version (Why?  Because there was manager's special steak marinating in the fridge that really needed cooking...).

Here's how we did it if you're interested in trying your own!

Cheese Steak Calzones

While J sauteed the steak together with mushrooms and peppers, I used the Fleischmann's pizza yeast (recipe on the back of the packaging) to make dough in our Kitchenaid.  When the dough was ready, I divided it into two portions and transferred each to a floured cutting board and worked into into an elongated oval shape.

We couldn't decide what kind of sauce to use as the base for our calzones, so we tried two different ones--the first got a traditional ragu sauce while used a creamy italian salad dressing on the second.  Be sure to just put the sauce and toppings on one side of your oval!  After the base, we added shredded mozzarella cheese and then the steak/mushroom/pepper mixture.

Then, you fold the oval over the toppings.  (Remember in the last step when I stressed to put everything to one side of the oval?  This is why!)  It helps the two sides stick together if you dip your finger in water and run it around the outside edge of the dough before you fold them together.  To be sure they stick, press the tines of a fork into the dough around the edge of your calzone (press the fork in flour first to keep it from sticking to your calzone, too!).

Finally, brush your calzone with olive oil and pop in in the oven (we used the same cooking temp as on the Fleischmann's packet) for about ten minutes, flipping it about half way through.  We cooked the first one for about five minutes while we put the second one together, then flipped the first when we put the second in the oven with it.

When it comes out of the oven, let your calzone sit for a bit to cool (it will be very steamy when you cut into that pocket!), then enjoy!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A place holder...

If you knew me in school (particularly college, and maybe grad school), you know that I had a tendency to wait until the last minute to write papers.  This might have something to do with my trouble in completing my doctoral dissertation--turns out you can't wait until the night before to write a book... 

Anyhow, I waited until late afternoon Thursday to write this week's Furnishing Friday, which I mentioned last week would be about my No-Wedding Quilt.  Turns out asking your nearly 88-year-old grandmother to describe two of probably hundreds of quilts she ever made (without pictures to prompt her memory) doesn't really work.  So, I've sent pictures to my parents along with a list of questions.  With luck, they'll go visit her today and send me the response so I can get my post up.  With less luck, you'll get to read about my quilts (both the No-Wedding Quilt and the actual quilt I did receive the night before my wedding) next Friday.

In the mean time, what are your thoughts on the new blog design?  Also, if you know anything at all about blogspot, could you tell me how to add label buttons across the top of a blog?  I'm thinking a blend of the "labels" widget and the "pages" widget that would let me put seven labels across the top.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday--March 3

The last week has been an absolute rollercoaster for me, but the thing about rollercoasters is that you have lots of opportunities to be thankful! 

This Thursday, I am thankful for:

The MP's Previous Owners.  Yes, I know you're shocked to hear this, but yesterday, when we had a beautful early spring day with highs in the mid-50's, I was so grateful for their foresight in building a huge deck.  We'll be tearing the deck out later this year (because PO thought that painting a wood deck was a good wasn't), but we'll be using the same footprint that we've come to love so much.

My Sunday School Class.  When I was asked to teach a Sunday School class this year, I responded that I was open to any age group but middle schoolers.  My class is made up of two seventh graders and four eighth graders (though, since it's a two year class, they'll all be high schoolers when I send them on to the next level...).  These kids are the most insightful and inspiring group of middle schoolers I've ever worked with, and they never fail to put a smile on my face.

My friends.  Today marks six months since I left my full-time job.  In those six months I've been blessed by friends who listened, gave me support, shared their families with me, shared their own career experiences, given me the chance to bake for them, and suggested ways to help my passion.  I'm blessed by them all.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring means...

Spring, to me, means it's time to lace up the running shoes and find a 5K.  Gosh, I can't believe I'm excited about that...  

Oh, and yes, those are my feet, from a race last spring.  I still need to go find new running shoes before getting too far into it this year, since something about this pair is killing my hip when I go over two miles.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lovebirds Banner

When I was in my last semester at Murray, I started attending classes at a local scrapbook shop and even participated in a recipe swap group that met monthly for a potluck and exchanged scrapped recipe pages. I never got around to creating a single traditional scrapbook (though I still have great intentions), but the skills I learned have become invaluable in a variety of other paper crafts.

This week's Tuesday Talent focuses on one of those crafts--a paper banner I made last spring for a wedding shower. The theme of the shower was lovebirds, and the wedding colors were yellow and green, so I used those colors for my banner, but the same instructions for this banner could be used with few alterations to make an number of different banners!

Cardstock (two different colors for the birds' bodies and a third contrasting color for the letters)
Lighter weight scrapbook paper (for birds' wings)
Brads (to connect birds)
Ribbon (to tie on each end of the banner)

Step One: Cut out your various shapes.
Now, I used my Silhouette to cut out the birds, their wings and the letters. I love my Silhouette primarily because, unlike other digital cutting machines on the market when I bought mine, you can download, then alter, shapes to cut out. For example, I didn't quite like the shape of the wings, so I played around with it until it was just right. Likewise, the birds didn't exactly match the picture in my head, so I just made the changes and was good to go. Unfortunately, this project coincided with a dull cutting blade, and I chose a pretty detailed font for the letters, so it took an exacto knife and a steady hand to finish cutting out each letter.

Step Two: Attach the embellishments to the base shape.
Once I had everything cut out and laid out to my liking (J can tell you how many times I switched out the birds--Should a yellow bird kiss a green bird? Should they alternate colors?--before I settled on this arrangement.), I started adding the wings to the birds' bodies, then the letters. In both cases, I used a Xyron Create-a-Sticker machine (I have both the 1.5" and the 5" sizes). Basically, these machines apply adhesive to the back of whatever you run through it to turn it into a sticker.

Step Three: Connect the base shapes.
Many banners use ribbon that extends the entire length of the banner and just slide the base shapes onto the ribbon at set intervals. For this banner, though, I wanted the birds to actually be kissing and I couldn't figure out how to showcase that without ribbon getting in the way. The solution? Brads--those convenient little paper-fasteners that you've probably not thought about since kindergarten (or at least, I hadn't!). I found a set of mini-brads at a local scrapbooking store that worked perfectly. I overlapped each pair of beaks, punched a small hole through the two, and inserted a brad. After I had all of the pairs put together, I went back and connected the tail feathers in the same way.

Step Four: Add ribbon.
Since I didn't use ribbon to connect the base shapes of the banner, I had to improvise a way to hang it when complete. I punched a small rectangular hole in the tail feather of each of the two end birds and slid the end of a length of ribbon through. I knotted that end on the back side of the bird so it was hidden.

Step Five: Hang and enjoy!

I'm linking up today with Beth from The Stories of A to Z, who is starting a regular Tuesday Tips & Tutorials linky party. I'm so happy that it fits so well with my Tuesday's Talents theme, so on those weeks when I can actually share how I do what I do, I hope to link up with her. If you came here from there, I hope you like what you see! I have a different theme every day, so stick around--there's always something new! If you're one of my regular readers, I hope you'll head over to Beth's blog to learn something new from her readers today!