Monday, September 27, 2010



Pumpkins and gourds, and all of their wonderful colors are some of my most favorite things about this time of year. So far, I've only bought a few for my decorating inside the house. If I could I would also turn my whole front yard into a pumpkin patch.

I took these pictures at the garden center around the corner from us. I'm trying to restrain myself, but I'm sure I'll be visiting again soon...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Must Be Present To Win!

I have a firm belief that for various gift-giving holidays, that if at all possible, you must be present to win. Maybe that's a bit selfish and dictatorial, but oh well... that's the way it is.

I think that this philosophy may be spilling over into other areas of my life...

Joe was out of town last week, which meant I got the bed all to myself. We have a ton of pillows (obviously), and yet it's just never enough. As you can see, since Joe was not present when I made the bed, he did not win. :-)

(Ok - I didn't really "make" the bed, but at least I pulled the covers up.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gratitude Friday

1. Joe is home. He has been gone since Sunday morning. While I've enjoyed the time puttering around the house decorating for fall, I have missed him.

2. The chance to visit a very good friend this evening. It's a two hour drive (not too bad, but too far not to have a plan). I haven't seen her in a few months and I miss her, so I'm excited to be going.

3. Getting texts like this:

4. Being mostly caught up at work. It's such a nice feeling not having a bunch of to-do's left over from this week and waiting for me on Monday.

5. Clean, crisp sheets - there is almost nothing better than that!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's a sickness...

I was in the kitchen looking for something this weekend and I had a moment that made me go, "hmmmm".... Now, I don't want to be too hasty, or jump to any crazy conclusions, but it is possible, that maybe, I just MIGHT have a problem.

This doesn't include the good china that's in the cabinet over the fridge that I can't reach, or the other set of Christmas plates that are in that same cabinet.

Then there is the placemat, napkin and tablecloth collection.

As much as I love these, you would think that I would store them a little more thoughtfully.

And… I’m only showing you ONE cabinet of glassware.

There is more – oh, so much more – but that is more than enough sharing for today. I recognize that I am a greed-ball when it comes to anything in the kitchen (dishes, glasses, pots and pans, linens, etc.). I have no excuse other than to say that I am a southern woman. I'm sure most of my southern sisters out there completely understand that explanation.

I have visions of dinner parties and holidays and being able to set a Martha-worthy table, which I think I have only done 2 – 3 times – EVER! But, that is beside the point. If the occasion should arise when I need to or want to, I will be prepared.

Surely I am not the only person like this, is there anyone else out there that if asked, has enough dishware to serve dinner to their entire town?

What was I looking for that started this parade of gluttony? I got so distracted that I don’t remember. Whatever it was, I’m sure I found it or another one just like it. :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Using the Power Tools

Here's how I built the cornice board for my room. It was really easy!

I measured the window and went to Lowe's and these boards. They were already 8 inches wide and about 3/4" thick. I think they were about 8 feet long, I didn't measure that, I just know they were at least 66" because that's how long I wanted the cornice board to be (about 3 inches on either side of the window).

I measured, marked and cut the wood. I started out using the hand saw because it was just four cuts and I thought it would be quicker than setting up the table saw. It was not.

Joe was hovering - he was concerned I might hurt something, possibly myself, in the garage. Anyway, he offered, so I gladly let him run the boards through the table saw for me. I have used that tool before... no, really, I had it before we were married, and I used it a lot, back in the day. :-)

I (Joe) cut two long pieces the same size (66") for the front and the top, and then two side pieces (about 5" - I can't remember).

I used L-brackets to connect the pieces.

Once it was assembled, I wrapped it in quilt batting and stapled it on. I used a double layer so that it would be a little puffy.

The front and top of mine were close to the same size, so to make it easy to tell the difference, I wrote "top" on the inside top so that I could see it and wouldn't get confused when I was covering or hanging it.

Then, I repeated the process with the fabric. My fabric was not wide enough to cover the entire board, so I had to piece it. If you have to do this make sure that you match the pattern, and I sewed a piece on each side. I just think it looks better to have equal seams on both sides instead of one down the middle.

After it was covered, I cut off all the excess material, and it was ready to be mounted.

Joe helped me hang it over the window - it's much easier with an extra set of hands. Again, I used L-brackets to mount it to the wall. Because it's so big, you'll want to make sure you measure well and use a level when you hang it. You will notice if it's crooked. :-)

Ta da!!!! I LIKE IT! I made it big enough that I could mount a curtain rod in it and hang curtains behind it. I haven't decided if I want to do that or not.

I know this is not a detailed tutorial - it's more about "YOU CAN DO IT" than actually showing you how. Don't be afraid - just jump in and try - and don't forget your safety glasses!

(Disclaimer: I was just winging it on this project - I didn't want to over complicate it. It looks good, but if you want to build one and have it look "professional," I recommend going to the DIY Network website - after I wrote this, I found a good tutorial

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A space of my own... finally finished!!!

OK – so Labor Day was a long weekend, and I worked from home on the Friday afternoon before the holiday. We had no plans, and I was sitting at my kitchen table wondering what I was going to do with myself for those three days.

I suddenly felt motivated to tackle the closet in my office/craft room/guest room. I don’t really know what to call it – it is upstairs and it has a bed in it so it could be a guest room. But it also has a bookshelf, a desk and a computer so it could be an office. And it has all my art supplies, wrapping paper, unfinished projects, and sewing machine in it so it could be a craft room. For the most part, it is just “my room.” Joe almost never goes up there, and when she is home Chicken Little only goes in there to “borrow” supplies or when her mess has consumed her room and she needs some space to work.

This is what the closet looked like before I started. It was bad. (Sorry for the fuzzy pictures.)

After I got everything out of the closet, I decided it would be fun to paint it. Once I started thinking about pulling out all the painting stuff, it seemed like a good idea to just paint the entire room. I painted it about 18 months ago and never really liked it, and I have really been obsessing about a pink room. Also, since it was a three day weekend, it seemed like I would have plenty of time to paint the ceiling. The ceiling had been two tones of tan, and I think ceilings should be mostly white.

Everything that couldn’t be piled into the center of the room was moved to the hallway and Lib’s room.

I wish I had taken some before pictures, but I was this far into it before it hit me that this might be a bloggable project. So, this is what it looked like after I painted the closet and had just trimmed out the ceiling.

What was I thinking?

As you can see, I’d painted an “accent” wall a deep red and the rest of the walls were gray. I’ve never been a fan of the accent wall. I like either all or nothing. And I LIKE color – lots of it. So bye-bye red and gray and HELLO pink!

At one point, it was so crowded in the room with the furniture and the ladder that I tripped, stepped on the edge of the paint tray, and flipped it over on the floor and on me. Luckily I had put down plastic and I was barefoot. I was able to grab my flip flops (which didn’t have paint on them) so I could walk out of the room to get cleaned up. The carpet was not ruined. Just call me Grace. Geez!

The three day weekend project turned into a three week project, but I finally finished!!!

Here’s the reorganized closet. You probably can’t tell much difference, but it really is well organized and everything has a spot now. Also, if you look closely, you can tell that I painted it a really gorgeous leafy green color.

Now that I know what’s in there, I’m in the process of using up some of that junk so that it’s not so stuffed to the gills.

Drum roll, please…

It’s a whole lotta pink (actually more of a melon color), but I like it. The colors for the room came from the fabric that’s in the blanket on the bed. I’ve had that fabric for about 9 months with the intention of doing exactly this. I’m loving the blanket and feeling pretty proud of myself for making it (I don’t really know how to sew – I just wing it). Overall, I’m thrilled with it.

All of this furniture was already in the room. The bed’s from Ikea and the chest of drawers is from the Salvation Army. It was one of those 70’s bamboo ones that was ugly light wood. A coat of white paint can fix a multitude of sins. The deer head just makes me smile.

I found the three cow pictures in Chicken Little’s stash of artwork. I bought the frames at Michael’s for $3.99 each and they’re perfect. I’d like to have 9 cows in a little grid on this wall – that would look really cool. Surely there are 9 different kinds of cows, right?

I didn’t buy any new furniture, except for the desk chair. I got the desk/tables at Ikea last year and I got the chair there this weekend. I’ve been wanting a clear acrylic chair. I had a big red leather desk chair in here that ate up half the room. This one is so much better and just disappears and the room seems so much bigger.
I painted the bulletin board because I wanted it to disappear. I also installed the paper towel holder ($1.99 at Target) under the desk. When I’m painting or using glue I’m always looking for something to clean up messes, but I didn’t know where I was going to put the paper towels. I'm very happy to have come up with a solution. The laundry basket under the desk is the projects-in-progress-keeper.
On the bookshelf, I got rid of a bunch of magazines and books – I’m pretty sure I can find whatever I need on the web. I moved the white board out of the closet to the space behind the door. I love quotes, so it makes me happy to have this place to write whatever is inspiring me at the moment.

I made the cornice board over the window and then padded and covered it. I used the power tools and everything!

I put the storage cubes under the window to hold the printer, the cricut and the card-making stuff. I think I would prefer a “cleaner” look, but if I don’t see it I won’t use it. So, I like having all of it close to the desk where it’s easy to see and access.

Ta da!!! A space of my own! It’s pretty and girlie – soooooo happy with it!

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty proud of myself. Even though it took way more time to finish than I had planned, I had some really satisfying moments during this process. It was so worth a couple of weekends. I actually want to spend time here. By organizing it, I know what’s in there. By throwing a bunch of stuff away, I feel like I have some room to breathe and think and create something. YEA, me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Worse than Crack

Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a Diet Pepsi-aholic.

This stuff is poison and it's terrible and it triggers me to eat bad things, and yet I cannot seem to quit drinking it. It is crazy!

I've sworn off a million times. After I’ve quit for a while, and I think it’s safe to have just one, it doesn’t even taste good. But the second one tastes a lot better. It’s not the caffeine I crave, it’s the carbonation.

I bought two of these gi-normous bottles today. As soon as they are gone, that’s it - I'm done. I have got to lose some weight, and I’ve never been able to lose it and continue to drink this stuff at the same time. By Wednesday I will be Pepsi-free. You heard it here first...


Did you ever have a day that started like this?? This is exactly how I felt this morning...

I worked up the nerve to climb onto the scale, and that's when it hit me. I'm as big as a hippo! I spent some time in the pool this weekend and I'm sure that I must have resembled this. I completely understand why hippos hang out in the water - it's low impact, low gravity and it's much easier for us chunkies to move around.

Here's my story (I'll try to be brief). Twenty years ago, I was young and cute... weren't we all?

It's obnoxious, I know - it was the '80's what can I say? I was working out in my working-out outfit and I was proud. But even before that picture, I struggled with my weight 5, 10, 20, 30 pounds. This picture was taken after I'd just lost 30 pounds.

Time passed and one day I got preggers and gained a butt-load (literally) of weight. She was a big baby, but 9.5 lbs of baby doesn’t translate to 85 pounds for mama! I realize that it was my own doing, but I have not been the same since.

There have been times as a grown up when I lost weight, and I swear I will never go back. Each time, I swear that “I finally get it."

I ALWAYS get it: Move more, eat less - it's not a hard concept, but it is extremely hard to put into practice. No one knows more about losing weight than a fatty. Life just always seems to get in the way. To paraphrase Oprah, it's about the food, but it's not about the food. When my life gets out of control, so does my eating and my self-neglect (i.e., no exercise). You can tell how crazy my life is at any given point by how big my pants are.

This is me, about 7 years ago, at my lowest post-prego weight (158 lbs). I was running every day, lifting weights, and eating NO carbs.

Let's jump to the recent past - in January, 2009 I tipped the scales at a whopping 250 lbs. I know - gross, right? I got on a mission. I know how to lose it, and by the end of May that year I weighed 175. I hadn’t reached my goal yet, but still I was pretty happy with the progress. Again, I was running about 30 miles a week and doing yoga. I really love both running and yoga. I felt great! So what happened?

Life - we went on a cruise (my profile picture is from this vacation), and on the last night I ended up in the infirmary in the worst pain EVER. One minute I was fine, and the next minute I was throwing up and rolling on the bed drenched in sweat. It may have been worse than childbirth (no exaggerating). It was my gall bladder. I'd been eating low fat, low carb for the past 5 months, then I got on this boat and ate high fat, high sugar, high carb, high everything. I can't imagine why my body might rebel.

When we got off the ship the next day I was fine, but ended up back in the hospital 2 days later. It was infected, so they pumped me with antibiotics and a day or so later, the doctor yanked that puppy out.

That event marked the end of my weight loss mission. Over the next 16 months, I proceeded to gain over a pound a week. I got out of the exercise habit, I started slacking off on eating right, it got really busy at work, the holidays, getting Chicken Little accepted into college, graduated from high school, then off to college, blah, blah, blah... And that brings us to right now...

Yes, I'm standing on the side of the bath tub, and please ignore the ugly bathroom. This is me today (in my very best outfit.) ;-) I haven't gained back every pound, but pretty darn close.

My problem now is that I don't feel like I can exercise enough to lose the weight as quickly as I want to. For the past 6 - 8 months, I've been having joint pain (knees, hips, shoulders, neck, wrists) - I pretty much ache all the time. I'm sure the weight is playing a part in that, but we haven't figured out yet if anything else may be causing it.

I'm so frustrated and disappointed and embarrassed and ashamed. It's hard to get up and go to work everyday and face all those people who have watched my weight go down and then right back up. It's hard to make myself see my friends and family because I see their "oh-wow-she's-put-it-all-back-on" reactions. I feel bad that my poor husband has such a big, fat wife.

Egads! I'm afraid they are going to have to bring a crane in to get me out of the house if something doesn't change soon!

I'm not putting all this out here because I want you to feel sorry for me or to worry about me. I'm writing it because I need to be honest. I need to put a stake (not steak) in the ground and say this is enough. I know that once you shine the light on your shame, it makes it not seem quite so bad.

I also know that I'm not my weight; that it does not define me or make me less of a person. I need to be nicer to myself and start treating myself like I would a good friend who was having a similar struggle.

This is it. I'm writing it down, acknowledging and owning it. I'm also releasing it. I'm tired of the struggle and of beating up on myself. I'm going to start taking better care of myself - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I may fall, but I just have to keep getting up. As long as I get up one more time than I fall, I will be successful. So, I'm getting up again.

Besides, we only have room for one sunbathing hippo at our house...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gratitude Friday

Last week, I decided that Fridays are about gratitude. Some of these may seem a little shallow, but it's the little things that make a difference, so here goes:

This week I'm grateful for:

1. PINK - I love this color, and I hadn't noticed it until writing this post, but I obviously love to EAT this color... (weird)

2. All of you kind and patient souls who have listened to and put up with my whining for the past few months. (You know who you are, and thank you!)

3. Having the good sense to make a really smart decision a few years ago and buy the reliable (although slightly uncool) car. It's 8 years old, still runs great, and has had very few problems. THANK YOU, LORD!

4. Air conditioning: It's still 95+ degrees and 60% humidity here - 'nuff said.

5. Busy work: It's keeping me occupied and helping me control the impulse to digitally stalk my child. Although it is hard, I'm trying to give her the space she needs to figure things out, and she certainly doesn't need the pressure and guilt of worrying about a needy Mama right now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Do you LOVE getting mail, real mail, out of the real mailbox? I do! I'm talking about something personal from someone you love ... not bills, those I do not love and they don't count.

I also like sending mail, or more accurately, I like the idea of sending mail. I have a pretty extensive stash of cards and stationary, because I have really good intentions. For some reason, I have never managed to send as much as I accumulate. But now, I have the perfect reason to start depleting the supply: Chicken Little!

This weekend I was sorting through the cards looking for the perfect mix of love and encouragement. Instead, I was struck by this one. It seemed a little inappropriate at first (not wanting to encourage wickedness since I know my precious angel is spending every minute in class and studying), but then it occurred to me that this could be a brilliant cautionary tale...

So, I got to work with the letter stamps and markers... Think she'll get the hint?

She's supposedly "grown" now, but I'm still the Mama which means the protective instincts, advice, nagging, and unsolicited "help" will continue... even if I have to rely on the USPS to deliver it!

Blog Love & Strawberry Cupcakes

I was just blog hopping and Meg at "Whatever" posted this today: What a great, easy way to make a difference. I'm in, how about you? Have I mentioned how much I LOVE blogging and the community it builds?

(Disclaimer: After I published this, I got to feeling bad about posting this cupcake story along with the link above. Seems sort of self indulgent to post about cupcakes in which I used about 6 eggs, when the kids mentioned in the link above might have only one egg per week. Then I decided I wouldn't unpost it, but I did want to acknowledge the disparity and hopefully it won't offend anyone.)

Now, on to the strawberry cupcakes I attempted the other day - using the Sprinkles recipe that was posted on the Martha Stewart website.

They looked promising at first and so very PINK. Don't you just love pink?!

Then it came time to make the frosting which I screwed up. It was a strawberry buttercream and when I mixed it, it was too sweet so I added more butter AFTER it was mixed. BAD IDEA... The butter wasn't quite soft enough, so it never fully blended, the longer I mixed it, the more it started to separate. It didn't look good. I put the entire bowl in the fridge to chill hoping that if it was all the same temperature maybe I could get it to blend together later.

When I was testing the cupcakes, the toothpick kept coming out with batter on it so I'd leave them in the oven a few more minutes. They ended up being a little dry, so I must have overcooked them. I don't know what happened, normally I am much better at this.

Oh well ... after cooling, I got the frosting to blend (mostly), and then tried to dress them up with a little colored sugar. But they just weren't right. I wasn't happy with the way they looked or tasted. (Although, that didn't stop me from eating a couple.)

Not my best effort, but thought I'd share it anyway because occasionally the trying part is just as important as the successful execution. Cupcakes aren't my forte, but I can rock some cookies. I might need to make a batch just to regain my kitchen confidence. :-)