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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Margaret

I learned yesterday that my friend Margaret went to heaven. I really love her and I am really going to miss her. Big Daddy posted yesterday that they had a special friendship since the day they met (in high school) and they did, but that's the funny thing about Mags: I don't know anyone who knew her who didn't feel like they had a special relationship with her Above and beyond her many gifts,  (and seriously, she was pretty and smart and graceful and kind and talented--it would have been really annoying if she just wasn't so darn nice!) Margaret made people feel special. I've thought about this a lot and I think I know where it comes from, I think she knew how to be completely present.

I will miss that most. I will miss being able to send a text and get back a response that made me feel like I am THE MOST AMAZING PERSON EVER! I will miss the way she lit up and reached out and held on like there was nothing more important than right here, right now in this moment. I am going to honor her by trying to slow down breathe deep and pay attention and in my way, share a little bit of the gift she gave to me. But right now, I have to go find a Kleenex.

Peace, love and kindness to you all.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Freezepocolypse 2013

DFW is frozen solid and we've been house-bound for days. So while we are here, I decided to try out a recipe I've seen all over Pinterest and I've got to tell you it's AMAZING! I found it here and I modified it slightly because I only had 1/2 a bag of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips. I also used multi-grain saltines. I figured with a dark chocolate half a bag would be plenty. I topped mine with chopped pecans and coconut. This one is super simple and super yummy!

  1. 1 cup of butter
  2. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 sleeve of Saltine Crackers
  4. 1 bag of chocolate chips
  5. assorted toppings such as pretzels or m&m's
  1. First preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet cake pan or jelly roll pan with foil that has been well oiled. You need a pan with sides.
  3. Lay out the crackers in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. Lay the crackers in the bottom of the pan in a single layer with little to no space between crackers. It will take about one sleeve of saltines.
  4. Next put the 1 cup of butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar into a pan on the stove and bring it to a boil. You need to stir it constantly until it is well blended and you can’t see the butter on the top anymore. Once it is blended let it boil for 5 minutes while stirring. Make sure you have the crackers done before this step.
  5. When it is ready the toffee will pull away from the edge of the pan easily.
  6. Now you need to pour the toffee over the top of the crackers and spread it out.
  7. Straighten up any wayward crackers with a fork. Then immediately place this in the oven for 5-6 minutes. After 5 minutes pull it out of the oven and spread the chocolate chips on top carefully, the mixture will be extremely hot.
  8. As the chips melt smooth them with a spatula to make an even layer of chocolate.
  9. Let this stand until cooled or you can pop it into the freezer to speed up the process.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Magic Words: Please & Thank You

This morning I watched this TED talk and I knew I had to write about my experience with learning to ask. Back in the mid nineties I was moving from apartment to apartment in the same complex. For some reason I decided this would be an easy move. I didn't rent a truck. I only had a few boxes. I didn't need any help, thank you very much. I profoundly underestimated the magnitude of this task.

When I realized I was in over my head, I did what I do. I talked about it publicly. Several people came up to me and offered to help. I thanked them. One guy in particular (who seemed to know who he was dealing with) pressed his phone number in my hand and said, "I would consider it an HONOR to get to help you move. It is not an imposition. I WANT to help you." I took his number and promised I'd call him. I lied. I went back to my apartment and sat in the middle of the floor and cried as I stuffed things in trash bags to lug across the parking lot. At one point I was carrying a mattress on my back across the parking lot at three in the morning when the wind caught it and I wound up on my back, on the mattress in the parking lot and I was dangerously close to a psychotic break. I called a mentor of mine and admitted that it wasn't that I didn't want help, the problem was that I couldn't make myself ask. Something was stuck inside and it wouldn't allow the words out.

Today, I know what was blocking me: my pride.

My spiritual adviser said, "Don't you realize that it's just as selfish to deny someone they joy of being of service as it is to see an opportunity to help and ignore it?" I'd never really thought of it that way. I'd always thought of needing help as something shameful but in my heart I always envied those people who didn't seem to have to ask, the girls who could say "I'm cold!" and guys couldn't get their letter jackets off fast enough to fix it. So I carried my own boxes, opened my own door, changed my own tires and built my own little fortress where I prayed...

Now before I go any further, please know that I am not advocating whiny helplessness. We all know people who expect life to cut their meat and peel their orange for them. Those people are annoying. You guys are not those annoying people. You guys are my people. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

I prayed a lot but I prayed for God to "fix it" and God sent boats and helicopters while I sent them away and watched the flood waters rising. Then one day something happened. One day I revised my plan and I revised my prayer. One day I said, "God, I don't know what to do, but I believe that you know what I need. You know where I am. I need your help. Please." Then the help came disguised as work and I said, "thank you." Sometimes the help comes disguised as something I'd love to do, sometimes it comes as something I'm afraid to do, and sometimes it comes as something I'm not sure I can do but it's help all the same.

I am not alone. I am not designed to do it all myself. I need and want help. This is the plan.

Just today I posted my special deals for Small Business Saturday. I'm sure there are some who are tired of seeing us plug our business on Facebook and I'm really okay if they hide me from their news feed or completely nuke me from their friends list but I'm not going to stop asking for help and I'm not going to stop offering to help. I believe that's what we're supposed to do. Thanks to all of you who let me know I'm not alone. Thanks to all who share my stuff and thanks to those who remind me that it's okay to ask for what you need. Peace, love and "BUY LOCAL!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pie Oh My!

I'm obsessed. Several months ago I had a customer call me to order a chocolate cream pie. I assured her I could make a KILLER chocolate cream pie and I kept it to myself that I had never in my life made an anything cream pie. The good news is that I did a quick little internet search and I found a recipe that is both easy and good (it turns out chocolate cream pie isn't rocket science) and not only did my customer love it, she's ordered four more pies since I made her the first one. Just out of curiosity I made one for Big Daddy and me and yeah, that's a darn good pie!


For crust
  • I just buy a graham cracker crust. You can make one if you're feeling it, but I just buy one already made.
For filling
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted (I have used Ghirahrdelli and Hersheys Special Dark chocolate chips with good results)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For topping
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


Make filling:
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).
Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.
Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
Make topping: (I know they sell whipped cream in a can, it's not the same. Make the whipped cream, trust me on this!)
Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Everyday is a Winding Road

It's been a minute since I've posted, so I guess I'll update you on the goings-on here at The Love Shack. A week ago Big Daddy and I went in to work and at the end of our shift, Big Daddy was informed that the place would be shutting it's doors in 24-hours. While we were give one explanation, we're clear that there were many factors that lead to a simple bottom line: they weren't making money.

I know this was hard on Big Daddy, aside from the obvious, this job gave him a lot of creative freedom and a lot of really nice plans were made for the future before the reality of the situation set in. It reminds me of a quote from Mario Cuomo, "You campaign with poetry, but you govern with prose." In my experience all jobs are like that, some more so than others.

I have joked a lot about how everyone circled the wagons when the chef lost his job, but no one even noticed that my budding dish washing career ended just as it began. I actually liked that job. (My feet weren't always crazy about it, but that's another story.) One of the things I liked the most, and this may seem strange to some, was that every Sunday morning, I cleaned the bar bathrooms. Each week I had a gratitude meeting that I am no longer someone who would leave garbage on the floor anywhere. I was thankful that I no longer live in a bubble where I don't notice or care that when I leave a mess someone else has to clean it up. I was thankful that I got to be the one to clean up this time. I'm not being smug here. I got to pay back a debt and it felt good.

The good news is that we're doing just fine. Big Daddy has some side work and is interviewing for a very interesting opportunity. I am planning for the holidays with Yes, Chef! Today we're not afraid and are thankful that we can help others while we take steps to figure out what's next. Today we're drinking some joe and making plans. I hope your Monday is filled with good juju. Peace, love & coffee!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Thanksgiving Project

This year we're having thirteen people over for Thanksgiving. That's fifteen total. Fifteen people will be in my little house on Thanksgiving day. We need a plan.

I started on the menu yesterday. My dad will be two weeks out of rehab and may be on a walker. My sister's in-laws are coming from Bulgaria. Our friends Carlos and Blakelee have just had a baby. Big Daddy will be working. I need a plan.

So I started yesterday. Step one: seating. Step two: funtivities. Step three: menu. Step four: schedule. Step five: ummmm yeah, we don't have enough silverware for all the guests. Can we have a Medieval Times table? Glad I'm working on a plan.

My main concern is keeping the kids happy. As a veteran of hosting holidays I have learned a big truth: if the kids don't have a good time, no one has a good time. With that thought in mind, I have planned several activities that should entertain/occupy all the kids from pre-teen to preschool. First they'll be making fall snack mix favors/place cards. Each kid has a job that matches their skill level. Then after lunch I have planned a fairly elaborate treasure hunt. This involves thirty or more clues that will lead them all around the house and yard. When they find the prize, it will be the stuff we need to play Thanksgiving Bingo. We are big fans of bingo in my family as it kills time, keeps everyone entertained and I offer cash/gift card prizes so the kids stay interested. This year I will be playing using a set that has pictures rather than numbers as we will have a pre-schooler and two non-English speakers as guests. I will keep you in the loop about my other plans and designs, but for now, I need to go find some silverware! Peace, love and timelines!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wrestling with the Boogieman

When I get afraid, I get angry. Fear trembles in the corner and anger feels like control--I know that when I'm angry I'm actually less in control, but that's not how it feels. I've spent several days struggling with fear and anger and I am not winning these matches. So I'm going to talk about and see if I can steal some of the Boogieman's power.

When Big Daddy and I got together and married it was glorious. We had the kind of partnership that I'd always dreamed of and honestly it made me smug. I felt like we needed to be teaching classes, something along the lines of "Wedded Bliss for Dummies." We had challenges in those first couple of years but we were in so much awe and gratitude that we had each other that we worked through those challenges with a certain degree of grace, or maybe I imagined that part. I don't know. I honestly don't know. I wrote myself a fairy tale love story and I have absolutely no idea what's true and what's not. What I do know is now we're sliding in to our fifth year of married life and some of the glitter has fallen off and it's all over the floor and life at The Love Shack got real. We're having to talk about, deal with, cry about, fuss over, and slog through real challenges and trust me, there's no Disney music playing in the background. I have become painfully aware of my childish reactions to responsibility and the need for some serious growing up. I have made myself crazy trying to get back to some romantic ideal that doesn't fit into day-to-day life. I need a reality check. My expectation that we're supposed to be grateful and graceful all the time is beyond comic. I have been so afraid of turning into one of "those wives" that I have denied myself the connection that comes with admitting and even embracing the fact that we are taking a ride on "The Hot Mess Express."

Most of my struggles stem from the same place: the fear that I will not be taken care of. When financial problems arise, the monster under the bed tells me that time I won't get through it (in Scaryworld, there is no "we," it's just me, alone and not okay). When my family members are sick and struggling, the monster under my bed tells me that I am supposed to be handling it better. I need to be proactive. I need to make something happen. I am supposed to know what to do and how to do it with no instruction or experience.  When my husband's work situation isn't ideal, the monster under the bed tells me that our life is about to fall apart. When my work situation wanes or feels too busy, the monster under the bed tells me I will not be able to do what has to be done. When someone wants something from me and I don't follow through the way I should the monster under the bed tells me I've ruined all the good I've ever tried to do. All of these lies presuppose that it's up to me, that I am alone and unaided. All of this fear ignores the fact that my okay doesn't come from me, my bank account, my husband, my job, or my reputation. The grace I live in isn't from me, isn't about me and isn't contingent upon me. It's grace.

So today I am going to pray and move forward. I'm going to shine the light on those shadows that I've convinced myself are out to get me. I'm going to breathe in the grace and exhale all the insecurities. Today I'm going to be part of "we" and "us" and I'm going to remember that feelings aren't facts, but grace is. Peace, love & blessed messes!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

E-Reader Love

I do love a gizmo. The only problem is that I am just not sitting on any fat stacks so I am not rocking the newest i-thing nor do I feel pressured to upgrade just because there's a new bell or whistle. I think that's why I've fallen in love with my Kindles. The e-reader to the left is #3 (I think). #1 wasn't charging right due to a wiggly connection so Amazon sent me #2 (no charge). I drowned #2 in a swimming pool (I actually had it in a Ziplock freezer bag so that it wouldn't get wet but in a fit of brilliance, I flipped that bag over to see if I had sealed it and um, it turns out, I hadn't) so Amazon sent me #3. I bought Steve #4 and then we got Kindle Fires. (I think I've replaced the Fire once as well). I have not had to pay for any of my replacements since they were covered under warranty and when Big Daddy's regular Kindle died after the warranty period was over, they offered him a replacement at discount. We actually used the discount on a Fire which was the newer/better version at that time.

So why do I love the e-reader better than I love "real books?" Let me count the ways:

  1. Books on demand-I am a traveler and an insomniac. I also have very little patience so when the little bell in my brain goes off, I want it now! I love that I can choose a book at 3 a.m. and it's in my hand almost instantly.
  2. Compact Library-I have over 100 books on my regular Kindle and over a dozen on my Fire. I have reference books, spiritual books, games, fiction and nonfiction at my fingertips. I don't have to know what I'm in the mood to read before I leave on a trip, I can take all of it with me without herniating myself. 
  3. Cheap cheap! There are lots of ways to get cheap or free books for an e-reader. Most libraries offer e-books and the nice thing is that when they are due--they simply disappear.
  4. Instant entertainment-with my Kindle Fire, I can play games, check my email, watch a movie (if I have wi-fi access and a movie account like Netflix or Amazon Prime), and read a book. I can also use the small back up battery I have for my phone as an additional power pack for extended use. Amazon offers a free app of the day so it's easy to stockpile apps in the cloud for times when I need to entertain a kid. I can add and remove those as needed without wasting space on my device if I'm not using Fruit Ninja.
  5. Sharing is Caring-Big Daddy and I share an Amazon Prime account. This means that when either of us buys a book or an app, the other has access to them for free. While there's not a lot of overlap in our reading habits, there is some. We both downloaded Kindle versions of several spiritual books and the Hunger Games trilogy which kept us from needing to buy two copies of the same books. We can both watch movies on our Kindle Fire and we get free two-day shipping on all Amazon purchases (which can pay for the annual membership in no time)! 
  6. Go greenish-there is less carbon footprint left by e-books and I don't have to dust my e-reader.
  7. Word of the Day-I love that there is a dictionary attached to the e-reader so if I come upon a word or phrase I don't know about I can look it up instantly in either the dictionary or (with my Fire) in Wikipedia. Super handy feature!
  8. Easy to carry=More reading. My Kindle is almost always with me so when I have to sit in a waiting room, I can read. When someone is late for lunch, I can read. When I'm hanging out waiting for my husband to get off work, I can read and if there's free wi-fi, I can also play Words With Friends. I figure anything that keeps me reading is a very good thing.
There are a few ways the Kindle isn't better.
  1. You can't get a signed/collectible copy of an e-book. 
  2. A Kindle book doesn't smell like a real book.
  3. Some folks miss the heft of a real book--that's not a big thing for me, but I do understand the nostalgia.
  4. It's not as easy to lend/pass on an e-book. 
I know that the e-reader is not for everyone. My mother misplaces her password and finds her e-reader frustrating because she doesn't use it enough to feel comfortable with it. My niece's Amazon account got hacked and there was a pretty big hassle getting that cleared up (although Amazon was very agreeable about it, it took my sister awhile to make the time to call and backtrack with the rep to get things straightened out). I have had nothing but a bunnies and rainbows experience with mine because I use it every day. I hope your day is filled with wonderful words and gizmos that make your life happy. Peace, love & literature!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Write Stuff

I have a secret. I haven't been writing. I haven't been writing anything--not my blog, not my daily inventory, not even a journal entry. This is not good. This is not good at all.

When I'm not writing, I'm playing hide and go seek with myself and it creates some symptoms that tend to get worse the longer I ignore them. The first symptom is sloth. I get lazy. I don't ride my bike. I don't eat like I'm supposed to. I don't completely quit anything, I'm just not doing enough to improve. I'm not heaping on any pounds but I'm not losing either and historically this means, "What's the use anyway?" is just around the corner. Clutter begins to take over my home. I make grocery lists but I just don't know if I have the will to actually go to the store to buy the food because if I buy it, I'm obligated to cook it. Sigh.

The next symptom is decreased tolerance. I find myself reading links on Facebook that I KNOW are going to annoy me and then I remove the person who posted the link from my news feed. I become Jen the Great and Powerful in my own living room. I rant internally. I roll my eyes. I start diagnosing folks. I do a lot of arm chair quarterbacking other people's problems. Sometimes during this phase I take on a cause, like straightening out Walmart's price match policy, or I set out to debunk every inaccurate link I can find. (Snopes people, just check snopes before you post!)

If the sloth and the intolerance don't get me, the next phase will because this one sort of demands attention. This is the catastrophic meltdown phase. Sometimes this manifests in a full on fight with someone else and sometimes it's just a one-woman weepfest. At this point, I'm not even pretending to function. I'm mad, I'm wounded, and life is terrible. Sniffle, sniffle. I use a lot of absolute statements during this phase--it's always been this way, this never changes, I can't, I just can't do this...sniffle, sniffle.

So I take out my composition notebook and a good pen. I sit down with a cup of coffee and I begin confessing my sins to some blue parallel lines. I begin, "I haven't written in a while. I don't know why. Well, yes, I do. There are things I don't want to look at. There are things I don't think I'm ready to take action on. There are things about me that I don't want to face. I'm angry. I'm afraid..." And the healing begins again. I write down the BS and then I write out the truth.  I discover that I am angry and it's not fair. That's the truth and it's okay. I still have to participate. I still need to contribute. I still ought to try. After I write all of this down, I know that I can do what needs to be done. I don't have to want to. I don't have to like it. I don't have to do it forever, but I need to do something today. I'm going to do something today.

If you need to do some writing to get unstuck, I have a few suggestions:
1. Write in a cheap notebook. There's entirely too much pressure when one buys a $75 leather bound journal. The kind of writing one does to get unstuck is messy. It's not a bunch of $75 deep thoughts it's a bit more barf baggish. Buy a notebook you don't mind being sick in.
2. Write fast. Write faster than the little perfectionist in your head can critique. Get rid of all the rules of grammar and punctuation. This is not an essay. This is "the plane is going down and I have five minutes to get this on paper" writing.
3. Keep the pen moving. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and keep writing no matter what. When you get stuck, write, "I am stuck. This is dumb. I don't want to do this. What is the point. I am stuck. So what. I don't care. My hand hurts but I'm going to keep writing even though I don't want to..." Eventually something is going to splash out. If you don't have a timer at hand decide to write two pages front and back. Push yourself farther than you want to go.
4. Feel free to be angry. It's okay to curse. Seriously. If you feel it, write it! Let it out. You can burn the notebook later but for now, just tell the truth! There are people growing tumors because they aren't letting their anger out--don't make yourself sick. Use your cheap notebook as your personal padded cell. Bounce off the walls. There are no rules in here.
5. If you are afraid of someone else reading your notebook put it away. Lock it in your glove box or put it in a box in the garage. Slip it under a mattress. You can find a hiding place. I believe in you. (Big Daddy used to read my journals but I don't think he does anymore. They really aren't that exciting.)

I hope this silly blog helps someone. I really do. Maybe it just helps me and that's enough. Ya'll have a good weekend and if you get stuck, get to writing! Peace, love & fountain pens!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Plants Gone Wild

I get so excited when Spring comes because I get to plant and then we harvest two cherry tomatoes. I get six irises and four hydrangea blooms and then it gets hot and nothing happens while we water and water and water our plants. The pumpkin plants die. The watermelon plant dies. The tomato plants turn into skinny stalks with four brown leaves on them. The herbs carry on but they don't do much exciting. Then right around the time we lose interest and stop paying attention we get three days of rain in October and BOOM! Pesto Farms goes crazy.

So I thought I'd take you for a walk around our scraggly back yard.


marigolds (?)

cherry tomatoes

orange mint







Easy Riser

Before I get started musing, I think I'm going to give my self a little pat on the back for that breakfast right there. Big Daddy and I are still doing slow carb and you must admit that's a pretty tasty looking dish right there.  I went shopping last night so I could make him a homemade Chipotle bowl (I will post a tutorial later) and I took some of the leftover onions, peppers, corn and black beans, threw in some turkey taco meat with some eggs and topped it with a sriracha drizzle and ay carramba that's good stuff! (Yes it would be better with cheese and tortillas but that's kind of how we got in this mess.)

But back to my week Big Daddy and I will have been married four years, and we've been together for six. That pretty much triples my record and most days I think we're pretty pleased with the decision to get together and stay together. What has surprised me is the shift from my expectations early in our marriage to where we are now. When we were newlyweds it was important to me that my husband have nights and weekends off. I wanted to take dancing classes and get dressed up to go to dinner, I wanted plays and museums and dinner parties (?) and while we did some of that,  (and admittedly it would be easy to throw Big Daddy under the bus on this) I know I had unrealistic expectations about the Kelleys. (I'm sure there are couples who are out tripping the light fantastic three nights a week, but I'm not friends with any of them.) I think I based my daydreams on the Huxtables or something, but we're not a sitcom family and our lives and my expectations as well as what I appreciate and enjoy have gone through some transformations.

Case and point: I love mornings with Big Daddy. While we don't often run around town howling at the moon, I get the luxury of quiet mornings with my pal. We ride our bikes, share facebook news, read books, and watch Good Morning America. He waters the plants in the backyard while I fix breakfast. Our day unfolds slowly and we get quality time when we are fresh and nothing has messed up the day yet. I never would have chosen this. If someone had given me the option, I would have explained that I am not a morning person, that I am grouchy and hard to deal with before noon which it turns out isn't entirely true. I prefer to stay up late and to sleep in a bit which I get to do now. I rarely have to set an alarm. Most days I get twenty to thirty minutes in bed between waking and actually putting my feet on the floor. I was apprehensive when Big Daddy got a job at a bar but the hours have been GREAT for us. He now lives on my vampire schedule rather than me trying to keep up with the cock-a-doodle-doo clock (which I slept right through).

I guess one of the lessons of our first four years is something Mick and Keith figured out a long time ago. I hope your day is filled with peace love and unexpected blessings.

Homemade Chipotle Bowls:

Grill chicken (and or beef) marinated in evoo and fajita seasoning.

Make basmati rice according to instructions. Add fresh cilantro and lime juice. (We left this out because it's not on our diet.)

Then make some pico de gallo. (I just used the grape tomatoes and red onion I had in the fridge.)

To pan roast frozen corn, warm a nonstick pan on high heat and add corn (I didn't add oil so it would brown quickly--you have to keep it moving.) Add a can of rinsed black beans (you can substitute pinto or chili beans).

Chop a head of Romaine.

Make guacamole.

Set out bowls of salsa, sour cream and cheese.

If you are making salads here's a copy cat recipe for the dressing. (We usually skip the dressing.)

Set out all the ingredients and let your family have at it!

This can be wrapped in warm flour tortillas for the burrito, can be served as a burrito bowl or can be made into a salad. Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Let's just say you've stopped at a garage sale in Fort Worth just to kill a minute or two and although you didn't find anything at the garage sale, when you look across the street you see a pile of boxes. Do you get in your car and drive away or go see what's in the boxes? Well of course you check the boxes.

Imagine that in that pile of boxes you find a whole bunch of groovy sewing patterns--do you leave them for the trash man or do you pick them up? You pick them up!

So what is a crafty girl to do with these patterns?

You might make a tissue paper flower!

You could print some retro clip art on them and then decoupage it to a canvas!
You might create a shabby chic wreath.
Or you might make a funky lamp shade!

As I always say, "free is my favorite price!" I hope you find some treasures among the trash today! Peace, love and upcycling!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Living Room Redo

Yesterday I got a wild hair and decided I wanted to redecorate. I stayed in a guest house in Smithville, Tx last weekend and it was decorated up fifty flavors of cute and I came home with an itch. There was only one problem--I have no dinero for decorating. So here's what I did: I shopped my house for bits and pieces that I could put together to give the living room a new feel without spending any money and after several hours of moving and dusting, shifting and arranging, I wound up with a new room filled with my own stuff. I made a couple of new things to hang on the wall (there is a picture of a bicycle and a wreath made of old sewing patterns that I whipped up yesterday) but for the most part all I did was rearrange and voila! I got a room that makes me smile. As an added bonus, I made Big Daddy say, "Holy cow!"

I hope you are preparing your nest for cooler days and snugglier nights. Peace, love and Modpodge!

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Superman

I have to leave my Superman today. I'm headed out of town to Smithville, Texas. I have no idea where that is but I have a GPS so I imagine I'll get there one way or another. Leaving town used to be a big fun thing before Big Daddy came into my life. I'd look forward to it for weeks, sometimes months. I would get so excited that I couldn't sleep.

It's not like that anymore. I often realize only days in advance that I'm heading out of town. I procrastinate about packing my bags. I whine about all the stuff I have to do to get ready. I drag my feet.

While I was out of town, people inevitably thank me for giving up my time to be at their thingie and in the past I would brush that off saying, "Are you kidding me? I get treated like a princess and I don't have to do any chores. Where's the sacrifice in that?" Now I just say, "You're welcome." Now it is a sacrifice. I love my home because I share it with someone who makes sure I know I'm special every day. (And I get treated like a princess and often don't do any chores.)

So I'm sitting on the couch and I need to make breakfast, finish packing, get showered and ready and I have to load the car. I keep peeking over at the clock to see if I can squeeze just ten more minutes of peace in before I have to start scurrying again. I just want a few more minutes to count the blessings of home before I have to leave it...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cookie Time

Today I'm baking cookies for a party. A little girl died of cancer last week and her family is hosting a party for family and friends including other "cancer kids" to celebrate her life. I feel very honored to get to play a small part in this celebration. This is one of those things that feels like a "divine appointment." I've prayed for her family and friends while I've been baking cookies and even though I've never met Maddie or her family--she has changed me. And just in case you were wondering, I'm making oatmeal craisin, pinkiedoodles (pink snickerdoodles), pumpkindoodles, chocolate chip cookies and decorated sugar cookies. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The State Fair of Texas

Big Tex

The Ferris Wheel

            Deep Fried Love                                                                          

Big Daddy and I went to the State Fair of Texas. We walked about a million miles in the heat. We rode the DART rail to Fair Park. We ate corn dogs and held hands. Sometimes it feels like we've rewound to the days when he was wooing me and then I realize he still is. It's pretty neat to get swept off my feet all over again (which is a good thing because even after wearing sensible shoes, my feet are killing me). Keep calm and eat corn dogs!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I don't remember when I heard the phrase, teamwork makes the dream work, but I know that it made me roll my eyes. And then I started saying it. All the time. A lot. And then a weird thing happened--I started to believe it.

I have always be a bit independent. I don't join teams. I don't do group projects well at all. I enjoy my own company. Even as a little kid I didn't want to snuggle much and I think it hurt my mom's feelings. If I get too entwined with Big Daddy I have visions of being trapped under a beam in a collapsed mine shaft. I don't know where this stuff comes from, I really don't.

Then a weird thing happened. I fell in love and got engaged and then we got married. It was crazy. And now I'm half of an us. I'm part of a we. It's been the best thing for me ever. Ask anyone. But to be honest, things haven't been easy here at the Love Shack. My business has slowed down to almost nothing and that's put a lot of pressure on Big Daddy. We love to run around and have fun and it's taken some of the wind from our sails that we can't just decide to hop in the car and go where we want when we want and while we both know wholeheartedly that this will pass, I think we'd both love to know when. One would think that this kind of strain would cause problems in our partnership, only in our case, when the going gets tough, our marriage gets stronger. This isn't an isolated incident, this has been a fact since we became us. Big Daddy pointed that out during a recent conversation. He reminded me that we thrive under pressure and while I wanted to throw up my hands and wail, "I don't want to be thriving under pressure--I want to have what i want, now!" but it's hard to argue with the truth. We have more quality time together when we have less quality cash. We are more creative and more collaborative.

So today, I'm thankful for blessings that come in disguise. I'm thankful for "one day at a time" and I'm grateful that I get to share my days with someone who doesn't let me forget what makes me a woman of abundance: I am blessed beyond measure to know who I am, what I am and whose I am. Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wrestling with the Learning Curve

I'm not sure what would possess a woman on a rather restrictive diet to decide that now is the perfect time to branch out and conquer decorated cookies (insanity perhaps?) but the reason I haven't posted in a couple of days is that I am knee-deep in a new obsession. For two weeks I have read cookie decorator blogs. On Monday I ordered my first shipment of cookie cutters. On Tuesday I cleared off my official cookie shelf and organized my colors, extracts, cookie cutters, sheet trays, sprinkles, etc. On Wednesday I bought the ingredients for cookies and mixed up a batch so that they could cool overnight. I also practiced my piping for about an hour. My icing was too runny so the results weren't great. I blamed the icing. I then read about icing consistency for the next two hours. Today the mailman brought the cookie cutters so I rolled and cut and baked cookies. I thickened up the royal icing and finally, finally, finally I started decorating and guess what? (Chicken butt.) I'm not good yet. Sigh.

This is a problem I've had since childhood. I think it started with my bicycle. See I wanted a bike. I was pretty sick of being monitored all the time. I heard the call of the open road and all I needed was bike and I'd be free! I could taste it. I knew exactly how I'd look with my hair whipping in the wind mimicking the streamers on my handlebars. So I begged and I whined and I whined and I begged and finally, finally, finally, I got a sparkly green bike with a groovy banana seat, a white basket with flowers on the front and streamers on the handlebars. Now just let me at it and get out of my way! Well much to my surprise, the bike was defective because when I got on it, it really didn't go much of anywhere. Like it sort of sucked really and that's when I heard the fateful words, "I'll teach you to ride."

Now my dad is a great guy but he's also the guy who can absolutely destroy me with a sigh. Like level me. This is not a power he asked for nor is it one he's enjoyed much, but the fact remains that if I had to choose anyone to teach me anything my dad would come in near the bottom of my list. See he wants to talk and explain and talk some more. I want to already know so I'm not super attentive to the lecture portion of our lessons and guess what? I'm awful. Because we lived in a small town with sketchy pavement, my dad would drive me to the bank and we would practice riding there. He'd lecture, I'd fidget, I'd get on the bike, he'd help and then let go. It seemed like it took months just to learn to ride straight and then Coach Control Freak thought I needed to learn to turn. So I'd ride around the parking lot and as I was turning near the corner of the bank, my dad would start hollering ("Turn, turn, turn!!!") I would panic because my dad was yelling at me and try to look behind me and I'd crash into the bank. This didn't just happen once or twice, this happened a lot. This happened so much that I'm still talking about it four decades later. So one day we were riding home and I was examining the newest strawberry on my elbow and I thought to myself, "That's it, I'm done. Sell the bike."

Fast forward to today and once again I'm frustrated because of my unrealistic expectations and automatically I start to feel like a loser and I want to quit. But here's what's different: today I can slow my roll. The blogs and websites I have been oohing and ahhhing over are people who have done this for years and years and no matter how much I read about how to do this well, the bottom line is that I'm going to have to practice to get good. There's no way to cut practice out of the equation. I don't have to learn it all in one day. I have to remind myself that I'm not supposed to be good yet, I'm just supposed to be learning. Persistent progress. That's all it takes right? Sigh. I don't know that I'll ever get past those pie in the sky visions I get, because honestly, I don't know that I want to. As frustrated and disappointed as I get when nothing quite lives up to the hype I create, the hype-phase is pretty worth it to me and if I'm willing to do the work, I sometimes end up at the place I started out dreaming I'd be. Peace, love and sugar cookies!

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the Wings of a Dove

Sometimes when I struggle, I play "Let's Make a Deal" with God. I explain that I don't need a solution today, but what would help me a lot would be a dove with an olive branch. See I'm a big Noah fan (even though I don't take the story literally because well, that makes no sense). I had a spiritual awakening with the verse, "Noah walked with God." Seriously, it's so elegant, so simple and so obtainable! But back to the dove--when I'm having a hard time with right here right now, I ask God for a dove with an olive branch because that's what God sends to deliver hope that the rain will end.

Today I saw a dove. Today I got one little phone call, and it really doesn't deliver me from right here and right now, but it's just enough to give me the encouragement I need to keep going. Today I believe that we will round this corner.

I feel a little guilty that I get down from time to time. Honestly, my day to day life is better than I thought it could be. I am happy with my home and most days I am deeply in love with my husband. I haven't lost sight of my gratitude I just wish, sometimes I wish that it was just a little bit easier--and today I got a reminder that sometime it will be.

Happy Monday, ya'll!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Four Miles

This morning Big Daddy and I rode four miles. I've never done that before. I've ridden four miles in a day but I haven't done it all in one swoop and honestly, I wouldn't have done it today if he hadn't kept going. I like riding my bike. I especially like riding my bike to a destination. I like riding to Lowes, or Walmart or Acadamy. I like chaining it up and doing a little shopping. I like stopping to catch my breath. I like having a little sip of water every now and then and that is how I would always ride my bike if it was just me. On my own, I am a recreational rider.

Big Daddy has a completely different approach to the bicycle. In his mind we ride for exercise and the only way that the bike works as exercise is if we continue to increase our distance and our speed. He's  setting goals while I'm planning picnics. It's one of the reasons our relationship works.

Yesterday I called him and I was all gloomy. "I want to eat food and I have no money!" (Now when I say that I have no money, I mean I have no extra money--our needs are provided for, please don't worry.) Big Daddy did very well with talking me down from the ledge. He reminded me that God always provides for us and that we both are at our best when we're faced with a challenge. He said he understood how I felt and he knows it is hard, but he's proud of me. He said all the right things including, "...and when I get home, we'll figure out what we need to do to get Yes, Chef! going again."

Now, when I say that he said the right thing, that doesn't mean that I was thankful for the help. Oh no. What that little statement did was kick my ego into gear and in that moment it clarified for me what I need to do next. As soon as he started tossing out ideas I realized the missing piece and could see clearly what I need in order to promote my business. Right now it seems I've used up my birds nests on the ground. Now it's time for hustle. Now it's time to work a little harder. This is the time when I have to set and focus on some goals and I'm going to need a little pushing. I'm pretty lucky I have a guy who knows just how to do it, even when he doesn't know that he's doing it.

Have a happy Fun-day!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Compose Yourself!

I've been feeling very creative lately. Yesterday I went to play bingo and while I didn't win. I did walk out with a handful of colorful cards. I don't know why but it just kills me to throw them away and since Big Daddy wasn't there to give me the "are you hoarding bingo cards now?" look, I brought my losers home. (I did linger over someone else's cards that they left on the table but I decided that would be overkill.)

While Papa Grande napped in his recliner, I sequestered myself in the craft room and made bingo composition notebooks. I have a love affair with composition notebooks that spans back twenty years. When I first got sober I had way too much time on my hands and way too many thoughts in my head so I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote creative stuff and journal stuff and I also played this free writing game with friends that was a lot more fun than it sounds. There was a little place called Boxies at Preston and Beltline and I used to go there and order a banana nut muffin and a vanilla latte. I sat at the table outside and I wrote until I couldn't see the page anymore. I filled dozens of composition notebooks and while I thought I was writing in preparation for the great American novel, I now believe I was learning to enjoy my own company. I found composition notebooks for .50 during back to school so I bought half a dozen.

I've been doing a lot of web searching about doodling, visual journals, art notebooks and creative lettering. I am drawn to these forms and have been for a long time but lately the art books seem muddled to me. I enjoy the layering process a lot, but the product sometimes seems bogged down. I love the idea of doodling, but have found that doodles tend to be floral, and while I like that a lot, I've been noodling about using a less girly motif. I'm searching for something, a light switch of sorts, and it's very exciting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chalk it Up to Pinterest

I wish I could take credit for this idea. I really do. It seems like an idea I'd come up with and I'm a little astounded that I didn't. Anyway here's the scoop. Back when we started Yes, Chef! Catering, we went to a restaurant supply auction and we bought a couple of odd lots of stuff. One of the lots we won was a mixed lot of crock pots, a "flotilla" as Big Daddy would say. I think there was maybe one good crock pot and several more homely ones, and from time to time we have used them all but we definitely use the best looking ones the most. So I'm perusing Pinterest yesterday and what did I see but the most brilliant idea ever! Spray paint the crock pots! Spray paint the crock pots (drum roll please) with  chalkboard paint!!! Oh yes boys and girls, this had to happen.

When choosing a craft I usually have three factors to consider:

1. Does it cost less than $10 to begin? (Now many of my crafts spiral way beyond the $10 mark, but in order to get sucked in, I prefer that the craft seems affordable at the onset.)

2. Can it be done start to finish in less than one hour? (I have done things that take longer but I usually screw them up because I can't wait to let paint dry.)

3. Will Big Daddy think I'm crazy when he sees what I've done? (I don't know why this is such a motivator for me, but it is.)

So here's a picture of two of the three pots I painted. I'm rather fond of the harvest gold one. It's especially groovy.

I just taped up the parts I didn't want to get paint on. Took off the nobs and sprayed away. Then I let them dry and POOF! Chalkboard crock pots. The reason I think this is so cool is that you can label them with the food that's inside or with your name (or any other cute message you like). I am just tickled. I think they are super fun and I think they'll be great for catering. You'd be surprised how many times people ask you what something is. I guess folks are afraid I disguise lima beans to look like queso.

Have a wild and crazy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Getting to Know You

Last weekend I picked up a new box of "Chat Pack" cards at Barnes and Noble. I love these things. I bought our first box in Canton several years ago and we talked all the way home answering questions and laughing. I bought another box for a road trip to Kansas. After we've gone through the box, I add them to a gift basket for someone else so they can enjoy learning about each other. There are some questions that we immediately know the other's answer to (Favorite fried food: potatoes for him, foot long corn dogs for her) and others that are a complete surprise (Favorite Olympic sport to watch: he picked soccer, I picked swimming. Neither of us had a clue). What's really cool about these is that answering simple questions with each other has given me a whole new insight on Big Daddy's character. Whether you're looking for a fun way to get to know your family or an ice breaker with new friends, I highly recommend Chat Pack. It would be easy to make your own with a pack of index cards and some questions from the internet. And just for giggles, here are a few questions just to get you started:

Favorite TV theme song of all time?

Favorite doll or action-figure from your childhood?

Favorite silly song?

Favorite Christmas movie?

Favorite comfort food? (my answer on that question is subject to change moment to moment, especially since I'm eating low carb right now.)

Happy HUMP DAY ya'll!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rest in Peace...

A high school acquaintance of mine died on Sunday. We weren't friends (which isn't to say I didn't like her, I just didn't spend much time with her) but we have mutual friends so I've been following her story for a long time. I knew about her joys and her struggles and so when I read about her death, I caught my breath. She'd been fighting brain cancer for decades, and winning, so it was easy to think that she just might outlast all of us...

I have been thinking about the phrase "rest in peace." I don' t know if I agree with it. I'm not saying I don't get it, but I don't know that it's my wish. Why the heck would you wind up in heaven and then nap? Maybe that speaks more to my precarious relationship with sleep and my need for a squishier mattress. I'm just saying if I get to heaven I'm going to want run around the place and do stuff. 

I've also been thinking about the idea that there's no heaven. Wouldn't that be a shame! I mean honestly every time someone says YOLO I think "I certainly hope not." I hope I get do overs. I hope I get to fall in love with Big Daddy over and over again. I hope I get to spend time with the baby I lost and watch him or her become. I hope I get some time with my dad when he is whole again. Where he can see and he can get around and his mind doesn't play crazy tricks on him. I want to hang out with Irene again. I want to hug Matt. I want to catch up with Larry. I would love to cut up with T. Hull. I hope I am reunited with relatives and friends and that I get to introduce people that I think would love each other and I hope one day I get the chance to ask Stacey to teach me dance.  Rest in peace, Stacey, or dance, and honestly, I hope you dance.

Losers Guilt

Today is the second week weigh in and I am pleased with my results, sort of. I lost weight and inches. I'm feeling optimistic and a little proud except that Big Daddy isn't losing yet and that feels rotten. I suspect I know why he hasn't seen the results I have and I suspect he knows too (although we haven't talked about it because we've discovered that trying to coach one another in an area where we both struggle is not good for our marriage). I know he's frustrated. I know it because I've been there and I'm a little afraid that he'll give up. I'm worried that I'll have to go it alone. I know it's possible, but I also know that I've never done it. So I've chosen not to pow wow about it because my feelings are tangled. I want him to succeed because I know he'll be happier and healthier and we can live a better life together AND because it makes it a whole lot easier for me.

What my head keeps whispering to me (and just for me) is that there's always an excuse not to get better. It's not convenient. It's a stressful time. I just don't have the will power. I can only say no so many times. (Seriously, I can go on for pages with this.) The only way it works is if the reason to do it is bigger than than the reasons not to. So I'm going to celebrate my success (quietly) and enjoy the results I've earned today. I can't promise I will stay in my own sandbox for good and for all, but I'm going to try to to stay in here for today. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Winner Winner Big Steak Dinner

Yesterday afternoon I was toying with the idea of going to the bingo hall but my luck has been so dismal lately that I was having a hard time justifying the expense. Big Daddy encouraged me to go, suggesting that I could just play paper cards and a few pull tabs and maybe I could win a computer. Well that's what happened and then just when I decided I was out of luck, I got a bingo on the last game of the session. I left very thankful for my good fortune and then I bought some big old steaks.

My business has been slow lately and that means there's been very little "fun money." I think I've done a pretty good job of staying out of self pity about that, but honestly, I'm just a teenie bit happier and things are just a skosh easier when there's a little something in my wallet.

My experience at the bingo hall got me thinking about pedaling and coasting. (You knew this was going to lead to a bicycle analogy didn't you?) When Big Daddy and I ride, there's this route I choose all the time. It's easy at the beginning and then there's this stretch that feels ridiculously long because it has a slight incline and I start to pant during that stretch. (Look, I never claimed to be Lance Armstrong--I'm just a big girl on a sparkly bike.) There's always a point where I think, "Nope, I can't do it. I don't want to do it. This is dumb." That's when I'd quit only I have to get home somehow and so I slog on. I usually sing or pray during this part of the ride and then just when I think I can't go on, I make the turn onto Bronco. Bronco is my favorite street because it's all downhill from there. Gravity takes over and zooooooom! I just love that stretch and I am convinced that a good part of what makes it so fun is that it comes right after the point when it was hard and I was ready to give up.

I think good fortune comes and goes, just like there are times when we get to coast and time when we have to pedal. Either way we keep moving forward trusting there are happy surprises just around the corner. Happy Funday!

Friday, September 6, 2013


These are some ballet cookies that I made for a customer. Rather than buy an expensive cookie cutter, I designed my own pattern, cut each one by hand and decorated them in pink and white. I am really pleased with how they turned out, because I didn't know how to do them before I did them. 

One of the things I love about my job as a caterer is that I routinely tell people I can do things that I've never done before. I am constantly learning, researching and trying new things (like leave lots of time for cookie decorating because your hand is going to cramp up about every five cookies!) It's the ultimate on the job training and while there have been some very stressful trips to the store at one in the morning because the lesson didn't go so well, but most of the time with proper planning and enough time to work, things turn out better than I expected.

In some ways I think I've gotten more adventurous as I age. When I was younger my motivation was usually external. I did things to please or shock those around me but now I'm driven more by the desire to experience and learn. Less WOOOOOO HOOOOO and more, oh wow. I think I'm quicker to say, "Sure I can do that," because I'm not as afraid to make mistakes. I finally recognize mistakes as a necessary part of the learning process. It's not a failure to learn what doesn't work.

One of the things that has been an inspiration to me is my blogging heroine. Her blog is beautiful. She makes gorgeous art. She has this amazing house. She takes breathtaking photos of her family strolling down the beach near her home (well of course she lives on the beach!) and I've followed her posts for years now. Recently I took the time to go all the way back to the beginning of her blog and guess what? It wasn't that great. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but it wasn't great. Her art, her home, her writing and her photos got much better with time and experience. This shouldn't surprise me, but it did. One of the ways the critic in my head keeps me from trying things is that Little Miss Thinks She Knows It All tells me that the people whose talent I admire are naturals. They roll out of bed beautiful and tinkle perfection. It's just not true. The people whose talent I admire have been willing to stretch and are committed to practice and those are things I can do too. Actually, there are lots of things I can do, I just haven't done them yet.

Enjoy the weekend, and try stretch your wings a little, venture two steps out of your comfort zone and try something new! You can do it, I know you can.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Feeling Super

Last night was rough. I had rushed to get somewhere and then when I got there I discovered that I didn't need to be there at all. Then, I wanted to go spend some money I can't afford to spend on playtime and I don't like telling myself no. I wanted to eat things I'm not supposed to eat. The TV was getting on my nerves because they kept showing commercials for things that cranked up the temptation to 11 and all I could tell myself was "this too shall pass." I turned off the TV, grabbed my Kindle and went to bed early. This morning I got up and did my thing with no thought of the struggles from last night. It really did pass just like I told myself it would.

This got me to thinking about "getting over the hump." So many times I suspect I've snatched defeat from the jaws of victory because I wasn't willing to be uncomfortable for just five more minutes.

About seven years ago, I was walking through some stuff. I was cleaning houses for a living and I was not happy about where I was living or who I was living with. I'd lost a lot of the stuff and the status that made me feel like a big deal and I was none too happy about any of it and to add to the fun, I was trying to lose weight and work out. I had a membership to the rec center at the time and three or four times a week I'd go walk on the treadmill or ride the bikes and I'd do this little workout routine. I discovered that if I didn't workout right after I finished cleaning my houses for the day I wouldn't do it, so I would go straight from work to the gym.

Well this one day, I was headed to the gym and I looked down and I had on a pretty low-cut t-shirt and some underthings that weren't exactly designed for working out but I knew if I went home I wouldn't go back so I decided that it wasn't that big a deal. I did my little cardio, and then I did some arm thingies, and some crunch thingies, and some more arm thingies and I was just about done when I got on this piece of equipment called the Roman chair and you hook your feet in and your tummy is on this seat thing, and you put your hands up by your ears and you lift yourself up and lower yourself down using your abs. So I'm lowering myself down and then lifting up and arching my back. Then I notice there's this old man watching me and I really needed him to get back in his own sandbox if you know what I mean. I am not cute when I work out. I am sweaty and I'm fussy and I sure don't need any attention from Papaw while I'm trying to get done. Six, Seven, Eight...the whole time this man was staring at me and the whole time I was trying to give him a sufficient stink eye so he would stop, and then it happened, the thing he'd been waiting for, and I didn't have to see it to know it happened because the look on his face let me know all about it: I'd had a wardrobe malfunction. I lowered myself down and quickly returned the wayward body part back into her holster and then I had a decision to make. Would I quit or keep going? This small firm voice inside said, "Finish the set."  So I did and then I did another one.

I walked to my car and I felt like I'd just won a gold medal. What had begun as a silly situation turned into something bigger, something important--something spiritual. All afternoon I thought about how important it was to just "finish the set." Most of my life I'd spent so much time and energy focusing on the five seconds of self consciousness  and convincing myself that I had to quit, that I'd missed out on the joy just doing a little more than I thought I could and that was the victory this morning. I waited it out. I finished the set.

I hope whatever challenges you meet today pass quickly and that you don't give up before the miracle happens because they happen every day friends. Love & light to you all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cleaning the Craft Room

I started a project yesterday that I thought would take a couple of hours. I'm now on day two of what will be at least a three day project, a disaster I am calling "Craftnado." As I told my Facebook friends, "I waaaaaay over estimated my enthusiasm for this project."

Oh my gosh. I don't know if everyone has that room (or three) where they toss stuff when people are coming over, but I had two (and some closets and the garage) and then I had overnight guests so the guest bedroom had to get shoveled out. That left the craft room and man oh man oh man, is it a wreck of epic proportions. It's awful. There's glitter, scraps of paper, beads, ribbon, buttons, empty boxes, tangled yarn, dozens of bottles of paint (just imagine at least three things from every aisle in Michaels to complete this list) and it's everywhere. I have baskets and boxes for this stuff, but half the stuff is in the container and the other half is jumbled up with some other stuff. There are tote bags with project remnants and Levis with a tear in some important place. This is a hoarders starter kit right here. So I start dragging things out into the hall so that I can rearrange stuff to make the room more user friendly and I slowly start putting things into cubbies and plastic shoe boxes when I find my electric pencil sharpener and I spend the next half hour sharpening colored pencils!!!

This is exactly what would happen to me lo those many years ago when my mom would send me in to clean my room. I'd close the door and I'd get started and three hours later she'd find me sitting in the floor organizing my crayons with Roy G. Biv with no discernible progress made. My problem then is my problem now: it's very hard to clean up toys and not play with them.

I look at the pictures of craft rooms on Pinterest and I see these massive spaces with a billion dollars in Container Store shelving and three hundred plastic coffee containers spray painted robin's egg blue with chalk board labels on them and I think to myself well if I had that kind of room...I'd have a much bigger mess to clean. So I'm happy with what I have. When I was a little kid we had a family friend who had a closet filled with real cigar boxes and each one was labeled pom poms, feathers, jingle bells, felt, ribbon & watercolors. There was only one rule for her craft closet: no kids allowed. It was like standing at the window of the chocolate factory staring at all those boxes and not being allowed to use any of it.

Today one of my great joys is sharing the craft room with my nieces. I love that I'm the kind of aunt who gets to say, "Use it up, I'll get more!" So I guess that thought is just the nudge I need to get up and go spend another hour in there. Happy Hump Day people--and whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Facebook Effect

I'm so glad I have this photo of my sweet Big Daddy, so I can talk about something I've been wanting to share about for awhile. This picture was taken at Lockhart Smokehouse in the Bishop Arts District and Big Daddy is just digging into his first bite of delicious BBQ. I captured this precious picture of his giddy face only there's only one thing you can't see in the picture--it's completely fake. He was trying to eat, I was trying to take cute pictures. I said, "Look up," and he looked up with half a snarl on so I said, "SMILE!" and he put on the phoniest, cheesiest, most sarcastic smile he could muster and boom! I've made a FB memory. (Now to be fair, Mr. Wonderful did have a great time at the BBQ joint and we did enjoy the food, but in that exact moment while his wife was delaying the kick-off to his carnivorous feed, there were not genuine smiles to be had.)

My Facebook friends know all about my life. They see more pictures than they probably want to. They know where I go and what I do. I record it all--except the yucky parts.

I cannot tell you how many times people come up to me to talk about how lucky I am at bingo. According to Facebook, I win every time I walk in the place, because I only post about bingo when I win. We don't share many of the less photographic moments in our lives on social media because there are some things that are private, and because there are some things we don't care to record for posterity. That doesn't mean they don't happen.

Most of us have had that friend who rants about her boyfriend/husband online and most of us have hidden her from our newfeeds. It's immature and awkward to air dirty laundry online but just because people aren't shouting it from their status doesn't mean that there aren't challenges, struggles, and just general messiness in day to day life and the only time that becomes a problem is when I start believing the Facebook world is the real world. That's when social media becomes toxic for me. In recovery we call this "judging my insides by your outsides." When I start to believe Facebook is the real world, everyone is skinny and dressed cute at all times. Everyone except Big Daddy and I went to the beach this summer. No one has ever been alone in Facebookland, nor have they fought with anyone including themselves, things don't spill, things don't break, there's always enough money, and nothing bad happens to anyone except me. There are exceptions to this but these situations are handled with such grace and faith that these friends seem superhuman. This is when I need to turn the computer off and spend some face to face time with a real live friend. This is when I need to get my head out of my laptop and get my feet back on the ground.

Here's the thing: Facebook is a great place to keep up with people that you can't see every day. It's a great place to post those cute back to school pictures or to share a funny story. Facebook is a wonderful tool to bring people together or to get feedback--but while a picture may be worth a thousand words, there are thousands of other words that are just outside the frame.