Sunday, November 29, 2009


Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I love the meaning of Christmas and the opportunity to share this amazing time with my family and friends.  Like most families, ours is full of holiday celebrations.  I hope to share about many of our traditions throughout the next month.  Here is the first of those posts...

Many churches symbolize the season of advent (the anticipation of Jesus) by lighting candles on a wreath (this is more common in churches that participate in liturgical practices).  The Methodist Church observes this tradition and lights five candles throughout the holiday season.  Three of the candles are purple, one pink, and one white.  Each candle represents various characteristics (week 1: hope; week 2: peace; week 3: joy; week 4: love; and week 5: Christ).

Growing up in a family of five, we had the perfect set-up for Advent.  Honestly, I don't know how the tradition began, but as long as I can recall we each had a Sunday night where we were responsible for lighting our candle, sharing the scriptures and leading the prayer.  Mom and Dad even planned it out to ensure no arguing.  Being that the third candle is pink, Mom took it so the kids wouldn't fight over the different one.  Once we all returned from college, we transitioned into the adult version of hosting dinner on the night of our candle.  With busy schedules, we don't always celebrate on Sundays; however, we ALWAYS find a time to observe this special time.

Tonight begins our celebration of the anticipation of Jesus' arrival.  I am most thankful for these nights, as it brings us all back to the real meaning of the season.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Being that my family celebrates on the day after Thanksgiving...I figured it was okay to include my "thankful" post on Friday.

When I was little, we often visited my grandmother in Marietta.  I remember as a young child dreaming about living there one day.  I loved the gorgeous tall trees, the community atmosphere, and the proximity to my church and the Square.  About 10 years ago, my sister and her husband purchased a house in Marietta, and I settled into Mableton.  Over the years, I slowly forgot my dream.

One afternoon while visiting my sister, we passed a house that I thought was cute.  Pregnant and in flip flops, she jumped out of the car and grabbed the flyer.  I wasn't in the market for a house and was living rent free 10 minutes from my job.  However, my dream reemerged quickly...and the rest I consider history.  I've now been in Marietta for almost six years, and I definitely consider it my home.  I LOVE Marietta, and all it has to offer.

Photo by Joseph T. Richardson

I LOVE going to the Taste of Marietta on a hot, sweaty, summer afternoon (when you can hardly push your way through the crowd).

Photo by Robin Wofford

I LOVE lunch and dinner on the historic Marietta Square and hearing trains pass by on one of the busiest railroads in Georgia.

                                                 Photo by Bill Rusham                             Photo by Joseph T. Richardson

I LOVE the boutiques and shops on the Square (and their VIP shopping events).

Photo by Shawn Latta

I LOVE participating in the Gobble Jog every Thanksgiving morning.

I LOVE the opportunity to take my nieces and nephew through the thousands of Christmas lights at the Lights of Life.

Photos by Nathalie (foto8girl)

I LOVE that my church is around the corner.

I LOVE the history and tradition of my little town.

                                                 Photo by Kevin Trotman                    Photo by Shawn Latta

I LOVE living in my dream community...with my entire family (even when they're a little too close for comfort).

What a day to be thankful and truly cherish the place you live and the people you call neighbors!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grocery List Organization

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I get home from the grocery store and realize I forgot the one thing I went to purchase.  Several years ago I came across a typed out grocery list on-line.  I thought it was a phenomenal idea, so I created a list to fit my needs.  Now, I keep several copies on my refrigerator and highlight items as I run out.  Then, I have a list to take with me to the store.  Here is a copy of my list in case this is something that might be beneficial for you and your family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Helping Hands

Being a former teacher, I believe life is filled with "teachable moments."  Incidental teaching is using unplanned opportunities to teach/improve a skill.  I love incidental teaching moments.  A child's best learning often occurs when you're least expecting it.

Last week, I was visiting my sister and her three adorable girls when I discovered one of the above mentioned treasured moments.  Lilly, a kindergartner, is quite the artist.  She carries her "writing book" everywhere she goes (and has since her third birthday).  She even keeps one in the car for the drive from school to home (keep in's less than a mile).  Anyway, while I was visiting she showed me a picture of a cornucopia with veggies and fruits falling out of it.  It is amazing to me the detail she adds to her work.  I asked Lilly if I could keep her drawing (as long as I promised to return it).  So, today I took it to Fed Ex/Kinkos and left with this.

I decided the cornucopia would make a great place card for Thanksgiving.  I enjoy seeing kids be a part of the action, and this allows Lilly the opportunity to know she helped make this holiday special for everyone else.

While cutting the cards, I  figured it was best if we kept the kid theme going and asked the other kindergartner in the family (Will-my brother's son) to write the names on the cards.  This afternoon, I spent some time with Will as he wrote out everyone's name for Thanksgiving.

Here are the finished cards.  The plan is for them to lay across the plates instead of standing like traditional place cards.

However, my sister requested a set to take to her in-laws.  They are traditional ones.

Being a special education teacher, I feel the need to point out that this activity can work for kids of all ages.  Here are some suggestions to make the activity more appropriate for younger kids or children with fine motor difficulties.

1. Use stickers instead of drawing a holiday picture.
2. Draw the pictures yourself, and let the children color them.
3. Print the names on labels, and have kids put them on the place cards.
4. Write the names with a highlighter, and let the kiddos trace the names.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving (full of teachable moments)!  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I thought I'd post a quick update of my life.  I figured the title of this post was quite apropos considering all the insanity at the moment.

My current school life involves a significant amount of writing.  My goal is to write everyday, but that doesn't always happen.  With the holidays and happenings, the remainder of my life is constantly getting in the way.  For those of you who are as clueless as I was about a dissertation, it involves five chapters.  The first three are considered your prospectus or your plan for your study.  This requires approval from your entire committee (before you are able to collect any data).  My goal for the year was to have a prospectus meeting in December...I've yet to submit chapter 1.  Therefore, I will be amending that goal.

While in Athens a week or so ago, I had an extremely honest conversation with my advisor.  Currently, I feel completely overwhelmed.  Although I'm not taking classes, I am attempting to write daily, supervising student teachers, and am a teaching assistant for an online course.  Some days, it feels like I'm swimming upstream or solely treading water.  On top of all of these commitments, I'm applying for jobs and trying to get papers published and accepted to conferences.

There is good news...I have been published (albeit, I've been rejected numerous times too) and accepted to conferences, and although these tasks are important...they're not getting me closer to my ultimate objective of a PhD.

So, here is the part where you come into play.  Next semester is going to be insane.  I'm teaching a course on campus (in Athens), am a teaching assistant for a class online, supervising student teachers, writing, and interviewing for jobs...STRESS!  In fact, my first job communication occurred today.  I should know if I have an interview by next Thursday (so they said).

I don't ask often, but this time I am...please pray...often!  I feel like this is an intensely vulnerable and stressful time in my life and right now, I need the support of my friends and family...I hope you'll be one of them!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gobble, Gobble

Considering Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I put together some cute shirts for my sister's girls.  I've seen similar shirts while shopping, and I figured I could make some myself.  I included a tutorial below in case you're interested in making one too.  Here is a picture of how they looked once finished.

Step 1: Prewash all fabric.

Step 2: Create a pattern.  Using a file folder trace the shapes needed (a U shape and a bowling pin)

Step 3: Trace them onto fabric.

Step 4: Cut out 5 "U" shaped pieces and 1 bowling pin.

Step 5: Spray pieces with Fray Stop Spray.

Step 6: Using the directions below, apply Heat n' Bond (or some other iron on adhesive).

  • Step 1: Preheat dry iron to the silk setting. Place Heat N' Bond on the wrong side of the material. Lightly glide iron across paper side for 1-2 seconds.

  • Step 2: When creating your own design, draw design on paper side in reverse. Carefully cut out design. Skip to next step if you are working on a pre-cut or pre-designed item.

  • Step 3: Allow the material to cool, then peel off the paper backing. The adhesive should appear milky in color. Shiny, clear adhesive is a sign of overheating.

  • Step 4: Place the material right side up in desired position and iron for 4-6 seconds. The ironing time may need to be increased for heavier materials or when using several layers of material.

Step 7: Iron pieces onto a pre-washed shirt.

Step 8: Using embroidery thread, straight stitch (by hand) around all pieces.  If you don't know how to straight stitch, refer to this tutorial.

Step 9: Using embroidery thread, create a french knot in the center of the eyes.  If you don't know how to create a french knot, refer to this tutorial.

Here is a close up of the french knot turkey eyes.

Step 10: Wear to your Thanksgiving feast.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kitchen Makeover

Well, the renovations are getting closer to being finished.  The workers finished my backsplash today, and I couldn't be more pleased.  I have only one final plan for the kitchen.  I've ordered a kitchen island, and I've decided to sell my cafe table.  I'm going to put it on Craig's List soon.

Due to much demand (3 of my 7 followers), I decided to put up before and after pictures.  Also, I tried to take some up close pics of the backsplash.  I feel like it is so much warmer.

Here is the before...

And the after...

The new was free with the granite!

The backsplash...

Up close of the backsplash...

Did I tell you how much I love it?  I'll add a final picture as soon as the kitchen island arrives and is assembled.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taking a break...briefly!

So, I'm sure that most of you know my house flooded a month or so ago during the unbelievable Georgia flood of 2009.  Well, this caused me to reevaluate my house and undergo some renovations.

First, we fixed the problem that caused the we thought.  Then, several weeks later, it flooded again.  Thankfully, I hadn't put the carpet back downstairs.  Once my house flooded the second time, I decided it was best to pull it off the market and get the water issue truly taken care of by professionals.  $6000 later...I think we have it taken care least I certainly hope!  With the torrential downpours last week, there was no flooding...which was good considering I might loose my mind if my house doesn't get some order back very soon!

Once I decided to take my house off the market, I figured I'd do two or three things that needed to be done (considering comments of potential buyers and my desires).  So, I had granite countertops put in last week (thank heavens business is slow because I got a phenomenal deal).  The backsplash will hopefully go in this week; however, the old sink is still sitting in my floor.  My kitchen was updated right before I moved in, so several potential buyers commented on the fact that the only part missing was granite.

In the meantime, I decided the lime green and hot pink office was too overstimulating for my 30s.  So, I picked out a fabric and a paint color, and I'm redoing the office/sewing room.  We enclosed an area I previously used for storage (originally it was hidden with a fabric sheet).  Lastly, I've changed knobs on my cabinets and am replacing the carpet (due to the flood).

Finally, my sister and I decided a furniture swap was needed.  I love her blue and brown furniture, and I was tired of my burgundy and gold stuff.  So, we swapped!  How insane, but I love it.  When I first bought my house, I was uncertain what my design style was (shabby chic), so my mom decorated to her taste.  I love my mom, but we're on opposite ends of the design spectrum.  I hate gold and burgundy, but they are EVERYWHERE in my house.  I like light/cool colors, so I'm slowly making some changes.  The problem with making these changes is that being a PhD student doesn't pay.  So, I've become quite creative at Craig's Listing, sewing from old materials, trading with people who like my old stuff, spray painting/repurposing, and spending very sparingly.  It is kind of fun!

So, I tell you all of this for one purpose.  I'm hoping everything will be back to normal by the end of next week.  Barring any ridiculous storms, I'm having my carpet replaced Tuesday.  Once my office is no longer in my garage and I can actually access supplies, I'll update with some fun projects I have planned.

Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sesame Street

As you all probably know, this week chronicles Sesame Street's 40th anniversary.  As I drove to Athens yesterday, I enjoyed listening to a brief but meaningful story of the changes and lessons learned from the program.  NPR created a list of eight lesson Sesame Street has learned over the past 40 years.  Take a moment to listen here...

This brief piece made me think about all my memories of Sesame Street.

For example, how Big Bird taught my brother, Harlan, to tie his shoes (and how he still uses the "bunny ear" method at 36).

Every year, I continue to put my plastic Sesame Street ornaments on my Christmas tree (even as an adult).

The birthday parties of both Will and Lilly with Sesame Street themes.


The first production the nieces and nephew ever saw was...Sesame Street Live.  How we all (grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and kids) drove downtown to watch the amazement on the faces of the little ones.


The addiction to Elmo, Grover, and all the others.


I feel a sense of peacefulness with Sesame Street.  It is something that I had as a child and my nieces and nephew have too.  It is quality programing that provides children a sense of comfort and learning.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Oh, and if you haven't had an opportunity to see Mike Luckovich's cartoon commemorating the day...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Topiary Time

Several weeks ago I was reading a few Facebook posts, and I came across a craft I thought would be fun to make.  My childhood neighbor created a topiary as a gift for a friend at work.  Of course, I emailed and asked for the directions.  Thankfully, she obliged.  Here is a picture of her creation.

Anyway, I thought I'd pass along her tutorial (adding a few comments of my own).  These are the directions I used.  You can alter them to fit your design.  Here are the details.

Materials Needed:
     -Styrofoam ball (4-5 inches)
     -Wooden dowel that fits in the bottom of the Styrofoam ball
     -5-6 spools of ribbon
     -Styrofoam for the bottom of the pot
     -Flower pot
     -Straight pins
     -Scrap Material
    -Twine or jute

     1.  Cut ribbon into 1.5 inch strips
     2.  Fold ribbon in half and pin onto Styrofoam ball
     3.  Continue until no Styrofoam is showing
     4.  Hot glue or pin a large button to the top of the Styrofoam ball
     5.  Wrap twine around the dowel (hot glue at the top and bottom)
     6.  Push the dowel into the bottom of the Styrofoam ball
     7.  Push the other end of the dowel into the pot Styrofoam
     8.  Place the pot Styrofoam into the flower pot
     9.  Place moss over the Styrofoam and around the dowel
    10. Cover the pot with the scrap material (or paint depending on your preference)
    11. Pull corners of fabric up towards top of flower pot
    12. Place a rubber band over the pot and pull up towards the top of the pot
    13. Cover the rubber band with a piece of ribbon tied into a bow
    14. Display

Here is a picture of mine...

The DIY Show Off

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Placemat Purse

I received a rather harassing Facebook post tonight from one of my 5 followers.  Evidently, the lack of blog posts rather perturbs her.  So, I literally just wracked my brain for the past 20 minutes to come up with something to write about.  It is not that I don't have tons of fun projects to upload and create tutorials for, but I haven't had the time lately.  Even so, I am scheduled to guest lecture online (kind of cool how far technology has come) shortly, so I'm probably going to regret doing this instead of preparing.  Oh well...enough of my guilt trip.

Earlier this year I stumbled across a great crafting web-site entitled

The site offers help and tutorials for just about everything from soap-making to sewing.  Well, being the novice sewer I am, I decided to give one of the tutorials a try.  In fact, it was this one...

I didn't completely love the straps on the placemat purse (or the placemat the person used), so I decided to alter the idea to fit me.  I fell in love with some fabulous and vibrant placemats at Target, and I actually purchased two thinking I would use them for something (albeit I did not know what).  So, when I saw this tutorial...I knew I was set.

Here is a photo of the one I made for myself.  I had it monogrammed after I made it.

I'm going to give some simple directions below on how to create the purse.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures as I created this beauty.  However, I am an extremely novice sewer.  So, if I can do can you.

1.  Choose your placemat.  Pier One and Target have some fabulous selections!

2.  Fold the placemat in half inside out (width or length wise depending on what look you're wanting).

3.  Pin the placemat on both sides.  You should be looking at the wrong side of your fabric.

4.  Stitch a straight stitch up each side of the purse.  Make sure to go forward and backwards at the beginning and end to secure the thread.  For extra coverage, you may want to do this twice.

5.  This is the only tricky part.  Fold one side to a point.  Look at step 4 on this tutorial.  There is a picture that helps explain.

6.  Sew across the point creating a triangle.  Complete steps 5 and 6 on the opposite side.  This is going to create some width for your purse.  Remember to look at steps 4 and 5 on the above linked tutorial.

7.  Fray check all of your seams to ensure they stay together.

8.  Trim away any additional thread.

9.  Turn bag inside out, so the correct fabric is showing now.

10.  Decide how you want to close your purse.  Here are several options: (1) hand sew a magnetic closure, (2) hand sew a button on the outside of one side and a ribbon loop on the other, (3) add handles and don't have a way to truly secure the top, or (4) add a ribbon to both sides and tie.

I used option 1.  It was the easiest for me at the time.  So, the button on the front of mine is strictly ornamental.

Here are the two I for me and one for a friend.  If you have any questions, I'll be glad to attempt to answer them.  However, I'll remind you that I am certainly a rookie sewer!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Unexpected Storage and Organization

I have a fascination with jewelry...not the real stuff.  I love fun beaded necklaces, ornate earrings, and funky rings; however, finding a way to store them is always an issue.  Before I put my house on the market, I had them hanging in my bathroom.  I have a small nook, and I used tie hangers to hang my necklaces.  This was perfect, but my wonderful real estate agent told me people would think I had no storage (which if you've seen my'd laugh).  Anyway, I followed her lead and moved the jewelry to a more discrete location.  Here...

I bought this secretary desk from a local antique dealer (in the "last chance" section) several years ago.  It is really on its last leg, and I have no desire to do anything about it.  However, as I started moving my jewelry into a box, I realized this (previously empty) secretary could fit the bill for jewelry storage.  So, I purchased a few utensil organizers from my favorite store (Target) and organized all of my necklaces (by color).

Typically when I pick out jewelry, I do it based on the color rather than anything else.  This helps me make a much quicker choice.  I will admit that the bracelet storage was not as easy because I wear mostly bangles (that stand up in the drawer organizers).  If you have any suggestions, shoot them my way.  Also, my pendants and rings make up the final drawer.


However, I saved the best for last.  Earrings are my thing.  I love them, and the bigger the better (especially with long hair).  So, I created a fun organization tool and stuck it in the top of the desk.  Also, I hung each pair by color.  For directions on how to create the earring organizer, see below.

Earring Organizer:

  • Old picture frame (without the glass or back)
  • Material (I used some left over from my screened in porch, but anything with some stretch would fact, this would be a great place to bring in a coordinating fabric to your bathroom)
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Place frame on ground (face down)
  • Cut fabric slightly larger than the opening
  • Using the stable gun, staple the fabric onto the backside of the frame (where the back of the frame would go if you were using it).  Make sure to pull the fabric tight as you staple (so there are no creases)
  • Trim extra fabric
  • Hang earrings

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Food Swap

I despise to cook!  I like the idea of it, but I hate how messy it gets my house.  I really love the slow-cooker, and I don't truly consider that cooking.  Living so close to my parents and siblings, I've survived the past few year "showing up" for dinner at their houses.  However, entering my 30s made me realize it was time to buck up and shut up!  So, my sister and I decided we would initiate a food swap.  It works really well.  We both cook two days a week (the same ones), and swap our food two others.  Then, the weekend is on your own.  So, on Saturday or Sunday we discuss which days work for our swap and then plan for the week.  Here is my menu calendar I started.

I write down what I'm going to cook and the ingredients.  Then, I highlight what I already have and create a grocery list (in the bottom right hand corner) of what I still need.  Then, I take the menu calendar with me.  My sister and I both have outdoor fridges, so during our swap days we stick each other's food in the fridge while we're out running errands.  It is fabulous!  Now I am eating home cooked meals, but I'm not having to do all the cooking.

Also, to make my life a little more sane I've organized the ingredients in tubs for the week.  Then, I can grab the tub and cook from it.  This allows me to actually "know" I have everything I need.  Here is a picture of that too.