Thursday, November 27, 2008

100 Things to be Thankful for

You read that right.  100 things.  Maybe you're thinking "there's no way I can think of 100 things I'm thankful for."  That's what I thought at first, too.  30 tops, but never 100.  So I thought I'd give this a try just to see if I actually could.  I snagged it from This Gal who stole it from Her.  I thought I'd give a shot at keeping the love going, so here goes . . . 

1.  My husband.
2.  My boys.
3.  My girl.
4.  Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra.
5.  Taco Beaux & Lady Grace - our yellow & chocolate labs.
6.  Living in the woods.
7.  Living near the beach.
8.  My Grandmother in Tennessee & being able to go up there to see her.
9.  Ms. Sandra - an influential woman in my life who helped my Dad raise me.
10.  My awesome, talented, crazy fun Dad.
11.  His loving, patient, tolerant and vibrant wife, Sandy.
12.  Coffee from Chiapas, Mexico
13.  Chocolate from Chiapas, Mexico.
14.  The Ok Cafe in Atlanta and their Mac & Cheese and Squash Casserole.
15.  The Tin Top Oyster Bar in Bon Secour, AL.
16.  Nail polish.
17.  Pedicures.
18.  My sewing machine.
19.  My new serger.
20.  Being able to homeschool my children.
21.  That my husband is secure enough to wear pink.
22.  Bravo channel reality shows.
23.  Only cooking one dish for Thanksgiving this year.
24.  My babies cuddled in the bed with me.
25.  Sleeping late.
26.  Vacations to anywhere.
27.  A friend who's still a friend even if we don't see each other or talk for a while.
28.  That I love to be at home.
29.  An endlessly packed fridge and pantry.
30.  Front-loading washing machine.
31.  A husband that can build things, soundly.
32.  Chalkboard paint.
33.  Dry-erase paint.
34.  Padded bras.
35.  Flip flops.
36.  Stacks & stacks of fabric.
38.  Caller ID.
39.  Pink hair coloring.
40.  Margaritas.
41.  Hot, hot, hot bath water.
42.  The old claw foot tub my husband is going to restore for our bathroom remodel.
43.  Black furniture.
44.  My husband's Grandmother's silver.
45.  Mystery novels.
46.  Photographs of family & ancestors.
47.  My 6 yr old's imagination.
48.  My 8 yr old singing songs from my generation and before.  And loving them.
49.  My 4 yr old's innocence.
50.  Memories of my Grandfather.
51.  A mother-in-law & father-in-law who are willing to baby-sit almost any time I ask.
52.  My own creativity.
53.  Dishwasher.
54.  Oven.
55.  Coffee pot.
56.  My mini-van.  It's nice and doesn't break down all the time.  
57.  Windex.
58.  Target.
59.  Bare Minerals make-up.
60.  Fat little baby toes.
61.  My children's artwork.
62.  Tropical plants around my house.
63.  A husband that knows all about plants so that's one less thing I have to figure out.
64.  Ikea.
65.  That we're able to give to others.
66.  Foley's Irish Pub.
67.  Charlotte Mason.
68.  Stainless steel sinks.
69.  King size bed.
70.  Vintage looking tile.
71.  Freedom.
72.  Therapists.
73.  Cold weather for a change.
74.  My husband's Primo grill.
75.  Hand-me-downs.
76.  Our peacocks.
77.  Monkey chandelier.
78.  100 yr old desk my kids do schoolwork at.
79.  Loving, Christian friends and aquaintances in our life.
80.  The people who teach and/or watch my children when they're at church.
81.  Our neighbors and their children.
82.  Our employee Shane.
83.  Hundreds of oak trees surrounding my home.
84.  My broom.
85.  Fried turkey.
86.  New bathroom cabinets.
87.  A new closet, designed & built by my husband.
88.  Shoes.
89.  My restaurant ware dishes.  Indestructible.
90.  Waterfront Rescue Mission.
91.  Growing up in the South.
92.  Raising my kids in the South.
93.  Music piping through the speakers in my back yard.
94.  Screened porches.
95.  Sweet tea.
96.  Split-leaf philodendron.
97.  That my husband just told me he'd agree to getting a Wii for us all for Christmas.
98.  That he's willing to wake up at 4 am so he can be at Sam's Club and in line by 5 am to get one.
99.  That I'm making the majority of our gifts this year.
100.  That I'm lucky and blessed enough to be able to say I'm a Mom.  

That wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it'd be.  

So, what's on your thankful list this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sneak Peek

I've been working hard at getting all my ducks-in-a-row for the Thrifty-Fifty Challenge.  Pulling fabrics, gathering notions, making a list for anything I don't already have.  Which isn't much, thankfully.  

I've even managed to get a few things cut out, but nothing's actually sewn up or completed yet.  And then I decided to make myself a little crazy and make Audrey an outfit for Thanksgiving.  Yes, I'm well aware that it's tomorrow.  But a little deadline like 12 hrs or less isn't gonna stop me.  No sir!

A sneak peek at a few of my Thrifty-Fifty projects and Audrey's dress will have to suffice today.

This will be Audrey's dress and pants - A little Joel Dewberry, Amy Butler and vintage orange velvet from The Main Man's seamstress Grandmother.  She's been gone for a few years now and I was blessed with some of her stash.  It's precious to me and I can barely bring myself to use any of it, but this velvet was just perfect for a little birdie applique.

This ensemble is intended for a purse, matching eyeglass case and key fob for my Aunt.

What little boy doesn't dream of being a cowboy?  I'll be making pj bottoms out of the multi-print here and the brown bandana pattern will be used to applique 
horseshoes on some plain white t-shirts.  Gotta do two sets of these for the boys.

I'm planning to turn these pretties into a precious nightgown for Audrey.  Going along with the western theme here.  I'd thought about making their pj's Christmas-y, but figured we'd get 
much longer wear without doing them in a holiday style.  

I had originally put this combo together for a grilling apron for my father-in-law.  Then The Main Man saw it and remarked how he thought that was "really cool fabric" and that he "wished he could live like that guy".   
So guess what one of his gifts is going to be?  

So there's some of the lovely fabric I'll be working with over the next few days.  And I'm not sure why those pictures are showing up so muted....they were much crisper/brighter in my photo program.   I'll have to figure that out, but it'll have to wait for now.

I'll be back soon with updates on all my projects, with pictures.  
That is, unless, I become buried under it all in my frenzy.

Love to all,

The Case of the Missing Spaghetti Noodles - Chapter 1

It was a cold, dreary night.  The wind was howling and a dense fog was setting in.  In a cozy house tucked back in the woods, lights were glowing and people were stirring about.  You could hear the chatter and rumbling going on in there.  Something was amiss.

The dame of the house walks into the kitchen.  It's that time again - the natives are hungry and getting restless.  She's had to draw herself away from her happy place of sewing and creating.  She thinks to herself, "Why do they have to eat so much?  Will I ever have a day where I only enter this kitchen to fix myself another cup of coffee and go back to my happy place?  It's a good thing I love 'em, ragamuffins." 

Relenting to the necessity of feeding their hunger, she dons her self-made apron, gathers big white bowls, shiny silver forks & spoons, napkins, sparkling glasses.  They're all set up on the counter and ready to go.  The garlic bread is slapped together and thrown into the oven in no time flat.  

Her bread-winner bursts into the house - arms laden with even more food that they'll eventually want prepared, served and cleaned up, at some point in the very near future.  

"Hi, Honey.  I'm home!  I got everything you asked for."

"Oh, hi dear.  Glad you're home.  And, technically, I didn't really ask for this stuff.  Not for me, at least.  I just know that if it's not here everyone will want it and I'll end up having to go get it all myself, plus prepare it and feed people with it.  So I'm saving myself half the battle by asking you to pick it up for me.  But thanks, nonetheless."

"Ohhhh, I don't mind.  Anything for my gal!"
(slap on the bottom)


"So, what's for supper?"

"You, too, 'huh?  Left-overs.  Spaghetti.  Take it or leave it."

She pulls down another bowl.  Grabs more utensils.  Another glass.  Then sets to work finding the containers of noodles and sauce in the Fridgidaire.  The sauce was easy enough to find.  Right there in the front.  White bowl with a blue lid.  Tupperware, of course.  The noodles?  Where are the noodles?  They were in another Tupperware container.  Clear with a tan lid.  She knew right we're she'd put them but...but....they're GONE!  

                                         DUN - DUN - DUNNNNNNN!     (gasp)

Looking to the counter and not seeing them there, either, the dame starts to think she's losing it.

"Did I already get them out of the fridge?  Where did I put them?  What on earth?!"

That's where I come in.  "JJ" Finder, Private Eye.  Little does this broad know, I was expecting her tonight.  My services haven't been needed much, as of late.  But, as always, I'm johnny-on-the-spot.  Always there, in the dark recesses of her mind.   Just waiting for the right moment to come to her rescue.  She can't survive without me and she knows it.

TO BE CONTINUED . . . . . . . . . . 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pick me! Pick me!

Oh - they did. They picked me! I've been lucky enough to be one of 50 people chosen to take part in a fabulous Christmas season challenge.

I  am really happy to have been chosen to be part of this group.  So is my husband.  With our recent trips, car accidents (which the at-fault-driver's insurance company is fighting the claim, by the way - therefore incurring even more costs to us at the moment) this could just not have happened at a more perfect time.  

Kim, her twin sister Kris and all of the behind-the-scenes people over at You Can Make This
do an awesome job of providing quality e-books on such a variety of topics.  From sewing to crocheting to appliqueing - even how to bake pies.  And I'm really grateful to all of the talented authors who are happy to share their expertise.  I've yet to find something at YCMT that I wasn't interested in, couldn't afford or that didn't live up to my expectations.  The patterns and e-books are super affordable and so laden with detail  and info that they are worth far more than their price tag, in my opinion.

I'm excited to be on a great team, too - TEAM CARLA!  "Carla C", as she's known around YCMT, is a fabulous author & designer.  I've learned many an invaluable skill from her e-books and credit her thorough, clear instructions for helping me build my confidence in designing and sewing.  She was a bonafide scientist once upon a time - Funny that such a creative soul lurked for years behind a lab coat & petri dishes!

So one of the first challenges in our group is to "Show Your Stuff".  All or some of the things we'll be using to meet our "Thrifty-Under-$50" goal or the space we'll be doing it in.  I'll do both.  While all of my supplies aren't visible in the pictures below, some are.  More supplies are in another room and out in the shed, but will be moved in here over the next week or so. 

This is also our classroom, since we homeschool.  So here's a view from the center of the room, down toward the end where my fabric, machines, etc. are..... 

There's empty boxes to go out, paint, etc.  This room is still in-progress.  Fabric to the left - fabric to the right - here I am, stuck in the middle with you - oh, my, my.

This is only about 2/3 of my stash.  I have more in a wardrobe that needs to be emptied and moved in here, as well as most of my notions.  I tried to organize it by color and/or pattern - reds, oranges, yellows, etc.  Then stripes, checks, dots, black & white, dark prints, light prints that didn't fit into the other colorways, exactly.  Then the bottom right cubbie has fabrics that I've set aside for specific projects for myself or kids...special stuff.  As you can see by the top of that shelving unit, there's still more to sort and put into the cubbies.  It'll be stuffed!  Plus the fabric that's still in that wardrobe in my den.  Have I mentioned how much I love fabric?

Here's my sewing desk.  Not really set up yet, I just haven't had a chance to try the layout yet to see what'll work.  More fabric, this time on bolts - duck, laminates, upholstery.

There's some craft supplies on the shelves up top - glue, buttons, cutting tools and the obligatory googly-eyes.  Gotta have googly-eyes.  Also, the fabrics for Audrey's Thanksgiving outfit is sitting near the machines.  Better get busy on that, I think.  And that danged rolling drawer unit - it fit under the desk before when it was in another room but now it's almost an inch too tall - I think I'll have to perform surgery on the top of it to get it under there.

And here's part of the other end of the room - the dry-erase wall (sorry it's so dirty - I ran out of that spray cleaner stuff for it and my kids had used the black & red markers to play hang-man.  That partial shark you see was the fate of the hanging man.)

Off to the right is more "stuff" to go out to the shed, thenthe doorway to my laundry room - thus the wad of giant white tablecloths under my folding table that have yet to be laundered after a function in October. Yep. I'm a slacker.

So - that's my space and my stash. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

That post on the super hero capes and "A Letter to Ree" will have to wait for now. My oldest son went hunting today and killed his first deer!! So I'm off to his grandparent's house to squeeze him a few times (the kid, not the dead deer), take pics and then go cry for while. My firstborn is no longer a baby. Not when he can go out and bring home dinner. He's that much closer to manhood and forgetting his poor Ma. *sniff*sniff*

Stay warm!

Love to all,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming . . .

At least, I hope we do.  Sorry for the delay since my last post.  I recently was given a new Mac Book Pro by my awesome husband but have been struggling with many issues in learning how to use it.  For some reason, after my last post, the Mac and Blogger have not been getting along.  Or maybe it was the Mac and Me.  Who knows.  But I think I have it figured out finally and will hopefully have no more hiccups.

A lot has been going on since my last post.  More homeschooling, of course, which is always challenging.  (More on that in my upcoming, very belated post "A Letter to Ree")  The Main Man went on a week-long mission trip to Mexico and one week after he returned, we all had a 10 day trip to Disney.  The Main Man also had a wreck 2 days after we got home from Florida - no one injured, thankfully, but lots of headache over it, nonetheless.  And we've made some big decisions and changes regarding my businesses - Cocina Couture and Sugar Hill Studio.  More on that in the next few weeks.

Another recent happening is staring you right in the face, acutally, as you read this post.  My blog design is fresh, new and ever so sparkly!  Since I only own two diamonds, which are very small but very precious to me, I thought I'd give myself a few big 'uns to light up my life a little more.  Even if it is only pretend.  Gosh - I don't think I'd ever want a real one as big as the ones over there.  Pretty sure it would have a bad effect on my sewing, trying to hold up the weight of a rock that size.  For now I'm content to just gaze at the sparkles here and dream a little.

Yet another fun and motivating thing has happened to me - that will be announced soon, so stay tuned!   I'll leave you for now with a few pictures from San Cristobal, Mexico.  I swear - I'd better get to go next time!

Love to all,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!! 

Oh, my, goodness!!   I've just come across this, thanks to Girl Indie and my, my.  What an exquisite display of workmanship in this gown!  I can only hope to make something so extraordinary one day.  

And can you believe she's giving this away?!  My stars!  I myself would never have the gumption to do such a thing.  But am grateful this lady does.  Just fabulous.

So head on over and give it a whirl!  You just may be the lucky recipient of this masterpiece!

I, for one, have to get back to her blog and read more about it....

Lots of love,

P.S.  I haven't forgotten about the A Letter to Ree's just that my new Mac and Blogger weren't getting along last night, so I had to start the whole post over.  It'll be up soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Out of the shadows - finally

I know it's been 3 long months since I posted.  I'm ashamed.  But I do have a very good excuse, I swear.  We started homeschooling this year and life has been very, very different.  "The Thompson Terrarium", as my kids affectionately call our home/homeschool now, is in a constant state of shift.  There have been some good changes, as well as pure chaos.  Not to mention the every day things that have popped up and likely would have, whether we homeschooled or not.  It's just that those things seem to have been a little more difficult to deal with among 2 fighting brothers and their ever-curious little sister under foot all the time.  

There hasn't been much free or Mom-time, lately, to say the least.  Often, once the kids are in bed, I stay up late planning out what we need for the next day's lessons, working up field trips, doing some teaching research on one subject or another, or attacking the mountains of laundry, toys or dishes.  Ordering microscopes, slides, books, books and more books.  When it's way past my bed time and my brain is shot, I remember my poor, neglected, abandoned blog.  No time to post, no properly functioning brain to use to create said post.  Oops.  I haven't been sleeping well, either.  I've started having toy-terrors.  You know - those dreams where the toys come to life, take over your home and start coming after you.  I can only guess it's because of the state of constant disarray in our home.  Ya think??

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me, though, in these first 8 weeks of our little-schoolhouse-journey is that I need an outlet  -  now more than ever.  I do have a few homeschooling-Mom friends.  But it seems to be that when I need that friendly, experienced ear and shoulder, it's not the best time for them.  They're either schooling or in bed.  And when we're all together at the park or a group function, I'm not too thrilled to bum everyone out with my woes and tribulations.  Besides - that's valuable adult conversation time for all of us and I'm not in any hurry to usurp it.

So you, my dear readers - as few as there may be - will be the lucky recipients of the ramblings of my experiences, frustrations and challenges.  And just plain whining at times, I'm sure.  Please share advice with me, that's partly what this blog is for.  I don't know everything and am always looking for new ways to make this work.  Feel free to bash me around the head and neck area when I need a wake up.  Just not too hard - I still have to teach my little dreamers. 

To begin The Thompson Terrarium Chronicles  -  Coming Up:

"A Letter to Ree"

Love to all,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Questions, questions....

A friend sent this to me in an email and I thought it'd make a neat meme. It's a little long, but at least it helps you get to know a little more about me, my family, etc. Quirks and all. Because we definitely have quirks. Lots.

1. Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? yep - the chunky kind

2. Do you own a gun? yes, The Main Man has several & I've practiced shooting the pistol some.

3. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks or other specialty coffee shops?
Caramel Machiatto with whipped cream and extra caramel drizzle on top. That or a Chai Latte.

4. Have you ever been arrested?
Ummm...yeah. Underage drinking about 2 months before my 21st birthday. Woopdidoo. But that was the one & only time, thank goodness.

5. What do you think of hot dogs?
I try not to think too much about them. But I'll eat one. If it's Kosher and served in a steamed bun. Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Atlanta has the best dogs ever....yum! We overdose on their stuff every time we go see my, seriously - on our last trip we at there 3 days in a row & even the kids are crazy about it too. Three days in a freaking row!! It's really that good. Click their logo below & see if there's one in your neck of the woods. Hey - I just realized this is Question #5....and I mentioned FIVE GUYS...hmmmmmmmm, lol

6. Favorite Christmas song? Little Drummer Boy - barumpabumpum

7. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee. Then a tiny glass of chocolate milk with breakfast. And then more coffee. And probably a little more coffee after that.

8. Can you do push ups? Barely.

9. What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
It's a tie between the round, modern style diamond necklace that The Main Man gave me on our 4th Christmas together or the pave' diamond butterfly that my Dad & his wife gave me on my first Mother's Day.

10. Favorite hobby? Designing & sewing, which are now turning into my business/occupation.

11. Do you have A.D.D.? Of course not. I'm just "creative".

12. What's one trait that you hate about yourself?
Personality: can procrastinate & quick to criticize sometimes
Physical: the good 'ole much bigger than it used to be.

13. Middle name? Renee'

14. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment?
I've got to get some sewing done this week.
I hope we get to homeschool this year.
I'm going to the beach at least twice in one week after we get back from Tennessee.

15. When was the last time you cried? About 3 weeks ago.

16. Current worry right now?
If I will be successful at homeschooling/teaching and if it's definitely what will be best for our kids and family.

17. Current hate (dislike) right now?
96 degree temps with 100% humidity. It makes us have $350.00 power bills which means less $$ to do fun things with the kids or less fabric, etc. for me. Not to mention that the second I step outside - and I mean just to walk to the van and get in it - I'm dripping with sweat. So whatever makeup I just put on before walking out the door is running off my face and then by the end of the day I have at least 2 new zits. Fabulous.

18. Favorite place to be?
At home sewing & looking out the window to see the kids playing in the backyard on the awesome fort their daddy built for them.

19. How did you bring in the New Year?
We had a big bash at our house with lots of friends, some family, a few neighbors, yummy food, lots of liquid happy for some of us and a ton of fireworks. (There are awesome advantages to living outside the city limits - we get to have giant firework shows! All done very safely by my ADD husband, of course. He even soaks down the ground and has 4 giant hoses ready to go at any moment. This is a time where ADD is a good thing. )

20. Do you like to travel?
Love it. But if it's more than an 8 hr drive or so I'd like to do it in an RV. My family tends to get a little deafening in your average minivan.

21. Name three people who will complete this?
Dawn (Because I Said So), Jenn (Fabric Bliss), Kristen (We Are THAT Family) - at least I'm gonna tag these girls and HOPE they'll do it. ;)

22. Do you own slippers? Oh, sure. But do I wear them? Not so much. It's either flip flops or barefeet for me, usually.

23. What color shirt are you wearing? coral-ly orange

24. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
Not really. I tend to sweat whenever I come in contact with them. Satin nightie...fine. But the sheets just don't work for me. I go for the most expensive/highest thread count sheet I can afford. Whenever I catch Egyptian cotton ones on sale I have to restrain myself.

25. Can you whistle? Not a lick. Or a hoot. Or tweet.

26. Favorite color?
I really love color in general....but I guess I'd have to say I gravitate toward apple green. Or aqua blue. Or maybe coral red. See, told ya.

27. Would you be a pirate? Heck yeah! As long as I could go back to being a regular wench when I tired of the all the arrrrr-ing.

28. What songs do you sing in the shower? Gwen Stefani - Rich Girl. Don't laugh. At least not too hard.

29. Favorite girl's names?
Audrey Ruth, my sweet almost 4 yr old's name; Naomi Jewel, if we had another girl.

30. Favorite boy's names?
Isaac Emmanuel, my oldest son; William, my almost 6 yr old; Oliver, if we had another boy.

31. What's in your pocket right now? No pockets....pajama bottoms.

32. Last thing that made you laugh?
Earlier tonight - William speaking in a very husky grown-up man kind of voice while he was pretending to be a magician and turn his sister into a princess and himself into a prince. Of course, I didn't let him hear me laughing but it just cracked me up. Too, too cute.

33. Best bed sheets as a child? Strawberry Shortcake

34. Worst injury you've ever had?
8 yrs old, riding my bike. Turned my head to look behind me and see if my step-brother was on my tail and ran into the mailbox. The corner of it dug into my arm pretty badly. Still have a scar on my arm.

35. Do you love where you live? yes

36. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2 - the den & our bedroom

37. Who is your loudest friend?
A tie between Amy & Michelle

38. How many pets do you have? 3, currently....10 at one point.

Dog - Taco Beaux Thompson, yellow lab that was a stray we picked up - and yes, my kids more often than not call him by his full name they bestowed upon him. Lucky, lucky dog, lol.

Peacocks - Peabody & Petunia, male & female - they're a cute little couple but poop more than what I think is peacockly possible.

We had some chickens and two guniea fowl. All our chicks turned out to be roosters - not one layer in the bunch. They've all met their demise over the past year or so in one way or another. RIP to roosters Pinguini, Linguini, Big Daddy, Mamma, Ginger & the Guineas Squirt & Spot.

39. What is your favorite book? The Bible, The Queen, Charlotte Mason Home Companion, A Hatful of Seuss - sorry - can't pick just one.

40. Do you brush your teeth with cold or warm water?
ewwww.....warm water? who does that?? Cold, of course.

41. What is your favorite candy?
Candy - Sprees....Candy BAR - Twix, original one.

42. Favorite Sports Team?
well, ummm....The Main Man is all about the Roll Tide. Me, not so much.

43. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Reading blogs, checking email, editing photos.

44. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
"How much can I get done before the kids wake up? Ohhhh....maybe I'll just go out on the deck with my coffee and read some more about the Charlotte Mason method and then I'll get started in the house."

45. Did you fully accomplish at least one thing you wanted to today?
Yes. But it was pointless. I really scrubbed down all my kitchen countertops and the stove, etc. And swept/mopped the entire kitchen/dining area all in one fell swoop. I was a non-stop cleaning machine for about 1 hr straight and man was it shiny. But then people did things like prepare food and eat and live in those rooms. It lasted all of maybe 30 minutes before something was spilled, pencil shavings were on the floor and PB & J was smeared on the bar because William decided to make himself a sandwich and Audrey found the cheesecake in the fridge, pulled it out and proceeded to sit on the freshly clean floor and eat it with her hands, dropping crumbs all around her - all while I was in the laundry room switching out a load and folding/putting up the towels in the bathroom & answering one phone call. Yeah - pointless.

Did someone ask if I had ADD? heh heh....Mommy-Brain, ADD,'s all the same to me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On vacation we will go

For us, vacation is a way of life, to some extent. We live a short 20 minute drive from the beaches in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. My in-laws live on the river which empties out into Mobile Bay and they're only one road over from us. Needless to say, we're on the water a lot. My 8 yr old just did his first 360 on the wakeboard and we're seriously considering getting him into the kids competitive wakeboarding circuit...he's that good. Today The Main Man, Isaac, Grandpa and some others went deep sea fishing out in the Gulf. They returned with 16 fish...16!!! 10 Red Snapper & 5 King Mackerel & 1 Spanish Mackerel. Isaac, my wakeboarder boy, caught the biggest Snapper weighing in at about 11 pounds. Go Isaac!!

So, of course, we had a seafood feast for supper: shrimp boil (shrimp, new potatoes & corn), shrimp scampi, fried snapper & mackerel and we finished it off with peach & blackberry cobbler topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. ohhhhhhhhhh, yum! Are you drooling yet??

You know how when you go on vacation you don't really worry too awful much about what you want to enjoy yourself and maybe indulge a little and eat what you please. Well - let's just say I'm totally screwed, diet-wise, living here in the land of good & plenty...& fattening!! We eat on a frequent basis what most people only eat while they're on vacation.

Cades Cove, GSMNP

All of the above, and more, is why when we go on vacation we usually go anywhere but the beach. We love going to the mountains of Tennessee. My Grandmother is in Sevierville, TN and The Main Man has relatives just east of Knoxville. So we like to go to an area called Townsend, which is right in between Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg (which all run together) and Knoxville. It's right on the edge of the Smoky Mountain National Forest and an area called Cades Cove. The Little River runs through this area and is such a blast to play in - and free! Freezing cold water but crystal clear. You can tube down the river, too, which we haven't done before, but may try to this year. I swear, I could just take a picnic everyday and play at "The Y" (a little area where the river branches off) or go through the Smoky Mountain National Forest and tour the old cabins, churches, graveyards, etc. Not to mention getting to see all the wildlife - black bears, deer galore, etc. I'd love to have an entire day, sunrise to sunset, to just hang out there with my camera.
The Tipton HomesteadSaving Souls Since 1839great smokey mountain national park cades cove (9)Early Morning Fog on a dirt road in Cades Cove

We stayed with my Grandmother last year but aren't able to do that on this trip, since there's 7 of us going. It was cutting it close for just the 5 of us to stay at her tiny place last summer. After hunting around for a decent hotel room at an affordable price, I started realizing we'd be paying over $100/per night for 1 room. Stuffing a family of 5, plus my friend Amy and her son Luke into a hotel room with two beds and a tiny fridge just didn't seem like it'd be a very fun vacation, to me. I'd pined away at the adorable little cabins dotting the mountainsides on our drives through the area last year, so I thought surely we could find a cabin somewhere in the area for around the same rate as the hotels per night. So I searched the 'net, made some calls and BINGO! Welcome to "Honeybear Haven" . . .

Not a log cabin in the woods, but it'll definitely do. For the same rate as a regular hotel room with two double beds we'll have :
Main Level
Bedroom-Queen Bed & Cable TV
Bathroom (Shower Stall Only)
Kitchen (Fully Equipped w/Dishwasher, Microwave, Toaster & Automatic Drip Coffee Pot)(Note: Kitchen is Stocked with Dish Liquid & Dishwasher Detergent)
Dining Area with Dining Table with Benches
Living Room with Cable TV/VCR/DVD
Access to Deck Areas & Hot Tub **(aaawwww, yeeaaaahhhh!)
Gas Grill on Deck Area
(Note: Bathroom is Stocked with Toilet Tissue & Bar Soap)
Upper Level
Bedroom-Full Bed & Cable TV
Open Loft Area-2 Twin Beds
(Note: Open Loft Area looks down into Main Level Living Area and Foyer)
High Speed Wireless Internet **(yea! I'll get my fix!)
I am so excited!! All those beds and all that room, a full kitchen and all the extras for the same price as a puny hotel room. Woooohooooo!! Now, I'm sure it's probably outdated as far as decor. And let's face it - A-frame houses just scream 70's-80's batchelor pad...but who really cares? It's close to the Little River, Cades Cove, The Y and the National Forest. We're gonna be exploring, in the water or visiting family all day long every day, anyway. We only need a place to feed and bathe the kids/ourselves and sleep. Oh, and kick back in the hot tub while we sip a glass of wine or two after the babes are snoozing, teehee. I just couldn't fathom paying X amount of money for a tiny room when we could at least have some space for the same price. After all, we'll be driving in the van a good bit and could use some breathing room, I'm sure.
So, I'm looking forward to our trip so much that I wish we were leaving tomorrow. We're going the week of July 21st. The only thing I'm worried about is The Main Man and his driving. It tends to drive me a bit batty. But then again, I'm not sure I want to drive all the way there and back myself, soooooooo......better practice holding my tongue. That or I'll just pack the Valium.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Speaking of Aprons . . .

I seem to have a penchant not just for wearing them, but creating them, too. Since I'm a notoriously messy cook, I started making them for myself a few years ago. Then my MIL hinted that she needed a new apron. I agreed. Her apron was stuck in the era of little ducks and country blue with some mauve thrown in for a kick...yuck!

So I went all out and made her fancy-schmancy one with a pocket, loop to hold a dishtowel, rick-rack and more. I used some fantastic Michael Miller fabric featuring a seafood feast. Fitting for her since we live on the coast and eat shrimp and crab like a cattle farmer eats beef. I gave it to her on Christmas Day - she put it on immediately and didn't take it off until after we left that night - might even have slept in it if she was sure no one would know. She loved it and raved about it to all her friends, showing everyone who walked through her door. So, so sweet.....

As a result of her gushing, many orders followed over the next few months. Word got around to a few local shops and some of them wanted to carry my aprons and other things. Problem was, I just couldn't figure out how to price my goods so they were still at a sell-able price once the shop added their mark-up & still be making a nice, worth-my-while profit myself. (*If anyone out there can give me a few pointers, please feel free!!*)

Anyway - I've decided to give selling online a try. So, without further ado - I'm happy to introduce:
I've set up my shop on Etsy and now am just working on getting everything photographed and stocking the store up. Cocina Couture will carry fancy-schmancy aprons, table linens, To-Market Bags, purses, pillows, dishtowels, lunch bags and anything else that I can think of to make that goes along with the "home lifestyle". I have mounds and mounds of fabric to sew through, still, so I'm sure by September or so the shop will be overflowing with lots of Home-Life goodies!

I'll be having a Grand Opening Sale at the shop on August 15th. There will also be a GIVEAWAY here at the blog, so check back soon for the details on that. You don't want to miss your chance to

Tomorrow I'll give y'all a little teaser of where we're headed for our Summer Vacation. I wish we were there already. Except for the driving part - that's always a bit of a test when you're hauling 3 kids and all the gear they require. And this year we're taking a dear, dear friend and her own little dreamer with us - I'm SO excited!!! I get to take my best girlfriend on vacation with me...yippeee!!!
Ok...obviously it's my bed time. 'Till tomorrow, then...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Everything old is new again

They used to represent a very limited ideal of what a woman was or did. Today's version carries a completely different connotation. Flirty. Fun. Fashionable. Somewhere along the line the focus shifted from strictly utilitarian (let's keep that marinara & kid snot off our clothes because we won't get a new dress until next year, at least) to making it a fashion accessory that served a very necessary purpose (don't want everyone to know I licked ALL the cake batter from the bowl & I want to look good while I'm doing it). I think it's the housewives of the 50's who deserve a nod from us modern girls for glamorizing household duties and mixing in some style while doing them. Thank goodness for that!!
Everyone knows that aprons have always been around. Each decade (going back to mideval times, even) has its own versions, all with distinct purpose and/or flair. I have to say though, the ones emerging since the new millennium are the most sassy, creative and unique of all. We are so lucky to have the past as a reference point. So inspiring. And with all the resources in this day and age - technology, internet, unbelievably talented fabric designers, etc. - how could anyone expect todays aprons to be anything less than drop-dead gorgeous?!
There are some things from the past that I really thought had no chance ever of making their way back around to popularity again.
Avocado green.
Harvest Gold.
Members Only jackets.
The Mullet hairstyle.
Cabbage Patch dolls...ugliest playthings created. Ever.
But somehow they have, to one degree or another. Just do a little people watching the next time you're out shopping or dining. I bet you can spot at least one style or trend from every decade since at least the 30's or so. Though most of those blasts-from-the-past that I listed had very short revivals (thank goodness!) some things remain classic, even timeless. The Amazing Apron is definitely one of those. I, for one, am crazy grateful.
The one pictured above is the 4th apron I ever made - and reversible, to boot. It has it's flaws, but I was so proud of myself for tackling a reversible apron with pockets on each side. wooohooo! The silly things that make me happy. This apron led to my first full/bib apron - and on and on and on. They're so much fun to make, wear & share.
Hopefully I can pull myself together soon, time-wise, and post a tutorial for y'all. I've never done one before so I'm studying up a bit on just how to go about it. Until then, here's a few of my favorite websites for learning more about and how to make aprons. Great tutes, patterns, advice and inspiration. Enjoy!!
Tip Nut - LOTS of free patterns here!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My first ever.... I love reading these on other people's blogs so I figured I might as well jump into the fray. I tagged myself, per the direction of MAMALICIOUS. So, here goes....

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Those were crazy days. The Main Man & I had gotten together in June of '98, were kidless and not yet married and we moved to Key West (from Gulf Shores) in August. We lived right on Duval street, a block up from Hemingway's house, in a walk up apartment & a roof covered in bougenvilla blossoms with some really crazy people for next door neighbors. They had a sweet little boy that gravitated over to our place almost every day. We felt kind of sorry for him because his mom was a little unstable and their household wasn't very comforting, you could say. We'd take him for hot dogs all the time - that kid could eat his weight in hot dogs. The mom might have been a little loco, but she was of Puerto Rican heritage and could cook some mean authentic cuisine. But we secretly wanted to adopt the boy and take him away from there. Also had a homeless woman who lived in front of the vacant building next door to ours, on the sidewalk. She was a character. Never would take our offers to use our shower or come up and share a meal with us. We'd give her food a lot and sometimes money, take her a newspaper or magazine/book & she absolutely loved orange juice....but the thing we shared the most was conversation. Then Hurricane Georges hit & we had to evacuate. The Main Man tried to help our homeless neighbor get to a shelter but she refused. No idea what became of her. We decided to move back home instead of just evacuating, as the charm of Key West was pretty worn out on us. Quite often we find ourselves thinking of both our Sidewalk Neighbor & Hot Dog Boy. I know we'll go back to visit Key West one day and maybe we'll come across someone who knows something of either of them. Ya never know.

Non-important things/habits/quirks:
My feet cannot touch while sleeping.
I don't like keeping my tootbrush with everyone's hidden away.
I used to have a business doing custom birthday and occasion cakes & still do it for my family/friends. But I don't eat the cakes I make. Every one says they're great, but its just weird to me, for some reason.
If someone near me gets sick/hurls, you can bet good money on me following suit. Every time.

Five Foods I Enjoy:
Ribeye steak fresh off the grill
Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra
Asparagus w/hollandaise sauce
Old fashioned shrimp boil w/potatoes & silver queen corn

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Pre-pay college tuition for my little Dreamers Extraordinaire. (If they decide not to go to college, let it pay the way for a kid who can't afford it.)
Build my dream home.
Travel like crazy.
Help people/families in my community

Five places I have lived:
Mobile, Alabama
Nashville, Tennessee
Atlanta/Woodstock, Georgia
Dallas, Texas
Key West, Florida
(Promise....I'm not scared of the rest of this country. But the South does rule ;P)

Five blogs I'm tagging: Well, since I'm not sure exactly how to "tag" someone....maybe I'll just copy-cat Mamalicious?? The first 5 who do it! Let me know if ya do...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My new coping mechanism

If she can do this while in labor and not miss a beat or a note....I think I can handle my mess of a house and a meltdown or two from my little Dreamer Extraordinaires.

This also might become our household lullaby.....ahhh, peaceful.

By the way - she had contractions while singing this...if you watch, you can see her belly/baby moving and notice the grimace on her face. And I thought I was all tough having natural childbirth...humpf. She is pretty amazing. Oh - also, the healthy baby boy weighed a whopping 10 lbs. LOR - DEE!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hi. Remember me? I'm your blog.

Ok. So I didn't take to blogging like a duck to water. To be honest, I think I actually forgot about it a few times over the past 3 weeks or so. We've had so much going on here that any spare moment I've had has likely been spent with me either desperately trying to catch up on housework, planning how to catch up or sleeping. Gosh, that sounds bad. Like I probably don't have it all together, huh? Well - I don't, at least not lately. And even when I'm busting my hiney to get it all together around here, I wear myself out doing it, thus the sleeping. I know I'm allowed some sleep (though over the past few years I seem to require less of it & am more productive when everyone else is snoozing), but recently I find myself needing more & more sleep....and wanting it too.

Something has shifted around here over the past 2 months.....things get less and less tidy more quickly than what should be possible. Today, for instance: Audrey, in the space of about 10 minutes, completely undid (is that a word?) all of the work I did in her room yesterday that took about 2 hours.

Here's what I did in her room yesterday:

  • Cleaned out from under her bed/dresser/chair

  • Wiped off the scuffs that mysteriously appeared on her white painted antique headboard that her Grandmother lovingly restored after it floated around in the hurricane Katrina floodwaters at their is one of a set, the other one is gone (can you see the steam rising from my head??)

  • Cleaned the window & dresser mirror

  • Reorganized her closet shelves

  • Culled through her toys and freecycled most of it, tossed the rest

  • Vaccuumed the carpets/shook out the rug

  • Organized her shoes

  • Went through all of her clothing & shoes; separated by: repurpose, give away, sell

And the cherry on top was letting her finally have and put up the little heart window clingies that were left over from this past Valentine's Day. I gave them to her and just sat in the chair and watched as she so precisely placed each little heart on the window in her room. She even managed to get a few to stay on the wall. It looks adorable, of course. When school was over and the boys were home, my 5 yr old son promptly announced "I feel the love, Mom. I feel it."

It didn't last even 24 hrs. 16 maybe. The toys are everywhere, there's a scuff on the wall now, she evidently wanted to change both clothing and shoes and it was necessary to empty every drawer of its contents, etc, etc, etc. Where was I when she did this? I had left her sitting on the rug in the den with a few toys and some books while I was putting laundry into the dryer and then loading more to wash. Then I answered the phone, took a msg and went to the restroom. I don't even think that all took 10 minutes...that's how quickly it happens. I swear - we never had the terrible two's but has anyone ever heard of the terrible 3's??

And tomorrow is the last day of school. Oh, NO!! ahem - I mean - YIPPPEEEEE!!!

I'm torn about this. The drive to and from the school twice a day will not be missed, neither will needing to plan my daily activities around school times or planning for The Main Man or grandparents to pick up the boys. No more scrambling for a babysitter for Audrey so I can volunteer at the school or fill in somewhere when they call me at 6pm the night before. But my favorite - NO MORE HOMEWORK!!!! yee - haaaa My boys had so much homework this year I felt like I was back in school.....we might as well have been homeschooling.

Next week I'll be alone. Totally. Completely. Utterly. ALONE! The Main Man and the 3 little dreamers are heading to the ultimate dreamland - Disney - for 5 days and little 'ole me is hanging back here and holding the fort down. I am secretly - ok, not so secretly - ELATED about this! Yes, I'll miss my kids while they're gone - never been away from them for more than 48 hrs. And yes, I'll miss the fact that I'm not there riding the rides and seeing Mickey with them - but we're going again in November, so I think I can handle it. I am really looking forward to the house being somewhat quiet (we have chickens, peacocks, guineas and a dog), tackling a few DIY things around the house and sewing to my hearts content - uninterrupted.

Hey - maybe I'll even make a few blog posts next week. Hopefully they'll be shorter than the first few. ;P

Sunday, April 6, 2008

There's a first for everything!

Welcome everyone, to my little corner of the blogging world! So, this is a new thing for me - though I've read and drooled over hundreds of blogs, I've yet to jump into the game myself. I figure what an easy way to keep family, friends and others updated on what's happening. Also, I've realized what a great sounding board a blog can be...what, with all the readers there are out there. As a (relatively) young mother with big ideas and seemingly never enough time, one of you just may stop me from driving myself crazy one day. One of my "big ideas" that I've put into motion recently is.....

Since finally having my daughter, after two rough & tumble boys, I discovered girly-girl clothing again. Over the course of 5 years or so, I had given birth 3 times and just gave up on any sense of fashion for myself - I'd become the blue jean, baseball cap, flip-flop wearing Mamma that is all too common these days. It seems I had forgotten how much fun it is to dress a dress, curl your hair and maybe even paint your face! All of that slowly began to change with my pink little blonde haired prissy little girl.

Now, don't get me wrong - she can hang out in the sandbox, the fort or even the woods with the boys anyday...all day. And usually will come back to the house at least as dirty as her brothers, but more often she's got 'em beat by a mile. However, when she walks into said house (being directed straight to the tub, of course) she will most likely spot something Mamma's been sewing for her and remark in an oh-so-Southern drawl......"Aaawww-wwwww!!! Is that for meeeeee? Aawwwww - it's so boooootiful. Thanks, Mo-ooom!" So the girl knows a good dress or outfit when she sees it...and likes them, too!

So, she's the reason I began to sew. I didn't have a mother who taught me to sew, but I did have a mother-in-law whose mother raised her three girls on a seamtress's wages. Nana passed away a few years ago, but her daughter definitely learned a few tricks while under her mother's wing. I've taught myself - starting on an old 50's or 60's Singer - and have bent my mother-in-law's ear qutie a bit. I've always had a penchant for good fabric - that's why I have mounds of it stacked everywhere. But I'd never really put it to use...just admired it. I began seeing lots of really unique clothing online for little girls and one day the idea hit me that "I can make that!" So I did.

I focus on girls clothing but also make a few things for boys - book bags, pajamas, super-hero capes, camp shirts, etc. The plan is to get my design studio in shape and launch a website by the end of this summer. In the fall I will be at The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, AL and possibly one other event before the end of the year. I'm currently working on a line for 2009 to present at a few local Trunk Shows. There is still so much to learn about having a design/clothing business like this and hopefully I'll be able to meet some of the other fantastic designers out there through the blogosphere.

Might as well introduce you to the blog's namesake...Just Audrey.

This is precisely the reason we call her just Audrey. Saying her complete name illicits the above pictured response with the sentence..."No! I'm just Audrey!". And there's always a little "hmmph" with crossed arms thrown in there for good measure. It reminds me of this Mary Engelbreit illustration I recently saw in Home Companion magazine.......
Isn't that just one of the cutest drawings ever? I'm sure all of you with little girls can remember them making a face like that at least once, when something just wasn't going quite right, you know? Come to think of it, some of us Mammas might pull that look out occasionally ourselves, tee hee. This adorable girl may become my mascot here at Just Audrey when things aren't going my way and, of course, when an attitude adjustment is in need.
That's all for now.....laundry beckons me, as well as a pair of pants I've been "finishing" for two weeks almost, three pattern drafts that need a tweak here & there, and one more purse to cut out....yikes! Not to mention getting ready to get back to school tomorrow morning. ugh, goodbye weekend...
I'm very much looking forward to sharing my experiences, thoughts & creations with you. And I can't wait to hear from people reading and following is awesome! Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I'll have more time to share a little more about myself, family and other interests. Until then, thanks for reading!
Much love....