Sunday, August 30, 2009

brand new pencils, brand new books

It seems to me that the things I like most about school are still the same as when I was a child. I loved the school supply shopping and going to the library. All the new pencils and crayons and shiny notebooks. Packages of college ruled notebook paper. The calculator they made you buy for math class...we always wished that $70 bucks could go to clothes.

I still get excited about school supplies, ordering labels for the labelmaker, and colored copy paper and the new kind of white out that rolls off in a strip. The new Sharpie pen, which I like how it writes, but not how it feels in my hand as it writes, so overall, a bust. As the librarian, I also get to shop for new books and most of the time I get to read them first. That's certainly a joy of my job. Books that someone else is paying for!

As an adult returning to school, this week has been filled with occasional trips to the soda machine, buying Cheerwine. For those of you not in North or South Carolina, Cheerwine is a regional soda, somewhere between Dr.Pepper and a real cherry soda. It's great. It's caffeinated, which has been my friend this week, when getting up early has been a stuggle.

It's good stuff. And if you ever get over this way, try it out. I think you either like it or hate it, but it's certainly worth it to taste.

The thing that occurs to me this week, is that except for one summer, I have always gone back to work in the fall. My life has revolved around school. I've never had another career, one that required me to work all year round and take two weeks of vacation. What is it like to take two weeks of vacation in February? I mean, I know that added all up I get about 12 weeks of vacation, way more than any other career, but it's time that I don't get to choose. What would it be like to take a trip to Disney in October, when it isn't so hot, because that's when I wanted to go. Such freedom, I think.

Anyway, my original point to this was that I like the planning of the school year. The preparing and the organizing and the decorating. It's too bad that part is so short!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

mirror makeover

The frame that I have hanging on the wall in the previous post came from this mirror. I would normally not mutilate a mirror just to get a frame, but it just so happens that the mirror was cracked. It just so happens that you can't tell that in the picture below. True story.

The mirror was a castoff from an office at school, so it was completely free. It originally belonged to Debbie, but Tina cracked it, and so it was given to Tina. She could not get the mirror to pop out of the frame, so she put it in the trash pile. I grabbed it and took it home, knowing I could work on it. The frame was originally from Walmart, and I kept laughing because it was so well made. Hardly anything I buy from Walmart is well made, but this mirror was determined.

See, I waved at ya!

Turns out the mirror had this sealant around the edge that we had to use a razor blade to separate the mirror. Charlie and I did it over the trash can outside, because we weren't sure when the mirror would fall out.

I had the frame for several weeks before deciding what to do with it, and when I got the bug to hang things on the wall, I knew it would look really good with the white plate in the middle. The little building underneath is actually the main building from my college, and it is a really neat historic building. I bought this when I graduated, but never really had a great place to display it.

One person's trash is another person's treasure, huh? Thanks Debbie and Tina!

I love my new wall decor!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

before and after

We redecorated our living room and dining room last summer and I loved how it turned out. The Restrained Gold paint color really warms it up without being too bright or too beige. I love the splashes of color from the throw pillows and curtain topper.

This is the silk panel that I added to the top of some store bought curtains. I discovered putting this room together that I like very monochromatic color schemes, where one color would naturally flow into another on the the color wheel. Red to orange to gold to yellow to green, like half of the rainbow, albeit a muted one.

The problem was that I decorated on a budget, like most people do. I ran out of money when it came to accessories, and I haven't worked on it in awhile. These are the corners near our giant armoire. Big, blank corners.

Yes, that is my laptop on a TV tray. There's a plug in that corner where I charge it. Yes, I realize this next picture shows our very messy desk, where my computer would normally reside, but the plug is hard to get to and so I often plug it in elsewhere.

The blank walls were talking to me, telling me that something needed to be done. I decided to shop the house.

We are thinking about painting the kitchen. I am tired of the red, but I wanted to try it out. Every time I would see a red kitchen on TV I would really like it, but now I have discovered I really like calmer paint colors. This was nice for two and a half years, but I am ready to move on. I haven't picked out a new color yet, but I knew whatever I picked wouldn't match with the plates on the wall, and they did match the accent colors of the front room.

I pulled a plate from our master bedroom, an old window and a cutout of my college from the attic, a window mirror that my mom gave me, the plates from the kitchen and a frame that someone was giving away at school and created my look.

The little round candle thing was from the table behind the couch, but since the table is low, you couldn't see it. I chose to lean the mirror on the wall instead of hanging it up because the desk is so beautiful, and I like how it reflects the light onto the wall.

This window is from when we remodeled the kitchen and covered over a window with drywall. From the outside you can still see the outer storm window, but I had my husband pull the other one out and stick it upstairs. The repetition of the window pane look in both the window and mirror helped connect one side of the room to another.

I think I might add some photos into the window panes, or some vinyl letters to make words. Haven't gotten far enough to know what exactly I want to do with it, but I like the way the plates bring the color to that side of the wall. The room feels more complete with all the accessories in place, although I still have a few more corners that could use photos.

Hope you like it! I do.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

an end brings a beginning

The end of summer brings the beginning of a new year, a new school year that is. In the morning, I will stand on a sidewalk and open car doors to welcome students to school. I will pull crying kindergartners out of cars and walk them nicely to their classrooms. I will have my camera to take photos.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, right?

With this new school year comes a girl who can't blog as much. It's kind of ironic, because I have all this time in the summer to blog, but most of you have your kids home then, therefore LESS time to blog. Now you will have more time with your kids back in school, but I will be busy. Sigh. Such a problem.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

i wrote a book, now what?

Do you remember this post I wrote about wanting to write a book? Well, when I wrote that post I was halfway through the manuscript of my very first novel, and not really knowing what to do with it. Then we were matched with a birthmom and the novel went on the back burner. When that fell through, I gave myself the summer to finish the novel.

And I did it.

I typed the last words this afternoon. The story is done, finished, complete.

That doesn't mean there isn't a ton of editing to do, because that isn't done. I also need to go back and re-write some sections that I'm not happy with and need more detail. I have a sideplot that isn't fully fleshed out.

But I did it.

Now I need to go through the process of preparing it for submission to either a literary agency or publisher. Anyone out there have any suggestions or connections that you would love to send me?

I have to say that I am so proud that I actually did it. I'm not sure how many pages it would end up being, but it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 110,000 words. I do like to talk, people.

Ok, enough about me. Just wanted to share.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

more to show

I showed you this before, with my fancy fabric from Mood in NYC. I had this magic plan for these curtains, and the plan had to change many, many, many times. I made a couple of mistakes, but I'm getting closer to finishing them, but here's the beginning.

I found this fabric at Mood. Pre-ruffled fabric. I had never seen fabric like this before, and I had to do something with it. It called my name. It said, "Sissy, you must have a yard of me and make something special. Please, take me home." So, I did.

The other fabric was this brown with criss-cross pattern. This fabric is on the thick side, and I've seen it on bedspreads all over. Why did I want such thick curtains? Well, I didn't. But my husband, who has a glossy TV in our den, wanted to be able to close the curtains and block out the light and glare. I wanted something feminine and fun. Thus, I thought about combining the two. Genius, right?

Well, there are more problems to encounter in the next couple of posts, but the basic idea looks like the below picture. Hanging the curtains and finding a way to move them up and down has been the biggest problem. Oh, other than the fact that I accidentally had two layers of fabric on top of one another and cut a six inch slice into one of the thicker panels. My curtains ended up about five inches shorter than I planned, but after I cried about it, I just adjusted my plan.

It's been a fun project, and will be pretty functional when I actually hang them up. Well, I have part of them up now, but I am also working on some sheers to hang behind them. I wanted to be able to have the darkness Charlie was looking for when he wanted it, but the softness I wanted most of the time.

I need to finish them before I have to report to school on Monday for workdays. My summer is just about over, people. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a different perspective

When you turn your head a little bit, sometimes a subject can change completely. Life does that to you sometimes, makes you wonder where the joy even comes from. It turns on a dime. What can be happy for someone can be painful for another. Adoption has many sides. The birthmother makes a sacrifice and we become a family. Two sides. She hurts while we rejoice. Two sides of the same coin, but it's all in how you look at it. Heads or tails. Opposites.

This isn't a flower. It's my reminder that something beautiful can come from something I consider ugly. It's my reminder that while I wait for the joy to come into my life, someone is facing the most difficult decision they might ever make. It's my reminder that you can cut something up and take the pieces and make a masterpiece. His masterpiece.

It's all in how you look at it, right? From my side, it's a waiting game. From her side, it's a lifelong wondering of whether she did the right thing. I do hate the waiting though, and I can confess that to you.

I keep saying that this summer has been full of rest, but what I mean to say is that is has been healing. My broken heart has been knit back together, ready for another try. The quiet has let me begin to dream again. The rest has brought me bits and pieces of peace. When I was in the middle of it, I began to wonder if I could ever get out. Looking back, I wonder why I ever wallowed in it. Yes, this past eight weeks has been healing.

Two sides. One God big enough for both.

Monday, August 10, 2009

not on automatic IV

This week's lesson on A Familiar Path was about adjusting your ISO on your camera to allow for more light in indoor shots. Thank the Lord someone finally explained this! My house is under lots of trees and only one room has really great light. Taking pics indoors has always been a challenge for me.

I like to be able to compare the adjustments on my camera with the same subject, so I can see how the adjustments work. Here we are on automatic: the flash popped up because I was in a dark corner. The topiary is so brightly lit up, since it is closest to the camera, and as the light falls away, the other objects are in the shadow. Yuck.

Ok, so I put the camera on P and adjusted the ISO to 640. The result was a little blurry, but the light in the picture now is wonderful, and more of a reflection of how the room is in actuality. Let's try again, shall we?

This one is set on ISO 800, and I love how it turned out. The image is crisp and the details are there.

This lesson was very useful. So very useful. It will make taking pictures in my house much better, and when I have kids this should be an advantage. Yay!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

let me introduce you...

To Mr. Minstrels, my very favorite chocolate candy. Let me tell you all about him.

Smooth, creamy, with a crispy coating. Somewhat like an M&M, but so nooooot like an M&M. Minstrels are a little larger, and I got addicted to them when I lived with my British roommate, because her mom would send them from England.

You can't get them here. It's a tragedy that this chocolate does not exist on our side of the pond. You can't buy them here, and it makes me sad. So sad, because chocolate is important, and even though I love America and wave the red, white and blue, American chocolate is not as good as European chocolate. I'm sorry. In this I am not patriotic. Once you've been exposed to imported, European chocolate you won't go back.

Well, as luck would have it, one of the families at my school was traveling home to England to visit and we were talking about things they were going to bring back that weren't available here. I mentioned Minstrels and my love, my addiction.

They brought me some. All the way from England.


I keep them in the fridge and eat only one or two at a time to make them last. I savor them. I want them to last as long as possible. And when they are gone, I will mourn them and wish I had eaten them slower.


Great chocolate is worth a post all it's own. Don't you agree?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a little tease

This is what I have been up to lately. Well, up to when I haven't been being lazy savoring my last days of summer. They are quickly coming to an end, but I have been attempting to make curtains for our den out of the fabric I got at Mood.

Here's a tease for you. Aren't you just salivating to know what I am doing, without a pattern and on the fly? I know you are waiting on pins and needles to see what my lovely den will look like when the curtains are finished. We'll see how fast that happens.

Monday, August 3, 2009

not on automatic III

This week's lesson at A Familiar Path was about using the white balance options on your camera. I didn't know that adjusting the white balance can help you take better indoor photos, because there are some times when you just can't go outside. I chose to take some pictures in my den, which has windows along one side, but the light is hard to capture. I wanted to show how my crazy short haircut has grown out nicely, and I didn't have anyone else to photograph, so I also used the automatic timer on these.

This first picture is just on automatic. I am out of focus and the flash popped on. Ick.

My camera has several settings for white balance: incandescent, fluorescent, direct sun, flash, cloudy and shade. You can set each of these from the range of -3 to +3. Curious, I tried the shade setting first. See below.

I like the expression on my face, but I am quite yellow. Then I tried the fluorescent, even thought I didn't have any fluorescent lights on. Below, I am blue. The star streaks of light to the left are fun, though.

It seemed to me that since I had incandescent light behind me, I should try that. I didn't know what the numbers really mean, so I tried it to +3. Better, since I'm not blue, but not quite right.

Curious, I tried setting it to -3. I like the one below the best. It's still not completely wonderful, but I enjoyed the experiment and the fact that there are so many options when taking pictures indoors. It takes a cooperative model, though, to let you play with all of it. I don't know how Chickadee does it with a baby!

Well, the other point to this was to show that my haircut is really nice at this length. It only took me a month to get it to a stage where it is a good look. I have received many compliments on my new hair recently, and we all like compliments, right?!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

a strapless dress, the shade and a wedding

Saturday evening, at 6 o'clock, I drove to the suburbs and attended the wedding of Ashley and Sam. I love weddings. And I love unique weddings. This cute couple chose to have their wedding at a little inn outside town, and even though rain threatened all day, it was a lovely evening. Hot, but lovely. Yes, VERY hot. I got there early to secure a seat in the shade. In fact, while they could, many people chose seats in the back to sit in the shade.

This is Ashley. Isn't she lovely?

They had a very simple ceremony, and Ashley washed Sam's hands as a gesture of her faith in her vows. During her vows, she broke down and cried. It was beautiful. After communion, our pastor placed his hands on them and prayed for their new family.

Here I am with my cute honey. He was HOT, and was carrying a rag with him to dab his brow. Luckily, girls can wear cute little dresses and enjoy the temperature. This dress was a last minute purchase from Marshall's, and I would normally not have even tried on a strapless dress that was marked "one size fits all." That never bodes well for a plus size woman, but I was pleasantly surprised when I went in the dressing room and liked it. It was a deal too, which always makes it fun.

You can't tell from the pic, but it was navy blue and was tea-length with white embroidered flowers all over it. The top was a little scratchy, but I hot-glued a piece of ribbon along the seam inside and then it was fine. I know, hot-glue is a little commando for wedding finery, but it worked and I was not itchy at all.

We had a wonderful evening, and the cake was delicious. Cause it's all about the cake, right?