3.29.2008

Scrum-dilly-umptious day.

I am having the perfect morning. It is cold and drizzly outside, so I have no guilt about holing up inside. Right now, I am still in my pjs, I have greasy hair, I'm still wearing my retainer, and the sleep crusties are still lurking in the corners of my eyes. It is 9:57 a.m.

I still haven't cleaned the kitchen from the party I had two nights ago, my closet floor is crammed full with slightly dirty, but most likely salvageable work clothes, and my bathroom? Well, let's just say that while it has been wiped down adequately the last couple of weeks, it has been a month since it was thoroughly cleaned.

I just ordered the Comcast movie, The Jane Austen Book Club. The Knight is at work, and Betty is curled up on the couch dozing beside me. I am not budging from this couch until the movie is over, and it feels delicious. I love Saturday.

Artsy Fartsy is in her element.

3.24.2008

A little Spring in my step...

I am so glad it is springtime! Every one tells me that Memphis in spring and summer is beautiful, and I cannot wait to witness it for myself. In Nashville, azaleas and crape myrtles are decorative little shrubbery. Here - they are beautiful, lush, overwhelming bushes and trees!

Hope you all had a happy Easter. The Knight and I ate dinner at his aunt and uncle's house. Their children, spouse, and child came as well as one of his aunts and uncles with their three high school aged boys. There were 13 people just for lunch! And to think, I was worried about not knowing anyone when we moved to Memphis!

The Knight and I are still looking at houses, and let me tell you, it is EXHAUSTING. Last weekend, we spent e-l-e-v-e-n hours with our realtor looking at houses. Now, before you start thinking about how we must be atrociously demanding buyers, we aren't. We have a good price range, want 3 bed/2 bath, a decent sized yard, and a safe friendly neighborhood. The problem with Memphis is that one street can be super nice, and the next one can be real sketch. Also, "Memphis" is a huge area to cover, and there are tons of houses on the market. We have fallen in love with one in particular, but aren't quite ready to act on it. Plus, we keep telling ourselves...there is not just "one" house for us, and in this market, we can afford to be picky. If that house sells, I am confident we can find another one just as perfect.

I finally have a picture of my hair that I like. This is my dear friend Kelly in the picture with me. She and I have been friends since college, and she was one of my beautiful bridesmaids. Also, she and I, when together, have been behind some of the most hilarious prank calls ever! I love you, Kelly!
Also, I am getting closer and closer to officially launching the Curtsies shop. I mean, I know you have known about it for ages, but the rest of the world is not quite as in the know as you happen to be.

For the last week, I have been working with a very sweet graphic designer for my banner and avatar. I told her I wanted something vintage-y and Southern, with bright colors and touches of chocolate. The woman READ my mind. Here is the final result! Isn't it fabulous?

Banner

Avatar

Next, she is going to work on a sticker, business card, and a hang tag for me. So excited! I am furiously trying to get through my custom orders so I can start sewing for Etsy. Of course, on this last custom order, I managed to break not one, not two, but three(!) needles while trying to create a canvas BBQ apron for a woman's husband's birthday. Poor little machine. Now, I guess I have needle shopping to look forward to this weekend.

Tonight, I am throwing a little fondue and wine party for a friend of mine who is getting married this weekend. It is her bachelorette party, but it will be very lowkey. I am very excited about all the details, and, honey, I have shopped like a mad woman for this party. Her wedding colors are purple and green, so the party theme for tonight is "mint and lavender garden." Doesn't that sound lovely?

(photo from www.hostessblog.com)

I made the martha stewart "puffs" in white and two shades of green and they are hanging from the ceiling the apartment. I have cute coordinating purple and green polka dotted napkins and guest towels, a beautiful vintage green and purple tablecloth, and found awesome coordinating cloth dinner napkins from Steinmart that coordinate perfectly (plus, they were on clearance!). Today, I'm going to run by the store and buy white tea roses, green hydrangea (if I can find it), and some kind of purple flower (tulips, larkspur, hyacinth?). I'm going to arrange them in two pewter mint julep cups for the main table, a tall green pitcher for the wine table, and I have a darling little sterling bud vase for the guest bath. I have fresh candles for my silver candelabra, and I'm even going to bust out the go-gee-ous heavy, cut crystal candlesticks for the wine table. I have washed and polished all the serving pieces I'll need, but really we won't need that much. We are having two fondue pots - one for cheese and one for chocolate. Fortunately, both pots came with their own forks, a lazy Susan, and serving ramekins. With the chocolate fondue, we are having strawberries, bananas, pirouettes, pretzels, and purple and green Peeps (I couldn't resist...the shower is during Easter season, and they match the theme!). With the cheese, we'll serve summer sausage, toasted French bread bites, and granny smith apples. I'm keeping the wine list pretty simple - a faithful, standard chardonnay, my favorite Riesling, and a couple variations of red - maybe even a blend like Menage-a-tois (sp?)? For the favors, I am putting the recipes for the two types of fondue in little goodie bags with two pirouette cookies, a green and purple peep, and a handful of pretzels. I know it isn't much of a favor, but it's a useful and edible favor...my favorite kind.

I promise to take LOTS of pictures and post them. In case you didn't know (or can't tell), I adore throwing parties. When the Knight and I got married, we were fortunate enough to receive pretty much everything we could need to throw an amazing party. I haven't used it yet, but we even have a sterling chaffing dish (you know, those big footed dishes which caterers use to keep food warm?). The only thing I find myself wishing I had was a devilled egg server, a couple smaller serving bowls, and more of my crystal wine glasses and water goblets. But those are things I can build up over the years, plus they are just sitting in the attic right now, so why am I even talking about this?

Oh, the party, right. What I was going to say before I got on my dishes tangent (it is a running joke in our house that if the Knight wants to get me in the mood, all we have to do is talk about dishes), is that I found the coolest website for party inspiration. This is the link. Some of the budgets for these parties are outrageous, but they are great for getting an idea. Plus, the blog has a feature for real life parties, which I truly appreciate.

Okay, that's all for now. Hope you are all doing well, and enjoying the changing season. Kisses!


Artsy Fartsy is flushed with excitement for the beautiful weather, lovely blooms, and fresh air. Is this what it means to have Spring Fever?

3.20.2008

Welcome to the land of whoo, my friend.

Have you heard this commercial? If not, then just skip to the next paragraph. But for those of you who know what I'm talking about, the stodgy old guy who finally gives in to his urge to yell "whoo!" after seeing his business's bottom line improving totally reminds me of my dad.

My father is in his early-mid fifties, and is kind of going through a very real mid-life crises. Dad is currently quite frustrated with his career and financial well-being - in our conversations, I find him questioning his decision to take his chosen career path which has to this point centered around the religious and academic fields. When we talk about my legal education and now blooming legal career, I can hear his voice is filled with pride, but tinged with regret (I think he would have made an incredible lawyer, btw). His love for learning has proved him to be a true life-long scholar, and while my dad may not have a mansion on a hill to show for his life's work, he has certainly acquired a hoard of knowledge and has ingrained in all of his four children a thirst (though a somewhat lackluster thirst compared to his) for knowledge and education.

I think my dad's biggest frustration is that he knows he is super-talented and intelligent, but just hasn't found the right niche yet. Right now, he manages a research center at a Christian university in Tulsa, and moonlights at the local community college teaching humanities, ethics, and religion. He also has his own free-lance publishing company. In the past, he started a church (it is still alive and well, today), has had a couple of other little business ventures (advertising company and a real estate flop), but I think his issue is that none of them have become "big."

Aside from his career, Dad hasn't exactly been the favorite parent according to me and my brothers and sister. He is fairly no-nonsense, and has a hard time being compassionate. While we have learned that Dad's affection is shown by his "providing for the family," if anything, his personality has caused all four of us to crave attention and affection even more. My father and I have a very up and down relationship. All during my childhood and teen years, the relationship was in a decidedly "down" spiral. He couldn't stand my irreverence or lack of respect for him, and I couldn't stand his tyrannic rule in our household. Mostly, I remember feeling like a big disappointment to him, just another inconvenience for him.

I have the most vivid memory of waiting for my dad to come pick up after cheering at a middle school basketball game (no comment on the fact that he wasn't there during the game to watch me). All of the cheerleaders were waiting outside for our rides, and one by one, each girl got into her parents' car and took off. It kept getting later, and later, until I was the only one left. It was already dark, and I remember sitting on the gritty, concrete curb with my coach, just mortified that this sweet lady had to wait with me because my dad was too forgetful to come pick me up. When he finally arrived an hour later than he was supposed to, I was furious and embarrassed. He pulled up, car still running. He didn't even get out to apologize to my cheerleading coach. When I got in the car, I mentioned how late he was, and all he could say was "Well, at least you are fortunate to have a ride." As if I should consider myself lucky that I had been blessed with a legal guardian who was sweet enough to pick up his child (who was not old enough to drive) from an activity! How kind of him! How thoughtful! It still burns me up today. A petty story, I know, but a perfect snapshot of our dynamic.

We were pretty much oil and water. All of my friends had daddies who were wrapped around their little fingers. . . the kind of daddies who seemed truly overjoyed to have little darling daughters. I kept thinking, if only I was better, if only I was smarter, then Dad would view me the same way. Then I would realize that, no, nothing I would do would change him, and my resentment and disgust grew. As I got older, my rebellious nature came into check, I got a full-ride to a good college, and during college, completely took care of myself financially by working odd jobs and babysitting. I'm not sure if my financial Independence caused dad to finally start treating my like an individual with a brain who wasn't WRONG and ANNOYING all the time, but around that time, something changed between us.

It was a slow, painful process, and at times it seemed that for every step of healing we made, we scratched open two other old wounds. Yesterday, he and I had an hour long conversation about life, the economy, the housing market, religion, the law. Our typical convo topics, but what wasn't part of our conversation was that tenseness and discomfort that had previously been a central theme of our relationship. We were still acting as father and daughter, but now talking as two adults would. Dad now gives advice, rather than orders, and I am more prone to listen since I am not reprimanded if I don't.

As I've gotten older, I have started to realize that a) Dad didn't have exactly the greatest childhood, either, and b) we are way more alike than I ever realized. One night, while I was venting to Mom, she shared with me a story about my Dad that really put things into perspective.

Apparently, my dad's relationship with his father was quite similar to his and mine. When my dad was in high school, he was VERY involved with the band. His band was quite good - even playing for presidents and in the Rose Parade (he lived in Vista, California. At the end of his junior year, Dad was voted to be the president of the band for the upcoming year. This was a huge deal for Dad, and he rushed home after the election to share his good news. When he finally got home to tell his parents, his dad's only response was "They couldn't find anyone better for the job?"

True, my dad isn't perfect. And he (just like all of us) should not be able to rely on a unhappy childhood as an excuse for poor adult behavior. But I see now that while he is flawed, he is also good, trying to do the best he can with his own tons of personal baggage. I also realize that while his curmudgeonly, inconsiderate behavior is unpleasant and rude, I have to remember that he has never acted violently or been unfaithful in his marriage to my mother. He is addicted only to books - gambling, porn or drugs are not of concern to him. While I wish things in the past were different, we have learned to forgive each other for our past wrongs against one another. I wish for him a life of joy and happiness so great that even he, a man of much stoicism and reserve, cannot contain the urge to utter happy exclamations. I hope so much that one day, he also finds the land of "Whoo!"

3.13.2008

Suspect morning.

So, I just have to share. I went for my yearly female exam this morning (I apologize in advance if this it TMI, but its my blog, so here I go!). Like most women, I dread this yearly get-together for many reasons. There is the obvious and very invasive reason, of course, but, also, going to the doctor (any doctor) generally means being weighed, peeing in a cup, and having your blood drawn.

Personally, I hate all those things. Having to face the hard cold numbers on the scale and realize that, even if you no one sees you eating it (or you eat standing up, or you are eating it off a friend's plate, or the cookie is broken), the calories still count, just plain sucks. Usually, I step away from the scale disappointed or aghast at my immense weight gain. Of course, immediately following the weighing is the taking of blood pressure. No wonder mine is occasionally a tad higher than normal. Some stranger just made me face a fear I only experience once a year, plus it is now forever recorded in my medical records!

Peeing in a cup isn't so great, either. There are so many chances for something to go wrong. You could miss and pee on your hand. Ew. Or, you could drop the cup in the toilet water. Or, you could just sit there, waiting and waiting, with no results, and wonder why even this kind of performance stresses you out so much. I mean, come on, this is probably one of the few acts you have practiced daily since your birth, and why is it that something as harmless as a little cup can cause so much . . . nothing.

Don't even get me started on the blood thing. I know men are famous for being big babies when it comes to needles and that sort of pain. My mom, who is about to graduate from nursing school, has tons of stories about big, tough men practically fainting when they see a needle. Apparently, I am more like a man when it comes to getting my blood drawn. I tap my feet, hum, and take deep breaths, but I still have to focus to stay conscious while my blood is being drawn. I don't think that the needle hurts so much, but its the feeling of being drained - literally - that I just can't tolerate.

Okay, so now you know why I hate/fear going to the doctor. To be quite honest, the female anatomy examination is probably the thing that bothers me the least (but don't worry, it still bother me!) about these yearly encounters. I know my aversion to going to the doctor is not uncommon. In fact, I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of people feel the same way I do.

People naturally dislike being poked, prodded, having our privacy invaded, and disclosing personal histories to complete strangers. So, why is it that most doctors do very little to assuage these fears and tensions? So many offices are cold, sterile, and unpleasant. Typically, the staff and doctors in those offices are not much better. I would think, from a marketing standpoint, that doctors would want their patients to feel as comfortable and well cared for, as possible. Maybe, doctors don't feel that they have to appeal to their patients, since so many of us go out of pure necessity (rather than prevention or because we just love going to the doctor).


Which leads me to the reason why I just have to share with you. I just went to the NICEST doctor EVER. Yes, "EVER" has to be in all caps to truly convey just how wonderful she really was. First off, the office was tastefully decorated in current and fashionable colors and textiles (think lots of chocolate with punches of burgundy and orange). The furniture was comfortable, and there were two nice paintings and a flat screen TV on the walls. Also, the magazine collection was perfect for an OB/GYN's office. US Weekly, People, This Old House, Vogue, a couple travel magazine, several Parenting magazines, and a couple of Sports Illustrated. Now, obviously, that doesn't have anything to do with the care, but it matters when you have to sit in the waiting room for an extended period of time.


My name is called and I am ushered to the scale by a friendly, smiling nurse who, I have to say, was wearing some of the cutest scrubs I have ever seen. Think Vera Bradley's Java Blue with a little more kick. She weighs me, where I discover that for the first time in my life, the scale at the doctor's office tells me that I have lost weight! 5 lbs to be exact! I was ecstatic. I have been trying to beat the battle of the bulge that comes when you go from walking to class five times a week to sitting at a desk all day, but I was uncertain if my efforts were successful.


After checking my blood pressure, she shows me to my room, where I wait for the doctor. Even the gown I was told to wear was more like a spa robe than those awful scratchy disposable things. Finally, the doctor comes in. She appears to be mid-40's, looks like a typical mom in terms of weight and hair, and is wearing an adorable caramel and cream polka dotted chiffon/polyester blouse (think Julia Roberts' dress at the races in Pretty Woman, but smaller dots) with brown cuffed trousers. Very cute. And no ego-enhancing white coat in sight! She extends her hand, introduces herself, and proceeds to charm me. First, she notices my new skirt, and oohs and aahs over it. (Think taupe silk skirt with tons of mini-pleats). Of course, I appreciate her noticing. No doctor has ever done that before! She asks me a little about myself, asks me a couple of questions about my chart, and shares a little about herself. Again, something that no doctor has ever done before.


The entire time, she was warm and self-deprecating, while still being informative and professional. By the end of the visit, I felt like I had been talking to one of my mom's best friends for the past 30 minutes. I actually left the office with a little extra bounce in my step -- happy that I have found such a likeable OB/GYN so soon after being in Memphis. Not that the Knight and I are having any babies any time soon (or ever, for that matter), but if we do, I am so happy to know that I have found the ONE.

I don't really know what compelled me to share all of this with you, but I did. So there.

In other news, I have a new blog friend I want to share with you! She is a girl after my own heart, but with way more fun clothes! I envy her entire handbag and shoe collection, and really wish she lived closer so that she could give me a Forever 21 tutorial. Every time I go in there, I am overwhelmed by the incredible amount of clothing packed into the store. She seems to find stuff that is stylish and age appropriate. Very very so much loving her right now.

Finally, Jess(ica) has launched her own apron store on Etsy. We originally wanted to share the Curtsies name, but after deciding it would be way too complicated to do the accounting (Etsy only has room for one credit card which it credits for sales and debits for commissions), she opened her own! You have to check it out at www.jessicacurtsies.etsy.com.

She actually has aprons for sale (unlike me. I really am sorry, though! I have 13 orders I'm trying to fill right now!). They are very girly and vintage-y - I am sure many of you will adore them! As for my own little shop, well, my goal is to finish the 13 orders, and put some of my own creations up (finally!). I have been buying oodles of fabric, so I have a lot to work with. I have been trying to buy lots of different prints, so as to appeal to a wide audience. Currently, I am in love with this navy pin-dot fabric I found recently. I'm thinking a flouncy, full-length apron with white trim would be the perfect thing for Mother's Day (set off with a lovely string of pearls, no?), or even the 4th of July!

Okay, that's all for now. I'm heading to Nashville this weekend for a whirlwind celebration with friends, St. Patty's Day, mock trial judging, and then on to McMinnville so the Knight's dad can fill my cavities. Not so excited about the last part, but at least I'll get to see my lovely in-laws. Have I ever told you how much I adore them? I really, really do.

Artsy Fartsy is "sew"per excited about Jess's store. Y'all go check it out, right now!

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