My "not so dirty" little secret

I have a confession to make today.  It is nothing earth-shattering, but it is definitely something about me that I don't often share.

(The Knight and I use a cleaning service.)

I don't know why I am ashamed to admit this, but I guess it has something to do with my Southern female baggage which makes me feel guilty if I can't keep my own house clean.  And it seems a little bit "showy" to say that (using snobby inflection here) "I have a maid."

I grew up in a family where, as a child, I truly believed that my siblings and I were conceived to serve as our parents' servants.  I'm exaggerating a bit, but in my family, chores knew no gender or age boundaries.  On Saturdays, my brother and I swept, mopped, dusted, vacuumed, and scrubbed the tubs and toilets.  We were somewhat responsible for laundry (although after washing too many of Mom's nice sweaters, that chore wasn't assigned as often!).  

The Knight, on the other hand, was raised in a family where he had very little "inside the house" responsibility.  He mowed and did yard work, but it wasn't until college when he started discovering the joys of laundry and bathroom cleaner.

Anywho, merging two people with very different "chore" backgrounds proved to be quite an interesting challenge when we tied the knot.  Inevitably, we would each fall into the "looking for the other person's speck, while failing to acknowledge the plank in our own eye" trap, and fuss at each other for not doing the chores.  (Okay, that was mainly me, but still, you get the idea).

I don't know about the rest of you, but,  in the past, most of our fights centered around (or were exacerbated by) who was responsible for what in the house.  

So, when we bought our house, we decided that one thing we would treat ourselves to is to hire a cleaning lady.  We were both working tons of hours, and weren't sure if the house would ever truly be clean if we were responsible for it.  Plus, we didn't want to spend our precious free time waxing, polishing, and scrubbing.  

We called around, met with a few services, and were pleasantly surprised by the reasonableness of the prices.  After comparing all the factors (word of mouth reference, price, insured and bonded?, type of products used, etc.), we settled on the local company, 2 Chicks and A Broom.  

We liked the idea of supporting a local business.  A business who hires permanent "chicks" and "chucks" but also employees motivated college students.  PLUS, they use all-natural products, so we don't have to worry about little Betty getting sick by all the cleaning fumes.  You can read about 2 Chicks here.

We get our house cleaned every other week, for three hours each time.  Our house is 2,500 square feet, and I guarantee you that it would take me longer than that to do all that they do.  The cost ($90) averages out to be roughly one nice meal a week.  We eat out less, cook more, and then pay someone to meticulously clean the kitchen! 

Of course, I understand that this type of thing is a luxury.  But we don't live extravagant lives.  I know a lot of people who spend about the same on coffee and muffins each week.  Of course, if something big happened in our lives where we had to cut the 'fat,' this would be one of the first things to go.  But until then, we are pleased as punch with our little secret.

Why am I confessing this?  Well, for one thing, our house it TONS cleaner.  Also, it has truly helped our marriage.  In this seemingly over-stressed, unhappy world, it has helped us both of us to become less stressed, happier people. 

And, isn't that what life is all about?

Dust bunnies and cobweb kisses,

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Family Treasures

For the past couple of years, I have been slowly collecting old family photos from both sides of the Knight and my family.  Long before we bought our house, I had this vision of white shelves full of assorted family photos layered on top of each other, kind of like what you see in PB, but with personal photos - not art.

When we bought our house, the den had the perfect space of wall between our bedroom door and office door.  
I got these great crown molding shelves from the PB Outlet for $35.  Total.  They retail for about $50 apiece in the catalog!  That's a savings of $115!  Memphis may have its problems, but thank God for the Pottery Barn/ Williams Sonoma/ West Elm outlets.  

Once we decided to paint the room a dark slatey brown, I knew I needed to frame everything in lots of white and silver/bronze-ish, so the photos wouldn't get lost in the dark expanse of the wall.

This is what I came up with.
Although we had the shelves AND the pictures ready to go, they just kind of sat around for a couple of months, waiting on us.  Does anyone else hate making the final decisions of where to hang stuff?  Or is that just me?  If you come to my house right now, you will see various mirrors and pictures lining the walls.  I move stuff around until I'm sure it's "just right" and then I get the guts to hang it.  Even then, I regret the decision and then you have all those wall holes.  Ugh.

Anywho, the main reason for our hesitation with this project was the wall itself.  The walls in our den are not drywall, but paper thin paneling from the '80s.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that heavy shelves laden with even heavier pictures isn't a great match for paper thin paneling.  

Several different anchors (Home Depot loves us) and several errant holes in the wall later, we finally found an anchor that "spreads out" behind the paneling on the other side of the will - thus gripping a greater surface area and reducing the chance of the shelves ripping the wall off.  It was quite an ordeal, but finally the shelves are up, and I have arranged the pictures in a somewhat satisfying way.  

(please ignore the spackling...I told you there were several errant holes!)

I just love that at any time, the Knight and I can walk by and be reminded of the wonderful people that we came from... to me, this wall is a nontraditional way to feature the family tree and honor the ones you love.  So, what do you think?

Betty seems to like it!

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And the winner is...

Thank you for all of your suggestions, kind remarks, and willingness to help me figure out what this blog is all about and who it appeals to.  I really needed those verbal “pat on the back” comments, and I appreciate so many of you “de-lurking” and introducing yourself to me.

This may sound weird, but, sometimes, when I write, I think about what a particular reader would like or think about what I have to say.

For example, Lavender Lily has always commented on how much she enjoys my “Currently Coveting” posts.  When I feel like it has been too long since one of those posts, I think to myself, “Hmm…I need to do one of those soon, Lily likes those.”

Or, when I post about law school or legal life, I always think of my fellow lawyers who read and I think can completely empathize, Ana, Ashley, and all of my "in person" friends who never comment on here, but email me almost immediately after a post. 

Based on your comments, I made a little list of things you liked and things you wanted to change. 

  • at least 4 of you said that you liked the "Currently Coveting" posts, or a variation of them.
  • at least 4 of you said that you like pictures of the house and all my decorating ideas (bless you for your kind words!)
  • a couple of you mentioned that you liked the furniture finds/redos that I have done and a couple more mentioned the crafty things that I come up with.
  • at least 1 person requested some more gift ideas, and I will do my best to come up with some of those.
  • finally, at least 2 of you mentioned that you liked my lawyer stories.
Aw shucks, you guys are too sweet!

Now, for the changes:
  • Whether you actually said it or not, I think we all agree that I need to post more.  I really do, you are right.  I guess sometimes, I have little things to say, and I should just blog them, rather than waiting for a ginormous blog that is so long, it has to have multiple pages numbers assigned to it.   I WANT TO DO BETTER.  I really do, but you guys have to help.  If you have an idea or need some help, send me an email or leave me a comment.  I'd love to have suggestions about what to blog about... often my brain is tired and I can barely type intelligible sentences by the time I get home from work.
  • You also said that you wanted to hear more about me.  You flatter me, making me think you find me interesting, when in actuality, I am just so boring.  But thank you!  And I will try to do better.
  • You also want to see more pictures of Betty Rascal.  Well, who doesn't? :)  Seriously, I'll have to check with her first, but we all know that she is a diva and loves all the attention you guys give her!
  • Finally, you asked for me to tell you about things that inspire me, purchases I've recently made, and things that I wish for.  I never have really thought about things that inspire me, but I'm sure there are things.  I will work on this.
Based on your comments, I am making a big COMMITTMENT.  I'm sticking my neck out there, and I'm going to make THREE promises.
  1. I promise to blog at least once a week.  
  2. I promise to do a "Currently Coveting" post at least once a month.
  3. I promise to do something crafty once every two months - whether it is a crafty decorating idea, a new painting, or a furniture redo.  With this promise, I promise that, camera willing, I will take pictures and show you the before, during, and after of each project.
Gulp.  Those are big committments, but this blog is important to me.  I have been keeping this up for several years (it is crazy to see that "years" is plural"), and it is a wonderful creative outlet for me.

Anywho, thanks a lot for all the comments.  You guys are the best.


He he.  This was super fun!  I wrote everyone’s name down and made a little pile of paper.

I drew one, and …..

The winner is…

Her comment was:

So glad you posted :) I love what you are doing with the house. The living room is especially amazing. So here are my answers:

1. I have awful handwriting. Everyone use to say that I should be a doctor because it is so bad. That is why I type everything out (though my typing isn't stellar either).

2. A while. We were both still in law school then. So maybe around 2 years?

3. Love, love, love to see what you do around the house. I am very stunted in the design department (and we are STILL house hunting), so keep that coming.

4. I think we all agree that you need to post more. Even if it is short and sweet, we just want more!

Congratulations, Ashley!

Now here’s what I need you to do.  First, email me at curtsies [at] gmail [dot] com.

In your email, send me your address, the color of your kitchen and/or favorite color.  I have at least four aprons that I have to pick from, and I want to send you the one that seems to “fit” you the best!

As for the rest of you, I’m sorry you didn’t win this round, but this one was so fun, I’m sure there will be more!

Betty Rascal seems to think so too!

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Don't forget!

The Artsy Fartsy Awesome Amazing Apron Extravaganza Giveaway ends at midnight, Memphis time, tomorrow night!

If you haven't already commented in the post below, well, get to it already.  In this case, good things DO NOT come to those who wait too late!
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Oh dear...(plus, giveaway!)

Sweet girl that she is, Ashley over at Introducing Ashley has asked me to do a meme.  Not to be confused with a Memo, for all you lawyers out there.  This is one memo that partners most definitely should NOT be reading!

Before I get to the meme, let me share with you what I have been up to lately.

The Knight and I have been busily working on finishing our master closet.  We took a brief hiatus from anything "home improvement" during the holidays, but now we are back at it.  

In the last couple of months, we have painted, painted, and repainted. We installed 2 inch blinds in most of the rooms of the house.  We (as of Sunday night) finished all the construction on the master closet.  We had Thanksgiving with my family at OUR house (pics here).  And we decorated and undecorated for Christmas (go here to see pictures).

Want to see pictures of all of our handy work?  Here's a few to wet your taste buds.  

Wanna see the rest?  Well, in that case just hop over to my little flickr set to see all the changes. 

After Christmas, I got pretty sick.  I had the "funk" that most people had, but it was considerably worse than most colds.  Bad enough that at first, I thought I might even have pneumonia (thanks for all THOSE worries, WebMD!).  Although I hated being sick, I do think it was my body's way of telling me to slow down.  I have been going, going, and going at work, at home, socially, and physically.  Trials, training for the half-marathon, other work stuff, and the holidays really took their toll on me.

Sooo, once I surrendered to being incapacitated, I turned to my forgotten bookshelf and grabbed the first book I saw.  

Wow.  What a mistake.

The book was Twilight.  
For those of you who having been living in a cave (like me, before I read the book), this book and the 3 that follow are a pretty big deal in our pop culture.  It is a teenage vampire love story between a human, Bella Swan, and a hottie teenage vampire, Edward Cullen. These books have become quite a phenomenon and many have dubbed the series' writer, Stephenie Meyer, the next J.K. Rowling.   

Anywho, I had ordered the books from Amazon awhile ago because some girls at my church were going on and on about them.  I thought they sounded like a fun, Saturday afternoon-type read, so I bought the first two.

All I have to say, is that it is a good thing I had the foresight to buy the first two.  I could not put Twilight down, once I started it.  500 pages and 4 hours later, I rushed to get the second one, New Moon. I inhaled it.

After I finished the second one, I was in quite a conundrum.  I was out of books.  I had to know what happened next!  How in the world could I wait 3-5 days for the next two to arrive if I ordered them from Amazon?  Plus, I was sick as a dog...I did NOT feel like leaving the house.  So, of course, I started googling Twilight, and guess what?  The author released the first several chapters (264 pages) from the fifth book, which is essentially the first book, but from the vampire's perspective.

Thank the Baby Jesus for that one.  At least I was able to finish out the day on the couch, happily reading chapter by chapter on the dang Internet.  The next day, I felt well enough to quickly venture to our nearby Tar-jay and pick up the final two.  After I finished those, a wave of sadness washed over me.  No more Twilight.  AFS was sad, indeed.

But then I realized that I was SO behind the times in reading the books that an film adaptation of the first one had already come out.  
Thank the Baby Jesus again!  

After seeing the movie and googling the heck out of Edward Cullen/Robert Pattison (hotness, hello), 
I think that my temporary insanity and obsessiveness has passed.  Thank goodness the next movie doesn't come out until November.  I'm not really sure the Knight could handle my craziness much longer.  He might punch somebody's Twi-lights out.  Groan.  He he.

So, now I have turned my attention to my sweet cousin, JB.  She is moving to two other cities to complete her physical therapy rotations, and we are throwing her a little party tonight for all of her friends to come and say goodbye.  We are going to try to do a country theme, since both cities are famous for their country and bluegrass music.  If you have any suggestions for decor that are quick but provide quite a punch, do tell.  I'm throwing this together at the last minute, so I can use all the help I can get.  

Okay, phew!  So, that's what's been going on 'round heah.

Onto the meme:

7 Random Things about AFS 
(otherwise known as, my life is boring, and this is the best I can do on such short notice!)

1.  High School Horrors: In high school, I was voted Most Talented.  I'm still not sure what exactly I am talented at, so if you went to high school with me, will you please let me know? Thanks.

Even more embarrassing than being given a superlative for possibly one of the most unclear superlatives is the picture of me for said superlative in the yearbook.  

I thought that yearbook pictures have their own special hell where they go to die shortly after graduation.  Apparently, I was wrong.  

Lucky for me, my class is having its 10 year (yikes!) reunion this year and are organizing it through Facebook.  And wouldn't you guess?  They actually scanned and posted pictures from our senior class's yearbook.  Whoever had this bright idea needs to be given electric shock therapy.  

Yours truly is the first picture in the album.  

Go ahead.  It's okay.  I laughed a while, too.  A very long while.  Then it turned into sobbing.  You get the idea.

You have to admit my virginal white dress with shiny dance hose and white headband is very, um, ... well, quite frankly, I don't know what I was thinking.  Look at me standing in front of the open bedroom with Mr. Most Talented.  We seem to be saying "We are the most talented at one thing!  It usually happens in there.  Without clothes.  And lots of moaning.  Come!  Let us show you!  I, the one in the white dress, will be your tour guide.  Mr. Dark Suit will be the enforcer."

I am mortified.

2. Desk Jockey: I spend a lot of time at work.  And I am often running somewhere after work which precludes me from stopping off at home in between.  A little drawer in my desk has quickly become my medicine cabinet/pantry/makeup bag.  It has almost everything I need to get through most of life's minor emergencies.  Peanut butter (for those hunger pains), toothpaste and toothbrush, manicure kit, cold and headache medicine, lotion, tampons, mouth wash, hair brush, hairbands, clear fingernail polish (for the fingers and those darned pantyhose), blank envelopes, bobby pins, and packages of oatmeal.  Whew!  I am apparently high maintenance!

See below:

 3. Copy Cat, er, I mean, Bird:  I have been dying to create something fun and whimsical to go over the bed in the green guest bedroom.  I found this collage by Lisa Krauss, and was very inspired.  I'm not going to copy it, but I definitely plan on integrating the cute birdies and the birdcage in my painting.  I will keep you posted!

4: Practically James Dean:  This is a picture of my beloved grandfather as a young'un.  He passed away earlier this year, and I dearly miss him.  In my very religious, uptight family, he was the rebel who broke all the rules.  He liked women, whiskey, and Camel Lights.  As a child, I adored his "devil may care" attitude.  As an adult, I was able to appreciate what an incredibly talented carpenter and do-it-yourself-er that he was.  He single-handedly renovated my parents' basement - including all the plumbing and electrical work.  We lived in that house for years, and never had a hiccup.  He loved going to auctions, and, as weird as it may sound, when I go thrifting/garage sale-ing, I feel like I can commune with him.  

I miss him very much.

5.  Sports Fanatic...well, kind of:  I love sports.  You wouldn't think it, but I do.  Now, I must explain something.  I don't care what sport it is, who's playing, or what the score is.  What I love about sports is how it brings people together.  How, when your team does something great, your turn and hug a perfect stranger.  I love the pageantry (especially my VOLS!), the tailgating, the cheering, the passion.  One of my favorite times of the year is football season because it is one of the best sports for socializing.  It moves slow enough most of the time to allow for good conversation, and then every once in a while, it's all "So, I was telling my mom - YEAH! GO! GO! GO!  WAHOOOOOO!"  Classic.  Here's a picture of the Knight and I at a recent Grizzlies game (who knew Memphis had an NBA basketball team?).  

We most went because the Cavaliers (hello, LeBron James) was the opponent.  All I can say is that he used and abused that hoop.  I have never seen someone dunk so well and aggressively.  It was great.

6.  In my shoes:  I come by my blog name honestly.  Shoes are one of my biggest shopping weaknesses.  This pair is one of my most recent acquisitions, and looking at them just make me happy.  I have to say, this pair really sasses up a boring brown suit.  


7.  Narcissism at a new level:  I have been dying to know a few things lately...Who reads this blog?  Does anyone still read it?  I know I am bad poster, but I hope that when I do post, it is interesting or fun to laugh at/with me.  I wanna know what you think about my blog, what you like and don't like, and maybe some of your favorite post(s) (maybe there's more than one...or one at all?).  

To get those fingers typing, I have decided to do a little giveaway.  That's right...AFS's FIRST Freebie!  I have a selected a lovely AFS a la Curtsies apron for the lucky winner.  

(It WON'T be this one, but it will be a fun half apron with a flounce!  I don't have a picture of it, so this one will have to suffice.  At least now you'll be surprised!)

Really, my little prize is hardly fair.  You guys have been reading this blog forever, and I'm JUST NOW doing a giveaway?  Sorry, I've been so stingy. :)  But, don't forget that it is national De-Lurker month!

That's right...it is time to come out of the closet (unlike this unlucky fellow shopaholic), and tell me who you are.

To enter the giveaway, please leave in a comment the following:

1. A little fact about your purty self.

2. How long you've been reading.

3. Your favorite thing/ what you like to see more of.

4. Things that you would like to change.

Okay, that was easy enough, right?  Please, please, pretty please, start commenting!  I'll close the contest at midnight, Memphis time, next Thursday.  

Kisses!  Can't wait to meet all of you!

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