December 31, 2017

2017. A Year in Review.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before? Visited Chicago! New favorite city. Spent 9 days away from our kids on another trip- that was a little too long. Rode in a boat underneath a waterfall. Rented a bounce house for a birthday party. Went to see Macklemore with my younger cousin Gavin.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? We crossed off all but 3 items on our year long To-Do list. I'm making a new list this year and luckily it seems to have much more fun projects on it than in previous years. My other goals are monthly date night; with the ultimate goal to get to bi-weekly by the end of the year. Also to practice re-framing my thinking to be kinder to myself.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Rachel had her beautiful third baby Ryan Avery! And Jess had her second daughter- Jackie Jean! :)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully again, no. 

5. What countries did you visit? Argentina! We went to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires. We met 3 other couples and just got along so well that we are planning a reunion even though we all live in different states. Almost took a Taxi into Brazil. Almost took a Ferry over to Uruguay. Almost!!

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? Balance between working from home and being a stay at home mom, this year I seemed to let them overlap way too much. I don't want the girls to have to try hard to get my attention. 

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 17th because it was our 10th Anniversary. We were in Chicago and Bean pulled out a beautiful vintage style ring as a gift and then we went to an amazing restaurant called Boka for dinner where we spent four hours enjoying a tasting menu, including head cheese and fois gras along with the wine pairing. We laughed so much, and had a blast with the waiter.

9. What was your biggest failure? I yelled at my kids. It's something nobody talks about. I don't want to do it and I try to stop but I don't quite recognize what my triggers are. So part of being kinder to myself means recognizing when I'm at my limit before I cross over into yelling territory.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not specifically, although I do think my hormones were out of whack part of the time.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Hamilton Tickets

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Abigail. She has really taken to being a big sister and is good about sharing her big feelings, even when they are uncomfortable.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Nobody this year. What a weird question... other people can't really make you feel that way unless you just want to.

14. Where did most of your money go? Repairing the foundation on the house; landscaping the front flower beds; and into savings for future projects. Refinancing our mortgage to shave off years and interest and reduce the monthly amount.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to see Hamilton in Chicago! Once the lights went down, I was so excited I couldn't even calm down to be in the moment and it seemed like the show went by way too fast. It was incredible. I've never noticed the choreography of a show before but that's what stood out to me since I already knew every musical nuance going into it.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017? Any kind of Tango music!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? happier day by day

ii. thinner or fatter? thinner
iii. richer or poorer? richer

18. Is there anything you wish you'd done more of? sleep and yoga

19. Is there anything you wish you'd done less of? Worry and over analyze things

20. Where will you be spending the Holidays? We spent 4 days before Christmas down in Houston; we visited family and a couple of friends, had a nice dinner, and ran into an old school friend at the mall!

21. Any athletic achievements? I went on a walk one evening and ran a few blocks a few different times. 

22. Did you fall in love in 2017? Yes. On our Anniversary Dinner. We were able to just be ourselves with no outside pressure. The way it was when we met.

23. How many one-night stands? none

24. What was your favorite TV program? The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu; Big Little Lies on HBO Go, This Is Us, and Project Runway.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Nah, it's not worth my time.

26. What was the best book you read? I just finished a suspenseful story called 'Don't Become Alarmed' about some kids who go missing on a family cruise. I couldn't put it down! Also currently unable to put down the memoir of a girl who's the daughter of Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS who is in prison for sex crimes against children. I'm glad I was able to wrap up the year with two good books because I gave up on at least 5 books this year, which is weird for me. Usually when I start reading, I finish it.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? The soundtrack to Big Little Lies. The songs they chose went perfectly with the mood of the show in the moment.

28. What did you want and get? A weighted blanket. How did I ever relax without it?
     -What did you get but forgot you wanted? A new stick vacuum. I can't wait to finish remodeling our laundry room to go hang it up and plug it in!

29. What did you want and not get? A winning lottery ticket. I bought three for stocking stuffers, and one was a big ticket one and I was convinced we would be millionaires by the end of scratching everything off. We didn't even win one dollar. 

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Coco! 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34. Bean took me on a date night where I got to wear a pink lace dress from RTR; we started in the early afternoon with a couple of drinks and some sushi; then went to a movie at the Angelika- the movie was laughably terrible! and finally dinner at The Keeper where we had some awesome seafood and Aquavit Gimlets and watched some couple making out at the bar- it was so obvious that lots of other tables were watching them too and we all had a laugh when they finally left. 

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I felt that the money we spent on the house made a big difference in how things look. I know it's important to fix the foundation and all that but it's not glamorous. And I hate spending money on landscaping. I want it to look a certain way but I don't want to spend several grand getting it that way.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? I tried something new this year: Rent The Runway. I rented outfits for our two trips and for the two months in between I rented clothes to wear out to dinner with my friends. It was really fun trying new things like a fur vest, a sequined dress, and vegan leather pants. 

34. What kept you sane? Frequent phone chats with my favorite friends; and weekly dinners out with friends; planning Francie's First Fiesta birthday party- and it was a great party!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Macklemore, because he is funny and the same age as me. I feel like we could be friends.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? Voting in the local elections. All of them, even the runoff. I wonder what it would be like to run for office. 

37. Who did you miss? Liz of course; and Donna. Francie said some interesting things this year about Pop and pointing at her rocking chair. I pointed to a picture of Pop paw Hanna and she said 'huh' which means yes. So we think maybe he came to say hi to her. She's said it several times now.

38. Who was the best new person you met? They are technically not new; but in music class with Francie, I found out that a girl I enjoyed talking to in prenatal yoga when I was pregnant with Francie was in our class; plus the librarian we used to see every week when Abby was younger was in the class as well! I loved that connection, and I hope to grow those friendships in 2018. Also I should add the leader of Tinkergarten, which we started this year because she inspired me to be a calm mom. And her six year old son, who was so kind and fun.

39. Rate this year on a scale of 1-10:  7. I wanted to say 8 but then I remembered the landscaping and foundation stuff. hahaha!
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August 31, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Bean's Redneck 30th Birthday

Bean the Dream is 35 years old today.

Let's let that sink in for a little bit.

It's been almost 10 years since we got married, and the way I know that is he was 25 when we tied the knot. I found some old photos and I wanted to share some of the awesome parties we've had in the past. This is the biggest birthday party we ever had for the guy who doesn't like celebrating birthdays.


Soon after we found out we were expecting Abby, the artist who sang our First Dance song at our wedding, Stoney LaRue was selling a new line of wine and had an appearance at a grocery store right up the road from our house. We got there early, expecting a hute line, but it was short and we told him that we were expecting but hadn't told our families yet.

He signed a bandana especially for 'Buck' and we got this photo.

It's cute, but let's get on with the party details. I apologize in advace for the terrible quality; this was one of the signs that my old camera was on its way out. They are all blurry!


We had an armadillo cake in red velvet, just like in Steel Magnolias. I don't remember what it tasted like but it's pretty gross looking!


And of course a beer cake with cute ribbons!


Amazing food- chips, vienna sausages, cheese balls... what else could you ask for at a white trash party?!



We used ugly fake flowers with the price tags still on in beer bottles; and candles in vienna sausage containers for decor. Those are candy cigarettes as party favors.



I loved our outfits. I had an awesome thigh tattoo, tons of eye make up, and a fake belly hiding the real baby inside there!

Luckily our washing machine had gone out so we set it out on the patio and put drinks in it. Can't get more authentic than that!



I don't remember where this beer can wreath came from (did we make it? did someone else make it and give it as a gift?), but it's amazing. Our friends and family really got into the theme!












Spam sandwiches. I couldn't even try it. Spam and pregnant ladies who have never eaten spam before do NOT mix!





The big plan for the day, other than just drinking and hanging out in funny outfits was to announce our pregnancy to all of our friends and family at the same time, in a picture. So we got everyone outside the house, got one of the parents (they already knew) to take a some photos and when we called out, "One, Two, Three!", the second or third time around I yelled out, "We're Pregnant!"




There's a great reaction shot somewhere out in the universe but I don't have a copy of it here. It was a great surprise!



Happy Birthday to the greatest Bean, husband, and Dad who looks really hot with a handlebar moustache.
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July 6, 2017

Incredible

Something crazy happened and I am compelled to share the story.

Last week, after the girls had woken up from their afternoon naps and I settled the big one in front of the tv with a snack, I took the baby out in the front yard for a leisurely walk to the mailbox. She loves looking around out there- we have lots of squirrels, birds, and bunnies, not to mention the plants and wind and trees.

I noticed a man with white hair tucked into a baseball cap in a bright blue shirt walking door to door across the street- not unusual, we get a lot of solicitors.

We grabbed the mail and were standing on the sidewalk, looking up at our huge oak tree, when I noticed the man had made it around to our house. I hoped he wouldn't keep me outside forever talking about which energy company or internet company I use or trying to sell me a new roof.

As he's walking up, he is pulling a paper out of his pocket and saying, "I got a permit from the City of Plano to be out here, to show that I'm legit, and here it is. They only give these out for a month at a time- they are really serious about lowering the amount of solicitors. Did you hear that story of a terrible rape down in Dallas a few years back? I don't want anyone to feel worried when they see me coming. I was looking for a no soliciting sign first before I left my card on your door. Do you live here?"

I recognized him. I knew this guy. I had just been thinking about him a couple of weeks ago.

He is a painter I worked with- one of my customers from the first paint store I ever managed. That store was so small, we only had a handful of regular customers- maybe two handfuls of customers, period. He's someone you don't forget because he is friendly and he will talk your ear off for at least 30 minutes at a time, longer if you let him.

Sometimes, if we were busy, I would get annoyed at how long he could talk, seemingly oblivious to the line of five other customers waiting for me to match their paint, or shake something up, or just ring them up for a paintbrush. Meanwhile, he's telling me about some customer of his who is really picky, or about his family who are all long gone.

If we weren't busy, and I had finished all my paperwork, I would listen to him talk as long as he wanted to. He would always take at least 2-3 of the free donuts we brought in on Fridays. He rarely bought much paint, maybe a gallon or two here or there. It seemed like he didn't have much work. I knew he lived in a detached garage on a friend's property and wasn't married- probably never had been. He is religious, and that peppers most of his conversations.

When I sliced open my thumb on some metal rack in the warehouse, he told me how once he sawed his arm open so badly he had to go to Parkland because he didn't have insurance and sat there in the ER for hours waiting for them to sew him up. He had to buy new clothes to go finish the paint job he was on the next day.

He also had the dirtiest pair of painter's whites I've ever seen. Layers upon layers upon layers of paint covered the thighs, like he never used rags and just wiped everything on his pants.

I got on a kick during my second year at the store where I asked all of my customers when their birthdays were and then made them cakes.

The mullet brothers- another regular set of customers- were happy and made a special trip to pick it up, but never told me if they liked the actual cake or not. (Did I mention I asked all the customers their favorite flavor? The mullet brothers preferred Butter Cake which I'd never made before and when I went to cook it it called for 2 sticks of butter which I didn't have so I substituted apple sauce....they might not have actually liked that cake! haha)

When I made David Lamb his birthday cake, he almost cried and said, "Thank you! Do you know I've never had a birthday cake in my whole life?" He was in is 60's.

I never forgot him because of the birthday cake, and how friendly he was, even if I forgot his name.

So when I saw him walk up and hand me his business card, I said, "I know you."

He seemed so confused and I reminded him that I worked at that store, and he still seemed a little confused but we talked through some details like about how I cut my thumb (I left out the birthday cake story); how I left when I had my kids, and how it was so awesome that we were getting to chat.

I offered him a drink from our drink fridge- this was the one time I wished we kept bottled water instead of the refillable ones for just our family- and he accepted a Dr. Pepper.

He followed me into my house and complimented the exterior paint, and asked questions about the age of the houses in the neighborhood- he wants to avoid working on houses built prior to 1978 because of the potential for lead paint. Suddenly I remembered when we got lead testing kits at the store and he was the only customer to buy them, use them, or even worry about being safe and using proper lead abatement procedures on his jobs.

He never made me feel weird for being so young and having such a fancy house. He commented on my wood kitchen and how he thinks stained wood will be coming back into style and how we should not paint over our cabinets.

I gave him the drink and we talked for a few more minutes while he cooled off. My favorite thing is when someone accepts a drink out of our drink fridge!

All in all, he was here for about 30 minutes, which is probably an average conversation with him. I felt so at peace with the encounter, almost to the point of elation. It felt like what I did at the paint store those 8 years mattered to someone somewhere.

When I felt beat down, overworked, unappreciated... when I worked on Christmas Eve with the flu and no heat in the store and only had one customer, when I almost lost Abby early in that pregnancy and had to go on a lifting restriction, all of the minuscule ways I was discriminated against for being a girl, for being small, for having eyelashes so the customers thought there's no way I could possibly know anything about complex problems or how to run a business.... for all the times I chose not to wear makeup so the customers wouldn't think I was pretty and would take me seriously. For all the times I surprised a customer with how much paint I could lift, and for the issues with my hips I still have today from carrying too much weight the wrong way, over and over and over for years...

I realize these problems are minor compared to what my friends with brown skin deal with every single day, and I'm not equipped to talk about that, but in my little world, I experienced a tiny sliver of discrimination for how I looked in that world, in the construction world.

When I left, I only took the satisfaction of the accomplishments I made on paper- the sales I made, the budgets I exceeded, the improvements in inventory that reflected so well on my P&L.

I never thought that I had an impact on my customers or that anyone would remember me.

I remember them: the yoga instructor who told me that downward dog should be comfortable and work your shoulders; the bubbly faux finisher whose husband got cancer but she gave me her fancy moving boxes for free and made me a decorated wine bottle for our new house; the friendly painter whose wife died of breast cancer and soon after he started dating a new woman and started talking about sex at my store; the jerk who finished painting a wall I was working on while I did some annoying tricks to tint his big batch paint a different color for free; the woman who bought hundreds of samples and painted her house a color she didn't test out; the painter who brought her cute daughter in with her all the time and we later found out her husband was extremely abusive but she stayed with him; the homeowner who was putting zebra carpet on her stairs and had a little book with the paint colors and finishes for every room in her new house.... I could go on and on.

I thought I was forgettable.

I wanted David Lamb to remember me for the birthday cake, but he remembered me for me. And I remembered him. And that's kind of incredible.


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April 12, 2017

Elsa Play Dress

Elsa has been Abby's favorite since we watched the movie when she was probably 2.5. I knew without a doubt I would be attempting an Elsa play dress. 

The details I knew were important included snowflakes, sparkles, and some kind of cape; plus a waistband if I could make it work. 

Base dress from Primary.com with matching shorts.

 

The hardest part of this dress was deciding how to place the snowflakes and jewels. It's very symmetrical which I usually don't like in design but it works here. The best part is I could keep playing with them until they looked right before ironing them down.

 

Here is the happiest accident! I sewed a finished edge around 3 sides of this stretchy, sparkly fabric to make the cape. Then I lined up the bottom edges, gathered the top edge and pinned it just below the buttons in the back.

I sewed a straight line across and planned to cut off the extra fabric and add some detail with some silver iron-on tape to hide the shoddy job (hehe) but when I picked it up, I absolutely loved how the top part of the cape fell down and looked so cute!

 

Not sure why I felt the need to include a close up of that edge- probably because it looks semi-decent and I don't think I've ever done one of those before. Clear thread for the win yet again!

 

After letting this one sit awhile I decided to add the waistband. I cut a tessellation design out of that iron on fabric tape and ironed it on. So simple- the hardest part was cutting it out!

In case you aren't familiar a tessellation is where the shapes in a pattern meet up perfectly. I created a shape that when I cut it out of one strip I was able to line up the edges with the flat edge at the bottom and they matched up.

I remember doing a tessellation project in probably 3rd grade when I went to another school for the day for GT; and we did a tessellation project in Design 1 in college. I'm a big fan! :)

 

I ironed that tessellation strip down (it goes all around the waist, even under the cape), and the girl was excited to try it on.

 

She has worn this since we've been home also. I've been able to machine wash the dresses (I flipped them inside out to be safe) and they came out great! 

This one needs a little touching up with the fabric glue- the snowflakes are coming lose as well as the waistband. I guess sometimes there's not enough glue on the iron on transfer stuff.

I've gotten compliments on these dresses and as I was making them I wondered if I would enjoy making them and selling them on Etsy or something but I decided that I wouldn't. 

It's like painting a room- generally I love to paint, but if I had to do it for a paying customer, I think my nerves would get the better of me and I wouldn't charge enough for the work it took. The time and materials for these dresses was about $40-50 each. I don't know if someone would be willing to pay $75 for one but that's what I would have to charge to make it feel like it was worth the effort. 

I really did enjoy creating something new for my girl though! 
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April 11, 2017

Belle Play Dress

I was most excited to try out this Belle play dress because she's my favorite (of course!) and I knew it would be a challenge. I'm a mediocre seamstress- the biggest projects I've ever done were a few formal dresses in high school when I was really into fashion design and planned to study it in college. 

They were simple, I picked a pattern and fabric and followed the instructions. Nothing was super wild although I did make a skirt with a detachable train, added jewels to a Gap tank top, and made a purse to match my outfit and my date's shirt and tie. In the picture at the dance they made him hold my purse. hahaha!!

When I think of Belle, the two things that stand out are red roses and that big, flouncy skirt swirling around the ballroom. 

The base dress came from Primary.com again (with matching shorts again!) and this one turned out to be my favorite... and I think Abby's also since it was the first one she wanted to wear on our trip, which coincided with the day the live action version of the movie opened in theatres. She's also worn it since we've been home. 

 

I kept the top simple- I started with just 3 rosettes but decided it needed 5 after letting it sit for awhile. These were just glued on and pinned in place until they dried. Simple!


Please notice the run in the fabric in the middle of this photo! It just shows how lots of mistakes are hidden in this dress and I'm not pretending to be an amazing seamstress!

To make the flouncy skirt, I folded the yellow fabric and sewed one long end, then flipped it right side out (it was one long tube). I didn't even iron it at this stage.

Then I gathered it up and pinned it to the edges of the skirt, let it out and re-pinned as necessary to make it look right, and then I just sewed a straight light across the bunch of fabric to attach it to the skirt. Over and over until all of the flounces were attached.

They looked a little weird so I used the trusty fabric glue to gather and pin and glue the flounces down and added the yellow flowers to make it look intentional.

 

Without those flowers the fabric just hung there instead of making little pockets like you see here.

 

She was definitely excited about this one!
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