Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home at Christmas

I don't have a Christmas tree decorated (and probably won't), its colder than I think NC should be, and I have yet to wrap the first present. But, it's Christmas and I love this time of year! Even if it may look like I'm trying to boycott the holiday.

I've got a lot going on in my life right now - like moving to a new city and starting a new job. (more on that coming up) I'm going to do all of this in the middle of Christmas parties, family gatherings and church festivities. Oddly enough, I think I operate best when pushed to the max.

But, it has made me nostalgic about Christmases past and all of those things that make Christmas what it is. This song is good for that too.

This song also makes me wish they were going to be in the choir at our Christmas Eve service at church. :)

The pictures below also make me ready for Christmas.

These two little people are my most favorite little people to be around. They are my cousin Kasey's little girls, but I'm not sure I could love them more if they were my own. I'm also not sure if there's anything more fun than kids at Christmas.

That's Allie. She's the oldest and in 1st grade. She's the one that likes to dress up and do the girly stuff. She's the extrovert and has never met a stranger. She likes to play in my make-up bag and thinks its so cool that she knows my phone number and she can call me whenever she feels like it - which she does on a weekly basis to give me a status report on getting green lights in school.

And that's Karlie. The baby that isn't really a baby any more. She's four and adores her big sister unless, of course, they're fighting like siblings do. Karlie's more reserved and less excited about talking to people she doesn't know, but if she does know you she'll get to going and won't stop. I love that she still wants to sit in my lap when she sees me,  but more and more I'm loosing my cool points with her. She would rather have the attention of my boyfriend whom she calls "Whit-i-nee" (Whitney). She pronounces it with 3 syllables. She's told me that he is her boyfriend now. I'm much more welcomed in her house if I bring him with me than when I come alone. 

Kasey and I grew up next door and have always been more like sisters than cousins. I can remember when we were their age. After Santa we headed straight for Grandma and Papa's house for breakfast and to open our stockings they had for us. I have no better memory of Christmas than those mornings.

Although this Christmas is sure to be different - this is our 3rd Christmas without my brother Matt and our first without my Papa - I'm excited about the holidays, traditions and getting to slow down, if only for a minute, and enjoy the people I still have around me.

Because before you know it the kids you thought would never grow up...

...soon do!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Perfect Room for Lily James

It's not a surprise that I'm just a little bit excited about the impending birth of my best friend's first baby, a girl, named Lily James.

She's due the first of January and we've been having the most fun working on the nursery. Megan and I looked at a bunch of different examples in magazines and on other blogs. I loved Erika's, from Urban Grace Interiors, little girl's nursery. Megan found another great inspiration of an adorable nursery in Martha Stewart's magazine. (Unfortunately, I don't have I link to that one.)

She did a great job of having an idea of what she wanted then we went to work to make it happen.

It started with the crib. She wanted this crib, in particular.

My job was to find it, but cheaper. It's a long story that involves Craigslist, multiple emails, a furniture store and a very nice stranger, but needless to say we found that crib - or last year's model which was significantly cheaper, but brand new and exactly what she wanted! It was like Christmas!

Megan's also fortunate to a have a super talented "Aunt Norma" who can sew as good as her mom could. She offered to help Megan make her custom bedding and drapes. We picked out the fabric from Loomcrafters in Burlington. It's the most nondescript fabric store but they have an amazing selection at very reasonable prices.

Her fabric for her crib skirt was my favorite!

Of course, pictures can never really do it justice, but it has a gold thread running through it that makes it pop when you walk in the room.

Aunt Norma even made a matching pillow for the chair.

Aunt Norma did the drapes as well. The fabric was a silk we found on clearance at Printer's Alley. It's the perfect shades of yellow and pink, but it had a grey/blue stripe that complimented the newly painted walls great!

The other major piece of furniture we snagged at a deal was the dresser. 

Megan was torn about whether to use a true changing table/dresser or not, but in the end I think she chose the right piece. This dresser is gorgeous and perfect for a little girl. We found it at a furniture store in High Point that carries pieces that people ordered but decided against. There wasn't a dent or ding on it anywhere! And it looks like it was made to match the crib even though they aren't the same brand!

And now for my most favorite parts of her room.

The only thing Lily James is going to be missing when she arrives in this world is her wonderful grandmother and Megan's mom, Mrs. Donna.

Mrs. Donna was an amazing woman and someone I looked up to like a second mother. Throughout this entire process Megan and I both talked about how much she would have loved to have been working on this nursery.

She was an interior designer and seamstress. I'm sure she would have been our leader shopping for fabrics and picking out furniture if she were still here. But, Megan made sure her touches were going to be all over Lily James' room.

These are the needlepoint characters Megan found in a box at her parent's house. She's not sure what her mom had started them for, but we cut them to fit and framed each one. Then used them as the artwork on the main wall.

A close up. 

They look like they were made for her nursery.

Megan also found another piece of needlepoint her mom had started. To know Mrs. Donna was to know that she always had a hundred projects going on at once. She was also good at getting something started, but not always getting it finished. (I'm just like that).

When Megan found a needlepoint of the alphabet that was almost completed but not entirely she just decided to have it framed as is. It was exactly as Mrs. Donna had left it and exactly as Megan wanted it. The guy at the frame store argued with Megan that she would want to finish it before he framed it, but Megan finally convinced him that she wasn't a crazy pregnant woman and that she knew exactly what she was doing.

The unfinished part is along the bottom, right side. I think it may be my most favorite part of the nursery. Those plates on either side were her mom's china also. The colors matched the nursery colors. I think plates on the wall are perfect!

(Disclaimer: The wall color is this beautiful light blue/grey color. I'm still figuring out this whole picture taking thing and you can tell my lighting is off. The colors just didn't show up as I wanted them to. Some were a bit too dark and when I attempted to lighten them up it would wash out the wall.)

Megan also used the picture of herself that her mom's friend painted of Megan when she was younger. She was an artist and had seen Megan on her bike. She snapped a picture and painted it for Mrs. Donna. It's the same picture Megan had in her bedroom when she was growing up. It's hanging over the crib.

Megan also used a picture of her great aunt Lily - Lily James is her namesake. James is Megan's husband's name.

And her purse from back in the 1920's sits on Lily James' bookshelf along side of her books. How girlie is that?

Overall, it came together so well. I think it's perfect. (I think I've typed "perfect" 100 times already)

I'm amazed at how great it looks and how well Megan pulled everything together. I love that it's so unique and not your traditional "nursery in a bag". 

Here's a look at it all together. 

Plus, a shot of the chandelier. Doesn't every little girl need a chandelier? 

And last but not least, Mrs. Donna's final perfect touch.

Megan also found an entire box of smocked dresses her mom had made for her when she was little. There's a closet full of clothes waiting for Miss Lily James to wear! From the blue dress left are all the dresses that her mom and grandmother hand made. 

Now, all we need is a "perfect" little girl! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful at Thanksgiving

Get ready this is a doozie (long)... but so was Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving is a time when most slow down and remember what they have in their lives to be thankful for. This year was no different for me, except for the "slowing down" part. It was a super busy week but I'm so happy I ended up spending it with almost everyone I care about the most.

We started a new tradition this Thanksgiving. Since we're now a [cough] running family [cough] we thought we'd do a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. We even convinced Jill to join in the fun. 

And you would think that since a 5K is the shortest distance race I've done so far that I would have come out unscathed - not hardly. I hurt worse after this race than I think I have any of the half marathons. Maybe I didn't stretch or maybe I ate too much just mere hours later. I'm not sure, but I was able to justify my "marathon eating" later that day with my 3.1 mile run. 

And so it began... here's the highlights from lunch at my Grandma Peggy's house. 

These are turnips for you folks not from around here.

And this is my grandmother's dressing. Yes, we know its not in a casserole dish or stuffed in a bird, but I swear its so much better. It's like individual mini-dressings that you can dip in gravy or put in your pocket for later. It's amazing and my most favorite. She used to call it dressing but since Kris married Amber its official name is now "Amber's Dressing". I think it's why she married him and why she likes my family. 

And this is her amazing cranberry salad. No sauce at this house. It's Jello based and has pineapples and nuts. I'll share her recipe one day. Until then, I'll continue to bring this with me to other dinners and impress people with my cooking skills.

The bird - not a turkey, but a chicken. My Papa always complained that turkey was too dry and not so good. He was right. Baked chicken is so much juicier than turkey and has the same coma-inducing effects. 

And these... well if you've seen the title to this blog and still don't know what these are then we've got a problem. I'm about to digress...

Deviled eggs originated in Rome. Click here for more than you ever cared to know about deviled eggs. 

The only thing you need to know is that it doesn't get much more southern than a deviled egg - no matter where they originated. They're the staple at every home cooked meal, every church pot-luck and at a lot of weddings I've been to recently. 

Never fear. I've been planning a post dedicated to these delicious necessities and will report back my research on one of my most favorite southern isms soon. 

This was John's attempt at making us health conscious. He's gotten on this running kick, lost 10 lbs and decided we all need fruit salad at Thanksgiving. It was good! 

Jill, on the other hand, is perfectly happy trying to put those 10 lbs. on all of us and brought her famous chocolate pie. (aka - heaven in tin foil)

You would think after a meal like that for lunch you would rush to the nearest bed and not get up until the next day. Not hardly. 

Soon after we finished it was time to head over to Mt. Olive (home of the pickles) and have dinner with my dad's side of the family. 

Again, more food, family and fun, but with a slightly different menu. I always swear I'm too full to eat another bite and yet, somehow I find a way. 

This side of the family fries a turkey. If you have to eat one, its the only way to do it in my humble opinion. It keeps its moisture. 

We also do a ham, which is my personal favorite of all of the meats. (Shout out to the NC Pork Council - "they bring alot to the table")

I made the Pioneer Woman's Nantucket Cranberry Pie. I have yet to be disappointed in any recipe of her's that I've tried. This was awesome, but tart. Don't make it if you don't like cranberries. It's pretty in a pie plate and looks like you had to work hard. Trust me, you don't. 

I thought I was really doing something with my Pioneer Woman Pie, but then my Grandma Hilda had to go and pull out the big guns. She made a homemade banana pudding. I'm not talking instant pudding... I'm talking about the kind you have to cook on the stove top. It was amazing. I don't know how they do it but Grandma's can totally show you who's smarter when it comes to the kitchen. Bobby Flay doesn't have anything on Hilda.

And there she is... The Princess of Pudding. My grandma and one of the few women I hope to be just like when I grow up.

I realized sitting there with all of my family after dinner was over on Thursday night that I'm the most thankful for the people in my life like my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and all of the others that make me complete. I'm thankful for those who are no longer with me and for those who I am about to meet. I've been dealt a pretty great hand and for that, I'm thankful. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dressing Up My Camera

My friend Becca had a fancy camera complete with a fancy camera strap. I had camera envy.

I finally got my camera, but it felt incomplete without a fancy camera strap. I have seen a dozen or more on Etsy for sale, but I'm cheap and have this issue with things homemade. If someone else has done it I have this aversion to paying money for it. I have this need to try to do it for myself.

Case in point - my camera strap.

I found a tutorial on Edie's blog - Life in Grace. She has this amazing blog on her life with her family, crafting, God, and on and on. She was a doctor but now is a stay at home mom who home schools her kids and has a thing for turquoise kitchen cabinets. (just browse her blog)

Anyway, I broke out my sewing machine, knocked off the dust and got to work.

When starting on a project be sure you have the essentials - sewing machine and glass of wine. Wine is very important to the success of any of my projects. It keeps me sane. And serves as a good excuse if someone wants to criticize my ability to sew straight lines. 

And here were my directions. Edie has tutorials for 12 Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts. I'm going to work on some more of these for gifts for friends and family. I promised my girlfriend Alison that I'd make her a camera strap. 

First, I measured the strips of fabric and the fusible interfacing to fit my camera strap. I did interfacing instead of fleece or batting. That wasn't on purpose. I thought I picked up batting but grabbed interfacing at the fabric store. Just grab whatever feels good. 

After you iron on your batting or interfacing fold the edges of the fabric and iron flat. My grandmother once told me ironing was the key to good sewing. These things continue to remind me how smart grandparents are.

Then I sewed the edges to hem. I did it twice to give it a more finished look. 

Pin the strips of fabric right sides together.

And sew down both sides.

Remove the pins, turn right side out and iron flat. I did a top stitch down both sides for a more finished look.

Pull your camera strap through the fabric. Voila. Done.

It's fairly easy. I didn't even have time to finish my glass of wine. That's how I determine how easy a project is. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who Doesn't Love a Sale?

Date: Thursday, Nov. 11
Time: Lunch'ish
Place: Ann Taylor, Tanger Outlet, Myrtle Beach, SC

These pictures don't really do them justice. 

After an additional 40% off everything in the store sale those $45 earrings came home with me for $5. 

Some things are just too good not to share - or show off. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

OBX Running

This past weekend was our 2nd Annual OBX Running Trip. This idea of running for fun started last year. Who would have thought we would actually enjoy running enough to keep doing it?

My cousin, Kris and I ran in the OBX 1/2 Marathon at Nag's Head last year. It was so much fun and a great course for a beginner (code word - FLAT). I wanted to do the 1/2 marathon again but after the Nashville 1/2 I had to have knee surgery and so 13.1 miles wasn't an option this time. 

But, I was able to still run the 8k and run we did.

My uncle, John and I started training a few months ago - running a few nights each week. He had completed a 5k previously but that was his longest distance. I was so proud of him for beating his goal of finishing in less than 1:30.

Those medals are your ticket to walk around town all day and act like a rock star. He's already planning his training to run the 1/2 marathon next year. I can't explain it either, but after you do one you're hooked. 

Kris, his wife Amber and our friend Katie all ran in the 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  Amber and Katie ran their first race with us in Nashville back in April and were hooked also. The three of them all had goals of beating their previous times. 

These are the crazy things that running makes you do. Like waking up at 5:30 AM, stuffing carbs in your mouth, and stretching. Amber is multi-talented and can do all at once. 

The supporting cast (my parents, my grandmother, aunt, uncle, my boyfriend and I) all gathered at the 1st mile marker to watch them come by once the race got under way. 

There's Katie getting started. She was the first to come by and the first to cross the finish line (1:54:23). She was shooting for under 2 hours. That's what being a distance swimmer in college will do for you. That and the fact that she actually starts her training program and sticks to it. 

This picture really makes me laugh. Amber was pumped up. Kris acted like he was quitting at mile 1. He was kidding of course, but you should have seen the looks on the faces of the runners behind him. 

Here's the final shot after they crossed. Kris came in at 2:06:45 - beating his previous time by almost 10 minutes. Amber came in at 2:27:11 - beating her previous time by almost 5 minutes. In our running group beating your time is your only goal. That and not being carried off by the EMS guys before you cross the line. 

There's another very important component to a successful race that's not often pictured. 

The support crew

Aunt Sherry's decided that the supporters deserve their own medal. They get up earlier to get the runners up, cook breakfast, pack and carry the extra gear, stand by the road just to watch and scream, drive like crazy to get to the finish line in time to stand there again...and wait, then cheer some more. I couldn't agree more. 

I let her borrow my medal for the picture. :)

We finished up our trip in Manteo at the after-party. There were runners everywhere, drinks flowing, music and a lot of great food. 

I think I almost have Whitney convinced to run with me next year! (fingers crossed)

The runners

It was a perfect trip with some of my favorite people. 

The crew