I thought I had sworn off online shopping (I was very nearly needing a twelve step program...) and then I see this on some friend of a friends Facebook post that landed on my wall.
It was love at first sight.(Or site, as the case may be.)
Since the Facebook page site was wholesale only I was not sure what to do...then, a facebook/blog-reader friend told me about The Painted Fox and the rest, as they say, was history.
(And..ehem..yes, we are still rambling on about the fun-and-fabulous Bake Off at my workplace.)
Seriously, what did we do before slow cookers? (If you're old enough to remember the term "Slow cookers" you might be my age.)
One of my friends at work was surprised to see my white crock pot. I explained that I have a thing for white. White dishes, serving pieces...and ..crock pots make that list as well. (I left out the part about having more than one white crock pot.)
By the time we had everyone's chili and mac n' cheese out, we had a minimum of eight crockpots going all through one surge protector.I topped off the sea of crockpots with a couple of my signs...("coz' that's what I do.)
....and one more, by the chili...
and one for my old typewriter...
And one last sign by the desserts....
I will be adding a Bake Off accessory e-kit to my etsy shop later tonight...why don't you plan a Bake-off at your work-church-school-whatever.
You didn't know I worked out?
Until recently, I didn't.
True confession: I've struggled with developing my inner workout diva since Jane Fonda put out her first VHS tape and I ran out and bought leg warmers to go with my high-top Reeboks.
I always seem to think that if I get the right fashion accessories for the workout, I will...well, work out. It seems to me that they should could might go hand in hand.
"How's that working for you?" you wonder in your head, using your best Dr. Phil voice.
Historically, not terribly well. (but there's always next time, right?)
Here is how I see it: God created two kinds of people. Ones that like to workout, and love physical activities, and those that do not.
Obviously, I am in the latter group. (I am pretty sure I got this genetic tendency from my grandmother on my Dad's side, along with her large earlobes, and chubby elbows.)
Knowing this, I am purposefully focusing on making some changes to my craft-table-potato lifestyle, so that I have a better chance at keeping the good health God has blessed me with. (You see, I am doing this fabulous new program one of my favorite teammates at work has created, and I am newly inspired to be accountable for my own health like never before.)
And that's why I needed these new workout shoes. (with coordinating athletic socks.)
Wish me luck.
The girls at work like to run over to World Market on our lunch break every two or three weeks. Lots of days we work through our lunch hours, and so it's a nice mini-lunch-break-sized-teeny-tiny-mental-vacation.
It's always a wildly fun and fruitful little excursion. It begins with three or four of us piled into one car, driving the half mile over to this store filled with the most random cute things none of us actually need, but that are so over-the-top fun-cool-colorful-you-fill-in-the-blank that we holler out to one another to come see from across the department. It ends with all of us making some sort of purchase in a bag (or two or six) that we would never have imagined ourselves making two hours earlier in the day.
Yesterday's purchase for me included this cooler than cool looking bottle of wine with an awesome oiled bronze number one somehow attached to it, (Who knows if the wine is good? We all know I am a sucker for marketing.) some printed parchment paper (That actually caused the baker in me to squeal with delight out loud, picturing springtime baked goods in a box lined with it.) and finally, these cupcake slash muffin liners that look oh-so-french-bakery...oh, and they were on clearance, which somehow justified them jumping into my cart. Twenty-four dollars and some change later I was back at my desk, wondering how the heck that happened.
I simply cannot escape this shop without some sort of purchase being made that I have no rhyme or reason for. I leave with my bag in hand, torn between a feeling of euphoria over the adorableness of who-knew-I was-gonna-find-something-that-cute and oh-my-ga-I-said-I-wasn't-gonna-buy-anything-and-I-still-need-to-buy-more-paint-for-the-livingroom.
It's like kryptonite is pumped into the air, and I am powerless once I walk through those automated doors. Do you have a store that has this kind of power over you? A shop that renders you helpless to use the good sense God gave you?
Please, tell me I am not alone on this one.
In my life before becoming suddenly single, I spent nearly two decades as a stay at home mom. I used to say (and still believe) it was my dream job.
One of my best gal-pals and I would always say that one of the blessings of being a stay at home wife was that everyday was Saturday. There was no exact punch in and out times, or deadlines that could get you fired if missed. If I was up with a little one with a nightmare, or working on a project, I could function the next day, sandwiching things that needed to be done around my kiddos and husband. There was an immense sense of flexibility in my days and weeks.
I do not mean by any stretch that it was an easy job. (I also used to say the thing about being a stay at home Mom was that the pay wasn't great, but the hours were lousy....and I absolutely adored and treasured every. single. nano-second. of it.)
I work a regular eight to five-ish Monday through Fridays these days, and while I like my job, weekends have become far more treasured times than way back then. My mindset on Friday nights after my work week ends is one of feeling happy to the point of being giddy, while imagining a million and two things that the next thirty six or so hours might hold. Oh, the infinite possibilities.
To stay up way late, or go to bed early? To go out, or stay in? To start a semi-major project, or Pinterest all evening? It's up to me, all because it's gonna be Saturday.
Last night I woke up for some odd reason at 2:20 in the morning. If it had been a week day, I would have kept myself in bed, but since it was the magical time frame of my week, I hopped out of bed and worked on organizing my little craft room a bit more.(I am easily sidetracked, so progress is slow.)
After an hour and a half, I felt sleepy and slid back between my flannel sheets and fluffy cloud of quilts and comforter, and drifted back to sleep, happily knowing that no alarm was going to sound off.
Of course this is all just a state of mind, because I was back awake at 7:10, bright eyed and bushy-tailed as my Mom likes to say.... ready to enjoy my toast and cocoa, in my cozy robe and slipper socks.
Oh, yeah. I love Saturdays.
The bathroom is the closest thing to being done, but even that room still has a TO-DO list with about five items on it. The kitchen and laundry room are in the works, and my living room slash dining room have four different areas with various splashes of paint color on them, none of which were ideal. (In the end I have decided on an off-white. Small rooms seem larger to be when keeping the backdrop light, bright, and simple. What do you think?)
I finally decided to begin at the beginning, made myself an official Get-er-done list yesterday, and found myself more than a little overwhelmed. (This was followed by a full on freak out when I realized I had not added any TO-DO's for the outside of my cottage; the landscape, the fencing, the exterior lead paint removal..yikes!)
While I found a bit more clarity, I now feel compelled to budget out each room on the list, because that will help me to determine exactly where the best place to get moving will be. You might think it's a no-brainer, that I should finish the rooms I already started on, but some of the items on that list are larger tickets. I need to re-tile the tub shower for example. That ain't happenin' right now, because the ugly liner in the tub shower works fine but is hideous, so I am not ready to spend any paycheck money there just yet.
Tonight I am planning on adding the costs involved to my list, as well as adding the exterior plans, then putting the room projects in order after that, and pulling my game plan together.
Overwhelming to me, but incredibly fun at the same time.
After all, you know how much I love a project.
I have one more post to share about those sweet boys and all we did this week, but I simply had to interrupt myself to share this bit of serendipity that happened to me.
The day before yesterday I dropped the grand-boys off at school a bit before 8:00 and then headed over to my cottage to shower and grab a couple of things.
Well, I meant to head that way.
I made a right when I was supposed to go left. (I am pretty sure that I was born without a directional chromosome, and because of this condition, very nearly always make the wrong choice on turns when trying to find my way.)
As I drove down the road, it didn't occur to me that I was going in the wrong direction because things looked familiar. After about two blocks I realized why. I was a block away from a place I have been going to for over five years now; the Goodwill Bins.
I smiled at this little gift from God when I realized this. I whipped into the parking lot. (You know, you can cruise in to the Goodwill Bins without your morning shower and lip gloss, because...well, it's the Goodwill Bins, for gosh sakes.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. The bins.
I rocketed through the door (They open at 8:00 as opposed to the regular Goodwill stores, which open at 9:00. Coincidence? I think not.) and grabbed a cart. Right off the bat I found a little crock that a balding older-than-me guy missed as he was tossing things here and there in the bin.
His loss, my gain, baby.
I skedaddled out to the sort-of outdoor area and there was this incredible vintage wheel barrow.
Be still my thrifty heart.
(Best eight bucks I have spent in months!)
On my way to the checkout (I abandoned my cart with a Goodwill employee and put my little crock in my new-to-me wheelbarrow)I snagged a galvanized tub, a crate and cute straw hat (No, not to wear- it's from the bins, and it's past is sketchy at best.) to hang somewhere near my potting table in my cottage backyard.
I struggled a bit getting the treasures wedged into the back of my car (My sweet truck was home in the garage) but I manged and I smiled all the way home....using my map program on my iphone.
Actually, it's not all that new really, because I made my move before Christmas.
I meant to tell you sooner, truly I did. It's just that I couldn't quite find my words each time I sat down to write a post here to share my news, and so, as I sat there, pondering what to write, the days went by, and I still didn't find my words.
Part of why I struggled with sharing this, is because I have always shared so much of my soul here on this blog in the past, and this time, things are not crystal clear. There isn't a bad guy in the story, but love can only overcome so many obstacles. We’re no longer living together, and at the same time, we’re not really apart either.
Regardless of reason, or knowing that what I'm doing is what is best for me, the underlying feeling of another possible failure wrapped around my heart can be at times unbearable. I catch myself over analyzing things and dissecting past interactions and situations in my mind. I have come to the conclusion that clearly my picker is broken.
My Rock n' Roll Buddy remains a big part of my life, and time will tell where we go from here. It's just that life is far more complicated than we'd like it to be sometimes, you know?
So....I have a (sort of) new address.
And I'm doing just fine. (For the most part.)
It's me, Tracey.
I've been gone for so long (except for my Sunday morning pop-ins for my Weekly words to live by) that I am kind of wondering if I am writing this just for me, but maybe you're still there. (I hope so!)
Life has be way too ca-razy busy, with more changes and bumps in the roadway than I care for lately, and I can still see a few more on the horizon.
Both my son, and one son-in-law are navigating through big career changes and opportunities, and the sewing queen had an altercation with a small footstool while putting up her harvest decorations, in which the footstool won. She's on the mend now, thankfully, after surgery on a broken left wrist. She's sporting a now removable cast until nearly Christmas, and is very happy that this mishap occurred after golf season ended. (She is slightly bummed, as it is cramping her holiday sewing season, though.)
I ended up exchanging my day at the the Plucky Maiden's Bridal Faire for a day of quality time at the ER with the Sewing Queen,(followed by burgers at Red Robin!) but am signed up for their next one, coming up in March, and the Sewing Queen will be there helping in my booth.
On the topic of Plucky Maidens, it's very nearly time for the other Plucky Maiden Faire I am going to do...the Holiday Junk Fest!
I am extra excited about this one, since I am sharing the booth with one of my daughters and one of her friends. If you're in the area, mark your calendars to attend! It's going to be spectacular, and I am excited to be part of it.
I've been busy working on some New Year's Eve items, and I'll be sharing them with you (hopefully!) later this week.
Relationships are challenging sometimes (Often times. Men and women are very different animals.) and yes, I know that setting a charming table and serving up comfor food doesn't actually change lives. There is definitely a world of difference between men and women, an how we express (or don't) express our feelings.
Still, it's sometimes hard finding the right communication style with someone who's love language is Chick O'Stix.
On a different note, but oddly, still very much related to relationships, I am rather tickled to share that I have a booth space in the "Plucky Maiden's Get Hitched" Bridal Fair a week from Sunday. (Don't you love the name?)
I will be showcasing my line of bridal printables, and sweet little details. I've got my booth layout all planned in my head.
I have it broken up into themes: A Vintage theme in creamy whites, and glitter, with old book pages and touches or robins egg blue, An Autumn theme, in mustards, mochas and grays, with mittens, scarves, and pumpkins as part of the details.There will be a cheerful red and turquoise picnic buffet theme.
I'll be sharing more this week, as I get things photographed!
I get a little weary at times, from spending so much of my time seemingly having my character built.
Or maybe it's just that I need my head examined.
Or my heart.
If you've read my blog for very long, you have to know that I am incurable romantic of epic proportions. In a rather odd sort of way, I think that is what saved me when I found myself suddenly single... ohmygosh, exactly eight years ago today.
(Seriously, I didn't notice the date on the calendar until just this minute.)
I can still remember that moment, when I realized that life had changed for me forever. It's a moment frozen in time, and yet, one that I rarely think of these days.
Time heals they say. I think it just gives you perspective.(And it leaves you with a pretty gnarly scar.)
Still, when you are on the terminally romantic team, you have a little flame of hope, and an ever so tiny sliver of optimism that if you have faith...if you just believe...God's plan will slowly but surely show itself and the sun will come out again.
And it does.
In lots of ways.
I've been beyond blessed to have so many sunny moments to be excited and happy about.
Way back, when I first found myself suddenly-single, there were newly formed friendships with gal-pals for midnight deep talks and commiserating and even falling asleep while one of you is still talking(I will always adore you for those, Anne) and a little later on, new faces in the family...first there were weddings, and then those babies. (Oh! All of those precious sweet babies!)
All the while going through the sunny moments as time was creeping by, I remained the ever hopeful romantic (truth be told, actually hinging on sappy) and you know, I think that when you're like that...like me...you don't ever feel quite like you unless you are half of a we.
(Does that make any sort of sense to you?)
And as time moved on, there were those kinds of girl-meets-boy sunny moments for me as well. Only things are very different after so much time being on your own, flying solo.
Everybody that has been single for a number of years and is...ehem...a bit more mature, has their own ways of doing things, and coping with stress, or simply the way they manuever through everyday life can be immeasurably different than the way we are used to doing things.
A charming little romantic tablescape at the cozy kitchen counter, complete with votive candles to accompany their favorite comfort food for supper after they've had an unuually rough day might be a sure-fire-heart-mender for a love-is-all-there-is type like myself, but not even be noticed by a used-to-eating-by-the-mood-lighting-cast-from-the-big-screen-tv-beau, let alone, making them feel oh-so-loved and-cared-for.
Aparently, some days even a pretty tablescape doesn't make life pretty. Or even a little easier to get through.
(Nor will a homemade three-cheese grilled cheese on sourdough with a side of tomato soup)
(I did not realize that.)
I'm not at all confident that I will fully master any all of this complcated romance (or lack there of) stuff out, but I can guarantee you, I am still getting my character built.
It's turning out to be a LOVE-hate relationship.
I love how cute the old blue '52 is, and how people wanna give me thumbs up when I drive by.
I hate the all-too-ridiculously-frequent stops at the gas station to fuel up, thanks to the eight miles a gallon I am getting. (although it is rather fun when the guy fueling up next to me wants to give me a thumbs up and ask all about it.)
I love how great the upholstery job came out, and the snazzy new black snap on cover for the truck bed.
I love the original cutie-patootie sun visor.
I love how all of my pals at work wanna ride to lunch in old blue, 'coz it's just so danged much fun.
I hate that I am getting a whopping eight miles to the gallon. (Maybe I already mentioned that.)
Thank goodness my Rock n' Roll Buddy has (way, way) more patience and ingenuity in the area of working on improving the mileage challenge, as well a tinkering on lots of the little things that need some sort of attention. He says with some adjustments and improvements I can look forward to getting upwards of twelve miles to the gallon possibly at some point.
Apparently driving something this sweet has its' price.
And I am okay with that.
You can't put a price on cute, after all.
In addition to my charming mode of transportaion, I am feeling pretty blessed to have somebody by my side that not only sees my vision of a dream car, but is happy to see what all needs to be tweaked, adjusted,tightened, polished, painted or sanded...yep, I am one lucky girl.
Over 10,000 cars on display all over Reno and Sparks, everywhere you looked.
I have experienced Hot August Nights many, many, many times, as I lived in Reno for over two decades, but for my Rock n' Roll buddy, it was a first.
There was more to see than cool old cars. There was live music.
This guy danced like nobody was watching.
I have pretty much decided that very nearly everyone that went to high school in the 60's or 70's is now an old car enthusiast on some level.
It makes sense. We've raised our families, the economy is improving, (slowly, but steadily) we've got the time. and it takes us back to some fond memories of cars we had, or our parents or grandparents had, back in the day. In some cases, the guys that have restored these cars have had them since they were in high school.Such was the case with this guy... he originally bought the car for $20 while in high school.
He took his dad for a test drive in it before he bought it and his dad said, "Honk the horn."
He did, and it was loud.
His dad then said, "Heck, the horn is worth twenty bucks! Buy it!" and the rest was, as they say, history. (Granted, it didn't look like this back then. It was a rust bucket jalopy that needed some TLC and clearly this was just the guy to provide it.)
If I knew then what I know now.
I would have hung on to my midnight blue '71 Superbeetle that I bought on payments through my Mom's credit union for $800 after high school.
Such charming little creatures.
You may know that my affection for chickens is not really new, as I shared here a few years back. I know I am not alone, as raising chickens has become pretty popular these days, even in urban settings.
If you pay attention, you'll see that they all have their own personalities. (Some share better than others, for example.)
We saw chickens and roosters everywhere...they were enjoying the beautiful lush landscape when we stopped at the lookout point...
...and we had fun watching them sunning themselves, poolside. It was even more fun to watch other people watching them cross the road.
According to some folks, the reason for the incredible number of these birds everywhere was due to hurricane Iniki, back in 1992, but other people say the Polynesians brought chickens to Hawaii in the canoe voyages, and they just kept multiplying.
However it is that these fluffy foul arrived, there's definitely no shortage of them anywhere you go on the island.
We also discovered that they develop a fondness for french fries at an early age when we stopped for lunch at Bubba's on our way to the airport.
Say it ain't so.
(Insert huge bewildered sigh here.)
(True confession here, there is a teeny-tiny part of me is incredibly homesick. Do you feel that way at the end of a trip? So sad for it to end, wondering where the time went, and longing for home at the very same moment?)
Okay, back to my story.
We rendezvoused at the baggage claim in Lihue last Wednesday at noon, and while we didn't have any sort of real agenda or schedule for our time on the island, my oldest-dearest-bestest gal-pal since fifth grade and I managed to make the absolute most out of every single second in the tropical paradise that is Kauai.
The sun, and the sand. The pool, and the steam room, the hot tub, the restaurants, and the quaint little towns nearby. We even experienced one real life up-close-and-nearly-personal celeb-siting.
(We saw Pierce Brosnan shopping for produce at the local Big Save grocery. We held back on taking selfies with our cell phones with him in the background, let him have his space, and his strawberries.)
We drank our share of grown up drinks with pineapple wedges adorning the rims, and scarfed down pulled pork sliders, and a gazillion several orders of chili pepper chicken wings (So yummy!) while discussing everything from grand babes to boyfriends, to career choices and challenges.
We laughed. A lot.
Not wanting to waste one precious minute, we woke up early and stayed up late, and spent all most of our time eating and drinking, or talking about when and what we would next be eating and drinking. (Melissa, our favorite poolside Nashville-born-and-raised-waitress, was never more than a nano-second away from filling our food and beverage needs with a smile and an adorable Tennessee drawl.)
We reclined on side by side chaise lounges close enough to the water to jump in and cool off when the sun hot. We debated the pros and cons of mix and match two piece swimsuits,(that seem to neither mix nor match) discussed and debated our assorted weight and exercise challenges,including, but not limited to, what to wear to Zumba.
We talked about our bucket lists, future vacation ideas, recipes, coffee makers, and quite literally, everything in between.
Today we will leave the island, and fly home. Back to daily life, and reality, with our phones full of photos to take us back to this magical escape at a moment's notice.
That little counter on the sidebar over there? The one that reads "Countdown to KAUAI...ALOHA"?
It seems that 2014 is going to be my year of travel.
Hawaii is my next travel destination.
I get to go to Kauai in late July with my best friend since 5th grade. Long days of sun, sand, girl-talk, and little umbrellas in our drinks.
I'm counting the days (as you can see by the counter over there on the sidebar...) and I am working on some fun little projects and surprises, for my gal-pal and for my Rock n' Roll Buddy for while I am away.
(You know how I love a project...and a deadline.)
I can hardly wait!
Thanks so very much for all of the valuable input on my truck restoration....the colorway for the reupholstering of the bench seat in particular.(Some of you agreed with the coral, some with the teal, and some of you even added the option of both accent colors!)
I have made a decision!
After much deliberation, I have decided to go with the simple midnight blue and white, without a third color for accent.
And I am completely happy and content with that decision!
While a little slice of my heart wants the pop of color (coral or teal) the (all be it tiny) portion of my brain knows that I am fickle, and I love change, so, going without a definite accent color allows for versatility at the car shows. (and if I am renting my truck for photo shoots and events such as weddings and parties.) This way I can go with pops of coral or teal as I wish, and also go with red for those patriotic times, like the 4th of July, which I am also quite partial to decorating things with. (Jeni, you pretty much sealed the deal for me!)
As for my business logo on the door, I realized after reading your two cents that a permanent painted door would be sweet, but incredibly limiting. After pondering your wise comments, I remembered that I have seen fabulous old trucks with wooden painted signs on the wooden side rails, and so that is what I will do. it will be easily removable, (just un-do a few screws) and I can have my cake and eat it too! Here is an example of the look with a doctored up photo of my last truck (since Old Blue doesn't currently have wooden side rails)
I think..no, I know that I am going to be over the moon with Old Blue when he comes home in a few weeks, and I will be sure to share pictures.
Thanks again for all of the input and ideas.
I shared a while back that my Rock and Rolly Buddy had helped me find a 1952 Chevy Pickup.
(It's my dream car.)
It has been sitting, oh-so-patiently, waiting for me to get the time (and the funds) to do a bit of maintenence, and beutify-ing on it. You know, stuff like getting the gas gauge and the heater to work.
And making the lights on the dashboard light up.
And changing the wipers from being vacuum powered to electric.
(With the amount of rain we get here, that was a gotta-do item on my list.)
We heard about a cool classic car parts store in Portland, and so we took a trip on over there one weekend. I bought a couple of new windows, and a sweet side mirror. (Side mirrors weren't stock items back in the 50's if you can beleive that.)
I ordered a replacement chrome rear bumper to complete the look I was after.
While we were wondering around the parts store, we found a fabulous original hood ornament.
(I knew I needed that too.)
Once I had the parts all saved up, bought and paid for, Old Blue sat a bit longer, while we searched for the right person (or place) to do the work.
That takes a lot of phone calls, and talking to other old car buffs, and looking online.
We ended up choosing a place just over the bridge, near the airport, called Carolina Kustoms. We liked their website. We called and talked to Lonnie. We liked him too.
We took Old Blue down to the shop.
Incredibly cool classic cars and rods in all stages of restoration, and the guys working there are covered in elaboarte body art. It was like something straight out of the Gas Monkey Garage on Fast and Loud on the Discovery Channel.
I knew right then that we had picked the right place.
Since Old Blue will be down there for a few weeks, I started looking into a few other things I want to change up, to make her more...me. I am going to get her seats reupholstered, and here is where I would love to hear your thoughts. I am picturing the bench seat done up in a navy blue, with white up across the top of the back, rather like this....
...and for an added custom touch, I am leaning towards a skinny, coral colored piping line between the white and navy blue.
(Doesn't that sound fun, and girly, and unexpected?)
My Rocker Man thinks navy with teal would be better. Here are the two colorways. Do prefer one over the other, or simply navy blue and white? What do you think?
One more thing I am also debating about is re-doing my "A Cottage Industry" Logo to be white lettering with a ribbon-like coral (or teal) colored banner cascading across it, and putting that on the doors. (Am I making sense here?)
I love old trucks with logos on them....
Do you think my logo on the doors is a good idea, or do you prefer a plain door? I'd really, truly love your thoughts on this!
(And you thought I was finally through sharing the Ohio trip.)
On our way back to hotel in Fairlawn on the day we went to Canton to the Pro Football Hall of fame, we took an exit to find a snack, and we discovered the sweet little community of Brecksville. Well, of course Ralph obliged me and we took a little drive around town.
We saw some charming homes, and lots of equally charming brick buildings.
(Very Stars Hollow, if you are old enough to remember watching Gilmore Girls.)
(...and you get a warm fuzzy feeling about Lauren Graham as Lorelei Gillmore before she was Sarah Braverman on Parenthood.)
I miss that show.
Oh yes, I was telling you about cozy little Brecksville.
I told Ralph I was pretty sure I could live there when we drove by the park in the center of town,(complete with gazebo...just like in Stars Hollow) and I saw this permanantly installed sign.
If you're ever in the Cleveland-Cantonarea, take an extra half hour and pull off I-77 and take a leisurley drive around. I think you'll be glad you did.
Okay, back to the big birthday trip.
Oh. You thought I was done?
We experienced every season, weather wise, while in the Cleveland and Canton area. We arrived to sun and a warm afternoon, followed by a sunny, slightly cooler day, then winds, and, finally, we woke up to snow! (I had to check the map, because I really felt like I was back in the biggest little city!)
(That really has nothing to do with this post, but just a little FYI.)
The fourth day of our fieldtrip around Ohio was planned as a Wild Card Day, for Ralph to choose whatever he might like to do, and of course I had provided a list of ideas.
In the end, he chose to go to the Amish Country.
(Squeal! My own personal secret first choice.)
Previously, I had thought the Amish were only in Pennsylvania, but I was wrong. There are several sweet little towns largely populated with Amish and Mennonite families, just outside of the Canton and Akron areas of Ohio.
We first made our way out to Homestead Furniture, an Amish owned and run store that supplies the American Embassies around the world with Amish made wood furniture. We met and chatted with a very nice Amish woman working in the store, and she gave us directions to the Amish and Mennonite visitors Center.
It’s fascinating to me how the ordinary becomes extraordinary when seen through a visitor’s eyes. Case in point, we were en route to the Amish Visitor Center when we saw a grocery store over on our right, and the parking lot was semi full of parked cars……and horse buggies.
An everyday sight to locals, and a snap-your-head-around-for-a-double-take-open-your-mouth-and-gawk moment for the three amigos from the Pacific Northwest. Seriously, we were so busy shouting out to each other in the car, “ohmygosh! There's a buggy! Look! They park like cars do! Wow! Wouldyalookatthat!”.
We stopped in at Der Bake Oven, aMennonite Bakery, (They lured us in with a sign that read "homemade soft serve ice cream.") and, oh my.
Notice the beadboard ceiling, and the cute ladders shelving? So charming.
The menu looked so good that we decided that we needed to stay for a late lunch.
The decor was cottage-farmhouse looking, with board and batten walls and ceilings, linen upholstered chairs, and some pretty creative lighting, and photos of their own baked goods with quotations as artwork. (Did you notice the colander lights above the menu?)
You know I had to take a bajillion pictures.
Loved. It. All.
Oh, and the food was delicious.
We chatted up the Amish sisters working the counter, and one of them was so kind as to even take a picture with the birthday boy.
I don't know if I mentioned it throughout the birthday saga, but there was one disclaimer, and that was that this trip was all about Ralph....
Unless we saw a thrift shop.
(I try to get my thrift on whenever and wherever we see a thrift store, thankyouverymuch.)
Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to add that disclaimer.
(Which Ralph is totally used to by this time.)
Here's why....One of the other kinda-cool-and-sort-of-surprising-to-me experiences from this trip was stopping in a thrift shop right there in Amish country, and finding Amish clothes, and bonnets for re-sale. (I have no idea why I found this so surprising. I think for some reason I figured that they since things were hand made, they never got donated, or I didn't think things like Amish Bonnets ever became truly "worn out".
In the end, I bought a sweet little all-hand-sewn Amish toddler sized dress and smock.
For three bucks.
That made my day.
I'm a little over-the-top like that.
Here's the thing you need to know. Once his birthday passed last year, he mentioned (more than once) that he didn't want a big party with black balloons and over-the-hill banners, with a cake all ablaze with a gajillion candles and people singing.
And, because I know him well, I knew he meant that.
Still, he knows me just as well, and so he knows that I struggle to not make every occasion, big or small, a major event.
Anyway, I was determined to make his milestone birthday a moment to rememeber forever, in a way he would love, and I had an idea, way back last fall.
I thought I would take him to a fantastic concert. A band or singer he hadn't seen and would be gobsmacked to know we had tickets for.
Only, I couldn't find such a thing.
And so, I moaned and groaned and whined quite a little bit, and thought and thought, and still, nothing came to mind.
And that's when one of my gal-pals at work ignited an idea that exploded into the perfect present for Mister I-don't-want-a-party.
I'll share her nearly-too-perfect-for-words idea tomorrow, but for today, I thought I would start by sharing the birthday boy's present's wrap job.
(Are you wondering what she came up with?)
So, let's talk gift wrap.
And making your presents extra special by customizing the wrap job.
My signature wrap is brown kraft paper, and then I embellish things from there. In this case, there were two very special packages to be wrapped.
I wrapped the first present in my kraft paper. I added black and white gingham ribbon, and shred. I layered torn paper streamers, and followed this with some black satin ribbon, along with a homemade tag that I knew would make him chuckle.
The smaller present came to me in a small white box, so all I did was find a perfect picture online. (I googled electric guitars in "Images" online and then added my own text in my cheesy print program, but sites like PicMonkey can do the same thing for you.)
Once I printed the picture, I mounted it on black paper and glued it to the top of the box. Once this was done, I turned the box upside down and added a ribbon and another great little homemade tag with a small clue as to what might be coming his way.
(Can you guess?)
As we were watching a re-run of the Goldbergs on TV last night, I was looking through iphoto on my Mac and I stumbled across a photo shoot I did of a birthday cake I had made for my daughter. My mouth started to water, and I suddenly was overcome with the incredible urge to bake.
Only I was too tired at that moment.
Do you do that? Get all inspired to do something you love (bake, clean, rearrange things, start that book you've had on the night table for three months, or whatever.)when you're already in your jammies and robe, and too tired to actually get off of the sofa and do that thing. (unless it's to get a bowl of almond pistachio ice cream.)
I know that I have the same number of hours in my day as Thomas Edison, and Oprah, but I never seem to be able to get everything accomplished that I want to. Life is just so...full.
(in a good way, but still....full.)
I keep thinking, if I just had three more hours, oh! The things I could do.
Baking another coconut cake would be on the top of the list.
Remember the dream truck we got nearly a year ago, last spring?
A thing of beauty, it was.
Such a fabulous shade of vintage sage green.
It was perfect in every way, all original.
Which sadly, turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
The old school brakes and lack of power steering made for more than a few hair-raising moments on the road.
My Rock n' Roll Buddy gave me one driving lesson, and well, let's just say that there was a lot of dashboard grabbng, and hollering, and tears were shed.
(And that was just Ralph.)
We won't even go into how upset I was.
So, being as driving the truck turned out to be less than ideal (and completely out of my comfort zone.) we came to the conclusion that what I needed was an old classic truck that had been updated.
Modified with power steering.
And disc brakes.
And so, we sold the wonderful sage green truck (and doubled our money, thankyouverymuch.) and I began searching dilegently online for it's replacement.
Finally, after months of searching online, and a few trips around town to look at potential contenders, I found one on craigslist.
After emailing with the owner, and having him send oodles of additional photos of the truck, I decided this just might be the one. We called and spoke with the owner, and at this point I learned a valuable lesson.
The lesson is this: Pay close attention to the location of the item your inquiring about. (unless you like road trips.)
As we reached an agreement on the time we would meet, and at this point the guy asked where we would be coming from.
"Camas," I said.
"Where's that?", he replied.
(Suddenly it occurred to me that I was just assuming the truck was in our area, because it was listed on the Portland craigslsist.)
It turned out that the perfect truck of my dreams was about three hours away, just a few miles from Seattle.
Fortunately, Ralph and I do like road trips. (and it didn't hurt that Ralph has family up in that area.)
We loaded up, and off we went.
We met the guy and the truck in a bank parking lot and inspected the Seahawk blue classic 1952 Chevy Pickup over, inside and out. It looked like a million bucks, (Complete with that adorable sun visor across the top!)and had all the modern day features I was after.
It was even prettier in person than the photos boasted.
It had been well worth the months of online searching, and the long drive.
I fell in love right there in that bank parking lot all over again. This truck is here to stay.
Don't hate me because my bag is adorable.
(It is, isn't it?!)
My Rock n' Roll Buddy surprised me with this fabulous-and-oh!-so-me Kate Spade bag for my birthday last month.
I had seen it the season it came out, and couldn't justify the purchase with my budget. Time passed and I kept my eye on the bag on ebay, but still couldn't justify it.
I was beyond thrilled to unwrap it, and love, love, L-O-V-E all the oohs and ahs, and squeals of delight it draws whenever I carry it. (My favorite spot so far was when I set it on my harstylist's counter while getting my hair-did. So many kindred spirits, lusting after my yummy bag!)
Could anything be more perfect for me?
The pro football playoff games have been extra exciting this year for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest. (Go Hawks!) Last Sunday's games had us all on the edge of the sofa, and we are now anticipating an even more exciting game this Sunday.
Not only do I like watching the game (and my Rock n' Roll Buddy's touchdown dances when the Seahawks score) but I like planning the menu, and setting the stage for half-time snacks.
I make team cupcake flags by googling the teams names and looking at "Images" rather than web pages. I copy and past the log into a word document and make the images the size I will want for a cupcake flag (smaller than a postage stamp) I print them, cut them out, and then glue them to toothpicks. Voila'!
Here's a picture from last Sunday, when we had friends gathered to cheer for their respective favorite teams that made it to the playoffs. It was as easy as that.........unless I ask the sewing queen to help, and she glues the Saints logo on upside down.
We got things corrected last Sunday when this happened, and all was good in Seahawks territory.
Oh yes, football season has created a whole new frontier in my entertaining world, and I'm loving that part of it as much as the games. This Sunday's final playoff game is gonna be huge.
Now you say, "Hi Tracey."
(Anyway, that's how I picture it would work.)
Are you surprised to see a new post here at last? (You are. You had all but given up, seeing that last Weekly Words To Live By post there for...weeks.)
I know. It's been a while.
And I had such grand plans for 2014. I had even planned to create and use a blog post calendar, so I could stay ahead of the curve with my holiday ideas and such.
But then, life is so full. I'd love to blame it on the fact that my days start early and end late, and then I looked at my calendar and it was officially mid-January...but that's really only an eensy-weensy part of it.
I'm gonna have to come clean and blame my unplanned sabbatical on Pinterest. After a long busy day at work, and then home to cook supper, and whatever all else, I seem to have fallen into a nasty pattern of plopping down on the sofa, fully intending to blog, only to be sucked into Pinterest-land.
One click leads to another and the next thing I know, the Bachelor is ending and I have 54 new pins.
(The God's truth is that I have well over 6,000 pins on 94 Boards, and that even boggles my mind.)
There must be a twelve step program out there somewhere for girls like me. (I can check tonight, someone may have pinned one.)
The good news is that life is so full, and so busy, and...well, so good these days, that I can't get everything fit everything I want to do into my day.
Today I am mailing my homemade Christmas cards. I realize that I am dreadfully late slightly behind the mailing curve on them, and the ridiculous thing is that, for the past two Christmas seasons, I have used the adorable Santa hat photos of my grands as the inspiration of our Christmas cards.
The photo shoot (when my son and his family were visiting!) was in November.
As I said, life is busy and good, and full of happy. Next year I plan to get on these sooner!
Just watch me.