Saturday, January 31, 2009

The incident

The boxes were stacked high in the back of the truck, riding along as the truck traveled down the highway at 60 miles per hour. Suddenly, the truck hit a bump, and a box tumbled out. As it hit the pavement, it exploded, its contents scattering along the highway.

My dad and his friend stopped the truck, and my dad played Frogger across the busy highway to gather the contents of the box. They had been bringing home some boxes they were storing in a building they had just sold.

The box that had tumbled out and been destroyed was the box that had contained all my AWANA stuff - pins, shirts, grand prix cards, and awards. My Citation award.

It's a good thing that this wasn't the most important thing I gained from my 14 years in AWANA. But it's still kind of sad.

Creations by Rachael

Okay, I had to put a post about this on my craft blog. There is an AMAZING deal going on from one of the designers, Rachael, that I contacted for permission to use her stuff for commercial use. She did give me permission to use her stuff for Blogs by Mandy (which raises money for my BikeMS ride, by the way!)

For only $30, you can buy her entire collection of kits! I just got more than $100 worth of digital scrapbooking kits (which she gave me permission to use on your blogs) for only $30! PLUS, I get to go back at the end of February and get all her new stuff, then get a free kit every month for the rest of the year! WHAT A DEAL! Plus, it goes to help out her mom, who is struggling to pay her mortgage payments while on disability after several strokes.

I love this designer! Buy her stuff here!

Update - I just finished downloading everything and ended up with 2,054 files. That's about a penny per file, AND there's still more to come!! WOW!

Friday, January 30, 2009

A blog I designed for one amazing lady

One Amazing Blog
My first dabbling in "professional" blog design - Tiffany's AMAZING blog about her AMAZING boys!

If you'd like a blog re-design, blog header, blog button, or something else for your blog, check out this post about how you can get one for donating to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on behalf of my BikeMS ride, which will hopefully keep people who have MS, like my mom, out of wheelchairs and such! Win, win!

Blogs by Mandy

Grab the Blogs for a Cause button for your blog!

Project 365

Okay, so I've done a month of Project 365 (haven't missed a day yet!), and, since I am the expert authority on pretty much everything, I thought I'd give you all a little review of it so far.

  • I really like that it forces me to take more pictures, especially pictures that represent our day.
  • Because I'm taking more pictures, I'm learning more about my camera, and hopefully that means I'll be taking better pictures as the year goes on.
  • I'm also more inclined to carry my little camera (I have two - one good big one and one little not-as-good one that fits well in my purse), and therefore I'm less likely to miss shots of good stuff that happens during the day.
  • Most of my friends know that I'm doing Project 365, so when we take a picture together, a lot of them ask me whether they get to be the picture of the day. I find that amusing.
  • I'm forced to write a story every day about little things that happen, when I might not have written about them before.
  • I get comments on my Project 365 blog that make me feel special or make me laugh.
  • I'm ending up with more pictures of random crap than I probably need. Like the pickle jar.
  • There are nights that I remember that I don't have a picture of the day, then have to wander around the house with my camera wondering what to take a picture of. That usually leads to a picture of the night's dinner.
  • I'm not great at posting it on time, although thanks to Blogger's nice little set-your-own-date-and-time settings, I can lie my little bum off and pretend that I posted on time.
  • I have yet to decide how I want to scrapbook them. Digital? Kit? Freestyle? Decisions, decisions.
  • Less of the "cute little stories" are going on and more are going on I guess the moral of the story is that if you like my cute little day-to-day stories, you're going to have to follow that blog too.
  • I have a hard time picking just one picture of the day. That's why there's usually more than one per post. But don't worry, I don't have as many archived to scrapbook as I do posted. I try to stick to one [or two] for the "to-scrapbook" folder.
Overall, I think it's a good project, and I'm really having fun with it. It's not too late to start! Just do a Project 365 from February 2009 to February 2010!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Starbucks Sumatra Blend (Decaf)

I walked over to my local Starbucks on Friday, and since Jack and I were almost out of coffee at home, I decided to get a new bag of coffee for home.

"We really liked the Christmas blend," I told my friendly neighborhood Barista. "Do you have something like that?"

They immediately recommended the Sumatra blend, so I told them I'd like a bag of decaf. They mistakenly ground the regular, and when I realized their mistake and told them it was fine, I'd take the regular, they insisted on re-doing it, telling me they would use the mistakenly-ground coffee, and not to worry about it. I love my friendly neighborhood Baristas.

The Sumatra Blend is really good! Here's how Starbucks describes it:

"Sumatra has a full, syrupy body with virtually no acidity – so the coffee’s intensity lingers in your mouth. The concentrated spicy, herbal notes and earthy aroma are the telltale signatures of this well-loved coffee. The island of Sumatra produces 70% of Indonesia’s income and is home to over 38 million people."

Who knew Sumatra was an island?

Good coffee. Even better Baristas.

Not Me Monday!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Don't let anybody tell you that I fed my husband and myself this at 10:00 last night:

And if I had, I certainly would not have grabbed pieces of the scrambled eggs out of the skillet with my fingers and dipped them in the gravy, eating them while the pancakes and biscuits were cooking. Not me!

Jack and I did not discover a big yellow spot in the middle of our bed one night this week - a spot that certainly was not from our dog, who doesn't occasionally urinate on beds and blankets. That big yellow spot was not dry - if it were, there would be a possibility that we had slept under a puddle the night before. And we wouldn't do that. That's something we would have noticed right away.

I am never irritated with co-workers (*cough*Joel*cough*) who don't watch TV shows they've recorded within a few days of airing. I don't need to talk about LOST with my work friends, and it is not annoying when one of the friends "can't talk about it yet."

I do not adore MckMama for her sweet comments to me via Twitter, her blog, and my blog. I'm defiantly not at all star-struck by her when I receive one - for crying out loud, she's just a regular wife and mom!

My husband did not buy a Playstation3 yesterday, and he did not spend most of the day playing his new game on it. I did not walk into the room at one point to find him simultaneously playing the PS3 game and a computer game.

And finally, I am not using "Not Me Monday" to advertise the fact that I'll be riding a bike 150 miles from Frisco to Fort Worth to help end Multiple Sclerosis, which my mom lives with. I also won't mention that I'm raising money for my ride by re-designing blogs, and that you should join my team or, you know, if you're too lazy to do that, donate to my ride.

What did you not do today?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sketch Book

This was a fun weekend project!

I LOVE Scrapbooks Etc. magazine. Unless I get into some serious financial trouble, I'm pretty sure I will always have a subscription to this one. I save all of them, because they're awesome for ideas and scrap-lifting. I especially like their "Made in Minutes" section, in which they have really easy-to-put-together layouts. The problem is, I have so many magazines at this point (3 years' worth), that it's hard to decide which to grab when I want some inspiration.

One of the cool things they do in the magazine is show sketches of the layouts they've designed. This weekend, my project was to organize my favorite sketches into a notebook that I could easily reference when I needed inspiration.

I got this notebook at Target. The thing I liked about it was that it has dividers, so I could organize the sketches by number of pictures in the layout. It also has pockets, where I can keep extra cut-outs from the magazine that I'd like to reference or sketches that I haven't had a chance to adhere to the page yet.

I started by going through each magazine and cutting out the sketches that I liked, organizing them by number of photos per layout. I also labeled them with the page number and magazine issue so that I could look at the original page in the magazine.

This part is optional - I also embellished the front and back of the notebook. I figured since I would be looking at it all the time while I was scrapbooking, it might as well be pretty and make me feel creative.

Then, I simply adhered the cut-out sketches to the notebook pages in order of number of photos on the page, adding any extra notes about the layout (I added a "+" for layouts with bigger-than-4x6-pictures on them and a "*" for my favorite layouts).

...and Viola! I have an easy-to-reference, easy-to-keep-up-with notebook, so I don't always have to come up with my own layouts or thumb through a ton of back-issues of my magazines!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

20.5 Random Things about Mandy

Okay, so Erica tagged me in a note wanting me to list 25 random things about myself, and Chris tagged me in a note wanting me to list 16 things, so I'll split the difference and list 20.5 random things.

1) I fell in love with my taekwondo instructor when I was 17 years old.

2) I straighten my hair every morning even though it's already straight, and even though I wish it would hold a curl, I do enjoy the fact that it's low maintenance and frizz-free.

3) I can easily spend days scrapbooking without even noticing that any time has passed.

4) I really do like holding babies, but I don't really know what to do with them once somebody hands me one. And I make them cry.

5) I get emotionally invested in fictional characters enough to be excited for them when something good happens to them, but not enough to cry when something bad happens to them. I have no soul.

6) I love working where I work, but sometimes I don't like it.

7) I have a girl-crush on Taylor Swift. A big one. I like her an embarrassing amount. An "I play her CD in my car over and over and over and over" amount.

8) I want a slice, but I can't justify spending the money, because I already have a wishblade.

9) I can't touch my eye. If my eyes go bad, I will have to wear glasses, because contacts are out of the question.

10) I don't particularly like tomatoes but I eat them anyway because they have a lot of nutritional pluses.

11) Sweetgum balls make me think of my husband.

12) My dog, Maggie, likes to pee on beds and blankets. I do not like that about her.

13) I'm an over-achiever and perfectionist, especially when it comes to crafting. If I could do something the simple-way, I choose the more complex, prettier way.

14) I hate olives. I've tried them over and over and I still hate them.

13) Every morning, before I leave for work, I give Jack a kiss and he groggily tells me to "have a most wondrous day." It's one of the best things about my day.

14) I love Diet Citrus Green Tea and Blue Poweraide, but I do not like soda.

15) I really like cemeteries.

16) Caffeine makes me jittery but sometimes I forget that, drink three cups of coffee in the morning, and get crazy shaky all day, like today.

17) The Dallas skyline makes me smile every time I see it.

18) I have had 12 teeth pulled. Needless to say, going to the dentist does not bother me.

19) When I was little, I wanted to be a nurse. I have no idea what I was thinking. Apparently nursing school is brutal.

20) I like to shower in the dark. But I don't like to get dressed right after showering.

20.5) I want babies. [the other .5 is that I don't want them yet.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Faith that can move mountains

Tonight in council time, Tiffany, our T&T Commander, was giving a lesson to the kids on righteousness using Romans 3:21-28, which says this:

21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

After explaining what a few key words in the passage were, like "law," "justification," and "righteousness," she asked the kids where righteousness came from.

One kid raised his hand and answered, though not with the answer Tiffany was looking for.

"No, that's not it," Tiffany said, gently.

Next to me, one of the little girls in my group was re-reading the passage, trying to find the answer.

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe," she read out loud to herself.

Tiffany heard what she had said but couldn't pinpoint who had said it.

"Who said that?" she asked, excited that one of the kids had said the answer.

Nobody answered.

"Who said the 'f' word?" she asked, referencing the word "faith" that she had been looking for.

The leaders all stifled a laugh and all the kids' eyes widened. Tiffany blushed and backpedaled.

"Oh! You know that's not what I meant!" she exclaimed, flustered.

One more reason we love our Tiffany!!

A "good" case of MS

This is a post I wrote for our Team HP blog that I thought I'd post here too.


I'm riding for my mom. I know you hear that a lot when you ride Bike MS. "I'm riding for my brother..." "I'm riding for my dad..." Knowing someone with MS is how we get the inspiration to train as long as we do, to beg for donations from as many people as we do, and ultimately, to actually exert ourselves for two days straight, making ourselves sore and miserable for days afterward.

Sometimes, if you're unlucky enough to have multiple sclerosis but blessed enough to still have the ability to ride, you can say "I'm riding for myself." My mom is one of the ones who rides for herself. This is because the medicine she's been on for the last 14 years (you know, the medicine that came out of the research that costs lots of money) has been effective for her. According to her last MRI, her MS had not progressed in eight years. Eight years!

So my mom can walk. My mom can run. My mom can do taekwondo (she's a black belt). And, with the help of the battery-operated little motor on her bike for the hard hills, my mom can ride the MS150. All of us realize what a big deal that is for somebody with MS, and we try very hard not to take that for granted.

So what does having this disease mean for her? While I can't speak for exactly how she's feeling all the time, I can tell you what I've seen as I've grown up with a parent with MS.

I've seen the leg that she cannot always control spasm over and over, many times waking and keeping her up at night.

I've seen her struggle to lift things that should be easy for her, and I've seen her need help with things that others do with ease.

I've literally had to drag her through the streets of Dallas as she tried to finish the last bit of the Susan G. Kolmen 5K when she just ran out of energy.

I've watched her panic (so many more times than I can count) as she all-of-the-sudden realized that she had to go to the bathroom and wasn't sure if she would have time to get there. (Because the MS causes the nerve signals to the bladder and the muscles surrounding the opening to the bladder to be blocked or delayed, she doesn't always know when she has to go until it's almost too late, and at that point she may or may not have the muscle control to keep from wetting her pants.) She's embarrassed about mortified by that thought.

When my dad was out of town, I've watched her sit quietly in the kitchen for many, many minutes, holding a needle over a spot on her leg, trying to get up the nerve to give herself the shot she needed that night. It's hard for her every single time.

I've seen her fall when her legs were suddenly tingly or asleep when they shouldn't have been.

I've seen the bruises on her arms, legs, stomach, and buttocks (okay, so I didn't see the ones on her bum, but I assume they're there too) from the betaseron shots she has to get every other night. I've seen her choose shirts with sleeves over sleeveless shirts during the summer because she's embarrassed about the way her arms look with the bruises.

I've seen her exhausted after a normal day of work (for anyone else), and sometimes I've seen signs of depression, all of these symptoms of the MS.

But most of all, I've seen her care for others more than herself. I've seen her downplay her own multiple sclerosis because she knows that it could be so much worse for her. I've seen her carry herself with dignity as this wrecking ball of a disease tries to steal it from her.

I ride for my mom. Who do you ride for?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Me Monday!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

One night this week, I absolutely did not shave one and only one leg in the shower. I am not so absent-minded that I would forget to shave one of my legs! My husband did not laugh at me about this one.

I did not waste an entire crock pot of chili by leaving it out all night (it had meat in it).

I did not set up camp (for eating, scrapbooking, and blogging) at my new dining room table the day I got it, and I have not stayed here since.

I did not take so long between laundry loads that I was insanely excited about the parade of clean laundry that I forgot I even had.

I also did not use our ladder (which was not still set up in our room from when we installed the TV several weeks ago) to dry the insane amount of underwear that came out of the washer after the aforementioned laundry day.

I was not shocked by just how much underwear I have (and I actually wasn't even out of clean underwear before doing the laundry!).

And I absolutely did not just post a picture of my underwear on the world wide web. Some of my co-workers read this blog, for crying out loud!

I did not lock myself out of my gas tank because I was too stupid to realize that it had a lock in the first place. Never me. Not me at all.

And on that note, I didn't get myself lost (with a GPS) about eight times on that same trip.

What did you not do this week?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Layout!

Hey Google Reader/RSS friends! Check out the new layout! Happy Valentine's Day!

One album in one day!

Okay, so I absolutely love the new max album kits from Creative Memories. I used the 12x12 Travel Max Kit for my honeymoon album, and I love how it looks and how easy it all was - I started and finished this album in one day! The 32 pages that the kit comes with are actually layered (paper on top of paper, not just printed with the patterns), like I would actually do if I started from scratch! I love them!!

All I have left to do are titles and journaling (and the journaling has been written; it just needs to be formatted and printed)! I can't believe I finished a 12x12 album in 5 hours!

This kit is definitely worth the $42. I just hope they come out with more soon!

Ps - Creative Memories also has Power Palettes, which also all coordinate with each other and go together quite easily if you're looking for more coordinating papers.

Anybody have any easy scrapbooking kits that you love?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Behind every working woman is an enormous pile of unwashed laundry

I was doing laundry today (shocker, I know!), and had resolved to not only wash and dry it, but to also fold/hang up/put away all the clothes instead of simply putting them back into a basket on my floor and living out of that for the next several weeks (even bigger shocker!!). I was very proud of myself.

As I was hanging up and folding the whites, I found out that all the socks had buddies when they came out of the dryer!! That was the first time I've ever seen that happen. It was spectacular - like a total eclipse or a shooting star.

Another benefit to hanging up the clothes instead of simply fishing them out of the basket like numbers in a game of BINGO every morning was that I got to see a great little parade of clean clothes that I kind of forgot I had! After hanging up all my white spaghetti-strapped tank tops that I wear under my other shirts (apparently I have about 9. Who knew?), I brought them into the living room, where Jack was sitting, to show him.

"Look, Jack!" I exclaimed enthusiastically. "Look how many tank tops I have!"

He looked a little confused, but knew at this point it was easier to humor me than it was to ask questions.

"Cool, sweetie," he replied, indifferently.

"Laundry is kind of exciting!" I said. "This is just like Christmas!" 

"That's because you only do it once a year," he replied, sweetly.

Today's amazing find

Today's amazing find comes from Peggy at Made by Me - I stumbled upon her blog via Google Reader and found this post featuring a super-cute cupcake card, in which she actually made "frosting" for it!! Here's how she said she did it:

"I mixed equal amounts of flour and salt with a tiny bit of water to make a runny paste and then added a drop of reinker for colour to make the frosting for the cupcake. After I added it to the paper I heated it with my heat gun from the back until it looked dry and then from the front to puff it up."

Brilliant!! Bravo, Peggy. I can't wait to try that one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mandy does Dallas... but not the way Debbie did it

Last night, I got a call from my dear friend Brittany, with whom I went to high school and college. She was in Dallas just for the night on a business trip (aren’t we grown up?) She’s now living in Houston, which is not as close to Dallas as I would like.

Even though I had, in fact, scarfed down half of a cold bacon cheeseburger (leftover from my lunch) in the car on the way home from work [rationalization for that: I had to stop by the grocery store on the way home and you should never shop hungry!], when she asked me to meet her for dinner in Dallas, I jumped at the opportunity to visit with her (and, well, eat a second dinner).

She was staying at the big Sheraton right down town; you know, in the middle of all the big shiny buildings. Even though I live relatively close to the big shiny buildings, I rarely actually visit them. As a result, when I got downtown, even though I actually took the correct exit and made it to her building right away, I had to go around the block about four times before successfully picking her up because of the confusing one-way streets and my lack of parking confidence (Can I just pull over here beside this big building and stop? Do I have to find a parking spot? Is somebody going to hit me from behind if I stop in the middle of this lane? Do these jeans make my butt look big?)

I finally got her into the car, and because we didn’t really know where to eat in the area, we decided to go to Braums for dessert before dinner (a benefit of being a grown-up – take that, Mom), since she had been Braums-deprived since moving to College Station and Houston (there aren’t any south of Corsicana, as we found out on our adventure two years ago that made Braums special to us in the first place). Thanks to my handy-dandy GPS, we found one within four miles of the hotel and were on our merry way.

After we ate our gloriously inexpensive two scoops of ice cream and visited for an hour or two in the dingy Braums store (it’s cheap for a reason, people), we debated about where to go for “real food,” since we hadn’t really seen any restaurants in which we were all that interested on the way.

Finally, we did rock-paper-scissors to decide whether we’d just go back up to the counter and visibly irritate the teenager behind the counter again by ordering something else (it’s cheap for a reason, people), or go to a Mexican restaurant down the road that we didn’t know much about, and therefore could either be a delicious diamond in the rough or something to give us horrible food poisoning for the next several days.

I was assigned the shady Mexican restaurant in the game of rock-paper-scissors, and she was assigned Braums. After a lot of explaining that she would count to three and then say “shoot,” which is when I was supposed to “shoot,” I still did it wrong (“shot” on three) and she laughed at me. On our second attempt, I “won,” meaning that we should go to the shady Mexican place down the road for dinner. Apparently that decision made us actually decide what we really wanted, because that’s when we decided that really, we’d rather just stay here and have burger. Girls are fickle that way.

After the junior burger and small fries (Mom was right, eating ice cream before dinner really does ruin your appetite…as will a half a burger before the ice cream), we decided to head over to Starbucks for a little bit nicer (cleaner) place to visit. On the way, however, a CVS caught Brittany’s eye and she requested that we stop there and buy a hairbrush, because she had forgotten hers (I picture her looking through her bag when she arrived at her hotel room, not finding it, then breaking out in “Oh where is my hairbrush” in true Larry-the-Cucumber style, but I’m sure that’s not really what she did). Not-so-surprisingly, we are easily distracted by anything and everything, so we ended up spending a little more time there, and I found a package of bubble-wrap that I needed to wrap up and store the rest of our Christmas stuff. Score.

By the time we had finished there and got back into my car, I decided that I’d better get some gas, because the light was on and I was really hoping to actually get home later that night without breaking down (I know, I’m an over-achiever). In that spirit, I pulled in to the nearest gas station, then thought for a minute before getting out of the car.

“You know,” I said to Brittany, “it would be nice if I could find a gas station with a car wash too, since my car’s pretty filthy.”

Also wanting to kill some time while we visited with nowhere really to go, she agreed to ride along in my quest to find a gas station with a car wash. I told the GPS to search for gas stations, and we drove around to each one it listed, finding gas station after gas station sans car wash tunnel. Drat.

Finally, I found one in a shady part of town that wasn’t “touchless” (I didn’t even know the ones with brushes even existed any more!) Plus it was unlit, but whatever, we found our car wash. I pulled into the gas station pump area to get the gas first, locking Brittany in the car as I got out, since it was a less than stellar neighborhood. Got to keep her safe, you know. Not all of us are black belts.

I went to open the door to the gas tank, but it was stuck. I pushed where I always do, but with no success. Brittany got out of the car when she heard me struggling.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“I can’t get the door to the gas tank open!” I told her, as I pushed on the side of the tank door that I always push on to open it. “I swear I’ve done this before! And it always opens!”

She and I both tried to open it, and nothing. Wouldn’t budge. I tried using my credit card for leverage to pry it open. Still didn’t come open. We pushed and pulled until we were completely at a loss as to what to do and had left fingerprints all over both sides of the small useless door. We looked at each other.

“Do you want to go back to the QT we were at earlier?” I asked her. “It’s better-lit and we probably won’t get shot or stabbed over there while we try to figure it out,” I said. She agreed, and we headed back to the QT, which had cheaper gas anyway (but no car wash), and at this point, a clean car was the least of our worries.

When we pulled into the QT, I handed her the manual to try to figure out what was wrong (who needs a manual to open the door to their gas tank? Me, apparently), and I went back out to the door to try to pry it open once again. At this point Brittany was laughing pretty hard at me and my lack of ability to actually operate my own car. (Did I mention that it’s pretty new?)

I grabbed my badge from work, which was slightly thicker than the credit card and therefore would pry it a little better, and went after it with that. I got the corners of the door a little farther out, but it still wouldn’t open. I got back into the car with Brittany, and we poured over the owners manual.

”To open the fuel filler lid, unlock the fuel filler lid lock by using one of the following operations, then push the right-hand side of the lid. 1) Press the UNLOCK button on the keyfob once. 2) Insert the key into the door lock cylinder and turn the door key cylinder to the rear of the vehicle. 3) Press the power door lock switch to the UNLOCK position.”

I stopped reading and looked at Brittany in stunned silence. As I rose from the car, I pressed the unlock button on the driver’s side door, unlocking all the doors in the car. I then walked over to the gas tank door, pushed the right side with one finger, opening it effortlessly.

We erupted into a fit of laughter as we contemplated the extreme stupidity of the situation, got our gas, and finally went on our way. I’m glad I didn’t damage the gas tank door with all the prying. There’s something about Brittany and me together that just invites idiotic adventure.

On the way back to Brittany’s hotel, I got lost only once more. That is, until after I dropped her off and mistakenly entered 45 South, which would send me to Houston (which is not where I live) instead of North Dallas (where I do live). But hey, at least I had enough gas in the tank to get me there.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Starbucks Vanilla Rooibos Latte

Today I tried another of the Tazo tea drinks from Starbucks - this time it was a hot Vanilla Rooibos Latte. They discribe it as "a naturally caffeine-free infusion of botanicals that unites South African rooibos, Tahitian vanilla, sweet spices and freshly steamed milk."

Although it's a little sweet for my tastes and I have no idea what South African rooibus is, it's quite enjoyable and I would recommend it if you like sweet drinks.

Oh yeah, and my friend Joel got the London Fog Latte (another hot Tazo tea thing), and he said he didn't like it all that much. After hearing this, Joanna, my other work friend, said "oh, so it's not your cup of tea?"

Then we laughed for about ten minutes.

It doesn't take much with us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Me Monday!

It's Monday!! Check out for way better blog entries than mine.

I was not a little heartbroken when I saw this picture because the same group that was at this wedding was the group that completely trashed our getaway vehicle, and instead of "Just Married" on the back, like I'd always pictured and dreamed about, I got "Bang that drum, Boom boom boom." That does not still make me sad when I think about it. It's been a year, for crying out loud. Plus I am happy for that bride (I actually am happy for that bride, who was beautiful by the way, and definitely deserved a beautiful getaway car too).

I do not love Taylor Swift despite out-of-tune live performances, even though I completely hate Rascall Flatts for that.

Tonight, for dinner, I did not have Fritos and bean dip, an orange, and the rest of the pickles that were in the jar. I eat far-more balanced meals than that!!

I have not had baskets of clean laundry sitting on my closet floor for weeks, and I do not grab something out of one of them each morning rather than hanging them up.

I did not make another baby cry on Sunday, when his mother was nice enough to let me hold him. I am not beginning to think that all babies hate me.

I do not time my workouts to coordinate with prime-time television shows. I do not need an interesting TV show to help me forget that I'm actually working out.

I did not put the ladder in my closet to get up to the top to get a dress, discover that there were too many baskets of clean laundry on the floor to open it, and then just decide to lean it up against the lower racks of clothes and do a kind of balancing act to get up to the top of the closet. I would never do something that dangerous!

What did you not do today?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The exciting and glamorus life of Jack and Mandy

Yep... this is what we do for fun in the evening. Don't be too jealous.

Enjoy - this is "Maggie catch."

By the way, when I was watching this a second ago, Maggie jumped out of her bed when she heard her toy squeak, and has been going crazy since. She's still up and looking up at us, wondering why we won't give her the toy that she just heard "us" squeak.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Amazing. Wonderful. Hilarious. Fantastic. Can't say enough great things about this. 

It's a 45-minute internet-only musical mini-movie with Neil Patrick Harris playing the lovable wanna-be villain, and it's great. I don't know how I missed this for so long. Watch it here for free now or read about it here.

Thanks for telling me about this, Jamie!!!

Potbelly Sandwich Works

Jack and I have LOVED Potbelly Sandwiches since the first time we had them, which was last year when I started working here. There's a Potbelly really close to here, so my co-workers and I go to lunch there a lot. Here are some great things about it:
  • Cheap but really good food - sandwiches are all $5
  • Really friendly employees
  • Live music at some locations, which is kind of cool
  • Yummy shakes and malts, if you're into that kind of thing
  • Online ordering so you can just walk right up to the counter and pick up your food instead of waiting in line like all those other suckers.
Today, when we picked up our lunch, we failed to count sandwiches before we left, so lo and behold, mine was missing. I headed back up there and told them I had been missing my sandwich, and the girl working was like "I'm so sorry! It's right here! I've never messed up an order before!" And then she gave me two free sandwich coupons. It was awesome.

You are forgiven, Potbelly. You are forgiven.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Really, Kroger-brand Special K?

This is how much you put in the bag?? Half? It's not half the price of the name-brand Special K, and I'm pretty sure they'd give me a full bag.

Brand new box, people. Brand new box.

Wedding Video

It's about time, right? March 22, 2008 - this was our wedding ceremony. Every time I watch it I'm just so impressed with Kyle, our pastor, and his incredible sermon. It couldn't have been more perfect.

In two parts, because youtube requires 10 minutes or less.

Part one:

Part two:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Tonight during game time at AWANA, Mr. Keith (game director) had the kids from my team (green team) and the red team line up along a big rope, which was outstretched diagonally across the game square, to start a game of tug-of-war.

I was pumped. I was coaching the kids and cheering them on as they picked up the rope.

"You've SO got this! That red team is going DOWN! Look at 'em, all weak and scrawny over there," I told them [okay, I didn't really say that]. I was all excited about the victory we would surely be celebrating soon after my team kicked red-team-butt [and we also don't say "butt" in AWANA].

As they wiggled and pulled on the rope while they waited for the game to start, Keith was having trouble lining up the center flag with the center of the floor, and so he asked them to give him a little slack in the rope.

Being 8-years-old and excited, they let up a little, but for the most part, they kept tugging.

"Guys, you need to stop pulling," I told them, calmly.

They continued to pull and Keith continued to struggle.

"GREEN TEAM!" I said, more forcefully. "Stop pulling now!"

Just then, Keith must have gotten the center where he wanted, because just as I said "stop pulling now," he said "GO!"

The red team heard this signal to start and suddenly yanked the rope. As if in slow motion, my very obedient team (who was now hanging loosely onto the rope without pulling at all) was jerked forward, all ten of them of them face-planting simultaneously. It was surreal to watch ten kids unexpectedly completely eat it, landing in a huge heap.

Slowly, they untangled themselves from each other and the floor, moaning and rubbing their faces, which had just been slammed onto the floor. After I saw that they were all just fine, I had a really good laugh with the other leaders.

I made ten 8-year-old children simultaneously face-plant today. What did you accomplish today?

Goin' to the chapel...

Since the Facebook Nazis removed this from Facebook, I'm going to post it here instead. Ha!

This is us getting ready for the wedding. Not a great video, now that I watch it again, but hey, whatever. I'm working on getting the ceremony up on youtube too (if anybody cares about that, and I definitely don't expect anybody to).

Update: Apparently there are youtube nazis too (actually it's Warner Music Group that's the nazi). I own a license to this song! I should be able to use this for my own video, for goodness sake! How stupid.

Let me just say that I never ever ever steal music or any other intellectual property. That's right, I never download music illegally. I just don't. I believe it's stealing. So when I use a song in a video, let it go, for goodness sake. I'm not the one you should be worrying about. Plus, this really should be covered under Fair Use. It's streaming, for crying out loud!

Does anybody have a nice singing voice that can record "Goin' to the Chapel" for me so I don't get hit with copyright stuff from WMG? I'd just love to still put this video up [with that song in the background]... just because I should be able to. If I'm not using their recording they shouldn't be able to remove it.

Anyway, there's a way to replace the audio and I found an approved song that doesn't suck, but it's erroring out. I'll try again later.

Updated again: Okay, here's the new one (obviously my song was better):

They just don't have talent like this anymore

Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Starbucks Berry Chai Infusion Iced Tea

Starbucks' Berry Chai Infusion, made with berry and black currant juices, is really good if you like sweet. I liked it a little better after I watered it down a bit, as I found it kind of syrupy on its own.

The new Ozarka bottles with the tiny lids

I liked the new “eco-friendly” bottles Ozarka was producing. I even switched from Aquafina to Ozarka when they changed their bottles. Not because I care at all about the environment, mind you, but because I pick my bottled water almost solely based on the shape, size, and feel of the bottle. After all, that's what you’re buying, right?

I liked the new shape of the Ozarka bottle. It was comfortable, and it fit well in my hand and cup-holder. And hey, if it saved plastic by being thinner, whatever – that works for me too. But this new itsy-bitsy tiny little lid they’re using on the new itsy bitsy tiny little top of the bottle is absolutely not okay with me! First of all, the lid is tiny. It’s easy to lose or drop. Second of all, the top of the bottle is shorter, and therefore the water is closer to the top, making it much easier to spill it all over yourself when you open it. I don’t care how much plastic I’m saving if I’m wasting my water by spilling it on myself.

Bring back my old lid, Ozarka, or I’m going to have to find a much less eco-friendly bottle from which to drink!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Does your kid ever get all her toys out and not put them away?

Yeah, ours too.

Strange noises in the kitchen

Jack and I were sitting on the couch just now, and I heard a weird noise coming from the kitchen. Since I had my laptop on my lap, I asked Jack if he would check to see what it was. He got up and went to see what it was, and I told him the oven might still be on from dinner.

A couple seconds later, he came back in the living room. "That must have been what it was," he said.

"But the noise is still there!" I said. "I still hear it!"

"I don't hear anything," he replied.

"You can't hear that?" I asked, shocked that he couldn't hear the loud "whirring" noise coming from the kitchen. "Pause the TV."

Annoyed, Jack got up and grabbed the remote. The TV went quiet and the loud noise was much more apparent.

"Do you hear that now?" I asked, and then realized what it must be. "Oooh it's the beans! I left them on the stove and they're burning!"

Unphased, Jack stayed seated.

"Aren't you going to go get them?" I asked, shocked that he wasn't getting up to get them right away.

"No," he said.

"Are you serious?" I asked, contemplating whether he was just kidding or truly wanted me to get up and get it myself.

Just then, I heard a loud whistle begin in addition to the whirring noise. It was the kettle. Jack was boiling water for hot chocolate to surprise me. I always ruin the surprises.

Gym Adventures

Today was the day. I was going to visit the gym for the first time since I signed up. I was going to be super workout girl and improve my cardiovascular health and decrease my chances of blood clots, diabetes, and heart disease. Yay, me.

When I got home from work, I thought I should find my iPod shuffle as not to have to listen to everybody around me myself wheezing and puffing as they I worked out. Nowhere to be found. Maybe I'll look in my office. I take all the plastic boxes out of the top of the closet and don't find it any of those. I call Jack at work (because this is important enough to interrupt Jack at work). He also doesn't know where it is. I guess I don't need it after all.

I start to change into my workout clothes and stare at my many, many t-shirts and analyze them all. Which t-shirt is comfortable and yet says "I so belong here?" Ah, yes. My MS150 shirt. Yes, everyone, I ride in the MS150 every year. That must mean I work out and train all the time. That's the one.

I start to head out the door and decide that throwing the ball for the dog would be a little more fun than leaving, so I sit on the floor for a while and do that instead. After about 20 minutes, I decide that I'm going to hate myself if I don't get up and go sometime tonight, so I leave Maggie on her own in the middle of the floor, fuzzy soccer ball in paws, wondering what she did wrong to make me want to leave.

I arrive at the gym. They had given me little scanny card when I signed up, but I don't really know what to do with it. Is there a place to scan it myself? Do I hand it to the lady? Awkwardly, I ask a guy in an official-looking polo shirt what to do. He tells me to hand it to the lady. She scans it and I'm on my merry way.

I head for the locker room first to drop off my bag, then notice that everybody's just putting their stuff next to their machines, but I can't turn back now. I enter the locker room, wander around a minute (thank goodness it's empty or I'd be that creepy girl wandering around the locker room), then come back out nonchalantly.

Now to find an elliptical machine. I want one in the middle... one that's not right next to somebody else... and preferably one without someone on another machine behind me so I don't think somebody's looking at my butt while I'm on it (don't lie, that's what you're thinking about when you're exercising too). I find one with the first two criteria and hop on. I start moving and pushing buttons right away in an effort to look like I know what I'm doing. Time? Um... 30 minutes, I guess. Age? 22. Weight? 110. No, I didn't really type that. Favorite movie? Runaway Bride. Let's do this thing!

0:00 - I start moving on the elliptical and look up. Hey! There are TVs up there! That's genius! Something to take your mind off working out! If only there was sound... Oh, cool... there's a place to plug in headphones and choose the channel you want. The sales guy spent 20 minutes showing me how to turn a treadmill on but failed to mention that I should bring my ear buds even if I can't find my iPod? That would have been good information to have.

3:24 - I'm walking 6 mph and I'm feeling good! The little hand thingies that are supposed to take my pulse aren't working, which is probably okay because all around me I can hear other peoples' machines beeping every so often when their pulse is doing something wrong... or right... I can't really tell. But I don't want to be the one whose machine beeps because my pulse is doing something wrong.

5:42 - Okay, this is getting a little boring. I'm trying to watch the Texas/OSU game, but let's face it, watching football isn't going to make this time go any faster for me.

7:19 - I've noticed that one channel has closed captioning, but unfortunately it's the one featuring "The Bachelor." If you thought "The Bachelor" was dumb with sound, you should try reading it. Apparently Tiffany-that-loved-him-on-the-bachelorette/Nicole-who-has-a-baby-so-they-have-something-in-common/Jasmine-the-dancer-who-likes-long-walks-on-the-beach/Wendi-with-an-'i'-that-played-golf-in-high-school-just-like-him/whatever-her-name-is-that-did-that-other-slutty-thing is thrilled to meet Mr. I don't mind pimping my kid out to get on TV Bachelor. Yay.

12:56 - I'm getting a bit hot. I'd really like a drink of water, so I pick up my bottle of water and nearly fall off the machine as I try to take the cap off. Thankfully, I catch myself before completely toppling off the thing.

15:20 - Halfway there. You can do it, Mandy. You're a rock star! That girl in front of me is going really fast. Yep, I'm looking right at her butt. No doubt about it... the person behind me is looking at mine too. Drat.

18:43 - Almost there! Getting close! Hey, that guy just got a paper towel and spray stuff and wiped his machine off after he was done with it. I remember the sales guy saying something about that. Hm... at the rec at college we used the towel we brought to do that. I wonder if I'm supposed to use the paper towel thing or my towel? Where's the nearest paper towel thing? I'll wait and see what this girl next to me does when she gets off.

19:18 - Guy on a machine in front of me gets off of his and doesn't wipe it down with anything at all. Wonder if the last person on my machine did that. Now I'm thinking about all the germs on the machine.

20:35 - Oh, the guy on the other side of me got off his machine and wiped his down with the spray stuff on the paper towel. Apparently there's one right behind me. I turn around to see where it is and almost fall off again. Note to self: stop being distracted by things that will make you fall off the elliptical.

24:55 - Okay, I'm really tired of this whole "working out" thing now. I want another drink of water but I'm afraid I'll fall off again. Better not risk it.

25:12 - Is it bad that I'm really happy to see a lot of unattractive people in here? Oh come on, like you liked seeing all sorority girls in their perfect little outfits with their perfect little hair at your college rec?

26:31 - Three and a half more minutes to go. Just three and a half more minutes. Meanwhile, Miss I'm-throwing-myself-at-the-bachelor-wearing-next-to-nothing is chatting single dad bachelor up.

29:00 - Almost there! Sprint the last minute! You can do it, Mandy! Yay, you! (Yes, I'm my own cheerleader in my head)

29:59 -!

30:00 - Cool down!? Another five minutes? What the heck?

5:00 - I'm going to walk really slow. I feel jipped.

4:24 - Hey look! I burned 300 calories almost went 3 miles! I'll just finish the last quarter of a mile and be done.

2:15 - I did it! 3 miles. I'm going to be done. Screw "cooling down" - can't be all that important, anyway. I wonder if I'm supposed to just stop or if I'm supposed to push a button... I stop walking, and the lights go off. I guess that's my answer.

I step off the machine and try not to look like Bambi learning to walk. I need ten more minutes of exercise to earn my 40-minute-a-day exercise point at work (in which you can earn an extra week's vacation if you get... I don't know, a thousand of them), so I head to the abs room.

The abs room is kind of full, so I find the closest machine and sit down on it. It's only after I'm down when I realize that I have no idea what I'm supposed to do on this machine. I grab the handles and put my feet where I think they should go and lift with my legs. Nothing happens. I pull the arm part down and it suddenly folds me in half. Oh, that's what it does.

I do a set of ten of these ab crunchy things, trying desperately not to let go of the handles and let the weights suddenly fall with a loud CLANK. 7...8...9...10... Success! Rest a second, then start again. 4...5...6...7... can't do it. Clink. Nobody was counting, right? A second rest, then start again... 3...4...5... Nope, I'm done.

In the meantime, girl-whose-butt-I-was-watching-earlier has her foot on the wall above her head and is stretching. 3 years out of taekwondo...I can't touch my toes anymore; I'm pretty sure I can't do that.

One more time. 5...6...7...8... that's enough. CLANK! I'm out.

As I leave the gym, I start to ask the lady who scanned my card if I need to do anything, when she interrupts me mid-sentence with a "have a nice night." I guess that's my answer. I stroll out the front door and do my best to catch pneumonia by strolling out to my car in a damp shirt in 35-degree weather.

I'm probably going to be a little sore tomorrow (from lack of working out for so long prior to this particular adventure), but for now, Maggie is really enjoying the way I smell and the fact that I'm sprawled out on the living room floor with her.

Not me Monday!

Visit for a way better blog than mine!

I did not find a way to avoid hanging up all my clean laundry (which is not 3 basketfuls, by the way) and getting my winter clothes down from my top “storage” rack in my closet during the 10 days I was off during the last 2 weeks.

I did not glaze over and tune Jack out when he started talking about our [his] financial goals for 2009, just as I never do when he talks about financial stuff.

I did not have people over for New Years Eve just to get rid of some champagne that had been in our fridge for several years. (Well, I really didn’t have them over just for that).

I did not semi-look forward to the vacation ending because my husband and I were not grumpy toward one another by the time we’d spent ten days together. We always cherish every second we have together and would never wish for more time apart.

I did not spend several hours making cards while my husband took down our Christmas tree by himself.

I did not blog New Years resolutions (and it was not for lack of a better thing to blog) even though I hate New Years Resolutions.

I was not sad to see the Christmas stuff go down, not because it meant Christmas was over, but because it meant we had a not-as-pretty, undecorated house.

I absolutely did not have a dream about Mckmama the other night, in which I flew to her house to meet her and found out she was a black belt who knew (and used to spar) Jack. I am not so fascinated with Mckmama that I would actually dream about her. That would be stalkerish.

What did you not do today?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Baby thank you cards

This was today's project - a set of 20 thank you cards for my preggie friend to send after she gets baby presents! I got a kit of kid-flavored patterned paper half-off at Hobby Lobby, some ribbon, baby stamps, button, other embellishments, and a "gracias" stamp and went to town. They're all just a little different. I also stamped her initials on the back in tiny letter stamps.

A brilliantly... you know... brilliant statement

Me, when I heard Hugh Laurie start talking when hosting SNL: "He has a British accent! Oh wow, he's a good actor to do an American accent on House."

Jack: "It'd be the same as an American doing an English accent."

Me: "Yeah, but I would think that actor would be a good actor too if they did it in a TV series, because they consistently have to stay... you know... consistent."

Jack laughed at me.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Contest winners' thank you cards

I'm no Megan Lock, but these were fun to make. Amanda and Angela won the last contest, and I just got around to making their "thank you" cards today. Here's a little sneak peak:

I just did one of this one, for Amanda. She's my Aggie friend. :)

The ribbon on this one was around one of the Christmas gifts we got this year! Yay, recycling!

Simple one.

I think this ribbon came from a gift too!

This ribbon (the sheer purple in the middle you can barely see in the picture) was leftover from my wedding invites. As was the purple cardstock I stamped on.

Good morning, Jack and Mandy, it's time to play.

This morning, at about 4 a.m., the dog decided to wake up. She does this sometimes, but most of the time she wakes us up to let her out, then goes back to bed. I'm thinking we let her sleep too long during the day yesterday, because this is how the night went down:

4 a.m. - Maggie wakes up and wanders around the bedroom for a while, and I hear the "clink clink clink" of her tags as she explores a little. Finally, bored, she begins her breathy growly-barking thing she does when she wants to wake us up. "Mmmmm...bufff!" Um... guys? It's time to get up. "Mmmmm...buff!" Jack gets up and trudges out of the room to let her out and comes back in a few minutes later. I mumble a "thank you, husband" and roll over without opening my eyes as he returns to bed.

4:10 a.m. - We're back in bed, but Maggie's not tired any more. "Mmmm...buff!" Just come throw my ball for me! We try to ignore her. She just gets louder. "Maggie, no!" I command. "Go back to bed!"

4:12 a.m. - She apparently did not like this idea. The "buff" in her "mmmm...buff" is getting louder.

4:13 a.m. - She's now standing up on her back feet with her front feet on the side of the bed, digging into my sheets with her little paws. "Mmmm... BUFF!" Would a walk around the block really be that much to ask!? she says. Scratch scratch scratch. "MAGGIE! NO!" Both Jack and I yell simultaneously. She gets quiet... for about a millisecond.

4:14 a.m. - "Mmmm...BUFF! BUFF!" Just get up and scratch my belly for a while! she says, and I angrily throw the covers off of me and storm out of bed. "Come on, Maggie. We're going outside," I say as I stomp out of the room while Jack turns over, frustrated. Maggie is very excited about my obvious desire to get up and play with her and bounds out of the room after me.

4:15 a.m. - Maggie follows me to the back door and apparently does not like the idea of going back outside. She seats herself on the edge of the carpet and is just staring at me, bewildered, as I rationally try to explain to her that if she doesn't need to go outside, she needs to go back to bed and let us sleep. We stare at each other a little longer.

Finally, I close the door and mutter under my breath as I walk back into the bedroom and get in bed, leaving the bedroom door open this time so she can explore the house if she's bored instead of barking at us.

She sits on the floor on my side of the bed and stares up at me. I point to her bed. "Go to bed right now," I tell her, and I'm very satisfied when she obediently climbs into her bed and sits down. She watches me as I roll over and anticipate a lovely finish to the dream I had been having.

4:18 a.m. - Maggie's up again, and Jack and I lie awake as we hear the clink clink clink of her coller again. We know what's coming now. This time she's on Jack's side of the bed. "Mmmm...buff!" Daddy! Mommy put me to bed and I want to play! Daddy! Get up! We ignore her. "Mmmm...buff!"

4:20 a.m. - Her little breathy barks have evolved into all-out "Mmm... RAWF!" and I angrily get out of bed once again, once again heading toward the door. This time, when Maggie runs toward the living room, anticipating a good old fashioned game of tug-of-war, I wait until she's out of the room and close the door behind me. "There," I tell Jack. "That should do it." Back to bed we go.

4:21 a.m. - Maggie does not like this turn of events at all, and comes back with a vengance. We hear a sniffing at the bottom of our door as she assesses the situation. "The door seems to be closed," she decides. "I'd better let them know this, since obviously they accidentally closed it on their way out to play with me."

4:22 a.m. - "Waaaaaa hummmnn hummn humn hummm!!!! WAAAAAAAA HUMMMNN HUMM HUMNN HUM!!!" What kind of parents would EVER lock their doggie out of their room!? I just need love! Love me! LOVE ME! she whines right outside our door. Scratch scratch scratch scratch.

4:23 a.m. - Jack is furious, and storms out of bed toward the door, throwing it open. "Maggie! You need to be quiet! Go to bed!" Maggie runs back in, ecstatic that we have finally decided that all we really want right now is to throw her squeaky soccer ball for her until the sun comes up.

4:37 a.m. - I've finally convinced Maggie to lay down in her bed and she's actually quiet. Ahh, sweet sleep!

8 a.m. - An alarm I did not intend to be set on this vacation day (you know, the one when we can sleep in as long as we want) goes off. Maggie is up once again. "Mmm...buff!" she says.

Good morning, Jack and Mandy. It's time to play.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New contest!!!

...get excited!!

There's a new contest this month!! which you can win a customized blog header...

All you have to do to enter is click "follow this blog" over on the top of my right sidebar!

THAT'S IT! You will be entered for each of my blogs you follow - this blog, my craft blog, and the project 365 blog, so you could have 3 entries!! If you're already following, you're already entered (yay, you!)

I'll be drawing for a winner on January 31. Happy New Year!!

New Years Resolutions?

I'm not big on New Years resolutions, mostly because nobody ever follows through with them past February and they're so cliche. I think Jack has a few financial goals for 2009, and I'm sure he'll spend hours telling you all about them if you ask, but here are my own resolutions goals for this year (meaning... here are a few things I'll try to do, at least during January).

  • I got a gym membership a few weeks ago. At some point, I'd like to visit said gym. I know, this one's a lofty goal.
  • I want to use stitching on a scrapbook page. Though I fear that if I start, I will never be able to stop, because it always looks awesome on pages and I have over-achievement issues when it comes to scrapbooking.
  • Learn lots more about video at work. I learned a new video software (Final Cut Pro) and loved it, and I'd like to get more experience both editing and shooting.
  • I want to sew something from a pattern. I think I'm going to start with the hospital gown that Elena made for Mckmama! What a fun idea for a gift for my pregnant friend to be cute for her first pictures. Her due date is March. We'll see how that works out. ;-)
  • More Bible-reading - I just got a women's Bible that I'm loving.
  • Project 365 - a picture a day. Let's do this thing.
  • Organize my office. This is a never-ending battle, but I dream of a day when I will live in peace with all my craft supplies and computer crap.
  • Finish the master bathroom. We've ripped most of the wallpaper off the walls and bought the tile, and by the end of 2009, we're going to finish it. Yes. Really. We are.
  • While I'm at it, I want to finish the guest bathroom and the kitchen walls. (Hear that father-in-law? Sorry, but it's not over yet!)
I think that's about it for now. Long-term goals for the Hornbuckles still include flipping a house and popping out a few kids, but obviously those things probably won't happen this year (hopefully the latter will wait a while). Happy New Year!!

Peeping squirrel

The other day, Jack and I were sitting around, probably playing on our laptops and watching TV (shocking, I know), when Jack looked up at the window above our door.

"Somebody's looking in our window," he observed.

"What? Who?" I asked, and looked up.

Sure enough, there was a squirrel sitting on our gutter, looking right at us through the window.

See him up there? It's not the best picture. He seemed unphased by being photographed.

Yes. This is what my life has come to. I'm interested in (and blogging about) the squirrel that sat up on our gutter and stared at us through the window. And I took five pictures of it. Big day for Jack and Mandy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Calendar

This gift was by far my favorite one to make. This calendar was my gift to Angela this year, and I had so much fun making it. And it's really not that hard! You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want, and I really think this is better than the photo calendars you can have printed (not that there's anything wrong with those!).

For this one, I included pictures from her Facebook (what did we ever do before Facebook stalking!?), Bible verses, quotes about nursing (she's a nursing major), blog entries from the same month a year before, important events on her school's academic calendar, and holidays. Also, I printed out all the birthday greetings from her Facebook wall and included these on her birthday month (August).

You can buy a blank calendar at or, and they're really quite affordable (only about $10). There are also calendar-making kits available like this one and this one, which are a little more expensive, but will be easier to make if you're low on time. Plus, all the papers coordinate if you're into that kind of thing.

Cute custom notebooks - How to!

Every year, the ladies back in College Station would make little prayer (or anything) books out of composition notebooks. This is a fun little project, and it's also an inexpensive and fun gift, so this year, I made them for some friends at work. Here's a little "how to" so you can do this too!

Start with a blank composition notebook. Yep, the kind you get at target for about 97 cents.

Embellish the notebook on the front and the back (not on the binding) with paper, like this:

Then, I like to add a name to the front (I use my wishblade to cut out cardstock letters, but you can use store-bought die cut letters, rub-ons or stickers for this too). You can also add other flat embellishments, like a bible verse, quote, poem, etc. I even used a fortune from a fortune cookie once on these!

The next part is the hardest (and it's really not that hard) - the contact paper. Cut enough clear contact paper to cover the front, back and over the edges. Lay the notebook down flat, cut a "V" for the binding, turn the book over onto the contact paper to cover the front side, and fold the edges over to the other side of the cover. Remember covering books in elementary school? It's just like that!

After that, you just smooth out the cover, and that's it! It's that easy! Have fun!

Here are a few more designs from years before, in case you need any more inspiration (click on the pictures to see them bigger):