Firsts: Being Thankful

I have much to be thankful for this year. I may complain (probably daily) about silly little things, but in the BIG PICTUREΒ I am one lucky girl! So as I get ready to sit down and feast on Mama K’s delightful turkey feast (similar to my own a few days prior, wonder where I get my recipes…), I will think about everything that I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful for my health! Lots of crazy things go on with the health of my family members… we are a doctors best dream. Random hearing loss, diverticulitus, broken ankles, Mexican stomach parasites, swollen parotid glands… and that was just a few of THIS YEAR’S health ailments! So I am thankful for my health!
  • I am thankful for my family. We have been through a lot recently, and I think that we have a very special family bond, and I don’t know what I’d do without any of them. Even if Tyler doesn’t want to leave Austin until 9 PM the night before Thanksgiving to drive up to McKinney… yeah Ty – I called you out in my blog post! WHAT!
  • My lovely sister went out and celebrated Thanksgiving with me!

  • I am thankful for my job. I go back and forth on my love/hate relationship with my occupation… but when I realize how many people are still without employment, I am very thankful that I even have a job! I enjoy what I do, I love the end process of working on a play for 9 weeks and seeing the heart and soul that my kids pour in to everything… I get a lot out of it. Not many people can say that!
  • I am thankful for my animal babies. Bear (my 3-yr old golden retriever), Domino (my 1-yr old great dane), and Duck (my 1-yr old crazy cat-dog)… They are each so unique, they are hilarious, they are loving, and they are the sweetest animal babies I could ask for. I love them like they were my kids, because for now – they are!
  • And lastly… but DEFINITELYnot least, I am thankful for Matt. He doesn’t know this (and he’s anti all things socially internet related, so I doubt he’ll read this unless I push my laptop in his face), but he came in to my life at a really weird time. And despite the weird timing, it was also the best timing. He showed me that there was someone good out there who would love me for me. He’s stuck by me through some pretty tough stuff, and I think that the reactions of people when things aren’t going as planned is when you see their true colors. He’s shown me to be supportive, caring, loving, thoughtful, and all around the best man I have ever known. I love you, Matt, and I am so thankful to have you in my life!

    he loves me for me!

So in the spirit of giving thanks… I found this lovely little photo to give you some THANKFUL inspiration:

Now, that's how you stock the fridge!

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, think of what you’re thankful for, like Jenna.

Mama K’s Words of Widsom

This just happened, so obviously I had to write a post about it… πŸ™‚

Phone rings…. “Hello?” — it’s my mom

Mama K. “Have you seen all of the pictures that *Vanessa has been posting on facebook recently?”
Me. “Yes….”
Mama K. “Is she back with that boy? Isn’t that the one that hit her?”
Me. “Yeah, I think so…”
Mama K. “Don’t. Ever. Do. That.”

And that was the entire phone conversation… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Mama K!!

 

*names changed for the safety of those involved.

Firsts: Poll Time – Running Gear

I’ve been getting back in to running lately. I splurged on an awesome pair of running shoes, and now that the weather is changing, I’m needing to get some new running attire… I can’t keep running in yoga pants and cotton shirts! Leave and comment, and suggest the best places to shop for inexpensive running gear. Brand name doesn’t matter to me, as long as I am not sweating profusely after 30 mins of running!

Firsts: Finding Boots That Fit

Boots. It’s a current fashion trend. It’s a trend that I LOVE. However, I have had the most ridiculously difficult time finding boots that fit… See, I have a problem. It’s called Gigantic Calfitis… It’s true. I have big calves. My entire life I have been, shall we say, a “stocky” girl. I’m an athlete, and my muscles don’t disappear! I am short, I am by no means fat, but I am not skinny minnie – which is who these boots are made for. Unless you have calves that are not a comparable size to your equally gigantic thighs – it will be nearly impossible to find boots that fit. And forget tucking your boots into your jeans! It’s just not happening… So I did some research. I have now found 2 pairs of boots that I LOVE, and can wear without suffocating my calves and giving myself muffin top of the knees! That’s not cute on anyone.

Steve Madden: Intyce (retails at $149.95)

When I bought these boots at the Steve Madden store, they were able to add another notch into the buckle. This helped MILLIONS. Did you know that they would do that? Next time you find boots you love with a buckle, but they are just a bit too snug at the top, ask for another notch!

Motorcycle Boots (Frye $218.00 at Belk)

These are not the exact boots that I have, but they are so close it’s scary! Motorcycle boots are rough & tough, and usually made with a wider opening at the top. When you ride a motorcycle, you need to be able to tuck your pants legs into your boots (practicality and style – what more could you ask for?!). And you’ll look like a chick who can kick some ass in these bad boys!

Steve Madden: Prepie (retails at $79.95)

Β I’m hoping to get these boots in the VERY near future!

Why I think these will work: they have a wider opening in the top, and a buckle. I can add a notch to the buckle to make the boots a little bit more loose if necessary. I am going to wear my skinny jeans to purchase these, just to make sure I don’t waste money on boots that won’t fit!

My tips for buying boots if you have big calves like me:

  1. Look for a boot with a wider opening in the top. Some come with a cut in the back that also helps make them fit better.
  2. Find a boot with a buckle – and ask to add an extra notch!
  3. Don’t try to cram your lovely legs in to something that you know won’t work. You can follow the trend without looking like you have sausage legs!
  4. Wear the jeans that you will wear with your boots when you go shopping. Then you’ll know FOR SURE if they will work!

I hope that this helps someone! Sometimes you just have to OWN your legs – and realize that they won’t fit into every pair of boots that you want … but just like boys, the right boot is out there!

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, keep up the boot search, like Jenna.

Firsts: Make a List and Check It Twice!

As I said in an earlier post… I LOVE MAKING LISTS. I find that this really helps me to stay organized, and attempt to stay productive and on task πŸ™‚ I make a list for everything… I make a To-Do list everyday, I have a grocery list, I make packing lists for vacations, I have a gift giving list, you name the task – I will make a list for it.

So here are some examples of the lists that I use… feel free to copy & modify if you are a list making junkie like me! If not, then you should definitely become one!

TO DO LIST

Grocery Shopping List

Monthly Budget

Camping Packing ListΒ — this comes from MANY years of camping (my entire life!)

The Universal Packing ListΒ — this is the most amazing site for packing lists! I use this for every trip!

Gift Giving List

…. you can make a list for everything. Organization is vital to staying sane and successful. Don’t let this become you:

Happy List Making!!

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, make a list like Jenna.

Firsts: How-To Napkin Pillow Cases

So to say that I had a difficult time with this undertaking, is an UNDERSTATEMENT. While the project itself it not at all difficult, my wonderful sewing machine and I were getting into several throw-downs last night… Good thing I have a “Heavy Duty” Singer… not sure that a “Light Duty” would have made it out alive!

Regardless! Here is the step-by-step process, and how simple it is to change out your throw pillows! (And CHEAP!)

1) Start by purchasing cloth napkins. I bought mine at Target, and they were $8.00 for a 4-pack.

Napkins from Target - $8

2) You are going to use 3 napkins. 1 napkin stays normal size, cut the other 2 napkins about 2/3 size. I measured the full length of the napkin (18 inches) and then started cutting at 12 inches. Make sure your sewing machine is all set up and ready to go!

The sewing machine of DOOM!!

3) Lay the napkins with the patterned sides facing each other. I put the largest piece on the bottom, and then lined up my 2/3 pieces on top.

Put the seamed sides on the inside, that way you don't have to sew an extra seam later!

4) Pin all around the edges. You don’t have to leave a corner open, because by cutting the two 2/3 sized pieces, you are creating a pocket opening in the back (just like a slip cover… wowza!)

make sure your pins are facing the right direction!

5) Then sew! Sew around all edges of the pillow case. Make sure you stop and close your thread around each corner. Depending on the fabric of your cloth napkins, some turn easier than others…

6) When you are done sewing, here comes the fun part… turn your pillow case inside out!

Ready for a pillow!

Not the intended pillow, but it works for the sake of the example πŸ™‚

back of pillow

And, Voila!!

Once I figured out what was happening with my sewing machine… this project is a piece of cake! A great way to add a pop of color to your living room, without shelling out $20+ on new throw pillows! I’m making lots of slip covers, because my design personality likes to change things up often πŸ™‚

Final product with both of my new pillow case slip covers:

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, attempt sewing projects, like Jenna.

Firsts: Romantic Realizations

So this one is tricky. I am not sure that I feel 100% qualified to be giving any sort of advice on love, relationships, or a combination of the two. However, my many failures and one recent success may be all of the qualification that I need!

Starting out in our 20s, if you are not leaving college with a serious boyfriend and the hopeful promise of an engagement, therefore solidifying your place in a family in the near future, then you are scared sh*t-less of what is going to happen to you. It’s not a bad thing, we are female – we can’t help but insanely freak out about the future; myself included! In fact, I freaked out so much that I actually got engaged my senior year of college, to a person that I loved, but not a person that I was in love with. I just would rather have had that immediate comfort than think of the possibility of being alone. And not realizing that being alone is COMPLETELY OKAY!

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
(Hamlet, 1.2.123-6)

It’s no coincidence that the above quote about LOVE comes from quite possibly the greatest tragedy of all time. I am not a non-believer of love, trust me, I am currently very much in love. But now looking at things from a different perspective, I realize that I went about it all wrong. And that many girls do before they come to the very same realization that I have.Β Even now, after having been in another serious relationship for a year 1/2, I am constantly fighting the internal war of marriage that goes on inside my crazy brain. I am in love, I want to be with you forever, so why wait? Well, I’ll tell you why. And here’s another shout out to dear old Mom

You have to be 100% happy with yourself, before you can be 100% happy with someone else. In my previous relationship, I was completely miserable. I hated my life. I tried to fake like things were okay, I made commitments that I thought I should be making because it was supposed to make things better, but it never did. I had to do a lot of soul searching to remember why I loved ME so much. And now, I love me, and I love Matt. And it makes our relationship so much better. Some people are lucky enough to have this confidence early on. But now, teaching girls in middle school, I see more and more of the serious lack of confidence and self-love that is absolutely necessary to make a relationship work.

Don’t rush. Don’t think that just because EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. you get on facebook and see 90 more of your friends who are getting engaged or married or having babies, that this has to be you, too. I whole heartedly feel like there is a person out there for everyone. I had to go through hell to find mine, but I ended up in the happiest place I could be.

When you stop looking, that’s when you’ll find it…

just a couple of goofballs.

I felt like this was an important post to end my first day. Starting this blog is my way of saying “take what I’ve learned and run with it!” and this is one of the biggest lessons that I have learned, so far!

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, love yourself before anyone else, like Jenna.

Firsts: Christmas Gift Ideas

This is always a challenge for me… I hate giving meaningless Christmas gifts. I hate giving meaningless gifts, in general! Unless the person is going to L-O-V-E it, or it is something useful, what’s the point?! Well, that’s what I always say, anyway… My mom taught me early on that gift cards are unacceptable presents. She always made sure that every item she gave us was thoughtful and was something we REALLY wanted (even if she did give me a Ding King Car Dent Repair Kit one year….).

So here are my tips for choosing Christmas gifts…

  • Make a list (there I go again with the lists!) of all the NECESSARY people to purchase presents for. To me this includes immediate family, significant others, and significant others families. Besties can also be included, but only if you can’t make them a more personal gift first.
  • Next to each person’s name, write a few adjectives for that person, or something that interests them… If you can’t do that, then you probably shouldn’t be spending money on them!…
  • Then…. BE CREATIVE!!!

I teach Theatre, and included is theatrical design (of everything). And one of the first steps in the design process is RESEARCH. I always, always, always do my research. Whether it is to compare prices or to get inspiration, I find it almost impossible to come up with gift ideas without doing my research first.

Great links:

The Crafting Chicks — I will seriously visit this website about 10 times a day. They are geniuses!

I may or may not be making one of these this year...!

Martha Stewart — she’s good at this…. duh.

… Or just use your own brain! Think about what you KNOW about each person you are giving a gift to.

Last year I made a Mix CD for every person in my family. Each CD was “Winter” themed, but only included songs by artists that that person liked. Total cost: about $50 for 4 people. I spent $$ on the blank CD’s, purchasing songs on iTunes, and card stock to design special CD covers. Super easy, but unique to each person!

I can’t give away my ideas before Christmas, but never fear, I will include all of my hand crafted gifts come December 26th!

If at FIRST you don’t succeed, use your creative brain like Jenna.

Firsts: Cloth Napkin Pillow Covers

This is my latest crafting project… using cloth napkins to create pillow cases!

I have some awesome custom throw pillows on my couch. Picked out the fabric in a giant warehouse, had them made, and they matched a chair that I had recovered. Very cute. Until Domino the Great Dane took over and chewed a hole in every corner of the pillows (please see below):

My 1-year old Great Dane baby...

Pictures of the destroyed pillows, not included. BUT – it inspired me to find an inexpensive and easy way to change the pillows, without having to go out and buy brand new ones! I am going to start this project tonight.. and will hopefully finish in the A.M. to post the results!

THANK YOU to thecraftingchicks.com for giving me yet another delightful crafting idea πŸ™‚

The Crafting Chicks – Easy Decorative Pillow Slipcovers

If at FIRST you don’t succeed – be crafty, like Jenna.