Saturday, May 29, 2010

A quick birthday shout-out... two of my favorite peeps! I just so happened to snap a beautiful little shot of the two of them at my party last weekend. And seriously, I have the coolest friends. You should be jealous.

Katie (on the left) is turning the big 3-0 today. Happy 30th Birthday, Katie!!!!

Courtney (on the right) has a birthday coming up this Friday. Happy Birthday, Spud!!!!

Don't worry, she lets me call her Spud. She calls me the same thing. We go way back, maybe to my middle school years even, but since I have the world's worst memory of anything that matters (and the world's best memory of useless information), don't quote me on that. Don't you love having history with friends and funny inside jokes? I do. Just thought I'd clear that up in case you were wondering if I call all my friends potatoes...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Little Dresses for Africa (Part Dos)

(Otherwise titled: All you ever wanted to know about the decor and the organization)

Having a party like this, I knew that it would have to be uber-organized. And I am not known personally for being so uber-organized. Deep down I knew I had it in me, so instead of waiting until the last minute to work on it, I started three weeks before the actual date of the party to get my act together.

Thank goodness. Otherwise I would have been toast.

I sent out an Evite, but I knew that those things are only so-so when it comes to accuracy, not on Evite's account, but on account of how many people in today's day and age actually RSVP. I had to guess at how many girls I thought would be coming and plan accordingly. I wanted to make sure I didn't run out of supplies because it was important to me that each partygoer had at least enough supplies to finish one dress.

I decided to have it at my house to keep the costs down, but doing so I knew I would need to set up different steps in different rooms to help with traffic flow and making sure everyone had enough space to work. I utilized my front yard by setting up the clothesline and clothespins (yay Dollar Tree!) -- clipping up the finished dresses provided all the cute we needed to decorate the outside of my house. And you wouldn't believe how many people drove sloooooooowly by, surely wondering what in the heck was going on! I also made the party a "come and go" operation, figuring that would also help in traffic flow and less congestion.

For decorations inside, I had seen the most adorable mobile tutorial on this blog, so I copied the idea, but instead used a cardstock pack from Michael's. I wished I could have found colored vellum, but it would've taken way too long to find that many colors and would've been a lot more expensive. The total cost for all of my mobiles (the ones hanging in both my kitchen and in the dining room) was less than $3. The paper pack just so happened to have the five-color combination (called "Soda Pop") that matched my favorite colors in my house, so it worked out perfectly.

To make the mobiles I cut the 8.5"x11" pieces of cardstock into 1" strips horizontally, getting 11 strips per piece of cardstock. Using one piece per color (5 total) I had enough to make 2 mobiles -- one with 5 strips of each color, and one with 6. In total I think I made 14 mobiles. I just stitched right down the center of the strips (taping a piece of masking tape on my machine ahead of time as a guide for where the center of the strips would be) leaving maybe 1/4" or so between each one. On the tutorial they mentioned tying on a fishing weight at the bottom both for adding weight to make them hang better and for looks, but my cardstock mobiles didn't need them so I skipped that step. We taped them up to the ceiling with masking tape, finding that wrapping the thread around the piece of tape at least twice helped keep them up there without slipping through the tape and falling on the floor (we learned the hard way). I also printed off pictures from the Little Dresses for Africa website, backed them with the same colors of cardstock and hung them from the chandeliers, one picture on each side. Easy peasy.

For the party, I set my mom, my aunt, and my friend, Christa, up in the dining room with their sewing machines. It was a good central location for the partygoers to come back and forth from the steps in the other rooms. By having three seamstresses on hand, it made it possible for even my non-crafty-loving friends to be able to participate because no one was required to sew. Without my amazing seamstresses, the party would have been a flop.

There were five steps total for the pillowcases. Each step was set up at its own station and had detailed instructions printed out on paper and backed in matching cardstock. I had hoped to have pictures of each step printed to make things easier, but alas, I ran out of time and that never happened. But as my friend, Courtney, wisely pointed out, it wasn't a problem -- once one person learned how to do it, they could in turn demonstrate and help the next person, and so on and so forth.

Step One was set up in my living room. There were two tables set up with a cutting mat, clear ruler and rotary cutter. This is where the top end of the pillowcases was sliced off (not the bottom open end which was already hemmed perfectly for the bottom of the dress). The girls could pick from different lengths to make their dresses for various sized little African princesses.

Step Two was set up in my boy's bedroom. There was a table with cardboard templates to trace and cut out the armholes from the top part of the pillowcase. Again, easy peasy.

Step Three was set up in my master bedroom. We had three ironing boards and irons ready to go. Step Three involved turning down the top hems in a double-fold of 1/2" each. After those were ironed down, the pillowcases were taken to the seamstresses in the dining room to have the casings stitched. Then it was on to Step Four.

Step Four was back to the living room where a jar of elastic was set up. Partygoers were instructed to grab a pair of 6" pieces of elastic, safety-pinned together. The elastic was then fed through each casing and taken back to the seamstresses to be tacked down on the ends. There were a few laughs over elastic that got lost in the casings, and more than one frustrating moment of having to get out the ol' seamripper and dig in there to find the elastic. This was probably the trickiest step, but everyone plowed through.

And finally, the best part, Step Five -- the "Trim Bar". I had my kitchen island covered in trim options. There were jars filled with ribbons and trims, a bowl of iron-on appliques I had pre-made, and pairs of bias tape to pick for the straps of the dresses. Oh girls, I had bought bias tape package after bias tape package after bias tape package! It's a wonder any was left in our fair city! Thank goodness for the sale at Hancock's where it went 50% off. One package of bias tape is enough for 1&1/2 dresses, so I always bought it in pairs since you could get three dresses out of two packages. It was fun to see everyone's individual tastes come out and see what they picked to gussy up their little dresses. Once their choices were made, they took their dresses back to the seamstresses to have the trims added and the bias tape straps sewn on. And of course, after that, everyone enjoyed pinning their finished dresses up on the clothesline in the front yard.

But what would a party be without food and drink? And party favors?

I had a "snack station" set up as well. I knew that with all of the chaos of fabric and trim and everything else going on all throughout my house, I needed to have something simple and non-messy for sustenance. So I made "salted caramel crunch brownies", bagged them up, and clipped the bags closed with a napkin using the party favors -- clothespin magnets. There was chilled bottled water to take as well. This way the guests could either take their snacks to go with them, or they could grab one, find a spot to sit, and enjoy a moment of chocolate.

This is a picture of similar clothespin magnets we made last year at Courtney's awesome birthday party, just so you know what in the heck I am talking about. Cheap, easy to make, and useful for everyone. Can't beat that with a stick.

Part Tres will be up tomorrow, I hope! To catch Part Uno, click here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Dresses for Africa (Part Uno)

It was recently my birthday as you know, and I threw myself a dang good party!

(No, I'm not usually that vain to throw myself a party, except when I turned the big 3-0 a couple of years back, and then it was practically mandatory! I'll not soon forget that awesome bash at the roller rink...)

But this wasn't any ol' party. The birthday part was just a great excuse to get together and make a difference. And yes, my guests were required to bring a present 'cause, come on, who doesn't love presents?!

(No, I'm not that greedy, keep on a-readin'...)

But not just any ol' present. A pillowcase, to be exact.

My birthday celebration was a "Little Dresses for Africa" party!

I first heard about this organization through Ashley's amazing blog. Let's face it, she's the queen of crafty and cool, and I was drooling over her party pics. Ever since, I've been itchin' to throw a party, and since this was my year to turn 33, I knew I'd found the perfect excuse. When you're turning the same age as Jesus, you gotta find a fitting way to celebrate, and I know Jesus would approve this party!

We transformed ordinary pillowcases into dresses fit for little African princesses. There were three trusty and determined seamstresses on hand to help sew them up, so no sewing skills were required from my guests. When the party was over, we had 38 finished dresses hanging on the clothesline in my front yard. Amazing, right?!

But what's even more amazing is the fact that, as of today, there are 75 finished dresses, with about 25 more to be finished. That's right, kids, there were approximately 100 pillowcases donated in honor of my birthday.


Can you even imagine?

100, people!!!!!!

Just picture it -- 100 beautiful African princesses of God standing in their new dresses. If that isn't one of the most beautiful images you could ever conjure up in your head, I don't know what is.

(images from the Little Dresses for Africa organization website)

This could never have been possible without everyone else. A huge thank you to all of my guests for coming and participating and bringing the most awesome pillowcases. An even bigger thank you to my friends that went above and beyond, collecting pillowcases out the wazoo, inviting even more friends to come, and for friends that contributed fun additions to add to the dresses, like my friend, Kristi, who made a ton of adorable flower brooches to put on them. We used every single one of them, Kristi! And a humongous thank you to my mom, my aunt, and my friend since the 5th grade, Christa, for sewing up a storm, in what my aunt dubbed "the sweatshop" (aka my dining room). These ladies never once took a break and went well past the end time of the party trying to get as many finished as possible.

I seriously thought my heart was going to burst into a million little pieces from the sheer happiness I felt all throughout the party. The thought of seeing our adorable creations on even more adorable little girls was just too much. I am still on cloud nine even days later.

A big fat muchas gracias from me on behalf of some amazing little girls across the globe.

Look for Part Dos and Part Tres and heck, maybe even Part Cuatro later this weekend. I've got a bazillion more photos to share -- how I set up the party, the beautiful women in attendance, and of course, all 100 of the creations!

Get ready to fall in love with pillowcase dresses. And with parties that show how amazing the hearts of people can be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The obligatory birthday post

Yep, it's my birthday today.

And while I usually prefer my birthdays to tiptoe by without much pomp and circumstance, this year has been different. I changed it up a bit and used my ol' birthday to do something different.

A most amazing party occurred on Saturday, and I can't wait to post about it. The only way I can think to sum it up is to tell you I was so incredibly happy that I thought my heart was going to burst into a million pieces.

But since today is actually my birthday, and I am going to try and avoid sitting at the computer instead of being out in the glorious sunshine that God surely must have ordered special for me today, I promise to return either later tonight or tomorrow at the latest and share with you the details of the amazing things that went down on Saturday. Because I know you will agree with me when you hear that it was one of the most amazing birthday parties ever.

Until then, here is my somewhat annual birthday picture post. Because I put on makeup and did my hair yesterday. And that is not an everyday occurence!

Let me just tell you girls, life is real good at 33.

Real good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Greetings from Tornado Alley!

(...or maybe I should say "Salutations!" instead, since the boy and I finished up our very first chapter book together this past week, "Charlotte's Web". We've since set our sights on "Stuart Little" for our next novel.)


Yes, I live smack dab' in the middle of Tornado Alley. No, my house has not been hit from a tornado. But yes, we spent plenty of time in our basement this week going from tornado warning to tornado warning to tornado warning. Good times, I tell ya'.

Ah, the life of an Okie...

Anyway, just wanted to pop my head in here to tell you I am, indeed, still alive, but that I have been so swamped with projects that I haven't had a chance to post. Girls, I have been sewing! Sewing up my own little storm!

And planning. I've got a big project in the works this weekend, so you'll have to wait until next week to read the picture-filled posts telling of my many adventures.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend! It's gonna be a scorcher here -- bring on the summer!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Shhh...I actually drive a 4Runner.

But I can totally feel the mad love for any "family car", not just the Toyota Swagger Wagon. So here you go, in case any of you have been living under a rock and haven't yet seen this hilarious video floating around BlogLand...

Thursday, May 6, 2010



I said it.

Calling my own self out on a shameful act I committed this very morning, folks.

I am a hypocrite.

Right in front of my son's own horrified eyes (not really), I smashed a spider with the bottom of a drinking glass.

Remember, kids, the boy and I are right smack dab in the middle of reading "Charlotte's Web" every night, talking about how God created all the animals and bugs, how all creatures have feelings, how not all spiders are bad, etc., etc. And then I go and smash a creepy looking spider. Oh, the shame of it all.

Now to be fair, I must tell you that this spider was:

1. in my house and not outside where he should have been. (Even Charlotte A. Cavatica knew better than to go traipsing in the Zuckerman's farmhouse where she might not have been welcome.)

2. watching me and circling me. Oh yes, he was. Freaked me out. I don't care if I am 9,228 times the size of him (I totally made that number up, so don't go a-Googlin' it, kids). He was watching me, and I I did not care for that one little bit.

3. extra creepy looking -- black with small white stripes and neon green markings below his eyes. (Which I now realize means he is some sort of a jumping spider and completely harmless and friendly, and considered a favorite among arachnid enthusiasts. Thank you, Google, for the extra guilt trip.)

photo source

Unfortunately for this spider, I have:

1. had bad experiences in the past with the nasty "wolfies" that visit our house every spring. ("Wolfies" is my own personal term of endearment for the ginormous brown wolf spiders, often 2-4" in diameter, people, that apparently are not poisonous but their bites hurt like a mother. No, thank you. And yes, I have proudly slayed those tarantula-sized spiders every spring, shuddering and shaking for weeks after. {Insert extra shudder here.})

2. had to be the man of the house for the past three weeks as the husband has been business trippin' it up across these United States. And I ain't no man. I am a girly girl in the fullest, and spider killing is not my thing. But as the temporary man of the house, I know when to step up to the plate and save my family. Ha.

3. the HBJ's when it comes to spiders of any sort. (The "Heebie Jeebies" for all you folks not in the know.)

So, I must submit this here apology for the world to see. I am, in fact, quite sorry for my actions this morning in taking the life of one of Charlotte's own.


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Let me just tell you about the power of blogs.

This afternoon, after a luscious Sunday afternoon nap (can't remember the last time I had one of those), I was blog-surfing and reading through many of my favorite blogs.

And I stopped at this one.

She was posting about her new necklace, you know, one of those necklaces you see on lots of charitable sites, made out of beads that were rolled from strips of magazines by women in a far-off place. She had a couple of links to click on that were connected to the specific charity in this case selling the necklaces, and she urged us, her readers, to click over and learn about the amazing lady that started this particular charity.

Don't get me wrong. I love stories like this, but I've read a ton of them, or so I thought. And although each of them are usually quite admirable and inspiring when I read them, sometimes I feel like I have become a teeny bit desensitized to them after a while. (Wow, that's sounds shallow reading back over this, but I don't mean it in the fact that any of them aren't amazing, just that with living in such a broken world, with so many people out there trying to make a difference, it's sometimes hard to be so deeply moved by each and every single story out there.)

Regardless, I clicked over.

Oh my heavens.

This amazing girl, a mere twenty-one years in age herself, is living in Uganda and mothering FOURTEEN children.

She gave up everything we Americans typically worship. She gave up college, she gave up living a cush life in Tennessee with an amazing family, church, friends -- she gave up all of it. She gave up the relationship she thought would be the fairytale ending, and she is now a mother to FOURTEEN children. All by her little ol' self. And she's not just planning on staying over there for just another year or two -- nope, she is in it for the long haul.

There is a song playing on her blog when you click over, and I couldn't get over the fact, that while I was reading blog post after blog post about her story in Uganda, the words of the chorus were seeping in:

"now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet"

Talk about really sinking in, at least for little ol' me.

She took the words from the Bible literally to heart. She has seen the brokenness over there. She took responsibility, something I'm sure the rest of the world thinks is absolutely CRAZY for a twenty-one year old girl. (We all know what typical American twenty-one year olds are doing, celebrating such milestones as being able to drink alcohol, all the while this amazing girl has reached the milestone of not only being a mother, but being an adoptive mother to fourteen children.) Now that she has held those children in her own arms, she cannot let go. She is in it so deep that it has become her whole world. She is a living and breathing testimony of Christ's love for countless souls not only over there, but also to those who encounter her via her blog.

She is living out her faith in the FULLEST sense of the word.

Here I sit, in my comparatively luxurious lifestyle -- a thirty-two year old mother who is occasionally overwhelmed parenting only ONE completely healthy little boy (you know, we all have those days, ha!), a wife who worries about such things as how she is going to juggle her calendar or get her kid into the right school or what she is going to make for dinner this week or {shocker} what she is going to wear, a Christian whose encounters with this broken world are usually limited to the occasional homeless person she passes by driving around downtown. I have so very much to learn about seeing the brokenness of this world, taking responsibility, and being a testimony of Christ's love to as many people as I can and letting Him have every single action, word, and minute of my life, not just the occasional hour or two on Sunday morning.

I hope you'll take the time to click over and read some of her blog for yourselves. I pray that her words (and pictures) will touch your hearts the way she has already touched mine, and I pray that God would show us all how to live out such amazing faith in our own lives. Because everything else this world has to offer pales in comparison to the joy that can be found in Christ.

Read more here:

Purchase necklaces here:
Each purchase helps feed a child in Uganda.

Learn more about the ministry and other ways to help here:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On my nightstand

You know how I'm not a huge fan of contemporary Christian music? (But remember, I am slowly coming around...)

Well, the same can usually be said for me and Christian fiction. Not always a big fan. Except occasionally, like in the case of Francine Rivers. I always enjoy her books.

Her newest book is currently my bedtime book of choice, and I've devoured it so far.

It's one of those books that will make me so sad when it is over, but it looks like there will be a "Part 2" book coming out soon, so that is something to look forward to. If you haven't ever read any of her books, I would highly suggest this one:

And this one, which is a compilation of her five "Lineage of Grace" books about five extraordinary women from the Bible: Tamar, Bathsheba, Ruth, Rahab, and Mary:

And, on a somewhat unrelated note (since it's not Christian fiction), I absolutely LOVED this book:

But that is not my only bedtime reading of choice. Oh no. My boy and I have since moved on from the "Mercy Watson" series to a real, bonafide chapter book classic:

This is a stretch for us since my boy just turned five (last weekend) and isn't used to sitting still for books that don't have pictures on pretty much every single page. But so far (we're a couple of chapters in), he's doing pretty well. I've found that quizzing him on what we read before he goes to bed is a great way to make sure he's paying attention, and even quizzing him the next morning over breakfast helps reiterate it as well. By golly, that boy is going to learn to love to read, just like his mama. I'm going to make sure of it!

Are you reading anything great? Share your book suggestions with me!