Our Big, Fancy Night Out…

photo 1

(Sorry for the terrible pictures, these were all taken with my phone)

This weekend, Joel and I were invited to our city’s annual Black and White Gala, which is a black tie fund raiser for charity. It’s held at the lovely Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, there’s live music, good food, dancing, and a boisterous live auction. We mostly wanted to go just for the opportunity to get dressed up and have a night out. I was super lucky and snagged my little black dress from modcloth.com for a steal!

photo 2

Cassidy was fascinated while I was doing my hair, putting my makeup on, and picking out jewelry; she didn’t leave my side until it was time for us to go (honestly, she probably just wasn’t used to seeing her mommy in pretty makeup and nice clothes…she may not have even been sure it was ME!) ;) You can see in the picture how she’s playing with my bracelet- this girl loves jewelry!

photo 3

Although we didn’t win any bids (thank goodness- the item Joel was bidding on was a helmet and football signed by Johnny Football and it went for 10 grand! I can think of a LOT $10,000 will buy and none of it involves a football helmet…), we had a really good time. Joel got to mingle and exchange info with the congressman, which was exciting for us small town folks! ;)

photo

…a couple of nerds. ;)

Share:

    DIY Chrysanthemum Mirror

    DIY Chrysanthemum Mirror

    I’m SO excited to share this one with you! In fact, I just finished it TODAY and couldn’t wait to post it! Surely by now, you’ve all seen the awesome Chrysanthemum Mirror made out of plastic spoons on Pinterest; well, I’ve had my eye on it for a long time and finally got all the stuff to make one for myself! Here we go!

    You’ll need:

    200-300 plastic spoons (I think I ended up only using around 200)
    scissors or other cutting tool
    a round mirror (mine is about 9 inches in diameter, but use any size you like)
    cardboard
    hot glue gun
    spray paint
    a piece of ribbon, for hanging

    photo4

    Start by cutting all the handles off of your spoons. I started out using scissors, then quickly (oh-so-quickly!) realized how much that method plainly sucks. I ended up using small wire cutters, which worked perfectly. I’m not going to lie, this is the worst and most time-consuming part of the whole thing. You will get blisters; you will hate yourself for starting this @#%&** project. But persevere! You’ll be SO happy you stuck with it! By the way, you’ll want to cut off as much of the handle as possible- it makes it lots easier when it comes time to glue.

    Next, you’ll need to cut out a large circle of cardboard. I had a big box out in the garage that I used. Find a template (I used a big, round serving platter about 15 inches across), trace it, then cut it out. You’ll then need to cut out the hole in the middle for the mirror. Make sure your hole is smaller than the mirror so you’ll have something to glue it to. Make sense?

    photo 1

    I taped my edges with masking tape just in case part of it ended up being visible (which it did). See those ugly outer edges? You don’t want those peeking through!

    Next, spray paint the cardboard. I was tempted to skip this step, but ended up being very glad I didn’t, since I would’ve had little bits of cardboard peeking through the spoons. Use the color you’ll be using for the finished product.

    Ok, it’s time to start gluing! Honestly, I was terrified of this part. I just knew I was going to get it crooked or spaced wrong. I sat there staring at it for probably 30 minutes before finally just diving in. However, it turned out REALLY easy!

    photo 2

    Start with the back row; glue the spoons about an inch apart. As you can see, I didn’t exactly get mine perfect. But try your hardest to space them all as evenly as possible, as it will come back to bite you in the rear if you don’t.

    After you finish the first row, fill in the gaps with the second row of spoons. Be sure to place them slightly lower than the first row. Continue until yours looks like this:

    photo 3

    See how I did that? Easy, huh? Ok, now you should have one final row to go. Be sure the spoons you use for this row are cut cleanly and all fairly even since the bottoms will be showing. I used sandpaper to make sure my edges were rounded. Look at all those globs of hot glue! My glue gun had a little problem….

    After you’ve finished gluing all your spoons, go back and make sure you don’t have any little strings left behind by the glue gun. Mine left them all over the place and I spent forever picking them off of my spoons! If you leave them, the spray paint will only make them more noticeable.

    Now….paint!

    Then glue your piece of ribbon (or whatever you’ll be using to hang your finished mirror) on the back of the mirror. Then glue the mirror to the back of the cardboard circle. Easy as pie! And now you should have a completed, finished chrysanthemum mirror! Wasn’t that easy?!

    DIY Chrysanthemum Mirror 4

    DIY Chrysanthemum Mirror 2

    DIY Chrysanthemum Mirror 3

    I’m really, really happy with the end result! I think it added just the right pop of color I needed in my living room!

    Share:

      A Little Video…

      I put this together months ago, but kept forgetting to share it! I have to be honest, I can’t watch it without getting a little teary-eyed…

      Share:

        What’s New…

        Hi there! Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I wish I could say it’s because we’ve been busy with this or that, but honestly, I’ve been enjoying way too much time out by the pool to blog! ;) Here’s a little of what’s been going on in our lives lately:

        My birthday was Sunday (same as Father’s Day!), and with it began the last year I’ll spend in my 20′s. I’m pretty sure 29 needs to be an epic year for me. Let’s make it happen, self! Per my request, my birthday was pretty low-key. All I really wanted was an evening out with Joel (…and a slice of chocolate cake as big as my face), so he took my to my favorite steakhouse for dinner, then we went to the Apple store and picked out a new laptop. Also, my in-laws gave me an iPad Mini! I have to say- I love it so much more than the standard iPad!

        photo 2

        Ah, there’s the big-as-my-face cake….isn’t it a beaut?

        We spent Sunday swimming, eating, and relaxing. That’s all Joel really wanted for Father’s Day, and really, how could you want more than that?

        photo 4

        World’s best Daddy!

        We’re still in the middle of making tornado repairs. My parents and Joel and I are all having some issues with our crappy insurance companies (thanks for nothing, State Farm…), so we still have tarps on our roofs and tree stumps in our yards. It’s getting ridiculous, but I imagine we’ll get moving soon. Hopefully. My grandparents will begin rebuilding their house this week and I know we’re all anxious to see it finished as soon as possible. Really, we’re all just anxious to forget about all this and never look back.

        As usual, Cassidy is the brightest ray of sunshine in all of our lives. She brings so much joy wherever she goes! Even the grocery store! She waves to everyone (and I mean everyone- it’s amazing to see my little baby wave to a dude you definitely would NOT want to meet in a dark alley and see him smile and wave back to her!). We love taking her to Mexican restaurants and watching her eat her weight in guacamole. I’m telling you- pure sunshine, this kid!

        photo 3

        We’ve been toying with the idea of taking a short trip to the Texas coast later in the summer. I love the thought of Cassidy playing on the beach! I think it needs to happen…

        Well, that’s really all there is to tell. We’re very boring people, but I like it that way. :)

        Share:

          16 Months…

          IMG_2248

          Sun flares or Cassidy curls? You decide… ;)

          Friends, my baby girl is 16 months old! It’s amazing how fast they stop being babies and start being toddlers.  Although I can say with 100% sincerity that molars are the worst thing EVER and can really make our days suck, having a 16 month old is by far, the most fun we’ve had so far with Cassidy. She’s so stinking funny! Some of the things she says and does has us in stitches! Here are our 16 month stats:

          Still sleeping great! We’re still at around 12-13 hours every night, although, she recently went through a phase where she wasn’t sleeping a full 12 hours. I’ll take it, though! :) Naps are a struggle. Lately, I’m lucky if I get 30 minutes out of her. Hopefully this phase passes quickly and she’ll start napping better.

          Even though she still won’t really let any “new” people hold her, for the most part, she’s gotten over the whole “stranger danger” phase. I took her to a bridal shower last week and she was a little social butterfly! She went from person to person waving and saying “hi!” over and over! She still loves blingy jewelry and will walk up to anyone and play with their pretty necklaces. All the little old ladies at our church just love it.

          She’s gotten really good at saying new words. She likes to repeat what we say (uh oh, we’d better watch what we say now!). Some of her newest words are “juice”, “oops” “hi, Bee” (she calls my mom’s dog Bee), ” blankie”, “hot”, and I know there are more, I just can’t remember them all right now! She’s on first name basis with our music minister’s little boy, Drew- she calls him “Dew”. Adorable. Is it too soon to arrange a marriage?

          IMG_2250

          The curls. The beautiful, red curls. I have no idea where they came from, but I LOVE them! And they only get curlier and curlier! She’s really living up to her name, which in fact, means “curly headed girl”. Love my little curly cue!

          Still eating like a champ. Not much change there.

          She loves to play outside and dig in the dirt. We took her swimming yesterday and she freaked out for a few minutes, but ended up splashing and having a great time after that.

          IMG_2255

          Loves, loves, loves to “count”! Anytime we do most anything, we count it out (ooooone, twoooooo, threeeeee!) and she loves to count along. It usually comes out sounding like, “dooo, doooooooo, DOOOO!”, but we know what she means. ;) She counts out her toys, the silverware in the dishwasher, “ingredients” when she’s “cooking”….she counts all the time and we love it.

          She doesn’t have any new teeth this month (we’re still at 9), but she’s working on a new one right now. Fun times. :(

          Loves to read books. Especially lift-the-flap books!

          IMG_2273

          IMG_2243

          IMG_2240

          IMG_2256

           

          …aaaand, get ready for the sweetest picture of all time…

           

          photo 1

          Love them so, so much!

          Share:

            I Will Praise You In This Storm…

            “I will praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands; for you are who you are, no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried, you hold in your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.”

            Before I talk about what we witnessed 2 weeks ago, I’d like to let the people of Moore, OK know that my heart is absolutely broken for them, and we are all praying for them. What we went through pales in comparison to the devastation they’ve suffered.

            The day after the May 15th tornado in Cleburne (that’s where I live, by the way. Now you know.), I wrote down my account of what happened, but since we had no internet for a week, then my blog was hacked (isn’t that lovely?), I haven’t been able to share it with you until now. Here’s the story of how the Cleburne tornado affected my family. All pictures were taken with my iphone and are unedited.

            Wednesday, May 15, 2013.  I sat on my bed that morning, thinking about the weekend, and how we would spend it. Out in the backyard, probably. Maybe have the family over. I made spaghetti for dinner, then Joel and I went to church choir practice. While we were there, they said a hail storm was expected, so we all rushed home to put our cars in the garage.  Somehow, before I knew it, Joel, Cassidy, Izzy, Joel’s parents, and I were all huddled together in the bathroom. A tornado might be coming. I had hunkered in a bathroom or closet many times before and wasn’t too worried. In all honesty, I was a little annoyed at having to get Cassidy out of bed.

            Then we heard a noise. Almost like the humming of an AC unit, but louder. Then it got louder and louder until it became a ferocious roar. Our ears popped and the air was sucked out of the room. It all happened so quickly, but it seemed as if everything was in slow motion. My mother-in-law held Cassidy. I had my arms around Joel’s neck and my cheek against his, frantically whispering prayers. The roar got louder and there were terrifying bangs on our roof. Cassidy got scared and cried so we sang ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ to distract her. I knew it was especially bad when Joel quietly whispered, “I love you” in my ear. He thought we would die that night. Then, silence. I mean, absolute quiet. No wind, no rain. Not. One. Sound. We wondered if it was over, and then the roar came again. More banging and howling. If possible, this time was even more terrifying than the last. Cassidy screamed as our ears kept popping. I prayed for God to protect us until at last, it was all over.

            We grabbed lanterns and walked into the front yard. I couldn’t see anything except for my neighbors’ lanterns dancing in the darkness. I heard frantic voices, “everyone ok?!”.  I ran through the yard in bare feet looking for Joel. There were limbs and roof shingles and pieces of metal everywhere.  As I walked and took in all the damage, I thanked God for the miracle He worked in that tiny bathroom. We were all safe. My family was ok.  Praise God. We were missing some parts of our roof, our trees were ripped apart, and there was an enormous tree in our pool (along with our patio furniture), but all things considered, our damage was minimal.

            tornado

            tornado2

            [our street]

            My parents and grandparents were not so lucky. My parents’ living room ceiling collapsed, dumping insulation all over everything. Water seeped into every wall. My grandparents’ house of 41 years collapsed around them. They stood in a tiny hallway along with my parents as the ceilings fell in, windows shattered, and trees were ripped from the ground. By the grace of God, all four of them walked away without so much as a scratch.  The house was absolutely ruined. 41 years of memories gone in an instant. The playhouse my Grandaddy built for my sister and me was smashed against a tree. The carport was completely blown away. The tornado dumped sludge and murky water into their den, ruining treasured pictures, books, and keepsakes. All pictures below are of my grandparents’ house.

            tornado9

            [Doesn't look too bad from the outside, right?]

            tornado12

            tornado13

            [after my cousins had gotten all the soggy insulation shoveled away]

            tornado5

            tornado7

            tornado14

            The next day, as my sister, mother, and I walked over to my grandparents’ house, my sister warned me to brace myself. I could handle it, I said. But one look at the battered shell of a house that was once my most treasured retreat, and I knew I couldn’t handle it. I hugged my grandparents, cried, and spoke to a few news reporters (they were hovering like flies), then walked to a secluded part of the front yard. I looked down and saw a bird wrapped around a tree branch and in that moment, something snapped and I came completely unhinged. I stood in the front yard and sobbed like a little girl. This was without a doubt, the worst thing my family has experienced.

            tornado3

            tornado8

            tornado10

            [the backyard. That's my playhouse.]

            My cousins, aunt and uncle, sister, and mother and I all worked frantically to get Nana and Grandaddy’s belongings out of the house before any more roof caved in and more damage was done. A crew of volunteers from Home Depot (God bless them!) showed up in the front yard with water, gloves, shovels, and chainsaws and began sawing the fallen trees apart and moving them. Church groups drove around with food and water. The way the community came together during all this was truly touching. I’ve never been more proud of my town.

            tornado4

            Hundreds of others in Cleburne lost their homes. Over 600 homes were damaged and so many, like Nana and Grandaddy’s, were destroyed. Joel’s close friend lost his childhood home. Half of the people on my parents’ street were told their homes weren’t safe to live in. Even with destruction and despair all around us, all we could do was thank The Lord for keeping us safe. There were no fatalities that night.

            Since the tornado, we’ve had several more storms (when will they stop?!) and I’d be lying if I said we haven’t been scared to death every time we see a little rain cloud. There are still tarps on every roof and small twigs, leaves, and debris line the streets. Every time we go outside, we’re reminded of that awful night. My grandparents have found a duplex to rent until their house can be rebuilt. Everyone is doing their best to move on. Every day I hug my husband and my baby girl tighter and remember that I could’ve lost them.  All there is left to do now is be thankful for family and the gift of life and “praise the God who gives and takes away.”

            tornado6

            Share:

              15 Month Update

              IMG_1974

              Sorry for the delay in posting anything new. I get sidetracked easily.

              Our little firecracker is growing up FAST. She just had her 15 month check-up last week (she had to get 3 shots- poor baby!). Here are some milestones and fun facts:

              She now has 9 teeth, including two new molars (…I hate molars), and she’s working on an upper incisor. I hate those, too.

              She still eats awesome, although lately, her appetite has slowed down because of teething. The #1 favorite is still spaghetti (with guacamole coming in at a close second), but she still gobbles up anything I put in front of her (much like her daddy) – meatloaf, scrambled eggs, all fruits, oatmeal, pancakes, fish, quesadillas, and more.

              We’ve started weaning off bottles. I still give her one at bedtime, but I’ll slowly start phasing that out. She loves straw sippy cups, and that’s the only kind she’ll take.

              She’s learned how to climb up onto couches and chairs, which scares the crap out of me. She loves to climb onto the couch, then roll off onto a pile of pillows. I know, great parenting, Amy.

              This girl LOVES to play outside! She holds onto my index finger and leads me all over the yard. We look at flowers, bushes, trees, grass, acorns, and dirt. She loves picking berries off of our holly bush and piling them into one of my flower pots. She also looooves digging in the dirt. *sigh* We just extended our back fence by 6 feet so she can have more room to play outside in the back yard. We’ll eventually put in a swing and a mudpie-making zone. ;)

              Still sleeping great. For most of the last 7 or 8 months, she’s been sleeping around 13 hours a night, up until the last couple of weeks. Now, she goes to bed around 7:45-8, and wakes up around 7:30 or so. Not too shabby, kid.

              She loves mimicking everything we do (which means Mommy and Daddy really have to watch what they say and do…), like waving and saying, “hi!” to everyone she sees (including inanimate objects), giving high-fives, blowing kisses, and saying, “oh, myyyyy” and “oh boy!”. If I ask her for a kiss, her favorite response is a quick, “no!”. No love for Mommy. She loves to help us clean out the dishwasher, too (adorable).

              She loves to wear jewelry, shoes, and carry purses. A definite girly-girl! She gets mad if I take her shoes off!

              Her hair is still bright red, which we just love. And lately, it’s developed lots of curl! Which is great, because her name means ‘a curly headed girl’. Obviously, I didn’t know that when we named her.

              IMG_1967

              IMG_1997 copy

              She’s definitely got a red-headed temper, but this girl brings nothing but sunshine wherever she goes. Truly our greatest joy!

              Share:

                Making a Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade…

                Coconut Cake 2

                Last weekend, we all had to bring a dish to my parents’ house for Easter. I had seen a gorgeous looking coconut cake on another blog and immediately volunteered to bring dessert just so I could have an excuse to make this cake. I felt it had to be fate because I just happened to have the exact amount of ingredients I needed to make the cake. It was a little involved and time-consuming, but it sounded so good I knew it would be worth it. After all that hard work, I pulled the cakes out of the oven only to discover they hadn’t risen AT ALL and tasted almost like dense cornbread. What???

                Well crap. Easter was tomorrow. What was I going to do?? I was out of flour and butter since I had used the last of it on the disaster cakes. I looked in the pantry- there was a box of white cake mix. Dare I? Yep, I dared. But I tweaked it a little to add a more homemade taste and look to it- no one ever even suspected it was from a box. It was really good and looked gorgeous! Success! Here’s how I did it:

                Coconut Cake 3

                The instructions on the back of the box called for:

                3 egg whites
                1 1/4 cups water
                1/3 cup vegetable oil

                I used instead:

                2 egg whites and 1 whole egg (at room temperature)
                1 1/4 cups buttermilk
                1/3 cup oil
                1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (that’s all I use and I think it makes all the difference)
                1/2 teaspoon almond extract

                Divide the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 20 minutes. Using 3 cake pans instead of 2 will make the finished cake look taller and more professional. Plus, you get an extra layer of frosting that way! Use your favorite homemade buttercream (I’m sorry, but there really is no substitute for homemade buttercream. The stuff from the can doesn’t even come close).

                Here’s my go-to buttercream recipe:

                3 sticks butter, at room temperature
                1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
                splash milk
                1/4 teaspoon salt
                1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                1/2 teaspoon almond extract (this adds so much!)

                Mix together in a stand mixer until you get a nice, thick, spreadable consistency. If you feel it’s too thick, add more milk. Makes enough to frost a 3 layered cake (it makes a lot!). To decorate the cake, sprinkle with flaked coconut.

                Coconut Cake

                No one will ever know it came from a box! Enjoy your new-found knowledge! ;)

                Share:

                  Easter…

                  IMG_2057

                  Hope everyone’s Easter was great! Ours was very happy. Cassidy loved getting her Easter basket this year- the Easter Bunny brought her some Teddy Grahams, fruit pouches, a couple of cute little books, and a giant flower headband (too cute to resist!). She was so excited Easter morning!

                  easter bunny

                  My whole family gathered at my parents’ house after church for a big meal and we all had a great time- I really love Easter! I don’t know if everyone watched this or not, but if you didn’t you really NEED to watch the History Channel’s The Bible series. The final two episodes were especially good- really, really moving.

                  easter

                  I had so much fun picking out Cassidy’s outfit this year! I thought she looked so stinkin adorable! My precious girl!

                  Share:

                    DIY Stovetop Potpourri…

                    potpurri

                    Everybody loves a fresh-smelling house! Me especially. I have about a billion candles and Scentsy smells stashed away in a cabinet. However, there are some smells that just don’t translate well when it comes to candles. Lemon, lavendar, blueberry, most flowers (it ends up smelling sickeningly sweet! Bleh!), and orange. I think I’ve tried just about every kind of orange scent and they all smell too…fake. I don’t know why the candle companies just can’t seem to get orange right!

                    Recently, I had some leftover oranges that were on their last leg and I just couldn’t resist making myself a little potpourri to make the house smell beautifully orangey! I threw in a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the backyard, a splash of vanilla and voila! Instant aroma therapy! It’s so easy to make your own stovetop scents! Just throw it all in and let it simmer!

                    DIY Stovetop Potpourri

                    2 oranges, cut into thin slices
                    2 sprigs fresh rosemary
                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                    3 cups water

                    In a medium saucepan, mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer. Enjoy for hours!

                    Share: