Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Candace's 2013

I could sum up 2013 in two words: challenging and adventure. This is the year I have FINALLY become whole again and think I have figured out what it is I want to do with my life (or I at least have a better idea). It's the year that I finally felt as if I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I was meant to do. So here you go, big events from 2013:

Early in 2013 I began the process of getting a job at OU...the one I ended up getting and have now.  (The one that consumes so much of my time - though I must say, I'm getting much better at managing work and personal...even if it did take me nine months.) In April, I left Sysco and began as OU's social media marketing manager. It has been both a challenge and an adventure. Most days I love it. There have been a few days I'd love for my phone to disappear. And one or two days when I'd love to disappear, but I do feel it's where I'm supposed to be.  Along with this new job, has come so many opportunities, events and all-around excitement. I watched football on the field, hung out with Jep and Jessica Robertson for a day and Barry Switzer in his living room, hosted an Instameet on campus and my favorite thing of all - spoke at conferences, events and schools about social media, online identity and digital citizenship.

In May, I turned 28. The very same day, Oklahoma had some of the worst storms in Oklahoma history. Luckily, my brother and Lauren had come down to celebrate with birthday dinner. We wound up in the student union with my friend Laura and several hundred of our "closest friends." It was so nice of everyone to get together for me like that. ;) It wasn't ideal, but at the end of that batch of storms, my home was still standing and that's so much more than other people had at that time. Not to mention, I had some pretty great company.

In August, my sister, Cortney, and I took a trip to Washington D.C. We both love DC.  We ate good food, met interesting people, almost got hit by a car, rode the entire Metro 500 times (or so it seems) and enjoyed a lot of sister time and people watching. (I LOVE the metro and would love to live somewhere I didn't need a car.)

Speaking of cars, I began the process of car shopping in the summer. Car shopping proved to be the worst. The. Worst. I'm writing a post about my experience. Stay tuned. It's a good one - full of awkward Candace moments. In the end it all worked out and I happily drive my new 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T V8 Hemi. (Btw, the ticket I got was NOT in my car - it was in a CNG-powered truck and I thought I truly deserved an award for getting it to go as fast as the hi-po said I was going.) Jovie even has a special car seat and loves it.

Speaking of Jovie, she turned two this year (on September 1) and we celebrated two years together (on 11-11)! She is such a happy part of my everyday life. If you know me at all, you know what she means to me.  And if you don't know me so well, just have a look at my Instagram feed (@candacepants). ;)

My DIY Chair Revamp was featured on Brit+Co in August but I saw it just the other day. It was a very nice surprise.

And lastly, this year also began my roller derby adventure! Roller derby is the hardest, funnest thing I've ever done.  I was looking for something to whip me into shape (check!), give me something extracurricular and fun to do - like something I do for me and no one else and simply because I want to do it (check!) and a way to meet new people and make new friends (check!). Also, having played competitive sports in high school and semi-playing intramurals in college, I missed being a part of a team and having something competitive in my life.  This has been the best thing that could have happened to me. It's proved to be a great outlet and stress reliever. The girls are beautiful, strong athletes and great people. It can be very lonely going home alone day after day. So getting to go to practice and hang out with other girls who share a common interest has been a big part of me becoming whole again - a big part of what keeps me happy. We've been training hard and will test and have try-outs in January. 

So for 2014, I have an ambitious and exciting to-do list ready and waiting! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Letters to Santa

Several weeks ago my mom came across some of our old letters to Santa. She did what any responsible librarian would do and laminated them and we (my brother, sister and I) read them aloud last night for Christmas Eve.  I thought I'd also share on here. I believe I was in ninth grade, Cortney was in eighth and that would make Bubba in third. Bubba was still a "believer" in Santa and Cortney and I were helping keep up the act.

Dear Santa,
May I please have a remote control race car? If you don't have a 'mote control race car, then a 'mote control pickup will do.

Dear Santa,
How's it goin'? How are the reindeer?! Well for Christmas this year I really want a karyoke (circled with "sp?" written by it) machine. (I'm tired of using hairbrushes to sing with.) If I do get a karyoake machine, I want it to be able to play karyoake cd's.
If I don't get that then I want Adidas wind suit pants and an Adidas sweat shirt. (If I don't get the shirt, I'm not going to kill-over.) Oh, but I do want the pants that button up the side of the leg.
In my stocking I would like the Backstreet Boys "Millennium" cd.
P.S. Tell the elves I said "Hi!"
P.S.S. I really don't care either one of the things I asked for would be fine! OK?!

Dear Santa,
A portable cd player with a three second anti-skip. And I would also like a portable cd player case. It has two compartments. One is for the portable cd player and the other is for cds.  I would also really like Celine Dion's new cd. A Decade of Song. It's the number one seller at Wal-Mart in the electronics department. I have been very, very, very, very good this year. I was never in major trouble. I never even got a spanking with the big brown belt. (If I had, believe me, I would have remembered.) I worked real hard the first semester and I wound up with all A's. I have also never had drugs or alcohol, so that should count for something!

Ha! Not only do these letters show that my sister and I had terrible taste in music, but they also nicely illustrate each of our distinct personalities - Bubba, short and to the point. After all, this is the man who has to get off the phone because his "ear is getting hot." Cortney, friendly, outgoing, conversational - but while she won't kill over a sweat shirt, she might over pants. LOL! And me, to-the-point, specific and well-researched, with facts to justify the purchase.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Target Gift Card Giveaway Winner

is.......Liz Lewis from Liz Makes! (Liz, I just sent you an email.)

Thank you to those who participated. I enjoyed reading your choices!

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This or That: Christmas Edition (and Target Giftcard Giveaway!)

UPDATE (12.23.2013): This giveaway is now closed. (However, feel free to answer below if you would like!) The giveaway winner information can be found HERE.

Hi friends! Let's have some fun and get to know each other a little better!

The rules are simple and there are only three:
1. Go down the list and choose which you prefer for each of the "or's."
2. Tell why.
3. No answering with "both" or "neither." This is Candaceland and you. Must. Choose. :)

Keep scrolling for giveaway details!

So I'll tell you mine as an example (and so you get to know me better) and then I'll end with the giveaway details! Yay!

Home Alone - I think this is mostly generational. I was at that right age when this movie was popular. Also I always found that kid in Christmas Story annoying (though I like the grown up version) and I dated a guy whose mom LOVED this movie and she annoyed me so........
Hot Cocoa - Or as I like to call it "Ho Cho" and I drink my body weight in it each year. Though I do have a great recipe for egg nog I'm anxious to try, ho cho will always be my comfort drink.
Clear - I like the simplicity. When I had my old house I put 800 clear lights on a six foot tree. I think they could see it from space but it was beautiful.
Gingerbread - My friend Bethanye and I just made a village this past weekend. It was hilarious and entertaining. Time well spent.
Grinch - this year anyway. I'm just so stressed and busy and overwhelmed. Looking forward to my two week break (hello, working at a university!).
Fake - always a fake. They last year after year and don't aggravate my allergies...though this is my third year of no tree or decorations. That's what happens when you live in a studio apartment.
TRUFFLES - helloooooooo, it's chocolate!
Hahahahahaha - Clark - as much as I love the zingers Cousin Eddie says, I choose Clark exclusively based on the expression on his face in that pic.
White Christmas - Because of the TWO "Sisters" numbers. (but I truly love both these movies.)

Now for the Giveaway! Up for grabs is a $25 Target Giftcard!
Ways to enter (Note: Be sure to enter separate comments for each entry!!!!!)
  • Leave a comment with your selections from above. (One comment for all - not a comment for each on this one.)
  • Follow this blog (if you aren't already) and leave a comment saying you did.
  • Share this on Facebook and leave a comment saying you did.
  • Share on Twitter and leave a comment saying you did.
  • Pin to Pinterest and leave a comment saying you did, with the link to your board.
So, if you do each of these, you would have five total comments below.  The winner will be drawn at random at 5:00 pm Central Time on Monday, December 23, 2013. Winner will be announced on the blog and emailed. Please make sure the account you comment with has an up-to-date email address associated with it, OR leave your email address in your comment so I can reach you if you win! Gift card will be mailed to the winner, unless you're local and then I'll deliver it. (Anyone can play; only US residents can win.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Favorite Things

1. Vaseline Lip Therapy | Cocoa Butter
I love the winter time but my skin gets so dry. My lips are the worst. So I bring you this lip balm. It keeps my lips in much better shape than others I've tried and Burt's Bees has become a little to strong for my taste.  (read: it kind of stings. I think that's where they got the name.) Initially, I almost passed this one up because I don't like to put on lip balm with my finger but I'm glad I gave it a try. I mostly use this one before bed and over lip stick before work.  There's another kind with a nice rose tint. It's texture is a little thinner than this one though. There's also an "original" that I completely avoid and will not try because it reminds me of mentholatum. And I have been traumatized with mentholatum my entire life. (A blog post for another time.) So there you have it, the secret to my beautifully supple yet perpetually unkissed lips.

2. Evernote
Chances are if I talk to you on a regular basis, I have sung the praises of Evernote.  And in return, chances are you have given me a blank stare as thanks. If I don't talk to you on a regular basis, you are in for a real treat! Evernote is a free app you can load on your phone/laptop/other devices, etc. You use a login and then no matter what device you are using, all your notes sync with each other.  So, for example, if I'm in a meeting and have only my phone, I take notes on my Evernote app and then when I get back to my computer or home laptop, BAM! There are my notes, haunting waiting for me!  You can also tag notes to search later. So if I'm meeting with College of Business, they get a Business tag.  That way it's easy to go back and see all the notes you've taken from College of Business meetings and what's been discussed.  I also use this for my grocery list because if I think of something, I add it wherever I am and then it's on my phone with I get to the store. SO HANDY. One last thing: you can email notes to people. So if you're taking minutes or need to send notes to everyone who attended a particular meeting, it's built in.  You can send it so that they can edit or you can send it locked so they can only view.  Oh, the power!

3. Tights
What girl doesn't love tights and boots?! This is basically my uniform 85% of the time in the winter. (Hello, fleece-lined tights!) Most of mine come from Banana Republic, J.Crew and Zulily. (The ones in the photo above are from Zulily. I have them all.)  Also, let's all remember and observe the cardinal rule of tights: Thou shall not wear tights as pants.

I would live in this shirt if it was socially acceptable to wear the same thing every single day. Wait, is it?! This shirt is soft and comfortable and easy - from washer to dryer to wearer. The title describes it as "western" but I don't really think it looks western.  I wear it with black jeans, boots and a scarf or sweater OR an orange skirt, tights, boots.  The jury is still out on if shirts like this are acceptable to be worn with denim jeans. My brother says that is what you call a Texas Tuxedo. Your call. I'm not going to live your life. Just telling you what I know.

Technically, SNL did this video for Halloween…but I cannot stop watching it. So a little background - I love Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom) movies more than any other movies out there. The styling, the humor, the dryness, the filmography - I. Love. It.  It may not be for everyone and I'm ok with that. It only means I will get a good seat for opening day of The Grand Budapest Hotel.  So, this video is a spoof of Wes Anderson-style films.  It is hilarious and I have watched it at least 500 times. If you're not a fan of Wes Anderson, you may not get/enjoy it.  But if you are, get ready to laugh! What am I saying?! If you're a fan, you've probably already seen it! "You had me at Wes Anderson." Yep.

I don't have the thickest or longest eye lashes around and I never never NEVER use one of those torture devices known as an eye lash curler. Why would anyone want to crimp the hair coming out of their eye?! I don't like. So when my future sister-in-law, Lauren, told me about this mascara I thought I'd give it a try. I get it at Ulta, but Sephora has it too. It only comes in one color. Generally I'm a black-brown kind of girl but jet black is the only color available in this mascara and it's fine. Not to sound like one of those stupid, over-the-top mascara commercials, but it really does provide dramatic length and volume AND (my favorite part is) is doesn't smudge or run, yet still comes off easily when I wash my face before bed. It's a win!


Artwork: stag, banner and borders: We Lived Happily Ever After; Sketch Me Pretty: 12 Stunning Free Rustic Graphics
"December 2013" Font: GrutchShaded
"Favorite Things" Font: SoLonely

(These are my thoughts and opinions. I did not receive any type of compensation for these statements; these items are simply things I like, enjoy and/or find useful.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chair Revamp Take 2

Sooooooo, since I got a new job and didn't know if I could take the yellow office chairs with me (and definitely didn't have room for them in my apartment), I sold them to a lady at work.  I also mentioned I had two others at home if she was interested.  She was and wanted the seat covers the same but painted green.  And so that is what she got!  Before and after are below:

Before and After
As you can see, the seats on these were disgusting.  I got new two inch upholstery foam for them and then recovered as I did before.  I do not like to sand things so I used one can of Zinsser Spray Primer.  The one can thoroughly covered the darker chair and I used the rest on the arm chair, which wasn't in as much need of primer.  Then I used about 1.5 cans of Valspar Premium Enamel Spray Paint in "Satin Tropical Foliage" to paint.  I definitely recommend both those products.  They cover beautifully, are easy to use and dry quickly.  I LOVE how these turned out and hope she likes them too!  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Designs Lately

This was for a friend's nursery.  It was a fun project and she was so easy to work with.  See it in her nursery HERE.

When clients come to the office for a review, this is the sign that greets them at the door.  I was and am a little obsessed with Jazz Apples.  They have a fun name and they are delicious so they get to be on the welcome sign...

And the book covers.  Oh and that's not a photo of our new kitchen but it's very similar.  I LOVE our new kitchen.

I think this place it a bar.  It was a fun project (this is the front page.  There is more but you can get the idea by looking at this.)  I like their logo-was not designed by me.  That fish looks so over it.  I had been wanting to use the font on the headers (Vila Morena - Free font at for quite some time and this was the perfect project for it.  They loved it.

Oh, Gusto's, what a challenge you are.  They told me the general idea of what they wanted and then said they were open to anything.  Do whatever you want, they said.  After I sent it, they told me they loved it and then proceeded to change everything about it.  Except the cover.  They love the cover.  Such is the life of a graphic designer.  Sometimes when people say "do whatever you want" it works out really well and sometimes it doesn't.

Still in draft form.  I really like it but everything about it will change and it's still lacking the raw meat "disclaimer" and pricing.  Mmmmm, Taco Pizza.  Stop reading the menu, Candace!
I'm not exactly sure what this is for.  They told me they wanted a logo with those words and this is what happened!!  I used all the company-issued colors and discovered they don't really look very pretty together.
For this menu, we called in a professional food photographer and food stylist (yes, those are actually real professions) and they did an amazing job.  One day after staring at this menu for all day I had to go to Rudy's and get some ribs.

Usually when I work on menus I can input the information without it making me hungry.  It's just kind of in and out and I read for errors, not necessarily for comprehension because if I did I'd eat all the time and be huge.  With this one, it was hard to do that with the delicious photos staring right back at me.  Mission accomplished, OK Joe's.

Sales meeting reminder.  Yes, this was also my Facebook cover photo.  I just added the words for this reminder.  I like to use photos of Jovie whenever I can and since I had it already...

Reminder or a sales meeting made to look like a race bib.  Yay!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Easter circa 1991
In the photo above is, my sister, Cortney, our friend Mitchell, Me and our friend Bethanye.  I asked my mom why I am making such a terrible face in the photo and she said it was because I didn't get any eggs.  Ha!  I suppose me not being able to hide my true feelings has been a lifelong issue gift.  I also love the expression on Bethanye's face!  Cortney looks triumphant and pretty pleased with herself so you can imagine how the egg hunt turned out for her.

My mom made our dresses....and matching baskets.  She's awesome like that.

The lady standing behind us is Margaret.  She was our children's church teacher and was soooooo good.  She had a true gift for working with littles.  And the guy with that awesome video camera is still a family friend.  The only thing better than this photo would be watching the video.

I know today is so much more than egg hunts and Easter dresses and I'm so thankful for that.  Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


My brother is 24 today!!  (And tomorrow is Easter AND my mom's birthday!)  We've always shared a similar sense of humor and have also always been pretty good at mocking things - like glamour shots.  Around the time I started getting interested in photography, he was more than willing to pose and be my "model" any time.  One year we did Easter glamor shots:

"Hold some eggs, Bubba!

"Now look up here!"

"Look surprised, Bubba!"
Funny story about where these were taken...This was our old house before our parents built a new one and we tore that one down.  The really fun part about that was we were actually the ones who tore it down and who doesn't love demo?!?  We had been tearing it down and finally all that was really left above foundation boards was the front wall and the front porch.  Mom and Bubba went to church and I stayed home to help dad.  Right before they got home, I got to take it all out with the tractor and when Bubba got home he was in shock and disbelief that he had missed out on all the fun.  To this day he is reminded how it was basically the funnest thing ever.

Happy Birthday, Brother Bear!  I love you more than you'll ever know.

See his birthday post from last year, HERE.

This was taken in downtown OKC, just for funnsies.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Favorite Things

No. 1:  Lucky Brand Emmie 2 Flats (in "brown")
Well, just in time for spring/summer (aka the most oppressive months of the year) because, well, I do not wear flip flops.  Each year I buy a new pair of black flats and each year I wear them out.  My pair from last year has holes in the heels.  This year I decided to go with these instead of standard plain black.  There are a lot of colors and I love the pattern.  In this style, there are actually about 12 different colors/patterns to choose from at, which is where I ordered these.  I liked a lot of the other options too.  The thing I like most about these is the cushioned sole.  They are comfortable and mine fit to size.  Some reviews on the site said they ran small.  But I usually wear a 7.5 and that's what I ordered and they fit perectly.  I also like that they have elastic around the top so they stay on my feet.  The pair I had last year would slide off my heels a little.

No. 2:  Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies
I'm not even mad about that little Thin Mint person thing.  Ok, I am a little.  What is she doing with her hand???  And why the soccer ball?  Not all people have to be into sports.  She could hold a book or magnifying glass or paint palette something.  I get that she's supposed to look like a girl scout with that sash, but why does it have a "1" ribbon on it?  So many unanswered questions!

I look forwad to these every year and my mom and dad usually give these to us as Valentine's Day gifts.  Yep, my parents still do Valentines for us.  Jealous much?  I got four boxes this year and they were gone in about that many days.  My friend Abby did help me though.  Thank you, Abby. 

Mark and I went to Wal-Mart one night and both of us notoriously never carry cash so when the table of littles in green at the door asked us to buy some I said, "Maybe on the way out." thinking I could get some cash while I was checking out.  But then we decided we probably didn't need to buy anymore.  They have so many calories!  On our way out we were both looking for them and thinking they were gone only to have them ambush us yelling, "YOU SAID YOU WOULD BUY SOME COOKIES!"  We almost ran from them.  Those girls are crazy and should not be underestimated.  Also, they do not forget - anything or anyone.  Now, we give them a definite "No" when they badger ask us on our way in to stores.  That way there's no confusion there.

No. 3:  She & Him: "Never Wanted Your Love"
I've mentioned this group a couple of times before.  I love their music.  Probably partly because I'm a big fan of Zooey Deschanel.  This is the one and only single resleased so far from Volume 3.  Yay!  The music is upbeat and perky, despite the kind of downer title.  The whole album will be released May 7 (May 13 for UK/Europe) but this single is available on iTunes, Amazon, etc or follow the link above and listen to it on their site.  You can pre-order Volume 3 by visiting their site HERE, Amazon HERE or on iTunes HERE. Cannot wait to have a listen to the whole thing!

No. 4:  Aquanet Hairspray
I know this stuff has been around since the 1950s but it's by far my favorite - especially here in Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.  It provides awesome hold and when the wind does dent your do, it goes right back in to place.  I use the unscented kind because I can't stand the floral or sour grape or whatever the scent says it's supposed to be.  No thanks.  I also wear unscented deodorant.  The only "fragrance" I like to wear is my perfume.

No. 5:  Banana Joe
Banana Joe is Jovie's crush.  They are both Affenpinschers.  Banana Joe recently took the Best in Show honors at  the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show.  So as far as dogs go, he's the rock star on posters in Jovie's bedroom.  Jovie and I watched him win and he has so many of the same mannerisms she does.  Such happy little gremlin dogs.  

No. 6:  Celestial Seasonings Antioxidant Green Tea with White Tea for a Smooth Taste
I like this one for several reasons.  I like green tea.  The white tea really does give it a smoother taste.  It's not at all bitter like some green tea can be.  It has an elephant on the box.  I also drink the "Sleepytime" version at night.  There's tons of research about hot green tea is really healthy for you and full of good stuff but mostly I just like the way it tastes and since I'm no longer drinking soda pop or regular sweet tea, it's a great alternative.

What are your favorite things at the moment???

Friday, March 22, 2013

Timmons Family Spring Break Vacation

During my senior year of college, my parents decided the five of us were going to take a spring break trip.  My sister was also in college and my brother was a senior in high school.  It was going to be a cruise.  It was all very exciting.  We would all get to be together (because we actually enjoy the family togetherness thing) and we hadn't all been on a vacation together in quite some time.  So this is the story of the Timmons family's big ship adventure.

The night before we left, my sister and I were packing and my dad was watching a special on the travel channel about cruises.  He assured us the ship would have bathrooms equipped with blow dryers, you know, like hotel rooms.  He had seen it on the show so it was sure to be true so we didn't pack one.  We did, however, pack one entire suitcase of nothing but shoes.  For a cruise of all places!

My mom booked the trip.  I don't know if it was last minute or if she wasn't aware that we could have gotten adjoining rooms, or if she wanted us to all be extra close or if there was a shortage or rooms --- I don't know.  What I do know is somehow all FIVE of us ended up in ONE, interior room.  And we're basically a family of giants.  My sister and I clock in around 5' 9" and our brother is a real whopper at 6' 5."  Our parents fall somewhere in between those sizes.  SO you get it - we're gigantors.  Our ship steward was a little hobbit-sized man and always seemed to be in awe of us. One of us would open the door and he'd gape and ooo and ahh at all of us crammed in one, tiny room.

This also meant one, tiny bathroom.  The bathroom bothered me on several levels. It was always wet. And the shower was practically over the toilet. Not to mention for a family of giants, it was like that scene in Elf when Buddy is trying to shower in the elf-size shower. Yeah, like that. Every time I went in there to brush my teeth, my toothbrush was already wet. Blah!

Also included in our clam-sized room was an itinerary that none of us bothered to read.  The first day was pretty basic - there's that safety thing everyone has to do so there's not a Titanic situation on their hands, then just walking around and getting ready for dinner.

We were all excited about dinner because we wanted to get dressed up.  I showered and then to my horror, couldn't find the blow dryer anywhere.  I'm not one of those girls who is blessed with that easy breezy all-American girl next door I-just-wash-my-hair-at-night-and-wake-up-looking-flawless-and-amazing kind of heads of hair.  A blow dryer is necessary for my not looking like a child-eating monster.  There was no blow dryer.  As it turns out, the ship we were on was on it's last voyage at sea before it was going to undergo a massive remodel.  I was so angry I didn't speak.  We all got ready in our fanciest of fancy duds and me with my fuzzy still wet and ugly hair...

Only to get to dinner and see that everyone else was still super beach casual.  Yep, had we read the itinerary, we would have seen that that night was a casual dining experience.  Everyone was looking at us with their mouths hanging open, doing double takes and then looking back at themselves.  For some people, it was almost like they thought they had it wrong.  Nope, that would be the family of giants traipsing through the dining room dressed better than everyone else....except for that one ugly duckling with the wet hair.  Yuck!

When we were mercifully seated at our table, we met our dining partners - another family of five.  The husband was a doctor and the wife worked in his office.  They had three kids but I think some of them were missing from that first dinner.  I was still irritated about my wet hair and the fact that we were overdressed so I didn't speak the entire meal.  I'm a real treat sometimes.

I think the whole next day we were on the ship.  My favorite place was the soft serve ice cream machine.  You could eat as much ice cream as you wanted and boy did I ever.  They also always had these ice cream dishes that looked like swans with cookie wings and heads.  Owned a few of those too.

Dinner went more according to plan the next night.  We went up to a deck with powerful wind to dry our hair and we were dressed appropriately for dinner.  I explained the whole hair fiasco to our dinner mates and they totally understood, having a daughter themselves.

My dad's eyes about popped out of his head when I said casually, "So how in the world did you two meet?"  Turns out, she was divorced and had taken her son to see the single older doctor gentleman.  Bam!  Instant love connection.

The next day at the Progresso port, my mom and brother, determined to go somewhere, got off the ship and were greeted by some AK-47 bearing Mexicans.  I don't know what my sister was doing but my dad and I stayed on the ship and pretty much had it to ourselves since everyone else was on an excursion.  We both fell asleep laying on a deck and both woke up scorched to the bone on the front side of our bodies.  Stupid stupid stupid.  That night, we couldn't take it anymore.  I went to the gift shop and purchased what may as well have been diamonds in a bottle mixed with lidocaine but it did the trick.

My brother and I made a game out of trying to "break" our super friendly, super professional waiter each night.  We'd decide exactly how he would say wrong what he was ordering in hopes that at the very least the waiter would help this poor Oklahoma boy called Bubba with the proper pronunciation.  He never did.  He just always said, "Very good, sir!  Very good, sir!" no matter how severely botched my brother said escargot.  The downside of this was that my brother had just ordered escargot or something similar.  He'll eat anything.  I also remember they had this amazing chocolate dessert and upon learning how much we loved it had some more for us the next night.

That night, things at sea got a little rough.  So rough that they blocked off our favorite deck: the one on top.  Where we could usually go at night when we were cruising at a pretty fast rate and between the door frames where the wind was rushing in, you could lean against it at a good 45 degree angle and it would hold you up.  It was awesome!

Then, BEACH PARTY the next day!  This was fun because everyone else who signed up for this "excursion" mostly just stood in a football field length line for drinks or got their hair braided.  The water was fun and there were these huge inflatables no one was strong enough to climb up on.  I found a pretty orange shell and we had beach food under a huge tent.  I love beaches.

Later when it was time to go home, I'm packed up my things and, miraculously finished before anyone else.  It's a gift, really.  All of the sudden my brother says, "Hey, who took my red toothbrush out of the bathroom?" "What?!" I say.  "My toothbrush is gone."  he responds.  "Well I'm packed already and mine is in my bag."  He opens his back pack and there is his, untouched for the entire trip.   He'd been using my toothbrush the whole time.  That's why it was always wet!  Gag.  Gag.  Gag.

Overall, it was one of the best trips ever.  We had a lot of fun and made many memories.  Some things to remember:  ALWAYS read the itinerary, take your own blow dryer just in case, smother yourself in sunscreen and make sure your brother unpacks and uses his own toothbrush.  I cannot wait until we go on an Alaskan cruise!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness Magic

Ok, ladies (and the rando dude who reads or happens upon this blog) Mark has just let me in on a pretty  juicy man card tidbit for all this March Madness Mayhem - ok, ok I will stop with the alliteration.

And maybe you already know about this, but maybe you don't and you will be just as in awe and wonderment of it as I was and am.

Also, not that I would do this at work because first off, I actually can't.  Our firewall blocks "gaming" and "sports" and "fun in general."  But also, (and if you're a regular around here you will know) I don't really like sports.  Basketball is probably the best of all the sports because my sister and brother (and dad...not that I was around for that) played it.

P.S.  My lack of interest in actual sports doesn't ever keep me from participating in the family Bowl Pick 'Ems and March Madness Brackets.  I generally base my picks off one of the four following factors:  1)  Who has the prettiest colors/outfits?  I'm looking at your mint greens, Notre Dame.  And let's be real, I'm a graphic designer.  Of course I'm going to consider that.  2)  What is the mascot?  Is it something annoying?  Where does it rank on the food chain?  Like, is it a person or a starch or a mythical billiken?  3)  Did I go to or work at that school?  4)  Who looks like they want it more in the photo the NCAA (or Yahoo?) has provided?  Roll your eyes if you must but I've netted some pretty hefty victories strategizing this way...much to the chagrin of my brother-in-law.

ANYWAY, the NCAA, in all their infinite wisdom, has created what they call the "Boss Button."  And it goes a little something like this:

You're at work and don't want to miss any of the action so you pull up your bracket on your computer:

Yes, mine is called the Sugar Plum Fairies and no, I'm not doing so hot....but neither is anyone else who picked OSU.

Wait for it to load:

Then you'll see something that looks like this and you can choose which game you'd like to watch live:

Then it will play an ad.  If you're lucky, it will have Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock in it.  

When all of the sudden your boss is coming to stand behind you and tell you to make something in a logo black.  So you do and then he says, "Make it darker." And you're like, "Darker than black?!?!"  (That actually happened to me.)

Not to worry though, simply click on the "Boss Button" (the hot pink arrow is pointing to it in the photo above) and you'll get a screen that looks something like this: (!!!) 

It looks like a work email!  You can even close the one that looks like a new message (small box in photo above).  And what's even cooler is you can click on different emails in your impostor inbox.  Double bonus, it also pauses and silences (duh) the game automatically.

 Then when the coast is clear, click "Return" and it takes you back to the game.

Just hit play and you're good to go.

I love it when people other than me think of everything.  Nicely done, NCAA!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Photo Restoration

There are few artifacts more precious than family photos.  I love these photos of my grandparents.  Several years ago, I restored these and now they sit in my living room in romantically vintage oval frames.

As you can see, these photos had faded and yellowed with age.  The first two photos were still in great shape but the last one had some wear, cracks, folds, stains, etc.  

I think a common misconception of photo restoration is that the original could be harmed.  Others may have a different process, but as for me, I scan in the original and work on a digital copy.  The original is never touched other than being placed in the scanner and then back in it's envelope.

When these were finished, I printed off crisp, clean 8 x 10s.

Before and After - Grandma
Before and After - Papa
Before and After - The Happy Couple

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom and dad like to ride 4-wheelers.  I've mentioned this before.  Sometimes they ride on the river.  When it's warmer and especially when it's hot and muggy, there are gnats everywhere.  Huge mass swarms of them.  I used to encounter gnats when I was running.  There's nothing like huffing and puffing and sucking down a throat full of bugs.  Or riding a 4-wheeler and getting nailed in the face by a swarm.

My mom was going to avoid this fate by any means necessary.  She happened to have a mesh gift bag in the truck so she wore it on her head so that she wouldn't get bugs in her mouth, nose, eyes, etc.

While riding at night, they happened upon some river people and decided to stop and chat.  Clearly they don't listen when I tell them not to talk to strangers.  Now, when I say river people I mean river people...similar to hill people,  moonshiners or good morning, Appalachia, have you counted your toes lately?  They live on the river, off the grid most of the time and you don't want to cross them.  They will make stew out of you.

So one guy standing there eating a can of Beanie Weanies, looks over at my mom and says:

I've never seen one in real life but this is how I imagine they [river people] look.

And I don't know why, but I basically think this is the funniest story ever.

Happy birthday, Mom!  I'm glad you weren't stew meat!  Also, my mom's birthday isn't until the end of the month but she wanted her birthday blog post up all month.  Someone is spoiled.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Little Story About Little Debbie

I was 10-ish.  I was at church camp.  And I was miserable.  I hated church camp.  Well, actually I hated being away from my mom and dad and they weren't at church camp so I hated church camp.  I was homesick. (Let's all keep in mind this was before the age of cellphones and tablets.)

My mom, being the wonderful mother she is, packed some snacks for me and I placed them right beside my bed on a shelf. 

I don't know why but during the day there was a nap time scheduled.  So I laid on my top bunk, homesick and staring at the box of oatmeal creme pies.  Slowly I reached over, quietly opened the box, pulled one out, opened it as quietly as I could and then ate it while staring at the ceiling.  Mmmmm, nothing helps a sad heart like an oatmeal cream pie.  I let the soft, chewy, creamy goodness wash over me....and then it was gone.  More sadness.


I reached over and pulled out another, opened it quietly and ate it, stuffing the wrappers in my pillow case.

I repeated this twelve times.  TWELVE!  During one naptime, I ate an entire box of oatmeal creme pies.  And I would have gotten away with it except another girl in another top bunk across the room laid there and watched me the whole time and then outed me at quiet time before chapel that night.  Thanks, random girl I didn't know.  The camp counselor chalked it up to me having hollow legs.  I didn't understand what she meant until I was older.  Also when I was older, I didn't go to church camp.

So there you have it.  Me + Little Debbie = BFFE....only I don't really eat oatmeal creme pies after that.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Healing Your Heart and the Bachelor


My friend Abby comes over every Monday night and we watch the Bachelor.  We call it Trash Monday because basically that's what it is.  It's our guilty pleasure.  And I know the whole premise of the show is absurd...25 of one sex on one of the other.  It's weird and unnatural.  

Tonight took an unexpected turn and became a little serious for me.  Sean (bachelor) has narrowed the field to three: AshLee, Catherine and Lindsay....each a little dippier than the next.  Each with a sad story:  AshLee was supposedly abandoned as a child and then adopted, married at 17 and then divorced shortly after.  Her preacher adoptive father signed off on that, btw.  Catherine's father isn't in the picture and suffers from depression.  Lindsay's dad is in the military and had to go to war when she was in high school.  Daddy issue after daddy issue....

They all say varied versions of whiney "Oooooooh Muyyyyyyyyy Gooooooodddddddds" and "Youuuuure soooooo cuuuuuuuutes."

During this show, Sean has said several times how he needs a woman to need him and wants to be a protector.

For some reason, this makes me think of that scene in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days when Matthew McConaughey's character wants the opposite of that.  Ha!

Anyway, long story short, Sean takes AshLee into a dark water cave because she's basically a control freak and he wants her to, "let go and latch on to him for protection."  I immediately resented him for saying this.  Another reoccurring theme from Sean.  And since when is weakness attractive?  And btw, who wouldn't be freaked out by that dark water cave???

What's even worse is after they are out of the cave and all gooey on a blanket and in love again, it cuts to a monologue of AshLee saying he's her soul mate and he's "absolutely healed her heart."  

Pathetic.  I have to stop watching this show!

Are there really this many girls out there who have this "syndrome?"  I'm not saying let's all get our bras and go burn them, but I am saying, let's get a grip on our lives and take charge of what is going on in them.  There's no rule that says you can't be strong and independent and in a healthy relationship.  It's not either/or one or the other.  You can be strong and independent AND have a healthy relationship.  I do not understand why Sean and other men do not understand that.

As a woman who has suffered a heartbreak of her own, I know first hand that the only, only, ONLY person who can heal your heart is you and God.  

I feel sad for AshLee because, well, he put her through all that cave nonsense and then gave her the boot.  So, for example, she decided he "healed" her heart and then he broke it.

You cannot rely on anyone else for your own happiness because if you do, odds are, you will never be happy.  They will always let you down and they will resent you for putting them in that position.  I'm not saying, it's not ok to be happy with someone.  Of course you should be happy with people!  I'm saying don't rely 100% on others for your own happiness.  It's a burden on them and honestly, who wants that responsibility.  For example, I love to make Mark happy but if I was his one and only source of happiness, we'd both be miserable because I would fail.  And vice versa.  

And finally, if someone feeds you the line, "You make me want to be a better man."  Run.  Run fast and run hard in the opposite direction.  If that actually is the case, then they will be that person and there would be no need to verbalize it.  If someone says this to you, it's because they are feeling guilty about something they have done and they are trying to overcompensate for it to you and reassure themselves.  

Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.  Proverbs 4:23

So what are your thoughts?  Am I right or wrong?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Cards - FREE Printables

I had a lot of Valentine's Day card ideas this year.  What I did not have a lot of was time.  So here are the ones I did get finished.  Hope you enjoy and Happy [early] Valentine's Day!  I LOVE Valentine's Day!!!

{free printable HERE}
{free printable HERE}
{free printable HERE}

{free printable HERE}

{free printable HERE}

Happy Birthday, Jeremy

Happy birthday to my brother-in-law!
I think before you agreed to this video you said, "Don't show this to anyone."  But I can't keep all the awesomeness to myself and since this was awhile ago, the terms of that verbal agreement have expired.  Also, it's possible no one will read this.  So, happy birthday.  We would be impressed with you even if you couldn't make a knot in a rope with no hands.

And I love the cheering section at the end!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Excitement

That title may have just misled you.  This is, in fact, a narrative about my Monday and you may not find it exciting.

This morning I got up kind of late but made up for it by getting ready super fast.  The sweater I wanted to wear keeps coming undone at the seams.  Faulty construction.  Generally I sew it up by hand but then I had the brilliant idea to use my sewing machine....while wearing it.  Genius!  It worked at first but then the sewing machine kind of ate my sweater so I just kind of shimmied out of it while it kind of strangled me and then left it in the machine while I frantically looked for something else to wear.  Also according to the giant burn on my leg, I need to stop trying to do things to clothes while they are on my body (i.e. iron or sew).  But then in all the chaos of getting out of the sweater I was convinced Jovie ate a straight pin because she was acting weird.  After I poked and prodded her a substantial amout of time, I believe she was just actually sleepy because she went to bed and did not want to come back out.  Fine, Jovie!

When I got to work, I went straight to the wash room because, well, that new dinnerware wasn't going to wash itself.  This actually proved to be fun because the massive new washer can wash, rinse and dry trays of dishes in under a minute.  At least I think so.  I didn't actually time it but it was fast.  What a dream!  Then I lined them all up perfectly on the wrack and they are beautiful and shining.  I really wanted to take a photo to show you but there is a window in the wash room door and there were people having a review in the kitchen and I didn't want them to see me and think, "Awe, look at that poor girl taking a picture of washed dishes.  She must live a sad life."  But really I actually did enjoy this part of the day.  Not like I want to make a career out of it but I could see going in there to blow off steam.  Ha!  Steam.  Get it?

THEN I had to go get sandwiches for people.  But that was not so bad because I ran into my former boss and got to talk to him.  He's an inspiration and I miss my friends in that office.  While driving to get lunch and back to the office I noticed there was an increasing number police cars and highway patrols EVERYWHERE.  They even had stops set up in the street.  Turns out two inmates had escaped but the dumber of the two (or the smarter?) had be captured not long after the escape but the other was still on the loose and apparently armed.  I think he should get double the punishment for inconveniencing everyone.  I mean, I am washing dishes and earning an honest wage and he gets to go gallivanting around town like an armed debutant?  I do not think so.

I decided it was time for a Coca-Cola Classic but my stash in the giant walk-in cooler has been disappearing so I just grabbed an 8-pack that was probably expired out of a closet and and half carried/half swung it back to my office, only to open one and have it spew all.  over.  my.  desk.  And also the floor and my clothes.  Desperately trying to remain calm as I tried to clean it up the huge puddle of cola with the most nonabsorbent paper towels known to man while still looking super cool since people were outside my office talking.  Yet, as I'm struggling all over my office, they never noticed.  I could have laid down and rolled around in it and they wouldn't have noticed.  Ha!  Finally I just closed the door and devoured my sandwich like an orphan with a biscuit.

The rest of the day was boring.  The End.

Tomorrow involves carrying dishes and setting up a formal dining room.  Cannot wait to see how this turns out.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To: Accordion Photo Book

Project: Valentine's Day Mini Accordion Photo Book (2.5" x 3.5")
Difficulty:  Easy if you are a fellow designer or go the scrap book route.  Slightly more difficult if you are a graphic design novice and/or don't like math.
Time:  We did photos and I designed it, which only took about an hour.  Assembly of 12 books took about 2 hours.
Cost:  $7.50 each  (A savings of $149+)

A few days ago I got an email from Mpix.  They are an excellent online photo lab and I've used them for prints as well as our family Christmas cards in the past.  They do amazing work.  I like getting their emails because they serve as a great inspiration and this one was no different.  

Immediately I liked the accordion photo book and clicked to see what it would take to order a few for Valentine's Day gifts.  Upon seeing they start at 19.99 each, I was a little miffed.  I went through the seven stages of craft irritation:

1.  Intrigue - Hey those look neat.  Let's learn more.
2.  Astonishment - Those are neat!
3.  Disbelief -  Is that the price?!  That can't be the price.  Are they crazy?!  It's a tiny book.
4.  Disappointment - I am disappointed.
5.  Despair - Now I will have to think of something else to send for Valentine's Day!
6.  Acceptance - I will figure something else out......OR
7.  Epiphany Resolution - That's just a little accordion book.  I'm a graphic designer.  I can make one (or three...or a dozen) myself!  You know, because who doesn't want a book full of photos of Mark, Jovie and me?!?  (followed by: I will show my blog readers how to also!) 

So here we go  

Things you will need if you would like to do it exactly like I did:
  • Design Software (I used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign)
  • Professional Printer (This was the ENTIRE cost of these books as I had everything else on hand already).  And while I'm on the subject, professional printers generally do a great job accomodating your printing needs and generally offer great rates.  I'm also all for supporting local businesses so I used a local printer.  If you're in Norman, I highly recommend Action Printing.  If you are not in Norman, you probably have one near you and you can ask for a quote upfront to see if you'd be willing to spend what they can do it for.  In my case, they printed, cut and scored my books, which saved me sooooo much time and headache.
  • Digital Photos 

Things you will need if you go the scrapbook route:
  • Large size heavy cardstock or water color board. You could use regular size if you don't mind seams.
  • Photos of your choice or a color/black and white printer.
  • Paper cutter with both cutting and scoring blades or a hand scoring tool.

Things BOTH versions will need:
  • Colorful scrapbook paper (I had some Valentine theme already)
  • Heavy duty cardboard for the book covers.  I used covers from a water color spiral notebook that I already had.  (I'd disassembled the water color notebook for something else a few weeks ago and kept the covers for something like this.)  Regular cardboard (like from a shipping box) would work also.
  • Xacto Knife
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Hot Glue (low or high temp)
  • Metal Straight Edge Ruler or Wide Quilting Ruler
  • Rubber Cutting Mat
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Envelopes sized to fit if you are mailing them like I did!
  • Fine grit sand paper

Step 1:  Lay it Out

If using Adobe InDesign like I did, here are the presets you will need:
Number of Pages:  2 (front and back)
Uncheck facing pages (unless you like that sort of thing.  I don't.)
Width:  17.75 in (defaults to 106p6 on its own or you can type 106p6)
Height:  3.75 in  (defaults to 22p6 on its own or you can type 22p6)
Bleed:  .125 in (defaults to 0p9)
New Document Set Up for Accordion Book

When you hit "OK" it will give you two pages that look similar to this:

The bold black line shows the bleed.  You will need to mark where your folds will be.  In this case, every 2.75 inches.

Based on where I had these printed, I could only size mine up to 17 inches (but honestly, you really wouldn't want it any longer than that).  Mpix's book measures 2.5 in x 3.5 in. when closed.  Keep in mind it will be two sided and you will lose two panels where you attach the covers.  They will be the panels on each end on the back if you have this many panels.  Different numbers of panels can change which side the cover goes on.

Step 2:  Design

The mister and I had a mini photo shoot in the vanity area of my apartment.  Isn't he a great sport to put up with all my shenanigans?!?  I already had the photos of Jovie by herself.  Remeber the giant portrait of her in my office? (you can see it at the bottom of the post HERE.)  After I pulled the new photos on to my computer I edited them using Photoshop with the Paint the Moon Coffee House "Silver Spoon" Action. (See it HERE)  And now you know one of my great, time-saving secrets....photoshop're welcome.  Also, as far as actions go, Paint the Moon has it going on. 
Accordion Book Front
Accordion Book Back (note: the two blank ends are where the covers attach.)
Save and export to pdf (or prefered file type when finished). Every printer is different. Mine accepts pdfs ("press quality") with bleed and crop marks selected. I also used the "document bleed settings."

Step 3:  Print

Here is the information I gave the printer when I requested a quote:

Trim size:  17 in x 3.5 in (landscape)
Qty: 12
100lb Cover (no laminating, no coating)
Black & White (unless you are doing color and then it will be 4-color)
Scored panels

If you are printing yourself, good luck.  Printing is traditionally my nemesis. :)

Step 4:  Cut

The printer did this part for me. 

If you're doing it yourself, just trim down to the desired size using scissors or a paper cutter.

Step 5:  Score

The printer did this for me too!

My paper cutter has a replacement blade that is actually a score blade so if you're scoring it yourself, just pick up a scoring blade.  Place the paper and score.  There are also tools to do this by hand.  Be sure to flip the card over so it scores the right way.

Step 6:  Cut the Covers

I cut mine to a little larger than the accordion paper was when it was folded.

This was the cover off a watercolor notebook.  I could fit nine covers on one of these.  Remember, you will need two covers for each book! 

After cutting the accordion book covers, lightly sand the edges so remove loose snags and smooth edges.

Step 7:  Cover the Covers.

1.  Lay cover on scrapbook paper and outline.  2.  Cover outline.  3.  Roughly sketch a shape similar to that.  Trust me, it does not have to be perfect.  I've just found that notching out the corners makes folding the sides much easier.  Then cut it out.  4 & 5.  I glued the long sized on first.  Just a light bead of hot glue down the side edge will hold.  6.  All edges glued.  And voila:

Covered cover.

Step 8:  Glue the Covers to the Book

I used hot glue on a high setting (I think...I can't tell which is high and which is low on my glue gun).  Either way, it gave a really nice, sturdy bond.  It helps to fold the book when glueing to the cover so you can see all edges and get it centered.


wOd03t on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

My Valentines!
Finished products!
"Do I click with you?  You're my type!" 

Step 9:  Mail (if needed)

My books were a tight fit in the envelopes I got so I decided to make some paper loops to assist in pulling them out.  I cut brown craft paper to the size I needed (slimmer than the width of the book), fancy stitched the ends together, put around the book and then slipped in the envelope.  It worked beautifully for me....I only hope the people I sent these to had luck as well!

Stitching the loops.  Sewing machines are great for paper projects!
Just sew one and then on to the next.  Clip apart when finished.  
It's easy as 1-2-3!  And in this photo you can see the string I used to secure the book closed.
The end!  I hope you enjoyed!