30 April 2012

Mother of the Year

I was so proud of myself for sending Kayci off to school with day 1 of her teacher appreciation gifts. Thanks to me, she beat the crowd--it's next week.

24 April 2012

My Favorite New Dress: Fresh Produce

Several weeks ago, I was hanging out after Bible Study talking to Risa about clothes.  Specifically, about how I need to update my spring/summer dresses but it just isn't in the budget right now.  The very next day, I got an e-mail from a lady about my Letter to a Friend post.  It was a lovely e-mail, and she asked me if I would be interested in writing a blog review for Fresh Produce clothing.  If you're keeping up:  I was wishing for new clothes, and the next day I got an e-mail offering me FREE clothes.  Seriously?!

You guys know me:  I live in Brenham and I don't get around much, store-wise...so I had to check out their website.

Let me backtrack a bit here--I've never reviewed an item on my blog by request...I've only talked about things I love because I love them.  I've resisted the urge to do reviews in the past, but when I went to their website I absolutely fell in love with the clothing.  But I'm me, so I had to do some research before I said yes to make sure I wasn't accidentally going to endorse a product/company that I couldn't believe in.  I liked what I found out about the company and the people involved, and I really liked that the majority of their products are made in the US.  So, I talked to my Boy and I prayed about it, and the next day I e-mailed back and said "sure, I'll do it."  (But it's me and I'm longwinded so I also pretty much told them everything about my conversation with Risa about wanting new clothes and our budget...)...I'm surprised the company even replied!  I'd gone online and checked out some of the other bloggers' reviews, and I noticed that many of them reviewed t-shirts.  Secretly, selfishly I was praying, please don't ask me to review a t-shirt--I really, really wanted to get my hands on one of those dresses.  I was *shocked* when they told me I could pick ANYTHING from their website to review--y'all, there are some amazing clothes, and some of them are fairly pricey.  I kept coming back to the same dress, though, so after a few days I committed to it and sent in my request.   

What won me over?  Well, I could have chosen 10 dresses, but the Windswept Vintage V-Neck was calling my name.  I ordered it in Truffle (a really nice brown, even though I'd promised myself to put a little color into my spring wardrobe!), size XL.  I'm, ahem, not slim at all, so I was a little worried about how the dress would fit, I'm not gonna lie.  I wear an XL everywhere else, except for my Easter dress which I got to buy in a L (that must have been mis-sized!)...so I was hoping I wouldn't have to embarrass myself by sending it back and asking for a larger size.  Oh, the things we big girls think about!  I'm pleased to say the sizing was dead-on, which is something that's consistent through all the reviews I've read on their website and others.  (Woo hoo!)

Here's the dress on their website, I fell in love with this picture!  (And I also had to tell the company that I love, love that all of the women on their website are beautiful but real--they all look like Moms I'd see in carline.  I like that they make real clothes for real women and put them on real women...I respect that!)  

Oh, and speaking of real women, they also carry plus-sizes...and they're the exact same styles.  The women I know who wear plus sizes (I used to be one of them!) often complain that the styles vary when you have to go upstairs to find your size, but that's not the case with Fresh Produce--they get it, ladies.  I can't resist--I have to show you a picture of the same dress (different print) on a lady who's shaped more like me...I don't think I'm supposed to do this, but I grabbed a screen shot.  Shh!

So, I got the e-mail on a Friday, and I think it took me a week or so to make up my mind...once I placed my order, though, I had the dress in my hands in less than a week.  It was easy, peasy!

One of the company's requests was that I try to include a picture of ME in the dress with my review.  I planned to have James snap a pic of me at home wearing the dress, but when I found out we were taking a quick trip to Galveston this weekend, I couldn't resist--so we tried to get a picture of me wearing the dress in what felt like its natural environment, the beach.  Look, there's my little family!

Here are a couple of shots of me in action, carrying Noble's shoes and chasing kiddos.  I picked these because you can really see the details of the dress.  We tried a couple of posed pictures, but y'all don't want to see that--you want to see the dress!

Let's talk about the dress:  it's an AWESOME thicker knit, and it's got a wonderful raw hem with just the right amount of ruffle and movement. It's fitted but not too clingy, and I thought it was very flattering.  The length is great, it hits right at the knee--I actually wore this to a meeting the other day and felt very cute!  The dress is cut modestly which is a big plus for me, I'll feel comfortable when it's hotter wearing the dress sans cardigan...the dress is cut so that you could actually wear a "real" (not strapless!) bra and not show your business.  For now, I'll be wearing it with my favorite orange cardi because 1) I love brown and orange together 2) my brown leather flip flops have these crazy little orange gems in the straps, so it kinda makes sense and 3) a natural/khaki color cardigan would look great with the dress, but NOT great on me--I need more color!

I know it's tacky to talk money, but you also know I'm not afraid to do it--this blog is about being real. I'm a cheapskate when it comes to clothes for me, and I told the Fresh Produce rep that I would mention that fact in my review (thinking they'd say "thanks, but no thanks!"). While I totally believe this dress is worth the original $64 price tag (it's SO well made, AND made here in the USA!), I've seen it drop in price twice in the weeks that I've been trolling the Fresh Produce website.  It's down to $43.99 this week--$20 off!  And, one of my favorite things to do each week is check out the Pick of the Week, an item Fresh Produce runs for a RiDiCuLoUs price.  The first time I visited the website, it was a $44 skirt for $11...this week it's a dress I actually considered, a $59 convertible dress (it's a dress, it's a skirt--again, great for travel and versatility!) that they have for $19.99.  Do the math, friends--that's awesome!  There are several other sale items on the website, so I'd say there is seriously something for all of our budgets.

So to wrap it up, I love the dress, and the whole review process has been such a blessing.  Thanks to Fresh Produce for the opportunity and for the great dress!  I hope you'll check out their website--to me, their clothing is perfect for our Texas weather (the company started in California, so a lot of their styles have that feel...but you know, we Texans like color and comfort, too!)  I think so many of their clothes and dresses would be perfect for traveling--you know I'm all about being able to hang out the wrinkles and go!  Their pieces are very versatile, but also great to mix and match so you could create different looks with just a few pieces.  And their scarves are TOO CUTE!  Many people check out Fresh Produce for cruise wear--I thought it was cool that in addition to being sold in Nordstrom (pet peeve:  people who say Nordstrom's), Fresh Produce has several stores across the US and even in the Virgin Islands.  For those of us who live in small towns, they have a flat $8 shipping rate (hallelujah!) and they also ship to something crazy like 200 countries.

Thanks, Fresh Produce--this has been lots of fun, and I will enjoy the heck out of my dress for years to come!

19 April 2012

Shirts & Stuff

In the middle of the busy-craziness of the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to make several shirts and stuff.  I had some freezer paper malfunctions along the way, but all in all, I've enjoyed what I've made.  There are some new designs that I'm really excited about--I need to get back into vinyl and start taking orders, and take a break from stenciling for a while.  I miss the heat transfer, and weeding the vinyl to produce a perfectly clean design.  :)

I think I've already posted this one...a little friend of ours was baptized on Palm Sunday, and we wanted to give her something to remember the experience.  I like how this came out, and I hope to make more sometime.

More Easter shirts for some friends...I know, I just love the designs!

One of my online instructor friends had a baby boy a while back, and I wanted to send a gift for him and his big sister.  I tried out this simple scallop initial...I really like the simplicity of these, and will most likely do them again!

A friend asked me to make this for her daughter--the words were her idea.  Isn't it cute??

I was having coffee with the girls last week, and one of my friends mentioned that it was her son's 9th birthday.  She had an idea for a shirt but hadn't had a chance to do it--so she came over and we did.  It came out great, right?

One of the sweetest ladies I've ever known (and had the pleasure to teach with!) had a baby in February, and I've had the onesie and headband (I couldn't resist it when I went into the store to get the onesie pressed!) sitting around with a roll of white tulle.  I had it in my head that I would make Jasmine a little tutu, but it took me forever to get around to it.  I hope she could still wear the outfit when it arrived!  

This is a prototype...I have some work to do yet on this design, and the freezer paper turned out to be less than ideal since several elements didn't show up.  But, I love the idea--it's for a friend who's adopting from S. Korea.

The freezer paper lifted at the bottom of Maggie's shirt.  I was sad, but we gifted it anyway.  I have to remind myself that few things are perfect...including my work.  SIGH!

This is my LEAST favorite of all the shirts I've made, probably ever.  Blue ink on black?  Bleh.  Too bad, because it's for one of my favorite kids on the planet.  I hate that we missed your party this weekend, Molly!

And lately, I've been helping Lynn with some stuff for a baby shower--here's a sneak peek!  

Last night was a little rough...but I'm pretty sure I didn't dream a friend texting about making 15-20 shirts between now and Saturday.  Pray for us!  :)  

18 April 2012


When we started to redo the kids' room, one of the things I wanted was a silhouette over each kid's bed.    I pictured an oval canvas centered over each bed, but then when I went to Hobby Lobby I saw these fabric boards on sale for just a couple dollars more than the oval canvases.  I grabbed two and made a run for it!  Remember this teaser picture...that I never followed up on?

I started out by painting the canvases white.  Now, I don't know WHY--I should've just painted them the color I wanted them to end up, right?  Maybe I was thinking I would paint AROUND their white silhouettes, I don't know...but it was a lot of white paint!

After the white dried, it was time for color.

This project turned out to be a challenge for my Boy and me...we couldn't figure out the best way to get their shadows onto the canvas.  We tried...and failed.

Finally, Daddyboy had the idea to just blow up a picture and trace the outline on freezer paper.  (I think it was his idea).  So, I did.  Word of caution:  the iron did funky things to the acrylic paint--I was worried it would stay funky, but it didn't.  

And, the almost finished products.  Almost, because we still need to go in and paint in Noble's sharp hair and Kayci's curls...and we intended to put black glasses on her and a blue superhero mask on him, but I got impatient waiting for my Boy so I just did 'em and hung them up.  This was a month after we did their rooms and the day, I think, before he went into the hospital and then he had knee surgery...so there they still hang, mostly done.

Do you have projects like this at your house, too?

My brother got Noble a cool light saber night light for his birthday, and Daddy hung it right where Noble asked him to hang it.  I was most upset because I really wanted the silhouettes to stand alone on those walls...but my sweet husband reminded me that it's not MY room and they need to have a say, too.  Sigh.  But, I do agree.  I guess.  :)  (And Noble uses that night light every day AND takes every visitor in to see it...seems only fitting that it has pride of place.)  

So that's it.  I had some friends over last week and we were talking about the kids' silhouettes, and I realized I never actually posted.  There it is, girls!

17 April 2012

Another Egg-cellent Easter

I haven't taken the time to do an Easter post...probably because it was such a busy couple of weeks.  Probably, too, because our camera is broken and most of my pics are courtesy of the iphone.  But, here's a peek at our Easter week...

Noble's Easter happies for his classmates...this is from 2010, one of the first printables I ever downloaded.  I still love it!

MOPS/Community egg hunt...the Thursday before Easter, Noble had a blast helping us hide the eggs and then he had a ton of fun filling his basket.

He was delighted with the toys, etc. in his eggs...and even found a dollar!

Lori's Peep topiary--how freakin' cool is she??  So stealing this if I ever get to help with an Easter wedding.  (Just checking to see if you were reading.  Ha!)

After the MOPS egg hunt, Noble and I went over to Krause to help Heather with Alex's class egg hunt.  Noble played Easter bunny again.  I have to note, both of these egg hunts required no hiding at all--just rolling eggs into the grass.  It was a bit anticlimactic for Bubby.

After he emptied his tub, Bubby played Dork Vader while we waited for the kids to come out.

This made me laugh...he took the tub off of his head, then Heather said, "here they come--better hide!" He's hidden about as well as those Easter eggs, right?

The next day, Daddy had a photo shoot in Huntsville, then we all went to Ronny's house for our Clarkson Easter fun.  It just wouldn't be Easter without Ronny's kids...and one of them is going off to college soon.  Sniff.

We totally did the Pinterest thing and tried the glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.  It was okay.  We had more fun, probably, with the glow-in-the-dark bubbles GoGo gave Kayci and Noble--it looked like a rave in Ronny's backyard for a while.  THAT was fun!

On Saturday we were supposed to go to a helicopter egg drop...but they publicized it so well, we couldn't even get near the park.  So, we had lunch at the restaurant where my niece works (fun!), then had our own egg hunt and stuff before said niece had to go to work at said restaurant.

We had fun actually hiding the eggs this time...only a couple made it into the grass, the rest were actually hidden.  I think the kids had lots of fun--all of their baskets were full!

After the egg hunt, we decorated eggs...

...the kids made their traditional bunny cake (thinking of you, Grandpa!)...

...and then we turned those eggs into deviled eggs, a la Pinterest.  

After dinner we headed home so we could wake up Easter morning in our own beds.  Grandma hit the road early to beat the Easter traffic (nah, she just had stuff to do!).   The Easter Bunny visited overnight, and we had a wonderful morning at church.  We stopped by the house on our way to lunch (Taco Bell--feels so wrong, doesn't it?) to take a couple of pictures in our new Easter clothes, since we didn't get a SINGLE picture in 2011.  

The real Easter treat for me was taking a nap after lunch...then waking up to take a family "hike" out at the lake.  It was fun, though it took us approximately an hour to walk a mile.  Yup.  Seriously.

We saw lots of bunnies...but no baskets.

"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!"

I mustache you a question...

They did the walking stick thing after we came across some hog tracks.  :)  Well, Daddy did--the kids quickly tired of carrying theirs.

We saw a few scattered bluebonnets on the sandy, rocky trail.

We ate a picnic dinner on our hike, then it was home to shower and start reading the books the Easter Bunny brought.  Noble got a Captain Underpants chapter book (his first!), and Kayci got the next book in the Little House series.  That Easter Bunny sure aims to please!  

This Easter was different, but it was awesome.  I hope yours was, too!

13 April 2012

Guess who...

...labeled our herbs this year?  :)

11 April 2012


(made you smile, didn't they?)

I love those knuckleheads...and their Daddy.  :)

04 April 2012

Texting Giggles

Kayci's piano lessons are only half an hour long, so usually Noble and I will just hang out and play and wait.  Yesterday we had a little fun texting with Daddy, and it just cracked me up to think, "what if people could see the stupid stuff on my phone?"  I would be horribly embarrassed, but just trust me, there are some hilarious exchanges in there.  This is the end of a conversation in which DaddyBoy was confused.  Right before the first picture, my text was "get there faster."  (Friends fans?)  So, he sent the "mad" face picture.  Noble giggled and said, "wet's send him a picture with our tongues out at him!" So we did.  And the last picture is Daddy's "HEY!" face--that's what he does when Noble gets my kisses.  Needless to say, there were many giggles after that one.  Silly, I know, but these are the days of my life...

02 April 2012

Long-Awaited Makeover

Several years ago (like, 10, I think!), we found a motel chair on one of our antique runs.  I can't remember what color it was when we bought it, but I know it was badly in need of some new paint.  My Dad surprised me one day by painting it for me--he painted the whole thing cream (which is my least favorite color in the world, but he was painting something else and thought, why not?--that's just how my Dad rolled).   I remember thanking him, but I don't think I pulled off the sincerity because he soon repainted it for me--bright red.  :)  It didn't feel quite right, but it took me a while to figure out what it was...the chair was all one color.  And for a reason unknown to me, I never fixed it.

And of course, I didn't take a before picture.  Sigh--I'm sure there's one somewhere of this chair just hanging out in our driveway for the past several years, but I'm not in the mood to dig for it.

Last week I grabbed the spray paint and started our spring freshening-up...the deck table and umbrella stand each got a coat of black, and the motel chair finally, finally got the makeover it's needed for years.  The thing is, motel chairs should be bright, shiny colors--but they should also have white legs.  That was the missing piece.  So, I finally made it right.

There's one flower bed that's totally in the shade and we can't really keep anything going there (except this one weird fern...), so I think I'm going to try it out there to fill in the blank spot.  We'll see!