Friday, October 31, 2008

Hauntingly MAAAAAAAD!

Have a wonderfully fun Halloween evening. We debated going to a movie or to the high school football game, but decided to just stay at home and give out candy. As much as I love a jack-o-lantern, I'm not a big fan of carving them (figure that one out considering the craft queen I claim to be?!?!?!), so they usually have simple features. This year I gave him creepy eyes and snaggly teeth, using beads.

Warm Fuzzy

Aren't there certain vignettes in your home that make you happy just to look at them? I captured one today in a picture. I've blogged many times about the passion and fortitude that I put into getting myself back on my feet after my divorce and finally buying a home. This vignette is a reminder of that rough journey paying off. The place where we drop off our keys at the end of the day, and pluck them up in the morning. Where my binoculars hang, so that I can grab them on a whim and sit on my patio and watch the birds. The keyholder itself is a picket fence, reminiscent of my backyard. This vignette speaks to me of constancy. And all it is is a few pieces of wood with hooks and a picture above it. And if that's all it takes to make me happy, then I'm in a pretty darn good place.

I'm Off Today and Monday!!!!

Took vacation days today and Monday and am already relaxed and gettin' stuff done! Got up at 4:30 this morning with Harleigh and took her into swim practice. It was really a nice way to start the day. I like the warm, wet air of an indoor pool, along with the clean chlorine smell. Watched the team practice — they swim solid for an hour and a half. What a crazy good way to wake up in the morning, exericse and get energized (for them, not me, mind you). In the one pic, Harleigh is the one with the green goggles around her neck.

We left practice, stopped and got breakfast, then went to school where we sat in the car in the student parking lot, ate and talked to her friends, who were also just arriving. Now I'm home to tackle bills and paperwork (filing is out of control — long overdue to make a dent in that!).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Princess Kitty

When my co-worker Courtney asked, pretty please, if I could make a Halloween costume for her niece Bakail, I jumped at the chance. I remember, with such happiness, making Harleigh's costumes when she was little. Bakail wanted to be Princess Kitty. This is not a real cartoon or television character but one that a child comes up with which gives them free reign to bark or meow all the time instead of talking. (I remember as a child mimicking Henrietta Pussycat from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Meow meow, remember meow meow her?)

Bakail's mom was originally going to have her wear last year's princess dress without much fanfare or a nod to the kitty portion of the character, but was told by her sister that that was lame. And that's when I was asked to intervene.

Rather than create a Princess Kitty costume from scratch, I decided to repurpose the princess dress as the base for Princess Kitty. I started by cutting off the scratchy shoulder straps and replacing them with white "fur" that also framed the neckline. I bought the scepter and headband, both already adorned with little crowns (and with purple accents to match the dress). I made kitty ears out of felt and attached them to the headband. Then I used the same "fur" from the top of the dress and made the tail, giving it shape by inserting a coat hanger. (Had to rig a cushion inside the dress so that the hanger would not poke Bakail or prove to be uncomfortable.) I also made a kitty collar with a bell (not seen in these pictures).

Here she is visiting us at the office. She and I had a lovely meow meow conversation and I was showered with lots of sweet thank-yous and even got a bippity boppity boo blessing with her magic wand. I truly had just as much fun crafting the costume as Bakail has had wearing it. (The last picture shows her with funny glasses, not a part of the costume, but, hey, even a princess can have a sense of humor.)


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Beach Cottage Giveaway

swing by the Beach Cottage Giveaway

Stop by Sarah's at A Beach Cottage and check out her giveaway. And please don't leave without taking a tour of her blog; it's eye candy photography, a beautiful home, beaucoup thrifting treasures and make-your-head-spin-with-delight thrift makeovers.

Perks of the Office

One of the perks of working in a design firm (aside from the fact that I'm surrounded by creative folks), is that our space is so conducive to working on projects. I have been working diligently as costume-designer and -maker for our church's upcoming drama presentation. Lots of cloaks and tunics, and more than enough Roman soldiers (not an easy costume by any means). But I'll pull it together; I always do. I made a big dent last night using Harleigh's dress form (such a great buy!), but desperately needed a big space to cut fabric, preferably one where I could lay the fabric out flat AND not have to be on my hands and knees. OK, the floor was out; too tough at my age to get up. Unless I planned on cutting fabric and sleeping through the night in the same spot.

So I brought the fabric in and spent my lunch break working in an unused area of the office, and wishing that I had all this natural light and a big table on wheels of my very own. Another reason I'm glad to be working where I work.

A New Ritual

The morning routine at Chateau Gahan has changed quite drastically. Harleigh started swim team two weeks ago, which means that she, Gideon and I rise at 4:30AM four days a week. I pack her lunch and a breakfast, get her out the door by 5AM for practice, feed little man, then let him out and tuck myself back into bed. Harleigh calls me at 5:45 when she gets to the swim venue, then again at 7:45 when she arrives at school (I still like to know that she gets safely to places), so my two hours back in bed don't constitute a good sleep. But any zzzzz's help.

Harleigh has surprised me with her enthusiasm and commitment to swim team. You see, she's a girl who needs her sleep. And so my biggest concern was the early rise. But she's loved swimming so much, that getting up at 4:30 is a minor sacrifice. She goes to bed at night between 9 and 10, and so she's been well-rested (and relishing Saturday morning's sleeping in more than ever).

But the happiest with the new schedule has got to be Gideon. The crisp, cold air has him antsy to be outside, and energetic as all get-out! So when I put him out in the morning, he's quite happy to run in the leaves and lie on the chilly cement patio. The new schedule allows him way more outside time in the morning.

The picture above (please ignore wet nose prints and drool on sliding glass door) shows his stance at around 7AM — sitting on the patio waiting for the dog who lives behind us, Miller, to be let out. I swear, he knows when it's 7:00. He and Miller run back and forth along the fence line. Gideon thinks Miller is the next best thing to sliced bread. When Miller poops, Gideon runs and "assumes the position" as well, even if there's nothing to come out. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Decorating

Don't do too terribly much to decorate for Halloween. I added Iris the scarecrow to the mix this year. And gotta have pumpkins and hay bales. The first picture is of a trusty spider web that I've put up every year since Harleigh was little. Look at how the light shines through it and leaves the web's shadow on a cabinet door. The black birds that I picked up at the Dollar Store have alighted on my mantle and keep a look out over the living room. The owl night light is a find from my parents' church Fall Festival, and is at home guarding the fireplace any time of the year.

I see in your future . . .

The day couldn't have been more perfect. Sunny, in the low '70s, a little breeze. The Halloween festivities at our church began with the haunted organ recital inside, something we've never been able to go to 'cause we're always out in the parking lot getting our trunk ready.

Needless to say, this year's (you can see years past in an earlier post) was a huge hit. Some kids were scared, but most were mesmerized. And the adults got a big kick out of it. I'd catch the gaze of a child and then my eyes would follow them. I mouthed lots of "hellos" and "goodbyes." It was a blast. And Harleigh was a perfect gypsy, complete with a coin belt and turban. We're already planning for next year's Trunk or Treat. The Gahan Girls have a reputation to uphold.

BTW, I had a small hand-held fan directly below my chin which made being inside a fish bowl somewhat bearable.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bring out the sweaters!

It's officially Fall here in the South and it feels sooooooo good. Yes, we're already complaining about the cold, but we really do love it. The leaves are falling, pumpkins are out, the smell of bonfires permeates the evening air . . . and we're pulling out our sweaters from summer storage! Got me to thinking about some glass cozies I have in one of my kitchen cupboards.

Every morning when Harleigh and I get up, I go out to the kitchen and bring us each back a big cold glass of water or orange juice. While the cozies help to absorb the sweat from the chilled glass, they also remind me of winter sweaters and feeling cozy. So now I use these for our morning drinks. It's nice to wake up to a chilly house, get the heat cranked, and sip our morning drink from a glass all snuggled in a sweater!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Award

Kate, over at My Messy Nest, crowned me with a Kreativ Blogger award. Thank you, Kate!

I have to list 6 things I value and 6 things I don't.

What do I value?
(Aside from God, family, friends and my dog, Gideon.)
1. The warmth and safety of my home. MY home.
2. My time alone.
3. Having a job. I complain as much as the next person about long hours, but the bottom line is that in this economy, I am blessed to have a well-paying job.
4. A sense of humor. Something my dad gifted me with. I thank him every day.
5. A love of creating beautiful (at least to me) things, whether it be craft projects, sewn items, home decor or even entertaining.
6. That I don't mind my long commute to and from work. It is my down time. A chance to listen to my favorite morning radio show (The Regular Guys, yes, I admit, The Regular Guys) and to NPR on the ride home. And since I'm a very easy-going driver, despite the congested traffic and aggressive drivers, I can make the ride quite relaxing.

What I don't value or don't like.
1. An overabundance of tears. That I cry about everything. Mostly happy tears. But it makes so many things difficult. I can't enjoy a lot of things because I fall apart. Any tips for how to keep the tears at bay?
2. When I see pet owners who walk their dogs without a poop bag. If you don't pick up your dog's stuff, especially when it's on someone's property, then the homeowner who gets the goods should have every right to walk onto your grass and take a poop. I feel rather strongly about this.
3. Being late. Me or anyone else.
4. Bad customer service. It is rampant these days. And the bottom line is that in most industries I have a ton of choices, so bad customer service will only force me to find a new source, one that treats me with respect.
5. Calling a business and getting the voice-activated menu. I miss the days when you called a company and got a person.
6. Out-of-control children. So many kids today are not raised with discipline, and it has created a generation of brats. I suppose it makes me take notice of the good kids even more than ever, wanting to compliment the parents (except that I'd start crying with emotion).

Trunk or Treat

Our church has a Halloween tradition called Trunk or Treat, held the Sunday before Halloween. It starts off with an organ concert in our sanctuary, with lots of hauntingly wonderful songs (Monster Mash, the theme from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken — one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies; get past the beginning of the YouTube video where the guy is just testing out the keys — , and Toccata & Fugue in d minor by Bach, stuff like that). Then after the concert, all the kids and parents head to the parking lot where there are games and projects to enjoy.

The part of the festivities that The Gahan Girls live for is the actual Trunk or Treat portion of the afternoon. Congregation volunteers line up their cars into two long rows, trunks facing inward, with a corridor between wide enough for people to walk through. The trunks are all decorated, and costumed kids go from trunk to trunk getting candy. We have one first place every year that we've done it, beginning in 2004 with our talking mirror, 2005 with the Candyland game board, 2006 with the ventriliquist and his dummy, (in 2007 Harleigh was sick so we couldn't do it at the last minute), and then this year's event will be held this coming Sunday. The last picture is a sneak peek at what we'll be doing. I painted the sign, which will be in front of our spooktacular trunk. (I used a plain white sheet of foamcore and stained it with coffee grinds to give it an old look, then used acrylic paint to create the design.) Our "booth" involves a large round glass fishbowl that my head fits inside of. The last little tidbit of preparation involves figuring out how I'm going to breathe. Just a small formality.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wickedly Wonderful Saturday Afternoon

I know I made this photo about as cheesy as you can get. But a picture of the tickets with a gift bow on top just about sums it up. Going to a Broadway show is a gift that I give to Harleigh every year. As much as the girl loves a good musical, she deserves to go see, up close and personal, the finest of musicals. Secondly, it makes for a great mother/daughter date (always followed by lots of good chat about what we saw, as well as lots of singing — in typical exaggerated Broadway style, I might add — as well as dancing and re-enactments of favorite scenes). Wicked was everything we had hoped it would be. Do see it if you get a chance.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Birthday Gift Gone a Tad Awry

My co-worker and dear friend Courtney (aka "Missy G" or just "G") celebrated a birthday yesterday. I had decided to make her a decoupage plate (a project I've tackled numerous times with much success). Courtney got her Masters from Yale, her thesis done on the subject of color. So I decided to make her a plate using PMS chips (color chips from the Pantone Matching System), since it is a tool of the trade that we, in our industry, use almost every day. I used the actual chips, deciding not to cut off the chip number, and also hole-punched circles from chips.

All was going well until I sprayed the back of the plate. Usually I have no problem with the paint leaking underneath the paper, but in this case it did, big time. (And I even sprayed a clear coat of lacquer first.) I think I will still gift her with the plate, and we'll have a good laugh about my project-gone-awry.

A Lovely Gift

Gretchen, over at Bird Nest Cottage, has become such a dear friend via blogland. She sent me a birthday box filled with treasures (pix to come), but the package that arrived this weekend had nothing to do with birthday celebrations or holiday gifts. Instead, it was simply something she wanted to make for me. Lovingly sewn (and meticulously, I might add), in a warm red and cream gingham, these cloth napkins will be put to good use at Chateau Gahan. I thank you, Gretchen, from the bottom of my heart!

(The nest on top of the napkins was part of my birthday box, and is a constant reminder of the friend I have from Bird Nest Cottage.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Meet Iris

Harleigh wanted our new scarecrow to have a flower name. So, I'd like to introduce you to Iris. I vowed that this year I'd not buy a pre-made scarecrow from a hobby store, but would craft one myself.

I created the form by taping the heck out of two pieces of plastic volleyball net poles. I dressed our gal in old clothes from our closets. Her hands are work gloves from the dollar store with the fingers stuffed (they sorta look like ill sausages) with pillow batting. Glued some straw around her wrists.

Her head is one of Gideon's soccer balls (sorry, guy, after the holidays you'll get it back). I covered it with some leftover canvas from my living room slipcovers, tying it around the neck with string. Her face is drawn on with Sharpies. I decorated the straw hat by gluing on dollar store flowers and then made a face net using the net bag that fruit comes in. The pigtail is yarn, tied at the back of the hat and then braided, topped off with a yellow polka dot ribbon.

She's wearing one of my aprons. And the pièce de résistance is the strand of pearls. The volleyball pole is shoved into dirt into an old planter and anchored to the gutter with string.

Happy Autumn!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mouse Trap

Last night at around 10:00 the phone rang. The name of the caller in the caller ID window didn't ring a bell at all, but I answered anyway. It was Frances, the lady who sold me the vintage owl lamp and the Christmas napkins. I suppose she had saved my name and phone number (they had been on the check I wrote out for the purchase). Anyways, she said that she was thinking of me because a neighbor was having a yard sale that she was piggybacking onto, and she had some vintage linens that she knew I would love. She asked if I could stop by; she wanted to give them to me. So I stopped by this morning and lo and behold, she handed me a sweet little stack of linens, mostly white. We chatted and hugged goodbye. I love making friends that way, by happenstance. And her generosity and kind heart make me believe in the genuine goodness of mankind.

The lady who was hosting the yard sale had piles and piles of board games. Most had to do with televisions shows. There was The Partridge Family, Welcome Back Kotter, All in the Family, The Waltons, The Dukes of Hazzard, Fantasy Island. I wish I had had my camera to take a picture of them all. There must have been 40 different games. For serious vintage-TV-series buffs, it would have been a gold mine. I found this Mouse Trap game in an unopened box and at $2.00 just had to bring it home. I set it up and fondly remembered that the best part of the game was setting it up.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gideon watching the dog show on the Animal Planet channel

One of Gideon's favorite things to do is to curl up on our living room ottoman and watch Animal Planet. He's not picky . . . any animal will do. Here he was last night watching the Houston Dog Show. He rested his head on the edge of his toy basket and watched until he fell asleep. (Not a great picture, but had I turned on lights, he'd have gotten up for sure.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Primitive Box

My sister, Beth, loves all things primitive. I just completed a big primitive project for one of her Christmas gifts (will share after Christmas!). But this quick, little project is one that came to me after finishing a wheel of brie. The box seemed so perfectly primitive in the way that it's constructed. I painted it, added the primitive willow tree, and next time I send her something in the mail, I'll pop it in the box.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Bond Like No Other

A few weeks ago Harleigh asked if we could do weekly mother/daughter devotionals. When a 16-year-old asks you a question like that, answering with "let me get back to you after I look at my schedule" is not an option. So I got online and started searching for a book to guide us. Found this one, and last night was our first devotional. I read two chapters out loud, as we laid in her bed, both spooning pillows and comfy in our jammies. After each chapter we talked about the topic, pulling in scripture (she more so than I; she's light years ahead of me on Biblical knowledge), and we spent a good deal of time reminiscing and laughing, with me crying a few times (what's new).

We spent about 45 minutes in our devo time, and I can't believe how much we touched on. Everything from her father to what her favorite mother/daughter memory was from her early years (and it was one I don't even remember!?!?!) to what she wants in her future. We touched on me not dating (= no husband for me, no stepfather for her) and how that has affected her. Not all of the conversation was warm fuzzies. Some of it was sad, some contemplative, there were apologies on both ends, and a portion of our gab was raw with honesty.

Our mother/daughter relationship is far from perfect, for the simple reason that neither one of us is perfect. But what our relationship is is open, respectful, and grounded in a love of God. No matter what comes our way cloaked in difficulty, I know that we have a strong foundation and can tackle anything. And the bottom line is that mother/daughter love aside, I really like Harleigh a lot.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Curtains Are Done!

What a fun project! Started at Ace Hardware (who doesn't love a man in a red vest) and ended with curtains that make my room feel like a posh hotel suite. First of all, this was a no-sew project so anyone can do it. All you need is fusible tape and your imagination. See my post back on September 28 for some more background on the project.

And go back even further to see the room I began with. A bedroom lacking in natural light and in desperate need of some warmth. A shoestring budget.

I told Harleigh this evening as I hung the last rod, "I feel all grown up now!" Who knew that curtains could add so much to the room. And I put my heart and soul into these which makes what hangs from the curtain rods so much more than dropcloths.

I'll take more pix during the daylight, but in the meantime, here's where I netted out this evening. Stick a fork in it . . . it's done!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mandevilla at the Mailbox

I've tried several types of plants at the mailbox, always with the intent to add color and a cottagey feel to an otherwise bland post and box. It doesn't help that the sun beats down upon it (evidenced by my dud of a lawn, courtesy of this year's drought).

Here's the mandevilla I planted this afternoon. I think it should climb nicely, and the flowers sure are pretty.

Saturday Morning Flea Marketing

Every October my parents' church, Mary Our Queen, has a huge Fall Festival. 5K run, car show, entertainment, food, kids games, silent auction, and my favorite . . . the flea market. I'm usually not the person who shows up at people's yard sales an hour before the sign says they are opening, but this morning I was the first one at the flea market, well before the scheduled opening time. Obnoxious? Heck, it's for a good cause.

I came away with this vintage Flexible Flyer sled which I plan on using as Christmas decoration, for (drum roll please) $2. This vintage ottoman is killer. Not sure if I'm going to redo it or just keep it as is. The ceramic figurines will be used for my matchbox crafts. The kitchenware includes two beautiful silver spoons with a sorta art deco design. The old tissue holder is pretty in pink (and in a house of a crier — me — we have tissues in every room). A desk organizer, which will get an overhaul. And a stack of towels and napkins.

The selection of furniture there was overwhelming, and I could have easily caved in to many a chair purchase, but I need another chair like I need a hole in the head.

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