Monday, November 29, 2010

Of Giving Thanks and Gingerbread Houses

I have spent the last two Thanksgiving holidays with my friends, the Taylors.

They have had a tradition for the past four years of decorating Gingerbread Houses. The rules are simple: You have an hour to decorate. You can bring outside supplies, but they must be made available to all teams. Teams are picked at random. Judges come from the outside.

I was on the winning team, last year.

Busy workers. The one hour time limit does actually put a lot of pressure on you.

Vicky (She and I and Cowboy were on the same team)

Rod (Rod is Vicky's husband) and Kyle (Kyle is Allison's husband)

Allison (Allison is the only child of Rod and Vicky) and Katherine (Katherine is married to Jay, and the best friend of Vicky)(I think Allison is sampling the Swedish Fish...)
This year's homes.

I think the idea of the roof was terra cotta tiles - and swedish fish CAN resemble terra cotta... from a distance. Of course, they were having structural problems with their roof.

This one was very clever - they used GUM as their roof - cute, huh? I especially liked the gingerbread man who was fishing - and CAUGHT a fish.

Here's a close up.

And the winning house. The roof is awfully cute, don't you think? Frosted mini wheats. The judges were great fans of that roof. And the lights around the roof.

OH yes. I was on the winning team. Again. Thank you.

And now for MY thanks... so many things to be thankful for. Truly. My life has been redeemed from the pit. That I put myself in. I am always amazed that I think something will be truly hard and difficult. And it WILL. As long as I continue to do it myself. All God wants is one little teeny tiny step. But, actually that's not even true. I think all He wants is for me to say, "I can't even take a step, but I would if I could." And He swoops in and picks me up and sets me back on the solid ground that I've been longing for. That ground that is underneath the shadow of His wing. And even more amazing, I always think that I will be back at Ground Zero - spiritually, emotionally, etc... yet, with Him, I find I am stronger than I was, more attune to Him than I was, and in a much better place. I am not making the faulty argument that Paul speaks of in Romans when he says, 'Shall we then sin so that grace may abound all the more?' No way... just that God's grace in response to our sorrow and repentance is so very wonderful and I am so very grateful.

And truly, He makes the miracle of Cowboy seem like a foregone conclusion. Although I am not diminishing the miracle of love that is in my heart for Cowboy.

And how can I every verbally express my love for my parents and friends? I cannot. Those who have loved and laughed and cried. And waited and waited and waited for me to come back.

I am so glad to be back.

All Around the House

So - you've heard about the tiling debacle. The hope is that Lowes will be able to track some of the original tile down - of course, it won't match, but perhaps there can be a checker-boarding done with it. Or some sort of border. Whatever happens, I'm thinking it will require more work.

(Before the items were removed)

Old nasty floor.

Cowboy did the hard work of scoring and peeling the top layer off.

I did the easy part - pouring the magic boiling water, and scraping off the glue.
But - let me show you how nice and clean the kitchen looks now. Sans icky floor. And old tile. And oven (which is now in the garage).

Looking good, isn't it? And I think I've decided to keep the yellow. More out of laziness than anything.

And the bathroom...

Used to be pink

And new. Gray.

Granted, people usually show nicer pictures of their homes - but this is progress, Baby. Right?

Saturday, November 27, 2010


So - I no longer have internet at my house. Long story, but I needed to cut some bills and it had to go. And the one that was free in the neighborhood is gone - apparently, they felt the need to cut bills at the same time.

So, here I sit in Panera Bread, blogging, pathetically.

I'm actually here because Cowboy and I started tiling my kitchen yesterday. Well, we removed the frightful linoleum (Sheet vinyl). It ended up being a VERY EASY PROJECT because Cowboy had the brilliant idea of pouring water on the part that wouldn't scrape up (which was the frightful part). We heated the water up in my magic electric kettle, and then poured the magic water on the sheet vinyl and VOILA!!! seriously, scraped up like butter... Finished in under three hours - and we both secretly thought this project would take the better part of a day (actually, we HOPED it would take only the better part of a day)

And then for the downside... I only have half as much tile as I need. And Lowe's discontinued the tile in August. So the REAL reason we're at Panera online is to order the rest of the tile. Which very well may not match. Which, in all honesty, Cowboy is having a difficult time procuring even online... heavy sigh.

Thanksgiving was fun. A delicious catered meal with friends and the Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest and Mexican Train Dominoes. You know, I have pictures of ALL OF THIS, but my camera is not with me here at Panera... it's at home...

SO - I have NOT been able to blog every day of November... BUT... I have blogged more than usual, and will continue to do so.

Really. Pictures will be up later.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steel Creek Cabin Part Two

We got up Monday morning, and decided to go to Hawksbill Crag/Whitaker Point. (I know I already told you that)

But I didn't show all of the lovely photos from the little hike. I have 63 of them. Ready?

OH wait... can't show you photos of Cowboy. That takes the number down considerably (since he looks good without make up... which is a good thing for so MANY reasons, and I don't...) plus - I had the camera in my special secret pocket.

View from the crag.

Sitting on the crag.

Resting on the crag.

Making me nervous because he's a man and does man things, like exploring right up to the RIM of the mountain...

And then we sat on the porch swing in the back and drank hot chocolate (just plain, Karen, not spiced up like when you and I went to Jennah's soccer match that one time and I pretended to have a hook hand...)

and this was our view. (I had some pretty color pictures, but can't seem to locate them)

and that is disgusting..

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Steel Creek Part One

Some pictures from our time in Arkansas.

We arrived on Sunday, checked out the cabin, and went for a hike in the Lost Valley. Doesn't that cabin look great?!

There's a cave. It was really dark. As it is in a cave. Forgot about that. Luckily, Steve had a flashlight in his glove compartment. Luckily, he drove. Unluckily, the batteries were on their very last leg. Luckily, my camera has a flash...

Inside the cave. I actually have some fun pictures of Cowboy AND me in the cave, but you know how he is about pictures on the internet... (heavy sigh)

This is me inside a hollow tree.

This is what happens sometimes when people take a long time to take my picture. (Karen, don't you know the girl I look like in this picture? The Runaway Bride?)

Or when I'm thinking of Karen..

There is an Elk Reserve in the area. There were a lot of elk. The zoom on my camera doesn't really capture them the way I wished it would.

However, it doesn't really work to take a picture through binoculars...

We went to dinner at the Ozark Cafe, in Jasper, AR. It was established in 1909. Sadly, they no longer have karaoke. Happily, their chicken fried steak is still delicious. Sadly, we didn't leave room for the cobbler. Happily, we got to see some really odd looking local folk...

The next day we went for a hike to Whitaker Point. Some people call it Hawksbill Crag. I don't know why it has two names. Nor do I know who Whitaker was.

Most of the leaves were off the trees, but I still thought it was beautiful. I liked the way the leaves that had fallen off, showed through the bare branches of the other trees. See?

More tomorrow.

And So It Begins

The cabinets are finished. The cabinets have BEEN finished...

When I moved in to my little home in 2005, the one thing I really REALLY didn't like was the tile in the kitchen. It's the thing I liked least about the house. Possibly more so than the CARPET in the dining area... really swell plan, that one. Put carpet under the table. Oh - and it'd be really nice if it was also in the walkway where you come in from the garage...

So - over a year ago I purchased tile, grout, kwikset, a tile saw... and I went to the Tile Class THREE TIMES at Home Depot. AND... I took notes.

So - I am reh-DEE to tile my floor.

See? Ugly, HEINOUS tile.

Now. Please don't insult me and say, "It's not that bad."

Look a little closer. It's 9 inch tile. That's a nice little touch, don't ya think? SERIOUSLY?! Who DOES that?

And here's the carpet.

Because I REALLY want to make a believer out of you, I'm giving you a close up. (I have no shame. This is after a SERIOUS steam clean... and yes, I wipe my feet BEFORE I enter my home) But, you may notice the NEW tile I am going to lay down - it's on the floor, next to the cabinet. Pretty, huh?

SO... when Cowboy and I got back from the cabin in Arkansas on Wednesday, he thought he'd pull up the carpet for me. Very sweet. I know, at this point you expect nothing less, and I haven't painted an untrue picture of him.

Carpet pull we did...

And then we discovered WHY the area had carpet... (and yes, that is Cowboy's hand - I'm revealing him in a manner akin to Wilson from Home Improvement...)

Now this house was built in 1984. That is not sheet vinyl from 1984. There is no way. That harkens back to 1971 at the EARLIEST. I'm not kidding. It's the frightening garbage that's in the back bathroom and under the washer and dryer.

And let's talk about pulling it up. I've decided I can keep the temperature in my house at 55. If I get cold, I can just pick up the scraper and work away. In 20 minutes I will have worked up a sweat, AND cleared a 6 inch swath... it might be a very. long. winter...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lili's Wedding

Trisha and Asher came down (over?) from Miami (Oklahoma, not to be confused with Florida - this one is pronounced "My-AM-uh" - seriously...)

We hung out for the afternoon. Asher is a smart little boy - really. At 16 months old, the boy is potty-trained. Completely. Wears little boy underwear. Not a drip.

Don't you just want to eat him up?!

Cowboy and Asher

AHHHH! Just can't stand it! So adorable!

The wedding was beautiful and the reception was at a place called The Barn. Cool place. Figuratively and literally. It was a sparkly clear night - and freezing cold. But fun, nonetheless.

I taught Lili when she was a Junior and Senior in high school, and was thrilled to reconnect with her June 2009. SHE'S the one who got me started running with Fleet Feet.

Her husband Michael REALLY seems like a wonderful man. A former Marine. That shoots him to the top of my book any old day.

Sunday morning Cowboy and I went to Steel Creek - which is on the Buffalo River, which is between Ponca and Jasper, AR.

More later.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kimberly and Seth

A LOT of my friends are getting engaged - all in the past year, and through really fun and unusual circumstances.

Kimberly and I were Freshmen together. I LOVE her. We have been friends ever since. EVERY year when I have a day or two between tours, I make sure to stay out in DC so we can do a catch up. (She lives near Baltimore)

She is one of the MOST JOYFUL people I know. TRULY - in the face of many difficult life circumstances, she has always walked her way to joy. I wish I could REALLY convey this to you, but you will just have to take my word for it.

And - she is ENGAGED!

To Seth!


BAD Blogger

The movie is "You, Me and Dupree." Very funny movie.

I know I am SO pathetic with the posting every day. But I have LOTS to tell you.

We went camping (HAH! Stayed in a wonderful cabin) from Sunday until yesterday afternoon, and then we pulled up the carpet in my dining area, and Trisha and Asher came and stayed Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning, and we all went to Lili Dodd's (now Sauter) Wedding...

so my plan is to blog every chance I get this week and MAKE UP FOR MY LOST FIVE DAYS.... Not that that's the point of blogging every day, but...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Name That Movie!

This is an excerpt from one of my very favorite movies - do you know it? Have you seen it? Do you LOVE it?! Which part is your favorite?

Hey, how are you? First of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to come talk to you all on career day. Now, I’m not Mr. Carl Peterson and I don’t have a career per se. I guess you could say my career is living and loving and I do that to the utmost.
I see all you fresh faced “kidlets” sitting there in your neat little rows and you’re all just pods. Pods waiting for your instructions. Now some of you are gonna get zapped right away and be 15 year old prodigies, little midget Olympic gymnasts with their pictures on cereal boxes. Some of you will go on to college and you will find your rhythm there and then go chase down the titans of industry or maybe straighten out our problems at the UN.
But some of you…and this is the group that no one ever comes into career day and addresses, and it’s criminal (not too)…some of you, are just going to float along.–Eating spicy foods, humming black people’s music into your thirties—well into your thirties….languishing. This group of pods is going to do a lot of languishing and you’re going to take some heat for it…sadly, you will. Europe is a little easier, it seemed to understand a little better, so did South America. I went to Argentina one time and everyone just seemed to be sitting around and it was beautiful.
But that’s ok! Stay loose, stay liquid, laugh a lot–but be ready! That’s what Dupree is doing in his life’s little pod–staying nimble, until I get the call from the mothership. Then I bite. Then you’ll see Dupree coming in here throwing seven different kinds of smoke. Boom, bam!
(long pause, awkward)
…That’s fine, pods that were supposed to hear this, did, and it will kick in when it needs too. I’m done here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Foliage

This tree was just green leaves when I drove to OKC on Sunday. (It's my tree, by the way)

It would be prettier if it were light out... but, thanks to DAYLIGHT SAVINGS time, I don't get to have light in the morning OR in the evening.

So, here's the best I can show ya, until the weekend...

Pretty, huh?