Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Last year we went out for New Year's Eve.

I put on heels and Matt wore a suit jacket and we danced.

But this year we're staying low key.



It seems a shame to leave our warm house and sparkly lights.



It's New Year's Eve. The end of 2009. It's been a year of sorrows, a year of joy, a year of new adventures, and a year of blessings. But most importantly, it's been a year of faith.

May God bless you all.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mid Century Christmas Miracle

Imagine this.

You walk into an antique mall a few days before Christmas. You muscle your way through the crowds, not really searching for anything in particular. And then, something catches your eye.

You slide past a group of women into a tiny booth, eyeing a 55 piece set of vintage, white and silver, atomic star, mid century china. Serving pieces included. You sigh deeply. It's exactly what you've always wanted.


And then you reach down to pick up the price tag. A scream escapes your mouth as your eyes refuse to believe what they see:

Entire Set of Retro China $30.

People begin to gather, wondering what all the fuss is about, as you do your best to stack every piece of china in your arms at once lest someone try to hoard in on your treasure. But they don't, mostly because I, um, I mean you, look incredibly nuts as you teeter totter to the front of the store, goods in hand and a crazy look in my, I mean your, eye.


It was truly a mid century Christmas miracle.

Merry Christmas to me.

And a Merry Christmas to you too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cuckoo Clock Wishes

I've got a yen for a cuckoo clock. I was going to ask for one for Christmas, but then I visited an honest to goodness clock store and nearly passed out when I glimpsed the price tags. Ouch. So until I win the lottery, I think my cuckoo charm will work just fine.

Besides, it only cost $8.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Uncooperative Little Bird

I'm not a pro when it comes to wrapping. My tape gets wadded. Edges are always uneven. But this year I decided to put a little more effort into things. And so, instead of bows, I thought birds would be cute. That was until I encountered one bird that didn't get with the wrapping program.


This was the good perching bird. No problems here.


This bird, on the other hand, refused to perch. So... it got a noose tied around it's neck and tape stuck to it's bottom. This is officially the end of my craft forays this holiday season. From here on out it's store-made bows and gift cards. Rebecca... this is your present. Sorry.

6 AM

Even when I'm on vacation, I still wake up at the crack of dawn.

It's a blessing and a curse.

It's a blessing to get the jump on an entire day filled with no schedule.

It's a curse because I only got four hours sleep last night.

But this morning, as I sip my decaf cinnamon latte and write and watch the early morning traffic flash by... it's a blessing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Unicorn

Unicorns were a big theme in my early life. Mom loved them.

There were unicorns ornaments for the Christmas tree, unicorn cross stitch patterns, unicorn cups. Mom decorated our kitchen with bright red tapestry wallpaper adorned in white unicorns. The kitchen counter tops were 50's mint green tile, along with the appliances, and the cabinets were crisp white. It was the most funky, cheerful red and green kitchen I've ever seen, even to this day.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table (it had lions head feet) and making my Christmas list while mom baked cookies and the unicorns watched over our progress.



And even though that house and the wallpaper are long gone, these cups still remind us of it.

I remember inviting friends over to my house to play. They would stop in the kitchen and stare.

"Your mom has weird wall paper."

And at the time, I agreed. Everyone else had mothers with sensible beige or country blue kitchens. At the time, I longed to blend in.

"Why do we have weird wall paper?" I asked one day.

"Because I like this weird wall paper," Mom replied genially.

"Louisa's mom has tiny blue ducks on her wall paper," I pushed.

"Well, I don't like ducks. I like unicorns."

There was great wisdom in that statement, although I couldn't appreciate it then. But now, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I had a mother who set up easels and painted in our living room. I'm grateful I had a mother who let us eat cake for breakfast. And I'm grateful I had a mother who wall-papered her cheerful kitchen with unicorns.

I'm grateful because with her actions, she gave me permission to do the same. Permission to decorate my home with unicorns or peacocks or lions if it strikes my fancy. She gave me permission to carve out a room just for writing. She gave me permission to make decisions without wondering what other people think.

We underestimate what our parents give us unspoken 'permission' to do. I appreciate this more and more the older I get, especially at this time of year, especially when I think about those Christmas unicorns.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Bit of Shopping...

I'm readying myself for the crowds.

It's my last venture into the Christmas frenzy.

So in preparation I have a checklist.

Money: Check
Warm Coat: Check
Scarf: Check
Comfortable Shoes: Check
Felt Flower Pin: Check


Bring on the shopping.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Food, Lamp Makeover

The colder it gets, the hotter our food becomes.

We sit at the kitchen table, watch the cold rain, eat spicy food and wipe the sweat from our foreheads. This is what happens when you marry a Texan.




One of my favorite hot meals is what we call "black bean meal." Not fancy, or hard to make, but so good. And when you throw in some sriracha sauce, it's also guaranteed to clear out any stuffy nose.



Saute two green peppers and an onion in butter. I know, so bad. Season to taste using garlic salt and pepper. Then add two cans of drained and rinsed black beans, add sriracha sauce to taste. Simmer for a few minutes until blended and warm. Cut up fresh tomatoes and mix, serve.


And now I'm off to see if I can find another lamp to spray paint or a shade to recover. I bet I can.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cold, With a Chance of Sprinkles


I've got a new set of pine cone cups and saucers...


And hot chocolate with aqua sprinkles...



And lit up gingerbread houses across the lake...



And blurry pictures taken with frozen fingers...



Now if it would only snow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nothing Says Christmas Joy Like...

Nothing says Christmas joy like a little winter sunlight, the smell of baking bread, and presents to be wrapped.

Nothing says Christmas joy like unicorn ornaments, Glenn Miller holiday music, and a stack of unwatched holiday movies.


And NOTHING says Christmas joy like Mabel screaming in the front window at the garbage men. Nothing.

In Memory

It's been a year since we lost her.

She was my friend.
She had unparalleled wit and loyalty.
She was a writer.
She loved dogs and allowed Mabel to lick her in the face.
Mabel was bonkers over her.



She had faith in the face of pain.
She had grace in the middle of disaster.
She will forever be in my heart.
I miss you Angela Hope.
We all do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guest Post


The always kind and gracious folks at At Home Arkansas did a photo shoot at our house last month, and this month they asked me to do a holiday guest post. It's been super fun and very exciting! Head over and check out the post and the rest of their fabulous blog here.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Is Fat?


How do you know when your dog is getting too fat?

When you catch yourself petting her and saying:

"Who's my little Rump Roast?"

Oh, and when the vet scolds you during her yearly check up.

And offers to prescribe weight management medication that has a 5,000 pound corgi illustration on the front of the package.

Pills aren't the answer. Time for a diet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Ornament That Started It All

I've been obsessed with houses ever since I was old enough to point and say, "Those shutters would look better in a brighter shade of green."



I blame this ornament.



Mom bought this for me in 1985. It even says so on the bottom. I spent hours, literally hours, sticking my eye up to the little rooms and pretending like I lived in there. Never, in my whole life, not even when I topped my heaviest weight and couldn't snap the button on my fat-pants, did I long to be tiny like I did at that moment. I wanted to crawl through the front window, put my feet up in that little mauve chair and never come out.





Mom always made sure to hang this ornament on the very front of the tree near the bottom where I could stand and stare at it, turning it over and over in my hands.



The white tree lights would shine through the mini-windows, creating a magical light inside. I was always enthralled with the fact that there was a teeny tiny dollhouse within my teeny tiny dollhouse ornament.



It would be years later before I knew that this was a flocked bottle brush tree, or that I could fully appreciate the minuscule wall paper accent walls. But even at the age of 5, I knew first love when I saw it. I loved everything about house and home then, and I love it now. I think it's safe to say that this is the ornament that started it all. Where did it start for you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Martha's Schedule vs. Liz's Schedule

Like all women this time of year, I find it impossible to keep myself away from the Martha Stewart website and thereafter emotionally flog myself for not knowing I needed to dead-head hyacinths and for not raising my own organic chickens in the back yard.

But as I perused her tv schedule and watched clips of her making feather trees and joshing around with Stephen Colbert, I decided to do a little real-life comparing. So last night when I SHOULD have been working on the book, I made a comparison list instead. Here are a few samples:


Martha's December Schedule vs. My December Schedule:


Martha: Bake brisket on national television.

Me: Bake Duncan Hines pre-packaged oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and eat at least fourteen of them while sitting crossed legged in front of a giant pile of unfolded laundry. Then get sick.

Martha: Shop for eco-conscious footware.

Me: Use a black magic marker to cover the scuff marks on my favorite pair of cheap heels and then sniff them, wondering if I stepped in gum.

Martha: Go behind the scenes with a camera crew to Acme Smoked Fish.

Me: Watch Martha and crew eat delicious samples at the Acme Smoked Fish facilities while I pay bills and wonder why we only have $5.28 left to spend on presents this year.

Martha: Explore the possibilities of non-traditional tree stands.

Me: Get a crick in my neck as I lay sideways and try to tighten the bolts on the bottom of our fake Wal-Mart tree that seems to be doing it's best impression of the leaning tower of Pisa.

Martha: Make a reindeer pop up card.

Me: Forget to mail Christmas cards of any kind. Again. For the eighth year in a row.

Martha: Create a six pack snowflake.

Me: Brave the cold, driving rain in the backyard because Mabel has once again gotten a piece of poop stuck to her fur and she is frozen in a u-shape, trying not to walk, waiting for me to save her with a paper towel.

Martha: Share Tuna Nicoise Crostini recipe to gleeful audience guests.

Me: Go out for cheap sushi, sniff the spicy tuna roll that's delivered to the table and mutter, "This smells like low tide."

Martha: Provide studio audience with tree trimming tips.

Me: Provide friends with tips on how I found the tackiest Christmas sweater ever by visiting Goodwill every day for three months leading up the the holidays.

Martha: Adhere to a strict cleaning schedule every day before guests arrive, therefore eliminating a stressful day of cleaning beforehand.

Me: 30 minutes before guests arrive I clean the toilets, dust mop giant dust bunnies from a few corners, Febreeze the couch and call it done.

Martha: Find holiday homes for abandoned pets.

Me: Make fun of Mabel after I tie reindeer horns to her head and watch her buck around the room like a demented Christmas bronco.

Martha: Create instant topiaries.

Me: Look up the definition of the word topiary.

And last but not least:

Martha: Share holiday jewelry ideas.

Me: Threaten Matt that if he gives me one of those diamond chip monstrosities from Kay jewelers I'll melt it down into the shape of a bullet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Update...

* Update: Just cysts. No cancer. Praise God. I was reading your comments on my phone in the waiting room, it was like being surrounded by friends. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Prayers

I spent the weekend at my parents' house, which always seems to be the recharge I'm searching for. These pics are in my mom's dining room, which I spent some time perusing, picking up one item after another asking, "Now, were these salt shakers Aunt Lib's or Great-Grandmother India's?" I'm a nut for walking down memory lane via the family tree.

However, this is really unrelated to what I'm posting today.
But you know how I feel about a picture-less post.

I'm posting today about prayer, and requesting some from you.


Nearly everyone I've ever met believes in prayer. Some people believe it's a way to send positive vibes through the universe. Some believe it's meditative, a way to remember that God, well, is. And some of us, including me, believe it is communication, from humans to the creator of the universe. That he is present, listening, and willing to act in relationship to our requests.


I wasn't going to share any of this with you, because I don't like to be too transparent here, too personal. The last thing I want to do is cause anyone concern or be dramatic. But this morning it dawned on me that if I really do believe that about prayer, that if I really do believe that God the Father acts and intercedes because of our prayers and on our behalf... then I should post about this. Then I should, absolutely, ask for your prayers in whatever form you're willing to offer them.





And so, I ask for your prayers today. As you'll recall, I quite caffeine over a month ago. That was because I found a lump during a self breast exam. My doctor was hoping it would go away with the absence of caffeine. Today marks some initial tests to try and figure out what it is. By all practical signs, it appears to be a cyst and nothing more.


I am in good spirits this morning and I know that in all things God is faithful, no matter the results.
So thank you for your prayers. You cant know what a comfort you ladies are to me. May God bless you.

Love to you all,
Liz


If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 31b, 35, 37-39)




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rosy December


I've never seen a rose bloom in December. Until now. Pink petals and cold air and a bright blue sky. It's an unexpected combo of colors for winter, but I'll take it.


I so often think of winter and groan. I think of the early sun sets and dreary drives home and forget that winter comes with it's own set of cheerful aspects. Like surprise roses in the backyard, and if not in the backyard, on my great-grandmother's tablecloth.

Even the sun, despite it's shortened schedule, seems to try harder in the winter, streaming through the window sheers with a rose-like intensity that says, "See? I'm still here." Either way, winter seems a little more positive to me this year. A little more cheerful. A little more up beat.

I suppose one reason for my new outlook would be the project I've been working on. It's a new book idea, which is less fiction and much closer to what I do on this blog. And unlike previous projects, I probably wont be sharing this one online. I'll be... gulp... sending it out to agents. When it's finished of course. I'm very hopeful about it. But the flip side is I may have a little less time to devote here. We'll see how it works out, but I'm honestly giving this new endeavor my all. I think you'll like it.

Maybe this is what they meant when someone coined the phrase, "Everything is coming up roses." Or maybe not. Whew. I'm going to wind this post up before the cliches take over completely.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Liz Quiz, Part 5

Do you have any more decorating projects planned soon?

Yep. I have plans for the guest room. Ever since Rebecca moved out, that poor little room has been stripped bare and begging for a change. As you can see, I’ve picked out some new bedding, but the other details are still to come. You know, when I get that giant shot of motivation and energy that comes once in a blue moon. Not that I'm painting the room blue or anything...



What is your favorite holiday?

I love Halloween the best. It’s playful and fun and there are no massive travel/gift/financial aspects that loom over our heads. But, having Thanksgiving at our house this year was really fun. And what's NOT to love about a holiday where my sister picks my nose for me? Just one less thing on my to do list now...



Have you ever seen a tornado up close? Did you take a picture of it?

Most everyone in the south has encountered tornadoes from time to time. I've only ever taken pictures of the aftermath, like this one that hit my hometown almost two years ago. But in high school I narrowly missed getting to fly on my broom in one. It was an F5, a giant black thing the size of a football field stretching from the sky to the ground. And no, I did not take a picture of it because we were in the car, the power lines were blowing sparks over our heads and I was trying way too hard not to wet the car seat beneath me.


Does Matt mind that you blog about him?

No, he’s a very good sport. And I suspect he revels in having earned the nickname Poor Matt.


Do your sisters mind that you blog about them?

No, they’re attention hogs.


Are you Republican?

I like to leave the political stuff at the door when I blog. I work in a sometimes political arena, so it’s nice to take a break when I’m here. But I will say this: Libertarians make me smile. Cause I hate taxes. But don't we all?

Does Matt get any say in decorating the house?

Truthfully, I try to consider him more now than I did a few years ago. But the ‘deal’ was, he has his man room and I don’t decorate it. I can do whatever I want to the rest of the house. BUT… this year he let me put garland, lights and pine cones on his mantle for Christmas. That was a big, big deal.