Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Did "At Home in Arkansas" read my mind?

So, in the weeks since my last post, much has happened in the lives of Michael and Laura:
1) Michael's mom had surgery to remove a heal spur (muy painful!), so we spent a weekend hanging out in Russellville with family and friends (holla Jenny and Anderson bros!).
2) February 19 marked the one-year anniversary of our first date! Crazy to think about everything that has changed and that we've experienced in that year. God has been so good to us!
3) Michael and I got to spend some fun quality time with the super-cute Bakers, Brian, my sister Mandy, Meg, Ben, and Eli. (check out my sis's ultra-cute blog, part of the inspiration for this blog, at The Life of Us, and her home-business blog at Three Tea Design).

A couple of my exciting moments came as I was browsing the pages of At Home in Arkansas. In a previous blog, I discussed my trepidation at trying to decorate a house that does not even exist for us now. The home and decor magazine featured Fiesta, the everyday ware for which we registered, as a collection that "spans the decades with modern style." (To read the full article online, see Colorful Collecting.) Yaa! We are on the right track! Relief and happiness role into one to create a delicious hot fudge sundae of satisfaction in my heart and head.

As if this affirmation were not enough, At Home in Arkansas topped off my sundae with a cherry in their feature Northwest for the New Year, in which they featured a weekend's worth of activities in Rogers and Bentonville. Mandy and I wanted to include some fun things to do in NWA the wedding invitations we're creating, and the magazine just did the legwork for us! Of course, as a good English teacher, I shall not plagiarize, but I'll certainly use the January/February issue as a major resource!

P.S. & disclaimer: Do I need to include that my future-sister-in-law Mandy Keener works for At Home in Arkansas as the Art Director? So, of course I'm partial. Moreover, I think she has an awesome job, and I've seen first-hand the hours of hard work she dedicates to her job. Thus, I really don't care if my blog isn't totally objective. It's just a really fun issue!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Favorite Things

One of my favorite things about wedding-planning has been finding the details that make our wedding "ours." I don't want to divulge too many of these details until the big day, though I'm sure they'll come out via this blog, but I think we've managed to capture the essence of what I'm talking about in this pretty special picture:

It may not look like much, a flower, a picture, and a cup. But each piece holds a cool meaning in the coming-together of our families.

The frame was a Christmas gift to us from Michael's mother Beverly. It's classic composition with the simple words "I do." at the bottom will be beautiful in any decor, and will always be a fun reminder of our first Christmas with our families.

The card inside was part of an engagement gift from my sweet, sweet Aunt Jan. My dad's sister also gave my older sister a meaningful Mary Englebreit card, and I think it's indicative of her thoughtful and fun personality!

My mother bought the "prayed for" flower pin for me. It was while I was well on my way to a full recovery from my seizure, and it, along with it's sister flower "so loved," reminds me of the many prayers and lots of love I received during that crazy time. My family, friends, and students came through for me in so many ways I appreciate and in some ways I'll never know. It was (holding the throw-up bowl) and still is (driving me everywhere) more difficult for Michael than he lets on. But oh how the blessings flow from above!

Finally, the sweet tea-cup is from my grandmother's china, which she left to me. Though I've been scared to unwrap much of the collection, I'm looking forward to displaying it and using it for special times in our new house!

The cohesiveness of these elements, as they sit on top of the cabinet whose former home was my grandparents' music room, reminds me of the natural ease with which life unfolds when I let go, breathe, and let God have control.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Days

As I ready myself to return to school after yet another snow break, I can't go back to grading until I share my excitement about how I've been spending my snow days! I shouldn't be happy about our breaks, as each snow day is one less day between the end of school and our wedding (we had three weeks, but now we're down to 10 days, eek!) However, I'm choosing to make the most of my time now; no use complaining! So, here's what I've been up to:

My wonderful fiance gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, and his sweet mother outfitted me with a sewing kit, scissors, thread, etc. Aren't they beautiful? Now, these materials have taken up permanent residence on my dining table:
I'm even more thankful for their coordinated thoughtfulness, as these have been the perfect tools to keep me busy while I (still) can't drive myself anywhere. So, I set about searching the internet, scouring for free patterns, and I came across this great website for "people who sew," Here is the (free!) inspiration picture I found:
The Charlie bag is a re-usable grocery bag. I love the idea of having a cute grocery bag, because I think the cute-ness will help me remember to take the bag with me when I do my grocery shopping. Btw, did you know petroleum and natural gas, neither cheap for our economy nor renewable, are used to create the plastic bags we usually use? I had no idea. I'm no hippie (even though John L. would beg to differ), but I believe that every little bit helps! So, I tackled this cute grocery bag project, and here's my first try:
I'm quite proud of my initial try at this pattern, but all too late I realized this bag might be more than I could handle. The thick canvas and the lining turned out to be too much for my new machine, and I broke not one, but two (!) needles on my machine. Oh dear! So, I backed off a bit, and I'm proud to reveal my second bag of the snow break:
This simple bag restored my confidence, so I took it a bit farther, mimicking a bag I bought a few years ago. The result?
And I feel like I'm back on track! So, again, I'm thankful to my chauffeurs, John & Cara, for taking me on a fabric-trek today. We came up with some fabulous finds! So, here is a taste of things to come:
Little brother, and all other B-ville friends, please note the purple and gold that seems to continually find its way into various areas of my life!

Even in the midst of this recent crummy weather and continued no driving, I'm so reminded of my blessings. I'm thankful to my wonderful fiance for driving up and back yesterday to surprise me and get me out of the house for the afternoon! I'm thankful for Cara & John for interrupting their day to take me out again. I'm thankful for my mom and dad for listening to me ramble on as I've needed people to talk to over the last few pent-up days. Of course, the list could go on and on. I'm most thankful to my Lord, for covering me with even more blessings than the thick snow that still covers the ground.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Despite gentle urgings from my sweet fiance and queries from out-of-town guests, I've been reluctant to post information about our wedding registry for the following reasons:
1) We don't have a house yet!
2) I don't know what our finished house is going to look like!
3) How can we pick out furnishings and colors for a house that does not exist?

However, because "registering for gifts" is listed on Martha Stewart's Wedding Planner under "four to six months ahead," we persevered and registered! Important note: these registries (especially the ones at the larger stores) are subject to change, for the reasons above.

For those of you value brevity, we're registered Target and Dillard's. In Booneville, we registered at The Gathering Place, Jacque's, and Smee Drug Store. In Russellville, we're registered at The Copper Pig.

Now, for those of you who want "the rest of the story," read on...

Even though there is no house, we're still gathering house plans and paint colors. Below are some paint colors we like (these are darker in this picture, but it gives you an idea):
Thus far, we're thinking the big yellow color for the kitchen, the blue for the master bathroom, the small brown-ish color for the walls, the middle color for ceilings, and the lightest color for trim.

I've been looking and looking (instead of grading!) for bedding sets we like, and I send a huge shout-out to my sister for her help in brainstorming and mixing-and-matching ideas. So far, we LOVE this Duncan Stripe from Pottery Barn:
Hopefully, it's a compromise of fun colors (for me!) and simple stripes (for Michael). Now, according to Clinton and Stacy, this duvet cover has two components of a great outfit: color and pattern. The other two components? So glad you asked: texture and sheen. We found these two elements in the bee-yoo-ti-ful Rosette bedding from Anthropologie:
I'm thinking (actually, this is my sister's idea, so I'm giving her credit) that we can incorporate these pillows and fold the duvet at the bottom of the bed.

That's all I have for now... I'd love advice from people who have trodden this path before!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Attention all you TJ Maxx "Fashionistas" out there, I need your help! I found this dress last night at TJ Maxx in Rogers, but it was not my size. Please help! If you happen to stop by your lovely local store, could you please do a quick search? The designer is Lilly Pulitzer, the dress is navy with a green print, 3/4 sleeves, and the length goes just to the knees. I think I could wear either a 10 or 12. It retails for $268 (yikes!), I found it on eBay for $80-$124 (better...), but at the wonderful TJ it was only $60 (yippee!). I will of course pay you back. This dress would be perfect for upcoming showers or a rehearsal dinner. Please let me know via this blog, my email, or phone call if anyone makes any progress in this area! Finally, I'm sorry I didn't post a picture of this dress, but I couldn't find any good pictures to copy and paste. Happy dress hunting!


So I realized that I'm really going to enjoy blogging when it hit me that I can use these ramblings as an outlet for my ever-running inner monologue. You know, those thoughts that float through your head like, "I wish my life had it's own soundtrack" or "What would it feel like to jump through the trees like on Avatar?" And you think you're the only person who would ever think something so silly, until you work up the nerve to reveal your craziness to a close a friend, and then you realize you're both in the same boat.

In that spirit, I have a confession: I LOVE the show Hoarders. Michael rolls his eyes and would rather watch Pawn Stars (not a bad show, I must say). But I'm fascinated by the series of events that led this person to this place in his/her life. Then, it's interesting to watch how each person deals with the purging process, whether focusing on small items and issues rather than the mounds of trash trapping them inside, or making loads of progress only to be stopped dead in their tracks by a piece of the past.

And there is a small fear in me (confession #2) that the mound of clothes piling up just outside my closet door could be an indication of hoarding-tendencies to come. But, on the bright side, this mound and its crumpled contents have taught me an important new skill: how to "iron" with neither an iron nor a board (confession #3). You've probably already figured out this trick, but, for all my fellow non-homemakers or lazy girls out there, I feel I must share. Spread out the item to be de-wrinkled, either on a flat surface such as a dryer top or on your body (i.e. wearing it). Spray the item, not to soaking, just damp, with the ever-trusty Febreeze. Finally, and this step is key, set your blow-dryer to it's hottest setting, and blow at the item until it's dry and wrinkle-free! Warning: if you choose to put on the garment, then spray, then blow, the air can get way too hot and hurt your skin quickly, so pull the fabric away from your skin before blowing directly onto the item.

I don't see this technique working on any of my fiance's uniforms, but for a ruffle on a skirt or a comfy grey t-shirt, this is the way to go for me!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Yipee! They're here! Many thanks to Philip Thomas at Novo Studios for traipsing about the snow with us, getting on board with our "vision" for this shot, and capturing such a beautiful photo! (see below for more stunning shots!) Also, many huge shouts of thanks to Mandy, my sister and MOH, for designing the back and getting them printed so quickly! We're so excited with how they turned out!