Monthly Archives: January 2014

Winter Storm 2014 – Our Story

Winter Storm 2014 – Our Story

Most of you know that the South was slapped with some crazy snow & ice on Tuesday.  You’ve probably seen the news coverage and heard the stories, but I thought I would share our story.  It will be disjointed & probably use poor grammar, but here it is.  It’s not nearly as dramatic, or sad, as some.  For that I am forever thankful and feeling very blessed.

We were blessed in that none of us had to spend the night in our car, freezing.  Why did that happen to so many, you ask?  Because, around here, when snow is forecast, we mostly laugh.  We may see a few flakes, but the ground is rarely cold enough for it to stick.  Also, they had forecast the snow to be mostly south of us, with very little hitting our area.  So we went about our day thinking schools would probably let out around 1:00pm and everyone would go home then.  We were so wrong.  Within 30 minutes of seeing the first flake, bridges and hilly roads were freezing.  When I say “hilly roads”, you need to understand that we live in eyesight of a world class mountain biking park.

Here is how my day went:  I got the hubs off to work, kids to school & went to the mall for my usual 3 mile walk.  Came home and grabbed my coupons.  My plan was to get to Old Navy to swap out a sweatshirt for my daughter and then hit the grocery store on the way home to meet the bus when school let out.  I was thinking school would let out at 1:00 at that time.  The first flakes hit as I was on the way to our Old Navy.  It’s not far.  Within 20 minutes I had driven clear roads, swapped out the shirt, and was met with a FROZEN piece of ICE on my windshield.  WHAAT??  I started towards home on now snow covered roads.  Dummy (me) stopped at the grocery store for a few things to make soup.  Mistake.  There is a mountain between the grocery store & my house.  Within 10 minutes of being in the store, cars were literally sliding down the mountain.  It was ugly.  I panicked and called my husband.  I couldn’t get to my girls.  Then the phone lines were jammed with so many people stuck in similar, or worse, predicaments. One of whom was a friend who was north of the city and asked me to get her girls.  Once the phone lines became jammed with callers, we couldn’t get through, but we could text & text we did!  My husband tried several routes for a couple of hours to reach me in his 4WD truck.  Too many wrecks.  He had to turn around and eventually abandon his truck about a mile from his office and walk to his office.  (Yes, his truck was off the road so it wasn’t blocking traffic.)  While he was trying to get to me, I was in a text-a-thon with friends.  We all were wanting to get to our kids, because the school busses were grounded.  This is where I must say that I am SO grateful that I live close to everything!  We are within 3 miles of schools and grocery stores.  One neighbor was able to get her kids, my kids, and 2 friends to her house.  My kids + 1 friend walked from her house to our house (next door).  They were home.  But I didn’t know because my phone had died.  I just knew she had them, so I trusted her to get them home.  Bless her!!

I had gone into a hair salon to wait.  Then I decided to walk.  One of the ladies in the hair salon gave me her gloves because mine were at home.  Another lady said she would walk with me.  I grabbed several bags of groceries and the bag of sweatshirts.  Thankfully, I had bought a couple more while at the store.  The lady & I each used one as a scarf and off we went.  Soooo many people were walking.  Some crazy people were still trying to get up the mountain in a car, and sliding back down.  Walking got to be dangerous due to the cars sliding down, but we made it.  We picked up some others as we went.  All walking to get kids from school or just trying to get home.  A lot of high school kids were walking from the other side to meet parents in the parking lot who couldn’t get over the mountain.  About 1/2 mile from the high school, a couple stopped and offered us a ride.  They dropped me at the high school, where I went in to get a friend’s older daughter.  When I got out of their vehicle, I managed to leave one bag of groceries.  Oh, well.  They certainly deserved it for driving around to help people get where they needed to go.  I forgot to even try to offer them gas money.  I have no idea who they were.

When I got my friend’s daughter at the high school, I explained that she could stay at my house with her sister and my girls, but she would have to walk a little over 2 miles to get there.  Bless her heart!  She looked a little startled, but took it good naturedly.  We made it to within 1/2 mile of my house & one of my other neighbors took us home in his truck.  He was out in his truck helping get kids home on our side of the mountain.  We were SO glad to see him, especially since we still had another hill in the neighborhood to get over and my arms were going numb from carrying groceries.  Once home, I found my girls and friends having snowball fights in the yard.  Hallelujah!!  I went in to plug in my phone and let my friend know I had her girls and let hubs know I made it home.

We never lost power.  We didn’t lose phone service – other than lines being tied up with so many stranded people.  We were blessed!  My husband was stuck at work, but he was safe.  He and some co-workers walked up to the mall to get food.  Like so many other places, the Panera Bread was giving free food to anyone who could get to them.  Thank you, Panera!!  Around 1:00AM, hubs thought he could get home.  One of his co-workers has a 4WD Mercedes car.  He took hubs to his truck.  From there, my determined husband drove home over the icy roads.  Most cars were pulled over and abandoned by then.  He did not, however, let me know he was coming home.  I was obviously SOUND asleep.  So sound asleep that I did not hear the garage door go up.  Or down.  But, buddy, I heard the alarm system say “Fault Den Garage Door!”  The dog came straight up to all 4’s from his bed and I came straight up and over to the gun from my bed.  As I was reaching in for the gun, I heard a quiet, “Honey?”.  Glory!  Needless to say I didn’t shoot him……but I took it into consideration for the scare he gave me!

My friend (whose daughters were at my home) made it to a shelter for the night and then home the next morning.  Once the hubs finished some conference calls (he works for a utility company), we loaded her girls in the truck and found a route to their house on the other side of the mountain.  Once they were dropped off, we were able to pick up a friend that had spent the night on that side with a kind family who were strangers.  Sooo many people opened their homes & pantries to stranded people!  We loaded up my friend and stopped by her car and mine to get all the groceries.  (She had been in the grocery store the same time as me.)  Our car is still on the other side of the mountain, but we are all home and safe.  Hopefully, the car will make it home today.  I’ll leave you with some pictures:

20 minutes after first flake

20 minutes after first flake.  The windshield wipers were having no effect.


The next afternoon. The majority of these cars are abandoned. One lane of moving traffic.


The view from my window the next morning.


Our deck the next morning.


View from our front porch the next moring.


One of so many wrecked cars that had to be abandoned the previous day.


The road to our neighborhood the next afternoon.



My Weight Loss Journey


On January 15, 2013, I wrote a post titled 100 Day Challenge.  That lasted less than a week.  I had completely forgotten that I even wrote it.  On January 13, 2014, I posted New Year, New You.  I referenced my weight loss & promised to share more info.  Since April of 2013, I have lost 35 pounds.  Thirty of those have stayed gone.  Five of those I am just playing with apparently, because they keep popping back on the scale.  But, honestly, it’s OKAY.  This is not a diet, this is a journey.  This is my life.  This is God helping me conquer a food addiction.  If you are Googling “weight loss” or “how to lose weight”, then you are familiar with this addiction.  If you have a Pinterest board dedicated to “Fitness” or “Weight Loss” with scantily clad chicks showing off their abs & butts, and lists of work outs you have never attempted, then you are familiar with this addiction.  Every story is different.  Yet, every story is the same.  Since you are here, I’ll share my story.  What inspired me?  What did I do?  What did I NOT do?

Let’s go back about 10 years.  I had 3 children under the age of 3.  Due to some life circumstances, I decided to return to work.  Shortly after hiring on at a small law firm, another girl was hired.  Instant friends.  Love her still!  We talked a lot about faith, family, our boss, and weight.  I recall telling her that skinny people were truly lazy people (in terms of food).  Seriously, if there was nothing laying around that they wanted, they just wouldn’t eat.  But me?  Well, honey, I would HURT myself and risk my job to sneak out to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.  Oh, yeah!

Years have passed and life has changed in so many ways.  My friend & I left that firm and went in different directions.  Facebook keeps us in contact.  One day last year, my sweet friend posted on FB that she had lost a significant amount of weight.  I was so excited for her!  But I was still Googling “weight loss” and “how to lose weight” and Pinning exercises I would never do & pictures of airbrushed workout chicks I would never look like.  She posted again.  Still losing.  Thank you for those posts, my friend.  You were my inspiration.

So, what did I DO?

1.  I stopped talking about it.  I quit asking people how they lost weight.  I quit voicing excuses.  I KNEW what to do to lose weight.  You know, too.  So quit asking people.  Quit checking out Google and Pinterest.  Just. Stop.  Don’t post on FB that you are planning to lose weight, or started running, or joined Weight Watchers.  Not yet.  Quit talking and just realize this is your LIFE.  This is NOT a diet you are starting or an exercise regimen.  This is LIFE.   Take it one day at a time.

2.  I stopped procrastinating.  There was no, “I’ll start tomorrow.” There was no menu planning for “tomorrow”.  I started right then by NOT eating a snack.  I wasn’t hungry, but I am a snacker and love to snack.  I stopped.  Right then.  Didn’t even say anything to my husband.  In the words of Nike, “Just do it.”  Just shut up & DO it.

3.  I did NOT join a gym.  Or cross-fit, or a running club.  I did not break out all the weights, yoga mats and exercise balls gathering dust in a closet.  I have done all that in the past & it NEVER worked.  Plus, I see a LOT of people my age in walking boots, casts, having surgery,etc. as a result of those.  So, if you think you can’t lose weight if you can’t work out, you are full of bull.  I have Plantar Fasciitis in both heels.  Have for years.  It HURTS.  Go to the doctor and do what he says to ease the pain.  (That includes losing weight, by the way.)

4.  I DID join Weight Watchers.  No, they aren’t paying me for this.  They don’t even know me.  Heck, I’m still paying THEM until this last 5 pounds stays gone.  Then I become a lifetime member & no longer have to pay!  I joined WW because it is NOT a diet.  It is LIFE.  It showed me clearly that walking 3 miles & eating a Chick Fil A chicken biscuit did NOT balance out.  Not at all!  I don’t necessarily recommend that you join WW or anything else.  Not until you are ready.  Not until you can do Step 1 up there.  If/when you do join, DON’T use the activity points  you earn.  Don’t do it.

5.  I stopped avoiding my “to do” lists.  In the past, I would get stressed over all the stuff that needed to be done (and I didn’t want to do) and I would just go eat to avoid it.  I would leave the house that had a full pantry/fridge/freezer to go out to eat.   I would even haul our 3 toddlers with me.  By the way, one of the things on that list was “Quiet Time”.  Why did I avoid reading my Bible and praying?  Because my Bible said gluttony is a sin.  So, I said I didn’t have time to read my Bible.  But, I had time to go out to eat.  My stomach was not allowed to growl.  My stomach had become my god & I was FAR better at worshiping and serving it than I was the God who loved and created me.

There are SO many benefits to dropping the weight!  My husband calls me “skinny girl”.  People stop me almost every day and comment on how good I look and how much weight I have lost.  I have more energy to do things around the house & with the kids.   All that is GREAT, but the most awesome thing was when one of my daughters told me, “Mom, I have really seen a lot of spiritual growth in you since you started Weight Watchers.”  Wow.  I had no idea just what kind of example I had been setting for them.  Weight Watchers is not a religious organization.  However, it was the tool God used to teach me restraint and diligence.  Do I fail?  Yep.  Does He forgive?  Every time.  Do people notice my new diligence?  My girls do.  My husband does.

So many things are unsaid in this post.  So many things don’t really need to be said.  You know what to do to be healthier.  No one can do it for you.  No one but you can change the example you are setting for your family and friends.  Oh, the pictures?  Not posting them.  Don’t compare yourself to me or anyone else.  YOU are YOU.  Be the YOU that God wants you to be.  Your diligence in (not) eating will bleed over into every area of your life.  It’s slow, frustrating, amazing, and thrilling. “Just do it.”

Budget Kitchen Before & After (Finally!)

Budget Kitchen Before & After (Finally!)

Oh.My.Word.  I seriously thought this kitchen redo would NEVER end.  Never.  But (for the most part) it has!  Hip, hip, hooray!!  This will be pretty much a picture post.  If you’ve been here before, you know I am NOT a photographer.  If you haven’t been here before……, prepare yourself.

The photos may not be much, but the results are amazing.  We did everything ourselves (except put in the gas line for the gas cooktop).  You can read more in-depth posts on the project here.  If you have any questions, please post in comments & I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here is some lovely “Before” to get you warmed up!

kitchen before 1

Kitchen before 2

Yeah.  That’s probably enough of that.

Now, for some “Afters”!


You can see how much more room we have now!  The actual dimensions of the kitchen are 19′ 1″ x 11′ 4″. The peninsula that once held the dishwasher is gone.  We simply turned the dishwasher sideways and it is SO much better!  The ceiling fan is gone.  WHY would anyone want a CEILING FAN in a kitchen?  Over the stove?!?  I know pendant lighting & chandeliers are all the rage, but I am loving the new flourescent light.  The covered deck is off the kitchen & effectively blocks about 90% of the light that could come in the kitchen windows.  It gets DARK in here, friends.  My cute light over the sink is actually an outdoor light.  We took the cabinets to the ceiling.  SOOO much more storage!  The country blue countertops are now Uba Tuba granite & the backsplash is off-white subway tile.  Love!  The new microwave is a convection.  We swapped the drop in oven unit for a gas cooktop & separate electric convection oven.  Both from Craigslist, as was the microwave.  The flooring was worth the wait!  We searched & searched, talked & talked, and thought & thought about flooring.  One night we were out & dropped in a Home Depot we don’t normally visit.  The guy there was FABULOUS!  We talked with him for about 2 minutes & he walked us over to a pile of flooring boxes.  It was PERFECT!  And it was CHEAP!  Laminate flooring for .99/ft.  You can get it here.  You’re welcome.  At that price, we decided that if anything happened to it, we wouldn’t even cry because we could afford to replace it.


The other side.  Photo-bombed by my adorable assistant.  🙂  You can see the cabinets are to the ceiling here as well.  My fabulous husband built a deeper cabinet over the ugly-but-staying-forever fridge.  It holds my baking stones, cookie sheets, cooling racks, etc.  He also built new drawers in the lower cabinet for plastic containers and pots/pans.  It’s so much easier to reach that stuff now!


Mr. Cuteness is a little bit of an attention hog.  You’ll notice that the shelf that once circled the dining section is gone.  So are those brackets sporting heart-shaped cut-outs.  Yes, I know a lot of people like that style.  I do not.  Nor do I like country blue wallpaper with flowers.  You probably noticed the mismatched chair cushions.  We got rid of the old chairs and brought in the dining room chairs that belonged to my grandmother.  A couple of them had been in use in other rooms & I just haven’t recovered all the seats to match now that they are in the same room.  It’s coming.  As soon as I figure out what fabric I want.

So, that’s our (finally) final before & after on our budget kitchen remodel!  I have some organization and clean out to do.  Once that’s done, I’ll share pics of the inside of our cabinets, pantry, drawers & pull-out by the dishwasher.

Thanks for hanging out with us through the looonnnggg process.

52 Mantels

New year, new you!


That’s the promise, right??  The promise shouted from magazines in the checkout line.  The promise we make ourselves every year.  The promise we break within about a month week.  Do me a favor, will you?  Know that you are already fabulous & just go from there.  Take it a day (or hour) at a time.

For the two of you who still check in from time to time……I love you.  🙂  We have been working on several things around here & have plans to knock out some smaller things soon.  I lost 35 pounds last year.  I’ll share with you what I did (and did NOT!) do to drop that weight.

The kitchen redo that has dragged on FOREVER is actually almost done!  We looovvvee the changes & I hope you will too!  You can see earlier kitchen posts here.

kitchen before and after


This boring wall in our entry will get stripes soon!



(It already received some DIY Wainscoting love to cover that pink!)

The kids’ den has been painted & received a new light fixture.  It will also be sporting stripes soon!  Yeah, I’m a little in love with stripes since I did that wall in the garage & in our half bath.  Chevrons?  Ummm, not ready to make that leap on a wall yet.  Speaking of the half bath, it looks like it’s time to show the updates on that, too!  Wow!  I am BE.HIND.

And then, it’s almost time for Valentorture!  Yeah, I still call it that.  If you are ahead of the game and already working on that, you can check out some cute Valentine’s Day boxes and a pennant banner here.

It’s Monday, so I’m off to knock out errands.  Come back & visit soon!