Friday, November 30, 2007

New Compound Miter Saw

Daniel is ecstatic. Today the new compound miter saw arrived via UPS. I would say our new saw, but that would be like saying our new china hutch. While technically that is true and both of us will in some way use both of these items, in reality, the hutch is mine and the saw is Daniel's.

Daniel is like a kid who just received a favorite new toy. He could not wait to take it out of its packaging and put it together in order to start "playing" with it. But first things first, we had to spend several hours cleaning and organizing the garage so that we would have a place for the gargantuan saw and stand (the stand is about 6 feet long).

Anyways Daniel is very happy with the new purchase and cannot wait to be able to start using it on house projects! For those who are concerned... this saw is a very safe saw (unlike chain saws and table saws).

Speaking of Breakfast...

Daniel took the day off of work today because 1) he has a dentist appointment at 10:30 this morning and 2) he only works half days on Friday so it didn't seem worth it to get up and drive downtown for only a couple hours of work.

Instead we enjoyed staying up late last night and sleeping in this morning and then he woke me up to see if I wanted to go to my favorite pancake house for breakfast - which I could not turn down.

I am thrilled that we get to enjoy a three-day weekend together and to top it off, we kicked it off with the pancake house this morning! I am full from country ham, eggs over easy, pecan pancakes and my coffee.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Breakfast is my all time favorite meal to eat out. There is something wonderful about sitting down over a country breakfast with someone you love or with close friends. I can never turn down coffee or a country breakfast or pancakes! This is a list of some of my favorite places to eat breakfast.

Searcy, AR: Bobby's

Nothing can beat squeezing into a booth with friends or family. Many talks have been had at Bobby's over a country breakfast of ham, eggs, toast and coffee - all for about $5. I once convinced Daniel to skip class and chapel to go to Bobby's with me!!!

Bobby's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Gatlinburg, TN: Log Cabin Pancake House

First of all, I don't particularly like going to Gburg, but if we are in the vicinity I want to make a stop here. I love their Caribbean Pancakes with coffee.

Log Cabin Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Charlotte, NC: The Original Pancake House in SouthPark
I was a little disappointed to learn this was a chain - we ate at one in Birmingham, AL. Regardless, I love the one in SouthPark - the people know us and I love just about everything here. If you get an omellote, you pretty much need to plan on sharing it. Pancakes come with everything and you can always get the specialty pancakes if you ask. I have never had something I didn't like here.

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Nashville, TN: The Pancake Pantry

I have only been here once, but if I lived in Nashville, this would definitely become a regular place for me! I tried their pecan pancakes and coffee.

Pancake Pantry on Urbanspoon

Port Colborne, Ontario: Sambo's

Another place that serves good country breakfast (in CANADA). I love when I am visiting my grandparents and we run to Sambo's for breakfast. I suppose I should also put Tim Horton's on the list for when we are in Canada as well - it is a chain, but I have fond memories of special time over Tim Bits and Mocha.

Sambo's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fun Assembling A Hutch

Last night Daniel and I spent over two hours attempting to assemble a hutch we purchased to hold our china.

Unfortunately the directions were wrong and we were almost finished assembling it before we realized the mistake. We had to undo most of our work in order to rotate the two wrong pieces into the right direction. I have no idea how a manual that has written and drawn directions could be wrong. We actually noticed that a couple of things had been whited-out and then rewritten by hand!

Tonight neither of us felt like messing with the project, so it is still not finished. I will post a pic as soon as we finish.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Special Time

Special time is a tradition that started a long time ago in my family. I used to think it originated when I was little and my Nana would always take us out for one-on-one time to talk and get coffee/hot chocolate at Tim Hortons...

This is definitely a part of special time for us, but it also has a variation. Whenever my mom and sister and I are together, for as long as I can remember, we always get into a bed together to talk.

I remember when I was little that my mom would do this with her sisters and she says that she remembers nana doing it with her sisters - so this tradition is probably the longer standing one.

When I still lived at home, these talks in bed were generally done behind closed doors and I am pretty sure my dad and brother felt somewhat left out. Over the years, we have developed an open door policy and ANYONE that wants to come into the room and try and cram on the bed (or stand/sit in the room) is always welcome.

An interesting thing happened this Thanksgiving. Since Angela works nights, she was totally wiped out so I was in my parent's room talking with my mom. Then Mark wandered in, followed by Daniel and Robert. I think this is the first time EVER that the boys have outnumbered the girls. Mostly Mark entertained us with his stories. Mom was in her chair and I was on the bed with the guys!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things I Am Thankful For:

1) Daniel

2) Family

3) Old friends

4) New friends

5) Nearly 5 wonderful years of marriage

6) Taking the time to slow down

7) Learning how to mountain bike this year

8) Books

9) My front yard full of colorful leaves

10) My house finally being close(r) to being done

11) Starbucks/Caribou Coffee/Dean&Deluca

12) Finding a new restaurant to love

13) Having a mentor

14) Daniel having a good job

15) My freelance clients

16) My Computer/The Internet

17) The ability to learn new things

18) Completed projects

19) Getting to see my family over the holidays

20) People that drive long distances to visit us

21) Home church

22) Good health

23) Friendships that stay intact even though we live far away

24) Being able to take a moment everyday to appreciate the beauty that is all around me - whether it is mountains, the ocean, or just looking up at the clouds in the sky and listening to the birds in my yard.

25) God providing for all of my needs on a daily basis

Monday, November 19, 2007

Being Thankful

Last night at our life group we took the opportunity for everyone to share two things: 1) What is something you are thankful for this year and 2) What is something you are committed to doing in the future.

Thankfulness answers included being thankful for good marriages, family, children, healthy babies (we had a premi born into our group this year), relationships - old and new, jobs, health, life, thankfulness that God is not done with us yet (regardless of age), one person related how their family had gone through Hurricane Katrina and were going to be able to move back to their house soon (out of a FEMA trailer).

Commitment answers included committing to slow down and enjoy life, committing to choose to be content no matter what your circumstance, committing to be good husband's and wives and parents, committing to continue to develop relationships, etc.

It was a great time to be able to connect with each other and share in a more intimate way. The funniest moment came when Daniel said that he didn't know we were going to have to share commitments so he didn't have an answer for that one. Someone said that he should commit to staying out of the ER - this brought a good laugh and a moment of comic relief to what had been a fairly serious evening.

We are blessed in so many ways. I hope you take a moment to think about the things you are thankful for and things you will commit to for the coming year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Update

We have managed to accomplish quite a bit this weekend. I am happy to report that door casings for our coat closet and pantry have FINALLY been installed and doors hung. We also managed to install all of the baseboard in the great room/dining area - this is a major accomplishment and it looks fantastic. It is truly beginning to feel like a home instead of this insane, never-ending renovation project.

We also went out and purchased a china cabinet for me with my birthday money. I am really excited to finally be able to put away my china (which has been stored in 2 rubbermaid containers for the past 5 years).

I am really looking forward to seeing family for Thanksgiving - we will be headed to Searcy on Tuesday and I can't wait to see my family!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

High Cholesterol

I went to the doctor on the Friday before my birthday and found out I had high cholesterol. They told me to come back the next week after I had fasted and they would check one more time to be sure.

It turns out that my cholesterol is really high. The most frustrating part is that they told me to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly - I cook almost all of our meals from scratch (from healthy foods that are low in cholesterol) and exercise almost every day! So I am not sure how I am going to combat this.

I believe it is genetic, so if you are in my family and don't know about your cholesterol, you might want to get it checked out, just to be sure.

I suppose Daniel and I are going to have to crack down, even more, on what types of food we eat. I just pray that I will be able to get the levels down. Normal is less than 200 and high is anything above 240. After fasting, mine is 243...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hair Cutting Woes

A few years ago, we were in Searcy for Thanksgiving and I went to get my haircut. It turned out to be the worst haircut of my life! I rarely cry, especially not over piddly things, and I ended up crying over this haircut - it was so bad it was practically a mullet.

Anyways, I have had a really hard time getting my hair cut ever since. I think it freaks Daniel out that I have such a hard time. Also, I generally try to get Angela to go with me when possible for moral support.

After today I think that I am finally over my hair cutting woes. There is a girl in my life group who cuts hair from her home. So last Sunday, I bravely asked her if I could schedule an appointment. She cuts a lot of different people's hair that I know and that gave me confidence in her.

Anyways I went this afternoon and it turned out to be a really great experience. We visited the whole time and I left we a really cute, short haircut. Best of all there was no crying involved... I will definitely go back to her and hopefully I am over being afraid of having my hair cut.

This blog is the story of a couple who got married, quit their jobs, and bicycled around the world.

Someday Daniel and I would like to do something similar but maybe not on this scale. It is very intriguing to see their pictures and read their daily progress.

About one year ago they started their journey with time spent in the USA, New Zealand, SouthEast Asia and now in Europe. They will be coming back to the USA in a couple of weeks. We have found their story to be interesting and inspiring...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Daniel was given free tickets to the Carolina Panthers vs. The Atlanta Falcons game for Sunday. This was our first time to get to go to the Bank of America stadium. Unfortunately the Panthers lost 20 to 13, but at least we were able to enjoy the experience.

The game was okay, we left at the beginning of the 4th quarter when it was tied 13 to 13. Even though it was tied, it was a boring game so we didn't feel too bad about leaving early.

Highlights of the game:

  • The crowd got the wave going through the entire stadium in both the upper and lower sections - this was much more impressive than seeing the wave done at a basketball or hockey game which is in a much smaller venue.
  • The Atlanta Falcons kicker was 47 years old and he scored a field goal!
  • The view from inside the stadium was impressive - from where we were sitting you could see the skyline of Charlotte.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit

This is exciting: A project that I was a part of working on has been referenced in the newly released book, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit by Geetesh Bajaj. As some of you may remember, I collaborated on the PowerPoint presentation, Meet Henry, that placed 2nd in the World's Best Presentation Contest by Slideshare. Click here to read an excerpt from the book regarding the Meet Henry presentation.

Grundy Lake

The other day I was thinking about family vacations from when I was a kid. We didn't have a whole lot when I was growing up, but my parents always made sure that we all went to Canada in the summers to visit our extended family. Looking back, I am so thankful that my parents made the effort for us to spend that time together as a family.

I don't really remember that much about the 18 hour car rides from Arkansas to Canada... I know they were probably awful for everyone - cramped up in a car, no entertainment to soothe us... just ourselves, the radio and books.

I know we must have fought like cats and dogs, but that is not what stands out in my mind. I remember mom reading to us, specifically "The Princess Bride." I do remember watching for license plates and getting close to all 50 states and many of the provinces. I remember playing the alphabet game. I remember getting to sit in the front with Dad to help keep him awake - we would talk and sing and I would read the map and help tell him where to go.

My most memorable family trip was when I must have been about 12. We had just moved to Arkansas and my Great Grandma Hotchkiss died. So we drove up to Sault Ste Marie for the funeral. I remember meeting a lot of people. This may have been my first funeral. Oddly enough I think that all of the pallbearers were women!

Anyways, the funeral, though interesting, was not the highlight of the trip. What I loved so much about this trip was that my parents decided we should visit all 5 great lakes. So as we made our way from Sault Ste Marie to Port Colborne that is exactly what we did.

We put out toes into Lake Superior (it was way too cold to actually swim in, even in the summer). We traveled on through Algonquin Provincial Park where we camped at Grundy Lake.

Grundy Lake has a special story - there were tons of mosquitoes here, so many that you couldn't breathe without swallowing them! My mom took us kids down to the lake to swim while my dad set up the tent. We could barely swim, we would take a big breath of air, hope no mosquitoes were in our mouths and then hold our breath underwater so we would not get eaten by the blood thirsty mosquitoes.

My poor dad was the hero of the story - he set up the tent for us. I remember coming back from swimming and he had a rain jacket on and a towel thrown over his head to protect him from the swarms.

We had to sit in the car to eat sandwiches and then we ran to the tent and zipped it shut. We must have spent 30 minutes killing all of the mosquitoes and then we just layed there for a long time waiting for sleep and listening to the mosquitoes buzz and repeatedly hit the exterior of our tent in an effort to get inside. Grundy Lake is a funny story now, but at the time it was pretty awful!

We went on to swim in Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Lake Erie, but I will always remember Grundy Lake and all of its mosquitoes!

Interestingly enough, visiting Algonquin Provincial Park may have jump started my interest in the outdoors. I remember stopping at a visitor center and reading information about backpacking and canoeing. I have always thought about going back to do those things. Maybe someday Daniel and I will take our family there - we will just be sure to avoid mosquito season!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For Women Only

For my birthday, a good friend gave me the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. What an amazing book about relationships with great incite into men. I liked it so much that I went out and bought For Men Only to read and to give to Daniel.

I don't normally sit down and read books about relationships or about the differences in men and women, but if you want some solid information about how the opposite sex thinks and ideas on how you can improve your relationship and understand your partner better, I would definitely recommend both of these books.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I was in the process of doing laundry and getting some things done around the house and it hit me. I keep trying to figure out what kind of job would best suit me, which has been a real challenge for me. Then it dawned on me: I have never really thought in terms of: I would like to be a doctor or an architect or a pilot; my thinking is and always has been broader than this.

Several weeks ago at home church, Sally asked me what my dream job would be. I had a hard time telling her. I rattled off something about wanting to be a mountain guide. She gave me an odd look so I said, “Oh, you mean something
realistic, I guess a freelance graphic designer that actually made money…” What a lame statement. I am 27, so you would think I would have some kind of direction as to what I want to be doing!

But the thing is, I do know. I just think differently. I have always wanted to own a coffee shop or run an outfitter service in conjunction with an outdoors store or own a bed & breakfast in the mountains. There are other odd things I would love to do (long lists of ideas I have had for different kinds of shops), most people would think I am crazy, but that is how I am wired to think. I want to own the shop, not just show up to work for someone else every day…

It has been rather confusing for me because I thought I would reach this goal of “owning my own business” when I started freelancing, but it is not the same. I want a tangible place that I go to. Where clients or customers choose to come to see me. Freelancing from home does not offer this nor is graphic design the thing that really gets me excited…

My epiphany is this: what I really would love, is to own a shop that offers a variety of things including specialty coffee and baked goods that I create, books, graphic design services, interior design services as well as selling local items of artists or crafters… Now is that too much to ask for?

At any rate I have a better answer the next time someone asks me what I really want to be/or do with my life. For my birthday my mentor, LaCinda, gave me a mug that says,
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Well, my answer is in the sentences above. I may never long to be an accountant or a Charlotte banker, I am just not wired that way.
Now if only I could figure out how to realize this dream occupation...

Monday, November 05, 2007

27 Random Things You Might Not Know About Me...

1) I have lived in 3 countries.

2) I met my husband in a cave.

3) I LOVE coffee houses.

4) I rarely cook the same recipe twice... Daniel sometimes has to beg me to cook "normal" things like spaghetti.

5) I am the oldest of 3 kids.

6) When I was 13 I decided that I wanted to climb to the top of the highest mountains in all 50 states, so far I have done CO, AR, TN, NC & VA.

7) The furthest I have driven was from Cookeville, Tennessee to Durango, Mexico for a wedding... think 3 days of driving in a car (one way).

8) I try not to visit the same places more than twice - there are too many places to see in the world.

9) I am an idealist.

10) I like lilies.

11) Fall is my favorite season.

12) Spring is a close second.

13) I spent my first wedding anniversary with Daniel and a group of
Eagle Scouts in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail.

14) I was hit by a car when I was 10.

15) I have never broken a bone or had to have stitches.

16) I have a B.S. in Fine Art.

17) I love to read.

18) When I was in college I considered joining the Peace Corps or becoming a flight attendant.

19) I never want to stop learning.

20) I prefer a hole-in-the-wall local restaurant to a chain.

21) I love technology.

22) I love nature.

23) I hate to get my hair cut.

24) I collect Christmas ornaments from every place we visit.

25) I have a fantastic family.

26) I have a wonderful husband.

27) I am blessed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Surprise Birthday Weekend In Asheville, NC

Daniel and I are home after a very relaxing birthday weekend. Friday morning Daniel left flowers for me on the counter - lilies, my favorite. 

His only clues as to where we were headed for the weekend were as follows: 1) I could expect the weather to be in the 60's F during the day and 30's at night; 2) We would not be sleeping in sleeping bags, and 3) We would be driving between 5 and 200 miles to our destination...
I had a pretty good idea that we would be going to the mountains and that Asheville was a good possibility. We stayed at this fantastic cottage called The Rosewood outside of Asheville. We had actually tried to book this place earlier this summer, but found out that you generally need to book 3 months ahead of time. When we could not get reservations in June, Daniel went ahead and booked the cottage for the weekend of my birthday.

Friday night we ate dinner at a local Italian pizzeria called Iannucci's - their breadsticks were fantastic. After dinner, we enjoyed an evening by the fireplace, watching satellite TV as well as some time spent hanging out in the hot tub on the deck.

Saturday we were lazy and enjoyed sleeping in late. We watched TV until noon (a luxury for us) and then took a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We made our way to the Craggy Gardens where we did a couple of day hikes. The views were amazing and the trees still had a hint of autumn to them.

We made our way back to Asheville, grabbed a quick snack and then wandered around downtown Asheville on foot. We had plans to see Stardust at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. When we arrived an hour early to buy tickets, we were disappointed to find out that in order to get movie tickets, you have to arrive 2 hours before the show on weekends. So we will have to give that a try another time. Instead we went to a bookstore and then to Chilli's to celebrate my birthday - mostly for their Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie. Which was fantastic. We ate way too much, but it all tasted great! Afterwards we went back to the cottage to watch TV and let our stomach's settle some.
Sunday, we slept in again and took our time leaving. We drove some more on the Blue Ridge Parkway before making our way to Gaffney, SC to check out the outlet mall.
We made it back to Charlotte in time for home church - where I was treated to a surprise birthday party, thanks to my mentor, LaCinda. The weekend was really great and a good chance to relax and get away for the weekend. Daniel did a great job of finding a very nice place for us to stay - I would definitely recommend this cottage to anyone looking for a good getaway in Asheville!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lessons from Junior Prom

This is my story of what I learned from my Junior Prom. Actually it is about my experience of convincing my parents that I should be allowed to go to this special dance.

My story actually goes back further than Junior Prom. Growing up, I was not allowed to attend dances. When I was in the 5th grade, my friends were pressuring me to go to a school dance, so I asked my mom and she said I could go (notice that I did not ask my dad). Anyways, I walked with my friends to the school and while we were still in the parking log, my dad showed up to take me home.

Move forward about 5 years to my Junior Prom. I was 16 and really wanted to go. I wanted the experience of this special night. I wanted to share in the event with my friends and I wanted my parents to trust me enough to go to this dance.

I sat down and did some serious thinking. I actually wrote out every possible scenario of what might "go wrong" in the mind of my parents and I wrote out arguments for all of those scenarios. I practiced what I would say for three days. And then I gingerly approached my mom with my argument.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with her and having a solid answer for every one of her concerns. To be honest, I think she was shocked that I had thought everything out so thoroughly. After our talk, she told me that I had convinced her, but that I was going to have to talk to my dad as well.

I was secretly hoping that by presenting my case to her she would present my case to my dad and I would be home free. This was not the case. So I worked up my courage, and asked my dad to come talk with me and my mom.

I was so nervous, especially thinking about my experience from 5th grade. I have never been so shocked as when I asked my dad if I could go to my Junior Prom and without much thought he said, "Yes." I almost fell out of my chair! I had earned my parent's trust and I was allowed to attend my prom.

From this experience I learned several lessons:
  1. If you really want something, don't be afraid to go after it.
  2. Always be prepared.
  3. Find allies.
  4. Earn trust from people and then make sure to work hard to keep that trust.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pet Peeve

It drives me crazy when people drive the WRONG DIRECTION in parking lots when parking spaces are obviously oriented in ONE DIRECTION!!!


I have come to a place where I am looking for a full-time job and doing so because that is what I am supposed to be doing. I am a graphic designer because my culture ordains that I fit a certain mold. Graphic design is what I do, but not who I am. I have forgotten this.

The other day, while reading John Eldridge’s book, The Ransomed Heart, I came to page 145 and the excerpt entitled On Mozart and Martha Stewart. What an eye opener this passage is to me.
This is precisely what happens when God shares with mankind his own artistic capacity and then sets us down in a paradise of unlimited potential. It is an act of creative invitation, like providing Monet with a studio for the summer, stocked full of brushes and oils and empty canvases. Or like setting Martha Stewart loose in a gourmet kitchen on a snowy winter weekend, just before the holidays. You needn’t provide instructions or motivation; all you have to do is release them to be who they are, and remarkable things will result. As the poet Hopkins wrote, “What I do is for me: for that I came.”

Oh, how we long for this – for a great endeavor that draws upon our every faculty, a great “life’s work” that we could throw ourselves into. “God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there” (Guinness). Our creative nature is essential to who we are as human beings – image bearers – and it brings us great joy to live it out with freedom and skill.
I long to dream again and to be given over to my true life’s work or to have the opportunity to just do and be what I truly am. I used to dream of traveling the world. I used to dream about leading people on trips to connect them with the outdoors and with adventure. I have forgotten these dreams and others. They have been stored in boxes and tucked away in the attic of my heart.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...