Archives for February 2009

Happy thoughts

Hat Tip: my dear Kelli

-That my daughter is blissful with her new hubby.

-That the cover art on my next book is cute, cute, cute! (Sorry, you’ll have to wait a bit to see it..)

-That the insurance company is paying for a good chunk of our bathroom flood repair

-That my sweet hubby didn’t say ONE CROSS WORD to me when I flooded said bathroom. Bless the man.

-That it is getting closer to spring.

-That in any given moment, at least 7 of my 10 kids are not mad at me.

-That God loves me, no matter what.


Anyone else want to share their happy thoughts?

Book winner

The winner of the book, ‘From Ashes to Africa’ is Courtney of Books ‘n’ Boys. Congrats, Courtney! Email me (owlhaven at aol dot com) with your address and I will send the book your way!

Wedding Planning: photographs and decor

Right from the start of wedding planning, Ben and Amanda knew that great photographs were a priority to them. While considering various photographers, they (and I) spent hours online looking at wedding galleries. Invariably the best photographs seemed to be taken outdoors– you just can’t beat natural light. Since we were planning a February wedding, that concerned me. More than a few minutes outdoors didn’t seem likely– or comfortable. But photos taken indoors with a flash…well, you have to work a lot harder to make them look good.

Amanda and Ben found a photographer online with a nice portfolio and reasonable rates. Best of all, after editing she gives the CD of pictures to the couple to print on their own– a huge money savings.
Amanda met with her, got some questions answered, and ended up feeling like she would do a good job for them.

Then Amanda and I started brainstorming ways to make the indoor pictures better. It is a nice church, but there are lots of white walls and only a few narrow windows. The sanctuary has the natural focal point of the altar and a beautiful wooden front wall, but the reception hall is plain. And we didn’t want to pay huge bucks for decorations that we’d use once.

My first idea was to create a picture corner in the reception, maybe a pretty bench with silk plants and twinkle lights bunched around behind it, set between a couple of tall windows. One of my sisters had a nice garden bench which she loaned me quite happily (though my hubby did question the necessity of lugging an enormous bench to the church in the back of our minivan.) As you can see by the picture, it was totally ‘necessary’ and the corner turned out great.

The corner was spruced up even more when my daughter wove organza panels through the slats in the bench. We were fortunate that another couple had gotten married at our church not long before, and left quite a bit of the decor in boxes in the store room for others to use. The lovely pillar candles that we put all over the altar came from their wedding, as did many, many organza panels. They worked to romanticize the look of the bench, and to drape the back row of seats at the back of the church. We used more organza to wrap rope light in swooping s-curves around trays of food on the serving tables, and also wound them with ivy down the length of the two long tables in the reception hall.

I found several nice silk plants and trees at thrift stores, and family members gladly loaned us other items. My aunt had an archway that we softened with tulle and set over the cake table (see photo). My brother and his wife have an adorable little bistro table that they loaned us, and we ended up using that for the ‘head’ table at the reception. It gave Amanda and Ben a nice little spot to sit and chat after they had greeted everyone, yet they were still right in the center of the room, so we could all look at them! 🙂

Behind the table we set a tri-fold screen that my sister in law loaned us, which we flanked with silk trees. We strung it all with twinkle lights — a nice backdrop for the receiving line.

I blogged before about the candlesticks that I made from thrift store finds. Those candlesticks and pillar candles turned out to be some of my favorite bits of the decor. The bulky candles staggered at various heights were a fresh but still elegant twist on the usual wedding candelabra. And altogether they all cost probably $30.

I had the tiniest bit of hesitation asking to borrow things for the wedding decorations. But without fail, people were glad to loan their bits and pieces to the cause. In fact, several of my relatives mentioned the idea to other people in the church, who then approached me and offered things that ranged from silk trees to pretty serving dishes. It was definitely a joint effort. Altogether the effect was lovely and celebratory, while still staying within budget. I was well pleased, and the bride and groom were as well.

The above were taken by various people involved in the wedding, but we are hoping to have the professional pictures in the next week or two. I hope to share a few more pictures with you then.

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Book Giveaway: From Ashes to Africa

UPDATE” Book winner posted here. Thanks for your stories about your awesome hubbies!!!!!

My book giveaways have been a bit derailed by the bathroom remodeling drama around here– pix soon! But as promised, here is the first giveaway. A couple who reads my blog, Josh and Amy Bottomly, wrote a book about the experience of adopting from Ethiopia. The book is called, “From Ashes to Africa.”

A few weeks ago I found enough time to read it, and very much enjoyed it. It is written from the perspective of both husband and wife, and candidly details the highs and lows of waiting to adopt. Adoption is not for the faint of heart– something I already knew! But this book does more than describe an adoption. It also chronicles the story of a marriage, and the way Josh and Amy changed and grew throughout the adoption process.

This is a great read for any adoptive parent, or for anyone who is considering adoption.

Here’s the cool part: I am giving away a signed copy of this book. To enter the drawing:

— If you are married I would like you to share one thing your spouse did when you were dating that you are glad he or she still does! If you like, you can also share one thing that he or she did while you were dating that you are glad he/she quit.

— If you are single, you can still play along: just share one trait that is essential to you in a partner.

Umm…let’s see….to make this fair, I guess I ought to start.

I am glad my husband doesn’t spend as much time car-washing as he did when we were dating. But I am very glad that he still thinks I am gorgeous, even in comfy jammies (yeah, the soft, baggy cotton kind) and no makeup.

You have until Saturday at 9 AM to make your comment and enter the drawing!

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Because cinnamon rolls soothe the soul

The news from here is that insurance is paying for new tile and a new floor. We are taking best advantage of the chaos by upgrading to a new tub and toilet, which just might make all this chaos worthwhile. If we survive it. 10 people in 2 bathrooms. Yikes. ON the bright side, three of the kids are going to snow camp this weekend which will reduce the bathroom load while the fans are drying out the wounded bathroom.


Am thinking about soothing my soul by making Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls. If I’m feeling really charitable I might share them with the workers milling all over my house at the moment. I (heart) these cinnamon rolls. Plus baking sounds like more fun that sorting the junk that came out of my closet. One question: how can a 6×6 foot closet hold enough stuff to make a 12×11 room impassable?

the drama

After our tub overflow on Saturday evening, we wet-vacuumed the bedroom carpet and turned on a heater in the room to dry things out, hoping we’d taken care of things. It wasn’t til Monday evening that we noticed that the furnace was not working. John went down into the crawl space to discover dripping, heavily sagging heating ducts and decided we needed to call insurance. Our insurance company recommended a disaster cleanup crew, who came out this morning.

We expected the biggest issue to be what was happening in the crawl space. Instead they poked around with their various sensors, and declared everything in the bathroom and about 1/5 of the bedroom to be wet, wet, wet. Once we knew that the work was going to cost more than our $500 deductible (hah, almost as soon as they walked into the room), we called insurance who okayed the work. Within an hour the bathroom and bedroom were swarming with 7 burly guys.

They started by emptying our closet. Remember how on Saturday I cleaned out my daughters’ bedroom? Well, now it is now full of boxes of closet debris precious treasures covered with dust that we haven’t looked at for years. The room looks much worse than before I began on Saturday. Tomorrow I must PARE down that stuff. Ridiculous.

Once their work area was clear, they pulled back carpet, threw away wet pad, removed vinyl flooring and underlayment, took out the toilet (put it in the tub), and vacuumed water out of the crawl space. They also discovered a leak in the toilet water supply, and called our plumber for me.

Tomorrow they come back to pull out the tub along with that underlayment, remove the rest of whatever is wet, and set fans around to blow everything dry. Tomorrow also I hope that the heating and cooling people will show up and let us know what needs to be done for the furnace. (The disaster cleanup company said that at minimum we need all new duct work under the house.)


On the bright side, as long as the bathroom is torn up, we might just get a new tub and toilet. More expense, but we’d been talking about doing it anyway…and it would be fun to have something fresh to look at after all this hassle. And there will also be a new bathroom floor compliments of insurance– hooray! Here’s hoping they won’t raise our rates.

Also. I am never walking away from a filling tub, never, ever again in my life.

That is all.


This week

I promise I will write something interesting someday. Here are some of my excuses for a bullet list today.

–am finishing last few book edits, some of which were lost due to confusion over how to save edited files. (grr)
–am writing a post about some of the best frugal wedding decor
–am working on a lighthouse unit study for homeschool since we are going to visit the Oregon coast in a few weeks and dad is certain to take us lighthouse-tripping.
–am doing swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday for 3 kids
–am expecting disaster cleanup people who are coming to get water out of duct work
–am expecting furnace repairman to see how badly the tub flood damaged our now-nonworking furnace
–am awaiting actual REAL copies of my book, some of which will be giveaways! ( peek inside the book here)
— am planning three other book giveaways in the next two weeks as well.

So stay tuned!

Home values going down too much?

Here’s an interesting perspective:
The Housing Chart That’s Worth 1000 Words.

Hat tip: Tim Challies


And if you buy diapers, don’t miss this Kroger deal.

Day of rest

Friday I turned in the bulk of the edits for ‘Family Feasts for $75 a Week’ which means that yesterday was the first day since Thanksgiving that I didn’t feel the weight of a huge project (or a wedding and a huge project) looming. I woke up wondering what I to do with the unaccustomed freedom.

Before I really thought about it, I was knee deep in major jobs I’d been putting off for weeks. I did our taxes. I filled out the FAFSA. I cleaned the little girls room (net result: 4 garbage bags to give away and 2 more to throw away.) I decided to bleach my tub, which caused a major disaster (see previous post). I even made Ethiopian food for dinner, which many of y’all know is a minimum of two hours kitchen time. (My family slurped it up greedily, sighing over how long it had been since we’d had t’ibs and injera and shiro, so it was worth it.)

As you might imagine the day was done almost before it began, and except for the unfortunate incident with the wet-vac, I did have a great sense of accomplishment. But at bedtime, I was practically comatose. Like, wanting not to move for 4 days. After listening to the day’s activities, my friend Laura (aka my son in law’s momma) suggested that I needed to get better at relaxing during my free time. As in, don’t be ‘productive’. Preferably at least one afternoon per week. Sigh.

Since she is very smart lady and a recovering do-aholic herself, I knew I should listen. Today after barely making it through church, I plumped myself down in my best attempt to do nothing. I was only somewhat successful. I did get a nap– a whole 20 minutes with my 4 year old– ah sweet. I started a book — read 4 whole pages. I read 4 stories to the 4 year old. I played some horsie board game with my dear horse-obsessed 11 year old. And then it was time to start dinner.

I don’t think I quite have this thing mastered. I may need more practice. I think I’ll give it a try again. Maybe next Sunday.

note to self

..when seized with the sudden urge to bleach the bathtub, do not get sidetracked by beginning dinner and helping your daughter play a piano piece and putting in a load of laundry and googling youtube videos of Thirty-Something and watching 10 minutes of such videos. Because in the half hour that all such activities take, the tub will fill….and fill… and fill.

And pretty soon your husband will walk by and ask who is taking a bath at this time of day, and you will shriek and you both will run for towels and then you’ll get to spend the next two hours getting cozy with a Wet-Vac.

(Edited to add: And the next month getting cozy with a very nice disaster cleanup crew.)


Duly noted.