Baby Shower Happies

Tonight's project...party favors. For my life long bff Kimberly, I took little pewter crosses and made very similar cards for her baby shower. It was oooo so sweet.

But, not knowing how many Sansing and Junkin peeps we may have at the party, we ordered crosses from Oriental. I took brads (that are very cute birds) and pined them in the center of the cross. I had cards printed at vistaprint (well, duh) and voila! Cute, sentimental, memorable, keepsake happies.




Custom Cupcake Stick Toppers

I love vistaprint. I uploaded the party design and had envelope seals printed. I used a scrapbook punch and sucker sticks. Now I'm in the assembly portion of the project. I hope these look as cute as they look in my head for the party! I think they are going on chocolate cupcakes. I almost bought some toppers off etsy...but heck, creating is half the fun!

I rarely get to use my creative thoughts for "fun" projects because I stay busy. But, thanks to my sweet husband who's been painting backgrounds and assembling and mailing out orders, I can have time to be creative! ;-)

I did the invitation myself (one of those fun graphic design projects) then uploaded (all to match) and printed banners, signs, stickers, bags,  invitations....you name it.......on vista print. I've gone way overboard, but it's part of the Aunt Pen "being" Aunt Pen that John will have to get use to with me. My baby bubba is having a baby, and I can't help but be pumped! Especially with everything going on with us lately. It's been good baby therapy!



Semi-Homeade Presents

I'm a semi-homemade kind of gal. I love taking something and making it just a little bit better.

Much better, don't ya think?

 Swayze gives me the perfect outlet to play with new fonts and things!

Cousin Clarence gave S a lab puppy.... I wonder how he's going to be as a cousin with a baby?

MOST important present....


I am a KLUTZ...

All my life I have been a klutz. If someone is going to fall and embarass themself, it's usually me.

My latest boo-boo.....

What you can't see is the nasty swelling and black toe. I did it up right.
Managed to fall in my own drive way. 2 inches from grass, as John keeps telling me.
I went to Dr. R for my followup. He was more concerned with when was my last tetanus shot. Great.

Speaking of the follow up. We're all good, both emotionally and physically. We're just praying for God's timing and direction.


Ribbon wreath for hospital door

I stink at blogging. Sometimes I just PLAIN forget! I took photos of a recent project a few weeks back and I'm just now getting around to posting! Sorry guys!

As if I haven't blabbed enough to my buds, I'm getting a niece. I am SO excited! It's been a fabulous outlet of all those ideas floating around in my head that need a home.

First big project. Swayze's Hospital door wreath...

I (well, John) made me a circle from a metal coat hanger. I eventually realized one coat hanger was not big enough for Swayze, so we added another. I cut ribbon and fabric with pinking shears into strips.

I tied the ribbons around the coat hanger. Several hours, nights, yards of fabric and rolls of ribbon later....Voila. Here you have the finished product.

It turned out WAY cute. I must say...This was a labor of love. Lots of time!  I hope this one stays in the family for me to use one day!

Now I also know that hobby lobby makes a ready to go metal wreath. That would have been much easier! But the coat hanger was free. 



Praying for Closure

Tomorrow is the day. No cancellations. No try this. Just do it all ready.

We go in to Northport DCH at 5:30 for the D&C. My mama is meeting us there so John can head into work. It's all outpatient, but they do put you under completely. We should be home by 10 or so...and I'll be sleeping off the anesthesia all afternoon. :-)

So - more prayers! We are so ready for closure. Today would start week 11.



A Kinda-Sorta Update Part 2

Whew. My doctor R is back! And I feel special. :-) His nurse called, and he (my doc) spent 10 minutes talking to John, then called back to talk to me. (Seems kinda funny for the hubs to be talking with my doc about my girl stuff, but that makes him quite the good husband.) We're going for a "check everything out" appointment Thursday, and then we'll have the d&c Monday.

Fingers crossed there are no cancellations this time. Fingers crossed I get caught up at work so I'm not so stressed out with so much to do. We're 12 days out from the dealer market in Chicago, and I have a ton to do! (FYI, my daytime job is in marketing for a sales firm in the hardware business. We rep about 30 lines, and our office handles 2 hardware shows a year. Fall Market this year is in Chicago, and I'll be gone with 99% men for 8 days.)

So, prayers all goes as planned. :-)


Little Bitty Business

Most of you know I work by day, run a business by night. If not, well you ought to know. :-)

Daisymaes (www.daisymaes.net) started almost 6 years ago when I moved to Tuscaloosa. I was looking to add a little cutesy-ness to my rather black and white daytime job in hardware. For the first four years, we pounded the pavement doing shows and getting the word out. In November of 2008, we launched our e-commerce website.

We've shipped to 36 states and 2 other countries. Not bad for a side job. 85% of our sales come from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, so it takes a long time to rack up new states.  We stay pretty busy. Very busy. What's funny is the few states I'm missing are some of the same few where I've never traveled. (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho are the only states I don't have checked off from personal travels.)

We decided back in the spring we wouldn't focus on shows this fall - mainly because I become an Aunt Penny in November, and I would die if I was at Christmas Village when Scooter gets here. :-)  Plus, it's REALLY hard to stay sane balancing a full time career and a full time business during show seasons.  It's hard. Too hard. 

Now I just have to find time to refocus the website and update product...Somewhere between full time marketing employee, wife and order-getter-outer.  Guess it's better to stay busy than be bored. That's a word I don't think belongs in my vocabulary. BORED is something I'm positively absolutely not.

I keep telling myself that one day I can go back to dreaming up my own projects for fun. It doesn't happen much anymore. 

John is painting backgrounds now, and I'm suppose to be working on decals. I better get to it before my help discovers I'm not working!  Later gator!



A Kinda-Sorta Update

WHAT a week.

We went back to the doctor on Thursday. Ultrasound confirmed our fears. Impending miscarriage.  We're ok. I knew in my heart because of some God-given peace before the ultrasound on Thursday, but I needed the confirmation for a "clear conscience" moving into the next step. This "next step" for what to do now that we know it's not a viable pregnancy has been worse than initially finding out. Harder emotionally for sure. It makes it real, and dragging it out has been tough on us all. 

Our Dr. R was out on vacation, so we saw Dr. M. We scheduled a D&C for Friday with the surgery doctor on call, Dr. B. We left the office Thursday with instructions for the D&C Friday morning.

Around 7 PM, Dr. M called to tell us Dr. B does not want to do the D&C and thinks an alternate route is better. After talking to Dr. M, we decided to take misoprostol to induce the miscarriage. We take 600 mg Thursday night and wait. It's suppose to kick in within 4 hours, but for sure within 12. (We decided to both be off from work, since I might need the 3 full days....) It was suppose to be pretty rough. Lots of cramping and other "stuff" that is not so pleasant. I've barely had any twinges, much less full blown pain like I was told to anticipate.

By Friday afternoon, nothing happens. I called the office, and we have our 4th doctor, Dr. E. She has a nurse call us back. We're told to ride it out through the weekend.

Saturday afternoon. Still nothing. FIFTH doctor, Dr. S. calls us back. Said the likely hood of this working now is very slim, and we need to reschedule our D&C Monday with our regular doctor, Dr. R.  Dr. S questions Dr. B's reasons for not having the D&C on Friday, as planned. We could take the meds again if it's what we want, but it's probably not going to do anything since it didn't phase me the first round.

Yep, looks like I'm the 1% where the drug doesn't work. Figures.(I'm sure it has something to do with all the c-sections in my family. Between my mama, aunt and first cousin, I come from a line of no contractions and no dilating...absolutely nothing.)

I've tried so hard to make me a big gallon of lemonade from all these lemons, but I'm about ready to start throwing lemons at people like hand grenades. I'd be lying if I didn't say this royally stinks! The waiting is torturous. Going through 5 doctors in a week (4 in 3 days) with different ways of handling things and differences of opinions has been rough too. We had mentally prepared ourselves for Friday, but not for another 6 days.  On a normal time period I could be more patient. I could wait for my body to do it's own thing. Or to at least start it's own thing. BUT, I leave for Chicago for a hardware show 2 weeks from Sunday. The goal was to have this over with this weekend so I could fully recover by Chicago. I'll be gone for 8 days with a bunch of men, and I don't want to take my chances something happening up there with out my mama and John. I have SO much going on right now at work. I need to be on full throttle at work and with Daisymaes catching up. It's bad timing, it really is. But it's God's timing, so I'm sure HE has His reasons.

So, what have I done this weekend? I was told to take it easy....Besides, my brain honestly can't handle much more right now.

First, I had a Shirley Temple film fest. I LOVE her. She's so wholesome! I watched The Little Princess and Heidi. Two of my all-time favorites!

Then John (with a little help) made chicken noodle soup. Just what we needed. Completely comforting and made with love. :-)

Today Mama came over for entertainment. We went to lunch at Cracker Barrel and went by Treasure Hunt. (We thought walking around might do me some good. Not to mention the necessity of SOUL comfort food.)

Tomorrow afternoon we're tackling orders. Thank goodness we cleaned house last weekend, because I SURE don't feel like it now.

So, basically, we're still waiting. Waiting, praying and wishing for this chapter to be over so we can move on to the next chapter. Still praying for peace and patience.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Thank you so much to all the sweet emails and messages. They really have meant a lot! I'll keep you posted!



A new look

Since I am trying to keep my mind off of tomorrow, I thought I'd freshen up the blog a bit and piddle around with a few things. I'm learning. I'm more of the creative type when it comes to graphic design - I leave the code writing to the smart kids. I'm fine being the creative geek in the other corner of the room. I work doing creative in the hardware industry for a living, so I love any excuse to piddle and diddle with something a little more on the cutesy side.

(And yes, we worked on orders first tonight. The full time employee, part time boss gig is hard work. With a little more organization, maybe one day I could actually have loads of fun with all the creative ideas that run through my head as fast as a nascar driver on Sunday.)

I also piddled a little in picnik. http://www.picnik.com/app     Love it! I can wash away blemishes and touch up anything in no time. (This is coming from a girl who lives using Adobe Photoshop.  If you haven't discovered this wonder, I highly recommend. 

Anyhoo, hope you enjoy. Any ideas on how to get people to read this stuff? I am completely fine blogging to myself in la la land. I always have a lot to say. At least this way my friends don't have to listen, they can come and read by choice. :-)


Chinese Wednesdays

Oh how I love Chinese. Mainly rice and egg rolls, but my absolute favorite part....FORTUNE COOKIES!

As far as this one goes... Well, DUH. :-)



Kinda Sorta Pregnant

This one is gonna be a little tough and personal to write. Being a grown up can stink. We're kinda sorta pregnant. I know, it's still confusing and complicated to me, too. Just like no pregnancy is ever alike, there is no wrong or right way of dealing with this, but, I'm laying it all out because it helps me. That's how I deal. I share because my prayer is someone else uses this for peace later.

Back several weeks ago, John and I had a positive pop up on a pregnancy test. I had SERIOUS denial. Serious. The positive was the FIRST EVER. It didn't take much googling to realize that a faint line on a First Response does mean positive. (And about 20 HPTs that week watching the lines get darker before I finally convinced myself that this was for real...not to mention the big fat pregnant that popped up on the digital test.)  Since this was my first time to be pregnant, (and I just had to know if I needed to cancel Egypt trip before we bought airfare), I went to the doctor for conformation. After clarifying that my HCG levels were in fact doubling, and the first of the symptoms set in, I started telling myself that I was pregnant.  From the get-go I was extremely reserved about spreading the news - I've had friends and family go through heart-wrenching miscarriages, and I didn't want to tell the world until I heard the heartbeat. I knew this was an extremely delicate time. The heartbeat would be my moment to get excited. Really, really excited. Thank goodness John and God didn't let me blab. A few of our VIPs knew our news, but not many folks.

 For a while I've watched the line get darker and darker on different brands of tests. I just didn't believe it I guess. Then I sporadically would check just to make sure it was still dark. Silly I know. We've  (well I've) probably spent our vacation allowance in HPTs. I went to the mandatory first mothers class at my doctors office - one they require before your first appointment. OHHHH the symptoms!  Pregnancy glow - HA! More like the face of a hormonal broken out 15 year old....No amount of proactive has this mess under control.   I've had a very sore chest (insanely sore), nauseousness, aches, tiredness and a smorgasbord of other funky and strange symptoms. Surely this is good, right?  I've taken my prenatals, allowed myself more rest, drank diet ginger ale and low sugar apple juice, stayed away from as much stress as possible, ate watermelon and cantaloupe by the truckload, and stayed away from my diet coke caffeine addiction.

At 8 weeks (last Thursday), John and I went to the doctor for our first ultrasound and prenatal appointment. For weeks I've told myself that I can not get excited or spread the news until we hear a heartbeat. For weeks I've googled photos of 8 week ultrasounds so I would know exactly what I was looking at on screen. For weeks I've been waiting, trying so hard to be patient until I heard the heartbeat and saw our little jellybean. For weeks I've been planning how I would tell the world we were going to have a baby.  We sat in the reception area watching all the pregnant bellies trying to guess their due dates, and laughing at the sweet little new mommy making seriously adorable faces at her newborn.

We were finally called back to the ultrasound room. The technician didn't say much. She asked how far along we thought we were, and explained that we were looking at the gestational sac. I didn't say much either. I knew that I was looking at the sac where there should be a baby (that looks more like an alien than a baby) and a heart beat. She let us know that they will probably want to do a repeat ultrasound in a week or so to make sure a baby develops. I know in my heart that this is not good. I keep up with my dates...LMPs and CD, so I know without a doubt how far along we should be at this point. I've been obsessed with my first baby research. Since I couldn't tell the world and just sit and google baby bedding for hours yet, I looked up anything and everything to do with the first trimester.  I had done my homework. We should have a baby and a heartbeat.

We waited for an hour and a half to see our doctor. GUT wrenching time. All I wanted was reassurance. All I needed was confirmation. John and I didn't say much to each other during the wait. Having google at my finger tips didn't help either. Poohey on the Iphone.

Our doctor starts with the speech about how half of all miscarriages end within the first trimester...most before the heartbeat is heard or seen. They see patients daily. Some of his colleagues think it's as many as 75%. After the first trimester it drops to 5%.  At first, he tells us he doesn't want to give us false hope, but he doesn't want to take all hope away completely. We needed to come back for a second ultrasound.  (Ok, so far, so good. I knew this. I can handle this.)

Then we talked about dates. I pulled out my handy Iphone ap where I track all things that you don't need to know about. We know the conception date. We weren't trying to get pregnant, and I know the date when this likely happened. (Probably TMI.)  By this point, our sweet doctor's face looked more like a scowl. He said our gestational sac measured up to 8 weeks in size, but if my dates are concrete, we should have a baby. He said we have a blighted ovum, which is an extremely common type of  miscarriage. He told us it that it is okay and expected to take the time we need to to grieve.  Deep sigh. Blah, blah, blah.

After we discussed our options, I opted for (as my doctor calls it) a "clear conscience" ultrasound before we do a D&C.  I had been so strong and calm up to this point. A real trooper. This made it real. Bring on the Junkin alligator tears.

I decided to stay home from work last Friday to let it all sink in a little. We weren't trying to get pregnant. We are planners, and pregnancy was another year or so off. Friday was the hard day. Even in 8 weeks - 6 weeks of knowing, it's hard not to let yourself get excited. Even when I was so extremely careful to guard my heart.  Which means there is disappointment. More than I thought there would be for both of us. It's hard to feel and be pregnant, yet know that it's likely not a viable pregnancy. That part really stinks.

It took me a little while to be able to mention it with out crying...completely normal. I could blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but I'm genetically wired to be emotional anyway.

During the past few days I have received so many reassuring emails and text from people who have heard our news through the grapevine. It is truly amazing how many women had suffered the loss of miscarriage. And, I am so thankful that they decided to share their stories with me to make me feel a little more normal.

Good news is, our doctor let us know it typically doesn't have anything to do with a woman's fertility or ability to conceive again. (At least in most cases.)  80-90% of women go on to conceive normally after miscarriage. Our doctor's reassured us by saying he would see us again in a year or so with a full term pregnancy, and not to get discouraged. This was common, and all part of becoming parents.  All though it's not the wonderful, glorious, fun part.  All our parts were, ehem, in working order so to speak. Blood tests were all normal.  We've never had any problems before this. We didn't need to worry unless we had multiple back to back miscarriages, and that is rare. He said it did more harm than good to worry.  He said we were only thirty, and he had his first at 40. (He also - in a very fatherly way - told us not to wait that long or until we are really ready,  because having your own kid is like nothing else! Sounds so much like my own daddy!)

I'm at peace. I'm content. Disappointed and hurt? Of course! I know God's in the baby making business, not me. No matter how God blesses us, I know I am going to be a mama if HE chooses. I'm already content with the fact that being a Mama doesn't have anything to do with a baby coming from you genetically.  (I'm already a mama to Clarence, although I really think he's content being an only child.)  Even if we don't give birth to 2 kids, it's going to be ok. It really is. I do know now that when we do decide to start a family, bringing a baby home is going to be even more special. Even as reassuring as our doctor has been with us, you can't help but wonder what is in store.  Being pregnant, even for this short time is such a miracle, such an awesome way to think about life and creation. It's so God. It's all God.

Whatever HE has in store for my life is already written...why should I worry or obsess about what is to come? It's not going to do a bit of good. I'm just Penny. What am I suppose to do about it? Um, nothing. There's nothing we can do except stay the course. God has His reasons. And I'm sure some sort of blessing will overflow from this bump in the road. I've already had a few blessings. I got 3 full days of being pampered by my sweet husband! Not to mention 8 weeks of  exceptionally rotten TLC. I guess this means I have to go back to carrying in the groceries and tackling the garage. No more excuses. (Good news is I can get back on my allergy meds and go back to being able to breathe.)

‎"I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope." 

Jeremiah 29:1

Why is it a taboo topic if it affects so many women? It's not exactly something we bring up during our 6 week hair cuts as beauty shop gossip. I get that it is super delicate and personal. This isn't easy for me to write. (Part of me just wants to get it out here so I don't have repeat myself, and we can avoid the dreaded "So why don't you have a baby yet?" question.)  We only tell the news to our inner-most circle.  It seems like it would be so much easier to go through if you knew what to expect going into your first ultrasound. Mainly the tid-bit that you have a 50-50 shot of everything being ok. That is so huge!  Even if statistically it's on the low end - 1/3 of all confirmed pregnancies, that's still a big number. Fortunately - or unfortunately rather, I had a best friend go through a blighted ovum miscarriage 10 weeks before now. And several friends go through it earlier. I was prepared. More prepared than most. I attempted to guard my heart.  What about the women who go through this with no knowledge? I think that is why I decided to put it all out here. Maybe it will help take a little sting out (doubt it) of someone else going through this by knowing it is all part of it.  If it's so common, then I am truly not alone with this bump in the road. Maybe this will help someone else feel a little more normal.

Don't get me wrong. Part of me wishes this had been just our own little secret so no one would know. That we could have shared this moment with just ourselves.  I saw a friend post something that said -

"no two people are exactly the same, people respond to hard times differently...it's who you look to for guidance that counts."

OH so true! Thank goodness I'm surrounded by people who all know where to turn for guidance. And it sure as heck isn't me. More like the MAN with a PLAN upstairs.

So, what does that make us? Kinda sorta pregnant?  Now we're in the waiting mode.  Waiting for Thursday. Ready to know for sure and move on.  I'm not hanging on to the 5% chance that everything will be ok. I can't do it. I'm not wired that way. Even though I'm a "glass is half full" kind of person. God know what He's doing. I'm holding on to that. Bring it on.

But, we do need prayers please. Prayers for continued peace. I know I have an arsenal of friends and family that already pray for us regularly. Believe me, I feel it. But a little more can't hurt. :-)



Top 10 Ways to Be a Southen Belle

Well, since I'm not sharing my news (you have to wait until Thursday to see if we even have news), I thought I would do a little list on how we grow into a southern belle in my family. Let's see if you agree.....

1.  We say please, thank you, yes sir and all the other manners we were taught in Kindergarten. And we use them with kids, elders, friends....Manners have no age limit. Truth be told, my mama wouldn't acknowledge us unless we said please and no thank you. Down right ignore us until our manners were in order. Unless you are told differently, you are to always refer to anyone older as sir or ma'am. Manners and respect were not optional in my home growing up.

2. You know how to put on a spread. FOR ANY occasion...and even a mini-spread daily. This means pulling out the china instead of the paper plates for hamburgers, and of course you use crystal and the monogrammed silverware for special occasions. We all have a ridiculous amount of serving pieces. Pewter, crystal, linens, decorations... you name it. You never know when you will get to play hostess, and you must be prepared. My Granny was the most wonderful hostess ever. Even for a regular weekly dinner we used cloth napkins. When is the last time you used cloth napkins for pot roast on Tuesday night?

3. You appreciate the value of an acre of land. And trees. Lots of trees. (I'm thinking a repeat of the scene from Tara with Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. You get the idea.)

4. Family and Church are irreplaceable. Top on the priority list. We value religion, and respect what others believe in...as long as it's God of course.  With family, we know most of the family tree on all sides. Heck, we were probably named after some family member. (That could be an entire point in itself - how we southerners love family names and double names. It goes back to how we value family.)

5. Tradition. This should probably be in the number one spot. You have designated spots what pew you sit on at church, we sit at the table for dinner and say the blessing, stockings go in a certain order on the mantle at Christmas, certain people eat first at family meals, you sit in the same spots you always have on couches or at the table at your parent's home, holiday gatherings are absolutely mandatory... Need I go on?

6.  You always have a gallon of tea in your refrigerator, or icebox as some of us say.  If company is coming, you wouldn't be caught without lemons.  (That is all my granny. She always had lemonade, tea, lemons and coke. ALWAYS. Not to mention the homemade pickles, spiced apple rings and homemade pimento and cheese. Ooo...and cornbread. ALWAYS had cornbread.)

7. You know how to whip up most anything without using a recipe. Not so handy around the kitchen? Well, you should at least know how to make peach cobbler with no recipe. (It's absolutely mandatory to have the ingredients on hand at all time. You never know when you may need to whip it up. It's also traditional southern to always have some sort of knick-knack or snack on hand you can stir up. Heaven forbid an unexpected guest in a southern home go hungry. It's just not allowed.)

8. You never show up to a hospital or party empty handed. Whether you bring magazines or food - it doesn't matter. Same goes for visiting someone sick or someone who's had a loss. (This goes back to why you should ALWAYS have peach cobbler ingredients on hand.)  You should also expect a thank you note.

9.  Etiquette is most important in public. Southern ladies would never be caught in public or with elders cussing, smoking, drinking. Just out of respect.

10. (My Favorite.) Monograms are essential to any southern home. We monogram everything.  I'm not really sure why, but I know I am very guilty of slapping a name, letter, or monogram on everything I own - from linens to dishes. Even the dog has a monogrammed collar.

I probably should have added something on our addictions to SEC football and pink and green. Maybe next time. :-)

I'm sure I have a few more I'm forgetting. Any you would add to the list?


Prayer request

The Mansell's have news. Big news. But right now it's not 110%, so I'm not going to put it out here for the world to see.

I will say I need prayers, because there are concerns, and I'm not 110% confident myself everything is ok. But when I know something concrete, I promise I'll share.

But that's all I'm saying. :-)


Planning for Egypt

I'm starting to settle into the idea that I'll be headed to Egypt in 3 months. I've downloaded learning Arabic pod casts, and I'm trying to learn at least 2 words a week. That's one tough language! LA SHUKRAN has been my first phrase. No Thank you! I've been doing a little research on the country, and this is the first thing and words it recommends.

While Egypt is an extremely hospitable country, they can (from what I've been reading) be a little over bearing when it comes to getting you to buy or shop their wares. Much like the old days shopping Juarez, Mexico or other impoverished areas. Tipping - baksheesh - is also something I have to learn more about before I leave. Since most income in Cairo comes from tourists, tipping is a way of life and how most of these people make their money. I'm also trying to come to terms with the toilet facilities...the public kind, not the ones at nice hotels or restaurants. They aren't free to use, and even toilet paper cost more. YUCK. Just Yuck.

I've already started planning my wardrobe for the trip. It's a little more difficult than you may think. We're visiting a 95% Muslim country, so out of respect, we should dress more conservative than normal. It's a little hard to plan a conservative outfit to wear in 98 degree temperatures. Fully covered arms and legs, but jeans or pants are fine. Particularly for days we plan on visiting any mosques or religious sites. (We're to add head coverings to those days.) It's two completely different sets of clothes. One set for 5 days in Egypt, and a completely different style for 3 Days in Paris.

I must admit I absolutely love immersing in other cultures. I can not wait to get completely lost in the Khan el-Khalili bazaar! Of course I want to see the pyramids, but I really want to shop!!! :-)

My top list of things I want to do in Egypt:
Ride a camel around the pyramids
Khan Bazaar
National museum of Antiquities
Nile Cruise
Mosque tours
City of the Dead

Guess I better get to work so I can have pounds to use at the Khan! :-)


Bachelor Party Or Lingere Shower Boob Cake

If you are easily offended, stop right here!

This was my first cake since I took a cake decorating class as part of a 4-H event at the local extension office when I was like 10.

I usually don't bake cakes. Not the kind that require real decorating, usually just dump out of a box, and maybe make homeade icing. That's about the extent of my cake baking.

One of my friends, and the husband of my BF Brooke, asked me to make a boob cake for a bachelor party. You have to know this group of guys. They are super nice "good guys" who were opting for a funny cake instead of full blown strippers and nastiness. Surely I could pull this off.

After research....and a lot of research, I felt comfortable enough to take on this project. Main tips I learned....If you are baking a cake from a mix and you are planning on carving, you need to reduce the amount of oil by a lot. Usually down to just a couple of tablespoons. Also, over fill your pans! By overfilling your pans, you can slice off the top peaks of the cake so it's consistent, and makes a flat base. The boys wanted shot glass boobs, so that's what they got. Pretty crazy for boys who don't drink!

I used a 9x13 pan for the base, then used two pyrex glass bowls for the boobies. Once the cakes came out of the oven, I let them cool, then took the longest serrated knife I had, and shaved off the peaks flush with the top of the pans. I let them cool in the fridge for about an hour, then pulled them back out to carve the sides. I took a glass pyrex top that had a top knob for me to hold, and used my good serrated knife again to cut the torso so it would be nice and even.  Next step was the layer of dirty icing. Basically, I iced the entire cake with a really thin layer of chocolate icing, and set it back in the fridge to harden. This layer helps make sure you don't get little bumps of cake in your real icing layer.

The rest is just icing and getting your creativity flowing!  My mother and Aunt Robin would die knowing I used the icing out of the can and tub. I did manage to pull out my pampered chef icing tool to pipe around the base. The fun part! :-) This was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I didn't tell the boys no! I even got a thank you call from the bachelor, who I don't even know! :-)

I figure I can reuse this idea for a lingerie shower, and just put more clothes on the little lady. Fun, Fun!


September Trip to Egypt

Brock and I, with our crazy dreams, have decided it's been MUCH too long since a big adventure. We have always traveled together! We've done Los Angeles, New York, Italy, Monaco, France, Germany, Spain...and lots of spots in between together.

One afternoon my phone rang, it was Brock, and just like always, he says - "Don't you want to go somewhere?"

Instead of my usual hesitation about bills to pay, leaving John at home (that's another piece all together, because JOHN will not fly!), not wanting to take off work, money.... I blurted out "SURE, where are we going this time?"   My head was racing more with the fact I am now 30, and we're quickly approaching the "have a baby and settle down" phase of our life.

Initially we discussed heading to Australia, but I REALLY want to make this trip with my dad, plus with the time changes it's a hard trip to make in a week. Greece was also on the short list, because it's been on my bucket list a while, but with their government money problems, we decided to hold off on it for now.

You have to understand, Brock and I don't do small trips. We do crazy adventures. It's always a full novel in itself when we travel together. I'm going to try to round up photos and do a few blog entries on other destinations.

Before we hung up, we had nailed down Egypt, Cairo in particular, and had picked our dates. I immediately called my Mama and invited her to come along, since she really needs help getting stamps on her passport. She told me to ask my daddy, which I immediately did, and we were all settled. We'd have 3 flying to Cairo in September!

We don't typically debate or over think big trips like this. Just hammer out the destination and dates, and then worry about the rest.

Within about 2 days, Brock had already booked three nights at the Four Seasons residence in Cairo. We're staying nights 4-5 at the Hotel Meriden on the Nile. From Cairo, we're venturing to Paris for three nights, then heading back home.  I am so excited! Now, I need another job to cover the airfare!


PB&J beach trip 2010

If you don't know this already, I consider myself an honorary daughter in the Hall clan. As a matter of fact, PB&J is the little nickname for the three amigos - Penny, Brooke and Jen. ROAD TRIP!!!

We did the typical beach trip - Off to Perdido Key, LULUS with our personal serenade,  mexican, a movie day crashing on the couch because of the rain, big ole beach chair rentals, the pool, Lamberts, and peach cobbler on the way home at the farmers market. (At the giant strawberry, for those who make the trip!) 

Brock (my first cousin and one of my inner circle) let us use his condo for a quick little girly trip to the beach. It was so nice to be chillaxin listening to the waves, and his condo is gorgeous!!

A little Hall girl tradition, KRISPY KREME!

 We came back and spent one more vacation day at the pool. Although, the view from my pool is a little different with a pond view instead of the ocean. No sounds of waves crashing here, only frogs and mosquitoes buzzing.  I have gotta get the rest of the photos off of my camera!


Lake Mitchell

I have pretty awesome neighbors. Todd and Beth are on one side of the cul-de-sac, Georgia's across the street, Brooke and the K's are down the street, not to mention the others I *heart* in this neighborhood.

One Sunday, Georgia and Leonard invited us to head to Lake Mitchell to do a little swimming and boating. I completely forgot how much I LOVE the water.

John and I have pretty much settled on the fact we want a lake house one day. We have a condo in the family and a camphouse/hunting camp, so we need a lake house! I picked out a cute little cottage, complete with picket fence on a little point. One day, one day!!!


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So maybe a better explanation to the photos. This is my cousin Kathalia, who at 40+ has never been married. She met her hubby late in life, after both sets of their parents had died. This was from Kathalia's dream wedding, which turned out beautiful. She was an absolutely beautiful bride! So, to the romantics out there who haven't had luck with their Mr./Mrs. Right, don't give up hope!

printed glasses from the reception....

Rehearsal dinner was at the camphouse, OJ style.

Kathalia's Dress was BEAUTIFUL!

Multimedia message

My little bro and cute little Hays! Aren't they cute. Josh looked so much like Hays as a little boy.

The bride and groom

The groom was a Mississippi State fan. They rang cowbells as they came in from the sanctuary to the reception hall.

My Aunt Edith is family from my mom's side of the family. Just for background, Kathalia is kin on my dad's side. Aunt Edith is also kin to the groom, and Aunt Bet and Uncle Robert Lee are friends of the groom's family. So southern. We may not all be kin, but I can bet money that the families all connect somehow.

I love bling. What girl doesn't!