Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breaking Ground.

So my mom always told me I was talented and gifted and she was proud of me and I can do anything I set my mind to. You know all the things every good mother should say to her only daughter. But you see, these praises can bring about a false sense of security and confidence. I recently remember telling someone that I like to garden.... After looking at this picture, you will see that this phrase is almost laughable. 
I really DO like to garden. I promise. In my dreams, my yard looks like Martha Stewarts'. If fact, this area of our back yard once looked beautiful. You see, the former owner is like a Master Gardener. In fact, we are friends on Facebook and she such a nice lady and I'm actually horrified that she might actually see what I did to her backyard. So, to her, I say, I'm so sorry. :(  Please forgive me. It's my mother's fault for telling me I could do anything I set my mind to. Obviously keeping up with this garden was not one of them. So it went from this weed infested swamp fest that I was literally scared to go near for fear of being sucked in and Buie would never see me again...

Then Buie got a hold of it and it look like this for a while. Better but still an eye sore. 

After quite a bit of rain and two crazy dogs, it then became a huge mud pit. That was fun for a while, until it dried up and there were these huge holes all over it and it looked worse than ever before. What was once a lovely this garden with lilies and zinnias and roses all thanks to the former owner, had now because a huge thorn in my side. I hated to look at it because it just reminded me of failure. I let all of those pretty flowers die. I let all of the former owner's hard work just go to waste. I hated to even go outside because it would remind me of the huge project lurking over there in the corner. 

So we started dreaming of things we could do with this space. Should we plant a big tree to provide more shade for our home? Should we put in a pool? ha! ok, we quickly passed on this idea. Should we just landscape it with pretty bushes and/or flowers, something super easy to maintain? But we kept going back to the idea of having an area to gather and hang out with friends. So I started searching in magazine, Pinterest, DIY books and found a few ideas of firepit patio. We kept seeing these pergolas that provided shade and we loved the idea. Keep in mind this whole dreaming and searching process has been about 2 years. Probably because I'm so indecisive and it doesn't help that I'm a cheap skate. 

Buie nor I both have any experience with woodwork or building anything at this scale. We attempted to get a quote from a larger company and it was WAY out of our price range. Disappointed we put it off for a while. When we mentioned our project ideas to the guy who mows our lawn, he informed us that he just happens to put in patios and pergolas. Man, did we hit the jackpot! And he's doing it for us for very little labor cost. It's CRAZY how much those big lawn companies overcharge you for labor! I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a pergola in our backyard soon. I'm even going to have a place to hang my hammock! :) 

So this week, we broke ground on the project. The land was completely cleared and I am amazed at how fast things are getting done! I'm thinking this thing will be done by football season which is in a couple of weeks! :) We are already planning cookouts, backyard parties and just nights hanging out on our new patio. 

 The retaining wall is going up. We have to make sure everything is completely level. 

Check back for updates! 

Other backyard ideas on Pinterest. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rudi's Gluten Free Tortillas

Last week someone with Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in trying a new product of theirs. Um...let me get this straight. Your going to send me free food that's gluten free and all I have to do is write about it on my blog? Sign me up! Three different flavors of Rudi's Gluten Free tortillas showed up at my doorstep 2 days later and I was eager to try all of them. But I started with the plain flavor. 

Fiesta, Plain and Spinach Flavors

The first thing I noticed was the size of the tortillas. They filled up almost my entire dinner plate. I'm used to eating those really small corn tortillas so the change will be nice. I baked my tortillas in a skillet with some butter for about 30 seconds on each side, just to give it some color and crispiness. Then I filled it with scrambled egg, sausage, shredded cheese, salsa, salt & pepper! It was seriously the best breakfast tortilla I've had since college... well, come to think of it, it's the only one I've had since college that hasn't been on a corn tortilla. 

Do I recommend this product? Definitely! If you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance there is no question that you need this product in your life. Look for these tortillas in your local store's organic section. Our Kroger is starting to carry more and more gluten free products. Even if you don't have to eat gluten free, these are great tortillas for anyone!

I can't wait to try the Fiesta and Spinach flavor next. Head on over the Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery Facebook page. They are doing giveaways through the entire month of August.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sleep Cycle

If you know me pretty well or have ever lived with me then you know that I love to sleep. I'm like a cat. I require WAY too much sleep to survive. But now that I work from home, I have developed some very bad sleep habits. On a typical night I am in bed by midnight or so... It's the "or so" part that really gets me. Sometimes I get in an editing groove and stay up til 1, 2, or sometimes pushing 3am if I'm really on a roll. Now I rarely stay up that late just because. I stay up that late because I work best in the midnight (and beyond) hours. I'm not sure why -- I'm sure there have been studies done -- my brain goes into overdrive around 10pm and thinks it's time to work super hard. But for some reason I get more accomplished in those 3 or 4 hours than I do any other time of the day.

The problem? The rest of the world gets up at reasonable times like 6, 7 or 8 am while I am still sleeping because I've only just crawled into bed. If I don't get into bed til 3am, sometimes I'll sleep til 11am and so starts the endless cycle. Because I slept so late, I eat breakfast around noon, lunch around suppertime and supper around 9pm... You see the problem here.

I think there are several reasons why I do this:

  • I've always been a night owl. 
  • I don't have a regular day to day schedule. Each day differs depending on whether I have a shoot or not, what I'm editing that day, if I'm traveling, etc. 
  • My husband doesn't have a regular schedule. Being a retail manager his schedule is every changing as well. One day he may work a 7am-4pm and the next day he may work a 2pm-midnight shift. 
  • I not really a "stick to a schedule" type of gal.
  • I'm weird. 

The solution? So here's what I have done time and time again to break the cycle: I go to bed on time (sometime around 11:30 or midnight) and get at a normal time (by 8am). That way, I'm tired again by 10 or 11pm. This is an easy way to break the cycle but you forget my most productive hours are in the wee morning hours.

So here's the question? How do I make the most of my awake hours so that I may get a proper night's sleep and at a normal hour?

All of the things I'm coming up (such as make lists, plan ahead, get organized, set priorities) make me sound old and boring. Sigh. I guess that's what comes with owning your own business. SOMEONE'S got to be organized. I guess it has to be me, huh.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Things that made me happy this week:

1. How my cat Charlie hides in the bathtub. I think he really thinks we can't see him.

2. Staying up way too late having in depth talks with Buie about life and dreaming about the future. I always love those type of conversations.

3. Getting in my new jewelry from Accessory Dash! Conner wasn't as excited as I was. I'm not sure why though...

4. Being spontaneous and making a late night milkshake run with Buie.

5. Organizing my bathroom drawers and throwing away products I haven't used in literally YEARS! It feels good to purge!

5. Taking an afternoon nap with Buie and the dogs on his day off. (I think this was the day after we stayed up so late having one of those in depth conversations)

7. Meeting Nicole and my two nephews at Chic fila for lunch and play time! They always make me smile! :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

my sweet nieces

This past weekend I got the opportunity to spend some time with my sweet nieces, Makaylan and Hannah, who live in Louisiana. Makalan turned one in April and Hannah was born in late June. We hung out at Mom and Dad's house and played for a few hours. Hannah dosed off in my arms after lunch while Makaylan played with toys on the floor. My grandmother MeMe came over for a visit so I snapped a few pictures of her and the girls.  
 I love this picture of my mom, MeMe and Hannah. Such a special moment
 mom, MeMe and Makaylan singing and clapping. 
 Makaylan playing on her momma's feet. 
I cherish these moments I spend with these precious girls! Have I mentioned lately how much I love being an aunt? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Urgent Need!

As most of my regular readers know, (all 5 of you), Buie & I volunteer with a local animal rescue organization called C.A.R.E. - Central Arkansas Rescue Effort. We 100% support their efforts to keep dogs and cats off the street, alive, well, spayed and neutered and in a loving forever home. We actually found our second dog Scooter through C.A.R.E. He was our very first foster dog who we ended up keeping. Needless to say, this non profit organization has a special place in our hearts since they brought us one of our beloved animals. Right now they need my help... they need YOUR help! 

C.A.R.E. posted this message on Facebook earlier today: "These eight puppies were abandoned in rural Vilonia by their owner who moved away and left them to fend for themselves. A kind neighbor did her best to provide food and water, but after a few weeks, the 100+ degree heat and thousands of ticks had taken a severe toll. The 'Vilonia 8' are now with CARE and receiving much need veterinary care and nutritious food. These sweet puppies are facing several weeks of recovery and we need your help to make this possible. Whether you can afford $5 or $500, every dollar makes a difference! Will you please make a contribution to the 'Vilonia 8' today? THANK YOU!" 

Would you be willing to make a donation? Now is your chance to help make a difference in the lives of these eight puppies. Please consider donating even just $10. Click here to donate online

Summer days drifting away...

While the temperature is still in the 100's here in Arkansas, summer is coming to a close. School supplies are already flying off the shelves and into the arms of eager (and some not so eager) school children. I had high hopes of my summer this year, only to be knocked down by a heat so intense it would make.... well, let's just say it's hot! With temps some days reading 111 degrees, I didn't do as many outdoor activities as I imagined. Let's see what I DID, in fact, accomplish so far this summer. 

  • Go Camping - we decided to hold off on this one for a bit. Cooler temps = happy campers. :)
  • Eat snow cones - I have definitely had MY fair share of snow cones this summer but I don't believe me & B have had one TOGETHER. Maybe we'll knock this one off our list this week. 
  • Make smores by the fire pit - Again, who wants to sit by the fire when it's 100, even at NIGHT! We'll move this one right on over to our Fall list. 
  • Have a family picnic - Sigh... again. It's too darn hot. I think I was a little too ambitious with this list. I mean, where did I think we lived, Maine?
  • Host a game night with friends - Now THIS, we can do! 
  • Little Rock Farmer's Market - Yes we have and Man, those were some good peaches! 
  • Go to a Local Museum - Hmmm...where should we go?
  • Traveler's Game  - I went to a Travs game with Landon, my brother Craig and my dad for his birthday. Such fun and surprisingly it wasn't too hot! :) 
  • Enjoy Watermelon - You don't have to tell me twice. I love me some watermelon!
  • Little Rock Zoo - We actually went to the Memphis Zoo this summer which is even bigger and better. 
  • Make Homemade Lemonade - Hmm...not sure why I haven't done this one yet. I love lemonade. Might be another easy one for this week. 
  • Grill out with friends (at least once) Memorial Day Weekend we grilled out twice with friends! :)
  • Take our nephew & niece somewhere fun for an afternoon (This one might be hard to do with our niece since she lives in Louisiana but we will try!) - I have had lots of niece and nephew time lately including the water park and baseball game with Landon. I love my time with them and hopefully I'll get even more before the summer is over with! :) 
  • Movies in the Park  Wondering what movie I saw? Check it out here
  • Finish my photography home studio! I'm super excited about this one.  - It's on the list to do this coming weekend. I'll keep you posted! 
It looks like I have my to do list for this week: eat snow cones, make lemonade and paint my studio! Shouldn't be too hard! Happy last few weeks of summer! Maybe before football season gets here I mark off all the things highlighted in green. The things in orange I'm saving for the Fall. A girl's gotta have goals, right! Maybe if I blogged at 2am all the time, more of my blog posts would be color coded as well as semi-delusional. I really should sleep now. Have a great week!  

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Going home is like a breath of fresh air. It rejuvenates me when I'm feeling worn down. It restores my faith in all that is wholesome and pure. Is my hometown perfect? Heavens no! But it is and will always be my home, so it is perfect to me.

As I sit quietly in the house my grandparents built in the 1960's, I can hear the sound of the clock and nothing else...well, except for the sound of my fingers typing this. My parents now live in this house, the house my dad grew up in. I remember coming to eat Saturday lunch here at grand mom's house. She would have a huge lunch spread full of the usuals: ham, cornbread, black eyed peas, squash casserole and a huge pitcher of sweet tea. We had cookies for dessert, of course, because as kids that was our favorite dessert. I didn't like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies so being the youngest of nine grandchildren and having the tendency to be a tad bit um...shall we say spoiled?... I received my very own nut free batch, naturally.  ;) I remember the way this house smelled when she was baking and even when she wasn't baking the smell of warm sugar still lingered in the air.

In this same home, some 20 years later, I sit in the same spot but on a different and newer couch (with much more pillows I might add - my mom has a thing for throw pillows and we like to tease her about her mountain of the unnecessary pillows). As I sit on this couch, in this house, the house where our wedding reception was held I might add, I have a flood of memories. It's almost overwhelming and definitely impossible to describe in words since I am most definitely not a writer. It's a comforting feeling. Sometimes just being in this house fills me with such overwhelming emotions, I just start to cry for no other reason than just recalling all the good times our family has shared in this house. Other times, I walk through the back door and instantly smile when I remember the way grandmother would yell "Yoo Whoo!" every time someone would come inside. :)


It's like snuggling up by the fire with a good book, hot chocolate and your favorite blanket on a cold winter's day. It just feels good. It just feels... right. Like it has always been and will always be.

This is why I love coming home.

Friday, August 3, 2012


It feels like I haven't had anything fun to write about in a while or at least not enough for an entire blog post. So...this is an entirely random post...

- It's hot to say the least. I haven't been doing a lot of outdoor activities because of the heat. We've pretty much been staying inside. August is a super slow month for me for photography so I'm hoping to get a head start on some Fall promotional things. Fall cannot get here fast enough!

- Sometimes I think that my youngest cat, Charlie, is possessed. He can be so sweet and then he'll just ATTACK with no warning. Last night out of no where he jumped on top of Conner (our Cocker Spaniel), threw his paws around his neck and tried to bite him! I was shocked. It was kind of funny because I think he was just trying to play with Conner but one day Conner might try to bite back...and that won't be too funny.  I do have proof that they get along though. Aren't they cute? :)

- We have been watching the Olympics every single night and lovin' it. Most nights I find myself tearing up especially if USA wins gold and they zoom in to their emotional faces during the National Anthem. Gets me every time. My favorite events to watch are synchronized diving and all swimming events, both men and women. It reminds me of my time on the local swim team in my home town. No, I wasn't the fastest but I loved it! I loved being on a team and hanging out with all of my friends in between events. I remember writing our event numbers on our arm with a sharpie. I remember how long it took me to learn how to dive properly. I remember that I couldn't compete in the breast stroke because I was bow-legged and would always get disqualified. ha! I love swimming! I have already decided that my kids will love swimming too. I'll start them out young like I was.

- Speaking of swimming, I joined a local gym this week. It has an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. I'll be honest, that was probably the only reason I joined. :) That and the fact that they mailed me a coupon for a trial period of 45 days. After the trial period if I want to for real join they'll waive my joining fee. So we'll see...

- We're 99% sure that Buie has a gluten intolerance too. Wouldn't that be crazy if I married someone with the same food issues I have? Of course we're not sure if he just developed an intolerance because for the last four years he's been eating mostly gluten free... Who knows? We're getting lots of tests run so more on that later.

- I'm headed to Louisiana today for a couple of shoots this weekend. I hope it's a tad bit cooler there but I have a feeling it won't be.