Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Enchanting Rose Tea Cup Exchange #8

I recently participated in a tea cup/mug exchange sponsored by The Enchanting Rose. Erika had done this previously and really enjoyed it and sent me an email when this most recent one was announced. You may recall that Erika actually wrote a guest post on the blog describing the goodies she received from her last mug exchange. I loved hearing about all the lovely things Erika received in her package and since I don't have enough going on in my life right now (she says sarcastically) I decided to go ahead and participate this time around. 

A week or so after the sign-up deadline, I received an email with the information of the person to whom I was supposed to send a mug and gift. You are supposed to send a mug or tea cup (depending on what you signed up for) and some tea or coffee and another small gift. I signed up for the tea cup exchange and received the name of Maggie in Missouri. I bought her a tea cup and saucer and spoon set that was a pink floral pattern, a bag of Front Porch Special Tea from Piper and Leaf (my favorite!) and a dish towel with pictures of historical landmarks in Huntsville. I included a note describing why I chose each item and included my information inside and sent it to her on Monday, March 21.

When I went by my house this past Monday to check on the progress of things and collect the mail, I had a thank you note from Maggie and a package from the person who got my name. As it turns out, Maggie is 12 years old and is the fifth of eight children! When I signed up for the exchange, I didn't even consider that there would be young girls participating. I guess I just assumed it would be a lot of old ladies (yes, Erika and I often consider ourselves old ladies). Maggie's thank you note was very sweet and she mentioned she would like to get to know me. This brought back very fond memories for me because as a child I had many pen pals and loved writing letters to people. In fact, I still have most of those letters. This was long before the days of email and blogs when the written word was still cherished. At any rate, I wrote Maggie a letter and am planning on sending her another small package soon with some small gifts I think she will enjoy. One gift I had actually ordered when I got her name, but it didn't come in before I had to send my package. I've thought a lot about Maggie since I got her thank you note. I hope we will stay in touch over the years. I think it will just warm my heart to watch her grow into a young lady and see what life has in store for her.
As for the package I received, it was absolute perfection. I really don't recall what all I included in my likes and dislikes on the information page, but Emilee from Utah interpreted it beautifully and sent me a box full of wonderful surprises. First of all, she taped the box so well I wasn't sure I would be able to open it; but, I was finally successful in the opening of the box and loved everything that was inside. 

The tea cup Emilee chose was a cream color with a navy pattern and it was just gorgeous! I am planning to paint my new dining room navy and so the tea cup is just perfect! Also in the box was some pomegranate tea and lemon cookies. I'm really looking forward to trying the tea and will probably enjoy a cookie as well. My cousin Jan and I have been having hot tea at night and so I have no doubt the pomegranate tea will be put to good use. Emilee also sent a cute "things to do" note pad which is just perfect for me because if anyone loves to make a "to do" list it's yours truly. Finally, there was a cute dish towel inside which depicted flowers and birds and water cans and was very cute. I'm anxious to use everything included in my basket. Emilee did a fantastic job of picking out items for me without even knowing me! 

I told Erika just the other day that I wasn't sure if I would participate in the mug exchange again because I had spent a little more money than I had ever intended. However, after receiving my thank you from Maggie and my package from Emilee, I think I will definitely participate the next time. Erika had told me she found the last exchange very encouraging and uplifting and you know what, so did I. I'll be on the lookout for the next time The Enchanting Rose does an exchange and I'll try to remember and post it here so you all can participate as well if you want. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Days One and Two

Perhaps all it took was a post about nothing being done at my house for something to be done because I'm pleased to announce that work began on my house this Monday, March 28! I'm super excited to see red clay instead of patchy grass in my back yard and soon there will be a concrete slab where the addition will be built. It's all starting and I'm just pleased as punch! 

They started moving dirt a little after 7:00 a.m. and it wasn't long before I got a call about the lines attached to the house. Long story short, we determined that in addition to the utility line (which will be taken care of on Wednesday), there was a phone line coming into the house which also needed to be taken down and I needed to call someone to take care of it. Considering I had a phone line for about three months about nine years ago, I had no idea who to call. I'm pretty sure when I had my landline for a brief shining moment that I set it up through BellSouth and BellSouth doesn't even exist any more. I ended up calling AT&T and miracle of miracles, after I made it through two automated systems and one transfer, I had an appointment for the crew to come out and disconnect the line and it only took about 15 minutes of my life. I was thrilled it went so swimmingly.

Monday the backhoe man came and dug the footing for the slab. They decided to put a base of cinder block and rebar in trenches as a base to make it more stable. I went out Monday afternoon to take some pictures and they were still there working. They finished up about 5:30 p.m., packed up the backhoe and headed out. It was super exciting to see the work that had been done and gave me a better understanding of how big the space would be and how far it would go back. 

On Tuesday morning, the concrete man was supposed to come, but first an inspection of the footing was in order. We failed. Y'all, we failed the first inspection! I feel a long road ahead. The building has to be four feet off the property line and according to the footing and the fence line, it was too close. My dad ordered a survey because there was some thought that my property actually went beyond my fence. The survey was going to cost $500 and if there wasn't another foot and a half on the other side of the fence that was my property, then there was also going to be a charge for the backhoe man to come out and redo the footing on that side. We talked it through and both though that there was some property on the other side of my fence. 

Then after hanging up with my dad I started thinking about it and decided to cancel the survey because I really don't think there is a foot and a half of property on the other side of the fence. Long story short, I had to put that fence up because of a property line dispute with the previous owner of the property next door and I'm sure we put it on the line, if not a few inches off the line which means the footing would have to be moved. So, instead of paying $500 for the survey and whatever extra charge for having the backhoe man come out, I decided to do away with the survey fee and just pay the backhoe man more. This also means the back bedroom will be offset by a foot and a half, which will look a little goofy, but there's really no other way around it. I'll just have to make it work.. You would think we would have known about this four foot from the property line requirement before we starting digging, but you know, those are the breaks. I'm currently just looking at it as having saved myself $500 that I didn't have to spend. I'll adjust, It will be okay. In the end, it will still look great and I'll have the added space I want and need and it will still be beautiful when it's all said and done, just a foot and a half less wide.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pippa's Place

Well, since my last post, there still hasn't been any work done at my house. The backhoe man was supposed to have come at the end of the week ending March 18 and then he was supposed to come at the end of this week (March 25), and now he is supposed to come on Tuesday, March 29. I'll believe it when I see it. I think the most frustrating part of construction is waiting to get started. The backhoe man didn't put any jobs in front of mine, but he was apparently backed up on jobs he already had scheduled because of all the rain we have had recently. Of course, it's supposed to rain next week as well and so I am not very hopeful that he will start then. I'm just really ready to get the show on the road because I've been out of my house for two weeks and nothing has been done and that is super frustrating. 

I know I wrote a little bit about finding Pippa a place to stay in my last post, but apparently I wanted to write even more about it in this one. Finding a home for Pippa has been a nightmare. She was originally staying with my brother's "friend", but then the "friend" had to go out of town because of a family situation and Pippa was left to her own devices. Long story short, when I went to check on The Pip while the "friend" was out of town, there was a note on the door from animal services and other things I wasn't too happy about. 

I arranged for Pippa to go out to New Hope to meet the dogs of some friends of my parents. They had said that if Pippa got along with their dogs they would keep her for me. Well, Pippa did fine, but two of the four dogs that belong to my parents' friends did not like Pippa. We all felt like if the dogs were left alone they would try to attack Pippa and no one wanted that. Then I tried her at my cousins house (the house where I am staying), but my cousins' dog Rosie and Pippa didn't get along too well. 

So, Pippa ended up staying at our empty house a couple of days by herself and was let out in the mornings, evenings and afternoons by whoever could make it by (primarily my cousin Randy who lives across the street). I did some searching on the internet and found a web site with insured, background checked, trained dog sitters and emailed a few of them. I corresponded back and forth with one lady and made arrangements for Pippa to go to her house on Sunday afternoon to meet her dogs and her and to look at the place. We arrived and Pippa got along great with all of the dogs. The lady worked with me on a price that I could afford. It's about half of my monthly house payment which is a lot less than the original price I was quoted. I was hoping to save that money while the house is being renovated, but paying for peace of mind is worth it in the long run. I think. 

The first night Pippa did great. The lady emails me in the mornings with an update on how Pippa is doing and sends a picture almost every day as well. The lady and her husband let Pip sleep with them and so, I'm sure she felt right at home. The second day, however, Pippa didn't do as well. She had some behavior problems and tried to bite the lady and another man who came with his dog. The lady is working with Pippa on her behavior problems and I'm hoping Pip will improve and not get kicked out. I'm also hoping the lady will teach me her methods because goodness knows I need to learn a few tricks myself. 

Overall, I think this is the best situation I could have found for Pippa. She has a great yard to roam around in and gets to stay inside like she is accustomed to. I'm sure she's staying clean and getting lots of love and the people who are caring for her are just super nice. I'm just pleased as punch about founding Ashley and her husband Shawn and I am hopeful Pippa will have a great experience there and also not forget about her mamma!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Review: I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook

Today I need to review for you a wonderful children's Bible. I've had this book for a while now and have been meaning to post a review; but, between work, school, packing, moving, and having the flu, I just haven't had a chance to do it. Until now. 

"I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook" was written by Judah and Chelsea Smith and it retails for about $12 on Amazon. It is a little over 200 pages and is geared towards children ages four to eight. There is a different story on every page with a scripture reference. The stories sum up the scripture reference and come with a very detailed and colorful picture which depicts the story being told. There are usually children in each of the pictures and I think the thing I love about this most is that there are children of all shapes and sizes, ages and stages, and color in each of the photos. In other words, it's not all a bunch of pretty white kids and I think that makes it more relatable to all children. The book is a hardback and is about the size of around 7x8 inches. It's a good size for carrying to church or leaving by your child's bedside so you can read a story from it each night. 

The book does not cover every verse in the Bible, but does include most familiar stories from both the Old and New Testaments such as Noah's ark, Zacchaeus, Daniel and the lion's den, Jonah and the big fish among others. It's such a cute book and I think it will help interest your children in learning more about the Bible and also help them learn what it means to follow Jesus. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It's March, Almost April!

It's been a long time since I've posted anything. I guess I've only posted twice this whole year. I've really enjoyed the break and haven't missed blogging at all. Between work, school, and the insanity of life lately, all I want to do is sleep in the evenings and so blogging and writing haven't been at the forefront of my brain. However, this week I was thinking that I probably should do some writing because I've got a lot going on and I'd hate to look back on 2016 and wonder what I did that year and then not have a record of any of it. So, I'll try to do better about posting because I've actually got some exciting things going on right now. 

I'll start with what I've been up to for the first few months of this year. I won't go into a play by play detail because we would be here all day, but I can probably sum it up so you'll get the gist of what's been going on around these parts. 

In February I celebrated my 39th birthday which I wrote a little about. In addition to the things I wrote about in my birthday post, I also went out to dinner with various groups of friends and family and to a local songwriter's showcase with another set of friends. It was a great month and the celebrations lasted about three weeks which is as it should be. At the end of February I went to the Alabama-Auburn basketball game with friends and we enjoyed a super fun day in Tuscaloosa. The month of February ended with a trip to the Donald Trump political rally with my cousins Lauren and Jon Mark. I went because I thought it would be an interesting day of people watching and you never know what is going to come out of Trump's mouth. We had a good time and left before it was over so we could beat the traffic and we got bored. 

The first day of March was voting day in Alabama and I fulfilled my duty as inspector of my precinct. It was a long, long day and I was exhausted after spending 14 hours at the polls and working my fingers to the bone (as they say). I had a whole new crew working with me that day but they all did great. I had to chase off one news reporter and one campaigner and dealt with so many different bizarre scenarios I couldn't even begin to tell you all about them. As always, it was a rewarding day and I look forward to doing it two more times this year when we have the municipal elections and the general election. 

The first weekend of March I chaperoned a high school spring retreat for church and it was just as I suspected with terrible food and think bunk bed mattresses; but, overall it was a good weekend. I developed a cough the Saturday I was on the retreat and by the time Monday rolled around I had a fever and felt like I had been hit by a freight train. I went to the doctor and had an ear infection and they sent me home with an antibiotic, but I felt like it was something more. On Wednesday when I was still running a fever and not feeling any better, I ventured back to the doctor and had a flu test which came back positive. It was too late for any medications so I had to ride it out. I spent the whole week in bed and missed work every day. It was miserable. That same week my mom was in the hospital with fluid on her lungs and two broken ankles from falling out of her wheelchair. Sometimes we just can't catch a break. 

The Saturday after I had the flu I moved out of my house which is probably news to some of you and not to the rest. After a whirlwind idea during Christmas break that I drew out on a piece of paper which turned into a set of blueprints, I am adding on to my little house and doing some renovations to the inside. I will be adding on about 600 square feet of living space and another 200 of a covered patio with an outdoor fireplace. The living space includes a dining room and an expansion of the back bedroom with built in bookcases and a walk-in closet which will also hold the washer and dryer. On the inside I am tearing down a wall between the kitchen and the room on the back of the house and making that one large kitchen complete with new cabinets and granite counter tops and a second oven which makes my heart so happy. The floor and sub floor in the back bedroom and the den will be torn out because the floors are rotting in both of those rooms. Every room will get a new coat of paint and the entire house will have new hardwood flooring. I'll also have some landscaping done which will include sod in the front yard and crepe myrtles along the back fence. The project is supposed to take three months (I'm counting on four because I know how these things go) and I'm very excited about the outcome. I think it is going to be gorgeous and I can't wait to see the end result of my Christmas break brainstorm. 

As a result of having all the work done, Pippa and I had to vacate the premises. Originally the builder said there would be no electricity for two months, but now that might not be the case. Still, it's probably better that we are not there. So, on Saturday, March 12, some friends and cousins and I moved everything out of the house and into a POD which is being stored in South Huntsville. I moved in with my cousins Benny and Jan which has been great. It is a little weird to come home to real people when you haven't lived with anyone for 10 years, but so far things are going great. Pippa was living with a friend of my brother's for a little while, but it wasn't working out. Thankfully, I found her a great place to stay over the weekend. I found a dog sitter who lives on the Flint River out in north east Huntsville and Pippa moved in there this week. The lady and her husband are so nice and worked with me on a price I could afford. They send pictures and updates in the mornings and are even letting The Pip sleep with them. I will probably pick her up on Saturdays and let her hang out with me while I go work at the house because I don't want her to forget who I am. I think she is going to do really well at this temporary home and I just feel so great about finding these wonderful people. 

So, that's what's been going on this year. It's been insanely busy and crazy, but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way.