Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trot and Slipcovers

I could wax philosophical on this Thanksgiving Day 2010.  But, if you follow my blog, you already know how thankful I am for God's saving grace, His healing power, and His presence in my life and the lives of my husband and children.

I awoke this morning with an incredible sense of gratitude for living in a country of freedom where we can do whatever we want to today, including watching an annual parade spectacle (a tradition in our family),

sending Hudson, Todd, and Hudson off with numbers on their chests to participate in Dallas’s annual Turkey Trot 5k run/walk, 

eating our favorite Thanksgiving food ALL DAY LONG starting with breakfast casserole and a little boy tasting his first ever real whipped cream straight from the beater,

watching football games cuddled on sofas (or in the bed) in front of a real wood fire because it’s turned cold here,

and texting and ichatting with our families, including our sweet Walker who has moved to Colorado to work and ski and won’t be with us this year. 

I am so thankful for the young men and women who defend our country and help other countries experience the same freedom we enjoy.  For all our warts, this is a great country in which we live!

And, today, I am thankful for some beautiful slipcovers…slipcovers that have been in the making for almost two years.  I have been encouraged to post this story for a while, but I refused to even consider writing about them until they were safely wrapped around these chairs.

Beautiful chairs in their own right; but, my client/friend (uh, I think she’s still my friend after this endless saga of screw-ups!) wanted them to be even more beautiful with white, monogrammed slipcovers.  And, so we began.

We found beautiful white fabric at Calico Corners.  Perfect for our project.  I work with an amazing upholsterer who can do anything and do it more beautifully than anyone else.  He makes beautiful custom slipcovers, but he HATES making them.  (Note for the uneducated: slipcovers are more labor intensive, require more fabric, and are just as costly, or more so, than upholstering.  So, unless you need to uncover that furniture, don’t choose a slipcover.)

So, after weeks of brow-beating my upholsterer to finish the slipcovers, they arrived fall 2009.  I whisked them away to the monogrammer, carefully choosing the design and pattern.  That part was done in a few days, and they are delivered to a joyous client.  They did need pressing, however, so she delivered them to her dry cleaners to be “pressed only.”  NO NO NO!  They washed them.  Not just pressed or even dry- cleaned.  WASHED.  They came back smaller…shrunken…not fitting…too short.  After a come-to-Jesus meeting with the cleaners, they ponied up and paid for the slipcovers.

Round 2!  Our original fabric was back-ordered, so I found an alternative, more expensive, Kravet fabric.  They eventually gave me a price break because they felt sorry for me.  We arranged for the fabric to be shipped to my upholsterer.  He received the fabric.  More brow-beating ensued because he was making them a second time.  Finally, they were completed AGAIN.  I met him at the client’s house because I was there finishing another project.  I eagerly got to his delivery van to receive the beautiful pieces so I could take them to be monogrammed. As I gazed into the van, I saw slipcovers that were not WHITE but ECRU, well practically yellow!  I gasped, whisked them into my vehicle before my pregnant, emotional client could see the horror of what I was witnessing.  The upholsterer gasped, too, because he was fast-forwarding into the future when we would have to make these things for a third time. 

Kravet had shipped the wrong color-way.  It took a few weeks, but they admitted their mistake and reimbursed me for their error.  But, now that fabric was back-ordered.

Round 3!  By now, this project has a code name – The Slipcovers from Hell! 

Our beautiful Calico Corners fabric was available, ordered, and arrived.  I visually approved the color and got it to my hero---my upholsterer, whom I had bribed, begged, and promised eternal love and gratitude if he would just make them one final time and please HURRY.  He came through with flying colors, delivered them to me early Monday morning.  I took them straight to be monogrammed, and they were ready by Tuesday afternoon.  I had promised my client that the slipcovers would be delivered by Thanksgiving, and I delivered them yesterday.  I lovingly caressed and pressed each of the eight slipcovers and installed them.  Beautiful! 

You don’t always hear about design projects gone bad or, as I call them SNAKE BIT!  You know what I mean.  No matter how hard you try or what you do, it just keeps getting worse.  Remember, I have learned to never say never!  But, Lord be willing, it will be a long time before I do another slipcover project.  I am so thankful that this one has come to an end.

Now, I do have eight slipcovers in my storage building just like these except they are ECRU.  I can make you a really good deal if you are interested.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh, Joy!

Joy!  I am beginning to see this word crop everywhere. It's written on all sorts of things for the upcoming holidays...mugs, picture frames, ornaments, greeting cards, etc.  Is it an overused or misused word? What is real joy? Do you have it?

Naturally, my thoughts turn to the origin of joy:

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
– Luke 2:10-12

And, I remember that my sweet Blue-eyed Bride memorized the first fourteen verses of Luke 2  in second grade, which she recited as she, her little brother and older cousins put on a Christmas pageant for her grandparents.  My mother cried, as did I. Lots of joy going around.  

Now, I watch as that heritage is passed to little Hudson. The words "Jesus" and "Bible" are already in his growing seventeen-month-old vocabulary as a result of songs being sung to him. He brings us a lot of joy. I started praying before he was born for an awesome youth minister for his teenage years. Parents need all the help they can get to keep the joy in their lives as children grow up.

A few weeks ago, I observed two very different life stories on my trip to M.D. Anderson for my follow-up scans. (It's redundant, but I must say that this is the most AMAZING place--full of organized, caring, competent professionals. I would love going there if I wasn't going there for melanoma. I'm very thankful that it exists.) 

We arrived early Friday morning and made our way to the lab for blood work. Right away we ran into an elderly couple that we would see, again, as the day went on. She was the patient and in a wheel chair being pushed by her husband. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably was just having a bad day or woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I don't, however, think that was the case. I think that it's more likely that, in the words of Ouiser Boudreaux, he had "just been in a bad mood for forty years." He was grouchy, impatient, mad because his wife was cold and needed a blanket, and LOUD. All of the women in the room were being held back from getting up and smacking him. I wanted him to have cancer (just for a little while) so he might be more understanding. I was sad for her and thought there must not be much joy in her life.

Then, we met a couple from east Texas. A state representative and his wife, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The story they portrayed could not have been more opposite from the first couple. He was loving and attentive. She, daughter of a former pastor, exhibited a calm faith. In the midst of all that the uncertainty, there was joy. I wanted to know them better.

And, there beside me was the rock of my earthly existence. My own calm, patient, Godly husband, supporting me, laughing at me and with me, working on his laptop as our day of blood tests, PET scans, ultrasounds, and doctor appointments went on. What joy he brings to me!  An extra measure of patience was required because of a little piece of gum. I had not eaten since 8:00 p.m. the night before AND I forgot my toothbrush. So, I thought I should chew a piece of sugar-free gum to freshen my breath. My PET scan was scheduled for 9:30, right after my blood work. As the needle was inserted into my left arm to receive the radioactive dye, the questions came:

"Anything to eat in the last six hours?"  
"Anything to drink?"
"Any mints, gum?"
"Uh. I had a piece of gum. I didn't know about the mints and gum."

Put on the brakes; everything stops. Verdict:  go rearrange your appointments and come back in six hours.  So, I juggled the ultrasound, read a book, sat around and observed humanity, and tried to not bend the arm with the needle inserted or think of food.  As a result, my doctor didn't have the Pet scan results at the end of the day when I saw him.  It was Friday, so I didn't get the results until the following Tuesday. But, the results were good!  All my scans were clear. They were encouraged by the development of my vitiligo, and I don't have to go back for four months. There's some joy!

I just completed this book, and among the many memorable quotes that will stay with me is this one:

"I have found truly joyful Christians only in the Bible, 
in the Underground church, and in prison."
 --Richard Wurmbrand

I want to have that joy all the time!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Never Say Never

Wouldn't you think that by virtue of reaching the wise old age of 58 (almost 59) I would have learned by now that I shouldn't say that I will "never" do something...anything. Old habits die hard, so once again I find myself eating my words. Here are a couple:

1) I will NEVER put a television above my mantle. In decorating homes, I have seen a few tasteful uses of the flat-screen wonder above a mantle. But, I have a very traditional look in my furnishings and decor and just could never envision that I would need or want to do that. In fact, in our townhome, I elected to not even have a television on the first floor except in my kitchen to avoid putting one over the mantle. Isn't art much nicer?

But, in our newly-leased abode, I had a choice to make -- and it wasn't even that difficult.  I could:

     a) get rid of one of my matching red sofas, or
     b) mount my flat-screen television above the mantle.

Naturally, I chose the latter, and up that sucker went. Now, what do I do with it. Because we have eight-foot ceilings, there isn't much space to do anything. My other dilemma is that I am still unpacking boxes, so I haven't found any of the items that I might want to use on the mantle, yet.
And, because I am just leasing the house, I don't want to do something costly or permanent like building a frame around it, which I consider the best fix.

My friend and decorating mentor has a philosophy:  "The bigger the fireplace/mantle, the bigger the t.v."  It's all about proporation. She's pulled it off in a traditional setting.

Do you have any other ideas of links for putting lipstick on the pig above the mantle? Do I just need to get over it?

2) I said I would NEVER drive one of these from Dallas to South Carolina, again:

But, tomorrow morning, Blueeyed Bride is flying in and she and I will jump in this truck and head to Columbia. My urging to her today is:  think about everything you might want to put in this truck to take to South Carolina, because I HOPE to never do this again.  See how I'm learning!

The good part of this trip will be the time we spend together, the stops along the way to see family and friends in north Louisiana and Birmingham (I'll see that mantle above in person!). Pray for us as we travel.

The real prize awaits at the end of the trip:

He's waiting for his KK.  And, I'll see TC, too, of course. And the in-laws. And, Hudson and I will watch a little football and celebrate Halloween. Aaah, Fall. My favorite time.

The other good news, that U-Haul rental is one-way.  I'll be flying back to Dallas.

Thanks to so many of you who have inquired about my M.D. Anderson visit last week for follow-up scans.  I was hoping to post the results by now.  I do know that the ultrasound of my lymph nodes was good, but I don't have the PET Scan results.  Thank you for your prayers that my melanoma will not reoccur.

Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Desire of My Heart

Hallelujah!  I have risen from the blogging dead. If you've been checking faithfully (I flatter myself, I know) to find nothing new here, I apologize. I've been consumed with boxes, the many annoyances of setting up a new household, and the demands of my work. I've ignored those I love and care about, haven't unpacked nearly enough boxes, and haven't blogged.  I can't promise that there will be daily or even every-other-daily blogs. I can't promise you anything, but I will make a concerted effort to carve out a few minutes here and there to update you on my life.

Here's one thing I have discovered. For me to actually use my time blogging when I could be doing a million other things right now, the topic must be worthy of my sacrifice. My friends are always saying, "blog about this," or "blog about that."  And, I agree that some of the topics would make good reading. So, I am keeping a list of those for down the road when no topic presents itself.

But, today, my extremely worthy topic has to do with the desire of my heart or the desire of YOUR heart, as might be the case. And, here's what brought it on today.

This is my Tuesday morning Bible Study, officially called Oasis at First Dallas.  And, the woman in the picture is the amazing Godly Joni Cleveland. I could write this entire blog entry about this spirit-filled woman, about her teaching (Our pastor referred to her as a prophet. Pretty amazing from a Southern Baptist preacher who believes women should keep silent in the church!), about how she personally prays for my healing, how she interprets the Word making it come alive to so many, and on and on.  

But, when this slide flashed up today during our study of Acts, my blogtennae grabbed it. 

Several things came to mind:
1) A discussion I just had with someone close to me who questions that you really have to go to church to worship. I immediately texted the quote to that person. (Sorry, Joni; I was still paying attention!)

2) My Blue-eyed Bride daughter. After a year of planning her wedding--one of the most enjoyable times of our lives--the wedding happened. She went to Hawaii, and I went home. It was like the morning after Christmas, all the presents opened, mess to clean up.  The let-down. I was in a funk for a week -- maybe longer. Delighted and proud, but in a funk. And then, BAM!  Four months later, she's pregnant. It wasn't MY PLAN for her. Hah!  There wasn't even A PLAN at all. The worst thing ever for two organized plan-everything women, one of whom got paid to be a planner (not I).  And, I didn't even try to hide my dismay.  Mothers are like that sometime. We do know what's best for our children, after all.

Then, I turned the focus from myself (always difficult) and began to think about my precious daughter and her life. And, I knew without a doubt that this was the desire of her heart. It was what she always wanted more than anything -- to be a wife and mother. Next to following Him, what could be a more worthy desire in the eyes of the Lord.  

3) The desire of my heart. Can I define it?  I think I can. It's what I long for. Whom or what I long to be with. It's what I value more than anything -- my treasure. I know what it is today. I wish it had always been so. I envy those who grasped this desire early, but I am thankful that God was patient with me until I got it.  He was gracious enough to know that I needed to get it before the melanoma came. The desire of my heart is to be in absolute lockstep with the Lord.  I want to spend time with Him, to be with Him, to be like Him. And, as we studied in Acts 4 today, I want to speak the word of the Lord BOLDLY.  Shucks, I may not have enough time left to be timid about the Lord.  

What is the desire of YOUR heart?  Do you know?  Can you define it?

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. ~ Psalm 37:4,5 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Office Space

Who wouldn't want to do something productive in this office space?  My directions from the client:  "Make it Tiffany meets Hollywood Glam."  Did we succeed?

We added a gold/silver metallic wash between the wooden panels.

And, Tiffany blue paint was added to the ceiling.

High gloss paint, again in Tiffany blue to accent her collections.

Our biggest challenge was finding just the perfect white shag rug. We had to eliminate a lot of "almost-white" rugs, before we found the perfect one.  Now, the biggest challenge is keeping Mr. from homesteading in here.  Who wouldn't want to, after all?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cooling Off

We woke up to rain on Saturday; and, it rained all day.  Hudson and I were in a choir retreat on Friday night and Saturday -- preparing for Christmas music. (Can you believe it?  Christmas is less than three months away. I love Christmas and the One whose birthday we celebrate, but I do get a little stressed out over the details.  Well, I just won't think about that today!)  Anyway, now it's cooler after all that rain, and I'm liking it a lot.  I just have more energy when I'm not drenched in sweat. Oh, to be one of those retiring ladies with a fan on a fainting couch.  Never mind; I just remembered that they wore corsets laced to the hilt.  Which, reminds me that I promised to start wearing my compression hose when it got cooler. Well, I'm not thinking about that today, either.

Today, I just want to show you the cutest powder room.  This home has so much personality, and the little powder room off the entry sets the mood for the entire home.  It was already adorable (look at the cute rabbit wall paper), but when we added the sparrows paining... well, it became wow!


So.  Now you know what's coming, right:

Matthew 10:29-31 KJV

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Picnic Table Winner

Congratulations to this fortunate follower selected by random integer generator (I feel very mathematically inclined).

Blake said...

Love reading about your journey and your projects. Here's a shout out from Memphis!

E-mail me at karen{dot}akin{at}sbcglobal{dot}net and your picnic table will be on its way.

Many thanks for all your comments.  Watch closely -- I'm clearing out while I'm unpacking!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Teaser: Life is not a picnic

But, this folding wooden picnic table by Picnic at Ascot will motivate you to plan an outing.  I think these are perfect for a trip to the Arboretum or for tailgating before your next football game. I picked up a few of these at the Atlanta market this year (at the request of one of my clients). So glad I did. 

I'm giving one of these to one of you for being so nice to stop and read my blog.  Just leave a comment, and I will randomly choose a winner (Blue-eyed Bride will teach me how!).  I'll announce the winner on Thursday.

Folding wooden picnic table with built-in seating for four Sturdy and lightweight with built-in handle.
Includes zippered canvas protective case.
No tools required for easy set-up.
Holds up to 240 pounds per seat.
Made of wood with a strong aluminum alloy frame.
Measures 33.25in wide x 26in high x 53.75in deep; 33.25in wide x 4.5in high x 14in deep when closed.
Weight: 22lbs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dining Car

I live in my Suburban.  It's my primary mode of transportation, my second office, my alternate storage facility, and an occasional loner vehicle for my husband.  It very often, also, becomes my dining car.  My healthful eating regimen, however, can be challenging when I am required to eat on the run or on the drive to my next appointment.

McDonald's and Sonic both have wraps on their menus, and, I just ask them to leave off the meat.  I peel away half the wrap dough and dine on lettuce and tomatoes.  Not bad in a crunch.  The fruit smoothies at McDonald's is also a quick meal.  A little high in calories (natural sugar), but not does have some nutritional value.

I got really creative on Friday. It was a jammed-pack day, but I needed to eat between appointments. I made a quick stop at eatZi's, picked up hummus with roasted red pepper, some whole grain crackers, a fruit cup, and some green tea.  Yum Yum!

I realize how blessed I am to have places like eatZi's, and you may not have those choices.  But, you probably have Whole Foods, or Fresh Market, or your local grocery store contains the choices I mentioned.  The down side:  you have to get out of the cockadoody car!  There's no drive-thru. Why can't at least one of the now 5,000 frozen yogurt locations in this city have a drive-thru?

I ate my lunch while my gasoline was pumping into my gas-hog vehicle.  I do not endorse driving with your knee while you eat your fruit cup (but I've done it!).

Here's to more healthful eating (I've become such a granola) and better drive-thru food choices.

Genesis 1:29
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

John 4:31-34
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."  
But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Finds of the Week: Lonny Unplugged -- Rue Launched

It's a previous "find" made better.  Lonny has added the ability to view beautiful rooms and a blog.  Check it out.

And, a new launch by Rue, with more beautiful eye candy.

 Enjoy your weekend!  I plan to unpack a few thousand boxes, do a suprise birthday party for a client (her sweet husband's plan), catch some football, and celebrate the Lord's Day at First Baptist Dallas.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enough Stuff, Already

Have you moved lately?  I mean, seriously moved. The kind of move where your whole life arrives in moving vans (two and a-half to be exact).  We've moved a lot, so I know what to expect and what is in front of me. This time, though, we have some serious down-sizing to do.  It is a continuation of our down-sizing effort when we moved to Dallas in 2006.  A career change (and the direction of God in our lives) led us to sell our three-story townhouse last December.  So, for the past nine months our stuff has been in storage and we have been living the life of Abraham and Sarah (sans tent and pregnancy).

God has truly blessed us during this time providing living arrangements bordering on five-star resort status through good friends.  But, the time has come for us to set up housekeeping on our own, again. We have found a house to lease that will allow us down-sizing room. It has the same square footage as our townhouse, but the rooms are much smaller and not as open in design.

Down-sizing takes commitment, because we can get really attached to our stuff.  I am determined, however, to not move some of this stuff ever again.  The endeavor will extend to the two storage units we have -- one of which is all Christmas stuff.  For example, I have a Dickens Village collection that hasn't seen the light of my Christmas tree in three years.  Blue-eyed Bride doesn't want it, so I'm selling it on ebay (unless you want it).  She does want my hand-blown glass ornaments, but I think I can get motivated to decorate a tree for few more years. However, this lease space only has 8-foot ceilings, so my 9 1/2 foot tree will not work.  See the problems that our stuff brings.

So, I'm putting myself and my stuff out there.  Here is what my life looks like today.  Let's see how long it takes to bring some order to this chaos and ship some things to consignment or charity.

This is going to be my office ...

There's more, but I am getting depressed looking at the work to be done.  I'm accountable to you, now, so gotta get to work!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting Big Girl Draperies

I am always amazed at what a difference window treatments make in a room.  They are truly the finishing touch to create that feeling of home rather than of just a house.  More than once, women have told me that getting custom draperies makes them "feel like an adult."

Kate and Lily's mom (and dad, of course) got new draperies last week. With their permission, I am sharing some before and after pictures of their adorable Dallas bungalow and beautiful draperies.

Living Room

Dining Room

The girls were a big help on the installation:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thinking About Melanoma

It's relatively easy to not think about  my melanoma, except for:

1)  There's a new television entitled The Big C.  Laura Linney has melanoma.

I watched two episodes, but found it about 180 degrees from how I have felt and reacted.  It is humorous, and I like that.  That's where the similarity to my C ends -- didn't build a swimming pool nor burn my sofa.

2) I keep hearing about people with melanoma.  This week it has been:
  • a forty-year-old wife and mother of a seven year old daughter.
  • a fourteen-year-old boy who loves sports.
I always try to share the experiences of my journey and the results of my exhaustive research.  I hope it helps in some way.  I wish I could transfer the hope I have through Jesus Christ my Savior, because melanoma can produce a sense of hopelessness if digested on its own. I wish I could give them the peace I have through my faith in Him, but all I can do is tell them.  I pray they find it for themselves, if they haven't already.

3) My swollen leg, ankle, and vienna sausage toes!

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Find of the Week

Actually, my friend Marsha found this site for me.  And, I am so glad she did.  I can't stop looking at all the beautiful rooms and creative ideas from designers all over the world.  If you subscribe (it's free), you will receive periodic updates of new designs.

Here are a few of my favorites:

by Mrs. Limesone

from Pottery Barn 

I could go on, but check it out for yourself.  You'll see more from me periodically as I am inspired by these ideas