movie review monday – it follows

I said in an earlier post that I love movies. We have a grand collection of DVD’s, Blue-Rays, and movies on the cloud. More than anything else, I love scary movies. My kids like them, too, so when I saw the preview for It Follows, my daughter and I went to see it.

This movie is incredible. I had to digest for about a week before I could decide how I felt about it. The time period is skewed throughout the movie. The cars look like the 1970’s, but the clothes are 1980’s. The houses look like the 1980’s or 1990’s, and in one house, a television sits on top of a broken television. Neither are flat screens. I don’t know what time period that is, but I know that just about every house I visited as a kid had a set up like that. I guess you didn’t throw out a perfectly good television cabinet back then.

But . . . one of the girls has a vintage Avon clam-shell compact that is an e-reader. An e-reader! I would love to get my hands on one of those! In the opening scene, a girl is talking on her cell phone, but when it shifts to the protagonist, time seems to distort.

In the opening scene, a girl runs out of her house, down the street, back into her house, and out to the car, and then she drives down the street. The camera never cuts, so it is a two or three minute long scene of continuous filming. That is incredibly hard to accomplish because one mistake means a do-over. It reminds me some of Rope when Hitchcock filmed each seven to ten minute scene continuously, just as it was written in the stage play.

The music is phenomenal. Reminiscent of the 1980’s slasher films, it creates tension before we have anything to fear. It is not fitting of the usual soundtrack where things jump out at you in a cheap scare. It builds. And builds. And builds some more. And the scares are subtle, which means they are even more chilling.

One of the best things about the movie is that the monster that follows the girl changes every time she sees it. One time it looks like a hooker, another like an old woman who wandered away from a nursing home. In the scariest scene, it looks like her father. It walks. It never runs, but it is always walking towards you. It seems like that shouldn’t be terrifying, but it is. It’s eternal, forever, and inescapable.

I haven’t seen a really good scary movie since Sinister, and this one was a great attempt to scare us under the skin.

It’s Been Too Long

Hmmm . . . it’s been two years since I’ve written a post, and to be honest, I pretty much forgot about this blog until I got a reminder to pay my annual dues. I debated on letting it go and read through the posts, trying to make a decision.

I think I’m gonna keep it. Yeah, I’m definitely gonna keep it. I have always found peace and joy in writing, and looking back, I realize that I chronicled some really hard memories of my parents that now – today – touch me so deeply. I don’t need to let those go. But I do need to write more.

Our kids moved last summer in different directions. On the same weekend. Yep, it was almost impossible to keep myself together when Lauren and I hugged before they headed out to Iowa, but I tried. I really did. Because she doesn’t need to carry any guilt with her that she left home. She’s a grown woman, extremely well-educated, and deserves a happy life that, for the moment is taking place in a big, beautiful city where she is finding joy and peace.

On the other hand, I was just excited for our son. They moved close to Denver where he was starting a new job, fresh out of grad school. The had been living in Austin then Fort Worth, so I had already made peace with the fact that they were so far away, but they came home for a few days in the middle of moving, and those days were fabulous. And they are fabulous.

And my kids have the best spouses in the world. We are a pretty high-strung group of people, and Andy and Kendall are laid back and help the kids deal with life in a way I never could. And they love each other. So, so much. When I see Hoss and Kendall together, the love they share is amazing, and they still look at each other like they did the first time I saw them together. And Andy appreciates all of Lauren’s quirkiness, which is the best part of who she is. He is devoted to her and will do anything to make her happy. And she knows, without a doubt, that he is the one. The only one she’ll ever love.

Life for us has been busy but peaceful for the most part. This year I played video poker in Las Vegas with my cousin, who is an expert, and in fact wrote a video-poker-for-dummies book. And about my third spin, I hit a royal flush. My 25 cents turned into 400 bucks! I still have it, too! I met my sisters in Oklahoma where we played at a really fun casino, and I even made us matching shirts, which I might post soon.

We got a new cat – Sally – who reminds me of Betty, an outside cat named after Betty Draper. She was bouncy and happy and loved being in the garden with Chris. She died on New Year’s Eve of 2016, and we buried her in the backyard, exactly one year after my mom’s funeral. We tried so hard to save her, but multiple trips to the vet didn’t do much. I felt horrible guilt because I had debated so long on bringing her inside.

When Sally wondered up in the yard, she was tiny with a beautiful gray stripe, and she bounced just like Betty. I did bring her in the house, and she had some infections the vet treated as well as a hernia after her spay surgery. But she is no longer the petite little kitty we first saw. She’s tall and healthy and happy. And I can’t even begin to say how much I love that little Sally Draper Carroll.

I got a special recognition from my co-workers at graduation this year – one I was not expecting at all, so when I thanked them, I choked down tears because, well, I’m an ugly cryer, but I hate crying in front of people. Especially thousands of people. But the recognition was so precious to me and I even got a standing ovation from everyone – students, parents, coworkers, and friends.

I made new friends, lost a friend or two, changed my office space around, gained 35 pounds, lost 30 pounds, got my sugar back under control and started eating right. I improved my embroidery skills significantly, and started reading for pleasure again.

Oh, I can’t even begin to convey how much I love to read. The whole time I was working on my doctorate, I read only one or two books for pleasure, and when I finished, I got back into reading slowly – it took about a year for me to stop feeling frazzled and guilty for not spending every free moment doing my Texas Tech homework. Every single free moment. But now, I’m reading lots of books about ghosts and hauntings, and none of them are going to end up in the canon of literature, and I love that I am not worried about that anymore.

So now, I’ve pretty much told my life story for the last two years, so I can go ahead and get started moving forward. If you’re reading this, thanks for being patient.

what i made monday No. 2

I made it to Orlando and back and managed to get a little bit of sewing in. It’s the busiest time of the year for educators, so work is a little demanding right now. I wanted to share a couple of my projects, though, just to make sure I stay on track. Little by little, I am learning how to embroider better and feeling more confident about trying more complicated designs.

The first thing I tackled after returning was a machine cover for my new Brother. I bought a PE770, and the hoops are much bigger. I love Brother machines and have decided I won’t ever buy a different brand. They are so easy to use, and there was no learning curve between the 770 and my 400. I bought the pattern from a group administrator on Facebook, and it was easy to make because her directions were perfect. I would like to embroider a pattern on the back, but for now, I’m happy.

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Here is a close-up of the monogram. For being so large, it stitched out nicely.

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My next project was a tote bag for my daughter, who teaches 8th grade science. She is a Hello Kitty maniac and always has been. If Hello Kitty came to town, Lauren would run away with her/him/it (no one really knows what Hello Kitty is, do they?). Forgive the water spots in the first picture – I was erasing the washable marking pen, and then Lauren took the bag so I couldn’t get a better picture.

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Here is the back side. the ruffles are unhemmed on purpose to get a fair amount of fray, but it also made the project go faster. It was a throw-away bag that I decided to keep and give to her. It was one of my first attempts at using software to manipulate a design.

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I made these two backpacks for Lauren and myself. I made mine first, and when I stitched hers, I increased the font so that it is bigger and changed the font of the name. I wish I had done the same to mine as I like hers much better. Hooping backpacks is a challenge, but I floated them in the hoop and pinned them tightly. I also pinned the bottom so that it didn’t drag. There were time consuming and scary, but I am happy with how they turned out.

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Speaking of difficult hooping, here are some converse knock-offs that I did on my single-needle machine. These were a real challenge because they are kid-sized and a much tighter tongue. If I do another pair, I would like a different font, but apparently people have a difficult time embroidering these, so I am kind of proud, relatively speaking. (Sorry for the cell phone pic, but sometimes that is just how I roll.)


It was nice to get into my sewing room for a little bit. This weekend is my last long weekend before faculty return and then the semester starts. I’m getting my hair cut and colored (a major ordeal because it is so curly and unruly, lol), but I’m still hoping for a little time to create.

I’m going to share some pictures of a little reno in my upstairs bathroom this week, too.

I hope your week is great and you day is happy!


what i made monday

I decided to start sharing my projects, hopefully, on Mondays. I was busy with embroidery this weekend, so here are a few pics.

I just got a new embroidery machine on Friday. It’s a Brother PE770, and the hoops are much bigger than my SE400.  With every machine, there is a learning curve, so these projects are not flawless by any means. However, through the weekend, I got a little better at learning the machine, so the stitches are a little better progressively. I looked at the pictures with up close views of the stitches and hesitated to post them, Then I reminded myself that I am not a professional, and I don’t have to be perfect. These are all good enough. So . . . here goes!

I embroidered this sleeveless blouse for my upcoming trip to Orlando. During the day at the conference, I’ll wear a sweater because the hotels are generally cool, but it will be perfect for running around in the evenings. I will add that some of the threads need to be clipped more closely and are not mishaps. It’s hard to see things like that until you see a picture pointing out all the flaws!

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I made a couple of pillow cases. I’m not happy with the puckering, but I have given myself permission to be less than perfect. I had to hoop this pattern multiple times to get it all the way around, and I added “Bonne Nuit,” French for “good night,” on the corner. Despite the puckering, the pattern fit perfectly and hooped easily. If you do any kind of machine embroidery, you may be familiar with “floating” in a hoop. It makes a huge difference in aligning patterns. I pinned the pillow cases because they are double fabric on the cuff that is not fused and, therefore, slippery. I think they will go nicely in the guest room.

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What I made Monday 007 This is a backpack I worked on. It was a pain to pin up to keep it under the machine so it didn’t drag, but once I got everything position well, it stitched out nicely. The backpack was less than twenty dollars at our local Wal-Mart, but they only had one, so I was a little concerned about ruining it. I had to stitch through the canvas and the plastic lining, so removing stitches would have been difficult, if not destructive. I’m happy with how it turned out. I used Metro thread for the cream color and Coats and Clark for the blue. I finally bought a couple of thread stands, and that has stopped most of the tangling I experienced with Coats and Clark thread. It is actually my favorite because it has a beautiful sheen, but it can get tangled in the notch. I also love, love Gutermann, but my Brother SE400 does not like it as much,and it tends to shred. I’ll try it on the 770 and see if it does better. What I made Monday 006

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I’ll be out of town next weekend, so I won’t have time to make anything, but hopefully, I’ll get some sewing done through the week. I have a couple of maxi dresses to hem. At an even five feet, I’m too short for everything. Even some petites are too long!

Have a great week, and have a great day!


Where Bloggers Create 2015

I’m so excited to include my craft room in the Where Bloggers Create summer roundup. I’ve wanted to participate for several years, but things got in the way, so I jumped on it this year! Thank you, Karen, for letting all of us share our pages.

If you haven’t already, go check out her blog. This annual feature has a great collection of craft and sewing rooms, and the ideas are endless. I set aside a whole day each summer to browse and jot down ideas. Some of the rooms are too pretty to use!

If you followed the link, you are on the original post (and not here, so I’m not sure why I’m talking to you, lol), but in case you got here through some other way, I’m posting pictures again. I won’t waste too much time with comments because most people just want to see the pictures. If you have any questions, though, I am happy to answer them in the comments! I do want to say that my husband built all of the furniture for me and helped me design it so that it would be most usable. I know, right?! He’s perfect. Sometimes I just want to stare at him in amazement, but that’s for another post. Here we go . . .

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This is my room when you walk into the door. Complete with a fat cat.

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I couldn’t leave out Callie. She looks fat, but she’s just furry. This table is an old kitchen table that my wonderful, amazing husband refinished for me.

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This is the view from a different corner. The cart holds my paper, my Cricut and Silhouette, dies, stamps, and paper cutters. See the little wheels at the bottom? Yeah, my husband was smart enough to know we might need to move it to get something into the room, so he added wheels. The drawers are deep and sturdy. the cabinet next to it is storage for all kinds of things, mostly blanks and stabilizers for embroidery. The other cabinet holds fabric and polyfill, and the baskets hold glue, tape, paper bags, and other things.

The picture below shows the shelves on the cart, and I have lots of great things stored in baskets and bins. The inside of the cabinets, including the shelves, are left natural so that they will age and get a beautiful patina. He convinced me to paint the walls and trim white since the cabinets are painted in a wheat color, and I think it was a great decision because the room looks less busy.



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We didn’t want to do anything to cover the windows, so he built a window seat for me. He angled the bottom to allow the air vent to work properly.

This corner is my sewing corner. I have my Brother sewing machine and my Brother SE400 embroidery machine on my sewing table.  I made the curtains and the sewing machine cover. As you can see, my cats follow me everywhere. I’m including some closeup pictures so you can get an idea of some of my storage solutions.

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I made this little pin cushion from an egg cup I got at Pottery Barn. It is so much fun to use. You can also see the hole in the back of the cabinet for my sewing machine cords. It is really nice not to have to mess with them running down in front of the cabinet. 179

Around the other side, I have two window seats with storage underneath, and beside them is a shelf to hold mason jars. They are full of odds and ends that I use for crafting and home decor. It is amazing how much stuff you collect over the years, and these jars are stacked two deep! The cart is from Ikea and holds fabric I’m working on right now. The closet doors were old and heavy, like Thor’s hammer heavy, so we took them out, and I sewed a curtain to cover the closet. Next to that is a shelf for my fabric. I keep it folded on comic book boards, so he built it to dimension.

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This is the side by the door, which I painted with chalkboard paint that makes it a workable place to keep notes. The music cabinet holds plastic boxes with little bits for paper crafts, buttons, small tools, and other things. Underneath I keep large buckets of paint. The little rolling cart beside it holds wrapping paper.

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This is the corner behind the door where I have small paint and glitter along with dye new craft room 2 035and some rolls of Washi. I tried not to leave any space unused. I love Tim Holtz products for paper crafting.

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I love looking at how people arrange things, so I’m going to leave this post with a series of pictures.


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My last picture is one that my daughter made for me. She is the most creative person I know, and she loves tinkering with ideas. She made the little pink dump truck pin cushion for me. And then she made this lovely picture, which I think this is the most perfect exclamation point for my craft room.


the backyard

We have suffered from serious drought for the past ten years. Serious drought. As in everything died. We lost grass, trees, plants, you name it. Unfortunately, the weeds survived.

This year we have had an abundance of blessed rain, so we (and by me, I mean Chris) planted a mulit-trunk burr oak, Cleveland pear trees, and a red maple. We re-seeded the part of the backyard with grass, and we planted bulbs and live plants to get our backyard in shape. We are looking for Bradford pears and a blue spruce for the front yard. We also need to replace a piece of wood over the front door, and then I’ll post pictures of the front yard. With our new metal roof. Eek!

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I can’t begin to describe what the yard looked like before, but we were lucky to have a few things survive, including vines and lilies. This is the street side of the backyard, and the fence is covered in grapevine and trumpet vine. It was already overgrown when we bought our house in 1998, and we thought it might damage the fence to tear it down, so we left it. It looks amazing!

back yard 039We had almost no grass back here, and within a month, it has grown into lush, deep green grass. The soft kind. Where you want to walk barefoot.

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This is our gorgeous smoke bush that was only supposed to grow to about six feet.

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In the spring, it blooms with feathery balls of brownish red fluff. It’s quite lovely in bloom.

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We have a continuous blooming rose-bush that made it through the drought. Behind it is our little apple tree that is loaded with apples.

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Another view of the back corner. I just love the trumpet vine on the fence. Next year, we are going to build a new gate. On this side of the fence, you can see nothing except gate, and I’ve been rounding up ideas for a new one as it faces the street and would look so elegant instead of the standard cedar gate.

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We have a shop on the back of our property that is a great wood shop for building. This vine grows over the shop, and you can see the fence in the background.

back yard 015As we transition over to the other side of the yard, you can see the effects of the drought. This part of our yard was covered in gorgeous hostas, and we had to replant all of them. You can see a little tree in the corner that is alive, but damaged. In this part of Texas, you give trees every benefit of the doubt before you take one out. They do not grow naturally around here, except mesquite, so trees are precious, and we left this little one in hopes of recovery.

back yard 013Along the back of the house, we did have some lilies survive and some vine. We planted elephant ears in the big pot on the patio. It took a while for them to peek out because this summer has been cooler than usual, but once they did, they grew like wildfire and have gotten nice and big.

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Another view of the elephant ears – see how big they are?

I love looking out the French doors and seeing the big leaves. We had a window here when we bought out house, and Chris put in the doors to open the den up more. It is one of my favorite things about our house now. In the winter when it’s snowy outside, it is such a delight to watch the snow gather in the yard while we sit inside all cozy and warm.

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Our mulberry tree is gigantic and shades most of the backyard. In this back corner, we will probably plant hostas next year, but we put caladiums in pots to give some color and then mulched.

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This area with the bench is Holly’s garden. She was my beagle and was the dog of my life. We have cats, but I haven’t been able to think about another dog. She is buried back here under the mulberry along with one of our cats. These three rocks came from Mom and Dad’s house. They are lava, flint, and quartz and were along the driveway. I also took a jar of dirt from their front flower bed and integrated it into the garden when we planted the bulbs. It is so peaceful to sit back here and know that I have a piece of my childhood. Holly loved going to Nanny and Poppy’s house, too, so I know she is happy to have these rocks.

back yard 045Here is the big mulberry. It was trimmed significantly last summer because it was so heavy and potentially damaging our roof. This picture doesn’t do it justice. You can see it way over the top of our two-story house, and it provides shade for the largest part of the back yard. If we ever lose it, we will have to rethink the whole landscape back here!

In the picture below, you can see the path. It is paved with native rocks we collected from a canyon behind one of my co-worker’s house. She let us take as many stones as we wanted, and Chris built a path with multiple division through the yard. It is really nice to be able to walk on the path and not disturb the plants. It is a little muddy from all the rain right now.

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I thought I would end with a couple of pictures of our day lilies blooming. The orange lilies glow at dusk, and it is magical to see. The bottom lily is an unusual combination with the buttery yellow and deep purple bloom.

I love walking through the yard and watching things grow. It is an incredible blessing to have had so much rain this summer, and the ten-day forecast has rain chances in eight of those days. We really don’t know what to do with all this water!

Have a great day!


why I have a Pokey Puppy pail

One of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me was a love for storytelling. She was an expert storyteller, the kind of person who could have made a living of it.

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She would weave tales about little animals and the bad things they did but their mothers loved them anyway, and I would drift off to sleep with images of strippety-stripety candy dancing around me.

She would never tell me what strippity-stripety candy was, and I imagined at as manna from heaven – the most beautiful candy in the whole world. I finally pestered her enough the she said (and rather flippantly, I might add) , “Oh, you know, it’s that ribbon candy you get at Christmas.”

I was devastated. Crushed. I felt the breath  leave as my lungs collapsed. I hated ribbon candy. It was yucky. It tasted like bugs. I guess she read my mind and added, “Oh, it just looks like that – pretty colors and wavy ribbons. But it tastes like,” she paused for effect while I held my breath (yes, the same breath I had lost moments before), “Butterfingers.”

I was alive again! Jumping up and gown with glee. The strippety-stripety candy I had imagined was, indeed, the most wonderful candy in the world.

So I added the Little Pokey Puppy pail to my guest room as a tribute to the stories my mother would tell and all the Little Golden Books she read to me and later patiently allowed me to stumble through words and read to her.

We loved the watercolorey pictures in Dick and Jane, flat,800x800,070,fand she let me read the stories over and over, and we would ooh and awe over Sally’s tea set and coveted Jane’s doll house together.

I keep her voices in my head – how she mewed for Fluffy White Kitty and stuttered as the voice of the little goat explaining to his mother how the wolf disguised his arms with flour and swallowed a whole bag of sugar so his voice would be sweet and they would mistake him as their own mama until that awful old wolf ran off with all the baby goats except the one little goat who hid in the clock case.

I hear her point her finger at Pottamanotus because he was a bad little boy for wrapping his puppy up in cabbage leaves and dragging a loaf of bread home by a string, covered in nails and snails and grass and glass.

I can hear her little girl voice as she told about the time she knocked a whole bee hive down on the head of her little sister because her golden curls were shining in the sun and my mom’s hair was brown and coarse.

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Here is a picture of my mom with her blond nemesis Georgie. Despite the beehive incident, they remained close friends all of their lives.

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Mom is standing slightly behind her dad in the center with Georgie beside and in front of her. This photo was probably taken shorty after my uncles returned home from WWII.

And even though her mother had been dead for years before I was born, I feel like I know “precious Mama” because of the stories my own precious mama told of her teaching the girls to iron by making them iron pillow cases and holding my mother’s hand when she almost died from a tonsil infection and the depth of her sadness and heartbreak when Mom’s sister Dixie Lee died at the age of seven from diphtheria.

All around the edges of my life are books and stories and memories of her teaching me to love words. So Nanny, I hope you smile at the Little Pokey Puppy and tell your precious mama how you raised us kids to believe in the magic of story telling.