a great idea for Christmas balls

I have cats. Cats who like balls. Cats who like to make balls out of anything that will roll.

I wanted some of those beautiful Christmas balls that are wrapped in dictionary pages or music pages, and I wanted some covered in glitter. But I didn’t want to pay for the glass balls, and I didn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and step on one that the cats had left for me.

Then I found a really good solution.

bouncy ballsI got a package of these bouncy balls from Walmart. (These are not from Walmart because Walmart won’t let you save one of their pictures.) They were less than 20.00 for 100 balls. That made them cheaper than even the Christmas balls at the Dollar Tree.

I made a whole bunch of these:

328The glitter has come off of the ball in front because it’s the one the cats can reach, but it will be easy to fix. I just tore paper strips and used Mod Podge for the ones with music paper, and I used Mod Podge to glue glitter onto the glittered balls. The red balls are ping pong balls I put a sticker on then spray painted red and removed the sticker. I made those back when I first discovered blog land, so I really didn’t know about all of the cool stencils and pens people use.

It’s a very inexpensive solution. I don’t have any hangers on mine, but I did make one with some fishing line that I glued under the paper to make it easy to hang.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you make ornaments from these bouncy balls, please send me a link so I can check it out!

Have a great day!

on turning 50 and feeling good about it

Friday was my fiftieth birthday, and I made it! I said I would do it, and I did it! The people in my office gave me a party with a strawberry cake and pink roses. I love them!

Yikes! I'm 50!

Yikes! I’m 50!

Last February, we had a big blizzard in Texas, and I was out of town. I was in Florida. At Disneyland. And I wanted to be home. I wanted to be sewing and drinking hot chocolate and checking on my collection of cats. I wanted to be with my husband and smell baking bread and brown sugar. I wanted to put on my snuggy and watch movies all day. And I couldn’t get home. I was traveling with a co-worker (the one who forced me to go to see Mickey, and it really is magical, but I just wanted to be home), and we spent hours trying to figure out how to fly home. We couldn’t get to Dallas or Oklahoma City or Houston or Albuquerque.

And I realized something that was kind of important: I was going to have a stroke if I didn’t do something. I don’t handle stress, I don’t like stress, but I have stress. A. Whole. Lot. Of. Stress. And I realized I was almost fifty and miserable. Then I decided I didn’t have to be. I made a vow to myself that, on my 50th birthday, I would swim a mile.

The pool where I swim

The pool where I swim – notice how dark it is at 5:00 in the morning.

So I started swimming. Every morning. At 5:30. And I hate mornings. I can’t tell you how much I hate mornings. But I kept going. I started out at 8 laps, and then it was 10, then 16, then 24. Over the summer, I reached a mile. It took me an hour and a half, so when the fall semester started back, I started getting up at 4:45 so that I could swim my mile and still run home to get ready. And on Friday, I turned 50, and I got up at 4:45 and swam my mile. That’s 32 laps. That’s up and back 64 times. That’s pretty good for someone who hates mornings.

My lane!

My lane!

Next week, I am going to start biking and lifting weights twice a week. I want to bike 25 miles on my 51st birthday. I’ll let you know how that goes!

bathroom accessories

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This is my last post about our master bath. I wanted to share some of the accessories I used to try to pull everything together. The whole reno was under 300.00, including fabric, paint, ceiling planks, and the accessories. Most of them I already had, so like the rest of you, I shopped the house to find them. I did buy the three-tiered basket and the cart, but both of them were more than 50% off.

105I saw a similar basket at The Lettered Cottage, and I loved how she staged it. I thought I should make it practical, so I put things I actually use in it. The glass jar on the bottom shelf is full of a baby-lotion-vitamin-e-cream-coconut-oil recipe I got off of Pinterest. It is as good as they claim!

sea spongecurtainsmonogrammed spoonI got this cart from World Market, and it fits perfectly in its little spot. I need something close to the sink but narrow enough to tuck against the wall. It holds things I don’t want to put into the closet but need close by.

carttop shelf of cart229egg soap 2soap jar (1)soap jartoothbrush 2nail polishI love those toothbrushes, again inspired by Layla at The Lettered Cottage. She has incredible style, by the way, and I love her blog.

silversilver closeupscrubbiessoap dishtoilet papermirrorantrho hookI got this hook from Anthropology in Oklahoma City when I went shopping with my daughter. I wrote the numbers 1 and 2 on the hooks, but I will likely go back and do something different. In any case, I love the little bit of blue it adds to the neutral colors.

I also ordered a monogram from an Etsy store. It was very affordable–less than 30.00 including shipping, and it just came in. I’m going to paint it a light blue and hang it over the windows.

Did I mention that I have the best husband? In the history of ever. Ever. He did all of this for me with no complaints and no head shaking when he saw all the ruffles.  I’m the luckiest person I know!

my master bath is finished

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Every summer we take on a new project, and this summer, we redid our two bathrooms. My son got married in Colorado, and I had two classes and an internship to complete, so the bathrooms were quicker projects since they had been done once before.

    Master Suite BathThis is the master bath. I made the shower curtain, and it took much longer than I thought it would. All of the ruffles are hemmed top and bottom to prevent fraying, and getting them aligned in a way that was at least presentable took about three days. I used my vacay to make the shower curtain and the window curtains. Totally worth it!

ceiling peakIn between the wedding and the beginning of the school year, my husband put in a plank ceiling. Since this is a converted attic space, we had lots of fun peaks to work with.

Well, they are fun for me. Not so much for him. But he did a great job. I showed him Miss Mustard Seed’s bedroom and Layla’s dining room from The Lettered Cottage.

When we started putting them up, and by we, I mean he, we decided that we wanted to preserve the natural wood. I am so glad we did. It has made a huge difference in the room and looks very high end. I think they actually planked together tighter than the examples we looked at because they weren’t painted. But he’s also an expert and tongue and groove after doing floors and walls.

ceiling 4The ceiling cost right at 100.00 using the wood planks from Lowe’s, but it was a great investment. Covering up the popcorn ceiling was a huge improvement.

ceiling windowsOur master suite is a converted attic, and one of the good things the people did that we bought our house from was to put in these big windows.

The bathroom ceiling went straight across at the place where it begins to angle, so it was impossible for anyone to use the bathroom without ducking except for me. When we redid it the first time, my husband took the ceiling out and aligned to the roof line. I love the angles, and now anyone can walk into it.

In the interest of time and money, we left the popcorn on the upper part of the walls but gave it a fresh coat of paint. The bottom of the walls was paneled, and we painted it with Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. Their paint is magical.

Bathroom from door 2I’m going to do a couple of other posts that focus on the accessories and the fabrics, but for now, this is a good look at my new bathroom. I am glad my white knight was born with a hammer and saw in his hands. He saves us a ton of money all the time, and everything in my house is custom.

my bathroom fabrics

I was able to choose anything I wanted to do in our master suite bathroom, and I scoured Pinterest for months trying to figure out what I wanted. I am addicted to pink. Pink and I are soul mates. Long lost sisters. Fused at the hip.

But . . . I wanted something a little more elegant and luxurious. I wanted something that wouldn’t make my husband throw up in his mouth a little. I kept pink to a minimum. I found some look alike linen fabric at JoAnn’s for 9.99 a yard, and with a 50% coupon, I got 10 yards for under 50.00. The shower curtain took more than 9 yards, so it was a good measurement on my part, especially for eyeballing the curtain. Because that’s how I roll!

shower curtain 2Master Suite BathThe shower curtain is really heavy. Really, really heavy. So I knew a standard rod wouldn’t be sturdy enough. Besides, the sides of the tub inset don’t go all the way to the ceiling. This was never meant to be a shower. However, it was meant to be a real cool super-jiving 1970’s avocado bathtub, and I thought it would be nice to cover it up.

In order to hold the shower curtain from a ceiling mount, by husband mounted the elbow joints to a piece of wood and screwed it into the studs. He’s so awesomely smart. ❤

curtain rod and ceilingcurtain hangersBecause I wanted a lighter, airier look for the window treatments, these side panels fit perfectly to marry the linen and cotton together. It also protects the shower curtain since I am not pulling on it to open and close the curtain. The panels are completely washable, but I’m trying to wash the curtain only in spring and fall cleaning sprees and only by hand to avoid shrinking.

I needed to do something to shore up the top of the panel since I was going to use button hole stitching for the hangers, so I added some interfacing and a ribbon to cover the seam. That made the top sturdy enough to hang the hooks on without tearing.

top of shower curtain 3top of shower curtainThe window curtains were made from a simple cotton that I bought at Walmart for 1.97 a yard. The ruffles are different than on the shower curtain, but I hemmed top and bottom to try to avoid fraying. I am a novice sewer, so I had to work hard to get them ruffled just right and pinned straight. I have a ruffler foot, but I did all of the ruffles for the bathroom the old fashioned way. It’s the best way for me to get them even.

ruffle on curtainscurtainsI saw some linen hand towels that I fell in love with, so I made a couple for the bathroom. Since we use the sink frequently and are chronic handwashers, the linen isn’t very practical, but I love how they turned out, so I put them on a hook.

handtowel and benchhandtowel ruffleFinally, I had an ottoman that I was no longer using and fit perfectly under my chippy little vanity. I made a slipcover for it out of the same look-alike linen and monogrammed the corner of it. I think it is about four or five yards of fabric because I gathered it as tightly as I could. I made this skirt twice because it just wouldn’t lay right. The second time, I added piping. If you have never sewn piping, it is difficult to work with and is as intimidating as putting in a zipper. In many places, it isn’t perfect, but it is, as The Fly Lady says, good enough.

vanityvanity bench113We have a garden bench in a nook in the corner. The vent is on the corner wall, so we need to make sure it doesn’t get covered up. I love the bench, but it needed something. I made a cushion with fabric from JoAnn’s that I adore. I think it was about 40.00 a yard, but I got it half off then used my teacher discount to get another 15% off. The cushion took about a yard, and I had purchased the fabric for my craft room closet, so I had just enough left. In fact, I think I have enough to make a couple of pillows.

benchbench cushion script 2Even though the bath mat is not a fabric, I think it adds some texture and interest to the room. We did not change out the tile, but I plan to put down a penny floor next summer, so I’m just working with the tile we have. It’s not horrible by any means, but I do need a mat by the tub, and I had this one in my craft room where it didn’t work nearly as well as it does here.

bath matI’ll have one more post to discuss the accessories I used, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Feel free to share, pin, or whatever else you want to do, but please, please link back to my site if you do!

Wishing you a great day!

Shannon

my halloween mantle (2012)

Halloween MantleMy Halloween Mantle

I don’t usually decorate for Halloween, but I found this adorable concrete lion at a store on 6thStreet in Amarillo, and he needed a party hat.

100_1759He needed a medallion, too. And a pumpkin man and scary cat in an orange tuxedo.

100_1755100_1754100_1752

here’s the thing about Breaking Bad…

As an English teacher, I have taught that film is a form of literature for a long time. From the beginning, but especially after movies like Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon, film has been artistic with depth and beauty that is the hallmark of great literature.

Move over, film. You have a new partner. Television. That’s what Breaking Bad did. It elevated television to an art form. Yes, The Sopranos was good story telling, and even in all its weirdness, Twin Peaks explored the arts in a way similar to Picasso’s eye.

But Breaking Bad brought a hero to life who was as much an anti-hero as he was a hero. Who made us feel, feel deeply, feel to the absolute depths of our bones, and it will be over too soon. I’m sitting here an hour before the season finale with butterflies. I have rarely been so excited to see what happens next and never been filled with such dread to see it end.

It has touched me like Harper Lee did with Scout when she said, “and thus began our longest journey.” This journey with Walt and Jesse, watching their deep love and respect turn to hate and revenge, has been one of my favorite journeys in all of literature. The characters are complex and the conflicts are heart wrenching.

And the string of coincidences is Dickensian to say the least. I think Vince Gilligan saw the entire story from the beginning and placed the foreshadowing in front of our very eyes, but like Dickens did in Great Expectations, he unfolds the answers a little at a time. But they are never cheap. Or lazy. Or contrived. They were there all along, so they feel like the natural evolution of real life.

I hope that Jesse lives. I hope that Walt goes out in a way that is noble. In a way that saves Jesse.

I hope that some day another show will come along like Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones. That will capture me and pull at me all over again. Because that’s what Breaking Bad did. It elevated television to literature.

So  now when I teach my college freshmen, I have something new to add to the study of genres. Something they can understand. Something they know.

But here’s the thing about Breaking Bad . . . I wish I had never watched it. Just so I could see it again for the very first time.

Breaking Bad for blog post

why I love my job

Last week, I had the privilege of taking a group of honors students from my college to see To Kill a Mockingbird at the movie theatre. It is the 50th anniversary, and seeing the film on the big screen was an incredible experience.

I first read the book when i was 15 in Paula Molberg’s English class, and I fell in love. I mean fell hard. Since then, I have read the book at least once every year, and mostly at Christmas. This year will make the 35th year that I’ve read it. I have whole passages memorized solely by familiarity.

And yet . . .

I wept. Openly and without shame at that one scene in the movie. Stand up. Your father’s passing.

scout your fathers passing

It was a joy to see the students experience the movie for the first time in some cases and for the first time in the theater in all cases.

I love that I get to spend every day at a job that never feels like a job. It feels like a conversation you might have with your friends over coffee or at a dinner party, a conversation that is stimulating and rich and full of life.

It feels like everything I imagined that first day in graduate school when I walked into a classroom, filled with terror and anticipation, and pride. Yes, pride. That I had made it through. That I didn’t die in my sleep as I fully expected because that’s the kind of luck I have. That I walked in, took a great big gulp, and said, “Good morning. Welcome to English 1301.”

And my life changed in that moment in ways I never imagined.

So to this small group of students, I want to say thanks. Thanks for sharing the ride, for reminding me about the wonders of discovering To Kill a Mockingbird, for believing that your education is magical, and for trusting me with the wand. I promise not to break it.

to kill a mockingbird honors 2013

a difficult day

One of my coworkers was killed in a car accident Friday, so the week has been filled with figuring out what to do to help her students continue in the program. I’ve been so busy with the students, starting my own classes to finish my coursework for my doctorate, and teaching my own classes this week that I have had little time to reflect on losing Erica.

I want to know only one detail in this tragedy, and that is that she didn’t suffer. She died instantly and never knew what hit her, and that’s what I want to remember. I loved her as a friend and as a coworker, and we became very close after going through some difficult transitions within her program. She was strong and had grown into an incredible leader.

I thank God for the time He gave us to get to know each other and to appreciate and learn from each other. Erica, I will miss our 5:00 am swims, chicken fried steak at the line cafe, and your pedicures. I love you, baby, and I know you and your precious baby Cliff are flying high with the angels.

the dream closet

We moved into our corner farmhouse about fifteen years ago, and it was love at first sight for me. I, of course, agreed to look at lots of houses, but I knew the moment I saw this house, it was the one. When I called to inquire, the realtor told me they had put the for sale sign up that very day, and it was listed below our budget. Below. That never happens to me. I knew it was a match made in heaven.

The upstairs was a converted attic space that was usable, but by no means premium. One summer we gutted the entire thing, insulated it, and built a master suite. I am sharing a couple of pictures of the finished closet because it is amazing. A. Maz. Ing. A dream closet. I’ve purchased a good camera and a camera class, so I intend to take new pictures, but for now, let me share what was one of the nicest things my husband ever did for me.

This is the bedroom side, with the French door leading into the closet. We left the beams exposed and put a wonderful ceiling in.

closet 002closet 088closet 091closet 092closet 145closet 147

It’s hard to tell, but each of the racks running down the middle has a rack on the other side, so we have approximately 72 feet of hanging racks. The window seat is surrounded by shoe shelves, and each side has shelves for purses and sweaters. This summer, I sewed cushions and curtains for the window seat, and I will show updated pictures when I post pictures of our bathroom redesign from this summer.