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Tour Alabama Series: Our Week in Dauphin Island

We got back from a week at the beach on Saturday. It was relaxing. And laid-back. And none of us got sunburned.

Basically it was perfect.

Since MM was 1 we’ve been Tybee fans. It’s 4.5 hours from our house and right outside of Savannah (my favorite city in the world). We always stayed in the same condo and it became a habit.

This year though I decided to change it since none of the kiddos had ever even seen the Gulf (sacrilege!). I asked around and settled on Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama (between Mobile and Biloxi).

Dauphin Island isn’t huge and there are no fast food restaurants and just a few restaurants and shops, but there were plenty of bike paths and things to do (fishing is huge on the island). Given Lawson’s age (right on the cusp of 2) and the lack of lots of restaurants I decided I would cook dinner every night in the house using fresh seafood–I plan on doing a big recipe post this week ’cause we ate so good at the beach, as well as a must do/must see/must eat guide for the island as well!

We wanted a place (didn’t matter to us if we were in a condo or house) that was very close to the beach, had access to a pool, and had at least three bedrooms (my parents go with us).

We found all that in more with Island Time II–a house right on the beach with a pool on the porch and four bedrooms. It was perfect for our needs.

Here’s some pictures of our time on the island.

First up, our fishing adventures. Including our encounter with a snake.

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I caught this beautiful red snapper at 8:10am. Guess when snapper season ended? 12:01am. That’s one lucky fish!

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It’s just a salt marsh snake–probably got washed into the “ocean side” of the island from all the storms.

But we didn’t just fish, oh no! We did lots of goofing off, laying around, and napping. You know, the really important parts of any good vacation.

july 21. bubble bath. beach pics_0001_edited-1

july 21. bubble bath. beach pics_0005_edited-1

july 19. 20. low country boil. lala sleeping_0001_edited-1

july 19. 20. low country boil. lala sleeping_0006_edited-1

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The two youngest are sort of twins in this picture: Lawson is 23 months old and Baby B. is 23 weeks in utero.

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july 21. lala playing. joyce visit_0012_edited-1

Lawson went to three new states for him: Alabama, Florida, AND Mississippi and got to meet his Mama J.

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july 22. montgomery zoo_0012_edited-1

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july 19. pushpop disaster_0004_edited-1

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july 22. montgomery zoo_0007_edited-1

We lived in bathing suits and t-shirts and shorts with elastic waists and pajamas. It got so bad that the last night there I MADE us put on “normal” clothes and take a picture (we seriously could have packed two sets of clothes each and been fine!). These pictures were taken right in our “backyard”–it really was the perfect setting!

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Oh, Dauphin Island, you spoiled us, girl. xoxo

1


A Year in Review {2012 Edition}

One from each month.  Let’s do this.

January. The beginning of ballet for my newly turned three year old.  I went to Moseby’s ultrasound.  Lots of nervous waiting and preparing.

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February. Our family gained a son. I really still can’t put it into words what his birth was like…or the love we feel for his birth family…or the wonderful thing open adoption is. I’m literally speechless.

day 1 through 3_0039

March. That surreal period after a baby is born. That sleep-deprived time where everything is new and feels like a dream.

kissing her new baby brother

April. Getting more out in the world. Warm days, egg hunts, Easter, baby chicks in their Easter baskets, a new {to us} playground at our house.

easter egg hunt.easter chicks_0023

May. My grandmother’s 80th birthday and Moseby’s personality started to come out. And that personality? Happy-go-lucky and easy to smile. A pure joy.

may 23. happy baby. new bike_0035

June. We went to the beach, Moseby’s adoption was finalized, and he was Baptized.

after moseby's adoption finalization {he's legally a cooper now!}

July. My camera broke. It was hot. We canned a ton.

july 30. rental camera_0003

August. School began again for me. Moseby learned to sit up on his own at five months, he turned six months at the end of the month. MM began gymnastics.

may 25. 26. artist. six month birthday_0001

September. MM began three-day {half-day} preschool. Moseby started crawling.

september 2. before church. red and blue_0012

October. LOTS of parties, and sewing, and trick-or-treating. A fantastic bat and a happy pirate {sorry, but I’m posting two for this month}.

october 27. leaves. fall festival_0002

october 31. trick or treating_0014

November. It finally became cooler as our family geared up for Christmas tree season.

november 22. thanksgiving_0006

December. What a whirlwind of a month! Parties {three at our house alone!}, school play, church pageant, Nutcracker. A train ride with Santa. A visit with Moseby’s birth family. My 32nd birthday. The list could go on and on.

december 16. christmas play angel_0008

I’m excited at what the next year holds.  I can’t imagine it will be any more exciting than 2012, but who knows, God might just surprise us.  😉

1


My Grandmother’s 80th

My grandmother {known as ‘Mamaw’} turned 80 on May 1st.  On that day we had a little cake…well, some of us had more than others {Mary Margaret…}

blowing out the candles

:-)

cake is the best when it is a mess

pretty good obviously

Moseby can’t wait for cake next year…but this year he just showed off his new skill–chuckling!

giggly baby

On Friday night we hosted a small birthday party.

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

By small I mean 200 people came. Whatevs! {That’s how we roll in the south.}

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

We put out at least a hundred pictures of Mamaw through the years as table centerpieces, as well as flower arrangements made from flowers on the farm, and votive candles. I loved how almost every person walked around the room looking at the pictures.

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

For food I convinced my mom and uncle to go with a whole “Ruth’s favorite foods” theme and I thought it turned out really cute. Chicken nuggets, meatballs, little quiches, cheese ring with strawberry jam, Snickers bars, Moon Pies, cut-up strawberries with sugar, peanut butter crackers, lime sherbet punch, RC Colas, and Orange Crush. The only thing we didn’t include was the poke salad  {ack!}, cornbread, and buttermilk.

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

We had the guests write down a fond memory they had with Mamaw and add it to our “Memory Tree”.  We’re going to put all the memories in a book so she can keep them.  {MM’s said, “I like to watch TV at Mamaw’s.  I like to ride bikes with her too.”  Hmm…I get the TV part–they love watching ‘Little Bear’ everyday, but the bikes?  Uhm, MM, there are no bikes at Mamaw’s house! …silly three year olds!}

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw enjoyed getting to see people she sees every week and ones she hadn’t seen in years.

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Mamaw's 80th Birthday Party

Happy Birthday, Mamaw!  We are blessed to have you in our lives and hope you have eighty more!

2


Eleanor Jane

The first time I met Miss Eleanor it was an early July afternoon and the temperature boiling.  She had put a small ‘For Sale’ sign in her front yard earlier that week, so small that it was not much bigger than a greeting card, knowing that someone would come.

We were those someones.  It was our destiny.

She let us in her home where honestly it wasn’t much cooler inside than outside on that summer day.  All the windows were closed and there was but one fan whizzing by somewhere in the back of the house.  It was trying its hardest to produce some sort of cold air so she could sit in her recliner, watch the news, and talk on the phone all day to her friends. 

{I’m sure we were the topic of her conversation that day.}

Within five seconds of walking through that door I knew.  I spied the corner of a beautiful fireplace with a summer screen.  If she had given me the opportunity I would have signed the contract right there.

There was something special about her homeplace.  Something so full of history and wonderful and already such a part of my soul.

I’ve said before it was like a dance to buy her home.  During the almost three month process we never mentioned money to her and all legalities of attorneys and closing dates and such were passed through her niece and then told to her after we left.  If she had anything to say about the sell it was told to Margaret who relayed it to us.

Miss Eleanor was a strong-willed, stubborn lady in her late 70s then.  She had never married and was what my mama calls a “change of life” baby meaning that by the time she was born her three older siblings were basically grown.  Her father died when she was a small child which left her and her mama to fend for themselves together.  She was strong and had opinions and could give you a sideways glance and an upturned mouth that would cut right through you. 

But boy did I love her from the start.

She let me ask question after question after question.  Yes, of course she remembered when her mama bought that Hotpoint stove in 1939 {it had replaced their wood burning two-eyed Jack after all}.  Yes, she remembered when they put the radiators in and stopped using the fireplaces.  She even remembered the man’s name who did in the early 40s and she would spell out each letter which I wrote it down in the big notebook I carried around with me whenever I was with her.  She told me about the drunk boarder who once fell thirty feet over the stair railing who just got up and walked away laughing.  About the World War II soliders being shipped off to war who would let slips of paper with their names and addresses float out of the train windows as it carried them to ships that would take them to other countries to fight.

She wrote to several and one even came calling after the war.  But he lived too far away and she wanted to stay with her mama and her small town.

She worked at the phone company for years and always wore high heels.  She was pretty with beautiful hair and was impeccably dressed.

And when I got to meet her that first day she was sharp as a tack, smart, and inquisitive about why exactly these two young people wanted to live in such an old house.  Why didn’t we want to go live in a nice, new house in a subdivision?  Because that’s what she was going to do!

During the restoration I thought about her constantly.  ‘What would Miss Eleanor think of this paint color?’  ‘Will she be upset we tore down this wall to make a mudroom?’  ‘Will she think the house is pretty?’

She came to see it five months later when we had finised.  She talked on the front porch for almost an hour before she made it inside, almost as if she wasn’t sure if she was going to like what she saw.  She didn’t say much as she walked around, just a little ‘Hmpf’ every once in awhile.  Finally, when she came back outside she said in her matter-of-fact, never sugar coating what she had to say way, ‘Well, I’m not sure if it’s what you were going for, but it looks just like it did in the 1940s!’

We assured her that it was indeed the look we were going for and she looked at us like we were crazy and shook her head.

I talked to her a few weeks ago about a myseterious water leak on the outside of our house to see if she knew where it was coming from.  We had looked for hours and had called her as a last resort.  Of course she knew were it was coming from and she remembered who installed the pipe fifty years ago too…if I wanted to write his name down in my notebook.

When we told her we were naming our daughter after all she said, ‘Well, now, that is special’ and left it at that.  But I know it made her proud as she was always calling to check on Mary Margaret Eleanor {she always made sure to call her by all three names} and sending her little mementos signed “With Love, From the Other Eleanor”.  I hope she realized how much she meant to us.

I loved her sassiness.  And her kindness {and patience} towards me.  I loved her strength and resillence.  I loved her with my whole heart. 

When I heard this morning that she had passed away last night I was so sad at first.  And honestly if you looked at me right now with tears rolling down my cheeks you would think I still was.  But I know she is in heaven with her daddy and mama and her brother and sisters–all of who she hasn’t seen in a very long time and I know she is thrilled.

But that doesn’t stop my heart from hurting.

We love you, Miss Eleanor.   You have left an imprint on our hearts.

Love,

C., Natalie, Mary Margaret Eleanor, and Moseby

5


Refreshment

aquarium.ne hi.berries.canning_0073

The other day I stopped by our local farm stand for some bell peppers so I could make more green tomato relish.  As I was paying I noticed a cooler full of bottled soft drinks and memories flooded my mind.

I stayed with my grandparents while my mom worked for the first four years of my life.  Every Thursday my grandmother would get her hair done {and still does}.  She went to the basement of her friend, Gay’s house that was set up like a beauty shop.  While she got her hair set she would sit around and gossip with Gay and her mother, Rosie and the other ladies at the shop.  I would pretend to sit under the hair dryers, or play with the pink rollers in the cart, or sit on the couch and drink a Sprite or Ne-Hi Orange out of a bottle.

I can still remember how good they tasted.  The bottle cold and wet to my fingertips, the drink so fizzy it made my nose tingle.

So I grabbed one for MM to try and just couldn’t stop myself from taking a few pictures of her first experience with a bottled soft drink.  I think she liked it, don’t you?

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After her first sip. I think her nose is tickling her.

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Yep, an orange tongue means you reaaaallly liked it.

3


Snow *Week*

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When I was in sixth grade we got a snowstorm of epic proportions…to us southerners anyway.  It was known as the “Storm of the Century” and to a kid it was a dream.  I don’t remember the specifics, but I think we were out of school at least a week.  I do remember that the snow drifts on the side of the dirt road my family took us sledding on were head-high…and that it was so late {March} that daffodils were poking out of the snow, their yellow petals in bright contrast to the white snow.

icy street

Our poor street.

After our White Christmas I really wasn’t expecting another snow.  Here in the South we usually don’t get more than one…maybe two…small snows a winter.

So imagine my surprise when the forecasters started predicting a snow–maybe even a BIG snow–for late Sunday night.

building snowman

C., MM, and I went to the grocery store on Sunday afternoon just for fun.  I had milk and eggs at home and we knew we’d be out and about by Tuesday morning, so we didn’t pick up much.  {Triple A batteries and yogurt…mighty prepared, huh?}

taking a break on her snowman

Imagine out total and utter shock when we woke up on Monday morning with 7.25″ of snow and sleet coming down.

with their snowman

Yesterday we stayed inside all day–everything here has been shut down–but this morning we ventured out.

petting oliver

MM has not been historically a fan of snow, just like her mama, but today we thought we’d try again.  Turns out she still does not love it by any means, but she will tolerate it.

fall down

That is, unless her mittens get wet.  Or she falls on her bottom.  Or her nose gets cold.  Or the snow gets too white.

You get the picture.

C. and I were building the snowman {okay, okay, I was taking pictures and he was building it} and every time we turned around MM was headed back towards the house.

Needless to say she was more than happy to get into some warm, dry clothes and watch Barney on the couch.

Oh, and the South?  Yeah, we’re still shutdown.  Two days and counting.  They are not predicting it to get above freezing until Saturday.  Oh my, our roads are a mess.

But I don’t think MM will mind as long as we just don’t go back out in the snow.

snow

71 years apart, yet it still looks the same.

4


Surprise, Surprise

I’m not going to lie and say I was okay with the fact that C. was out-of-town for my birthday.  In fact, I cried.  Big, pity party tears in bed  the morning of my 30th birthday.  It was the first birthday in seven years he had missed–I felt justified for being upset.

But like all things in an adult’s life, you just suck up and move on {or as my mother says, ‘Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.’}

christmas pageant_0019

What I didn’t know was the he and my best friend, Dana, were in cahoots and planning a little surprise shindig for me the following Saturday night at a local Japanese steakhouse.  You see, Dana was in the same college sorority as me, as well as almost all of my friends that I count as close/bosom buddies/BFF.  So she started calling, and emailing, and facebooking and somehow got some pretty hard-to-reach gals all in one place on a Saturday night during the Christmas season.  Pretty impressive, huh?

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And this picture sums up how I felt the whole night…ecstatic and so deliriously happy.

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Yes, those girls will do that to me. 

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I often think nostalgically back to college days {probably more than once a day} because it was such a special, awesome time in my life.  It wasn’t because of the studying {tsk, tsk} or the boys {though that was nice too, hehe} or going out or even SEC football games.  No, it was because of these women that I spent everyday with.  I lived in the sorority house for two years and served on our officers’ board {CMT is what we called it} for a couple too.  These women were such a part of my life and helped shape who I am today.  I feel blessed to know they are friends and I feel so loved that they came from all over to spend time for my birthday–I just wish I had taken more pictures of every single one of them!

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Thank you, ladies, thank you!  {…and thanks, Dana and C., for putting it altogether.  That was my first surprise party in 17 years.}  LITB always and forever.

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Is it a bad sign that one of my birthday candles wouldn’t stay lit? Does this mean I have “0” years left? Oh no!

3


Tidbits of My Brain

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When I was little my dad worked nights which left mom and I to have a girls’ night every night.  We would lay on opposite ends of the couch and watch all our favorite TV shows and cross-stitch {I was a pretty wild kid, huh?}.  This afternoon I fixed MM a space at one end of the couch and I laid at the other.  It was just like old times and brought back a rush of memories from my own childhood.

lazy saturday_0003

Remember those pecans I was talking about yesterday? Well, my grandmother has one of those pecan-picker-upper things and MM has a little white basket. Every day they spend an hour collecting pecans. I’m not going to lie, it makes my heart smile seeing those two peas in a pod together out in her front yard.

pecan picker upper

This afternoon my mom and I went to my favorite fabric store–I was needing a fabric fix and she rode along {while also buying things for me to sew for her–all part of her plan!}. I bought the School Picture Dress by oliver + s pattern that I’ve been eyeing for a couple of months now. I love the kangaroo pockets and can just picture a certain Miss Bird wearing it for two year old pictures. {I’m wanting to get her picture taken in the back of an old truck with the tailgate down in the middle of the pasture with the goats and cows…it’s hard to describe, but I can see it in my mind.  Can you, Karen?} I got the coolest vintage-looking print and can’t wait to get started on it this week.

Here’s an example I found on flickr. Be still my heart!

Oliver + S School Photo Dress

Lounging, pecans, and dresses–that’s what is on my mind tonight. What’s on yours?

2


Mary Margaret’s Country Time Quilt: The Beginning

embroidery companion
Alicia Paulson’s ‘Country Time’ quilt from her book, Embroidery Companion.

My dad worked the night shift when I was growing up so many of my memories during the week were of just my mom and I.  We would cuddle on the couch and watch Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Dallas, and Cagney & Lacey. And Mother would cross stitch.

When I was in first grade I received a cross stitch learning kit.  In it there was cardboard with designs and holes cut out, yarn, and extra long/extra dull needles.  I would practice learning how to sew neat little “X”s while my mom worked on her latest sampler or Christmas ornament.

By the time I was eight I was big on cross stitching bookmarks.  Just ask my mom and grandmother–they have countless of my imperfect cross stitched creations in their Bibles.  And I started organizing my thread.  As you can see, I was a stellar artist–HA!

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And I still love to do handwork.  It was only a matter of time, then, that I would move on to hand embroidery from cross stitch.

I have to admit I love not having to count stitches.  So refreshing.  All I do is get the design, make a copy, and put it over a light box.

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embroidery goats tractor staycation_0020

Trace it on to the fabric with a fine tip permemnant marker.  Stick that sucker in a hoop.

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And get to stitching.  In this case I’m using chain stitch for the body and mane.

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embroidery goats tractor staycation_0023

embroidery goats tractor staycation_0025

And here it is this morning–a work in progress, but coming together nonetheless.

halfway there

Once the horse is completed, I’ll have a cow, sheep, duck, pig, and chicken to do.  And then sew them together along with thirty other squares…and then bind it…and then hand quilt it.  Yikes.  Thankfully, I have a while until Christmas.  Right?  Right?

I’m starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.

0


Mini Tutorial: Hand Embroidery

I kind of feel like a poser posting a tutorial on hand embroidery when I’m so new to it myself, but then I thought maybe it would better if a newbie taught a newbie, you know?

My great-grandmother was skilled at embroidery.  My mother can remember going to visit her and watching her do intricate embroidery without a pattern.  Do what?!  I can’t even get my stitches to go in a straight line when I do cross-stitch, much less on an unmarked piece of fabric.

I am nowhere near that level of expertise by far.  Not even close.  I’m still learning the different type of stitches and tonight I’m working on a split stitch.  And for who else but MM.

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Supplies you’ll need: iron, fabric, & iron-on transfers {or you can trace a design onto tracing paper}. Preheat iron for five minutes on the appropriate setting for fabric being used. Do not use steam.

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Place iron on transfer; hold for five seconds. Do not slide iron. Carefully lift one corner of transfer to see if the design has been transferred to fabric.

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Use three strands of embroidery floss {this is color #3325} and come up from the bottom of the fabric.

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Go back down through the fabric.  {This is a total “normal” stitch}

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Now, this is where it gets a little different from normal sewing.  When you come back up through the fabric you pierce through the center of your last stitch, splitting it in the middle.  And taa-daa! you’ve just made a split stitch.

I love how thick hand embroidery is.

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I love how substantial hand embroidery is.

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And I love how heirloom it looks.

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I’m not finished with the pillowcases yet {surprise, surprise}, but I’ll be sure to show pictures when they’re finished.  In fact, they’re the last things to do before her big girl bed is ready.  We’ve already got the bed frame, mattress, comforter, shams, sheets, and bed skirt–everything.  And once these pillowcases are finished, it will be all ready {but the question is: am *I* ready for her to have a big girl bed?  I’m honestly thinking it will be a few more months before we’ll both be ready.}.

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