Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Sweetest Dollar

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking part in the latest installment of the regional organization that is trying to transform our community. At the end of the presentation, I stood at our communications team table to help answer questions on how our citizens can get involved.

I can say with confidence that I met some pretty interesting people. Diverse would be a great word to use when it came to the crowd that lingered. For a few hours, our river ceased to serve as a boundary and a barrier. I drove into a neighborhood where I had never been, and although I got lost and selfishly questioned why the event had to take place on a street I'd never driven down, I also appreciated the opportunity to walk out of my east side world and into someone else's west side life. For one December afternoon, we were one community made up of concerned, yet dedicated citizens.

After speaking with a few different men on the crime that's plaguing mainly "their streets" they stated, the lack of entrepreneurial opportunities given on the west side, and their commitment to teach the young men within their circle of influence that there's more to life than violence and crime, along came Jim.

Jim was gentle natured and carried with him a stack of the event's complimentary Christmas cookies wrapped delicately in a napkin "for his better half". "These will be a nice treat for her" he told me after offering me one. I thanked him and told him that she deserved all of those treats and that I would grab one as I left. We spoke for roughly twenty minutes about Rockford, his life and his many involvements in the community and church. It appeared to me that maybe he had suffered a stroke at some point in his life as his speech was a bit labored and I struggled at times to make out his words, but that didn't slow down the conversation. Jim was an open book.

When he turned the tables to me and asked the easy get to know you questions, I shared that I was born and raised in Rockford, had moved to South Carolina for 16 years, and was now back and working at the College to raise scholarship dollars to support our local students. Without a moment's hesitation, he reached for his wallet. Never in my 12 years of college fundraising have I had someone reach for their wallet when I shared my title and role. Most people start to decrease the lack of eye contact and back away slowly for fear of me making the dreaded "ask" of them. Not Jim. Jim took that as an invitation.

Jim quietly flipped through his very worn wallet and I could see that there were not many dollars to be shared. I immediately tried to stop him by sharing that "it was so very generous and thoughtful, but he did not need to do that." Regardless of my hesitance, he passed by 2 other bills before choosing his third $1.00 to give to me and ultimately to the College. I was beyond humbled. Once more I tried to give it back but he simply said "please put it in the kitty." And so I did on Monday morning when I arrived to the office. And when I explained to our gift processor why I had a $1 cash gift from Jim (with no last name) to put toward scholarship dollars, her eyes welled up with gratitude. As did mine for the second time since possessing that dollar bill.

With over a decade of this profession under my belt and years of working through a $100 million dollar campaign, writing appeal letters that have raised over $500,000, and assisting couples establish $30K endowments, it is selfless gifts like Jim's $1 bill that make me love what I do. Large gifts make the blood pump a bit faster and the "gift gong" chime a bit louder, but gifts where you know without a doubt that you've just witnessed a sacrifice, those are what makes the heart grow bigger and tears come a bit more readily. Those are the gifts that I'll remember for a lifetime. They aren't "go away" gifts, but gifts that say "I don't have much to give, but your cause is important to me and I want to help."

To Jim, my new favorite donor and non-greedy, cookie smuggler, thank you for making me appreciate my job a little bit more than I already did. Thank you for the students who will benefit from your small, yet impactful gift. And thank you for allowing me to walk away from a transformation-focused event with a little extra "belief" that with committed citizens like you, we just might be able to turn this town around. One act of kindness and one ounce of generosity at a time, if we're all willing to put a little bit in our "kitty" together.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Do We Stay or Should We Go Now?

We love our little home. It sits quietly on 2 acres about a mile from both of our offices. Location, location, location. And the nicest thing about our home is that when you look out our windows, you don't look directly into anyone else's yard or home. I've become so much more conscience of that when I visit other homes and research possible homes to view. I adore our space and our privacy. And I love that once we do have a family greater than the 3 of us, they'll have space to run and play and hide without annoying the neighbors.

With that being said, there's a lot that our little nest needs done. It was built in 1935, so it has cracks and flaws and old windows that I curse because I cannot get them open so we constantly have spider web "shadow boxes" going on. Ick. I love old charm in a home, but that is not anywhere close to charming.

So lately we've been playing the "what if" game a lot. And I feel like we've been playing it for months. I'm hoping to make some major progress on getting an estimate and/or contractor advice, so that we can start planning if we're staying or we're going. Literally. Is it smarter to stay and renovate and build on to make this a long term home for us? Or do we move on? I'm not 100% certain, but I do know that I long for sinks with counter space, windows that open so I can enjoy the fresh spring and fall air here that I love so much, actual, functioning closets, and a pantry. I know, I know, these are all selfish girl problems. I get it. So let me apologize now for sounding whiny or selfish. I'm sorry. I'm just tired of balancing my make-up and flat iron on the back of the toilet everyday while I get ready. Although I have gotten quite good at it. Seriously, who thought putting nothing but pedestal sinks in our home was a fun idea?

With that being said, how do you know if your home is forever home or a right now home? And how do you know how many days make up a "right now" home? Even if you love your current home, is it smarter to find something that suits your family better versus trying to create it amongst the flaws?

Being a grown up is hard work. Hard, selfish work apparently. Just being honest.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday High Fives

We made it, all! By the skin of ours teeth, we made it to yet another weekend together without freezing to death. That's gotta be worth celebrating in itself!

Without further ado, high fives all around for:
  • Warm, puffer coats and cousin Eddie hats.
  • Christmas movies 24/7 on Hallmark and Lifetime (this also happens to be a very low five for Tim. Apparently I married the Grinch because I'm pretty sure the Hubs rolls his eyes approximately 47 times with each movie I force ask him to watch with me.)
  • Candace Cameron making a comeback. If you don't already follow her on Facebook, she's pretty much the cutest thing ever.

  • Celebrating my Grandma's Bday tonight. Keep 'em coming, Grandma!
  • Having our opening weekend under our belt at the shop. I thought that weekend might just kill me. But, alas, I survived and made a little extra Christmas moola.

  • Already having 9 weddings on the books for 2014 and we haven't even hit the January bridal expo yet.
  • Cheddar fries from Beef-A-Roo. What? I ate them with a garden salad, so it's all good. When the fries reached my belly (and thighs) they could say "hey, we're with the spinach and tomatoes, therefore WE are fat free." That's how it works, right? It does in my world.

  • Going to see Catching Fire! Anyone else out there just love the movie theater? If it didn't cost me roughly $37.95 to go, I'd go all the time.
  • Sledding down the driveway with Piggy this week. That lil poo loves to sled. He must get it from his momma.
  • Lastly, high fives to getting to clean your kitchen floor on your hands and knees at 7:20am when you shatter your make-up. I seriously walked out of the bathroom for 30 seconds to see the image my dear friend, Matt Lauer, was referring to on the Today Show and BAM! It was everywhere:( It even managed to travel up the garbage can (yep, I said UP and somehow under the closed lid). Oh, and the walls. Don't forget the walls. Ugh. Happy Friday to me and my now slightly "ivory beige" floors!

And in the other direction...same deal. Lovely.

Happy Friday, Y'all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We Found Our Cheer

Christmas cheer, that is. And we finally mustered the strength and determination to put up that dang  glorious tree! Granted, every single Christmas bin that we pulled our d├ęcor out of is still strewn across the house, BUT the tree is up and things are looking festive. Ahhhhh.

We had a fire going, dinner in the oven, carols on the stereo, etc... I just love Christmas music, don't you? It's just so hopeful. Everyone in it is either home for Christmas or promising to be home for it, walking amongst wonderlands and jingle bells, and don't even get me started on O Holy Night (which I've talked about on here before). Lyrical perfection, I swear. I could listen to that one all day, every day.

My current, favorite Christmas album is by Barlow Girl. They're from Illinois and they just knock it out of the park. If you haven't listened to them, give their Christmas album a whirl. Especially the track shown below. I, for one, am so thankful that "we've been found." And since I usually play this CD at least two times in a row with each sitting, the Hubs is constantly asking me how many times he "has to listen to the Gilmore Girls" this Christmas. My reply...a million times and they'll all be spectacular.

And in our house, you must wear festive head gear while decorating. I, myself, opted for my pink, princess Santa hat that my dad gave me, while the Hubs chose Minnie ears over a jingle bell headband. He didn't look too thrilled, but hey man, you chose the ears. Choose the ears, commit to it and smile. Or no Santa. And yes, we believe in our house.

And because I love a great list, I thought I'd share some of my favorite Christmas tunes with you.
  • O Holy Night- pretty much all versions, but Celine Dion kills it with her notes at the end
  • Hallelujah- Barlow Girl
  • Merry Christmas, Darling- The Carpenters
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas- Frank Sinatra
  • All I Want for Christmas is You- Mariah Carey
  • Silent Night
  • Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

What are yours??

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My New Clothing Line

After my first 72 hours as a shop owner, I've deemed myself a retail expert, folks. True story.

And if you believe that last statement, I have a nice little, sunny, 85 degree private island in Rockford, IL I'd like to sell you for $1 million dollars.

In all seriousness, I'm starting to think maybe I should've opened a boutique instead and launched a new line of clothing that I like to call "frostbite chic" or FBC as I call it in the biz. The theme of my runway show would simply be "don't try to die outside today." When it's -2 degrees, as it was here last night, the last thing that crosses my mind is looking fashionable. I'm just trying to stay alive, people. And I'm not kidding. All those women who get to wear their cute little booties that pretty much only cover your foot and half of your ankle, yeah, you try clearing snow banks and/or icy driveways in those pretties. Not cool.

When I realized last night that my new favorite accessory was my "cousin Eddie" hat (you know, the ones with the straps and ear flaps),  I knew had crossed over into the land of frostbite chic. It ain't pretty, but neither is your ear or finger falling off.

So with that being said, I decided to let you all have a little sneak peek of my 2014 FBC runway line-up. Charleston friends, eat your toasty, sandy heart outs;)

 This pooch knows that Cousin Eddie hats are where it's at.
Go ahead, tell this pup he's not totally chic. I dare you.
This model even has her facial expression anatomically correct for sub zero fashion.
We find the most talented models here at FBC.
At FBC, we strive to expose as little skin as possible.
Eat your hearts out, men. Look out, Victoria Secret Runway Show.

We call this look Holly Hobby is all Warm and Toasty chic.
You'll get dates faster than snow melts in this fantastic ensemble.
And for those fancy nights out on the town, we bring you our full length, full print, full core body temperature protector dealio. Chic, I tell you.

And in a moment of transparency, we share with you two outfits that we created that didn't quite make the cut for our new winter line...

Sure, she looks adorable, but what we know that many do not is that when it's -2, you CANNOT physically carry a cup of coffee when you cannot feel your fingers. It just won't happen. Nor can you wear your jacket so effortlessly unzipped. Her belly button ring just froze to her stomach. Promise.

Five simple words on why the outfit below didn't cut the mustard.
Her. Legs. Just. Fell. Off.
Such a sad and festively tragic fashion mistake.
Stay warm ladies! Frostbite looks good on no one. But Frostbite Chic looks fabulous on everyone!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Got Christmas Cheer?

Happily married, white female seeking someone to lend some of their Christmas cheer and festiveness so that I may have the energy to decorate my home. Payment will be made via Christmas cookies, carols, and hot cocoa upon completion. Oh, and maybe some seriously good and buttery party mix if I can muster the extra energy. Only serious offers accepted. I may be tired, but I ain't looking to decorate a Charlie Brown tree either. Just sayin.

I love Christmas, I really do. I love the sights, sounds, smells of food and burning fire and evergreen. I love the music and parties and any excuse to gather together. And I love the celebration of our Lord and Savior. He is the reason for the season, after all.

What I don't love is how extremely tired I am this year. When they say a "weary world rejoices" I will be raising my hands in an agreeing hallelujah. I'm exhausted. I'm not quite sure how I got here, but it's really quite sad. Two nights now I've planned to put up our tree by a roaring fire and two nights now I've fallen short. I'm telling you, just sad, y'all.

I want my house to be pretty and cozy and welcoming. Dang it, though, if that doesn't require energy. Seriously, our Halloween pumpkins just finally exited stage left yesterday. Yesterday. As in Dec. 3rd. I was truly tempted to call them "Christmas pumpkins" and see how many people would buy it or at least let me get away with it to my face and then talk about me later. Fine by me, that's how tired I am.

Between a year full of 6 trips to Charleston, 2 family trips, joining 3 local committees and boards,  working full-time, working part-time and now opening a shop, I'm afraid I used all 12 months of my allotted energy within the first 10 months. And this folks, is what remains. A frazzled, yet too tired to be adequately frazzled, moments away from snapping and falling into a heap of "I give ups" and "what the ever loving heck am I doing?" mess of a girl.

So consider yourself warned if you come to my home this Christmas and our tree looks an awful lot like a tall pile of laundry with a star slapped on the top and our usual homemade party mix tastes an awful lot like I just opened a bag of store bought Chex mix, hid the evidence bag in the trash can in our garage (because let's face it, if you venture into our garage, the last thing you'll worry about is whether or not the party mix is real and more about thoughts like "Help! I'm trapped amongst massive amounts of junk! Did I just hear an animal?? No one is going to find me until 2014!!!!").

The one thing I promise to muster energy for is our Lord's birth. That one, I can do. Willingly and gladly, with a joyful heart. A weary, bone tired, yet joyful heart.

As of Dec. 26th, please do not wake me until Jan. 1st. I don't even think I have New Year's energy that year. But I will the rock the mess out of some holiday sleep. Believe it.

And if anyone else out there feels weary too, you're not alone. Let's muster some hutzpah together, friend. We. Can. Do. This. Let's just rest our eyes for a second and then start. There's always tomorrow, right?
Happy Holidays, y'all (yawwwwwnnnnnnn)!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Seeing as how I tend to go radio silent over long weekends and holidays, I missed almost missed my chance to share just a few things of which I am thankful for this holiday season...

Family. Always family. Where else can you find such loving, complicated, sometimes frustrating, hopefully forgiving, generous, welcoming, slightly crazy, maniac "spoons" playin', but always mine, people? I just love them. Both the ones I was born into and the ones that I inherited about a year and a half ago.

Hubs. My best friend, my partner in this crazy ride they call marriage and the one who accepts my silly ways and hopefully finds them somewhat endearing. So thankful that we get to chase some of our dreams together. "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Wrigley (Piggy, Pig, Stinkyweed, Cute Boy). I tell you every single day already, but you're also my best friend. Please live forever and ever.

Coffee. Nuff said.

Yellow cake with butter cream frosting. Always butter cream.

My humidifier.

Holiday season.

Leggings and fleece lined tights.


Christmas music finally being socially acceptable to listen to again. I've missed you for the last 11 months.

Parenthood and Nashville.

My Jeep. I love that dang car.

Being involved in my community.

"Royals" by Lorde. I just can't help but love that song. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Snuggly blankets. The way to my heart is through fountain cokes, yellow cake, fresh flowers and plush blankets.

Sweet, sweet friends.

Pandora radio at work. All day long.

Straight No Chaser tickets for Dec. 17th.

Knowing that I get 10 days off in a few weeks.

You, my loyal readers. Thank you.