4.30.2007

Yahd Werk

Spoken like a true southerner - yes, we did yahd werk this weekend and lots of it! I'm not a yard work expert by any means, and for that matter, novice would probably be the most accurate description. I'm interested to learn because I want to make our house look a bit more put-together from the outside, plus, when we move to a "real" house, I want to have some skillz so we can get to work on the outside as soon as possible.

We started at my parent's house helping my mom spruce up a few things in her yard. Their yard is just a complicated mess, but we help with what we can. I need to get her on one of those landscaping shows on HGTV for a makeover or maybe Oprah could send Nate Berkus (does he do landscaping? anyway, I digress...) - too bad most of those make you pay out of pocket or else you end up with plywood sculptures all over your yard (no thanks). Anyway, we started there bright and early and when we were done my mom and I went to Logan's in downtown Raleigh to search for plants and flowers for our yard. We were there for quite some time - plants are overwhelming! I felt like we were buying a ton, but when we got to our house and planted stuff it really didn't look like much. Then again, the plants we got are ones that will multiply so maybe next year it'll look more filled out.

We spent the rest of the day (until about 5:30 or 6) planting plants and putting in our faux bricks along the sidewalk. It looks really nice although I'm wanting a bit more color on our porch and maybe one of those cool outdoor rugs to go under our chairs on the porch. I'll post a pic after I take some :) Luckily, our front porch only gets the morning sun, so we can sit out there in the afternoon and not sweat to death. Last summer, we installed a small ceiling fan on our porch ceiling (they wired it for such details when it was being built) and that makes a lot of difference, both asthetically and in cooling you off. I'm definitely pleased with how everything is coming along - and hopefully these improvements will pay off when we put our house on the market (hopefully next year).

4.27.2007

Giving Back

I've not posted in a while - couldn't figure out anything that was half-interesting to write about. Today is Friday, there are only 3 of us in my section at work and it's poured rain twice, one of those times included thunder. One of my co-worker's father had a mild stroke yesterday afternoon so we're all feeling a little gloomy today.
I ran to the Fresh Market to get a few ingredients to make a quick lunch for myself in the office (this way I can leave early!). While I was there I picked up a dozen delicious sugar cookies to share with the other 2 ladies in my section. I thought it could help lift our spirits since we're doing double-duty on the phones and it's raining. It's nice when your co-workers think of the group and bring back a little snack or a "thanks for your hard work" treat, so I like to do it myself from time to time.
My microscopic "charitable donation" to my co-workers reminded me of a couple of events from this past week and I was inspired to post. This may sound cheesy, but it's not if you keep reading. This week's episodes of American Idol were special episodes for the show. I guess it was sort of the "prime-time debuting" of their campaign for "Idol Gives Back" and it featured lots of footage from Africa, poor US communities, and the work being done across the world to combat poverty and hunger.
As we watched American Idol this week (the Wednesday night show provided a number you could call to donate money), I think Seth and I both were moved to donate. I think it's really hard to connect to others' living conditions and situations when you literally can not imagine what it would be like to live somewhere other than America. What was great, was that the show made a point to remind the viewer, that extreme poverty exists in America just footsteps from some of the nations richest areas (Atlanta, Hollywood, etc).
Each feature story brought tears to my eyes. There was one story of a brother and sister living in Africa - both their parents had died (I think from AIDS) and the 2 of them were living in a tiny, one room "house" and fending for themselves. The brother was older and he just started crying and put his head down when he started talking about his parents. It was so sad. They showed a woman with AIDS in a room so hot no one could barely standing to be in the room. She was seriously ill, laying on a bed in an intollerably hot room, someone came to take her to the hospital, but she died 2 days later. It's just hard to believe there are people living this way on our planet.
Seth asked me if we should donate $50. I said yes, but I always feel that I need to donate much more than that. Not so much "should" or "need" but really I think I want to, but can't necessarily afford to send $500 in one big lump. I think it's important to remember that you can donate small increments over time and that can do a lot of good. They made a point to let you know how much things cost and what it could provide for a certain number of kids or families. It was good to see a show that mostly just provides America with entertainment really SHOW you what your donations could help relieve!

Some of my favorite groups are partners and have contributed greatly:

I don't think about giving to charity enough. Seth and I both want to "give back" I think - we're just not sure what's best. I've always wanted to work with Habitat for Humanity and had hoped our church had a group, but from what we can tell there's not one. We could join the county I suppose. We also should give money to our church. As much as it's fun to hold onto your money and think of the things we could buy if we save it, when I really stop to think about giving money to charity or church and the things that we could do for others it really makes your heart feel good. Not that donating to charity should be about making ME feel better, but it is rewarding and provides a high like nothing else can. It only makes you want to do it more and eventually I think the reason will turn to bettering the lives of others versus patting yourself on the back for donating.

4.16.2007

Haircut

Three got her first "big-girl" haircut this morning! The preliminary pics we took aren't that great - we'll take more when we can get her outside and we're not in a hurry!


She looks SO different now, but I like it. She's a lot shorter than Seth and I expected, but we didn't know what to tell the groomer to do the first time around. She had a "puppy cut" when she was 3 months old (see pic), but they basically just evened out her coat and cleaned up her face - nothing major.

She looks a lot smaller now with all that shaggy hair off her back! I didn't realize how soft her undercoat is - she's very dusty from all that hair being shaved off. I hope she likes her new 'do.

It'll be interesting to see how fast her hair grows. I was just happy for her to get her little head hairs trimmed - they were in her eyes and she tangled so easily! Yay for dog grooming - it's fun to have a dog that needs cuts....she doesn't look the same all the time :)

4.13.2007

Making My Debut

Just a quick note. Seth has put up a super-duper temporary place holder of a web site for my "business." This makes me feel slightly more real and hopefully once I get several weddings done I'll have lots of materials for a "product shoot" with Miss Dara. Check me out at http://www.kelleymcfarlandpaper.com Right now, it's just an image of my business cards, but I want to add a bit more information about what I offer. If anything it means I can hand out business cards with the web site on them and people will be able to see that more is "coming soon......" YAY!

4.09.2007

There's Beauty in the Breakdown

It's possible I'm nuts, but hopefully, there are others out there (possibly only women) that go through their adult lives and occasionally get to a point where they just need to throw an adult-sized temper tantrum. I've been known to do this on a rare occasion and one of those occasions was this past Saturday. As I've thought about it I feel like I wasted a perfectly good Saturday during a long weekend away from work, but now I think it wasn't a waste but a good thing (although Seth might disagree).

Not to get into the dirty details, but it all started Saturday morning not more than 30 minutes after I had gotten up (still in PJs) and was eating my bowl of cereal. Three was on one side of my lap and Seth on the other and one thing led to another and Three jumped across my lap (under my cereal bowl) towards Seth. She bumped her head on the bottom of my cereal bowl which threw cold milk and slimy flakes all over me - face, torso, lap and couch which meant I was sitting in cold milk. For whatever reason that event was like popping the cork on the champagne bottle for me and after an ugly scene I went upstairs, rinsed off and spent the next 4 hours in bed being angry, hurt, and bitter.

I spent part of that 4 hours asleep and the rest thinking about why I had gotten so mad and trying to decide if I was right or wrong or if was Seth right or wrong. He really hadn't done anything except not keeping Three occupied while I was eating and of course Three didn't do it on purpose. Anyway, I'll skip the resolution as that is private emotional detail that should remain between husband and wife, but we talked it out and eventually I was reduced to a big ball of tears that I couldn't seem to stop. Eventually, Seth fell asleep and I left him to nap as I'm sure my emotional outburst had worn him out. I felt horrible for taking up so much time but I must've just been storing anger or frustrations and they all came out around 10am Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, I was much better and what amazed me was that I felt connected to my hubby again. I cooked us a yummy dinner and we even popped in "Cast Away" (it was on TV and we were inspired to watch from the beginning) which is the first movie we ever connected over during our infamous 4 hour phone conversations in the wee-stages of our relationship. That movie always makes me cry in 2 spots - 1. when Wilson floats away and Tom Hanks bawls over his loss while laying on his raft, 2. When Chuck and Kelly realize they can't be together but Kelly tells him he's the love of her life. How frustrating! Anyway, it was nice to snuggle on the sofa and watch the movie we fell in love over.

Lesson learned: There IS beauty in the breakdown and that breakdown was mine on Saturday. I must subconsciously store up anger, hurt and frustration, but I'm not sure where it all comes from. I honestly think the majority comes from my work environment. I do actually like to come to work and be productive with the mindless chores I'm responsible for, but it's the phone calls that kill me and I believe have killed a part of "me." Who knows, it's tough, but it's made me tougher I'm sure but that fact certainly doesn't make it any easier. I think in a crazy way, when I come to these points of extreme emotional outburst, it really is nice to have Seth on my team. He's a good comforter whether he thinks so or not. With Diggle and Seth I can't go wrong.

4.05.2007

House Hunters

Besides being one of my favorite shows on HGTV, I like to consider myself a part-time hobby house hunter. While I do check out homes for sale in the triangle area most days, there are times when I have the bug worse than others. I look at houses online when I need a mental break at work (If you know where I work and what I do, you understand). It takes me to another world and helps me get lost in my dreams for the future. The question is...when is the future going to get here?!?

Maybe when you get married you're just supposed to catch the "I want to buy a house and live in suburbia with my adorable husband forever" bug, just as women get the "I'm married, now what? Oh yes, I want a baby now" bug. BTW - I've not caught that one yet and don't know that I will, guess for me it'll be a practical decision and not so much an "I'm dying for one" decision. We'll see. I digress. Wanting a house for me is like most folks wanting to drop 20 pounds overnight - it ain't happenin' now and it ain't happenin fast!

I'm very much an instant gratification girl and it's been hard for me to keep my patience and not just dive in to this house buying thing. We have no choice really. It's definitely easier to buy your first house versus your second house. With the first you generally have no strings attached and can just buy at will, your second house...well, you've gotta sell the first and the timing seems to be tricky.

What's the passion about anyway? I think I'm just ready to feel like I'm home. I want a big yard with a fenced-in backyard for Three, I want a front porch with rocking chairs or at least a big deck or screened-in porch. I want a bright, sunny, modern yet comfortable kitchen that's sleek and has the WOW factor. I want a two-car garage and maybe yard space for an in-ground pool....basically, I'd love to have a place where we can feel completely content and occupied by our surroundings and not have the feeling of "I'm bored, let's go out." I want my neighbor to be at least 30 yards away and I want grass and a flat driveway. Ah, the list goes on. Mostly, I'm just ready to know where Seth and I can look forward to spending some of the most important years of our lives where we can really enjoy each other, our dog and hopefully some kids (one day).

I just love houses. I'm sure I could find another one I love every month, but my goal is to find something we can love and improve from year to year. I want to be away from people - no cookie-cutter ranch homes with 3 floorplan options for us! We want something that's all ours and somewhat unique. I just look forward to our home. Sethie's townhouse is great, but that was his purchase, and I can't wait until we make OUR purchase.

4.02.2007

I love paper

It's strange to take a look back at my life and take inventory of things I have come back to over and over and realize these are some of my true loves...as random as they may seem to others.

One of these things is paper. Yes, that's right, paper. While I can't quite put a finger on it, I have realized since my wedding planning days that I really enjoy paper and making beautiful things from it. When Seth and I got engaged it was my goal to make our wedding invitations, but after a trip to a couple of paper/scrapbooking stores I realized it was going to be easier on everyone if I just ordered them. However, I stood my ground on my desire to make something for the wedding and was able to make our wedding programs, which to this day I am still very proud of. (photo by Dara Blakeley)

In January, I decided to try offering custom wedding stationary to anyone I came across that was recently engaged. I was inspired when the sister of one of my college friends randomly found me on Facebook and I saw that she was engaged in her profile. I sent her a message offering my services and she accepted. A week later, I noticed one of my former Resident Assistant's at Meredith was engaged and offered her my services as well - she, too, accepted and also had a friend that was interested! A few weeks later, Seth's long-time friend, Patrick, got engaged and they, too, accepted my offer! WOW. 4 clients in less than a month. Maybe this wouldn't be too hard.

I'm nearing completion of wedding #1 which is June 1, 2007. The bride has been pleased so far, but it's my own quest for absolute perfection which is difficult to work with. I love designing and laying out invitations but I've been let down on the things which I have no control over (i.e. printers & software). Luckily, I have the smartest & most patient husband in the universe and he's helped me though it all - each time coming up with a solution that makes me happy with my products. It's frustrating when your brain knows something is possible, but the machinery you rely on lets you down. It's clear that to do this type of business to the level of perfection which I seek, I'd need a massive budget and top of the line machinery which is just not going to happen. In any case, I'm making do with what I've got and my little home office is coming together nicely.

Once I get my work pattern established, I think the other weddings I'm working on will go much smoother. This first wedding has been a lot of trial and error, but I've made sure that didn't reflect in my product. I think this bride will be pleased - as I am - and hopefully I'll have produced something for her that she wouldn't have imagined otherwise.

It's important to me to produce the quality that's in my head (which is perfection) and I like to think I do as much as I can to match what's up there. I admire people who employ themselves and are so confident and comfortable with what they do that they make their work seem effortless yet the product seems like flawless perfection to the customer. Not to say that these artists aren't also as over-critical of themselves as I am, but ultimatley what's important is that the customer is happy and not necessarily the artist. Our wedding photographer, Dara Blakeley, is someone whose work I admire. When I found her website back in 2001, I saved her in my bookmarks and dreamed that one day she could shoot my wedding (thinking it wouldn't happen for budget or booking reasons). I feel lucky that Miss Dara did shoot our wedding and am proud to be part of her portfolio. I hope that if my little paper business ever goes anywhere - ultimately, I'd love to run a stationary store - that someone may feel that way about me and my product one day. A girl can dream, right?....


PS! I also did all the paper goods for my brother's wedding - but I needed to expand my business outside of the family! (photo by Dara Blakeley)