Ever After
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  • August3rd

    1 Comment

    without getting your hands dirty:

  • July31st


    Guess what I’ve been doing while on vacation at Heidi’s house?

    Besides indulging on Claire’s delicious cooking (I’m enjoying a gourmet omelet as I type) and trying to potty train Tad (more on that later), I’ve become obsessed with sewing dresses for Vivian.

    I picked up three awesome Oliver+S patterns at a quilt fair my second day here and then proceeded to crank out three dresses in as many days. I’m currently working on dress #4, a cute sun dress from Izzy and Ivy pattern “Little Vicki” which I hope to finish by tonight, and I have fabric washed and ready for three more dresses.

    I can’t say enough good about the professional techniques and polished instructions of Oliver and S patterns. And I don’t want to be rude, but despite Izzy and Ivy’s darling designs and their eye for picking fabulous fabric combos, some of their patterns are lacking on clear, error-free instructions and quality techniques.

    Here’s the Oliver and S “Family Reunion Dress” Vivi wore to church today.

    (She got a little shy during the photo shoot when Brent stopped by with his kids).

  • July31st

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    Posted in: Uncategorized

    The kids have had non-stop fun playing with Brent and Jessica’s kids the past few days, but one of my favorite memories of this trip will be finding Tad and Everly at their make-shift “Skip-Bo gaming table” in Heidi’s linen closet.

    Did I mention that these cousins are from Las Vegas? 🙂

  • July29th

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    Because BT is home alone while the kids and I are on vacation in Utah, here are some pictures to help him remember what they look like. 🙂

    We miss you, BT!

  • July5th


    After reading rave reviews about Sew What Skirts!, a book that teaches you how to draft simple skirt patterns based on your own unique measurements, I decided to give it a try.

    I’m am definitely not the kind of person that likes to do anything without a pattern, and I haven’t installed a zipper for twenty years.

    I like details, diagrams, and descriptions. There’s no such thing as too many instructions, so I was definitely going outside my comfort zone on this one. But I also wanted to make some cute, modest skirts for Ariana. She’s in that hard-to-fit ‘tween stage . . . not quite a young adult, not quite a child.

    Although I definitely need to branch out and try some darts next time (had to make a casing and insert a bit of elastic in the back to make it fit right), and my zipper insertion skills could use some work, Ariana and I are quite pleased with the first skirt–fully lined gentle A-line with side invisible zipper, contrasting yolk, and double ruffles. (And if she hadn’t been practicing piano when I was in my picture-taking mood, I’d actually have a photo with her wearing the skirt.)


  • July5th


    Sounding like bombs bursting in air, the rockets launched from BT’s homemade contraption were the hit of our Independence Day celebration.

    The instructions for this cool toy came from Make Magazine. The air chamber is pressurized using a $6 bicycle pump.
    The launch button wired to a sprinkler valve triggers the forceful, sudden release of air and propels the paper and tape rocket to exciting heights.

    Tad and Vivi had a blast chasing after the rockets; and I can’t believe that I didn’t end up with a single picture of Ariana. Sorry, Gups! (But I had to use such a high ISO that the grainy pictures wouldn’t do justice to your beauty, anyway.)

    I’m really proud of Bryan tackling this project. It was outside his comfort zone and he confessed it to be a bit intimidating at times, but he finished what he started, and the kids think he’s a hero.

  • July5th


    Okay. Will the witch that twitched her little nose and cast a curse upon me please undo her mischievous spell. You know what I’m talking about! The bibbidi bobbidi boo that causes my air conditioning to quit working at least once per summer.

    Or, judging by the icky THREE foot snake skin out by my AC units, maybe something or someone more sinister is at work. Voldemort, Avada Kedavra!

    My heart sank, tears welled in my eyes, and a few stray curses bounced around in my head when we came home last night and I realized that our downstairs’ AC wasn’t working.

    At first I had a pity party. Why me?

    And then I got mad! . . . ARE! YOU! KIDDING! ME! Why every year!!!

    And then I got scared. . . . Why now, when it is pitch black outside and I know that the concrete pads supporting the AC units hide a chamber of secrets that I, the rats, and the snake would rather not have opened.

    And then I got mad again! . . . Why am I the one in our household that always has to deal with this stuff?

    And then, still angry, I got brave. . . . If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

    Armed with this anger and a dogged determination to do battle with snake, rodent, and our blasted air conditioner, I headed around the side of the house.

    Fan spinning, can’t hear compressor running.

    It’s a sad, sad thing that I know the sound of a compressor. Oh, what a sweet song it sings to me, audible through the wall even as I lay in bed at night, humming me to sleep like a lullaby. Yeah, I’m sick, sick, sick.

    As I flip the breaker, Bryan gallantly comes to my rescue, bravely straddles the snake skin, and removes the side panel of the AC unit for me, all the while meekly asking, “can’t this wait until morning?”

    At morning’s first light, I crept out of bed and fired up the computer to Google how to test a capacitor with a digital multimeter. Easy answer, I couldn’t with the one I have.

    Still suspecting (and hoping) that it was the capacitor but not wanting to make the drive to McKinney to have it tested, I called an AC tech that lives in the neighborhood. I hadn’t used him before but he recently came highly recommended by a couple of my neighbors. And let me tell you, he was AWESOME!

    I told him everything I had tried. He said that he was already on another call in Plano but that he’d head over when he was done to test my capacitor for me at no charge. When he got here, he said that it was really his curiosity that made him come; he wanted to meet the lady was that had torn into her AC unit and was attacking it head on with an ohm meter. Thankfully he confirmed my suspicion–blown capacitor. Whew! A $32 part vs. a $5,000 new unit.

    Diel Rojas, owner of Big Bear Air Conditioning and Heating, is officially my new BFF.

    Tad and I trekked to McKinney and got our new capacitor. Because it was skinnier than our old ones have been, I was faced with altering the metal strap contraption that holds the capacitor in place. I needed to drill a new hole in the strap and the drill wasn’t charged enough to do the trick, so I grabbed my “Crop-a-Dile” scrapbooking tool. On the label, it showed pictures of someone punching a hole in a tin can. Tin can? Metal capacitor strap? Just let me tell you that it cut through that strap like butter. And I’d be willing to bet that that’s the first time anyone has ever used the Crop-a-Dile to fix her AC. Slick!

    Capacitor installed, I fired everything back up again. The harmonious hum of the compressor and drone of the fan brought a smile to my sweaty face.

    And one second later, everything came to a screeching halt.

    Oh, crap.

    I checked the breaker box. Everything fine.

    I checked my capacitor connections. All correct.

    I went inside to check the thermostat. DEAD!

    I climbed up in the attic and didn’t even know where to start.

    Another call to Diel who quickly helped diagnose the problem–low voltage wires that help the thermostat communicate with the outside unit may have shorted out and blown a fuse. Sure enough. Like the nasty snake, the old skinny wires had long since shed their skin and had become pinned against the copper “liquid” line. This caused a fuse to blow in the system up in the attic. He clearly described where to find the fuse and said that I’d know if it was “blown” when I saw it. I didn’t tell him that I had never seen a fuse before.

    Thank you, Google, for once again showing me the way.

    $3 in parts from O’Reilly Auto Parts and a few minutes in the suffocating attic, and we were back in business.

    Although I was temporarily devastated by the blown fuse problem, I am now super excited that I know how to fix something new on my AC units. And Bryan has pretty much agreed to let me buy my very own capacitor tester and a stubby screwdriver.  SWEET!

  • June22nd



    Posted in: Uncategorized

    When I worked for GE, one of my responsibilities was to help draft the legalese found in the terms and conditions of credit card agreements. The GE attorneys I worked with were absolutely wonderful, and together we strove to make the terms straight forward and understandable even if it meant some may deem them overly verbose.

    Because of this background, I find the fine print of the credit card offers and terms changes that come in the mail fascinating, and I routinely read the junk mail just for fun.

    WEIRD. I know.

    BT received a CIT (change in terms) for his AmEx card a few weeks ago that left me scratching my head and a bit perturbed:

    “To adjust the Minimum Payment Due, we will not exclude late fees and the overlimit amount from (1) nor add 1% of the New Balance in (2). Then, if (2) is the highest (but less than 4% of the New Balance), we will add $15. If we do the adjustment, we will not add 1/24th of the overlimit amount of any new late fees in the Minimum Payment Due.”


    I know that my light in the attic may be a bit dim and that I’ve been out of the industry for a while, but how the heck is the average Joe Schmoe supposed to decipher that load of malarky?

    Shame on you, American Express.

  • June11th


    Look what arrived in the mail from Grandpa Hess! As Tad started to open the box, he was ecstatic by all the bubble wrap and foam peanuts. His excitement could hardly be contained as he joyously shouted, “He sent me bubble wrap and peanuts!” But as the first piece of the train was extracted from the box, the mood in the room turned to awe.

    I really can’t fathom the amount of time that was invested in the creation of this masterpiece (and he made FIVE of them), but the amount of love that went into it is obvious.

    On all sides of the family, my children are blessed with amazing grandparents.

  • June6th

    1 Comment

    Dear Denton County Appraisal District,
    Perhaps it would be easier for everyone involved if you’d just make a note in your database to appraise my property accurately and fairly each year the first time. You may think that I will tire of the “protest” game and just give in like some many people invariably do. And I don’t blame you. It’s a frustrating process (by design?) that I loathe. But I loathe paying higher taxes even more, so I suppose that you and I will be seeing a lot of each other over the coming years.

    On a more positive note, I do appreciate the professionalism and relative fairness demonstrated by your staff appraisers. They seem to genuinely listen and attempt to work toward a mutually agreeable resolution; however, the large blonde “gatekeeper” lady is downright scary and abrasive.

    Lori Tolbert

    Having just “won” my fifth consecutive dispute, I wish that I had figured out this secret before now–arrive at 7:30 a.m. (1/2 hour before the doors open) to avoid a multi-hour wait. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to bring along a cute little blonde girl in a polka dot dress and pigtails to soften the hearts of even the most crusty employees.

    This year’s tax savings directly attributable to protesting: $700 gross, $553.47 net (after factoring in that my appraised value (pre-protest) was capped artificially “low” to begin with because the year-over-year increase exceeded the legal limit of 10%). Therefore, comparing my NEW appraised value (post-protest) with the OLD appraised value (pre-protest, not capped) yields a tax savings of $700, but when you factor in the fact that taxes were originally being assessed on a CAPPED appraised value, I only actually realize $553.47 in savings. Confusing, I know. But I choose to see the glass as half full and will think of myself as $700 richer because of today’s efforts. Not bad for an hour’s worth of work.