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April 2008

Harriman, Pt. 2

Harriman, TN, has some gorgeous old houses. And there are a lot of them. I feel I should have more/better words to describe them, but I was truly in awe.

The first time I saw this house, I actually said holy crapamoly. Out loud. In front of a 2-year-old who likes to repeat anything you say that sounds funny. And then when I was going through my photos I said it again. Can you imagine being a kid and living in this house? How much fun would that be?

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I thought this house was great because they have at least two screened porches. I imagine that the one on the second floor would have to be a sleeping porch.

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Here's a fun house. It's not all that big, but has tons of character. See the cat grooming himself on the air conditioner?

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This next house is for sale for $175,000. Beauty.

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This one is one of my favorites. This house is so very cheerful.

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Another beautiful house with lots of wonderful windows.

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This one is also for sale. For $125,000. Seriously. Buy it now. I would.

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If you're interested, you can find all the best photos I took in Harriman here.

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Good eggs

This morning, I got out two of V's little dollhouses, and at some point we realized that her wooden eggs were going about their day in a fine fashion. There are two eggs in the bed, one at the computer, one in the bathtub, one sitting in the living room, and the one that is in the carton in the picture was at the front door, waiting to be let in. And of course the egg family has a cat.

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I made this dollhouse for V for Christmas after seeing this. It's a really inexpensive project that even someone who isn't all that crafty (not crafty = me) can pull off.

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Harriman, Pt. 1

One day last week, I put V in the car (with the DVD player = no more screaming) and drove about 40 minutes outside of town to Harriman, TN.

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I'd read about historic downtown Harriman on the Internet, but the area wasn't as lively as I thought it would be. Still, there were several buildings to love.

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Look at all the gorgeous brick on this one, the cool Mayfield's ice cream sign, and the reflection of the other building.

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And here's the post office - really lovely.

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But, as usual, the real find was the houses surrounding the downtown area. There are some truly beautiful old houses that I'll share soon.


Saturday we went to the park. After swinging and sliding for a while, we took V down to the beach on the lake. There R found this tooth in the sand.

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Our guess is a shark tooth - what do you think? It's awfully, beautifully fossilized.

Yo - free Phaunt actions!

Go here if you're interested in a set of free Photoshop actions from Phaunt.

Kylie is celebrating Phaunt's birthday by giving away a set of 30 fun actions. I downloaded the .zip and it took all of two seconds. And here I thought the birthday girl was supposed to be getting the presents!

Kylie is way cool. Her tutorials always teach me something I didn't know before and she just got her Adobe Photoshop ACE certification, so lots of good things are coming her way these days.

As well they should!

Congrats, Kylie. Here's to doing what you want to do with your life and paying it forward with grace.

Flutterbies all around

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Knoxville Zoo for a members-only treat - they opened the new butterfly exhibit. It was a fairly eventful visit since V had a slight, um, wardrobe malfunction. I never bring extra clothes with me anymore so I didn't have anything else for her to wear, so R bought her a too-big t-shirt from the gift shop and she wore that with her diapers and shoes and socks. Kind of funny (once we were finished with the clean up). We were too excited about the butterflies to miss them.

So by the time we got out of our excellent position in line, cleaned up, got the new shirt, and got back in line ... we had a while to wait. But it was totally worth it!

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Housewarming with Etsy

Oh how I love Etsy. My brother and his fiancee just bought a house and I found the cutest bird house for a housewarming gift. Is this happy or what? It's a bird bottle. It has an opening at the back - both for ease of hanging against a wall (there's a little notch for the nail) and also so you can clean out the bird house for the next year's fine-feathered family.


The person I bought it from was so kind and helpful. Ant's shop is full of pottery that she and her family and a friend hand make. Her prices are really reasonable (they're actually a little low, I thought!) and she's got some beautiful stuff.

I love this raindrop pot. It's very small - just right for collecting raindrops in to water a small pot of flowers with. It's $4.


The other thing I almost got before deciding on the bird bottle was this baking bowl. I love the colors.


All the people I've dealt with on Etsy have been really nice, but I felt that Ant went above and beyond on this order. I convo'd her to say that this was a gift and, while I certainly didn't expect her to wrap it for me, I was hoping she would mail it to my brother without the invoice, but with a short note wishing them happy housewarming. She said she would and then after she shipped it (the very next day) she told me that she had to double box it, so she went ahead and wrapped it.

She really went far beyond what I was expecting, so I want to recommend her as an outstanding seller on Etsy.

Gerbera Soup Recipe

Yesterday afternoon, V gathered all the ingredients she needed to make a pot of Gerbera Soup for dinner. Just add water and place on a big, flat rock that's been sitting in the sun for several hours. Toward the end, pull out the daisy, pluck the petals, and discard the stem - add the petals back to the soup. Then add a sprinkle of fine dirt to season, stir well, and serve. Your dolls will go wild!

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Tasty and nutritious!

Houses I have lived in: the garage apartment

In the mid- to late-90s, I lived in a garage apartment built in the 1920s in the historic distric of town. It had many things to love and hate about it.

It had pretty hardwood floors, a picturesque setting among pecan trees, cool built-in cabinets in the kitchen, was five minutes from work, and was across the street from my best friend.

It also had no central heat or air, no doors on the rooms, the biggest flying roaches you've ever seen, mice, one tiny, musty closet, and was across the street from my best friend.

Being a garage apartment, it was a little box of five rooms: living room, bedroom, bathroom, "dining room," and kitchen. The kitchen, living room, and bedroom were all the same size. It had a high ceiling and bumpy plaster walls. I paid $400/mo. It had room in the kitchen for a washer and dryer, which I had, but the wiring was old and my dryer's plug didn't fit the outlet. I offered to split the cost to change it but my landlord said no, so I washed my clothes and hung them to dry.

When I lived there I owned a full set of Fiestaware. I had four colors: small yellow bowls, bigger blue bowls, orange breadplates, and turquoise plates. They looked cool through the windows of the white cabinets. The window over the kitchen sink was wide and I put an assortment of glass bottles on the ledge. It always made me happy in the morning to see the multicolors of glass against the mature, green trees in the backyard.

I was so poor when I live there. It was laughable. I worked a lot of overtime, but it was never enough. I remember going to my grandparents' house for Sunday dinner and gorging on fried chicken, beans, mashed potatoes, sweet tea and pie. I used to joke that I was going to store it all in my hump for the week, like a camel. Sometimes my mother or grandmother would slip me $5 or $20 and I would almost cry. I remember once making dinner with all I had left in the house - spaghetti. When I went to drain the noodles, my hand slipped and all the noodles slid into the sink. I washed it down the sink and went to bed; there was nothing else to do. This was not the happiest period in my life.

For air cooling, I had fans and a window unit in the bedroom. I bought heavy curtains and put them over the doors to try to keep the air contained to the bedroom, or to the bedroom and living room. I would sleep without covers of any sort. If I left the windows open at night, the palmetto bugs were worse, so I kept them closed and the air conditioner on. At 3am one morning, I woke up to a roach running across my leg. I got up and turned on all the lights - I couldn't possibly think of sleeping until he was dead.

For heat, I had a gas heater in the living room. It barely helped and cost a fortune. When I sat at my desk, I could feel the cold seeping through the walls. I would come home for lunch to find the cats snuggling together under the blankets on the bed. I got an electric blanket and would sleep with all three cats piled up on me.

I'm trying to think of good things that happened there. It's difficult for me to think about that time. I liked living there, but I hated my life. I hated my job. Actually, I loved my job but the people I worked for were ... not the most honorable. I had a boyfriend, but it was not a good relationship. I was mean to people; I was angry. I would cry myself to sleep and cry again when I woke up. I'd cry all the way to work and then keep it together for eight or ten hours and then cry all the way home. It was when I started actually waking myself up in the middle of the night crying that I realized I needed to change everything about my life or else. So I found a job an hour away that paid more - he hired me right on the spot because I already knew all the proofreading marks and gave me $1 more an hour than I'd asked for. At the time, it was the happiest day in my adult life. Sweet freedom! I commuted for over a year and then I finally moved when I got my tax refund.

So ok, yeah, it sucked. But I know that if things hadn't happened the way that they did, I wouldn't have taken the path I took that has led me to where I am today - which is a really, really good place.

Sunday flowers

V's favorite thing to do now - water the flowers. We were going to go fly a kite today, but the weather isn't cooperating. So we're "relaxing" (relaxing = cleaning up). Or at least R is. I'm sitting at the computer looking at pictures and blogging and stuff. Bad wife!! (Better get to helping...)

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I heart stop motion

I guess some people are upset about Flickr video - I got an invite to an anti-video group just today. I didn't join. I'm going to love being able to upload short clips to Flickr - I think it'll encourage me to do more stop motion with my photos, which I love.

This is from 2007. It took 600+ photos to make this one minute, 19 second-long video. I love how you can see the leaves on the trees moving in the background.

Painting serendipity

The other day, V wanted to paint. As I was gathering the paint, brushes, etc., I saw our pack of pipecleaners and decided to fashion some brushes/stamps from them. Big hit!!

Blurry pictures - I was in a hurry.

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This one is a bird foot. Ha.

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She used a regular brush and the pipecleaners.

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I also look forward to when she's a bit older and can make her own brushes. Fun!

Later on today's agenda - we got some plants and pots to plant them in (even though we haven't moved yet - it may be a few months). It will be small, but let the fairy garden begin!

Noopy Nacks

Yes, I know those little treats "made with real fruit juice!" are really just candy. But when we were at Kroger this morning, I couldn't stop myself from getting a box of Snoopy Snacks for V. She can't really say the "s" when it's at the beginning of a word and it cracks me up to hear her ask for a "Noopy Nack."

Is that so wrong?

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I have so many photos I need to back up. I'll get a couple of months' worth saved to disk and then within a month, my computer is full again. I can't even count how many photos I have.

I was working on backing them up while V naps and I came across this picture of Miss Kitty. I thought I saw some potential there, so I just had to play. She is the perfect cat - and quite the accomplised model. Her birthday is in May - she'll be 14.

Sand dragons and playhouses

I want to write about my grandmother, yet I keep thinking of things about my grandfather that I need to get down.

Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire. Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire. There was soft, red dirt and a million pocks all along the edges of my grandfather's carport. He told me that doodlebugs lived there. Their names imply that they are much cuter than the reality of them. He showed me that if I swirled a thin stick or thick twig in one of those holes and sang the rhyme, the doodlebug would grab on and I could pull him out. I loved pulling them out and watching them scoot back down under the fine dirt.


My grandfather built me a swimming pool in his backyard. It was half the size of the bed of a truck. He dug it, poured concrete, laid the edge with bricks. He stuck a short length of old garden hose in the drain and fashioned a plug out of a hunk of wood. It was rough on my knees and elbows - not the least bit comfortable. I'd suit up and alternately sit or lay on my belly in it, watching him work in the garden or staring at the white clouds float through the blue sky. When I was too old for it, he used it to keep small branches he pruned from trees until they dried out enough to burn them. And after that, he broke up the concrete, filled it in with dirt and reclaimed his yard.


He always kept scraps. Scraps of metal, scraps of wood, the same way my grandmother kept scraps of fabric to make quilts. You know, they reused everything they could. Out of his scrap wood, my grandfather made me a playhouse. It had one door and one window. My grandmother made curtains for each. He never asked if I wanted him to do things like this for me. He'd just get an idea, make it and not even tell me about it - all of a sudden, there was a playhouse in the backyard. He was an excellent granddaddy.

At least it's a beautiful day ...

Today I battled super glue and lost my shirt.

There are Kix and Cheerios all over the living room floor. I decided the best plan of attack was to sweep them and then vacuum. This broom has a plastic end that has cracked and keeps coming off in my hands while I'm sweeping. So very annoying. So I decided to super glue it.

I tried using the super glue tube that was already open, but after 10 minutes, I couldn't get any glue to come out. So I got the new tube and when I poked the top into it to puncture the seal, it squirted onto the front of my shirt in a few places. Super glue freaks me out, so I quickly pulled the shirt off before I stuck to it. (Sigh of relief) Then I put glue all over the handle and stuck the plastic end back on. Then I put a new shirt on so I could walk out into the living room where the porch door is open because it is a beautiful day.

Then I realized that I couldn't sweep the floor yet because I didn't want to take the chance of my hands sticking to any glue on the handle of the broom. Then I remembered my shirt.

Yeah, it's all stuck together.

And I still have Kix and Cheerios all over my floor. Most of them are intact, but there are several crushed into a fine powder.


V had to wear her crown while she colored this morning. And why not?

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