Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sewing for Isaiah Yang Hood

January 2009,  found me in Charlotte, North Carolina, watching the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Boston Celtics in overtime.  On the moaning and groaning return trip home with my NBA freak of nature guys, I did what all designing women do with their sports minded men....watched for discount cloth shop roadsigns.   Nothing takes the adrenaline rush down for men quicker than than a woman saying, "Stop at this exit, there is a cloth shop.  I must feel the fabric!"  You can imagine their excitement.  

Upon entering the little establishment, I found displayed before me new spring fabrics.  Being in the midst of a grey, bleak winter, the spring colors immediately enchanted my senses and sparked my creativity.  An hour later, I happily departed with my four yards of French Country that would eventually get tucked away in to my junk heap tidy closet to be noticed on occasion with the nagging thought, "When the time is right, I'll make something special with this material."

A year and three weeks later the time became "right" when this status update appeared on my Facebook homepage:  "Hey FB friends! We are having a fundraiser night and silent auction on March 8, from 5-9 pm. Anyone have any fabulous ideas for donations for the auction? I need some help!!! Let me know what you think and if you have connections or can donate something. Thanks friends..."  

Precious childhood friends (read an antic) with whom I keep in contact, are in the process of a third international adoption.  They are fundraising to "Bring Home Isaiah".  I knew immediately for what the material was meant to be used.  I set to work.  Here are the results from the last forty-eight hours.....

Reversible Bib Apron

Double Stacked Pocket with Rosettes

Fruity Organdy Cocktail Apron

I lined the organdy with a lovely yellow cotton and
also used the cotton for the wasitband, ties, and bias.

Would I bake a Cherry Pie in this?   You bet!

The fact that I love to SEW,
added to the fact I love to GIVE,
added to the fact that I'm helping a FRIEND
and a CHILD,
equals large amounts of JOY!!!!!!!

These will be shipped Priority Mail tomorrow and I pray they bring a generous amount.

Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Too Many Snow Days

There is nothing quite so magical as the first winter snow!  Every crystallized water droplet glistens with wonder and the hush that covers the landscape makes me sentimental.

The first snow awakens the child in me.  
Snowball fights.  Whimsical snowmen.   Snow cream. 

The second snow of winter still thrills me, yet some of the luster begins to fade. 
Snowmen become less engaging....I grow tired of the building process.

By the third and fourth snow I've seen more than enough of the wicked white. 
Winter has chilled me to the bone and I grow weary of the grey dreary days. 
As a mom, I begin to feel trapped with my children.  
Board games have become boring. 
Outdoor activities become a chore due to the heavy layering of clothes piled
high and dripping on my laundry room floor.   
I begin to feel suffocated and "up to my neck" with the winter doldrums.

Snow grows into ugly dirty piles and makes my world seem bleak. 
My patience becomes strained and I snap at those I love
who dare cross my blissful afternoon naps to escape the shivering of my spirit.

I begin to wander around my now undecked halls hearing murmurings of the word
 "redrum" because I'm trapped in a house with adolescent boys who want to eat all day. 
And eat they must! 
But my cupboards are bare; there is still too much snow
and ice on the ground for me to venture to the store. 
 I begin to fear for my life!  
 "Why, oh why, did I not make that milk and bread run before the next blizzard?" 
I ask myself this question after I hear the rumble of the growling stomachs in the next room. 
Hunger and winter madness have driven my family to the edge. 
I lock myself in the bathroom and cry with great heaving sobs.

But wait!  I gain my composure long enough to remember a few staple food items tucked away in my pantry.

  Four cups of white sugar, 
one-half cup of cocoa,
one cup of peanut butter,
three teaspoons of vanilla,
five cups of oatmeal,
one stick of butter and
at least one cup of milk
 (half-and-half might substitute).
That covers most of the basic food groups, right?

Quietly, I slip into the kitchen.  I mix my sugar, cocoa, milk, butter and peanut butter together and boil them hard for two minutes.  I pour the hot mixture over the five cups of oats I have in a bowl, add the vanilla and mix well.   On the last piece of wax paper I own, I drop thick spoonfuls of the concoction to cool.

Disaster averted!   For now.  

Welcome sweet spring time, I'll greet thee with song!

Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blissdom 10 - Part 3: After This I'll Talk Nonsense

Okay, Okay, Okay....I know you're sick of hearing about Blissdom! Bear with me through one more post then I promise to move on to the more tedious areas of my life - homeschooling, depression, dog poop, living with teenagers, weight gain, laundry and politics - because I know that is what you really want to hear about. Right??????

Originally, Harry Connick, Jr. was scheduled to be on a panel discussion group on Saturday and perform Saturday evening, but when his beloved Saints advanced to the Super Bowl he was asked to perform there and had to return to New Orleans on Saturday. Although he was unable to join the discussion group on Friday, being a gentleman of his word, he did move his performance at Blissdom to Friday evening. Lucky us!!!!!!!

Not only is Mr. Connick a talented musician (that's putting it mildly), he is one of the leading humanitarians in the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. He, along with Bradford Marsalis, established Musicians' Village which has become the cornerstone for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) providing homes for talented musical artist. We were not only entertained by Mr. Connick, but by a few of the Musicians' Village residents as well, which I must say provided amazing eye and earcandy!

The private performance was held in the FUSE nightclub housed within the Opryland complex, with only Blissdom attendees allowed. Security was tight and while we had our Blissdom badges to identify ourselves, we were also required to bring a photo ID to this event, something I did not know until I reached the entrance line. The ladies around me had their ID's and promised to hold my place until I returned. Not wanting to make the mile hike back to my room and be sweating profusely upon return, I decided to take my chance hoping my Southern charm (but mostly my cleavage) would get me through the door. Let's just say, IT WORKED, and leave it there. We were asked NOT to throw undies on stage....not that I was wearing any....JUST KIDDING!!!!!!

Meticulously staged and ready to entertain!

With my little camera, it was difficult to get a good photo,
but I like the blurriness of these.
Shamarr Allen on trumpet, Calvin Johnson Jr. on
tenor saxophone, and Harry Connick Jr. on piano.

Oh when the Saints go marching in, Oh when the Saints go marching in.....
And they did, didn't they? Sorry Colt fans :(

Mr. Connick took a moment to talk about Musicians' Village...

And then weakened our knees by crooning to us......
He is as handsome and polished in person as he is in his photos! WOW!

For those of us who desired our photograph taken with him (there were some who did not), we were allowed behind a roped off section backstage and introduced six at a time for a handsake, soft word, and group photo. Because his publicist is so particular I do not have, in hand, that photo; nor can I seem to copy it to "My Pictures." If you are interested in searching through the 3,000 uploaded photos to find my "deer in the headlights" shot, feel free to go to http://www.flickr.com/ and do a Blissdom 10 search.

Saturday was spent in four informative breakout sessions and a lovely luncheon served in the Governors Ballroom.

The final keynote and was given by Jennifer McKinney (Mckmama) at My Charming Kids. You should really go to her blog and read her amazing story. On a side note, Sarah Palin was also in the building for the First Annual Tea Party Convention. I know! You either love or loathe her. Personally, I am in the former category. I could hear her speech but I would have very much enjoyed seeing her too. It seems that my Southern charm would not work on the stoic doorman. My ego was CRUSHED!!! Crushed, I say! But I am completely recovered now. Mostly.

So what did I gain from this journey?
  • A brain overload of information. It's taken me a week to sort through it all!
  • New friendships. Always a plus in my world.
  • Confidence to step outside of my comfort zone. I find one-on-one small talk with complete strangers, believe or not, DIFFICULT!
  • But, more important, interaction with like minded women; the sense of belonging and community that reverberates with women bloggers. We have a mutual need to sound our barbaric yawp online for the world to scrutinize.

Here's to you girlfriend bloggers! Now go forth and BLOG!

Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Blissdom 10 - Part 2: Surprise Inspirations!

Friday morning at Blissdom found me mesmerized by the keynote speaker Kevin Carroll, author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. If you have never heard of him, you are going to want to check out his site, read his books and watch a few of his YouTube videos.

"Kevin’s “job” is to inspire businesses, organizations and individuals - from CEOs and employees of Fortune 500 companies to schoolchildren - to embrace their spirit of play and creativity to maximize their human potential and sustain more meaningful business and personal growth."

This first class inspirational, motivational and high-energy speaker made me want to kick some red rubber balls.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.
James A. Michener

Gotta LOVE that quote....

Blissdom knew what they were doing introducing George Duran near lunch time. George Duran is the host of TLC's Ultimate Cake Off. He entertained us and prepared a quick recipe on stage. Hunt's was a Blissdom sponsor and served us a delicious Italian lunch (Eggplant Parmesan Rolls recipe below) at Ristorante Volare which was beautifully prepared, decorated and displayed, down to the empty Hunt's tomato cans used for the bistro tables centerpiece.

Eggplant Parmesan Rolls:

• PAM® Olive Oil No-Stick Cooking Spray
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup chopped yellow onion
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
• 2 1⁄2 cups chopped zucchini
• 2 cans (14.5 oz each) Hunt’s® Stewed Tomatoes, undrained
• 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 large eggplants (2 large = about 2 1⁄2 lb)
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 container (15 oz each) part-skim ricotta cheese
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add zucchini; cook 10 minutes or
until onion and zucchini are lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add undrained tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper; simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Cut ends off each eggplant; cut each eggplant lengthwise into 1⁄4-inch slices. Spray both sides of each
slice with cooking spray. Grill slices 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned and pliable; set aside.

4. Combine eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and basil in medium bowl. Mix until well blended; set aside.

5. Place 2 cups of the tomato sauce in bottom of prepared dish. Assemble rolls by spreading about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture on each eggplant slice.
Roll up from a short end and place seam-side down in dish. Repeat. Top rolls with remaining sauce and sliced mozzarella.

6. Bake 30 minutes or until cheese melts and is lightly browned. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

And those are just the highlights of the morning through lunch. Two back-to-back afternoon sessions would continue to inspire us and lead us into the evening where we would be swooned by Harry Connick, Jr.

More to come.....

Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blissdom 10 - Part 1: Of Bliss, Bio Domes and Magic Fairies

If you have been following my blog for any length of time it comes as no surprise that I just spent four glorious day at the premiere blogging conference of the year, Blissdom '10, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Five hundred geeked-out women with laptops and iPhones, twittering, facebooking and socially interfacing placed me smack in the center of virtual heaven. IT WAS F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. !!!!!!!

Once registered, I received a really cool swag bag made especially for Blissdom from Land's End brimming full of groovy items. Little did I know, the swag bag was the smallest of all the surprises in store for the weekend. Blissdom is known for coordinators Allison Worthington at Blissfully Domestic and Barbara Jones at One to One, who are marketing experts and queens of public relations. They secured amazing sponsors who went over-the-top in making this conference the best in the country. Wow! Wow! Wow! Does not even begin to cover it.

And then there was the Gaylord Opryland Resort.....a city unto itself. A large, tropical Bio dome, self-contained at a constant 72 degrees and magic fairies to anticipate my every need. Better than Disney World since it is caters especially to adults, I did not have to think, clean or even look for food because it was all at my fingertips. Bottled water was magically left in my room and I swear a Muslim delivered a Holy Bible to my door.

Having never attended a Blogging Conference before, I did not know what to expect. Also, not personally knowing anyone who would be attending and walking into a room of 500 women by myself was somewhat intimidating for this small town girl. One the other hand, no one knew me either, so I could be myself. And so I was! Thursday evening, I girded by loins for battle with Spanx to make me feel sexy, threw back my shoulders with a Cacique bra, held up my sagging chin with glue behind my ears and gracefully tripped into the opening meet and greet party at the Jack Daniel's Saloon while wearing 3" black heels. Talk about making an entrance! This led to immediate kinship from gaping mouthed women who saw the whole thing, ran to my rescue, and began to laugh with me until I spoke of course, in my Northeast Tennessee accent. Their countenance immediately changed into, "why this poor thing has just been let off the farm," kind of look.

All of this, eventually led to my meeting Megan from Sweet Sadie Marie who recognized me from my What to Wear? Post; Mendy from Printing My Savings who obviously was meant to become my friend due to our bumping in to each other at every turn; Amy at Selfish Mom who was as mesmerized by my Tennessee accent as I was by her Brooklyn accent; Cathe from Just Something I Made, who, prior to the conference inspired me to bring along my hole punch and Cathe's friend Selena at Apron Thrift Girl (both of these ladies from California); Sommer at Green and Clean Mom who lives in Minnesota, Susan the Garlic Girl (a food scientist, no less) from Iowa (blog in construction), and Sweetie Berry from She's So There who is a blog/business/life strategist from Alabama. All very cool women from different places, backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, gathered together for the common interest of blogging.

Part II Coming Soon.....

Thanks for reading, Rosie.