Thursday, October 25, 2012

Taking A Break...

Hello dear readers - I just wanted to make a quick post to say that I will be taking a break from posting on my Blog until I get caught up with my Fabric Designs, cleaning out my studio, and getting started on the whatever the next chapter of my life is.

Which hopefully includes a healthy family, a happy basket full of grand kids, some sweet dogs and
Quality Time With My Husband. 

Thank you all so much for reading my posts - I can't tell you how much it meant to me that so many sweet people read what I wrote about what was going on in my life.

This world is a great place, isn't it?

Love you all.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Finding The Floor

I've been silent for so long you probably thought I was quitting my Blog - Not!
 What I've actually been doing is searching for the Floor in my Studio.   

The reason the floor was so hard to find is because it was covered with Stuff left over from my tassel and bag business...
thousands of yards of Trims, 
hundreds of pounds of Fabrics.

Stacked in bins were vast quantities of tassel parts. In every nook and cranny were tassel blanks, wooden beads, wooden spindles, small wooden animals, tiny garden tools and flower pots...on and on and on.

All this because in 1995 I designed a line of tassels that I named Lula Belle Tassels, and starting in 1996, it just exploded.  With the help of a fabulous staff, I made and shipped thousands of Tassels, which we made right here in Marietta, Georgia.  Calico Corners put them in 120 stores and it was Game On!

Then, I designed some handbags for the High Point Market one Fall, and BAM!  We were in the Handbag Business.  I started with a few Bags, and wound up with dozens of styles
-all of which required their own bolt of fabric-
and their own bolts of trim
and cases and cases of handles, bottoms, rivets, etc.

I rented more studio space, hired more seamstresses,
more tassel makers,and a manager.  I added larger bags, which we called Satchels.

I decided that we should make painted French Market Baskets lined with a removable Tote Bag...they were an instant hit, and we shipped thousands of those, too.  So many orders came in that we wound up with a commercial paint booth - big enough to paint a small car in.  
And, of course, I had to hire a painter to paint the baskets.  She was amazing.
All of this was fun, but it had gotten very, very big.

I had a wonderful woman in charge of Packing and Shipping, whose name was Julie.
She thankfully kept us all sane and on task, shooing me aside to organize the orders and direct the tassel making, bag sewers, and basket teams.

Then suddenly, Julie left and moved to North Georgia and somehow, things just weren't the same.  I had been designing Tassels and Bags for years, I had a LOT of money in the bank, 
but I wasn't excited about it anymore.

My Husband had built the Ocean Isle Fishing Center and I wanted to go on up there.  
So I closed the Atlanta studio, stored everything, and opened a fabric store in North Carolina.
It was just a couple of miles from the beach,
in one of the fastest growing "Golf Communities"
in the United States of America - Southeastern Brunswick County, NC.

The store was popular, and we had lovely clients who bought tons of fabrics, trims, and accessories.
 They ordered lots of Custom Window Treatments,
Custom Bedding,
Wesley Hall Furniture,
and came to shop frequently
for their favorite thing:
One of A Kind Pieces
that I scoured the Atlanta and High Point Markets and Antiques vendors for.

I had a lovely, lovely staff of women
that I looked forward to seeing
every single day.

Then, the Real Estate Bubble popped, 
the Financial Markets collapsed,
New Home Building stopped,
and things got Real Quiet.

I got homesick for Atlanta.
So, I sold the store and moved back here with all that Lula Belle Stuff.
Which I've been drowning in ever since.

Every time I walked into the tightly packed studio, I got depressed.  All those stored raw materials and painted baskets made me guilty, like I needed to do something with them.  it bugged me to distraction until it finally dawned on me:
Give it away! 

Yesterday, the last load of Trims, Fabrics, Tassel Parts, Baskets and tools drove off down my driveway.  Next week, four men will arrive to dismantle and move out the Skutt Kiln and the huge Slab Roller.  I have made some people very happy.
They got brand new, FREE Stuff.

And, I found my floor.
Which is delightfully bare, freshly painted, and peaceful.
So, so happy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Miracle Plays Out On The Ocean

While Captain Brant has continued his journey back to healthy wholeness, I've been very busy rearranging my life priorities.  As we all so painfully learned with Brant's accident, life can change forever in the span of one short second.  

In the blink of an eye.

When one escapes the worst imaginable outcome of an accident, the first thought that  becomes foremost in your mind is that life is short, and life is precious.  
We tend to ignore that crucial fact during our daily routines.

I don't know which group of people on Earth appreciates their surroundings and relationships the most...but I do know that certain folks spend more time on that than I have.  Perhaps it is impossible to be constantly aware of the miracles around you and still be able to do the laundry and shop for groceries, but I will be doing a better job of that now.  I'm honing my "quiet" skills so I can get rid of all the unnecessary distractions in my life - so that I can re-learn how to acknowledge and appreciate the daily miracles all around me. 

Like this one:

Yesterday, September 27, 2012 a very common activity took place out on the Ocean.  Some guys went fishing...but see, it was actually one of those miracles I'm talking about...

Two months and three days after falling 42 feet to a concrete driveway, Captain Brant levered himself onto a friend's boat, braced himself in a chair, and with the help of his brother Barrett and some good friends, left the dock at dawn and went to the Blue Waters of the Gulf Stream for a beautiful day of fishing. 

He took a picture of the sunrise and posted it on the OIFC website

After returning to the dock, he posted this report about the trip.

He may not have reeled in a fish, but he was back on the Ocean.  

Now THAT is a miracle to appreciate.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Universe of Pain

As Brant continues his journey back from the edge of the abyss, I can see the veneer of a deeper wisdom beginning to develop on his face and body.   

Once you have been transferred (very unwillingly) out of your own comfortable existence and into the Universe of Pain, you don't get out of there very easily.  There are, oddly enough, no road maps.  As you roam around looking for a way out, you become familiar with some of the Planets that revolve around the main Pain Planet, and the different atmospheres and types of Pain they have to offer.

There is Broken Bone Planet, Damaged Nerve Planet, Surgical Pain Planet, Bruise Planet, Torn Ligament Planet, Scraped Skin Planet, and more.  Each Planet in the Universe of Pain has its own exotic Pain Levels, but thankfully Brant wasn't given a tour of all of them. 

It is a scary trip, and those that successfully navigate through that Universe always arrive back in their own Universe different than when they left it.  
They are wiser. 
 They are stronger.  
Pain is no longer a shadow Demon, because they have met him face to face.

 They arrive back in their own Universe with a new depth to their soul.

The Price of all that new knowledge is steep.
While you are deeply unable to care for yourself, others who love you step in to take over.  While you are touring the Universe of Pain,
 they are there to soothe in whatever manner it takes.

I watched my Dad do this when my Mom was completely debilitated by heart failure brought on by too many pain meds and the ensuing pneumonia.  In a nutshell, 
he took over her life for her, and did the best he could to bring her relief and rehabilitation.  He lived at the hospital for months.  

After Brant's accident, his wife did the same thing.  He was helpless, and although in a good hospital, the nursing staff could only jump so fast.  Amy did what was needed: she transferred her life over to the hospital, and did her best to get him what he needed,
 when he needed it.  We sat with her, and him, 
through surgery after surgery, and tried to help him 
fight his way through the Universe of Pain.  

In the end, the fight ends where it began.  With the wounded person.  In the end, Brant took over the navigation through those mysterious waters on his own, and freed Amy up to 
return home to their children.  

Brant took back the helm from the Dragon that roams the Universe of Pain, realizing in the end that the Dragon had almost gained control.  That oily beast had sneaked in when no one was looking, and put his talons right into Brant's wrist and arm, 
but we caught him.

Captain Brant kicked him overboard, 
charted a course back to his own Universe, and throttled up, steering with his good arm.  

He docked at the Rehabilitation Center at New Hanover three days ago, and we are amazed at the difference in him.  Yesterday, he had his first shower, and daughter Caroline regaled us with stories about the "real car" they had there to teach you how to get in and out with the big old injuries her Daddy has.

Last night,  she was in her own bed, Mommy was in hers, and Brayden was roaring around the house with Fin (remember Fin?), and they were all settling back into their routines. 

Life is returning to a new normal, and we will take it.

All the damage will be healed - both psychological and physical, in Brant and in his family.  Life will be different for them in the upcoming months, but everything will smooth out
into a new rhythm.

Brant and all of the family cannot thank you enough for your prayers and support, the gifts of food, flowers, balloons, cards, and phone calls.  

It has been an amazing outpouring of love and respect that helped light the buoys that led out of the Universe of Pain...

 and back home again.

Thank you all, so very, very much.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Best Medicine of All

Brant is continuing to recover, one careful step at a time.  

Amy has taken him for a couple of spins out in the Fresh Air...

For a man who spends most of his waking hours on or around the ocean, 
you know how good that felt!

And besides the great work of the surgeons, nurses, Amy and the hospital staff, he has been strengthened immeasurably by the outpouring of love and support from all of you.

 But the Sweetest, Best Medicine of All?

I don't think I need to say another word!

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Time For Thanks

For those of you who don't already know, my husband's oldest son, Capt. Brant McMullan, had a horrific accident on the afternoon of July 24th.  While installing a new billboard wrap with his brother, he fell about 45 feet from the top of the billboard down to a cement pad.  He was badly injured but survived the fall, which broke multiple bones and scraped off a lot of skin - but thankfully did not result in injuries to his internal organs.

He has already undergone a long surgery by the meticulous Dr. Neil MacIntyre to rebuild his crushed hip socket and pelvic damage, and tomorrow will undergo surgery to put his arm back together properly.  He delighted us all by moving his toes on command yesterday morning, so he WILL walk again.  He may not run marathons, but he'll be back on that boat and Tournament Fishing before too long.  He and the rest of  Team OIFC have their SKA reputation to defend, after all!

Brant is very strong, and very determined to make the fastest recovery possible and resume his position at the helm of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center.  He doesn't "sit" very well, and although he is in terrific pain, he is already planning how to get himself up 12 feet of stairs so he can get back to work.

For all of you who have sent messages of support and love during these past three days,
 Brant and all of our Family cannot Thank You enough.

Your prayers, emails, and phone calls are a fountain of strength; a sweet net of support for Brant and all of us, and helps so much to hold him and all of us up through this time.

Updates on his recovery will be posted on the Fishing Center site under the Fishing Reports.

Please keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming!

I would be remiss if I did not send a huge Thanks to The Big Guy up above,  who undoubtedly (as a family member suggested) provided Brant with a Guardian Angel who took the fall barely ahead of him and cushioned it enough to save his life.

It is truly a Time For Thanks. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Villa on the Mediterranean Coast...

Doesn't that sound fabulous?  Thought so.

This is Sasso By the Sea - soon to be Palazzo Avino, on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, and I've had it on my bucket list of go-to spots since 2010.

I have pined over this photo so long that when I started working on one of my latest collections, I turned back to it for color confirmation.  I'm not a real "Follow the Trends" sort of person as far as color palettes; I tend to just work in the colors that I love.
And I love these!

The shifting Turquoise colors of the sea, the saturated Plums of the Bougainvillea, the Earthy Greens and Saffrons are so Happy together.  So, I named the collection "Mediterranean Villa".

These are my test swatches from Spoonflower Fabrics, and I'm so happy with the fabric at the top of the picture...a lovely Cotton/Linen blend that just presents the colors beautifully.  

Makes me want to do some Parson's Chairs...

And some soft pillows out of the lustrous Cotton Silk - third fabric down on the picture...

Now I just need to get those chairs into a room in a villa on the Mediterranean.  That is painted Saffron Yellow, and has Bougainvillea trailing over the walls...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back to Weight Loss After Vacation

We've been on the road for a week, which really Got My Attention on how hard it is to eat sensibly while traveling...or working.

On the Interstate, Husband insists on "Grab and Go" dining, 
which precludes a salad or anything with a fork.  
That means this:

or this:

and God Help You if you suggest anything different - it simply doesn't fly with a
 goal-oriented driver like my Husband.  You can toss the buns, but after about the third meal of this, you realize you are only saving about 200 calories.  One gets discouraged...

We visited his uncle, (who owns Andy Griffith's boyhood home in Mount Airy!) who loves Thai food, and there was nothing for it but to order up...there are no photos of that meal, but suffice to say that oil was a HUGE ingredient.

Once you get to the Beach, the Sunset Ceremony is a very special tradition that we cherish, whether with a house full of friends and family or just the two of us.

Which requires drinks to toast the sunset with.  Which puts dinner later than usual, and means you go to bed on a full tummy.  Lovely tradition, but honestly, a Diet Disaster!

We're back home in Atlanta now, and I'm getting some ribbing about serving "Roughage", but we are seeing instant results.  The extra pounds are slipping off.

Which means this:

Never give up on your new eating plan...even after a week of really bad food and sitting in a car for days, which will put a couple or three pounds back on you - never give up on your new body.  Just resume your sensible eating plan, and the pounds start melting off again.  
I promise.

Calories in, Calories out.  Don't eat more than you can burn off in a day.

Drink a lot of water.

Get back on your walking or workout plan.

Step on that scale religiously, morning and night, to track your weight.  If you have to, get extreme for a day to dump those regained pounds.

After this trip, I am seriously thinking about developing a line of Yummy, Fresh, and Convenient fast foods that could be stocked in the bigger Gas Station chains.

Like this:
Image from Live In The Now
Image from Neat Pins
Now.  Doesn't this look more appetizing than fried potatoes served in a cardboard box??
  Anyone want to go into business with me??

Oh, yes... this means Husband has to drive, so I can properly use my fork....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Beauty of One

It is amazing to think that a whole year has passed since Baby Girl Blakely was born.  So tiny, so helpless, and so loved.  Just look at our little beauty now:

Her Aunt Amy laid bets that she would take her first steps at her Birthday Party, just like her cousin Brayden did, but she was waaaay too busy for that.  Maybe next week.  Meantime, I'll let her tell you about her Big Party...

 Look at all this STUFF!  
And it was 
All for Me!  


Can you believe this?

And it just kept coming and coming.

Sure would like to have 
gotten my hands
 on THAT food...

Tons of people came...everybody was talking and talking!

And then, everybody stood around me and sang.  
  It got away with me so bad that 
I had to put my head down for a minute.

Then my Mom put this Cake 
Right in Front of Me
 and stood back.  
It sure didn't look like Green Beans...or Pears...

Mom never said, "No, no".  Not once.  What??

So I'm telling you,
 I Took The High Dive, right into that cake!  Wow!!

After a Sink Bath, it was time to open presents.
I got lots of Toys, Clothes, Books, a Teddy Bear,
 and my own Beach Chair.
Great STUFF.

But the best part was, 

My Daddy gave me a Sterling Silver Bracelet with a Heart Charm on it.  I simply Love It.  Love it.

I'm real big now...I'm One.

Love you all, and Thanks for coming to my Big Party!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For...

This past weekend, it was around 105 degrees in Atlanta, Georgia. It was Stupid Hot.

Husband decided that the only thing to do was blow out of town up into the mountains of North Carolina - to one of our favorite places, Pisgah Inn.   I strenuously objected, because the forecast for the Pisgah Inn called for unusually high temperatures - 83 degrees during the day, and 77 degrees at night.  Pisgah Inn has NO AIR CONDITIONING 
because normally, you don't need it.

The discussion took an ugly turn when he informed me with a cheesy grin 
that he had booked a room.  Period.

I was furious.  I was not nice to him for two days.  But I packed my bags and got in the truck.

As we neared Asheville, the thermometer in the truck registered the outside temperatures at 107...104...102 degrees.  Too hot, too hot.

Around 4,000 feet of elevation, the temperature was at 83 degrees.  Husband pleaded with me to enjoy the scenery and be happy for that 20 degree drop.  I informed him that to make me happy, he had to get it another 20 degrees lower - to around 63 degrees.   So he announced:  "I can do that!  Just watch!"  He hates for us to argue, so I grudgingly rolled my eyes and played the game.  "Sure, honey!  I believe in you!"

At 5000 feet, the Pisgah Inn came into sight.  We pulled in to register and pick up our room key.  It was 81 degrees, a hot blue sky, with a fitful breeze.  I was dismayed - the room was like an oven when we walked in.  
Photo of room at Pisgah Inn

Husband pulled on his sneakers and sped out the door to go hike one of the forest trails...anything to get out of my range.

He'd been gone about 30 minutes when I heard the first rumble of thunder.  I had the door open so that the little breeze could sweep some of the heat out of the room, and suddenly the sky got dark, the wind started gusting through the room, and big rain drops started to spatter down. Before I could make it to the door to check the sky, I heard what sounded like rocks hitting the front of the hotel and my jaw dropped when an ice pellet the size of a plum whizzed through the room and disappeared over the balcony, followed by a half dozen others.  

I struggled with the door against the wind and slammed it closed.  Peering through the tiny window, I saw shredded foliage, small limbs and ICE raining down on the lawn and parking lot.  Big ice.  Big hail.  The wind was howling, it was pouring rain and lightening was crackling down all over the place.  Followed by ear-splitting thunder.  

And my husband was out in this maelstrom - bare headed, with only a T Shirt and Shorts on, and out of cell phone range.

The storm raged for about 20 minutes, and finally started to slack off.  This is what it looked like after it finally stopped:

The grass was completely covered with hail!

The parking lot was littered with foliage and ice and damaged cars.

After about 30 minutes, I walked toward the office to see about sending someone to look for my Husband - I was frantic with worry by now.   And suddenly, there he was, pulling into the parking lot.  He got out of his truck, and I started toward him.  He looked like a drowned rat, but he had a BIG SMILE on his face.  "Come here, come here!" he was saying.  When I got to the truck, he said, "Look!" and pointed to the thermometer.

It said 61 degrees.  He said, "I told you I could do it!"

Be careful what you wish for.

Just for the record, he was protected by the slope of the hill he was on...the storm approached from the back side, so he was in the lee and thankfully, didn't get the full force of it.   But he did say that hail pounding on your bare head HURTS!  He makes me crazy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Weight Loss Lesson from Guy Fieri

I am secretly in love with Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  In the past few days, he's taught me a personal, private, and invaluable lesson on Weight Loss.

It's pretty simple, really, and I don't know why I didn't think of it before...

Stop Eating Out and You Will Loose Weight.

That's it.

Now.  Here is why I know this is absolute fact.

For ten days, I have been immobilized with a severe flare-up of arthritis.  My immune system has been so busy eating up all of my connective tissue that all I've had the energy to do is sleep and eat.  No exercise - unless you can call taking a shower exercise.  I haven't  cut back on eating (you have to have some pleasure in the middle of all that agony) but at the end of ten motionless days, I have lost three pounds.  I was puzzled about this until I sat down last night to watch the Triple D show for the Thousandth Episode.

See, Guy Fieri goes into the kitchens of favorite diners and takes his cameras and film crew with him to record how they make all that delicious food.  And THAT'S where the
mystery is solved.

I know this image from the restaurant Pine State Biscuits via Noble Pig is a little over the top but the point is, there is an amazing amount of fat and salt in restaurant food.  Just watch any episode of Triple D and you will see the ingredients going into the restaurant pot.  Lots of salt, always.  Lots of butter/lard/oil, always.  Doesn't matter what they are cooking,  those two ingredients are always there...Because They Taste Good!

When you eat at home for 10 days, and steam or lightly sautee everything you cook, there are no extra calories, no extra salt.  No restaurant sneaky yummy tricks to fatten you up.  

So there is a new trick on your weight loss plan - simply eat at home more often.  Isn't that easy?  You will save money and loose weight at the same time!

Sigh...that gravy sure does look good....

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Night Shift Designs A Handbag...

A few days ago, at 4:20 A.M., my sub-conscious Night Shift designed a new handbag.

I was asleep, but aware that there was a lot of work going on.  Do you ever do that?

Softly but busily, my central processing unit ran through how to make these handles, how to pleat and attach the top trim, how to sew the difficult inside corners at the bottom.  The only time it bothered me was when I tried to enter the debate on the need for an outside pocket...then I realized "I" wasn't needed and went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I was trained and ready to go.  After a quick breakfast and shower, I sat down and just sewed it up.  No thinking, no fiddling.  Just cut and sew.  You gotta love a brain that will do that for you.

Two roomy pockets inside.  Love the piping on this bag pocket - it gives the bag stability, besides looking so finished when you open the bag to look for something.

Thanks, Night Shift.  You made that part easy.  The hard part is figuring out how to get them in front of customers without schlepping them down to Market.   Any ideas?

And, does anyone know where I can get more of that Houles Paris trim?

I simply adore those opposing diagonals!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Loosing Weight and Your Body PH Levels

If you have Arthritis or Gout, we need to have a little chat, Right Now.  One of the things I love most about the Calories In, Calories Out way of eating is that you can load up on fresh fruits and vegetables.   And drop those extra pounds.  

However.   For certain people, too much of this:

And these:

And ESPECIALLY too much of this:
(Remember my recipe for Salsa Verde?)

is going to raise the acidity levels in your body sky high.  And if you have Arthritis or Gout, you are opening the door to having to spend some days dealing with pain management, fatigue, and loss of your quality of life.

Who knew tomatillos were so high in acid??  Good grief.

I was just about to post my new favorite recipe for Zanahorias Escabeche, a really, really good pickle made with fresh carrots, onion, garlic, jalapeno, vinegar and Mexican Oregano, but I will leave that until I get my PH under control.  And Arthur(itis) gets his dagumm treble hooks out of my aching body.  

Photo from  Mine has onions and garlic and jalapenos added and is, well, fabulous!

Now that I understand what I have done, here is how I will fix it.

First, I will take care not to eat any acid for a week.
Second, I will drink lots of water.
Third, I will avoid protein - beans, chicken, eggs, and tofu.
And twice a day, I will put 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda in a glass of water and drink it.
The only good part is that I get to lay around and read Trash Novels for a week.

And I'll continue to eat lots of this:

Recipe Link

And stuff like this:

I'll be creeping out there tomorrow to pick up a tray of this sashimi, and if I'm not all better by Wednesday, I may have to resort to this:

I'm off to read my Trash Novel now - Back To Business (I hope) Tomorrow!


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