"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving With Friends

Last weekend we had a special Thanksgiving with friends. It's become somewhat of a tradition to have "family holiday" meals at Adam's house. It started in June when it was decided if a turkey wasn't cooked soon it might go bad. So Adam decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner in June. Everyone brought side dishes and we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. Pretty awesome. And then we decided that we needed to do this more often! And I just happened to have a ham in the freezer that needed to be cooked, which led to Christmas dinner in July. Complete with a white elephant gift exchange and ugly Christmas sweaters. :) We were going to continue through to holidays but then real life caught up with us all. So this past weekend we decided to have the real Thanksgiving meal at the appropriate time of year. 
We ended up with 12 people once Jackie arrived--biggest turnout yet!
The funny thing about these dinners is it always makes me feel like we're playing grown up. And I seriously think it's because nobody's parents are there! It sound so strange but I just really love that there's another great group of friends who all like doing things like this. And really over half of the people in this photo I've met in the last year! How fun is that? 
Tyler was in town from C-bus! And there's my lovely roomie of course.
I have now had 3 Thanksgiving dinners in the past week (friends, work, and family) and I've not had Turkey at any of them! When I was preparing my turkey today, the only thing I could think of was how big the breasts were, and how the turkey probably could barely even walk because it's been genetically engineered to grow breast muscle faster than its bones can grow to support its body. Of course I don't know that about this particular turkey, but not knowing is all I need to know. 
Can you believe there isn't any meat on this delicious plate? 
After dinner the boys went and bought some dice and tried to teach us Bunko, which is supposed to be a really easy game. 

But only about half of us actually understood the instructions (whether this was due to the wine or the explanation I have no idea). So we resorted to the perennial favorite--beer pong in the basement. :) Is there a traditional Xmas dinner in our future next month? :) 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Family's Parade Float

Is your family nuts? Did they decide to enter a family float in the Mentor, KY Christmas parade? Then no, your family is not nuts. But mine did, and is, and that makes them way more fun than your family! :) I have no idea how this got started, or whose idea it was. All I know is I now need to stuff a couple more thousand paper napkins into chicken wire before December 11th, the day of the showdown parade.  Let me start by explaining Mentor, which is mostly why this whole thing is hilarious to me. You can pretty much see from one end of Mentor to the other. If one were ever to call a town "Mayberry" for all the reasons we call towns "Mayberry," this town would be it. Exhibit A: the sign taped to my Granny's front door. 
It says "Knock Loudly or if that fails open door and yell." I'm not making this up.
So we're going to make a float, and go down the one side street in Mentor before turning around and coming back up the main drag. And the theme for our float? "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer", of course! The great-grandchildren are going to be reindeer, my Uncle John, who looks like Santa, will be driving the truck pulling the flatbed as if he's driving the crime scene away. Aunt Cherry will be Mrs. Clause in the sleigh making sure the little reindeer don't catapult themselves over the sides. Granny will be lying against a mailbox (she got run over getting the mail) and the rest of us will be dressed in mourning black following along side the float. Pretty awesome huh? 
I told you Uncle John looks like Santa! And that's my Aunt Cherry of course. 
So now to actually constructing the float. Apparently proper floats have tissue paper stuffed into chicken wire all along the bottom. Tissue paper is super expensive in large quantities, so we went with paper napkins. We all showed up at Granny's at 10am Saturday morning and started working!
Well, mostly we stood around for awhile and looked at it...
But after cousin Joe arrived work began in earnest while they made railings for the sides of the float. 
Cousin Mike--all about safety first!
So things were moving along just fine while we waited for Mom to arrive with all the napkins UNTIL.... an infiltrator drove by!! See my family is trying to keep this a secret from the other 10 people in Mentor. It's very serious business. And SUE (apparently she is our biggest competition) drove by Granny's and slowed down and waved real big as if to say "Oh what's going on here? I'm just waving to be friendly but my laser eyes are taking in everything you're doing in there!" That's when the tarp went up. 

So now that we were protected from infiltrators and Mom had arrived with the napkins, it was time to figure out how exactly we were going to make this happen. 

At some point it was decided that 10 napkins per hole was the magic number. 
Meanwhile, I was helping Granny get lunch ready--homemade cheese coneys!
That's my Granny! :) Making sweet tea, of course.  
So after a fun-filled day and hard work, we really got almost 50% of the napkin part of the float completed. I was so impressed. And it looks like a real parade float!!
Beginning of the day--I'm thinking there's no way we're going to get this thing done. 
But a couple hours later--holy cow it's a parade float!!!
So stay tuned to the next installment of our float progress. We'll be working on it again very soon! 

Click here to read Part 2!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Put it all on the Table

For the past six weeks at church we've been talking about putting everything on the table. All our possessions, jobs, spouse, pets, kids, house. EVERYTHING. On the table. It means that you're putting it all on the table for God. You're saying, "Hey, I realize you gave this to me because you're kind and you love me and you can have it back whenever you decide you want it back...because it's not even mine to begin with!"
Nope. This handsome man is not mine. On the table, Brian! 
Isn't that mind boggling? It's something I've really latched on to. I am such a control freak about life. I want to plan every detail of everything. I make to-do lists. And then sometimes I add things to the list I've already done just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. I've tried so hard to mellow out and not be a worrier or a planner and just let things happen. Not be so disappointed when plans go differently. But nothing I've tried or thought has really worked, until now. 

My little babies. On the table. 
Things have just really seemed to click. I'm excited about the future. I'm excited to see what happens. I'm excited to see what is in store for me. I wonder if doors will be closed, and if God will open others for me. Or not! Who says He has to open other doors? I personally believe that no matter what happens, ever, under any circumstances, there will be something for me later. Maybe it will be better or more fulfilling or more fun than what I'm experiencing right now. Who knows. But right now the anticipation of what could be in store for me is just amazing. I'm so excited for life right now. 

Lovely apartment. On the table.
I think part of my excitement is because I just finished reading The Shack with our small group. That book has given me so much to think about. The ideas the author lays out really resonated with me. I love all the images he describes, and his interpretation of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I really need to read it again. I think I'll get even more out of it the next time. So that book combined with our recent 6-week journey at church has really given me a wonderful perspective on life. And I think it's prepared me for whatever life or God might want to throw my way--or take off the table. 
It's only just begun! But it's on the table. 
So yay for life. And yay for choices. And yay for having no control over anything that happens to me, ever. :) I can just sit back and relax and enjoy life while God figures it all out. Have a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Craft Show

Hi everyone. It's been a long weekend! Tabby passed away at noon on Friday. It was, without a question, her time. But it was incredibly difficult. It felt like I cried for two days straight. And then I took a long nap after I got home from bringing her home to dad's. And I felt a little better when I woke up. And then I felt a little better Saturday night. And today, for the most part, I can talk about her and the whole vet experience at length without tearing up really. So thank you for all your kind thoughts and messages and texts. They have really helped! 

My super exciting news is that I got a spot in the Milford Craft Show! I emailed to get on the wait list soon after I started my business, and was told that the wait list was full and to try again next year. So I was bummed but learned quickly that registration for all the winter craft shows are due in the summer. (Who knew!!!) So I figured I'd have to wait a whole year to get in on any of that which was really disappointing because I feel like I really need some sort of mental pick-me-up about the business right now. And then maybe a week ago I got an email saying there was a spot open! And I jumped on it. 

A bunch of cards lined up to dry!! I'm about 2/3 of the way through with the ones I've started so far. So maybe 80-90 cards finished already? Soooo many more to go. 
The craft show is next Saturday, December 4th from 9am-3:30pm. This short notice has given me very little time to prepare for my very first show and I have so much to do! I ordered new (full-size!) business cards, a sign with my logo on it, a table skirt that matches the plum color in my logo, lots of new supplies to make a bajillion cards. And now I have to make an insane amount of product to potentially sell. I'm fairly certain I will not be breaking even on this first adventure because of all the investing I have to do to get my booth/display ready. But that's perfectly fine by me. I am so so so excited about seeing how my cards do to a massive audience. I'm going to have the most of holiday cards, then lots of kid quote cards, and finally my Bible verse cards. I'm thinking of getting some letter stationary made as well. And I'm hoping to have several sets of teacher cards (there are 30 mini-cards in each set!) finished as well. 

Oh, and just for fun I picked up another proofread from F+W that's due next Tuesday and we're hosting our first Thanksgiving next Thursday... sometimes I seriously wonder how I actually live my life and get it all done. It's absolute insanity. But I'm not even freaking out. When I think about the next two weeks I can't do anything but laugh. Because it's such ridiculousness that nobody in their right mind would do that to themself on purpose! Except me apparently. But I'm excited for the challenge. And Brian will be out of town this weekend so I'll have plenty of time to work on cards in peace without distraction. :) 

And tomorrow I have to just let myself relax, as scary as that sounds. My mom got Brian tickets to see Music Man for his birthday, and a PF Changs gift card! So dinner and a show for us tomorrow night which will be much needed. 

Also, totally unrelated, but we have two tickets to the Rusty Ball, which is this Saturday. Brian is now going to be out of town so we're trying to sell them. They're worth $60 each, we'll give them to you for $50 each. Each ticket includes 4 drinks (beer, wine, pop, water) and the Rusty Griswolds will be performing all night. It should be so so so much fun. So contact me ASAP if you're interested in those. 

Hope you all are having a great week so far. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Pets

Josh is coming home tomorrow morning if Tabby is still with us and we're going to hang out with her for a bit. Then I'm going to take her to the vet (Lewis Animal Hospital in O'Bryonville). Can't imagine going anywhere else with her. The people that work there are just amazing.

Saying goodbye to pets is one of the most terrible things in the world. Tomorrow I'm going to say goodbye to Tabby. 

She's a big girl! Don't judge...
She is technically the "second" cat we ever had, though we got her on the same day as Pepper, our first. We went to the pet store to get Pepper food, and there was Tab, wanting to be adopted. And it just so happened that you got a free kitten when you bought a big bag of cat food. And it also just so happened that Tabby reached out and touched her nose to mine, a sign from the heavens in my 9-year-old eyes that we were meant to take her home as well. 

When Pepper disappeared a year or two later she became our only cat for years until we adopted little Chuck. (He terrorized her and was not the happy companion we thought he might be for her!)

Chuck gets all the ladies with that wink.

Pepper was really my cat, and Tabby became Josh's cat. She has always preferred his lap to mine, just like Chuck prefers mine to Josh's. But after we went to school, and on days we weren't with Dad, (and realistically even when we were with Dad) Tabby was his cat. She has never done anything remarkable such as fetch like Chuck. She doesn't "talk" to us like Viv or Finn. She isn't loving in a clingy way like Patches was. But I've always seen her as one of the most faithful, even-tempered animals I've met. 

We've had Vivienne for a little over a year and I've lost track of all the bite and scratch marks she's given me. She bites me pretty much daily. I can't ever recall Tabby being so upset that she hurt us. She has stiff-armed Chuck in the head plenty of times, but that doesn't count. He always started it. 

So now Tabby is at least 16 years old, and it's time for her to go. And tomorrow afternoon after work I'm going to go take some pictures of her and say goodbye. I really, really just hope she's still there when I get to Dad's. The thing with this goodbye is, unlike my goodbye to Patches, I may end up seeing Tabby again. I've offered to take her to the vet if it comes down to that. It won't be the Tabby I know and love, which is why I hope she's still with it a bit tomorrow when I stop by. But I know I have the option of possibly seeing her again. Mom took Patches for me when I was in college, which I will always be grateful for. And I wouldn't want Dad to have to take Tabby. 

Patches was such a doll baby. Sweetest cat ever. Let's hope Vivy mellows to be like her some day. 
Owning pets is such a catch 22. They bring such amazing joy and happiness into your life, but they don't live that long and you end up with enormous sadness and grief down the road. And you know it's coming eventually when you take them home! I wasn't sure I'd want another pet again after Patches died. And it took over two years before I seriously considered whether or not I could handle everything that comes with having another pet--including their death. And what did I do? I went out and got a clone of Patches. 

Except Viv has the true Tortishell personality: "independent" as the vet nicely put it.
And THEN what did I do? I went out and got her a buddy. 

Phineas, who we brought home as an "Evelyn." 
I know that some day these two, my first actual babies, will also have to go. But that's something I can't even remotely focus on. I can't even think about it most days. So for now we'll focus on Tabby, and a few of her favorite things: 

ice cream
the filling out of donuts
butter off of saltine crackers
milk from your cereal bowl
did I mention ice cream? 
being anywhere that Chuck is not
her humans
**additions from Josh I somehow left out: 
sour cream and onion pringles
cream cheese
steak and shake fries (had to be steak and shake. She'd eat McD's fries, but she LOVES S+S)

We're starting to run out of tissues here so I need to wrap this up. But before I go I have to leave you with a photo of my other deceased "pet": Oliver. The meanest hamster who ever lived, but he was a pet nonetheless so I feel obligated to include him. Be thinking of Tab these next couple days while she's still hanging on. Love you all! 

Don't be fooled by that cute little face. He was a very violent rodent!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver = Self-sufficiency

Some of you are reading this because you're wondering who this woman is that deserves a blog post named after her. Others of you are reading this because you've read The Bean Trees or The Poisonwood Bible (a brilliant, wonderfully smart book I've been meaning to reread for about 7 years) and love her as an author. I'd like to introduce her to you as someone you may not know: one of the very main and most important inspirations for my personal self-sufficiency movement.
I think most anyone would find this book inspiring. (okay at the very least interesting!) 
The premise of this nonfiction book is that Barbara and her family are going to spend an entire year living/eating off of things they either raise/grow themselves, or come from within their county (I believe it was county. There could have been a mile radius. But you get the point). She has a garden, they raised turkeys (which is a hilarious adventure), have laying hens, bake bread and make their own cheese. I bake all our bread now and have been for about a year (right after I finished this book! Imagine that!).

We have not bought a single loaf in a year. That also means some weeks we don't have bread...

For our one-year wedding anniversary I almost drug Brian to the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania to a weekend cheese-making workshop to learn from the same woman who taught Barbara and her family cheese-making techniques. I have spent hours and hours on this site researching what kind of chicken coop I want to build in the future, and what it takes to house and raise chickens. (I've discussed the future chickens in depth here).

My new life philosophy is a mash-up (Yeah Glee fans--I said it!) of these two sentiments: 
1) If humanity did something for thousands of years in far worse conditions than those in which we now live, I am certainly capable of doing it myself with all the modern advances I do have access to. (This covers everything from baking bread to natural childbirth)
2) Why should I pay for something that is unhealthy and marked up because of packaging etc. when I can make a far tastier, cheaper version at home from scratch?! Believe me, once you've had homemade bread (and for over a year!) the thought of having to eat store-bought is seriously depressing.

I'll leave you with this quote I recently found that really made me excited. I haven't had time to find out who Bill Buford is, but the man is a genius and I love him: 

"Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity. Find it; eat it; it will go. It has been around for millennia. Now it is evanescent, like a season." 

Backyard Chickens

Many of you are reading that title and thinking, "I"m really tired of listening to Megan talk about her future chickens!" And then there's a lot of you going.... "Huh?" 

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, one of the things I was most inspired to do was raise backyard chickens. My fascination with them did begin a bit earlier than this book, but Barbara was definitely the extra push I needed to cement in my mind the need for these lovely little creatures. I am not totally new to chickens--I worked with them for a summer while camp counseling at Long Branch Farm after freshman year at college. These were arguably the most tame chickens I'll probably ever come across after their many years of being handled by random kids. But I like the animal as a whole nonetheless. 
I'll take 6 please! This photo comes from a very interesting article on how much better their color vision is than ours if you're into learning about that kind of useless trivia knowledge. 

We spend over $3 a dozen on Eggland's Best organic eggs. 3 DOLLARS. WITH COUPONS!! I'd rather have all the eggs I need whenever I need them for much less than that! (And maybe dinner as well. Let's not rule out their other natural appeal) So over a year ago I stumbled upon this really addicting website: BackyardChickens.com. My absolute favorite feature is the gallery of chicken coop designs. And it's not just photos. Each coop comes with it's own personal triumph story of a proud owner/builder who made their chicken coop dreams come true. At the moment, this beautiful coop and funny tale of its creation is my most favorite. It doesn't even LOOK like a coop! 

Can I live in here? 
The site is really a community of pros and newbies figuring it all out together. I feel that as long as I have this site as a resource I'll do just fine in the future. And on that future note, our future realtor is going to HATE us. Because in addition to nailing down how many bedrooms we want, and if there is a full basement, she's going to need to find some land and know the local chicken laws! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome to my Fairy Tale Cottage

I started looking up Etsy treasuries today, and what they actually are, who creates them, and why. Turns out, anyone can make them, for whatever reason, about anything! I found this AMAZING bed, decided I wanted to share it with others, and created my first treasury around it. My treasury turned into my fantasy fairy tale cottage. Now I need to find myself a house and a million dollars so I can buy out my treasury. ;-) 

Check out the full treasury here

(I'd love to give you some preview pics but they didn't show up properly once I published this post?? Strange...)

Grammar Nazis, This One's For You

Do you love finding errors in published things, because it validates to you that you can copyedit and proofread with the best of them, and probably for a living? Do you mark up fliers and books and other random things with editing marks as you read, no matter that nobody will ever see those marks? Does it make you want to hurt someone when people send formal emails typed with texting/cellphone lingo? Have you been told you could find an unintended second space between two words from outer space without the help of any optical device? Do you know that there is a difference between THEIR and THERE and how to correctly use those words? Then, my friend, you MUST read this amazing post about the mythical Alot.

You're welome Alot.

Not Far from Friday: New Cards

Hi guys. It's been a week. Ew. I was doing so well with posting regularly--sometimes multiple times in one day! I really love the blog A Cup of Jo. What I especially love is how she posts short and sweet little tidbits of cool information or photos or things to think about. So I've been trying to emulate that style a bit recently. It's kinda working? I just find it hard to make the writer in me shut up sometimes. The business thing I'm most excited about is the fact that I've gotten to just make some non-holiday cards to up the items for sale in my shop. It was pretty hard to make the time with an order or two I was working on, but it felt great to do what I do--just make some cards!

So without further ado, I introduce to you (Heh, that rhymes) my inspirational Bible verse cards.

Matthew 7:7

Isaiah 49:16
Matthew 11:28

Psalm 118:24
Joshua 24:15
I have one more card to make (1 Corinthians 1:4) and then the "set" will be complete! It has really been wonderful making these cards. I've picked out my most beautiful papers and reading these verses over and over again has been a joy. My idea with these is that they should be so beautiful and inspirational that you want to display them every day like this fun idea below: 
Fancy yourself with a set of framed coordinating Bible verses for your home (or to give as a very special gift?) send me an email or leave a message!  
I'm going to be a very busy lady with my other jobs for the next couple days so I'll be overloading you with at least two more posts tonight (dare I say possibly 3??) for your interwebs reading pleasure till we meet again. 
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