Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Favs

I love fall. Here are some of favorite things...

Fall leaves...reds...oranges...yellows
Picture from Houston Baptist University   

 Beef Stew simmering in a Crock Pot
Picture from LaaLoosh
Hot Apple Cider
Picture from FreshNest

 Warm Sweaters
Picture from Gap

Fires in the Fire Pit
Picture from Be@ Home
What are some of your favorite things?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Will Thrive...Deployment Stories

So usually J is the go to guy for killing bugs, changing light bulbs, taking out the trash, picking up the yard from the puppies, etc. However, I don't think I can go for three years without doing those things as much as I would like to.

But I was not prepared for what I was greeted with when I went into our basement the other night. Our laundry room is in the basement...sometimes I grumble but really it is easy exercise. So I open the door to head down there, I turn on the lights, and I'm greeted by a creature. It was a very large, very nasty looking, flying thing that was on the wall as I went down the steps. Knowing that I couldn't leave it I sprayed it with spray and then used the bottle to smush it. It was gross but I did it. I'm not really that squeamish but I hate flying bugs because you don't know where they'll go.

The other night I also had to investigate a noise because there is no one else. I have an alarm system and two pit bulls so I felt pretty safe but I knew I wouldn't sleep until I checked. So in my p.j.s I along with the puppies went downstairs to check it out. Eva and Ares walked around saw everything was good and then we went back upstairs. I figure if you're dumb enough to attack me with my two pit bulls well...

I am working on getting things straight around the house. My dining room will remain a disaster for a bit because that is where I have my beading and sewing. I figure that way I can be with the dogs and work on stuff. But my bedroom is driving me crazy. We don't have a linen closet so we stack sheets on top of my dresser. But I'd like to figure out a better solution for that. We have a back room off of our bedroom that has J's dressers and it is where he got dressed in the morning but it is a bit of a disaster so I have it in my head to get that straight too. I think my bedroom would be more relaxing if I did these things. I'll let you see after pictures and maybe even before pictures if I'm feeling brave. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Some of my favorite pictures

We're very tired

Us at St. Patrick's Day...I'm Irish...we do it up right
J determined He was really in the Dog House this time
We're children of the 80s we love monster trucks
 Some of J's Favorites...keepin' it real
J laughed so hard he nearly went off the road...he had to get a picture

J made a U-Turn to get this picture...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life is Short

J is adopted and his adoptive parents are his Mom and Dad. They raised him they were there for all his ups and downs. They are his guides in life. He has five adoptive siblings. They are his brothers and sisters. But when J was 21 he was approached by Social Services because his biological parents wanted to meet him. He debated because he really had no desire to have a relationship with his biological parents because they aren't his parents. But he learned he had two biological sisters, A and M. He wanted to know them.

He met his biological parents but the relationship was never really there because he had a Mom and a Dad and they weren't it. They got divorced when he was 23 and he lost connection with his biological father. He tried to maintain a relationship with his biological mother over the years but she wanted more than he could give her. So now he just has a relationship with his biological sisters, A and M. His biological father had a number of issues and had had a rough life which he sometimes took out on others. But A and M, more so A tried to maintain a relationship with him. It was hard but he was their father. Their mother got remarried to a wonderful man who was more of a father than a step-father. But their father was always there in the background. And although they didn't have the best relationship they always felt there was time for it to heal.

Labor Day weekend their father took his own life after a struggle with depression. It shocked everyone because he had always been larger than life and forever happy. For J he wasn't really effected other than the fact that he wanted to be there for A & M. So he and I did what we could to offer support. A has been very hard hit by this because she feels a great loss of what will never be. She can never repair that relationship.

This whole experience got me thinking...I didn't know this man...I'd never met...never even talked to him on the phone. And yet his death caused a void. I am very close with A & M. I love them like sisters. It has been hard to watch their grief, particularly A's. She and I have had many phone conversations about this. (She's in MI.) I feel for her because death is never easy to deal with but when it is so sudden it is harder still. I have long known that life is short...but this whole experience has reminded me of these truths...

  • Life is short
  • Do not let your last words to someone be in anger...they may really be your last words
  • If you have something you want to do or say before you die...why are you waiting?
  • Tell those you love that you love them regularly
  • Don't sweat the small stuff
  • Realize in the grand is all small stuff
  • Don't leave something unfinished
  • Respect people even if you don't agree with them
  • Talk to someone...people care more than you realize
  • Laugh is good for your abs and it helps your mental state
  • Let other live they way they want to live
  • Breathe...and count to 10 then speak

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some of my Favorite Blogs are Having Giveaways

Lori Anderson is giving away a copy of this book! She has a design in it that is stunning. Check out Pretty Things to enter.

Elisabeth over at Beads for Busy Gals is giving away a copy of this magazine! Her story about it is rather amusing because we've all been there. Check out Beads for Busy Gals to enter.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Etsy Finds

I spend a lot of time on Etsy. I like looking around at what all is out there and I also like reading their articles, especially "Quit Your Day Job." It gives me inspiration. Here are a couple things I've found on there recently that I love.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Limiting Design Skills

As a creative person I'm drawn to many different things. I like sewing accessories and beading jewelry. But I'd like to expand to PMC (Precious Metal Clay). I think it would be a fun addition to my jewelry and to my purses. I'm thinking charms for zipper pulls, etc. I also want to learn some more skills in wirework. I like learning new things.

Over the weekend though my brother and I were talking about my business and he said that I needed to narrow it to a few purse styles and a few jewelry styles. Because if you do too much you won't be good at any of it. But if you narrow it down you can be great. I listened but I admit a part of me was disheartened because I myself like variety. I have a lot of purse patterns and jewelry designs in mind. But perhaps he's right in the beginning I should limit my selection.

I admit as an artist it is easy to have many projects started but not as many finished. I am famous for that. So I guess his suggestion makes sense.

What do you think? Should artists limit themselves to a few designs, a few mediums, a few styles, etc or can we do a number of things? What about you what do you do?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dear Sick Co-worker,

To my dear sick co-worker,

I'm sorry you aren't feeling well. Please stay home and rest and recover. Seriously. When you come to work to try and work through it, you share your germs with all of us. Please stay home until you are well and go to the doctor to get the proper medicine. Thank you.

Your co-worker who is now getting sick thanks to you

I will Thrive...Deployment stories

J is in Japan for three years. It is his last three years and we'll get to see each other but it is tough none the less. Most of the time I do fine...I have moments but overall I'm good. And I've decided to set deployment goals for the time he is gone. I figure a) goals are good, b) goals will keep me busy, and c) goals will help the time pass.
Just like my business I've decided that you guys can help keep me honest. So here they are. If the list seems long keep in mind I have three years... (Please realize some of these require outside people)


  • Start my business selling purses and jewelry
  • Get back to working out regularly (it really helps with my stress level)
  • Work on eating healthier
  • Eat at home five nights a week
  • Cook at least three nights a week
  • Go out with friends or family once a week
  • Pamper myself once a month with a pedicure, manicure, etc

  • Get our basement and attic organized
  • Start getting other rooms cleaned out and put together
  • Paint the bedrooms
  • Put in a fence for the dogs (and me)
  • Replace carpet in the living room and upstairs
  • Paint the exterior of the house
  • Replace our garage door (it has issues)
  • Redo the bathroom
  • Get training on inDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop
  • Work to expand our Carnival
  • Revamp our marketing publications 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baby Steps in Business

So in my brother is the math, science, and business whiz. Which is good because he works in finance and he is good at it. I on the other hand am better with the creative side of things...I hated math and loved English and Art. But he is a great resource for me. As I've mentioned before I want to start my own business selling handmade accessories. So I made up a business plan (which I've never done) and my brother read through it. He made some very good suggestions: keep it simple in the beginning, get a domain name, get business card, keep it legal, set goals, etc. He made a very good point that this is the perfect time to do this since J is gone and I have time on my hands. So I'm going to use this blog to help keep me on's my current to do list (in no particular order):
  • Create a business name ~ mncollins designs
  • Get a domain name  ~ mncollins (not live yet)
  • Get a tax certificate and a DBA (doing business as)
  • Get business cards
  • Make purses and jewelry
  • Set-up an Etsy site
  • Open a bank account
  • Set goals for sales and business
  • Start spreading the word
So we're on our way to having a business!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Your Animal's Rights vs My Animal's Rights

AKA My current challenges walking my dogs...

I have been trying to take Eva and Ares for walks in the mornings.
  1. Because it is good for them  
  2. Because it is good for me  
  3. Because it makes them calmer and less destructive 
But I've hit a bit of a glitch along the way. A few blocks away is a Rottweiler (before anyone jumps I love Rottweilers and as a Pit Bull owner I'm defensive of other dogs who get a bad rap I'm just including it for size reference.) who lives outside all the time, all day every day. I actually feel bad for him because it gets hot and cold in Virginia.

They have a waist high wrought iron fence around their yard with a very poor gate at the back for the drive way. If he wanted to he could jump the fence or he could easily break through the gate. He hasn't so far. He isn't fixed so he is territorial. Every time we walk the dogs past him he charges the fence and puts his paws up on the top, etc. So I decided to avoid the situation...or so I thought. I decided instead of going straight I'd turn down the street and walk down around the block to avoid his yard. Well walking down the block across the street from his yard he still charged the fence and tried to get to Eva. He went to the back gate and nosed at it but that was it. But I'm very worried about him getting out and I think because he is so territorial it would get ugly fast and I wouldn't be able to do much about it. So I've decided just to completely skip his block all together when I walk to avoid the situation.

I worry about him because I think he is neglected which is another issue for his energy. And as I said he is territorial because he spends all day in that yard. Other neighbors have the same issue with their dogs. Fortunately there hasn't been a serious issue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Big D - Divorce

First off let me say this is not about J and I. We are doing great we just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in September.

The end of summer and this fall have been a difficult time for my family. My father has asked my mother for a divorce. It has been a core shaking event in my life and in my family. They have been married for 42 years. I'm not going to go into the details because that is their business but I will say it has been a tough journey. My father is not behaving in any way like the man I thought I knew. I realize my parents are people and they aren't perfect, they make mistakes, etc but I've always been a daddy's girl and this has been hard. He keeps using the phrase "clean brake" well that doesn't work after 42 years and two children. The kicker is that this came right after my brother got married and right before J left so it was a lot all at once.

Our main concern is that mom is taken care of financially. She has health issues that make a job difficult at best so she will be dependent on alimony. Ultimately we think she will be fine but this isn't the life she expected so she is going through a mourning process over the divorce and over the loss of the life she thought she had. My brother and I just want the best for her. The good news is as part of this she is being much more adventurous. So we'll see. But it is a tough transition for all of us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Beach Ball Moments

I'm back. Sorry for the long absence. I promise I will explain.

When I went through my divorce I read a book called Breaking and Mending: Divorce and God's Grace. It is a great book and I recommend it for both those going through a divorce and those going through a big break-up. This book was a big part of my recovery which later left me open to meet and eventually marry the man of my dreams.

One of the concepts I loved in this book was the "beach ball moment." Mary Lou Redding explains it in these terms (I'm paraphrasing) if you try to hold a beach ball under water it will work for a while but eventually it will pop back up when you aren't expecting it. She goes on to say this can happen with emotions too. If you keep them in and you keep them in they will eventually pop out when you don't expect them. An example of this is you're in the grocery store and something rings up wrong and instead of calmly explaining that it was marked differently you fly off the handle at the poor clerk. You aren't really mad at the clerk you are taking out other feelings that you haven't dealt with out on her.

I had a beach ball moment last night at work. We have a council meeting in the evening once a month and at the close of the meeting we do a closing prayer circle. I was doing good I'd talked about J being deployed earlier in the night no problems. But for some reason when I went to bring him up at the prayer time the tears came. And I'm not a pretty crier because my nose starts to go and I get sniffly. Then following the prayer I got lots of hugs and words of wisdom. One of which was tears are a necessary part of the process. So true. But I know it is because I was tired and it is still so new. I know we will survive and I hope grow from this experience but it is tough. I miss him horribly. Even our dogs miss them horribly.
And I know there will be other beach ball moments before it is all over.

So what are your beach ball moments?