I’m Now A Professional Yard Crasher

YC Collage

So last September I get a text from my Ansley in Nashville to let me know that she has just been chosen to be on DIY’s Yard Crashers…. WHAT?!?! And can I come up ASAP to help? Well of course I said YES! (ROAD TRIP!!) Seriously, I know if I can just get a break, I am meant to be a TV star. (Why me you ask? Well, first I can talk about anything anytime to anyone and second, they are really good with hair & make-up so they can make anyone beautiful.) But I digress… back to Yard Crashers.

For those of you that don’t know, the show is basically this: TV host (who is a real contractor) scopes out a local hardware store to find someone there who needs a new back yard. He goes to their house, assess the yard, tells them to call some friends to help, then comes back with a local construction team and incredible plans to make the yard AMAZING!! Then the yard is transformed in two days. Yep, I said TWO DAYS!! You cannot even imagine what can be done in a back yard with 6 TV people, 5 contractors, 3 stone guys, 2 home owners, about 9 friends and two days. Truly crazy!!

They took my friend’s completely useless back yard that they NEVER, EVER used and made it the most used room in the house. But it was not easy! I may be permanently scarred from this but it was so worth it. After all I can now put ALL THIS on my resume: deck sander, railing/fence/gate painter, street scraper, mulch hauler/spreader, pebble layer, champion shovel user, water passer-outer, trash picker-upper, mud boot buyer, sod roller, not to mention antique wood waxer. (Oh yeah, you are wanting to hire me right now aren’t you???)

I will confess I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life and had no idea that this many muscles could all be sore at one time. There is nothing like a little manual labor to put things in perspective. The professionals that worked with us (shout out to Brandon Nutt Construction, Franklin, TN… whoop! whoop!) were not only amazing at their craft but unbelievably patient people. Imagine having to do quality work quickly and with a bunch of untrained, unskilled, unruly friends while TV cameras rolled. Yep, those guys deserve a HUGE reward for putting up with all of us.

So, in the end how’d it turn out? Well you won’t see me with my own TV show anytime soon (I know, I worked my razor sharp wit while muddy and sweaty but they must have missed it…their loss) but that back yard? It looks like a dream. Once the plans were laid out, I thought nice but when it was actually completed, it was like something you only see on TV… oh, wait, that’s exactly what it is!!

Before: (You really can’t tell how sloped the yard is from this pic so trust me!!)

YC Before

During:

YC During

After:

YC After

Yes, I’m a pretty skilled worker at this point… but you’d have to pay me a ton to do it all again!!

My Ansley is going to be on TV y’all!

You have all heard me talk about my Ansley (I blogged about her here.) Well way back in September of 2013, Ansley and her husband Adam were chosen to be on the DIY network show “Yard Crashers”. I KNOW!! Can you believe they got picked to be on TV?!? And get a free yard in the process!

Naturally being the phenomenal good friend that I am, I drove up to Nashville and worked harder than I have ever worked in my life for this:

Yard Crashers

So y’all tune in cause you might just see the back of my head or a close up of my gloves. I’ll be the one sweating…

Yes, I Am Still Alive

May Adventures

Yes, I realize I have been silent for some time… I’ve kind of been half too busy, half too lazy. Keeping it real people, keeping it real.

Here’s the thing, all my boys are typically home for May so all I do is focus on spending time with them along with doing all that I can to assure that Tim’s end of the school year goes well. This year Luke and Matt were home all of May and we all traveled to Memphis with a nice stopover in Nashville for Will’s grad school graduation. We finished off May by heading to Charleston to see our beautiful niece Rachel marry Robert and y’all it was all a blast!

So before I turned around it was June and I was shipping off Luke to Memphis to work his second summer at Service Over Self (check it out here, a GREAT ministry!) and Matt off to Greenville to serve on Furman’s summer orientation staff. Obviously, Tim and I then headed off on a few vacations and adventures of our own.

So as July hits I assure you, you will get tired of hearing from me! Enjoy your fourth and stay cool….

My Hobby Lobby Obsession

Once again I was late to the party! I am certain I am the last person on the entire earth to discover…Hobby Lobby. This past weekend in Nashville, my Ansley was telling me about all the great fabric Hobby Lobby carries when I told her that I had never been… even though I have one two minutes from my house. I though she was going to pass out… she was appalled! You see I knew that I was not into building model airplanes or those ship-in-a-bottle thingies, so I though why go to a store full of that kind of stuff, right??? WRONG!! They are WAY more than that. WHO KNEW?!?! (everyone but me apparently.)

I have to admit I went a bit grudgingly, after all Ans insisted that I go and she even wanted live texting so that she could enjoy it with me… I’m thinking to myself, “Ans, you really need to get a life.” So I put it off as long as I could and yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and just get it over with… an hour and a half later I finally left hoping to go back again today!!! I mean seriously people, I could have stayed all day.

You all know that after being a retail buyer for years, I am not a shopper. My thoughts are get in, get what you came for and get out. So I set aside fifteen minutes to go in to look at the fabric and possibly find a birthday gift for a friend… well, I spent fifteen minutes looking at the candle aisle alone. If you can think of it, they have it! From candles to fabric to home goods to knick knacks to wall décor. Y’all I found myself trying to figure out which room I could redecorate with a nautical theme so that I could buy this adorable life boat bookcase (cause I need another bookcase, right?!?!) It was then that I realized I needed to WALK AWAY. Hobby Lobby you are my new favorite obsession store but I realized that I need to restrain myself and only purchase what I can actually use…unfortunately, the adorable life boat bookcase may not be making the cut.

Toddlers, Ice Storms, and Sewing… OH MY!!

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So I headed up to see my Ansley this past weekend for what can only be called a sewing marathon. She wanted to learn to sew, I’ve been sewing for years and I’m always up for a trip to Nashville. We accomplished a lot- one set of curtains, one smocked top dress and one adorable polka dot jumper. What? You don’t think that’s a lot? Well did I mention that her three year old daughter and eighteen month old son were there but her hubby was not? So we were also tending to the needs of two toddlers one of whom had a stomach bug and the other who was teething. Yeah, now we’re looking like rock stars aren’t we?!?!

Our biggest problem was not the kids, in spite of how the felt, they were great! No the biggest problem we faced is the fact that I am absolutely the WORST teacher in the world. I sometimes had to train people back when I worked and they can attest that my mind does not go step by step. I see where we are, where we want to go and my mind just gets there… I can’t explain for the life of me how I got there… I just did. Yes, my math teachers loved this; the answer was always right but they wanted to know how I got it. For some reason, it always took them a while to realize that my mind truly went from the problem to the solution without needing the in between steps. Ooops! Anyway, that is how my mind works and it’s not great when trying to teach anyone anything. Poor Ans!!

Somehow we stumbled along just fine and by Monday when the ice storm tried to trap me in Nashville FOREVER we realized not only had we accomplished a ton but Ans learned to sew! I’d like to think it was my ability to transfer knowledge effortlessly but to be honest, it’s not really hard to sew when you have a pattern and can follow directions. Luckily Ans, being a first born, is an ace at following directions. Now don’t tell her but for the next few days I’m going to just sit in my house, enjoy the peace, relish the quiet and bask in the fact that my baby is nineteen.

Thank You Mr. Conroy

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We’ve covered the fact that I am a voracious reader before in this post https://wenreeve.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/true-confession/ and while I am a fan of many I’ve never really been a “groupie” of any author but when I heard that Mr. Conroy was going to be in Nashville speaking and signing his new book “Death of the Great Santini” I knew I would move heaven and earth to be there!

My Ansley introduced me to Mr. Conroy when we first met in 2006. You should know that hands down he is her FAVORITE author of all time and has been since she was in her teens. At her recommendation, my first book by Mr. Conroy was “The Water is Wide” and I knew right away that it was love. Mr. Conroy writes in a way no one else even comes close to in my mind. He takes me so deep into the story that I find myself taking on the feelings and struggles of the characters in the book and literally become so wrapped up in them that I struggle to walk away. There is no way I can read his books back to back because I get so involved that I border on morose and know for sure my family would never put up with me like that! If you have never read Mr. Conroy, shame on you. He is a prolific southern gentleman, scholar and writer of prose who pulls from deeply personal struggles in every book. His gift is such that I feel intimately acquainted with each and every character in his books. In my mind I have walked where they walked, ate what they ate and lived their life with them.

Amazingly, not only was Mr. Conroy going to be interviewed about his new book (by Ann Patchett no less- WHAT?!?!) but he was going to sign books afterward. Y’all, I would have been fine just to hear the interview. He. Was. Amazing. Like Ann Patchett said in the interview, “Pat, you write in such a way that we fall in love with a man you hated simply because of your compassion.” Mr. Conroy had us alternately laughing and crying over and over all in the space of an hour. He is bright, funny, charming and lights up when he talks about his family and his books. Then he went into the lobby of the auditorium and singed books for anyone who wanted one for over two hours (I say over two hours because that’s how long we waited and there were more after us!!) When it was your turn, he not only introduced himself to you personally, he looked you in the eye and shook your hand as if you were the only person in the room!!! Then he quietly talked with you while he signed your books. OH MY GOODNESS!!!

It was a night I will always remember and he is a man I will never forget. Mr. Conroy, thank you for being exactly what your mother wanted you to be, a quintessential southern gentleman through and through.

World Peace and Cheese Dip

If I was forced at gun point to choose my favorite food (cause that could happen), there is NO DOUBT what it would be. Ask anyone in my immediate family and they’d know along with most of my Nashville friends. Why my Nashville friends you ask? Well a good portion of them agree with me (right Ans, Katy, Annie, Kelli, Graham?) You see we all believe that the only thing necessary to achieve world peace is to make everyone involved gather around a bowl of cheese dip. Yep, I said cheese dip. Now this would be no ordinary cheese dip but MEXICAN RESTAURANT cheese dip… with fresh tortilla chips (I’m drooling… you?)

I love Nashville for a thousand reasons but the biggest one is the people. Because y’all, I’ve found these are my Mexican restaurant, cheese dip loving peeps. On any given trip to Nashville, there will be at least one trip to eat Mexican… if it’s a really good trip, we’ll go twice. I’m not talking Chipotle or Moe’s (even though they have tasty food) nope, I’m talking what we call dirty Mexican. Meaning that when they bring you your food, the plate’s not pretty and all they’re going to get back is an empty, dirty plate from a satisfied customer.

Truthfully, I could eat Mexican food three meals a day and one of my most favorite trips ever was when Tim took me to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. We couldn’t do much since Tim had an emergency appendectomy on Saturday before we left on Thursday, but just between you and me, that made it better because all we could do was hang out by the pool and EAT (understanding now why it was my favorite vaca ever!!) I could lie to you and say that my favorite part was just being with Tim or the pool sitting, but why lie?? It was really all about the food for me. I ate quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and even tacos for BREAKFAST. With fresh guacamole, sour cream and cheese dip…. this girl was in heaven.

Unfortunately, we can never go back to this particular resort… no, not because of anything we did but simply because it would never match up to that first trip. I never mess with perfection when it concerns food. There is absolutely no reason to go back and taint the amazing memories I have. So, I guess the next time Tim wants to take me on a once in a lifetime trip, he’ll just have to do his research and make sure they know their food. You think there’s any good Mexican restaurants in Paris???