Emily’s New Dress

Saturday….I have five hundred things to do and what do I do?  Sew a dress for a baby doll.  How can you resist the: “Mommy, my baby does not have any clothes, can you make her some?”  Vivian was looking at me with such faith in her eyes, who was I to let her down? 🙂 When I bought this doll for Vivian for Christmas, I looked around at a couple stores searching for baby clothes Emily’s size.  However, I did not come across any.  So, knowing this already, I pulled out the sewing machine and made Emily a dress. 

I am not a seamstress, by any stretch of the imagination.  I can’t follow a pattern to save my life.  I gave my daughter the choice between three fabrics, and she chose flags.  Good ole red white and blue.  What am I supposed to make out of that?  I guess we are going to get Emily ready for July 4th early!  Well, here it is.  And the outfit would not be complete without a huge red tulle bow to top Emily’s head.

Emily's New Dress


Buying a piece of history: My new table has arrived!

About three months or so ago, Steven and I took a drive down to the Old School House Antique Mall in Washington, La.  Washington is a charming town full of history and well preserved old buildings.  Their Main Street is largely intact.  When you walk down the sidewalk you are transported to back in time.

When we were at the School House we came across a booth containing handcrafted furniture by a local artist, Mr. Walter (last name excluded for privacy).  Mr. Walter rescued wood from a pre-civil war warehouse that was being taken down.  Mr. Walter used the wood salvaged to make tables, armoires and other significant furniture pieces.  We were very interested in his work and commissioned him to make a ten foot long dinner table.  Wednesday night, Mr. Walter called us and told us our table was ready.  Since he does not cut his boards down (as he explains it, you can’t really do anything with a two inch by ten foot old board) our table came out to be ten foot and one inch, by forty-six inches wide.  Mr. Walter delivered our table tonight and it is beautiful! 

When we first bought our house, two years ago, we went to Haverty’s to look at dining room sets, but nothing was large enough for our dining room and the prices were outrageous for pressed board, laminate junk.  I was definitely not impressed by any of our area furniture stores.  I looked at a couple antique places here, but I still could not find anything large enough to fit in our dining room.  I wanted a table that would entertain many!  I liked this table at Pottery Barn:


The cost: $1,600.00 (plus shipping) and since I cannot see it in person, I am not sure if it is the real deal or some piece of laminate junk.  It is six feet by 42 inches wide.  It comes with two leaves which would extend the table to nine feet.

This is my table:  (For more pictures, click here)

dining room table

Again, it is ten feet long and I don’t have to deal with the leaves…taking them in and out.  I also did not have to pay for delivery.  Mr. Walter brought me the article in the paper and some history on the building that was taken down.  He signed my table and gave us a can of Briwax to keep it in tip top shape.  How much did I pay for my table? $1,700.  That is a steal!

Article in the newspaper regarding the warehouse being taken down

Article in the newspaper regarding the warehouse being taken down

I am extremely excited!  I am having a Valentine’s Day get together, and I can’t wait to put my new/old table to good use!

I need to refinish the wainscoting.  We have decided to not strip the paint.  I like the light color in there.  I think wood would be too dark and, because I am stripping paint in the rest of the house, we are just going to leave it for now.  Now, if I can only get rid of the rug (that won’t happen until I refinish the floors) and the very ugly faux brass chandelier. I would like a chandelier similar to this:


***Update: I left a couple important details out regarding the table.  Thanks to those who commented! You are keeping me on my toes!  The table was made the old fashioned way.  Everything is fitted together without nails.  The only things that required a couple of screws were the straps under the table.  As you can imagine, a 10 foot piece of lumber, times 3, can get wobbly in the middle when moved.  Mr. Walter screwed to straps to the underside of the table for stability.  I hope that answers your questions!

Happy Friday everyone!


We shape our buildings…

…thereafter, they shape us.”  Winston Churchill


This is so true.  In about 20-30 years, a lot of the McMansions being built today, full of plastic doors and cheap stuff, will be run down eyesores begging to be torn down.  They just don’t build houses like they used to.  I am proud to live in my one hundred year home that was built by the last owner of the Kent Plantation, Sally Hynson-Ringold, and to own another significant older home right next to me.  I am happy to announce that this coming Tuesday, we will become the proud owners of a third piece of Alexandria’ history.  I am very excited about our purchase and am glad to aid this older, once grand, neighborhood and have hopes and visions that it can be returned to its former glory.

This lady is doing it, why can’t we?  And this group: Save the Bungalows 


Dreaming of Spring

I guess I am starting to weary of the cold temperatures and am yearning for some warmer weather ’cause lately I find myself poring over landscaping books dreaming up a plan for my southern garden.  Actually, it is a soon-to-be southern garden.  Right now it is just dirt.  My house came with some nice established camelias, azaleas and a 100 year old magnolia, but I can’t seem to find where any previous owner kept a flower garden.  I do have an iris bed on one side of the house.  But, they really need to be culled.  The ground is so thick with bulbs that they choke each other out and don’t bloom.  The front of my house is really dreary.  I think some nice spots of color would give it a facelift.  The only problem is, I read these wonderful magazines and get hooked on a certain kind of flower, then I realize that they only grow in the north.  Phooey.  Since we live in the middle of Louisiana state, we endure hot and humid temperatures that last well into September.  In fact, our winter ends sometime at the end of February/March.  I have to try real hard to leave the flip flops in the closet until at least March.  So, I am sitting here on the internet researching plants and flowers that will thrive in hot and humid weather.  I notice that many tropicals come up in my zone search.  But, I want some FLOWERS.  If anyone has a southern garden and has any advice regarding what type of plants to choose, please feel free to leave a comment.  Otherwise, here are my dream pictures.


I was looking at this picture admiring the yard.  Then, I realized that it is the WHITE HOUSE rose garden…sheesh.  I have expensive taste.  Roses are beautiful, but too high maintenance for me.


Botanical garden in Jerusalem.


Paulsen-Carlin garden.


And now for some tropicals:


I really like this one.  It would really give my front yard a jolt!



Even though I am planning a beautiful front yard, I am sure that I will not get to it this year.  We still have to repair and paint the porch and porch rails.  If I planted this year, we would trample all over them trying to get the porch work done.  But, I guess it doesn’t hurt to research and plan now.  Sigh….  Happy planting!


Yes, dahlin?

Recently Vivian has become enamored with scarves.  This afternoon, on our way out the door to a Connect Meeting, she picked it up, tossed one end over her shoulder and said: “Is this how you wear it mommy?”.  It was so cute I had to take a picture of it.



We had a great time at Amy and Brad Scroggs’ home tonight.  We ate gumbo, had a short bible study and played games.  Thanks Amy and Brad!

amy and scroggs


Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


425 Bolton Avenue

Yay!  Tuesday, a wall breaking ceremony was conducted at 425 Bolton Avenue which signified a turning point in this building’s history.  Instead of a date with the wrecking ball, this building will be given new life and new purpose by being rehabilitated into the local American Red Cross’ headquarters.  It is a monument on Bolton Avenue and many persons remember fondly riding their bike down Bolton Avenue alongside this building.  The grants and funds obtained for this project are going to be well spent.  I am excited to see the American Red Cross get a “new”, larger headquarters, all the while advancing Alexandria’s historic preservation.  Thumbs up to the City, HPC and all persons who made this possible.

Here are some pictures from yesterday’s ceremony.:




The trade: Marshall for Lavardain — is anything different?

Sigh….  I was optimistically hoping that Alexandria was going to see a new day in politics following our recent council elections. I even congratulated Mr. Lavardain for a race well run.  However, after reading council minutes and watching that ridiculous display by Bridgett Brown in the recent council meeting, all I can say is that a race well run is a big difference from being a Councilman.  I applaud Mayor Roy for repeating himself and being very patient while being interrupted several times during his report.  It seems like we are still stuck on making race an issue during council meetings.  It seems that Goins and Lavardain were bent on making a point about African American businesses not getting a larger chunk of business from the city of Alexandria.  I don’t understand why they are so concerned with that one ethnic group.  I live in Mr. Lavardain’s district and I am caucasian.  He should be fairly representing me also.  Why not be concerned with all ethnicities and all issues.  Yet, here we are again, making race an issue.  And, not just any race, but the African American race.  I am sooooooooo sick of it!  Its a new day.  Its a new year.  It is a new CENTURY!  The cotton picking days are over.

If I was a council member, I would ask: 1) How many minorities own businesses in Alexandria; 2) Do they qualify for city business, or have a service that the city needs; 3) Do they even want to qualify for city contracts; 4) Are they doing what they need to do in order to submit a bid and qualify for a city contract.  If you are interested in getting city business, research what you need to do and do it.  I don’t feel that the city is handing out contracts to all of the non-minority business just be racist.  They are probably accepting bids to those who offer great services at low prices, or because their business might be the only one in the market for that particular job.  To make it a race thing is just pathetic.  I would really be upset if the city started picking contracts based on race or gender instead of quality of work or product to be offered.  It is not fair to pass over a bid from a business because it is minority owned, but it is equally unfair to pass over a bid because it is caucasian owned. 

This whole saga about putting Von Jennings on administrative leave is making my head hurt.  I think the real reason she was put on leave was put very nicely in the last paragraph of the Town Talk’s story today:

Jennings said her attempts to compile data on minority-owned businesses were frequently met by a lack of support and funding from the administration. And when she was questioned by council members and expressed her problems, Jennings claims, she was placed on leave for “external conversations.”

Roy denied both of these accusations. Instead, he claimed that Jennings did not report to work and did not advance the AFEAT program.

Well, duh.  If I didn’t report to work or do what I was supposed to, I would get fired to.  Its as simple as that.  It really galls me when I read this sentence:

Jennings said her attempts to compile data on minority-owned businesses were frequently met by a lack of support and funding from the administration. And when she was questioned by council members and expressed her problems, Jennings claims, she was placed on leave for “external conversations.”

It just sounds to me like she was just not doing her job and making excuses for herself.  I have see many people in the city who have been given little funding, but they sure are whipping out progress.  The HPC (Historic Preservation Commission) for example is operating on a very small budget (from what I understand) and that office has done some very good work with the little they have.  In fact, I think I will write a post about that in a minute.

I want to throw my hands up in the air.  Lets talk logic here.  Lets not make it about race, creed, color, religion, etc. etc., but let us use a little common sense and speak logically.  That is a new word for the council, LOGIC.  It appears that we are sadly lacking in that department.  It makes me wonder if Alexandria will ever emerge from the dark ages and get up to speed. Sadly, if our council and administration stay divided, this is not going to happen.  I have to further applaud the mayor for being a gentleman and trying his best to spur the city forward.  I just wish the council could get on the same page and stop beating this dead horse they call “racism within the city administration”.  It is a card that is sadly played out.  Move on!  Move the city forward.


Happiness is….

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Someone sent this to me today and I really liked it.  I can really relate to this saying.  It seems that sometimes I am a split personality.  I say one thing and really think another.  For instance, when asked: Q: “Were you going to eat that last piece of pie”?   A: “No” I lie.  Q: “Do you want to sign up for this committee and help with [insert committee/charity name here]”.  A: “Sure”.  I mean, why not.  I only have five bazillion other things I do and charities to support.  Sometimes its a wonder I ever get ANYTHING accomplished!  😀  I really wanted to say exactly how I felt, but it seems that the times I did express my true opinion, something went sour and I always felt like sticking my foot in my mouth.  Although, if you know me, you would say that I am not a door mat and I do have a definite opinion and way of doing things, but it seems like when I open my mouth, what I really want to say, just doesn’t come out right!

Although, this past year has really taught me many valuable things.  Even though most say 2008 was a really bad year, I have to chalk it up to one of the best years of my life.  I learned how to say “No”., mean it and walk away without feeling guilty.  Last year I focused on quality and not quantity and I do believe it has improved my life spiritually and emotionally.  It has also improved quality of life for my family.  Instead of me running around like a chicken with her head cut off, I stayed home, enjoyed my family, enjoyed my church and chose a handful of activities and organizations to be involved in.  And, you know what?  Everything got done anyway.  It did not all hinge upon whether or not I could sign up for ONE more thing.  So, I am off to a good start this year!  I am looking forward to 2009. 


So, Where’s the Drill At?

“So, where’s the drill at?”  I asked my husband smiling sweetly as I entered the living room.  I know that question is the one he hates to hear coming out of my mouth.  Steven peered up at me over the top of his laptop screen and replied “It is in the kitchen”.  I scurried off to retrieve it before he asked me any more questions.  As I made my retreat, I hollered out his second most hated question “Do you know where the leveler is too?”  I am surprised he did not follow me into the kitchen.  He must have either chalked it up to: 1) She has her mind set on doing something and I am not going to interfere; or 2) I am going to ignore her because if I show interest she will involve me somehow.

I retrieved the drill, two screws, an extra shelf I had lying around and the leveler and headed to the bathroom.  I had just finished cleaning out the bathroom cabinet. I know when you think of a bathroom cabinet, you envision a small little chrome and white thing with two little glass shelves.  No, no, no, that is not my bathroom cabinet.  It is a full cabinet with a laundry hamper behind a closed door on the bottom, and a HUGE open, deep cabinet at the top.  I got tired of rifling through everything looking for Tylenol, a sheet, an extra handtowel, my toothpaste, etc. that I decided to organize it — TODAY!  After I was finished pulling everything out and putting it in stacks, I noticed the reason things became so disorganized.  I have so many little prescription bottles and medicines, tubes of Neosporin, etc. that kept getting lost in depth of the cabinet.  So, I decided to put up little shelf inside the cabinet to set all of the small things on.  I put the shelf on the wall, leveled it, marked it on the wall and used two screws to put it up.  Voila!  Done!  The next step is painting the inside of the cabinet.  I will post an “after”  picture when I am completely done.

Now, my cabinet is organized, everything is neatly labeled, stacked, folded, on a shelf and within easy reach.  My husband finally got around to come and see what in the world it was I was getting into and he swears that when he opens the cabinet door, he hears the heavenly voices sing: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh” with lights shooting from the depths of the cabinet!  It is that neat, clean and organized.