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Martha Stewart-esque FAIL

I am 2 for 2 on fails with Martha Stewart-esque projects recently. I feel good about posting them so that others might know that it's okay to fail and blog about it. The first was a batch of blueberry scones that I made to take as a housewarming gifts to friends I was visiting this past month.

Packaged them up with ribbon that I already had,

Added some personal tags,

So far so good, right? Wrong.

They tasted like biscuits, not scones. What's worse, one of the friends had a Devonshire Tea as her wedding reception! She is a total scone aficionado. I confessed after I got there that I had totally forgotten about her love for scones, and that I really wasn't bringing them because I remembered how much she loved them. I then told her they were blueberry biscuits, tried to, and I made her promise not to eat them until I left that weekend. She showed me a video from America's Test Kitchen and said it was the best scone recipe she had ever tried. Oh well, now I know where to go for scones.

FAIL #2 was more of the baby shower decoration variety. Yes, I saw a fantastic idea for a hanging mobile of sorts, made out of flowery vines and spelling out 'baby' in French. Bebe. Now...lots went wrong from this point on. It wasn't a French themed shower at all, the vines started to look weepy in the 110 degree weather we've had, and on top of it all, I hung it in front of a mirror over the mantle because it was the most central place in the room.

Like this

Can you read that? It's okay, no one could. Are you laughing yet? On top of it all, the first person that walked in took one look at it and said, "Who's Bebe?" (like Bebe gun, no French accent)
After that, not another word was said through the whole shower about the strange vines hanging in the corner spelling out the name of someone who did not exist. The baby shower was for a boy incidentally, which added nothing in terms of context clues. Oops. We're all fine here and the sweet baby boy was born on Thursday afternoon August 19, 2010, healthy and beautifully! Congratulations Laura and Joseph! Love to you!


How young is too young?

I've gone back and forth about writing specifics of dating experiences, but seeing as this will never be a blog with thousands of readers, I guess I'm just putting it out there to read again one day when I'm old and to have a good laugh. My new next door neighbor asked me out on a date this past week. Nothing wrong with that I guess. After all, he is a cute and very nice guy.  But, the rest of the story is that he is 11, possibly 12 years younger than me based on light stalking/facebook calculations.

Just graduated from college. I am 33. Any thoughts on this one?

I think famous people can get away with it, but I'm not famous. Except for this first one...I mean gross. All I can think of is the movie "Beaches", when she was dying in a chair staring at the ocean. And now she's dating Sayid?! No way. He's too cool for a pasty, dying woman.

Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews 62 and 41

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon 41 and 29

Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry 43 and 34


Death of the McMansion, Garage Mahal or Starter Castle

This is a hilarious article on the Death of "McMansions"! I had to post it because Atlanta is just littered with them! I'll take small and charming any day!
They’ve been called McMansions, Starter Castles, Garage Mahals and Faux Chateaus but here’s the latest thing you can call them — History.
In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of references made to the “McMansion glut” and the “McMansion backlash,” as more towns pass ordinances against garishly large homes, which are generally over 3,000 square feet and built very close together.
What sets a McMansion apart from a regular mansion, according to Wikipedia, are a few characteristics: They’re tacky, they lack a definitive style and they have a “displeasingly jumbled appearance.”
Well, count 2010 as the year the last nail was hammered into the McCoffin: In its latest report on home-buying trends, real-estate site Trulia declares: “The McMansion Era Is Over.”
Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 feet.
“That’s something that would’ve been unbelievable just a few years back,” said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia. “Americans are moving away from McMansions.”
The comments echoed those made in June by Kermit Baker, the chief economist at the American Institute of Architects.
“We continue to move away from the McMansion chapter of residential design, with more demand for practicality throughout the home,” Baker said. “There has been a drop off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts, and gazebos.”
“McMansions just look and feel out of place today, given the more cautious environment everyone’s living in,” said Paul Bishop, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors.
And homebuilders are heeding the call: In a survey of builders last year, nine out of 10 said they planned to build smaller or lower-priced homes.

Even in Texas, the land of go big or go home, they’re downsizing.

Diane Cheatham, owner of Urban Edge Developers in Dallas, said today, the average size of home they’re building is 2,200 square feet, down from 2,500 in 2005 — which was considered small for Dallas back then.
She said the trend there is more toward building green homes instead of big homes. Right now, they’re building a 1,200-square-foot uber-green home for a couple that’s downsizing from 3,000-square feet, Cheatham explained.

1,200? Some of the hair in Texas is bigger than that!

For a little historical context, 1,200 square feet was the average home size in America in the 1960s. That grew to 1,710 square feet in the 1980s and 2,330 square feet in the 2000s.
What’s more, many in the real-estate business say they think this trend of downsizing, or “right-sizing,” as Flint likes to call it, is here to stay.
“This is absolutely a long-term effect,” he said. “Think of families with small children who’ve been foreclosed upon … When these teenagers are in a position to buy a home, they won’t want to go through these experiences they saw their parents go through.”

Of course, the question becomes, what do we do with all these McMansions that have already been built?
It's tempting to make jokes about what you might do with a former McMansion but with crime on the rise in neighborhoods littered with abandoned McMansions, Christopher Leinberger, in an article for the Atlantic, asked a sobering question: Is this the next slum?
Luckily, people are starting to get creative: A film collective in Seattle has taken over a 10,000-square foot McMansion there, using it for both living and work space. They turned a wine closet into an editing room and tossed a green screen in the garage. And in a suburb of San Diego, one couple turned a former McMansion into a home for autistic adults.
The demise of the McMansion has stirred a growing chorus of murmurs in the real-estate community about the possibility that it may force a dramatic redesign of the suburban McMansion tracts into mini-towns of their own, turning these icons of excess into more practical spaces like offices, banks, grocery stores and movie theaters.

Though, given some of the poor quality of materials and craftsmanship, it begs the question, would it be better to just tear them all down and start from scratch?



My new favorite place

Greenville! Who knew it was such a cute town, and only two hours away?! I can't believe I've never been there before. When I was little we used to drive through on our way to Spartanburg, S.C. to see my three great aunts, two of which never married and lived together all of their lives. They ate bacon every single day, drank black coffee, put baby oil on their faces and had hardly a wrinkle when they died around 100 years old.

 Anyway, I'm sure we stopped at a gas station or for lunch but I didn't remember Greenville at all.  I got to see two friends while I was there. First stop, my sorority sister from college, Stacey and her family, who live in a darling house downtown, which they have done some very fun renovations to. I had to get the tour, and didn't take pictures everywhere while I was there, but wish I had! Maybe I'll get her to send me some. I loved her amazing craft/project/fun room! It was converted from their original garage, so a really good size, with laundry area on one half, hooks, cubbies and the works for all the kiddos plus really beautiful granite or some other natural stone counter tops and custom built-ins and cabinetry all around. A fantastic, massive island sits in the middle of it all with stools to go around. Stacey said she had Ava's birthday party there and they were all able to sit around and do crafts together.

I had a short, but great visit catching up with them! Love her three girls, two of which are definite red heads and the third, just can't tell yet, she was asleep during this photo.

We had fun showing the girls Stacey and Gray's wedding album, and Kate had fun showing me her best frog and horsey.

It was such a fun morning and I could have stayed all day! It really made me miss my friends from college.
As I was saying good-byes, thinking I needed 45 minutes to get to the next place I was headed, my next reason for loving Greenville became was only three minutes away! I am so programmed to the Atlanta mantra, "30-45 minutes to everywhere" that I had no idea it could be different. I know I"m a city girl with very little time in any small town or place. The main places I have lived are Atlanta and Chengdu China, which happens to be on the world's list of most populous cities. So, I headed three minutes away to pick up my next friend for lunch.

Had some amazing She-Crab soup at a fun little restaurant on the river, Larkins.

Walked around the downtown area on the river where there is a huge park, a massive suspension bridge that used to be a highway with a dammed river underneath. They opened the dam and now the river runs through. It's charming and quaint, lots of fun things to do including a symphony, a minor league baseball team with restaurants close by so you can walk to the stadium after dinner easily, shops and restaurants, the best CAKE in the world at a place I can't remember but the slices take two days to eat. Please look and know that I took the other half home in a take out box and ate it while driving back to Atlanta with no utensils. It was a mess, but worth it.

Cool brick structure is a venue for lots of events and sits on the river.

 Historic Westin Downtown

The streets of Downtown

The highlight of my visit with my next friends, Greg and Tricia Baney was by far their company as well as their cooking! I must say, every meal that I had was amazing and the presentation was too! For each meal Tricia would change the place mats, plates and other serving pieces. I really think she did it to match the actual food itself. I told them that they had given me a new appreciation for setting the atmosphere for a meal and I promised I wouldn't stand over the kitchen sink any more with a paper plate and a rolled up pancake for breakfast!

We also had a fabulous time sitting around taking, sleeping in on Saturday and waking up to amazing blueberry pancakes. I loved my time with them as well and honestly would consider a move to Greenville in the near future.

Last but not least, their cute home in Greenville that was recently purchased. It has a fantastic screened porch off the back and looks out onto the most beautiful, thick canopy of wooded green. I hope their old owner stops drive by stalking them, so they can start to enjoy their new home, alone!

Thanks friends!


People in the city can grown vegetables and can things

My friend Sara grew these amazing cucumbers in her container garden on her patio! I just had to brag since I  #1, sold her the townhome and #2, ate the cucumbers and they were so, so good. You could smell their refreshing yummy-ness all the way across the kitchen when sliced up and the skins were perfect texture, not waxy and tough. They were awesome. I ate a whole one by myself in one sitting. AND, if that isn't impressive enough, she also made homemade pickles and canned them. I didn't even know that was possible any more. I thought you had to find an old lady with the magic touch who could seal up the glass jars for you with her crazy mountain woman skills or something.

Appendix out!

I'm not a big fan of hospitals. With the exception of visiting a mom with her tightly bundled new baby that I get to hold for a few minutes and bounce around like a large peanut, I'm just not that into them. Could be that I like cleanliness, order and for things to just work properly; and in a hospital there's a lot of mess, chaos, and unpredictability. BUT, on the rare occasion that my best friend's daughter goes to have her appendix out, the rules go out the window. I had a fun adventure this evening visiting them and here are a few pictures. The funniest part was that Langley kept calling her bag on wheels that was connected to her arm with a tube, her "situation". She would point to other kids who had one and say, "her sister is pulling her situation for her". So priceless and definitely worth the trip! Langley was such a good patient, never complained once about anything that was happening while I was there. She even tucked in her gown to her skirt before her photo shoot.