2 Jan
2011
Posted in: Life
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Hand-Holding

I was 16 when my grandmother Steele died. She had been ill for quite some time, and while it wasn’t unexpected, it was distressing news for a teenage girl who loved her grandmother very much.

I happened to be at a convention that weekend. A Key Club convention, to be exact. I remember getting the call on a Saturday afternoon, and decided to stay since we were leaving the next morning. Soon after learning the news, we had a general session where I happened to be seated beside Jackie, a lovely girl, a senior – one year ahead of me in school. We weren’t close friends, although I have since wondered why not, and suppose it had more to do with the fact that she was an entire year ahead (which seemed to be of consequence at the time) and we didn’t share many activities or circles of friends outside of this.

I remember being very sad, and feeling very out of place. There were hundreds of teenagers in the room, and I was fairly certain I was the only one who had just lost a family member. I was choking back tears when – in the middle of the session – Jackie reached over and held my hand. At first I was stunned – she barely knew me! I remember feeling overwhelmed by that simple act of compassion, and now more than 15 years later still think at how bold yet gentle this move was. Had I been sitting beside my best friend, I wouldn’t have expected such tender affection.

I don’t know that I said thank you. I know I didn’t talk about it with anyone afterward, but I never forgot it. This week I was driving in my car feeling nostalgic (am I the only one who gets that way around the holidays?) and remembering all sorts of things from high school and college when this flashed through my mind.

Jackie, wherever you are, thank you. It has been over 15 years now and I have never forgotten the kindness you showed me that day. May I be so bold as to go out of my way to be generous with compassion, and to show grace and tenderness to those hurting around me.

17 Dec
2010
Posted in: Life
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Best Thank You Note Ever

A week or two after I began my blog vacation, I got this package in the mail, which included a note of thanks from Miss Steph Hagen. (Sidebar: I have the same notecards!)

Note only was there a cute thank you note, but inside was all of THIS!

Which included this awesome little poem: (“Roses are read, sugar is sweet, and so are you.”)

A picture of a doll with a badge that says, “I say ma-ma. I go to sleep.” Ahh…if it were only that easy.

And postcards – like this one. From FRANCE!

So thank you, Steph, for your thank you packet. It made my day. Every time I see it I think… this. is. awesome.

A funny sidenote: Evan’s dad was here when I opened the package. I was going through each piece excitedly. The Dailey’s are known for their practicality, so naturally he asked, “What are they for?” I had to answer, “Well. I don’t know. She just knew I’d like them.” So thanks, Steph, for knowing I’d like love these old scraps of paper.

12 Dec
2010
Posted in: Life
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Easing Back In

It appears my few-weeks vacation has turned into a few months. I just finished up the busiest time of my work-life to date. There was very little time left over for baking, crafting, reading, or anything but caring for my family and – well – working. So not only did I not have time to write about what was going on, I didn’t have time to do pretty much anything that can be remotely considered a hobby. In other words, I didn’t have anything to write about.

I’ll try not to let it happen again. All work and no play makes Kelli a grumpy girl.

So a summary of my last couple months:

Reading
I read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott and very much enjoyed it. The same author of Bird by Bird, which I absolutely adored, this was a memoir of her journey to faith. She’s honest – painfully so at times – but really, would you want a memoir author to be anything else?

I also read Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, also author of A Million Miles… that is still holding out as perhaps my favorite book of all time. It was well-written, and worth a read, but not where I’d start if I were just picking up Donald Miller.

Food
I have a few things to tell you about some of the food I had while on (real – not just blogging) vacation. But that’s another post. What I can suggest are a few recipes I’ve tried and give an enthusiastic thumbs up to:
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies from A Cozy Kitchen
Lia’s Butter Toffee over at Tasty Kitchen – with sea salt, please
Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole – six ingredients (three of which are pre-packaged) and one dish – make it. That’s an order.

Craft
I made a skirt out of a vintage tablecloth I found. It turned out great! I hope to post soon.
I made Sydney a friendship bracelet.
That’s about it.

Abode
For Christmas, Evan has made me a new desk. Now if I could just sell the one I have so I can fit it in my office, that’d be a great post.

Life
Yes, my business has been busy. I hope at the end of the year it looks profitable, because otherwise I’m going to be pretty discouraged. However, my kids are healthy and growing, my family is doing well, and I’m looking forward to the holidays.

So what have you been up to while I’ve been gone?

5 Sep
2010
Posted in: Life
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Vacation

I’m going on a little vacation. A blog, vacation, that is. You see, I love writing on this blog. I do. But the truth is I have alot going on right now. Too many irons in the fire, if you will. Too many balls in the air. A bit too much on my plate.

If you know anything about me, you may know I put a lot of pressure on myself. In my head, I say “I should” quite a bit…as in, a few times an hour. And on my list of “shoulds” is that I “should” post on my blog at least twice a week. Now, this is a completely self-imposed goal, I understand. Not to mention I write on this blog for totally personal reasons and I know I have the right to post as often or as infrequently as I want. This isn’t part of my job, I don’t make any money from it, it’s purely to share some recipes, home and craft inspiration, to keep track of what I’ve read, and occasionally to share some thoughts.

So, my faithful readers, I will be back. I even have a mental list of posts I want to work on when I have some spare time. Just not this week. Or maybe not even this month.

I assure you it’s only temporary, but I felt like I owed you (whoever you are) a bit of an explanation. So until then, stay well. I’ll see you soon.

23 Aug
2010
Posted in: Life
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Boogie Woogie

When I was a girl, I would often sit down at the way out of tune piano at my grandparent’s house and pick out whatever song I had been working on lately. It was always received with the highest praise, and I was consistently encouraged to play. Occasionally, my grandfather would sit down and play a song or two. One was a little boogie woogie tune. It was upbeat and funky and I remember wondering where in the world this grandfather of mine who frequently wore sweaters and loafers and pants-pulled-up-to-there learned to play such a thing. (As I grew older, I heard a tale or two about how this might have happened, but when I was younger, I knew nothing of my grandfather’s younger days.)

This past weekend, I went to my mom’s to help her prepare to move in about a week, and I sat down at her old piano that is, now, equally out of tune. My daughter sat beside me and I helped her pound out Chopsticks with two fingers, Heart and Soul, and – out of nowhere – Papaw’s BOogie Woogie song. I loved it. I hope someday when my kids are older they wonder how on earth I learned such a fun song and perhaps think I’m a tad bit mysterious. Although I guarantee my “younger days” were far less interesting than Papaw’s. But my kids don’t have to know that.

18 Aug
2010
Posted in: Desserts, Food
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Peaches & Cream Crumble

Over the weekend, my husband stopped by a produce stand in Tennessee near where we were visiting and bought a giant basket of peaches from an elderly lady. They were delicious, and even after eating some with breakfast, eating some with nothing, and sending some home with friends, I still had enough in the basket to think… what in the world am I going to do with all these peaches.

So I made up this recipe which sounded delicious to me, and I thought you should know about it.

Peaches & Cream Crumble

5-6 large peaches, peeled and sliced. (Or enough for about 3 cups of peach slices)
1/2 C. half and half
1/2 packet instant vanilla pudding (I try to use fresh, whole foods in my recipes, so if you’re anti-instant pudding, try 2 T sugar, 1 T flour and 1/4 t. vanilla extract)
1/8 t. nutmeg – I highly recommend freshly grated

Topping
1/2 C. Oats
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. pecans or walnuts (I left these out because I was serving someone with a nut allergy, but I think it sounds delicious)
1/2 stick butter (4 T)

For the peaches: combine peaches, half and half, pudding and nutmeg. Pour into baking dish.

For the topping: Combine oats, sugar, nuts in a small bowl. Cut in the cold butter until a crumbly mixture forms. See below. (I use my hands to combine the topping – it’s much quicker than using a fork if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.)

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The result is a bit soupy, so don’t be alarmed. Feel free to serve with ice cream. Enjoy!

11 Aug
2010
Posted in: Books, Craft
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Elodie the Elephant

I got this book, One Yard Wonders, for Christmas from my lovely Aunt Ginger. A book right up my alley, filled with small projects, mostly for beginners, that could be tackled in a relatively short amount of time. (Note: The book does have some more advanced projects, so don’t overlook it if you’re more experienced with sewing.)

Anyway, I looked it over a few times, and kept thinking I should try out a few of the projects. Then I’d put it back on the shelf. But when two friends announced they were pregnant, I knew it’d be the motivation I’d need to tackle a project, because the book is filled with cute projects for babies and children.

I chose Elodie the Elephant, a simple project that really only takes half a yard of fabric and a couple hours. I’m really pleased with how they turned out, and hope their recipients are, too. I mean, who wouldn’t love a stuffed elephant, right?

Sidenote: I started these elephants while on my trip to Arkansas where I was able to use my grandmother-in-law’s sewing machine which is…ahem… slightly nicer than my own. I finished them up on my (still nice…but not that nice) sewing machine at home and between the rattles and humming of the motor am trying not to have sewing machine envy. To which I think to myself: who knew there could be such a thing as sewing machine envy.

I can’t share the pattern with you because it’s copyrighted, but you can definitely go pick the book up for yourself and make any number of the dozens of super cute projects.

5 Aug
2010
Posted in: Books
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Giveaway Winner: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Update: And the winner is…comment #2 – Brit! (Another book to add to your to-be-read shelf!) Enjoy, and thanks for entering.

I finished this book over the weekend, and had to restrain myself from flipping from the last page back to the first and starting it immediately over again. I don’t think I can overstate how much I enjoyed this book.

First of all, Donald Miller is a phenomenal writer. He could compose a book devoid of meaningful content, and I would still enjoy the way he structures his sentences and weaves a story together. Fortunately, his books are full of meaning.

In short, this book is about story. About how we each live out a story, and some of us live boring, uninteresting stories, and others live purposeful, meaningful stories. Miller came to this realization after a screenwriter and producer came to make a movie out of a previous book, and he began to realize he hadn’t been living out a story (worth telling) in his own life. Miller writes through this process by highlighting elements of what makes a great story, and the whole book comes together fantastically.

Put simply, this book is changing my life. (The only other time I’ve made such a claim on Simple Modern Life is after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is still true – my eating/shopping has definitely changed since reading that book.) I’m not sure how it will all play out, but I definitely want to live a better story in my own life, and I would bet that after reading the book, you will too.

And because I love the book so much, I want you to have the opportunity to read it, as well. Just tell me your favorite movie in the comments below before Saturday at 9:00 p.m., and I’ll choose send a random winner a copy of the book. All the rest of you non-winners should go out and buy this book. Do it for me, ok? I’m sure Donald Miller wouldn’t mind, either.

2 Aug
2010
Posted in: Abode, Craft
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Fabric Backed Bookshelf

I’ve seen a number of projects just like this one, so I don’t claim any sort of inspiration or creativity on this one. But I do claim it’s a good first step in working on my little gal’s room that has been so neglected, while her brother’s room is coming along quite nicely, thank you. The thing is, it’s super inexpensive, super easy, and adds a fun punch of color to an otherwise boring room.

Before:

Obviously this shelf could have used some reorganizing on its own. Too many toys, too many books, and no sense of style. Poor bookshelf.

After:

Not too shabby, eh? For about $15 in materials, and about two hours of work, you can do it. Here’s how.

Measure your bookshelf to calculate the amount of fabric you’ll need. Mine required 2.5 yards, and that gave me a bit of scrap material to…well… I’ll tell you about that another time.

Empty your bookshelf and remove the shelves. You may want to lay it down in the floor to make it easier, but I did mine in place because it’s mounted to the wall. You know,

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so my little monkeys don’t accidentally pull it over on themselves.

With a can of medium-strength spray adhesive, your fabric, some fabric scissors and a ruler in hand, get to work.

Starting in a top corner, align the fabric (use the non-selvage edge) squarely. Spray the adhesive in the corner, and use the ruler to smooth it down. Next, spray the adhesive along the entire top edge of the bookcase, and align the fabric across. Work your way down, going back and forth from the left to right side. I cut the extra fabric off the edge as I went to cut down on the weight. Take your time, and use the ruler to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles that come up. If it’s getting crooked, gently pull the fabric back and realign.

Here’s a close up of the fabric, and my favorite shelf. Love her etsy-find piggy bank.

28 Jul
2010
Posted in: Life
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Simply Links – July

Tag Dishtowel
My aunt brought me a dish towel featuring a tomato on a teal background with a super cute yellow border along the bottom. While I can’t find the actual towel to show you (although you can see the edge of it in the photo to the right), you can shop the manufacturer’s site directly here – there are plenty of super cute and fun gift and home decor ideas here. Love them!

Seasons Tree Pendant
One of my favorite places online (besides Anthropologie and Etsy, of course) to just meander around and look for great gift ideas is Uncommon Goods.  In fact, I’m not sure why I haven’t mentioned them more often here. When the fall catalog arrived this week, I was smitten by the tree pendants on the cover. After all, I do love trees. My favorite is the Four Seasons, pictured right. And it’s handmade, which is even better, right?

Anthropologie Find
Oh, Anthropologie, you never disappoint. Unless, of course, I’m taking my wallet into consideration. I can still look, can’t I? This dress is exactly what I have in mind when I envision my style – one part classic, one part vintage-inspired, and all around lovely. I love the muted colors, the attention to detail, the feminine flourishes. The only thing I don’t love is the $188 price tag. But no worries, Anthro, I still love ya.

C. O. Bigelow Scented Candles
When I was in C. O. Bigelow a couple months back, the store was chock full of their line of scented candles. I made home with a Coconut and Pear. When I went to look for them online, nothing. I did find a limited selection on Bath and Body Works site, so if you don’t have a Bigelow store nearby, check there. These are beautifully scented, with a clean scent that smells just like their namesake. Mmm. Not to mention the jars are stylish.