Monday, January 31, 2011


A couple weekends ago, when my friend Sarah came to town, we went to the Festival of Chocolate. As far as festivals go, it fell short. Way short. But in the realm of chocolaty content, this festival reigns supreme. There were cakes and cupcakes, cookies, a chocolate fountain, chocolate-filled crepes, brownies, biscotti,  hot cocoa, dipped fruit...The list goes on. Oddly enough, when surrounded by chocolate you actually stop noticing it. I think it is some sort of sensory self defense.

So, imagine, you are swimming in three stories of chocolate. What would this confection have to do to really grab your attention? Well, it might disguise itself as jewelry.
photo by me

Ugh, my photo doesn't even begin to capture it.  You guys, these chocolates literally sparkled.
photo from
If I didn't know better I would have thought it was some sort of glasswork.

And the flavors?  Oh we are so not talking about your run-of-the mill caramel filling. Above are the individual photos (left to right) for Passion Fruit, Coffee Caramel, and Port with Fig and Plum.

This beauty?
 PB&J, "milk chocolate and peanut butter with bits of peanut brittle topped by a blend of 3 jellies."

How about Biscotti with your tea?
"A layer of milk chocolate infused with honey and anise on top of a layer of crushed biscotti cookies."

If you need to get away, go tropical.
Tropical Caramel, "caramel of passion fruit, mango, and coconut in a white chocolate shell."

Is your mouth watering yet?  In my neck of the woods, you can get your artisan chocolate fix at William Dean Chocolates in Largo. And, SURPRISE, you can also get them in my tiny hometown of Bryan, Texas by stopping by Truman Chocolates. Or you can go online and have WD or Truman ship you a box of  handmade fabulousness. You read that right:

Chocolate doesn't quite float your boat? I can't imagine why, but WD has other tasty goodness to offer such as pretty candy bars, pate de fruit, and popcorn. All made from scratch.
Sign me up!  Can you imagine getting a box of these for Valentine's Day? Maybe giving them as groomsman gifts? Or because your wife cleaned the house? Yes please!

Unless otherwise noted, photos are from
Also, William Dean and Truman did not in anyway sponsor me or this post.  But I would not turn them down if they decided to.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


On the use of similes:
"What!? You keep staring at me like I'm some kind of block of ice."

On giving valid testimony:
"I would know because I was there! I'm the one it didn't happen to!"

On loosely related topics:
"It amuses you? Well I know how to make music with bottles."

On Cynology:
"Did you know there is a dog that looks like a llama? Its called a collie."

Oh Em, I love you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adventures in Decorating: Emily's Bathroom Cont.

Seriously you guys, it took maybe a day to peel that wallpaper off of the bathroom walls. Well, to be honest, I only took off the vinyl top layer.  The portion with the glue is still mostly attached to the wall and I intend to keep it that way.  Is this the "correct" way to remove wallpaper? Probably not.   But if I'd opted to continue scoring and wetting and scrapping I would have something that resembled a bathroom less and a demolition site more. In short, big sections of the sheet-rock paper started coming off  with the wall paper leaving me with crumbly wall scats.

There are also a great many areas with green speckling. Ewww. If those speckles are what I think they are, I don't want to risk exposing the actual sheet-rock to mildew. It would really put a damper on the relationship with my landlord if I caused the bathroom walls to rot from the inside out.

Now let me tell you, I am such an awesome hostess I let my friend Sarah use the bathroom in this condition for three days and I forced her to help me work on it.
To this day she insists she didn't mind which is a good thing because once we masked up and spent an hour or so sanding the walls looked like this:
What? It doesn't look any different to you? Yeah, us either.  You'll have to trust me when I say the surface area is 10 times smother.  If you still don't believe me take a look at the wallpaper/wall particles we managed to get EVERYWHERE.

If you think I made Sarah clean that crap up you're absolutely right. I also made her take the family and me to lunch. Then I kissed her good bye and took her happy butt to the airport. I bet she shelled out the extra $6 on the flight home for a strong drink.

When I got home from a short, but sweet good bye with that sweet girl, I discovered Ben had spent some quality time in the bathroom as well.
Yea!  We can put in recessed shelving like I wanted! But that isn't even the best part.  The best part is that once upon a time, somebody felt this was a superb choice for bathroom wall paper:
Rock on.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


In which a six-year-old thanks her grandparents for her Christmas gifts.
Best. Thank you. Note. Ever! Don't be jealous.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adventures in Decorating: Emily's Bathroom

I'm trying hard to stick to my resolution of One thing at a time, or if you like, finish what I start before starting something else. So even though I want to do more in the Family Room and Emily's Bedroom I'm leaving them alone for now because they are in a state of "done for now." Before Christmas I started on Em's bathroom so that is the one thing I must handle at this time. And it needs it.

Ben took these photos when he signed the lease.
 That cabinet thing was relocated to the garage during week one of our lease. In its place are some nice holes.  Some holes held screws that supported the cabinet.  Some holes were there to give the cabinet something to hide.
There are some pros here. First, there is a window that is frosted for privacy and opens for ventilation. Can I get a shout out for my good friend Natural Light?  Second, the showerhead rocks and the tile shelves in the shower are great. And that is pretty much it for the pros.

And now the cons.  Some things we can fix, but a few we have to leave alone. Keeping that in mind, here's my plan.

1. Remove wallpaper. Duh. It was actually already peeling so something was going to have to be done whether we liked the wallpaper or not.  We did not.

2. Paint.  You can see a few dark gray paint samples on the wall. Those were Emily's choice and, at first, I was willing to go with it. Now, I'm a little nervous about using such a dark color in a bathroom that isn't actually ours.  I think I'll go with a more dove gray or pearl gray in the hopes that it brings out the gray in the greige tiles. I also want to repaint the ceiling shower in a bright white.

3. More paint. This time on the vanity.
That sucker is nasty. Ben is skeptical about being able to strip and repaint it successfully but I'm pretty insistent on account of the overwhelming grodiness.
I have more plans. Way more. But these three steps will take awhile, and I'm still trying to tackle that whole "one thing at a time" beast. I'm hoping to rope Sarah into contributing some manual labor when she visits next weekend because I'm a really classy hostess like that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On linguistics and composing music

Several nights ago Emily was enjoying her weekly bath. As of late she has decided upon the occupation of "singer" for her grown up self. It is very important she practice and the bathroom offers great acoustics. So great, that we can actually hear her downstairs in the living room.

On this particular night she had made up a song in which the phrases "I've got the power" and "I'll give you the power" were repeated frequently.  When she finished up and came downstairs I complimented her powerful vocals.

J: I heard you singing up there. Did you make up that song yourself?
E: Yeah. Did you hear all of it?
J: I guess so.
E:Well did you hear the part about brrrunch (she said this with a rolled r)
J: Um, no, I did not. But what does brunch have to do with the power?
E: Oh, I just thought my song needed some Chinese in it and to me "brrrunch" sounds Chinese.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

SpringHill Suites

Okay, first things first. Neither SpringHill Suites nor the Marriott chain of hotels has a clue who I am or that I have a blog. Therefore, none of the following post is in any way sponsored by the hotel or its parent entity. 

This year, for our annual holiday trip to Texas, Emily and I decided to drive. We thought it would be a great mother-daughter adventure. We were wrong.  It was a loooong, tedious, stressful drive. There were some great bonding moments, but I will wait at least a year before opting to do that again. Sheesh!

We ended the first leg in Tallahassee, FL (our state capitol) where I had booked a room at the SpringHill Suites. Best. Decision. Ever! I booked this particular hotel on account of its decor. Perfect reason to select one hotel over any other, right? See, Emily has adopted blue as her latest new favorite color so when I saw photos of this place on the Marriott website I knew she'd be thrilled. I was so totally right.

About twenty seconds after entering our room, Emily threw herself onto the aqua sectional.
I'd like to go on a tangent here for a second and have you note the sundress my kid is wearing here.  That's right; in Florida it is warm enough on December 17 to merit the wearing of a sundress. Are you jealous or what? But we were discussing the hotel...

The rooms are way cool. The "lounging" area is separated from the sleeping area by a built in desk and frosted glass wall. The "wall" is lit and can slide open to open up the space even more.  Genius!
My pictures are not stellar so be sure to go to their website for better photos since I can't seem to save their photos and post them here.

The super savvy feature of this room is the bathroom. The toilet and the shower are in separate rooms! This has got to be the most family-friendly amenity at any hotel ever! If I am taking one of my famously lengthy showers no one has to wait until I'm done in order to use the toilet! The toilet room has its own little pedestal sine and mirror too so, if needed, Ben could shave while I was putting on my makeup and generally hogging the vanity area in the shower room.  So cool!
Check out this awesome, backlit mirror in the shower room.

The king-size bed was amazing. The large beds were part of our mother-daughter adventure plans.  Em loves co-sleeping.  Mostly because she thinks she sleeps better when someone lays with her.  In reality, she sleeps about the same and I get totally beat up. But the beds was really nice and we got plenty of use out of it. Here, Em has spread out the supplies for her Christmas gift to her stepmother.
Besides crafting area, the bed also served as, of course, a place to sleep, and an energy depleter. In anticipation of nine hours in the car I totally let my kid jump on the bed for like 30 minutes. Shhh, don't tell the hotel. On another side note, see the bench in the background of the photo above?  So smart! It is built over the AC unit to add extra seating or an space to put your luggage.  Way to reclaim wasted space, SpringHill!

The next morning we had a short photo shoot in the cool, curtained lobby.

Who's mommy's little ham? Oh, and check out here leopard print ballet flats.  Yup, that's my girl.

And finally, I couldn't resist taking a photo of this light fixture. Would you call it a chandelier?

I am definitely going to file away some of these photos for future reference. Someday I'll have my very own house to decorate and light.

Thanks for indulging my very long commercial blog post about our hotel stay.  Emily and I just really really liked it there. It is now Never A Plain Jane certified.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Oh Internet, how I've missed you! The holiday season found me in Texas with the family but (unexpectedly) without internet. I am pretty sure I displayed signs of an addict - wandering about zombie-like obsessing over who might have e-mailed me, how my shop was doing, would my blog readers miss me...My reunion with Ben found me making sweet love to his blackberry while my husband stood by wondering where his damn hugs were. The big lesson here is make preparations before traveling. In the future dear internet, I will make an away message for my e-mail, put my shop on vacation, and either pre-write posts or give you fair warning of pending radio silence. Sadly, now that we are finally reunited, I can only give you a mediocre post because I've been playing e-catch up since my return to Tampa Friday night. I love you. Please don't leave me.

All that said, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Did you eat black-eyed peas and make resolutions over the weekend? I strongly dislike black-eyed peas so I forwent that particular tradition. Blech! I did, however, make a resolution.  In 2011 I resolve to concentrate on doing one thing at a time. Hard stuff for me. For example, when I get ready in the morning it goes something like this: brush teeth while making bed and opening blinds, check e-mail, wash face, check other e-mail, put on foundation, straighten one layer of hair, check e-mail, put on blush, straighten next layer of hair, check e-mail...Do you see how this is going?  I'm exhausted just typing it and that is my approach to. every. aspect. of. my. day.  I start three or four tasks and then bounce frenetically between them.  Then I wonder why my daughter can't concentrate on anything for more than 67 seconds. I have decided my way of doing, well,  everything is contributing to my lack of satisfaction each day. I'm pretty sure multi-tasking is just a myth;  the human brain can only actually do one thing at a time and all that shifting around keeps the mind from fully engaging in the task at hand. And that leads to unfinished or semi-crappy products.

No more! One. Thing. At. A. Time.

To show you how serious I am I'll tell you a little secret, I actually wanted to make about 14 resolutions, but then I didn't because, you see, I already have one thing to concentrate on. Ta da!

Now what about you?  Where are you placing your resolve this year?