Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene

photo credit 
We may not live by the ocean, but Hurricane Irene's wrath effected more than just North Carolina's coast and beaches.  She impacted many inland ENC communities, and Rocky Mount took quite a hit.

The wind and rain began sometime during the night Friday night, and we woke up Saturday morning without power. We were without power until late Sunday night. Thankfully our neighbor had a generator and we were able to cook a few hot meals and brew some coffee too! We were also fortunate enough to have friends (with power) who invited us to spend the night and enjoy hot showers! We were also very lucky to have our power restored in just 48 hours, as there are still homes without power today (Tuesday).
Me navigating our dark house Saturday night in my nifty headlamp.

Our neighborhood is about 10 years old and we have very few mature trees. As a result, we did not sustain any serious damage nor did any of our neighbors. We had to re-secure all of our screens, and we will have to replace a few shingles on our roof. Other than the power outage, the impact on our home was minimal. However, many of our friends were not as lucky.  Many had uprooted or downed trees. They also had tons of fallen limbs, leaves and pine needles. Luckily, none of our friends had structural damage to their homes, but cleaning up their yards and ensuring that their property was safe was an immediate priority.  

We began the clean up process at the Brown's and Webb's homes (the Brown's were our generous friends who let us crash and shower at their place). They had a number of fallen trees that needed to be cut and hauled to the dump.  After all was said any done the guys made two trips to the dump, which each included two trailers stacked high of debris and two pick-up trucks full of limbs and leaves.
On Sunday we loaded up the backyard in the truck and transported it to the street.
This was the growing pile at the street.
The last two pics above taken by Andee Brown
On Monday we loaded the enormous pile into multiple trucks and trailers, 
and we hauled it to the dump.

After finishing up at the Brown's/Webb's, we headed over to Gary Smith's house. Gary works and coaches with Timothy, and unfortunately Irene definitely left her mark on his neighborhood. As of today (Tuesday) Gary and his family still do not have power and have a significant amount of water under their house.  They had five trees fall in their backyard as well. Tim, the Brown's and I helped chop-up trees and haul the debris to the road. The slight silver lining for Gary, is that his neighborhood is in the city limits and qualifies for bulk-trash pick-up.  Thankfully, no one was responsible for hauling the lawn debris to the dump. 
Gary's backyard. These pictures do not even begin to document the damage to their yard. I definitely didn't document the before and after very well.
Getting it done.

We have missed three days of school (including tomorrow). While her impact wasn't wide-spread in every neighborhood, Irene definitely made an impression on Rocky Mount and ENC. We may not be on the national news, but our rural community is in the mists of a pretty detailed/costly clean up. Tim and I drove around today, and we realized that some of the hardest hit families are the farmers living and working in eastern North Carolina. The tabacco fields were just a mess, and many of the plants looked sad and ruined (to the untrained eye).  The cotton was soaked, and some plants were completely under water - for those of you unfamiliar with cotton, it is a resilient crop. Ond of the reason it grows so well in NC (and other parts of the South) is it's lack of need for immediate and constant water. Only time will tell how Irene impacted this year's crop of cotton and other crop staples like soy beans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.  (Sorry. My phone died and I have no pictures of the crop fields).

Needless-to-say, Rocky Mount has had quite the long weekend. Let's hope that this is the first and last hurricane for ENC in the 2011 storm season.

Kelly Anne

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cutest Teacher Stool in Rocky Mount

I (unfortunately) can't take credit for this fabulous do-it-yourself. Meredith, another former TFA-EJ all star, posted a picture of the cutest-personalized stool she made for her classroom, and of course I had to have one of my own.

This project idea came along at the perfect time as I am starting a new job, at a new school, with a new last name! I used our fabulous wedding colors (blue and green) too!

 I started with a plain stool and a few cans of navy spray paint. All found at Wal-Mart.

My super spray painting skills.

 Using a set of Martha Stewart stencils and round sponges (found at Michael's), 
I added my name in white craft paint.

 Using the same round sponges and a can of sample-lime green paint, I added tons of polka-dots. I had Lowes mix a sample of the perfect green. Samples are less than $5.

The final product! I must say that, although clearly bias, I believe I have the cutest furniture of any classroom in Nash-Rocky Mount!

Kelly Anne

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wedding Welcome Bags

Out of all the wedding projects I tackled, this was one of my favorites. I knew that many of our guest would be traveling from out-of-town and would be staying in hotels.  I also knew that our venue (the beautiful Sundara) would be difficult to locate if unfamiliar with the Roanoke Valley. I decided I wanted to put together a little something that welcomed our guests and also provided any logistical information.

I started with green paper bags that were super inexpensive (found with the other gift bags at Wal-Mart). I filled the bags with a variety of candies, a pack of nabs, a bottle of water and a selection of Roanoke postcards.  Also included in each bag was a direction card printed in the same theme as the other paper products included in the wedding (ie: invitations, program fans, etc).

My absolute favorite element of our welcome bags, was the label on the front of the bags. These labels were from my favorite local coffee shop in Roanoke - Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea. The folks at Mill Mountain (downtown location) were nice enough to let me buy a roll of blank coffee labels from them. I felt like this gave the bags a personal touch.

I dropped off the bags at the different hotels where I knew guests were staying, and guests received their goodie-welcome bags upon arrival.

Below are some pictures of the directions cards from beginning to end...
Using the same fonts and diverse font directions, I created direction cards that were individualized according to the different hotel locations. 
(I apologize for the poor quality of the BlackBerry pics).
Using a scrapbook paper cutter, I was able to ensure straight lines as I trimmed the excess card stock. (Thanks to Emily Pitts for letting me use her scrapbook gadgets).
Using a decorative-corner-paper punch, I jazzed up each corner.
Scrapbook gadgets are a huge time saver and super cute!
The final product! (Again, sorry for the poor image quality, but you get the idea).

The welcome bags were an easy and inexpensive project that added a true personalized touch. I think these bags made our guests feel welcome and special; they also provided a great way to get logistical information to our guest in a creative way. This project was too easy to pass up. I highly recommend the welcome bag! Any bride can personalize these bags with regional/state specific items or specific wedding-themed souvenirs. And, depending on a bride's budget, these bags could be as simple or as detailed as she might want.

Quick side note, I heard that a couple of our guests ventured out Saturday morning to the Roanoke City Market, in which they discovered thanks to the postcard in their welcome bag. This news made my heart smile :)

Kelly Anne

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Design Note

I've been playing around with the new blog design template and I've upgraded to a MacBook, so please let me know if there is any problems - especially with the font. I'm having trouble getting the font to publish uniformly and at the perfect size. Please let me know if the font displays on your computer super HUGE or really small. Thanks!

Also, if anyone knows how to create a blog post and how to publish a blog in Word on MacBook, I could use a few pointers!

Kelly Anne

A New Blog(s) to Follow and a GiveAway!

Posting about giveaways isn't usually my blogger style, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity to share a great new site/business! 

Sweet Tea Paperie is my newest find for everything Southern, Cute and Monogramed! And to make this gem even better, Amanda (the owner, blogger & creator of Sweet Tea) is a Teach For America alumni and current staff member! 

Amanda and Sweet Tea Paperie have a great variety of stationary products, home goods, totes and jewelry. Everything is super cute and can be personalized. My only complaint is that I discovered Sweet Tea after the wedding and before my next payday! I'm having a hard time because I want one of everything!  

Check out Amanda and Sweet Tea Paperie. She's got great products and you'll be supporting a TFA rockstor. Also check out Ashley Brooke's blog too. She's hosting a Sweet Tea giveaway, and has a number of great tips and leads to other fun sites with great deals. Happy Shopping!

Kelly Anne

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wedding Ceremony Program Fans!

When planning an outside-summer wedding in the South, a bride has to prepare for the heat and humidity. As I was putting together our ceremony, I was constantly thinking about ways to minimize that heat factor.  I decided to reduce the heat and hopefully create a little breeze, for our guests, by turning the ceremony programs into fans!

This was another Do-It-Yourself project, and I started this project in Microsoft Word. I created a document using a table, with a double lined-green boarder that mimicked our invitations. I also used the same fonts and diverse text directions found in the invitations.

I printed each side of the programs on cream cardstock. Timothy took the 200+ printed-card stock pages to work and cut them down using a large paper cutter.

Using a “decorative-scrapbook-corner paper punch” (I have no idea what those little scrapbook gadgets are really called), I created rounded corners.

I have to give Natalie Vereen-Davis credit for introducing me to the no-wrinkle glue stick!

I used an Elmer’s No-Wrinkle glue stick to glue the front side of the program to the back side of the program, leaving a small section, in the center of the bottom, unglued to insert the fan handle.

I ordered 125 wooden-fan handles on for less than $10 total (shipping and all). I added a small dot of the no-wrinkle glue to the end of each handle and carefully slid it between the two sides of the program.

This particular project was a bit time consuming, and at times I felt like the pile of unfinished fans was never ending, but in the end it was totally worth the money saved.
photo by Heather Watkins
I really loved finding ways to coordinate all the little details in my DIY projects, and luckily this little detail didn’t just look pretty, it was useful too! Our programs were simple, but yet again they were perfect for the vibe and theme of our wedding day.

Kelly Anne

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flower Girl, Ring Bearer & Cake Accessories!

I'm adding another wedding update, and in this edition I'm highlighting a few DIY projects that are "semi-homemade." In some cases there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes a few pre-made pieces just need a special touch and a little sprucing up.

The first semi-homemade project was the ring bearer pillow and flower girl basket. Matching sets can be purchased on-line to coordinate with any brides wedding colors, and I've seen these sets priced at anywhere from $20 to $60! Not even kidding. There were definitely aspects of our wedding that I knew were important enough to pay those increased  "wedding" prices, but pillows and baskets were not one of those aspects.

For the flower girl basket, I purchased a simple wicker basket at Michael's. I also purchased ribbon in my wedding colors. A quick tip, check the Dollar Tree's selection of ribbon before buying at Wal-Mart or a local craft store. The Dollar Tree often has great colors and the amount of ribbon is perfect for small projects like pillows and baskets.
Our flower girl Lola with her basket
I used my hot-glue gun and ribbon making skills to add the navy and green accents to the basket.  I was super excited with how it turned out.
Total cost including basket and ribbon = $5, and the ribbon was used on two additional project.

For the ringer bearer pillow, I purchased a simple pillow from the wedding section at Wal-Mart. This pillow was actually on sale and was definitely not my style as it included a gold ribbon bow and two gold-heart charms. 
Our ring bearer Aiden was a little overwhelmed :)
I cut off the gold bows and charms. There was a ribbon, that wrapped all the way around the pillow, that was impossible to remove; however, I was able to use the thicker navy blue ribbon to completely cover the original ribbon. Then, I added the narrower green ribbon and attached  a bow in both colors.  
Total cost of pillow (not including ribbon because I already included that cost in the basket total) = $7

 The next semi-homemade project was our cake cutter and cake server set. Again, these can be purchased for upwards of $100+, and I realize that some brides may place a significant amount of importance on these items (especially if a bride is considering these items as keepsakes). However, I knew that a cake serving set was not a priority for me, and that I would be able to create something cute in my budget.

Again, I checked the wedding section of Wal-Mart and found an inexpensive serving set. The set originally came with small white bows around the handles, which I removed.  Using a hot-glue gun and the same navy blue and green ribbon, I added bows to coordinate with our wedding colors.
The serving set beside our beautiful cake
I was super happy with our serving set and even though they were not super expensive or fancy, I still consider our set a keepsake from our special day.
Total cost of serving set (not including ribbon) = $12

Total Cost of 3 projects (coordinating basket, pillow and serving set) = $24!

These were three projects that took a little creativity, a little hot glue and a little amount of money. I really enjoyed putting these items together; I had a lot of fun! Remember, there are definitely times when reinventing the wheel is not necessary. Tap into your crafty side, break out the glue gun and have fun coordinating all those little wedding-day details.  
Kelly Anne
photos by me, Rodney/Gail Sadler, Martha Ratcliff, Heather Watkins, 
and Kimberly Ponthiuex of Little Moments Photography