Monday, December 7, 2009


Just a few pics from a proud momma…


The girls with our beautiful Mouse Queen


Dancing Mice… Abby is in the middle…


Waiting on the Mouse Queen to call for battle!

Abby and Grace


Yes we are exhausted… and I slept until 12:45 this afternoon…  but the look of sheer joy on Abby’s face made all of the car pooling, Sunday afternoon practices, and complaining about bobby pins totally worth it. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Well, yes… Houston did get a good bit of snow yesterday… but for some strange weather reason, it was mostly south of us…  We had flurries most of the day and we took every chance we had to play in it! It didn’t “stick” to anywhere but our hair, but it was still a fun day for all of us :-)


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Mouse in the house!

This is Abby’s first year in The Nutcracker.  She’s a member of The Woodlands Dance Co. They don’t allow camera flashes in the actual show, but we could take all of the pics we wanted to at rehearsal last night.  And because I’m such a braggy Momma here are a few shots of my little mouse :-)

Abby is center line… actually looking at the camera ;-)

Abby mouse line

Awaiting the Mouse Queen… She’s 3rd from the left…

Awaiting the Mouse Queen

She’s in the two shows this Sunday, but she’s already got her summer ballet classes all planned out so that she can be Clara one day (“when she’s old”). My baby loves her some ballet! 

It’s going to be a long day with morning rehearsals and the two shows, but so much fun to watch!  I’m so glad my parents are braving the cold weather to travel over to see her. 

If you have a local dance company, go out and support their efforts! 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I’ve got my eye on you…

Meet Russell.  Russell is our Elf on the Shelf elf.  Simple and really cute idea… the story says that your elf watches over you during the day then reports back to Santa in the night… When you wake up the next morning, your elf will be in a new location.  I LOVE that this little quirky elf named Russell has my kids making their beds, picking up their rooms, and being super over-the-top sweet to each other.  They even SHARED last night… I know. Crazy, huh?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What a difference…

OK, so I’ve been bugging so many of my friends lately… I wanted to get a new camera, but I didn’t want to start lugging around a suitcase just to take shots of the girls at dance.  I tweeted about it, I begged for information on Facebook… I pestered my friend in carline at school… and today I finally made the decision.  I follow ScottBourne on Twitter.  He works with Photofocus and always has great tips.  I narrowed down my choices to a Nikon D3000 with a smallish lens, one of the Canon Rebels, and a TOL point and shoot from Canon.  The G11.  Ahhh… I am SO glad I asked some pros! Scott suggested this little beauty and I finally drove to Best Buy this morning.  I looked online and shipping was ridiculous… because you know, I have to have it RIGHT NOW instead of waiting for the 2-5 day shipping… The Nutcracker IS this weekend, you know… (work with me… I’m trying to justify buying my own Christmas present here)… I charged her up and took a before and after new camera shot to show the difference…

The shot on the left is from my Panasonic Lumix TZ3 and the right is from the G11.  Both were on Low light portrait scenes, at 800 speed, with the same white balance, no flash-just my dining room overhead light… And neither of the pictures were doctored on the computer…Do you see all of that noise on the Lumix picture? And the washed out color?  I think I made a good decision on the upgrade, No? :-) See there…. TOTALLY JUSTIFIED…

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It doesn’t have to be perfect…

…to be pretty.  This year, that’s all me! I just love these colors together… and lucky me, Target and everybody else helped supply my craving! 


Here’s a closer shot…


It’s super fun, and for us, that’s all that matters!  We also put up a smaller table top tree in the family room for all of those keepsake style ornaments that we all have.  I really like this set up, with the big tree in the front office bay window.  It keeps the living room a little less crowded and I’ve already had a few people nosy enough to stop by and ask what was blue in the window.  I’m sure the neighbors are all thinking I’m the crazy lady with the blue tree :-)

And because I just can’t leave well enough alone…


yeah yeah… TRUST me, I KNOW

I just had to post up this picture of my poor little Christmas wreath… Believe me… I KNOW it looks terrible.  I just had no inspiration on Saturday after discovering my door piece was too faded to put up.   Sad, isn’t it?


A friend told me to drop by Z Gallerie to take a look at all of their aqua colored decorations.  My tree is a hot mess of Red and Aqua.  I’m no florist… and BOY can you tell.  But at least my wreath looks better…


So what unusual colors do you like this year?  I’ve done brown, lime, aqua, purple, hot pink, pear green, lime green… not at the same time, of course.  But it really makes it a lot of fun to plan each year!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary Poppins

If anyone has the opportunity to go to see the Broadway show of Mary Poppins, GO SEE IT!  I will not ruin it by giving details of the show, but it was MAGICAL.  I still can’t figure out how they did some of the things they did on a stage.  We had an amazing time, and I’m sure the girls will have fond memories of their night at the theatre.



Splish Splash!

Well, 3 weeks after breaking ground the construction was nearly finished.  We still have landscaping to come in before the deck is completed, but for the next couple of weeks, this is what we’ll be playing in…




And this smile makes all that dirty mess worth it!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Boy! Long time no blog, right?  Sorry guys… apparently I have to be “in the mood” to blog as well.  :-/

I do have some pretty fun pics to share though. But I’m a construction geek and love this kind of stuff, so fun may be a relative term…

We finally had a break in the rain and our pool construction has started!  I swear, as soon as we said “Build it” we guaranteed ourselves a good couple of weeks of rain.  I’ve got to give a shout out to Rocky Kirk with Lonestar Pools.  We met with 5 different contractors… and of the 5, he was the only one we felt completely comfortable with.   For some reason, a good pool builder is hard to come by in Houston, because the nightmare stories some of our friends told us really had us shakin in our boots… Not that I wear boots. Ever.

Here’s a before shot of the backyard with the trees tagged for removal…


After the trees were removed (but before the stumps were ground) The girls had a great time hula-hoop ring tossing with the one stump that was left.


Here’s a hazy shot from my bedroom window of the dig starting this past Friday morning… This was at 7:30 am…


And this shot is from 4pm on that same day… These guys didn’t waste any time… We went from paint lines to finished rebar in one day…  Wanna come sit in my hot tub? :-)


Beginning of Day 2… another glare filled shot from my bedroom window… Sorry…


And by the end of the 2nd day, you could see the general pool idea…



They didn’t work on Sunday… obviously, but on Monday they arrived bright and early… EARLY


and made a big HUGE mess of my entire back yard… That monster tool in the background dug a trench around the whole thing for the plumbing that finished up on Day 3, then the electrician did his work on Day 4.  At the end of yesterday, we had our second inspection for the trench.

Wanna know what happens when you are at this phase of pool building?  When your entire yard is ripped apart and a HUGE dirty mess?  Yep, RAIN COMES!!!  AHHHHH…..  That’s where we are this morning… waiting on rain, crossing my fingers that is doesn’t stop them from coming out and filling in the previously mentioned huge dirty mess of a trench… because the only way this mess could get worse is if it turns into a HUGE DIRTY MUDDY mess.

So for a recap of all those pics, here’s what the yard looked like a week ago…


and here’s where we are now…


I keep telling myself that it will be totally worth the expense and mess when I can have a glass of wine in the hot tub and relax myself into oblivion…

Yeah, totally worth it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to School


My baby starts Kindergarten tomorrow morning.  I don’t know if I should be sad, or really really REALLY excited.  I’m leaning toward the latter… She’s kind of boisterous and I think we’re ready for a break from each other.  In true Holly fashion, I finished her 1st day of School jumper with 13 hours to spare.  I work better under pressure I think ^_^. 

This is the Martha Pullen A-line jumper pattern modified to have just a top inner lining, instead of being fully lined.  It’s just too hot for that sort of mess right now.  And as an added bonus, she’s required to wear shorts under her dresses this year.  It’s a red chambray fabric that is thick enough that you can’t see through it, so the 1/2 lining worked just fine.  Better in fact, given that there isn’t all of this fabric to turn as there usually is. 

The appliqué is from Sew Many Designs.  These designs have always stitched out perfectly.  The digitizing is FABULOUS…  I’m really jealous of digitizers… even with the “mack daddy” program that came with my Creative Vision (4D Embroidery Suite) I still don’t have the guts to try my hand at it.   


Monday, August 10, 2009

Decor Keeper


How do you organize your home projects? 

I’ve seen several blog postings recently on how to keep all of your home project info organized. 

This is not that kind of post.

I don’t organize my home projects. Maybe I should, but that would require too much effort for me.

  I DO however keep this super cute pink photo album with me at all times.  It has basic room info (window measurements, paint chips, fabric swatches, and bits of trim) that I can use when I’m out and about.  I can’t tell you how many throw pillows I’ve returned because I picked the “wrong shade of green”.  Really, it’s embarrassing.

And here’s a handy tip… Keep a tape measure with you at all times!!!  I’ve measured dozens of media stands looking for one that hit 49” wide…. and having this clip on tape measure with me has been a huge time saver (for me and any salesperson who’s SURE whatever they are selling would work for me)


View of the inside… just staple what you have to a 4X6 card and it can easily slide in and stay put!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Mosaic art

Yet another Summer activity that kept us busy…

Foam tile mosaic art.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Broken Crayons?


One of our Summer day activities…

Sort out your broken crayons by color:


Take silly macro shots trying to get a really cool picture for your blog:


Break crayons into smaller pieces and fill candy making moulds with sorted colors:  P1030052

Bake at 250 until the wax melts, then carefully place pan in fridge. 

Drink Kool-aid. Wait for wax to harden. 

Flip pan and pop out the coolest crayons your 5 year old will ever see!


In “The Mood”

Is it just me, or do you have to be “in the mood” to sew, craft, etc.?

I have been putting off a gift for so long that now it’s finishing up just in the nick of time.  Sometimes, for me, fear of screwing something up just makes me freeze up.  My friend tells me I’m a perfectionist… but I don’t see it.  Otherwise, my house would be done, I’d be 40lbs lighter, and my hair would be great. 

Anyway, because I’m sure the new Momma doesn’t have the time to look at my blog right now, I thought I’d share a pic.  Sometimes little projects like this can push me into the creative mode (aka – The Mood).  Alas, I’m packing to take this little burpie out of town, so more sewing (and blogging) will have to wait til next week.



Friday, July 31, 2009

Drop your drawers here…

:-)  That saying still makes me giggle. One day, I’m going to pretend I am ferociously brave and get that vinyl wall piece that says that…

Previously at the Neal house…

The view from my kitchen… OBVIOUSLY not a pretty sight…


Ugh… I can’t even believe I took this picture, much less that I’m putting it out there for all the world to see.  But there it is… in all it’s tutu’d glory.


Clearly, this is the “after” shot…

as viewed from the kitchen


Hooks for my purse and keys…

the laundry room connects our kitchen to our garage




Ahhhh… No more tutus. 


I replaced them with a drying rack from Ballard Designs, a bin to catch mail, and lots of extra cabinet space and drawers .  This remodel nearly doubled my kitchen cabinet space.  (which just goes to show you how small my kitchen is…)

And yes… I actually use it… See those towels?  They are hiding my Hubby’s tighty-whitey underpants.  Aren’t you glad I don’t love you enough to show you THAT? ;-)

P1030145 view from the garage

I cannot TELL you how much better this room makes our house function… which helps with my “loving the one you’re with” philosophy regarding staying in this house.  And really, it makes laundry much easier to do… no a JOY to do, but EASIER.  The new Samsung washer and dryer set helps as well… We went from nearly 10-12 loads of clothes a week, to 4-5 loads.  Which is SHOCKING for me, because we had very large capacity machines before… I still am amazed by how these guys save me so much time (and water & $$$).

The cabinets were the closest match that Lowe’s had to our kitchen cabinets.  The view from the kitchen really is great to see, which makes me so happy that we didn’t go with white laundry room cabinets.  The granite also matches the countertops already in our kitchen.  I took the door between the two rooms down, so it’s become more of a pass-through from the garage (not that we can park in there yet…)

We also improved the lighting greatly by taking down a single light bulb, ceiling hugging fixture and installed a craftsman style track system (also from Lowe’s.)  I really used to hate these style of light fixtures, but now that they are easily available  in a variety of styles, I LOVE them.  We chose a 4 bulb style that allows us to aim the light in the direction that it’s most needed.  And in a room like this with no windows, it has made a wonderful difference in this room.

Not including the washer/dryer set, this remodel took around a month and a half & came in around $5,000. And was well worth every single penny and the time it took to get it done.

So that’s been my project of the summer.  Along with driving the girls to and from camps, ballet classes, and play dates.  I can’t believe that we’re already into August!

Next project: The girls’ bathroom… of which I’ve sledge hammered up most of the ugly beige ceramic tile already :-) My husband loves me… He really really loves me. Either that, or he’s very very scared of me ;-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Supreme Talent…

There are very few actors who come to mind that bring a certain level of genius to every character they embody. Most of what we see are actors playing a roll… but sometimes… sometimes, we sit in a theatre mesmerized by total transformation. Evil, diabolical, other-worldly, heavenly, insane, and otherwise brilliantly portrayed characters who come to life not only in our eyes, but our hearts as well. I’m sure there are more than the few that come to my mind quickly… the first being Helena Bonham Carter…

This chick really scares me with how well she does crazy… but hey… she’s good at it, so there.

bellatrix a-room-with-a-view_l

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Here’s her headshot from the upcoming Terminator Salvation film…

Like I said… Scary…

Just a few more weeks till Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince comes out… I sooo can’t wait!


harry potter set 110509

The other hottie… er, person who makes me all giddy every time I see his name come up on previews… Johnny Depp…

OK, let’s all take a moment to collect ourselves… … … … …

Good? Good.


Need another moment? …




…. sigh... I loved Chocolat...

depp-johnny-photo-johnny-depp-6206963 chocolat2

edward-scissorhands-732638 johnny-depp-pirates-400a011007 sweeny todd justpub


Yeah… That randy pirate bit really did it for me… Let’s see it again, shall we?


For the record… that’s the ONLY person I ever want to see “guy-liner” on…

Wanna know what brought all this contemplative prose about? ;-) …


Welcome to the world of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland… & The Mad Hatter…

Scary, genius, brilliant….

Love. Him.

My apologies for the Wonky pictures and text alignment... just can't figure out the problem...