Monday, December 28, 2015

Good Friends

It's snowing pretty good here, and because of this weather Mr. Tall was delayed by hopefully just one(very long) day. I am glad to say that I am, so far, feeling very calm about the approaching massive life-change. The wedding is Saturday!

Good Friends

Someone told me that as I moved towards marriage and moving away that my friends, people here, would begin to withdraw from me emotionally. I'm thankful to say that almost exclusively hasn't been the case. My good friendships here have grown sweeter as people help me prepare for marriage and moving. I'm very thankful for all the care and support from my church family since the engagement.

More Good Friends
I know it's hard, but I think it's a good goal to keep up with long-distance friends. Not at the same level, obviously, as when you are seeing someone every week, but good friends are worth working a bit to keep.

On to the Adventure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Matrimony still on the Horizen

With just over two weeks until the wedding, I am slowly working on my wedding outfit. It's white linen and ivory rayon, pretty simple, non-traditional, but I like it. It's not any historical era, it's just comfortable and practical, and hopefully, pretty.

Andrew and a Wine Jug. Don't worry, it was empty.

Meanwhile, other than sewing the outfit to be married in, I've been saying goodbye to people and places. I took Andrew and we visited the Hot Shops Studio downtown. I went to the annual Fort Atkinson Christmas party for volunteers; had tea at the Tea Smith with friends; skirt hemming in my room with friends; more tea with other friends; the dentist, not necessarily a friend; dinner with singles' group; and dancing, dancing, dancing.

Greek with the boys.

I'm also packing, packing, packing. Lots of transitional activities!

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Thanks

I got home from South Carolina on Monday the 16th and plunged right into my last few weeks in Nebraska. I don't feel like there's so much to do to prepare for the actual wedding as there is to get ready to say goodbye and leave. I had my last day of work, which was a relief. Now I just have to buckle down and actually sew my wedding dress. It's going to be the most comfortable wedding dress ever, and it has a pocket.

We had friends and family staying with us in various increments for the Thanksgiving holiday, overall, roughly ten people staying at different times over ten days. But I spent the most time with one person in particular. A tall, red-haired person. It was good.

We had pre-marital counseling, visited a cemetery, and polished the silver. We made truffles and watched Emma and went to Church. We went to Handel's Messiah and went swing dancing and ate turkey. It was a good visit. I didn't take any pictures, at all.

After the guests all left on Monday, we were all totally exhausted, and are now recovering. Sleeping in is on the docket for this week!

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Ladies' Retreat

Saturday was the ladies' retreat here at Victory Ranch.  There's only one more guys retreat and then the Ranch gets a break for the Holidays, construction, and repair, until sometime in January.

Teaching time in the Living Room

We had one chaplain candidate and two college students come as volunteers. We were expecting thirty women, but it turned out that only eleven came. Which was fine- eleven is still a fair amount.

Making cards to send home
As always, it was a very diverse group; though most of the ladies were fresh out of high school and going into the National Guard or Reserves after training.

One of the volunteers had a birthday
We fed them soup, and apple cake, and breakfast for dinner. There was so much food.

Lots of eating
We had a game a Bible session in the morning, and a game and Bible session in the afternoon, and lots of free time. It was a beautiful day, too.

Walking to Church

On Sunday we walked across the pallets to Church(Beulah Baptist) for a very Baptist Sunday School lesson and a very Baptist service. Later on Sunday guests arrived at the Ranch: Tim and Bobbi Bettger. The Bettgers are Cadence missionaries transitioning from Fort Drum to Florida, and Victory Ranch is on the way!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The day I arrived Mr. H had excitedly planned to have stew baked in a pumpkin for dinner. Mrs. H dutifully prepared the stew, and the pumpkin went into the oven around 4:30pm. At 8pm, all faint from hunger, we finally gave up trying to cook in a pumpkin. So the stew came out, got boiled, and the chickens got the pumpkin.

Friday I cooked meat, made brownies, vacuumed, and took a nap; then an interesting person named Cedric came over to help Mr. H with outdoor clean-up prep for the retreat. Cedric is from France, and he married Laurel, who is a Cadence missionary who spent several years in France; and through the wonder of internet dating, Cedric is now her husband. Cedric has a very nice French accent, and I feel soooo bad when I can't understand what people are saying! Anyway, we all went over the Cedric and Laurel's house for dinner and Bible study Friday evening: and we had pumpkin soup. Cedric and Laurel were very kind. They gave me a stamp for a letter.

Cedric and Laurel Givry.

While we were at Bible study we found out about the tragedy in France. It was maybe more meaningful praying for the country of France with someone who lived there.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Victory Ranch

It's been exactly two years since I volunteered(officially I was an "Intern") at Victory Ranch in South Carolina. Victory Ranch is a part of Cadence Int, a Christian ministry to the Military. This location hosts retreats primarily for enlisted soldiers from Fort Jackson. I enjoyed my time here two years ago and I'm glad to be back, if only for a short while.

The Lake at Victory Ranch in 2013

The big news item at the Ranch is flood damage. The dam/road leading to the retreat center washed away after water from the flooded lake started pouring over the road. A working siphon in the dam couldn't keep up with the amount of rain brought in by two major storm fronts meeting over Columbia.

The Lake at Victory Ranch 2015

So long story short, the dam broke, the lake drained, and the road to the house has a deep, deep gully carved right through it. The edges of the lake are dry enough to walk on now, but the stream running through still needs something over it for walking on. Mr. H nailed boards and pallets together to make a long sort of walk/bridge going from the remaining road to the edge of the yard.

The Pallet Path from the road to the yard
And then there's the stairs. It's a form of exercise.

The pallet path is a bit steep in parts where you're walking up or down the sides of the lake, but it serves the purpose well. If you can keep from tripping. Everything coming to the house has to be carried from the end of the lane up to the house. Packages can't be delivered to the house

The breaking of the dam didn't damage any houses lower down the stream; though it did fell a tree close to the road and wash away a truck that was parked on the road.

A crack in the earth

The gravel lane from the paved road down to Victory Ranch has always been rather bumpy, but besides breaking the dam the rain made man-deep gullies and ruts down various sections of the half mile stretch of road. Thankfully, the County maintenance crew came(the very day I arrived) to repair the main section.


It looked like the County maintenance crew spread moon dust and volcanic rock on the lane. In fact, I'm convinced that's exactly what it is! So progress is already being made to repair damage. The H's and Cadence have already raised $28,000 out of the estimated need of $50,000.

Less ground to walk on.

Victory Ranch is part of Cadence Intl. Donations for repair can be given online at Restore Victory Ranch.

A Nature Walk at Victory Ranch

I think mom may have tried to take us kids on a few nature walks early on in home school, but there's only so much to see in a square mile of Nebraska farmland, so that didn't last into middle school. I'm not a big plant person: I don't grow plants. I just admire from afar. But if one can avoid poisonous plants, deadly reptiles, rodents, dogs and beasts, keep from getting sunburnt, frozen, or wet, and walk at one's own pace, then walks can be fun. Also if you have someone's hand to hold, that's nice too.

Anyway, I went on a short walk to see the drowned lake. Fall is pretty in South Carolina. I don't think the trees color as much as the more northern states, but there's still red and gold and green. So here are a few pictures from my nature walk today.

I'm extra enjoying things like moss before I move to Texas. Where, presumably, they don't have any moss.

South Carolina Marble.

In a word, Fall.

I call it a gumdrop.

I don't really know what it is, but it's pretty.

Volcanic rock and Red.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Week with Friend H

It's been actually fairly chilly here in SC, and I didn't pack for it at all- Tuesday was the first sunny day above 65 since I arrived. So I found another blanket, bought a sweater, and wore two pairs of socks to bed, and finally the temperature warmed up outside.

The Front Door

On Monday Friend H and I went thrift store shopping. On Tuesday we went to Starbuck's and Christmas stocking shopping(My first time at World Market). Today, Wednesday, we toured two historic homes in central Columbia: The Robert Mills house, and the Hampton-Preston house. Both houses are owed by the Historic Columbia Foundation. The houses are right across the street from eachother and both have pretty gardens.

The Back Door
The Hampton-Preston house was a private residence since the early nineteenth century, barely escaped being burned by Sherman during the Civil War, and ended as a Presbyterian Women's College. The Robert Mills house was never used as a home, since the owner died before it was finished, and so it went straight to being a Presbyterian Seminary. Which I think is really neat, since Presbyterians rule, and also really efficient, having a Seminary across the street from a women's college.

Then we came home, had brownies, and took a nap. My last day visiting Friend H.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Sabbath in South Carolina

Sunday morning we went to H&Z's PCA church, and since they're looking for a pastor right now the preacher for today was actually the pastor of Rose Hill PCA, which I visited last time I was in SC.

A Magnolia flower, from my last visit to SC.

 So the plan for Sunday was to go to the Rev War reenactment at Camden after church. BUT, because the temperature was 50F and it drizzled all day, we ended up not doing that. Alas for Camden.

Instead we went out to eat at a place called Cookout, and then tried to go to the State Museum thinking that today was the first Sunday of the month($1 admission) but it being the 8th today turned out to actually not be the first Sunday of the month; so we went to Mast's General Store in downtown Columbia, and then out to coffee. The General Store was neat; it had some good gift ideas for decent prices, though none of us bought anything. The coffee place was nice too, and totally empty.

Why is it so cold in South Carolina?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day Two....

.... of my pre-wedding vacation in South Carolina. We had plans to visit the Rev War reenactment in Camden, but rain changed our plans. Instead I went to Fort Jackson to meet up with some ECD friends and teach cute little Sea Cadets some dances.

It was not air conditioned.

A complete stranger picked me up from the H&Z home and took me to a only slightly shady gas station, where we were met by another lady with more girls, and then still another lady and her girls, who took us to our final destination.

Cute little people and cute little people in uniform. So cute!

It turns out Sea Cadets are like the Civil Air Patrol, only for the Navy. At least, that's how I understood it. So we danced some good dances and chatted during the drive about dancing and life, and it was fun to see people again.

Friday, November 6, 2015

It's Bigger on the Inside?

Pretty much all I did at the shop in the week leading up to Hallow/Reformation Day was work on the Tardis dress. Simplicity 1095, it's a gored skirt, bustled overstkirt, corset, and bolero/hood. I changed the pattern, of course; no way was I going to take the time to make a boned bustle.

The Tardis Pattern

Anyway, I spent a good three days working full shifts on that dress, and the person for whom is was made ended up wearing for half an hour. But then it went in the shop window, labeled as "Sexy Tardis dress, $75 for rental."

The Sexy Tardis? I'm offended.

Otherwise, I've recently made several 70's vests, a striped Elf outfit, and five more "Tardis" hoods.

There was a rainbow at some point

Football is over. My sister-in-law had a baby. And there's nine weeks until the wedding. I finished my last commissioned sewing order, so now I'm almost officially on vacation until after the wedding. Just a few more days at the costume shop and I'll be officially, officially on vacation. And I can finally start sewing my own dress!

Football Star.

Actually, I am kind of on vacation right now: back in April I bought tickets to come back for a visit to the retreat center in South Carolina. It's been exactly two years since I volunteered here. So I had my tickets a long while ago, but the recent flooding here changed my plans a bit. I'll be spending most of the time with my old friend, Friend H, who I met in Russia exactly three years ago, and saw again when I was here two years ago. Friend H is married(to Mr. Z), expecting, and a homeowner, but still fun to be with. Today, my first day here, we went to her TWO HOUR maternity class- and then to the Old Mill Antique Mall in downtown Columbia. It's a cool place, really big, with good prices. When I came here in 2013 I bought all my Christmas presents there. On today's visit I bought two adorable pottery cups with little turtles on them. A good day!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pictures of Two People, Physically Closer Than Normally Allowed

Different state, different height, different shoe size.

So, engagement pictures.

I've been on Facebook for a while now, and anyone who is on Facebook knows that it's prime real estate for posting pictures of events in one's life, especially happy couple photos. Lots of happy couple photos. I've long been paranoid about not being that person, the person who advertises life events. So John and I(mostly me, I guess) may possibly be on the other end of things, in carefully sharing very little about our engagement and wedding on social media. Also, neither of us is like, "Yay! Let's get our picture taken!" So that helps.

Bam. Soak it up, people.

However, we did get our pictures taken. If only because having watched my siblings get married before me, I knew that mothers give no peace unless some pictures are taken. And, in an effort to satisfy those amazing people who truly do want to see pictures, but still not be that person on Facebook, here is a post dedicated to pictures, of two people together, sitting as close as possible.

John nearly fell into the Koi pond and could have been eaten alive. But he didn't; and so then I tried pushing him over. He weighs too much.

A pond full of ravenous fish.

The botanical gardens in Fort Worth are free, except for the gated Japanese gardens where we took pictures. Anyway, it looked like a fairly large garden, and close to campus, so hopefully we can come back and explore the rest of it at some point.

We had our pictures taken by this lady.

So there you go! All the pictures of us that you'll ever want.

Work, Wedding, and my First Quilt Show

This past week at the costume shop I cut apart half a dozen supposedly romantic outfits, that were a stretch knit with a wood pattern. They made up world's most hideous Pinocchio t-shirt and pants. Also, I made a skirt that's supposed to look like a mushroom and a electric poncho made out of a blanket. And a shirt made out of a choir robe, and striped pants and blouse for a Christmas elf. Now the project for next week is Simplicity 1095, a Tardis skirt, corset and hood.

It's a Mushroom?
And we are a super long-short seventy days from the looming lingering Matrimonial Date. Some well-meaning and smart people have been telling me how hard marriage is. Communication, respect, letting go of the little things, he will annoy you, etc. I say no way! Marriage is so totally way better than being single, and it's going to be awesome.

A Quilt!
 I went to my first quilt show on Saturday. Hosted by the Cottonwood Quilting Guild, the quilt show was in a church gym. There were at least half a dozen nearly ceiling high wood racks with quilts on both sides. They were all either pieced quilts, or artistic quilts, more like wall hangings. It was $6 to get in, and there was home-made pie and other food for sale. Pieced quilts are amazing, and I appreciate them as a hobby and an art, but anyone who's been reading my blog knows I love the hand-made wholecloth quilts best!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Texas Again

I just got back from another week-long visit to Texas, my last visit before the wedding. I know I need to be positive, so I won't mention the horrible mosquitoes, or road traffic, or mind-blowingly large Texas egos(not Him, obviously: just other people).

Him in Texas.
Me in Texas.

There were some differences from my last visit. Last time I visited, we were still "negotiating." This time we were "committed." (We were dating and now we're engaged. I like to use non-traditional wording).

Japan in Texas.
So everyone wants to know what we did the whole week. We got our pictures taken. We went ring shopping. We sat on the couch, a lot. In fact, mostly we just sat on the couch, and it was really nice.

What we drank in Texas.
We also ate lots of chocolate. I brought coconut chocolate, which wasn't much of a hit, and He ordered raspberry chocolate online. Apparently Amazon told Him that He was ordering six pieces of chocolate, which of course is not enough, so He upped it to twelve, and when I arrived there were twelve bags of Ghirardelli raspberry chocolate. Arranged in a heart shape. On my bed. Anyway, we ate six of the twelve bags of chocolate, shared between four people, in one week. Impressive appetite, if you ask me!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Work and Wedding

Mostly right now I'm working at the costume shop, and getting ready for the wedding. We're gearing up for Reformation Day at the costume shop, which sometimes means more people around, but also that the boss orders pizza more often. She always gets the same thing, but I don't mind because I'm pretty sure that Dominos chicken-bacon-ranch pizza is just the best. 

A shirt for Pirate Festival season

I've been working on tunics, capes, 1970's pants, general alterations and repairs. I haven't gotten to design anything in a while, other than a plus sized shift dress that turned out looking like a big banana. There are some things I don't like working with on the costume front. Fur is one, for sure. Another that is not fabric-specific are can-can or saloon girl outfits. I am sure I make the most modest saloon girl outfits around, but I still don't like the idea behind it.

Thistle Quilt
 I finished the medallion on the thistle quilt. I don't even know when I found time to do that.

Lady Dracula?

I had this custom Etsy order this month. I think it turned out pretty neat, but it's not what the customer wanted. Sigh.

Speaking of quilts, my mom found this vintage quilt top in m Grandma's things. It's been sitting in a trunk for fifty-plus years, so it was pretty musty; I hand-rinsed it in the bathtub and the water turned brown. It was supposedly made by one of Grandma's Aunts out of Grandma's old dresses. It's just the top, so it needs batting, backing, and stitching together. And it's currently third in line on my list of quilting projects!