Thursday, September 30, 2010

Customer Service, Where Did You Go? (Talkin' to You, Verizon!)

I had planned on blogging about my Blessings Unlimited party today, but something popped up that I had to write about before my head explodes and gets my laptop all gunky and then you'd never get to read about the party anyways.

At the very beginning of the month, T contacted Verizon to order a new DVR to replace the one he stole from me to watch football in HDTV. I guess seeing football players' sweat is pretty important to some guys. A week turned into two weeks, and still no DVR.

I've been living with regular old cable like some sort of cavewoman for the entire month now.

Each time (out of the 5 or 6 times T or I have called), we get placed on hold for 45 minutes or more. Last night, I cooked dinner for our family of 4, sat down and ate with them, washed all the dishes, and looked through a circular from the Christian bookstore...all in the hour + that I was on hold.

The elevator music was very nice.

At one point, I realized that the "Thank you for calling. We appreciate your patience" messages that run continuously were in Spanish. I read Spanish much better than I can speak it, but after you listen to the same message 3 or 87 times, you begin to pick things up. It was almost like taking a trip to a foreign country.

My Spanish skills were so vigorously renewed that when the Verizon rep took me off hold and greeted me in a barrage of Spanish, I was able to ask in fluent Spanish, "Do you speak English?"

He promised to send me "directly" to a supervisor. I guess to Verizon, "directly" means "make her wait another 30 minutes." But that's okay. It gave me time to notice that they had erroneously billed us $23.00 for HBO that we are no longer receiving. Excellent.

At the end of the day, the supervisor assured me that our DVR box is maybe kind of we think probably definitely on its way and should arrive at our place of residence no later than Tuesday.

Uh huh.

And I have fabulous oceanfront property in Missouri to sell you. In other words, I'll believe it when I see it.

I'm completely flabbergasted as to why it has taken a huge corporation a month to send us a simple DVR box. I could have made my own at this point....It would of course be compiled of cardboard, hot glue, and maybe some rhinestones, but it's better than what Verizon has sent us, which is nothing.

So if you are disappointed that today's post didn't recap my super cute and fun party, you should blame Verizon and their miserable customer service skills. A band of monkeys could have driven my DVR down to the 'Burg by now.

{Have you had any awful customer service experiences?}

So I don't leave you completely out of the loop with fun stuff, I am hosting Weekend Bloggy Reading tomorrow. Please come by and link up your best post of the week to share! Please add my party button (code below) or a link to me within your post. Hope to see you tomorrow!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Non-Mantel

Sometimes, reading my favorites blogs and perusing fabulous inspiration images, I feel like I am missing out on the good stuff: walk-in pantries, basements that children can be banished to play for hours contentedly, garages (yes, garages--think of all that storage!), and of course...a fireplace.

Because with a fireplace comes a mantel. And The Nester is hosting a Mantel Link-Up today along with Julia's Fall Decorating party. And I don't have a mantel.

But I decided not to let that get the best of me. "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful," right?!

So here is the top of my TV armoire, all decked out for Fall:
I painted the pumpkins last year, and the vintage lunch box was a find at a summer estate sale.

My next non-mantel is the hutch in the kitchen:
Don't you love the dog bed in the corner? I like to keep it real.

Couldn't resist showing you a peek at a few more Fallish things around here. I couldn't put everything out because of the Blessings Unlimited parties I hosted, but I managed to sneak a few things in....

Glass pumpkin, 40% off at AC Moore. Faux acorns in the apothecary were from the $1 bin at Target!

Snagged two of these little brown "Charlie Brown" Fall trees at JoAnn fabric and the faux gourds are also from the $1 Target bin!

It feels like Fall has finally arrived in my area of Virginia. Whether or not it's here to stay, I can't say...but I can say that the Fall decor is up for the next couple of months. Just long enough for me to get antsy about Christmas!

{What are your favorite Fall decorations?}

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Judge Amanda

The lovely girls over at The CSI Project (Create Something Inspiring!) asked me to guest judge for this week's challenge: Turquoise!

I'm totally going to be like Judge Judy except without the black robe and with better jewelry and I won't yell at people. The CSI girls gave me such a sweet write-up...I am really excited to jump in and start perusing those entries. But first, I have a little secret...

I don't have a lot of turquoise in my home (yet). Don't tell JenBeckie, or Amanda! I don't want to be fired my first day on the job.

In truth, I've had to let turquoise grow on me because I was so traumatized by it in my childhood. Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that my 99 year old Nannie got stuck in a decorating time warp sometime during the 60s and never quite rebooted. I spent visits to her house gazing at the wall to wall turquoise carpet in the living room and the sparkling white leaning 1960s Christmas tree with the matching turquoise ornaments. That tree would probably be super stylish now, but to a kid in the 1980s, it was just plain perplexing. Add in the arguments in the background between my grandparents ("D@mm*t, Benton, where's the vaccum?! Aww, h$ll, Marie, I don't know!!") and there you have the trauma.

So I am warming slowly to the turquoise trend, because I know it's here to stay. For at least this year. I'm trying to find ways to work it into spots in my home, but aside from a vase, this is the only piece I have so far:
I know it just has some tiny turquoise accents, but I'm working on it! That's actually a piece from my Blessings Unlimited line. Isn't it cool? The Nester even mentioned it once as one of her favorite BU items (you can click on that link to read about her party).

Speaking of parties, I'm hosting my second BU party this morning. At my house. With children present. No babysitters.

Wish me luck.

And good luck to all of you who are linking up over at The CSI Project today!

*Thanks to today's Sponsor, one9designs!


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Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday Cake

As I mentioned on Friday, I had my very first Blessings Unlimited party over the weekend, and had so much fun! I'll share more about the *goods* and the decorations another day, but I wanted to share another hit from the Sunday Cake.

I'm not sure why the cookbook (one of those that families put together and give out/sell at reunions) refers to it as "Sunday" Cake, unless it's so bad for you that maybe you need to go to church on Sunday and say a few prayers for dietary redemption.

Either way, it's always a pretty popular stop on the dessert buffet line at parties, and mine was no exception.

Sunday Cake

1 pkg. devils food cake mix (another reason to go to church if you're baking with the devil)
1 box of light brown sugar
3/4 stick of butter
3/4 cup evaporated milk

Bake cake as directed on package. (I bake mine in a bundt pan) Towards the end of the baking time, mix butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan and cook until well melted. Take hot cake out of oven and place on whatever you'll be serving it on. Poke holes all over the cake with the end of a wooden spoon handle. Pour hot sugar mixture all over the cake and let it cool a little. Then enjoy your sinful dessert.

 I told you it was good....

Linking to Tasty Tuesday and Tutorial Tuesday.

*Thanks to today's Sponsor, The Shabby Chic Cottage.
treasures to transform your cottage, castle or casa

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

First of Fall Thrifting and a Little Organizing

One of the nicest things about Natalie's ballet school is that Salvation Army is on the same road, and we have to pass by it on our way home. My oldest loves to duck into the store with me after class on Wednesday because she likes to show off her leotard and cute skirt that she has to wear on top of it before and after class.

I've been hunting for a buffet for my dining room for a month or so now, and no luck thus far. But I have learned that patience is often the key to a good thrifting find. This past Wednesday didn't reveal any new contenders in the search, so Natalie and I headed for the default area of the Salvation Army, which for us is the VHS tape section.

She chose a Little Bear movie and it only cost me $0.50. I can't really do the math, but for a 75 minute full-length feature, that adds up to a lot of quiet time for me for not much money.
We have a DVD and Blu-Ray player, but I also have a DVD/VHS combo and one of those old TVs upstairs that has a built-in VHS player. That was great to have when the kids were really little and I needed a quick shower!

You can find VHS tapes super cheap at yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment sales. I hit a yard sale once where a family was getting rid of Disney VHS tapes for only $0.25 each! I found Last of the Mohicans over the summer for only $0.75.

I store the girls' VHS tapes in the drawers to our TV armoire, so they can choose their own movie when they're allowed to watch TV. (I keep our DVDs in an antique secretary in the living room.) I know that someday VHS tapes will be completely obsolete, but for now, it's a great solution for my family. My girls get to watch some of my favorite childhood movies, and I don't have to spend a fortune on them.

{Do any of you still buy VHS? Where do you store your movies?}

Linking to Rhoda's Thrifty Treasures party.

*There's still time to enter this week's insanely cute Giveaway from Ribbon Blossoms! You can also link up your favorite post of the week to my Weekend Bloggy Reading party for an extra entry. (Please add my button or a link back to me before joining--code is below) Both are open until 10 pm (ET) tonight. Hope to see you there!*
Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Friday, September 24, 2010

::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: Link Up!

It's Friday, which means it's almost Saturday, which means that it's almost time for my first Blessings Unlimited party, which means I have some serious vacuuming to do today!
Today is my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mimi!) and we're having her over for dinner and cake tonight. Natalie has another birthday party tomorrow morning, and I'll be busy baking up a "Sunday Cake" (recipe forthcoming!) and finishing up the last details for my party. Sunday should be pretty relaxing with Sunday School and an afternoon of laying around (I hope!!).

{What are you up to this weekend?}

Today is the fun day where I share a few of my favorite posts from around Blogland this week, and you get to link up the best post from your own blog this week.

All I ask is that you please include my party button (code is below) or a link back to me within your post.

Here are some of this week's faves:
~Kendra created Easy and Inexpensive Wall Art to incorporate some more yellow into her home. She also took us on a super-cute and funny Birdhouse Tour. I know that's two links, but they were too good to pass up.

~The Nester has a great series going right now on How to Change the Theme of Your Decor Without Breaking the Bank, otherwise entitled "Written for Amanda." If you haven't ever heard of The Nester, please come out from underneath your rock and go see her! {wink}

~Stephanie shared the Perfect Seat for a Princess.
~And me? I have a fabulous Giveaway going on right now with Ribbon Blossoms (link up to this party by Sunday night and get an automatic entry!), and there was a great Guest Post on Wednesday. Right now, it's looking like I really need another Spa Night Out because my issues with Feedburner are back in full force. I had to take the display off the blog for now, because it looks horrible to constantly yo-yo back and forth between almost 1000 subscribers and down to 145 overnight. Unprofessional and uncool. Because Feedburner has zero (!) help, I'm pretty much at their mercy. Hoping for a turnaround. Hundreds of people are missing out on my posts because Feedburner can't get their act together.

But let's not let Feedburner spoil the fun. Link up your best post of the week to share! Let me know if you need help getting your link to appear.

Here's the button code if you'd prefer to use that instead of a link-back:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ribbon Blossoms

Xazmin was one of the very first blogging friends I ever made. Many of you blog readers can probably relate to clicking from one site to another until you eventually land on one that just *fits.* I was initially drawn to Xazmin's adorable shop, but her charming personality enticed me to keep reading and get to know her better.

I'd love to introduce you to Ribbon Blossoms today.

Ribbon Blossoms opened in late 2008 with Xazmin's former business partner, Tanielle. Although she's always enjoyed crafting, Xazmin hasn't always been confident in her creations. Xazmin credits her good friend with getting her interested in bow making and encouraging her to join together and open a business. I think Xazmin has every reason to be confident in her skills--her work is fabulous!
Xazmin describes her shop as "girlie, froufy, and colorful." I think she hit the nail on the head with that description. She's even working on some new items for the shop to cater to boys!

One of Ribbon Blossom's best sellers is the beanie cap. 
Paired with interchangeable flower clips, you can get a lot of looks for a low price! Moms can snag the flowers for their own hair accessories for a sassy look.

My favorites?

I am totally going to have to order this Christmas tree clippie!

Xazmin boasts a 72 hour turn-around for shipping pre-made orders, but my favorite thing about Ribbon Blossoms is the quality!

Last winter, Xazmin sent my girls their very own package of Ribbon Blossoms hair bows, and it was like Christmas all over again!

Is there a girl in your life that you'd like to bless with some pretty "ribbon blossoms"?

Ribbon Blossoms is offering a $15 Gift Certificate to one Serenity Now reader!

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.
Here's how you can enter:
1. (mandatory) Visit the Ribbon Blossoms shop and leave me a comment here with the name of your favorite item.
2. Link to this Giveaway on Facebook.
3. Link to this Giveaway on Twitter.
4. Link your favorite post of the week to my Weekend Bloggy Reading party on Friday for an automatic extra entry!

The Giveaway will remain open until 10 pm (ET) on Sunday. 

If you'd like more information on advertising with Serenity Now, please visit my Advertising Page for details and to see what my Sponsors have to say.

*Hope to see you tomorrow for Weekend Bloggy Reading. Please come and link up your favorite post of the week. Be sure to add either my party button OR a text link back to me before you join the party. The button code is below. Thanks!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Honey, We're Home

I love blogging because it has introduced me to people I would have otherwise never had the chance to meet. I am generally a nosy person, so being able to peak into other people's lives is a real thrill for me. Most bloggers are kind, gracious, and fun.

My new friend Megan from the Honey We're Home blog is no exception. Since discovering her blog, I have found myself insanely jealous overwhelmingly awestruck by her sophisticated style. Megan knew that this week is crazier than normal for me and kindly agreed to share one of her fabulous projects here today. Take it away, Megan!
Hi all, I am so thrilled to be guest posting (my first one!) at Serenity Now today.

Amanda has been a great inspiration to me as a blogger and mommy.  She is so funny and honest and the best at sharing her real life with us all. And the funny thing is, after Amanda asked me to do this post, I thought back and realized that I found her blog last year through her guest post about Black Friday over at Centsational Girl!! Wild, huh?!

So, here goes:  I’m a new mom to the cutest baby in town

and recently left my job as a lawyer to be a stay-at-home mom.  My blog was born when I started sharing our home building process and now that we’re all moved in, the decorating process, as well.

I just finished a special project in anticipation of this guest post:  I lined the back of the built-in bookshelves in our master sitting room with fabric, using starch. {I first heard of this when I saw Crea8tive Designs’ pantry}.

Our sitting room is just off the bedroom and the bookshelves are on the far right wall

A nice feature, for sure, but kind of bland as-is.  So, I started by scouring the fabric stores and found the perfect pretty floral print.  *swoon*

I decided to paint the back and sides of the bookcase a shade darker than the room to give the fabric a nice color to sit next to.  Rumor has it that after the fabric is applied, it is easily removable without damaging the walls.  If I ever tire of the fabric, the entire bookcase is already painted.

The most challenging part of this project was cutting the fabric to the exact width and length of the walls. I realized my bookshelves were the same height, but the one on the left was considerably wider. I cut my fabric into one giant piece before affixing the top corners to the wall with command strips.

Then I used Sta-Flo liquid fabric starch and a kitchen sponge to apply the starch directly on top of my fabric, really saturating it as I went. I used a wallpaper straightener to stretch the fabric to the end of the shelves.

Even though I didn’t encounter any air bubbles while applying, be sure to smooth the fabric down with the straightener because the next day I did have a few.

Then I simply inserted the shelves back in (using one less than was there before to make room for some large photos I wanted to display).

I still need to accessorize the shelves, but here is a sneak peek:

Amanda, thanks so much for inviting me into your world for a day! It’s been my pleasure.

Thank you, Megan, for sharing your project with us! I hope you all will leave Megan some comment love, and please be sure to check out Honey We're Home. Megan's style doesn't disappoint.

Come back tomorrow for a lovely Giveaway from Ribbon Blossoms!

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