Married to the Empire

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Birthday Pendants

My niece Emily is turning 10, and she wanted typical tween stuff for her birthday: clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc.  I leave the clothes-buying to Grandma and Grandpa, but I can handle accessories! 

Emily likes bling, so I decided to make a pendant with some pink (her favorite color--smart girl, just like her aunt!), her initial, and some rhinestones. 

You can't see it terribly well.  I still haven't figured out how to do lighting and whatnot to get a decent picture.  This pendant was actually attempt #3.  The first one failed because in my zeal to get out all the bubbles from the diamond glaze that is covering the whole thing, the rhinestones flipped over to their backsides.  The second attempt failed because I did her initial with dye ink instead of pigment ink.  The diamond glaze caused it to run.  Attempt #3 was the best of the lot, but still not perfect.  I think I should have coated the paper backing with Mod Podge or something because I think the colors ran a bit in the diamond glaze.  (Gee, are we seeing a theme here regarding diamond glaze?!)  Also, somehow the rhinestones kind of lost their bling in the diamond glaze.  Not sure what's up with that, but it is what it is. 

I also made her a Texas pendant out of shrink paper. 

Well, two pendants, actually, that she can switch out on a pink chain.  I have a really awesome Texas-shaped paper punch, so I punched out shrink paper, shrank it down, added a little heart in the approximate area of Dallas, then covered it all in diamond glaze, which was not problematic for once.  I dusted some silver glitter on the white one for a little extra bling.  (This kid, like her aunt, loves sparkle!)

Hopefully, she liked her necklaces.  I also gave her some awesome flowered hair accessories that I will show how to make in my next blog post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The baby is a...


We found out last Friday that we're having a boy!  First grandson for my parents.  After 4 nieces, I have no idea what to do with a little boy, but I guess I'll figure it out! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bartlesville Trip

While we went to Bartlesville, OK to volunteer at The Voice of the Martyrs, we had a day to simply do some sightseeing.  There are actually some very interesting things to do there. 

We started out by visiting the home of Frank Phillips, the founder of Phillips Petroleum.  (Interesting little sidenote is that I went to school in Norway with several kids from Bartlesville.  We were all oil babies, so many of their dads worked for Phillips.)  The tour of his home took about an hour, and it was very interesting.  It's a beautiful home without being too big.  The tour guide pointed out all the needlepoint pillows in the home, saying that Frank's wife loved doing needle work, but only did small things because she had to hide it when her husband walked in.  He said he made enough money that she didn't have to do her own needle work.  I found that amusing because he obviously didn't understand the joy that can come from creating something yourself. 

Next we visited Price Tower, which is the only skyscraper built by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

It's a bizarre building designed to make people uncomfortable in certain places within.  (Why anyone would create a building with the intention of making the occupants uncomfortable is beyond me, but then, I'm not an artist.)  The elevator ride alone had me practically hyperventillating.  I dislike elevators to begin with, but these were old and tiny.  Four people maximum, and that was with us crammed inside and in each other's personal space.  *shudder*  (I wish they'd allowed photos inside, as it really needs to be seen to be understood.) 

We visited a former residential apartment, and the half-bath downstairs was like an airplane bathroom--tiny and cramped.  The furniture all had to be custom made because the rooms were all so oddly-shaped.  (And let me tell you, the dining and desk chairs were u-g-l-y.  If you've ever seen old Star Trek episodes with Captain Christopher Pike, who is in a wheelchair, well, these chairs were like his box of a wheelchair.  Just weird and unattractive and likely meant to be somehow futuristic.) 

When the tour was over, I couldn't get out of that building fast enough!  Steven's take was that it was a piece of junk.  Wright may have been some fabulous architect, but he didn't design things to be functional.  Even the windows were awful, as they were made of aluminum and caused wall damage because they leaked.  The louvers on the outside of the building flapped noisily in the wind.  We couldn't even figure out how they could possibly get furniture into this building!  Just completely impractical. 

Next we went to the Woolaroc, which is the one thing I wanted to do most.  (So naturally, we went there last and didn't get enough time to do everything.)  It's part animal preserve/sanctuary, part fabulous lodge (again, once owned by Frank Phillips for entertaining out-of-towners Oklahoma-style), part museum.  Steven was all happy in the museum because there were walls and walls and walls of guns.  Yep, this is the South.

On the way home the next day, we kept seeing signs for The Toy and Action Figure Museum, so we stopped off.  It's in a little two-bit town that looked a bit rundown and ghost-like.  We're pretty sure this museum is about all it has going for it.  But wow, were there ever a lot of action figures!

An interesting little place to stop, but honestly, not worth the $6/person admission fee, as it just wasn't all that big or impressive.  They did, at least, have several vintage, carded Star Wars figures.  We'd have had no respect for the place if they didn't!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Visiting/Volunteering at The Voice of the Martyrs

Steven and I are supporters of The Voice of the Martyrs, which is a ministry that helps persecuted Christians around the world.  It's easy to be a Christian in the United States, as we have the freedom to worship as we want, but that's not the case for many around the world where they are beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for their faith in Jesus.  VOM steps in to help those who are persecuted for their faith.  In fact, Steven and I help support a pastor in Vietnam, which helps ensure that he and his family can have food to eat and a place to stay, even should he be imprisoned or lose his job because he is a Christian.  (It's a program kind of like sponsoring a Compassion child, except it helps an adult and his/her family.)

VOM is in Bartlesville, OK, and it has volunteering opportunities for those who want to help.  (You do have to apply and be approved first.)  Steven and I took a trip to Oklahoma last week to stay at VOM and help in whatever way they needed us. 

VOM has housing on campus for their volunteers.  We're used to youth-camp housing, which is never terribly nice, so my expectations were low.  We were blown away by what we were given: a 2-bedroom apartment with a nice living area and kitchen.  (I believe they had some very generous donors give the funds specifically for volunteer housing.)  We did get a good laugh, though, over our I Love Lucy sleeping arrangements. 

We worked all day Friday, mostly in the Operations Center. We packaged a ton of newsletters and other materials for mailing out to supporters and those wanting more information. 

I called this the Melty Machine, as it melts plastic packaging shut.  Steven was amused by my utter joy at using this machine, and he let me do it every time.  Hey, it was sort of like crafting!  Sort of...

The staff offered us a tour of the main building, which naturally, we willingly jumped on.  Admittedly, it's not much to see right now, but eventually, there will be a museum there.  But we did get to see Richard Wurmbrand's desk.  Wurmbrand founded VOM after being ransomed out of communist Romania, where he was imprisoned 14 years for his Christian faith. 

Outside the entrance to the main building is a beautiful memorial wall listing Christian martyrs through the centuries.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

We met so many nice people while we were at VOM.  Not just the staff, but the other volunteers as well.  One family with 7 kids had been living out of their RV for 6 months while volunteering at VOM.  That is serious dedication to a cause!  Overall, it was a very spiritually-edifying weekend and a great weekend of getting to help the persecuted church in some small, tangible way.  We can't wait to do it again!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon, I finally seem to have fought my way out of pregnancy hell.  The nausea is mostly gone, and I no longer have to wear seabands 24/7.  I've even managed to work with raw meat without getting queasy.  And when my husband was out of town this weekend, I didn't throw up or even gag when cleaning the litterboxes.  (And because I know someone will be all appalled that a pregnant woman cleaned litterboxes, please know that my boys have been tested and there is no toxoplasmosis in this house.  It's safe.)

Now to tackle all the things that were neglected while I was out of it.  Like my pile of coupon inserts that I've been faithfully saving for the past 3 months.  Um, a little overwhelming!

I entered my craft room last week with trepidation.  It's not just a craft room; it's my office, as well.  And for 3 months, I'd been piling bills and things to be shredded or filed in there.  I just hadn't had the energy to deal with any of it, and the room paid the price.

That took me a couple of hours to clean up.  But it had to be done because of this:

I'd had a craft day scheduled with my niece Leah back in February.  But it was the week of all the ice and snow, and I'd been sick, so I cancelled, as I just didn't have the energy.  At the time, I figured we'd reschedule in a couple of weeks or so, but then I found out I was pregnant, and all the nausea and exhaustion hit.  I felt terrible because I kept putting this off.  Leah is a sweetheart and was never upset with me over it, but I was bugged by it.  We hit May, and it was crunch time.  They go back to England at the end of the month.  *sniff sniff*  We finally had our craft day together on Saturday! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Odds and Ends

Once upon a time, I blogged regularly.  Now I don't.  Instead, you get occasional little updates on the random events of recent life.  Hopefully, I'm not as boring as I suspect I might be...

I'm determined to keep my house looking nice after the baby arrives.  Yes, I know there will be toys everywhere.  There already are; they're called cat toys.  But I mean, I want to keep home from looking like a baby store exploded in here.  So I started with this:

We found a lovely wooden high chair in an antiques store for a mere $40.  Steven will need to make some minor safety adjustments, as it's missing a strap or two, but that's easily taken care of.  It will look nice in our dining room, and most importantly, it's not tacky plastic.  A little TLC, and it will look good as new!

Even though I've been given permission by both my neurologist and my high-risk OB to take Imitrex for my migraines, I'm still a little scared of what damage I might be doing to baby.  For the most part, I'm just trusting God to protect the baby because if I worry, I'll get all stressed and freaked out, and frankly, I can't control what happens.  (I mean, other than not taking the drug, but that introduces a new set of issues, and they're not healthy.)  However, after daily migraines for the past month (due mostly, I think, to the insane, near-daily weather shifts we've had recently), I got desperate enough to seek out non-drug relief: I saw an acupuncturist.

He wants me to take some herbal something-or-other.  He swears it's safe in pregnancy, but what little I could find online says it's not, so I refuse to take it.  He stuck 10 needles in me last week, and so far... nothing.  He also did something called GuaSha on me.  Basically, he scraped my shoulder repeatedly with a stick.  It did this to me:

Trust me; it looks worse than it is.  And the crazy thing is, I think it helped.  My migraines go from behind my right eye, down my neck, and into a spot on my shoulder.  That shoulder has knots upon knots upon knots.  And now, the knots are lessened, and I'm not as aware of my shoulder as I used to be.  Go figure.  So, I'm going back for another appointment today.  I'm still unsure of how much chance I want to give this.  My biggest deterrent is that his office reeks of incense.  It's so bad that I have to shower and change clothes as soon as I get home.  He even wanted me to take some of it home with me to help me.  Ha!  I told him no way! 

Ninja is still sick.  Poor Doogie just wants a clean, fresh litterbox.  He's very private about using the litterbox, but the other day when Steven was cleaning the boxes, Doogie was doing the potty dance in front of them and trying to climb in before Steven had even finished.  I think Ninja had fouled up the boxes so badly that Doogie was just holding it until they were clean again.  Poor kitty. 

And speaking of Doogie, I fear he feels neglected.  Ninja just demands so much attention, mostly because he's naughty.  So here I have a cute picture of my sweet Doogie.  He'd decided the pile of rugs I'd left on the carpet while I mopped were quite comfy.

I'm just glad one of my cats knows how to be good!