Friday, December 18, 2009

Craftiness Abounds!

So my friend, Jami posted some cute, crafty Christmas ideas on her blog a few weeks ago. Me, being in need of some cheap, but thoughtful gifts, accepted the challenge and made one of them. The gigantic mess you see above was me preparing for batch #2 of my Martha Stewart Organic Bath Salts. I happened to add too much water to batch #1 and it continued to foam and foam until it tuned into the State Puft Marshmallow Man. Making bath salts is no easy task, people. Martha makes it look easy, but she has special powers and never sleeps. I'm sure she can also make these without covering her entire kitchen with baking soda and pink foam, but as you can see, that was not the case for me.

Anyway, they actually turned out to be pretty cool, if I do say so myself...
I also stole Jami's family recipe for "Martha Washingtons". Well, she actually refused to give it to me, even after I begged. So I had to Google it. These are delicious, gooey, coconut, nutty bon bons. They are also a project that creates a gigantic mess. Think: white, billowing clouds, of powdered sugar. They are well worth it, though.

What are your favorite things to make during the holidays? Do share! (Then I can steal your ideas, too!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Girls Weekend!

Last weekend, I took a day off school and flew to KC for a girls' weekend. I was able to spend lots of quality time with good friends and catch up. I also got to visit Pawnee Elementary and see all of my friends and students there. I have so much love for the teachers and families at that school! It was a great day...and I got tons of much needed 1st grader hugs.

My friend Andrea is about to have her first baby (a girl!) in January so I was able to come to town for her shower. Jamie, Andrea, Emily & Leigh are 4 of my dearest friends from my hometown, Parsons, KS (or as we fondly call it..."PK"). Andrea and I have been friends since 1st grade! The rest of us have been pretty much inseparable since middle school. I'm so lucky to have these girls in my life! It's so cool to have friends who have such a long history of great memories together. Thanks for a great weekend, girls!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friends are Friends Forever...

Billy and I often talk about how blessed we are to have such great friends in our lives.

Exhibit A: Mark and Jami Nato.

The Nato's are parents of 2. But, still delightfully immature...just like us. For example...seeing how many ways we can model a seashell belt. Yes, Jami did get scabies from putting it on her face, but don't worry. She's been treated and is fine now. We have shared many, many laughs with these two and lots of tears as well. We have seen each other through some really tough times. That's what community is all about. Now if we could just convince them to move to Nashville...

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Atlanta is only 4 hours from Nashville. I know this because I Google Mapped it before I moved to Nashville to see how far away the closest IKEA was. Billy and I decided that we really needed a fun getaway so we decided to take a little romantic rendezvous there. (Atlanta...Not IKEA!)

One of my second favorite things next to IKEA is Priceline. The Nazarene in me always feels a little guilty about using Priceline because it's pretty much gambling. OK...not really. But I do feel like I'm living dangerously and putting $40 on the line and never knowing what I'm going to end up with. It's an awesome way to stay in a 3 or 4 star hotel for super cheap.

I had never been to Atlanta...but can I tell you? It is one of my favorite cities now. I completely fell in love with it. Or at least move the IKEA to Nashville and that would suffice.

We felt very pampered in the Downtown Hyatt along with lots of suckers who probably paid full price. (Hee...hee...) We explored local flea markets, pizza joints, shopping, Historic Decatur, and the famous Varsity Drive-In. I highly recommend all of the above.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Sorry about the lack of bloggage! I have some catching up to do...

Our first KC visitors were Micah and Leslie Smith! We had an awesome time showing them the sites. They also surprised us with tickets to see our fave comedian Jim Gaffigan at the Ryman. (Hot Pocket!) We totally had a blast.

My mom and little sis, Heather, also came to Nashville for their first official visit. And of course the little muffin you see above, my nephew, Remy. I dare you to find a cuter baby.

I went from August to November without seeing them. That's like a decade in Donna-years. I, also, felt like it had been an eternity. We've probably gone that long without visiting in the past, but we always knew we were just 3 hours away. It's different now with a few more states in between us. It was great to have some girl time and relax around the two people who probably know me best.

By the way, thanks for all of you who were praying for my grandma. She is doing great! In the words of my grandpa, "She's back to her old self!" and we love that. She is still undergoing radiation therapy as a precaution, but her most recent scan showed no sign of a tumor left. Praise God!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Jobs

I am no longer unemployed! Yay! I just finished my first week as a 3rd-4th grade ELL "Push-In" teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools. I am working with 8 students who are in 3rd and 4th grade who are English Language Learners a.k.a. English as a Second Language students. I have 3 students from Somalia, 2 from Kenya, 1 from El Salvador, 1 from Puerto Rico and 1 from Mexico. I have two 1-hour reading sessions when I pull them out of their classroom. The rest of the day, I am going between both grade levels and supporting the teacher and students in the regular education classroom. It's such a blessing to have a teaching job...but one that is WAY less stressful than managing an all-day kindergarten class. Even though I loved my kindergartners...I miss those little munchkins!

My second job is an independent distributor of Shaklee products. (See previous post) I would love to talk to you about these products if you're interested! You can visit my personal Shaklee site at

I'm also working a few hours a week as the assistant to Don Chaffer of the band Waterdeep. Don and Lori have become great friends of ours and moved to Nashville from KC just a few weeks before we did. I am a longtime fan of their music. If you don't have their latest album, Pink and should! It is a super fun album with melodies I have become addicted to. They are amazingly talented people and have some other great things in the works. Stay tuned to

Please Pray!

These are my grandparents, Roger & Sara Williams. They are two of the most important people in my life and are the foundation of my family. Last week, we found out that my grandma has a brain tumor. We are hopeful that it is not cancerous and that it is operable. She has an appointment on Thursday, 10/8 at the Mayo Clinic. Please pray that God gives the doctors and surgeons there wisdom. My grandma knows Jesus and is an amazing prayer warrior. She has peace and faith in the midst of this scary situation. She is a beautiful, vibrant, fun, energetic and active woman of God. We pray that she can be healed and return home to the people and life she loves. Thanks for praying!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Going Green

Hey, friends. So...I'm up to something new. I am now an independent distributor of Shaklee products. Ever heard of Shaklee? It's the #1 Natural Nutrition Company in the U.S. I love what the company stands for and believe in the products so much, that I have decided to sell them.

"Going Green" does not only mean recycling, conserving water, and driving a hybrid car. Green living can really have a huge impact on the health of your family. Many household cleaners and personal care products that we use everyday can be contributing to common health problems. Your shampoo, for example, might not be as safe as you think it is! Not to mention that bleach you are using in your kitchen! Shaklee are proven safe for your family and safe for the environment....and they are proven to be more effective than many green products you will find in stores. All products have a 100% money back guarantee. You can return anything you are not satisfied questions asked!

Please click here to visit My Shaklee website and see what you think! I'd love to talk with you more about making your home safe and investing in your health! It's all about prevention!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Porcelain Perspective

Some people might call it a "staycation". A vacation at home away from work and other bothersome showering, eating, getting dressed, and stepping into daylight. You could also think of it as an intense detox, rapid weight-loss program. A stomach boot-camp, if you will. I just call it food poisoning. Not fun, people. Not fun. I lost 8 pounds in 4 days and logged in 72+ hours of HGTV...which happened to be the only channel that did not nauseate me. It's amazing how much food there is on TV when you're trying to avoid seeing anything resembling food. I do not wish that upon anyone. However, Billy was the best nurse and diligently took care of me and brought me Gatorade and US weekly.

This is a picture of my first outing back among the living. We went to Arrington Vineyards (owned by Kix Brooks) which is about 30 minutes away from Nashville with our friends Luke & Rebekah. It is a gorgeous area of land where you can do wine tastings, listen to live music and pretend to fit in with incredibly fancy people. We brought our own picnic dinner and just sat on the hill with the other peasants and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and music. Wineless, but free. It was soo relaxing and fun. Yes...I did shower.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yeah...I'm crafty

Several of my friends have had birthdays recently. I love remembering birthdays and sending cards and gifts. Mostly because I know how happy I feel when people remember my birthday! It's September 25th, by the way. (Wink!) Funds this month are extremely tight, so I had to get creative with cards, mix CD's, cheap candy etc. Here are a few of my recent creations.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Full Report

OK...So, many friends have been requesting an update on our jobs, house, church, etc. So here's the skinny. We have been in Nashville almost 6 weeks. It has been a really hard transition in some ways. There have definitely been some tears and hard days. But we are so excited each day to wake up and see what is going to happen! We have found encouragement in many unexpected ways.

For me, not having the safety net of a consistent job has been very stressful. I have to pray daily that God will help me trust Him to provide for us. We know we're in the right place. We have seen Him move in small, but powerful ways. Not the least of which is already having a small network of great friends that are here to help us, give us advice, and have fun with.

Job: I have been on many interviews and have put out many resumes. I was offered a really great teaching position at a wonderful school in Williamson County (a suburb of Nashville) but decided to turn it down. I feel that I would just be taking a teaching job for the security that it would provide. I have other passions and interests that I would like to pursue and am trying to find a job that will better suit my gifts and need for creativity and interaction with people..for now at least. Now is the time to try to make a change. I can always go back to teaching next year. SO....I'm still on the job hunt!

Church: There are many awesome churches in Nashville so it was exciting to visit several of them over the past 6 weeks. I believe that we have found the perfect fit at Strong Tower Bible Church. Our friends, Luke and Rebekah, are members there. Luke is the music director there so Billy already had the opportunity to play last week, which was a huge blessing. We absolutely love it there and are excited to get involved and meet more people. Click here if you want to visit the church's website.

House: We are renting a house in an area of town called 12 South. We are just 3 blocks away from 12th Ave. South which is a row of really hip boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses. We are just 5 minutes from downtown and 5 minutes from Vanderbilt University. We LOVE the location and have great neighbors. The house was built in 1950, so it's old and has some issues...and some gigantic spiders. However, we are so thankful that God provided us with a safe, affordable place to live. Here are a few pics.

Below are a couple of projects I completed last month for our house that would make Martha Stewart proud. I made a curtain to cover our pantry opening in the kitchen with clearance fabric from a store near our house. I also painted and put new hardware on an old desk that belonged to Billy's step-dad, Harty, and it looks brand new! Both projects cost less than $35 combined.

Celeb Sightings: And now...the important stuff. "What famous people have you seen???!!" Here are the sightings so far in order of appearance.

1. Leigh Nash: Sixpence None the Richer
2. A Jars of Clay dude
3. A Kings of Leon dude
4. Buddy Miller: Famed Guitar Player, most recently played with Robert Plant & Allison Krause
5. Jeremy Cowart: Photographer
6. Dave Barnes: Singer/Songwriter
7. Matt Wertz: Singer/Songwriter
8. Vince Gill!
9. Justin Gaston: Model/Miley Cyrus' ex-boyfriend
10. Toby Mac: DC Talk
11. Kevin Max: DC Talk
12. Reeves Gabrels: Guitarist for David Bowie
13. Audley Freed: Guiarist for The Black Crowes

More updates to come!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Day Show

On July 31st, Billy and I were VIP's at the Green Day show here in Nashville. Yes. We are that famous already. Oh, and a longtime friend of Billy's, Jeff Matika, is now a guitarist for the band. So, he might have had something to do with it. I did some self-reflection during the concert. Here are my thoughts in a nutshell...

Top 10 Things I learned at the Green Day Concert:
1. I'm old.
2. The dudes in Green Day are older.
3. There are a lot of teenagers in Nashville who are filled with fake "political angst".
4. I didn't realize I knew the words to so many Green Day songs.
5. The Green Day stage banter is exactly like stage banter at a Third Day concert...only it's the opposite of that.
6. I'm annoyed with crowd participation and screaming.
7. Once again, I'm old.
8. Hearing "I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life" in a large arena will surprisingly bring a tear to my eye.
9. I'm a sucker for fireworks and confetti falling from the ceiling.
10. I could get used to being a VIP at concerts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our First Party at Our New House!

August 4th is a special day for us because it's the day that Billy beat Ewing's Sarcoma, a large tumor in his left leg that was threatening his life. Billy has been cancer free for 4 years now. Praise be to God! We invited some of our Nashville friends over (some are pictured here) to celebrate with ice cream and homemade chocolate cake. We are so thankful to have such wonderful friends here already. It's a huge blessing and has made our transition so much better.

We live in a very old, "historic" house with very uneven floors. Let just me tell is hard to make a cake in a house that has sloped floors. It was a very lopsided cake. It didn't look pretty, but it was tasty nonetheless.

Greg & Sionnie Lafollette, Billy, Luke & Rebekah Sullivant, Donnie Smutz, Miles Chaffer

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Helloooo Nashville!

So, our first job in Nasvhille was not with Rascal Flatts. It was babysitting for the Chaffer's! We got to stay overnight with Miles and Ruby....the cutest, sweetest, smartest kids in the world. Thanks to "Nasvhille Parent" magazine, we found some fun things to do around town which included the Discovery Center and a free kids concert at Davis Kidd Bookstore. My favorite part of the weekend, though, was "cow night" at Chick-fil-A. We found out that if you dress up like a cow on Friday, July 10th, then you get free food. Free is my favorite price! So the kids and I made some fantastic cow costumes and joined the other "cows" at Chick-Fil-A for a free dinner. I realized later that they kinda look like sad cows...but trust me...we all were laughing! So hilarious!

Stay tuned for more Nashville news and pics...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Moving Day!

After squeezing in every ounce of Kansas City food and friend time, it was time to pack! Famous Last Words: "We live in a tiny loft! How long could it take?" Yes, we procrastinated as long as we could and then almost had to pull an all-nighter the night before the moving truck arrived. But we got it all packed and loaded with our marriage still in tact. Thanks to the army of friends and family who came over to help us with the dirty work. I hope you still love us...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Going Away Party!

We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends in Kansas City. We had lots of laughs, tears, and mosquito bites at our going away party in the lovely Kranz backyard. Our friends and community in KC is irreplaceable. It's so awesome to have friends that know you and have known you since you were a little kid! Thanks to everyone who came out and hung out with us before we made the big move. We have your guest room waiting!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Goodbye, Sweet Loft!

Here are some pics of our loft in the City Market in Kansas City, MO. It was our first home as a married couple and we loved living the city life!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bertie's 1/2 Birthday Surprise!

Billy's mom, Bertie, has never had a REAL birthday party. Why? Because her birthday is on Christmas Day. Each year on December 25th, everyone tries to make it special for her and designate some presents as "birthday" presents, but come's Christmas! So this year, I thought we should have a half b-day party on June 26th with cake, balloons, friends, and all the party fluff every girl wants on her birthday! A great group of friends came out to celebrate at Waldo pizza and needless to was a huge surprise!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Creature Comforts Ride Again!

Billy's old band "The Creature Comforts" reunited after 7 years at the Record Bar last night, June 20th. This was the first chance I had to ever see this band live. They are amazing and their songs have stood the test of time, for sure. So many friends/fans came in from all over the U.S. including our great friend, Jason Sudeikis. Jason was a fan of the band and even found his old band t-shirt! (See Billy's website for video!

After the show, we all went to the Everard house to celebrate the great night. Jason stopped by Taco Bell and brought a little bit of food over. Um...40 tacos! It was a glorious sight for this hungry girl.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Remy is here!

After a LONG wait in the hospital, Remy Michael Swearengin is here! My first nephew. He is the cutest, smartest baby in the world. Hannah, Larissa, and I have started the competition for the favorite aunt award. :) I will be the aunt who lives far away so I can spoil him the most! I miss the little tater tot already! Those cheeks!

Heather and Cody will be the most fantastic parents. I'm so proud of my sis!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The City Market

I have really loved living in the River Market neighborhood. I love being right on the edge of downtown where so much is happening and developing. It's funny to me that many people who have lived in this area their whole life don't even know that this exists. It's like a hidden jewel in the city.

Saturdays mornings in the City Market are so amazing. It's like a fruit, veggie, lemonade, kettle corn party just waiting for us right across the street. It has been a great neighborhood to call home.