Dec 26, 2004

Sure do like those Christmas cookies, sugar! Sure do like those Christmas cookies, babe

Hope everyone had a happy holiday! I sure did! I spent Christmas Eve day with Travis' family. Travis and I exchanged gifts that morning because we weren't going to be together Christmas morning. Travis surprised me with a Kitchen Aide Professional Plus Mixer in the lovely shade of red. I can't wait to try it out! Travis knew about his BIG gift but he still acted surprised when he opened it! I bought him XM Radio. I love XM radio- no commercials and no tejano (unless you specifically select it- and that will never happen)! Another cool thing about the model I gave Travis is that it has a remote control...and if you know me I love to flip stations. And with over 200 channels to choose from you can imagine what it's like in the car- loads of fun. Maybe you're in the mood for Jazz or Texas Country...or maybe some uncensored Ghetto Rap. It's all there...

After we opened presents we headed into town and had breakfast at Panera Bread. We debated getting it to go or eating there- all because of XM. We were already hooked. We decided to eat it there and talk about the plans for the rest of the day. Our plans included a trip to Target and lunch in Huntsville with Memaw and Uncle T.

Christmas Eve dinner was spent at my parents house. My mom made lasagna and salad. Yum. After dinner we all put on our pj's and watched movies. Maxie and I watched Milo and Otis and the others watched ELF.

Do you like sugar?
Is there sugar in syrup?
...then YES!
Us elves try to stick to the four basic food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and sugar!

Maxie and I woke up right at 7 and went in to wake up Stephanie and Travis. She wanted to know if Santa came because she didn't hear the pitter patter. But we assured her that we all heard the pitter patter and the clatter last night!

She was really excited about her Santa presents: a Barbie
flashlight, an umbrella and pink cowgirl boots! She had a bag full of stuff and you could see the excitement in her eyes as she pulled everything out of the bag.

After Santa presents we all changed into regular clothes and then came back down to do the regular gift exchanged. My Grandma, Aunt and 2 cousins came down around 12. Travis also arrived around then with green bean casserole. My Uncle showed up right before lunch.

I decided my job this year would be to set the dinner table. So I went online and looked up table setting/napkin folding...There are so many different ways to fold a single napkin. I stuck with the beginners fold and ended up setting a beautiful table- the glasses were even set in the right spot...Can you say fancy?!

I spent the rest of the day with the family and Travis. Travis and I headed to Conroe, where we spent the night, around 8. What a long day it was...Here are a few pictures.

Mmmm syrup...We teased my mom with a new green bean casserole recipe.

happy family

Dec 21, 2004

Only 4 days of shopping left. I need to get a few more gifts and stocking stuffers and then i'll be done! I just finished my Christmas cards this morning and they are ready to be dropped off at the Postal Office. I almost don't want to send them because they are so cute!

Today Julie and I are going to make sugar cookies. This year we are going to focus on decorating instead of slice and bake it is! It's becomming quite the tradition for us to get together right before Christmas and bake!

...more to come!

Dec 10, 2004

Happy birthday to me! Actually it was Tuesday but I'm still celebrating! Tomorrow night Travis and I are going to the Nutcracker Ballet! I am so excited! I have wanted to go for several years now and now I finally get to go. I bought a super cute dress the other night...ohh-la-la!

Only 5 days left of teaching and then it's time for winter break! 2 weeks with no kids! YES!! Travis and I are planning on going to Fredericksburg on Saturday to do a little holiday shopping! I think we'll drive to Austin on Friday and snag Maxie for the weekend. We'll stay with Gi Gi Saturday & Sunday night and then head back to Austin on Monday for my dentist appointment. I still use my dentist in Austin since I know i'm in good hands (my sister works there).

I'm sure Christmas is going to sneak up on me- I have yet to buy anything. Well...that's not exactly true. I have picked up a few things, here and there, but nothing BIG. At least I know what i'm getting everyone.

We'll I'm heading to Foley's to get an evening bag and a wrap to wear. They are having a super sale with coupons. It started at 6 this morning but who wants to shop that early?

Nov 16, 2004

...who will get the drumstick...yummy, yummy, yumstick...

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and so is my week long vacation. I'm going to spend Monday-Wednesday in Fredericksburg and then head back to Houston for turkey dinner at the Miller's house. Then Saturday and Sunday will be spent decorating for Christmas. I'm already in the spirit- I went to the Nutcracker Market with my mom to do a little shopping. I've been to the market 3 years in a row and each time it gets bigger and better! I have my favorites- Paul Michael (home decor) and Cowboy Country (for honey butter)! This year the BIG thing was floral arrangements with feathers incorporated into it. Last year it was miniture Christmas tress with snow on them.

I have come to the conclusion that one must bring several things when attending an event such as the Nutcracker Market:
-some sort of backpack to put all the small stuff in
-walkie talkies in case of separation
-comfortable shoes
-gloves to prevent shopping bag rub (ouch)

I did come out of the Market with a few Christmas gifts and ornaments to add to my collection!

Nov 1, 2004

Over the weekend Travis and I headed out to Huntsville for a little haunted house action. His cousin Brian took 6 weeks to transform his land into a Haunted Trail- complete with strobe lights, fog machines and creatures that pop out of nowhere... I was a little spooked. The kids seemed to have a great time too-bobbing for apples, going on hayrides, and of course eating as much candy as they possibly could.

On Sunday we busted out the carving kit and carved up some mighty fine lookin' pumpkins. Travis decided to carve his freestyle and I opted to use a pattern of a witch flying on a broom. We even had Mr. G from next door come over and be the judge of who did the better job- but he wouldn't say. Must be the Grandpa in him- couldn't choose if he had too.


The rest of the afternoon was spent running around town. I bought a new book- Shopaholic Ties the Knot- and Travis spent some time pricing computer accessories. We headed back to the house and packed our bags and went over to see Scott, Ronda and baby Preston!

We all sat out on the driveway and passed out candy to the trick-or-treaters. There weren't too many but my personal favorite was the Ninja turtle- hard back shell and all.

Make sure you vote- it counts.

Oct 20, 2004

If you're nutrition-conscious about what you eat while out on the road (or at least try to be) check out these sites- airlinemeals for consumer ratings of airlines' dishes or roadfoood for reviews on roadside food stops.

zoom. zoom....

Oct 17, 2004

Travis and I refinised my dining room table in an Antique White. It looks awesome! We decided to scrap the chairs because they were too wobbly. So you know what that means....I get to go SHOPPING! I think I'm going to go for a slight french county cottage look for the dinning room. As soon as its all in place I'll post a picture!

I can't wait to be able to decorate a house- weekend trips to Lowes, walls you can paint, a yard to mow! So much to look forward too!


Oct 13, 2004

I just completed my 3rd Pampered Chef catalog show and I am already signed up to do another show in February! The best thing about doing a show is that the more you sell the more points you earn towards free stuff- I just love free stuff! The checks will be in the mail tomorrow and the products should arrive in 2 weeks! Yippie!

Since I haven't updated in awhile I will fill you in with the scoop on the happenings in my life. Here goes...

Stephanie and Maxie came down this past weekend. Mom took Maxie to get her pictures taken at Sears....SEARS the home and garden, appliance and electronics, tools and tires shop?!! I couldn't believe it but they did an awesome job! I wish I could show you just how cute they are but no can do... I only have a hard copy.

School News- Today I decided to rearrange my room. I recruited help from the time-out gang. I'm not sure what exactly made me want to do it right then but I just had to change it on the spot. I over heard my Mr. Smartypants say, "she must be mad, she is moving furniture..." I wasn't mad... just unhappy about the flow but now the room is looking mighty fine. I'll have to take a picture to share with the group.

Travis and I have a weekend project in store for us come Saturday- refinishing my dining room table. I can't wait to have my table back! It's been in storage for a couple of weeks. It's not so much that I use it to dine on as much as I use it to pile all my crap on. I'll be sure to take a before and after shot of the process.

Friday is in-service day. I really don't mind going since they usually let us out early from the 2nd session but ssshhhhhh don't tell.

that is all. tara

Oct 12, 2004

Tonight Travis and I made a trip to Target. We stumbled upon this ultra cute halloween costume, not for ourselves, but for LUCY.


Oct 3, 2004

Pumpkins, gourds and squash...oh my!

Sep 30, 2004

This is too funny!

Sep 22, 2004

Time to update!

Becky and I had a great time in San Francisco! It's absolutely beautiful out there. The air is fresh and the temperature is perfect! I arrived on Thursday afternoon and took a shuttle (driven by an angry Chinese man) to the Fisherman's Wharf. I met Becky at the hotel. We hung out there for awhile then decided to hit the streets and head towards Ghirardelli Square. Yum, Chocolate!!

We walked down strand and checked out a few places to eat before settling down on one. I decided to try the clam chowder and Becky went for the crabcakes. Since it was still early we decided to go out to the Dirty Martini bar. I had my favorite- sour apple and Becky opted for the lemon drop. Cheers!
The next day we went for a cable car ride down to Union Square. Ding Ding

"Please use brakes generously!"

All around town you'll find these cute painted hearts. This is one of my favorites!

After a delicious lunch at The Cheesecake Factory we cruised the mall and then headed to China town.

won't you take me to...China town

I bought a few things for Travis down there but I was holding out for Paper-Source. Later that afternoon we rented our PT Cruiser and headed to Berkeley to meet Becky's friends. We ended up going out to dinner at a fondue restaurant where Sal, our waiter, entertained us. Can't you see how excited I am?

Sal- straight to the heart.

The next day we woke up with good intentions of making it out the wine country early but instead we made it out there around noon. We went to a few of Becky's favorite wineries then made a mad dash to the lesser known for a quick tasting.

Most of the places close early in Napa so we headed back to San Francisco, stopping for a quick picture at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had such a great time! Thanks Becky for showing me around town and inviting me out there!

Sep 7, 2004

Feeling stressed? THIS might help.

Aug 31, 2004

This afternoon I was trimming Lucy's nails- it's a difficult job but someone's got to do it. I was moving right along until I accidentally cut one too short and it started to gush blood. I took immediate action. I applied pressure and gave her tons of kisses, which seemed to do the trick. After her speedy recovery, Lucy jumped on top of my new quilt and got blood all over it! UGH!!

I really thought I'd have a blood stained quilt for life but I did a google search and found that such things as ice and/or peroxide take blood stains right out of fabrics. I was a little skeptic but low and behold it worked! I rubbed the ice over the stained areas and it came right out.

That was pretty much the excitment for this evening. Tomorrow is school picture day. Oh joy- let the fun begin!

Sssaaayyy chhhhheeeeesssseeee!!

Aug 30, 2004

I have almost fully recovered from my spell of strep throat. I came down with a horrible sore throat Thursday night. Around 5 a.m. on Friday, I decided to call in sick and make myself a doctor's appointment for that afternoon. After I dropped my plans off at school I spent the rest of the day in bed. Travis came home a little early and took me to get my prescriptions and a few groceries. When we got back to my place we decided to go to Conroe and spend the weekend up at his parents house since it was empty. I slept most of Saturday and by Sunday I was feeling much better. Today I feel just about 100%.

Thanks goes to Travis for taking such good care of me!!

Aug 18, 2004

I started school last Thursday and to my surprise it was one the smoothest first days I've ever had. I have 19 kids in my class and they keep trickling in. For the most part it's a good group of kids that seem to be pretty with it. Of course I still have to remind them of the rules and break them of the habit of calling me "teacher, teacher." Hopefully their cute little faces and their willingness to learn will keep me going this year!

Travis and I went camping over the weekend at Huntsville State Park. We were finally able to try out our new tent and I love it!! We didn't get out to our site until sunset but we got the tent set up and a fire started pretty quick. It was quite the trip for me. While I ran up the road to use the facilities Travis had 2 furry visitors- raccoons. Too bad I missed out on that excitement BUT after hearing about it I made sure to keep an ear on my surroundings. Eventually I was spooked by what I thought was a Raccoon but was really nothing- just my imagination. We soon crawled into the tent and settled in for the night. Travis always sleeps on the right and I'm always on the left. That lasted for about 5 minutes. I was getting comfortable when I noticed 2 HUGE shadows over our tent. I thought someone was out there about to get us! YIKES! Travis reassured met that those shadows were of the people in the campsite next to us. (It took some convincing though) He then said you sleep here and I'll sleep there. That was working out just fine until the owl starting hooting from the tree above us. I just closed my eyes and prayed for daylight.

Daylight came and we tore down the campsite and loaded up. We headed back early and fooled around outside. I ended up falling asleep on the porch swing. You have to love those kind of days. Monday came too soon of course but the good news is is that today is hump-day! Only 2 days to go. This weekend Travis and I are going to the Home and Garden show to meet EVAN FARMER- I mean we are going to get ideas on home improvement 'n stuff.


Aug 8, 2004

I am so tired of the radio these days. It's the same songs being played over and over again. What's really annoying is when different radio stations play the same song at the same- there's no escaping! It seems as though I have the same problem with music here at home as I do in the car. Last night I decided enough is enough- why should I make myself suffer with the same old tunes!?! So I spent a little time online listening to cd samples and found several new artists that I liked. I created a list of potential new cds to add to my collection and then this morning I headed out to Barnes and Noble where I narrowed my list down to 2 new artists (new to me at least) Howie Day and Jamie Cullum. Howie Day has a John Mayer style/Bono sound to him and Jamie Cullum is nice and jazzy!

ahhh peace at last!

Aug 3, 2004

This past weekend Travis and I fell in love with the Dodge Magnum RT We decided to test drive one just for kicks and ended up seriously considering to buy one. I was drooling over the Cool Vanilla while Travis was admiring the Magnesium.

I went up to school Monday to work in my room. My goal was to get the furniture moved in to place. Mission accomplished. Tomorrow is our first day back- donuts and bagels served at 8. I think I'll pass on that. Not sure what's in store tomorrow or the year for that matter but hopefully it's not as bad I'm thinking.

This weekend I'm heading up to the hill country with my parents. Saturday I'm going to help my dad up at the ranch and then Sunday we'll be heading back home. Kind of a long drive for such a short trip but it'll be nice to get out of the city. Travis is going to Florida to help his buddy move back home. He's off for 4 days...lucky! I guess I shouldn't be jealous since I've been off for 2 months. lol

Oh, one more thing Travis and I decided to clip and use coupons this month to see if we'd save any money when purchasing grocery items. Low and behold, we saved a whopping $8 at Krogers yesterday! If only it would of been triple coupon day!

Jul 30, 2004

This morning I was listening to sound clips from the JB and Sandy show. I was checking out their site and came across a picture of what happens when a Zebra and a Donkey get together...If you look at long enough it's kind of cute!

Pet the Zonkey

Jul 26, 2004

What a great weekend! Dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse was incredible. I have never tasted a steak so flavorful. I actually ordered the stuffed chicken but sampled the steak off of Travis' plate. I am sneaky..very sneaky. We actually spilt our meals but for some reason I ate more of his than mine but not to worry I had mine boxed up and enjoyed it last night.

Yesterday Travis and I went into town and bought a new......Greatland® dome tent . I absolutely love it! I can't wait to try it out! It sleeps 4 but it is perfect for 2 and a little pup.

Travis also surprised me BIG on Friday night. On our first trip out to Fredericksburg I went to a quilt store and found this amazing quilt with a not so amazing price-tag. I told Travis about it and even showed it to him one afternoon. He told me that we could go in half on something if I wanted to. I couldn't make up my mind because I had my eye on something else. Well I left town empty handed which was fine because I figured I'd be back the following week and would have my mind made up by then. On the return trip I told Travis I had stopped by the Quilt store and to my surprise the quilt had sold. I told him that I guess a tourist had bought it over the weekend. Little did I know what he had up his sleeve. He had been teasing me all week about how I was getting a surprise when we got back to Houston. A SURPRISE!?!?!

Of course that started the guessing game....Is it something that fits your pocket? What color is it? Is it breathing? I asked every question in the book and all I got were two responses from him, "I have the right to refuse to answer and you'll find out on Saturday."

Well he couldn't wait until Saturday and neither could I! So on Friday he covered my eyes and revealed the surprise. There was the quilt spread out on my bed! I couldn't believe it. I was practically speechless.

I love my quilt and I love Travis!

The Quilt

The design upclose

So now I'm on the search for quilted pillow shams and a new bed.

Jul 23, 2004

I'm back!

I got in town this morning around 10. I had gone up to Fredericksburg on Tuesday because Travis was going to be working there. During my stay I learned more about what he does and talks about doing by watching him work and actually doing it myself. I collected a few water samples and helped label over 300 glass jars used for sampling. Thursday I managed to swing by Grandma's house. She was surprised to see me and offered to take Travis and I out to lunch. Travis couldn't make it because of his work load so it was just the two of us! We went by DQ (of course). We talked about the price of real estate in Fredericksburg (which is outrageous) and about my visit in town. Afterwards I managed to stroll down Main Street and did a little shopping. For the most part I just relaxed and enjoy my time with Travis.

Travis will probably be back later tonight. He had so much work left to do on his own-hopefully he'll finish before sunset.

Well next week we head back to school for inservice sessions. Today was our Kindergarten Team luncheon at Kathy's house. It kind of motivated me to get my room ready for the 20 kids I'm expected to have. We are all kind of nervous about this year because we have a new Principal, an extended day and several other changes that are going into effect this coming school year. I'm sure it'll all work out though. Change isn't always a bad thing.

Well this weekend is Travis' mom's birthday. She made reservations for all of us to go to Ruth Chris' Steakhouse to celebrate! I picked her up an antique bud vase from a store called Rebbeca's when I was on Main Street. The vase looks like a round jelly jar with a domed shaped wire lid.

Other than dinner tomorrow- not much else is planned. Perhaps we will practice the Art of Doing Nothing.

Jul 19, 2004

helping water the plants

Helping Gi-Gi make cookies

Let's play teacher!

Maxie B. at the Pioneer Museum

Travis and Maxie

After our camping trip I headed to Johnson City to pick up Maxie. Maxie stayed with Gi-Gi and I for 3 days. We had a lot of fun! Monday Gi-Gi took us to the Pioneer Museum to see some of her Great Grandfather's artifacts. It was pretty interesting and there was lots to see. We did a little shopping and had an ice cold treat at DQ. Maxie and Gi-Gi made oatmeal raisin cookies one afternoon and then Maxie and I did a little more shopping. I'd try to give Grandma a little time to herself so she could rest and restore some energy. We'd visit Travis everyday at his job-site. I am glad I had the chance to see what he does when he is out of the office. Travis stayed at the Miller Inn which was right around the corner from my Grandma's place- so pretty convenient! It was nice being that close. Tuesday was date night out on the town. We went out for dinner at Bejas, a causal Sante-Fe restaurant. We dined on the patio facing Main Street. We started out with chips and queso and a tangy margarita. For the main course I had the Cobb salad and Travis had a stuffed chicken dish and we shared a peach cobbler topped with ice cream for dessert! It was nice to go out and enjoy the small town life. I love Fredericksburg because work isn't the priority for people- it's family. People work hard at what they do but it's family (not money) that keeps them going.

Last week Travis and I went camping at Inks Lake- which is just North of Marble Falls. The drive out there was pretty. There were rolling hills, winding roads with amazing views of the land and the water. When I arrived Travis was tucked away in his tent but was aware of my arrival- he quickly popped out to greet me. He had picked a great location to camp- close to the water which gave a nice breeze and it was near the restroom. Travis took me on a quick tour of the campsite and then suggested renting a canoe to paddle around the lake. I'd never done that before so I was up for it! At first I was little nervous about being on the water but Travis assured me that the boat was stable! We paddled around for a couple of hours and enjoyed the fresh air! I do have to admit I could use a little help on my rowing technique but overall I got the hang of it. That afternoon Travis set up the hammock and we spent some time relaxing in the shade with our books. At night we built a fire and watched for shooting stars before going to bed. We took it easy on Sunday morning and tore down the campsite little by little before heading to Fredericksburg.

the view from our campsite

Me and Lucy watching the sunset


taking it easy

creepy crawly critter

Travis and Lucy in the water at INKs Lake

Jul 8, 2004

Becky- Thanks for all your help with my blog issues! You certainly do have "magic fingers!" So here it is- the latest look for my it a keeper? You bet it is!

Last night Kristine and I saw The Notebook. I had read the book last summer and when I heard about the movie I knew I had to see it. I definitely recommend seeing it-and bring a box of tissues. We were both crying and laughing at one another but we gave each other a hug and we were all better!

Tomorrow I'm heading to Austin for some good-time fun with Maxie! On Saturday I am meeting Travis at Perdenalis Falls to go camping- I hope I'll be able to find him when I make my way out there! We will camp out Saturday night then head to Grandma's house on Sunday and stay until Thursday. Should be a great time to take lots of pictures!

I was surfing earlier today to find out what's going on in the world of entertainment. I came across a link called 20 Questions about your favorite Real World cast memebers. I personally am a big fan of earlier epidsodes of the show but the San Diego cast was pretty interesting- especially with members like Frankie- woah!

One question in particular caught my eye. What's your porn star name? (Your childhood pet's name + the name of the street you grew up on.) So that's my question to you fellow blog readers. Post your responses on the tag-board located on the right panel of my entry!

Sugar Sham would be mine. It's got a nice ring to it but I have no interest in changing professions!

Jul 6, 2004

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did over the Holiday weekend. I decided I'd go over to my parents house to help my mom out. She has been nagging me to clean out my bedroom closet for several months now. Since Travis was out of town I decided that now was a good time to get organized. I decided go the extra mile and clean out the gameroom closet as well. I figured out that if you can't find a place to store something just shove it in the closet and that'll work best. I should have worn protective head gear while cleaning- the closet was jam packed with stuff (not all of my stuff either). That little closet probably took a good 3 to 4 hours to organize. But now you can feel safe knowing that nothing will fall at you when opening the door. Then it was time to tackle bigger and better things like my bedroom closet.... I started cleaning it around 9 o'clock Friday and 10 trashbags later I was finally done. You can actually see the carpet now!

Travis and Scott took off on Thursday for a 2-day trip to the Sunshine State. First stop UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and Islands of Adventure for some roller coaster action! Then Saturday was race day. Travis and Scott attended a little thing called the Pepsi 400. Travis' drivers of choice are Rusty Wallace and Casey Kahne. Travis made it back early Sunday morning and by early I mean they caught the 5:30 a.m. flight. We dropped Scott off at his house in Spring and then headed back over to my parents place to pick LUcy up and visit with over breakfast. We spent the remainder of the weekend in Conroe and took it nice and easy!

Movie Rental Must- Cold Mountain

Jun 30, 2004

One of my goals for the past couple of months is to work on paying off my debt. I've been battling this for awhile and it's not like I'm in over my head but I want it to be over and done with. Julie told me about a man she saw on Oprah this week talking about MONEY. I immediately went to Oprah and read up on some tips and thought I'd share them with you.

From the show Automatic Millionaire: How to Become One

Secret One: Pay Yourself First

Most people live paycheck to paycheck. The average American family has $10,000 debt. Financial expert David Bach says the secret to being rich is paying yourself first. Right now, when you earn a dollar, before it even makes it to your paycheck, you pay the federal government income taxes. You also may be paying state income tax. And on top of that, there are Social Security taxes, Medicaid and unemployment. Don't pay Uncle Sam before you pay yourself, David says. Start paying yourself first—take at the very least the first hour of income that you earn during the day for yourself. You can legally pay yourself first -before the government- by putting that money into a pre-tax retirement account.

How Much Should You Pay Yourself?

David tells you where you'll be according to what you save.

Dead Broke: Don't pay yourself first. Spend more than you earn.
Poor: Spend everything you make and save nothing.
Middle Class: Pay yourself first five to 10 percent of your income.
Upper Class: Pay yourself first 10 to 20 percent of your income.
Super Rich: Pay yourself first at least 20 percent of your income.

Secret Two: Make it Automatic

In order to make paying yourself first effective, the process has to be automatic, David Bach says. You must have a system that will pull that money out of your paycheck directly and automatically—the way the federal government does. Go to your employer and say, "I want you to take money directly out of my paycheck, and I want you to put it automatically into my retirement account." Don't trust yourself to pull that money out, David says. It's not that people are lazy, it's that they're busy. No matter how disciplined they may be, they don't have time to manually write checks and deposit them into an account every pay day.
No retirement account? Some people may not have a retirement account, or their employers don't offer a retirement plan. Don't use that as an excuse—open your own individual retirement account. An IRA is a personal retirement plan that anyone who earns income can set up at a bank, brokerage firm, or online.
David says opening an IRA and making it automatic can be done in 15 minutes. David suggests starting with the following investment companies, brokerage firms and banks.

Secret Three: Buy Your Home and Pay It Off Early

You'll never get rich if you don't own your own home, according to David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire. When you rent, you are essentially throwing away the money you could be putting towards owning your own home. Most people are afraid to buy a home because they don't have money for a down payment. Through programs sponsored by lenders, developers and the government, David says first-time homebuyers can finance a house for little or no money down.

How Much Can You Afford?According to the Federal Housing Administration, most people can afford to spend between 29–40% of their gross monthly income on housing.

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early
Wouldn't you like to own your home and be debt-free sooner? Set up a bi-weekly mortgage plan. Here's how it works. Let's say your mortgage payment is $1000. Instead of paying it every month, split it in half and pay it automatically every two weeks on the day that you get paid. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, you'll make 26 half-payments, or 13 full payments—the equivalent of an extra month's payment! Over time, this will reduce your 30-year mortgage by 5-10 years and shave tens of thousands of dollars off your interest payments.

These 3 things really got me thinking in a more positive way.

It's always one thing to hear or read about something but it's the actual DOING that's going to make all the difference. I'm going to try this out, starting TODAY!

Thanks for the tip Becky! I signed up for Upromise. I already know a few people who are seeing the dollars add up (like Julie)! Julie became a member long before she was even pregnant- It's always a good thing to plan ahead. Pass it on.

Jun 28, 2004

The baby shower was a success! The house looked so cute with the decorations and the food was delicious! This baby shower really got me thinking about a career change. I'm looking into taking a class at HCC for starting your own business. I'd love to be a party planner but I don't know how to get started and this class will probably give me some direction.

Today I am going to install curtains in my bedroom. They are nothing fancy but they will add a nice touch to the room. Last week I installed curtains in my living room- it really dressed it up! Anywho, I'm going to get my day started! Have a wonderful Monday!

Jun 24, 2004

Here are some fabulous tunes to check out!

Eva Cassidy
Katie Melua

Happy Listening

Today I decided I have had enough with the snail population living outside my door. I finally took action! I sprinkled salt all over my patio in hopes that tomorrow when I awake I will not see trails of goo all over my window nor will I hear "crunch crunch" when I'm out watering my flowers. Keep your fingers crossed that the snail population will have diminished.

This afternoon I went to spend some time with Julie! We visited a little bit and played with Andrew, who by the way is a chunky little fellow. He is up to 13lbs now and the doctors say if he continues to develop at this rate he will be over 6ft- No doubt in my mind that will happen.

On my way home I stopped by a scrapbooking store and picked up some new paper by SEI. Here are two websites that carry this brand of paper Two Peas In A Bucket and Scrapbookers Paradise. About 2 years ago I started an album that has pictures of my family from yesterday and today- it's one page away from being complete. I also have another album that is dedicated to my friends and it's a ways off from being done but it's getting there. Well for some reason today I bought another album! It was just too good of deal to pass up! I placed an order yesterday on snapfish so as soon as those pictures arrive I'll be all set to start on my new book! Isn't that exciting?!

This weekend is the baby shower for Ronda (Travis' sister in-law). It should be a lot of fun- I just love throwing showers! I would almost consider myself a professional shower thrower.

Jun 21, 2004

My trip to Austin was a lot of fun! Stephanie and I went shopping for knick-knacks for the house/apartment. I came home with new curtains from Pottery Barn and some hand-me-down throw pillows from my sister. My dentist appointment went smoothly. I received a trial packet of the Rembrandt Tooth Whitening System, my teeth are beaming! I came back to Houston on Friday afternoon and met Travis at his parents house. We loaded up the truck and headed to Buffalo for the weekend. Saturday I spent most of the day relaxing indoors while Travis and his dad worked on mowing the fields. Their lines look nice and straight! The girls (Cassie and Lucy) played and played on Saturday and by that evening they were pooped out! On Sunday Travis and I went on a drive to look at an old Post Office building and while we were walking around we snapped these pictures of Lucy!

Jun 15, 2004

Today was the day that I busted out the ol' sewing machine to see if I could in fact sew a straight line. I borrowed the machine from Julie last week and today was the perfect day to try it out. The Singer Touch & Sew Special Zig-Zag Sewing Machine Model 638 is what I am using. Sew...I used some of Travis' old jeans and a shirt of mine. I thougth both of those fabrics would work perfectly for the job at hand. I undid the metal clasps on the side of the machine's cover and plugged it into the wall. I sat down and examined the machine. I felt pretty comfortable so I put my foot on the pedal and watched as I sewed a semi-straight but mostly wavy line across my fabric. Not bad for the first time. I continued on until my bobbin came undone. I pulled out my handy Singer manual to figure out how to rethread it. I finally figured it out with a little help from Julie and the manual.

I was sewing away when Kristine showed up for our Pilates workout. She immediately says, "TARA, what are you doing? This isn't right, and this needs to be like this and this needs to be here!" I asked her how she knew all of that and she said, "It's because I was the Future Homemaker of America President back in High School." It's not something she brags about but come on- that's quite the title! So she gave me a quick tutorial on how the machine works and how to line everything up!

I called my mom and told her about my new hobby. She asked me, "So what are you sewing on?" I immediately think surface and say, "the kitchen table" she says "no silly, what fabric are you practicing on!" lol

Anyway here are some of the projects I'm considering sewing: Curtains for the kitchen, living room and bedroom. A few pillows and a quilt (for Travis). I'm hoping I can at least do the curtains this summer and then maybe I can invest in my own machine and complete the rest.

Tomorrow I have a Kindergarten Writing Workshop I have to attend and then I'm heading to Austin to visit Stephanie, Travis and Maxie. I have a dentist appointment Thursday morning at 7:50 and then rest of the day will be spent on the streets of Austin. I can't wait to go....but I also can't wait to get back to see "My Travis!"

Jun 7, 2004

Travis and I had a great weekend in New Braunfels. We met Charlie and Sam down at Rocking R River Rides around 1 on Saturday. We threw on our suits and hopped into a tube for a 5.5 hour float down the Guadalupe. It was a little crowded but relaxing none the less. The rapids were a lot of fun- splashing and tossing you this way and that way!

Afterwards we cleaned up and went to eat at Janie's BBQ in Gruene, Tx. I opted for the sliced beef, while the others got the chopped beef. It was accompanied by an ice cold Lone Star. Then we went next door to Gruene Hall to listen to Cooder Graw, but we all realized we were a bit too tired and a little too sunburned to really enjoy the show. So we had Charlie and Sam dropped us off at our Campground site for the night.

Sunday morning we woke up to birds chirping and the river flowing. Travis unloaded his camping gear and made some delicious breakfast tacos! yum!

Just a little more gas....

Where we enjoyed our breakfast tacos....

We took our time on the way home. We drove into Gruene for a little snack at Napolitos cafe and then into New Braunfels for quick drive around the little city. We then hopped on I-35 and headed to San Marcos to check out the Tanger Outlet Mall. We bought a cool new miniature scrapbook to fill with our pictures from our weekend trips. I can wait to get started on it later this week.


I just got in from meeting Becky and Andrew, Kay and Mark (B's parents) and Kristine for dinner out in Spring! We met at Stracks for some delicious BBQ and pickles! After dinner we headed back over to the Adam's house for a little girl time! I had a great time visiting with them, I can't wait to see them all again....hopefully sooner than September!

Jun 3, 2004

The shower invitations turned out so cute! I used white cardstock with baby footprints on it. I typed up a cute little saying on to vellum and then attached the two using blue satin ribbon. I'm impressed. I need to get Mrs. Miller's approval then they will be put in the mail....

I went to Julie's house today. We watched Intolerable cruelty and had Quiznos for lunch. That was only my 2nd time to have Quiznos. I was a little uncertain about going there because the last time I went I remember I didn't like it- but that was years ago back in Austin. Today I had a much better experience- I ordered the turkey swiss melt. YUM!

Anyway, I'm off to workout. Trying to get back into a routine. Have a wonderful FRIDAY!

Jun 2, 2004

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
by Tara Johnson

Monday kicked off my first real day of summer! It feels weird to be off but I imagine I'll get used to it. Here is a little about my weekend. Travis and I went up to my grandma's ranch out in Hye, Tx. A little place barely on the map. We met my parents, grandma and aunt up there for a little bit of spring cleaning. After that we all headed back to Fredericksburg and got cleaned up. Travis and I went to this trendy little place called, Lincoln Street Bistro. It's a fine wine and cigar bar with an European Atmosphere located on Lincoln St. We only stayed for a bit because we were looking for food, rather than drinks but we both decided that it's definitely a place worth going back to! Sunday we took a scenic drive through Willow, Tx. It was absolutely beautiful- hills, flowers...ROCKS! Travis wanted to check out an outcrop of Serpentinite that he knew was out there. He tried to get a sample of it but decided against it when we saw the NO TRESPASSING sign. So we drove around for awhile longer and then headed back to Houston and then on to Conroe.
Travis and I spent Monday and Tuesday running around town with Lucy in tow. Now I'm finally back at my place about to head out to Michael's to get paper for invitations! I spent some time online the other day looking up wording shower invitations and I found these cool sites!

I'm off to find the perfect paper to make the perfect invitations. ;)

May 24, 2004

2.5 days left of school! I told Travis my name should be The Packing Queen! I have emptied out a couple of shelves and a cabinet and moved all of my teacher crap into my new classroom. I have to admit that I am much more productive in the morning than in the afternoon. Tomorrow I will have to recruit extra help from my kids to help this process along.

About my weekend...
Travis and I postponed our camping trip for another time. It was probably a good idea we did anyway because we wouldn't have been able to fully enjoy ourselves and the great outdoors in only one day! So instead of camping we went up to Austin on Saturday to see Maxie's first dance recital. Talk about cute! Maxie was in 2 dances with a dress change in between.

The first was a ballet to Edelwiess.

And the second was a tap to Peppermint Twist.

After the second dance we all went out to dinner to Mamacita's to celebrate! We headed back to Conroe after dinner, getting home around 11:30 that night. Sunday was spent cleaning out the car, running errands, and taking it easy! And by taking it easy I mean swinging in the hammock. If you've never had the chance to swing in one you should definitely try it! I give it 5 stars!

Yesterday evening Travis and I prepared a fajita dinner for his parents. I have decided that cooking for someone is nice, but cooking with someone is even better! (especially when it's Travis)!

May 20, 2004

Tuesday night was Kindergarten Farewell, which is just another name for Kindergarten graduation without really calling it that. We have to call it something other than a graduation because Fort Bend says that children should only graduate once and that it should be at grade 12.

Anywho....The kids showed up at 6:45 all decked out in tuxes, suites and ties, and ball gowns. Just about every single kid dressed up- it's always a sight to see. The kids did a great job and from what I can tell the audience enjoyed the show too. My parents and Travis came for the evening and said that the program was really cute!

5 days to go until the bell rings for the last time this school year. I'm taking a half day on Friday because Travis and I are going camping this weekend at McKinney Falls. It should be a great weekend for it and I'm so excited because I haven't been camping in forever! Saturday we will drive into Buda to freshen up and then head to Maxie's 1st dance recital.

I will be sure to take my camera because this weekend holds many photo/scrapbook opportunities!

May 11, 2004

It's almost the end of the school year...12 days to go and YES I'm counting!
This last month has just flown by for me and that's a good thing because I'm ready for a break!
Next week is our big Kindergarten Farewell program. It's going to be really cute the night of but all the practices leading up to it would have you fooled. Today was the first day to practice on the stage and behind the curtain. Imagine trying to control 135, five year olds. It's almost impossible but you have to keep telling yourself 12 more days...Just 12 more days.

After those 12 days I'm not sure what I'll have going on. I definitely want to go on a roadtrip- somewhere sunny! I am also considering getting a second job to help pay bills and so I can start stashing more money away!I've considered working at LoneStar Paper Company out in The Woodlands or waiting tables. Waiting tables is fast money and offers a flexible schedule and it might be my best bet.

But all of that still needs to be decided on and I'm not going to worry if I don't find anything because it will be nice to just do nothing for awhile.

As an added BONUS I have included pictures from this past weekend taken at the farm

OK- so most of you know that I grew up spending my summers at my Grandparent's farm. I grew to LOVE cows and even had one of my own named Lillybelle. I had no fear about cows up until now. One day I was home alone up at the farm- Travis had gone into town for something and I was scrapbooking at the kitchen table. I had the front and back doors open allowing a cool breeze to pass through and while I was working I heard this loud "moo" off in the distance. I get up and go out to the patio and do a cow call that my Papa did when he wanted the cows to come. I waited and waited. Then finally I hear the "moo" again and this time it's closer and louder and more frequent. I see the cows coming and run inside and shut all the doors. I was so scared! Especially of the black one. I don't know what her deal was but she would not stop mooing!!

That happend a few weeks ago but I tried the cow call again this past weekend on some innocent baby cows that live on the place across from The Millers.

When I did the cow call on these guys I got many stares and stomps out of them!

Here is my cowboy fresh off the tractor!

May 5, 2004

Happy Birthday Travis!

This past weekend was the big birthday bash in Keechi. Travis and I drove out Friday night to his parents farm, stopping in Willis to load up on groceries. We made it up there around 10:30. It was about to storm when we pulled up, we quickly unloaded things and then hit the sack.

Our day started off nice. Made breakfast, had a cup of coffee, watched a show on the game show Network called- CRAM and then took a shower. Seems pretty typical- nothing unusual.
UNTIL. . . I hear the words, "If you're going to take a shower you probably want to get in now!"
Apparently the handle to turn off the water had been striped and in order to turn off the water in the shower we had to turn the water off completely. So I quickly hopped in and rub-a-dub dubbed.

To make a long story short, we had to make a trip into town. Little did we know that the rain we had the night before caused major flooding down the dirt road. We must have sat at the floodline for 20 minutes. After some discussion, we drove through it, and went into town. We bought some parts and headed home, over the river, and through the woods....

Travis worked so hard on the shower but decided to just plug up the opening and save the work for the next day because it was time to PARTY.

Travis' buddies came up to the farm to help celebrate his birthday. I had made a brisket, greenbean casserole, queso and corn. For dessert, his mom sent along a carrot cake and I had picked up some slice and bake cookies when we were in town. The meal was a hit and the desserts were delicious! And here a pictures from the first party in Keechi!

Travis is in his fancy pearl snap shirt.

"Happy birthday"

Charlie, Travis' friend, bought this huge, inflatable water slide for hours of fun!

I'm so happy that his friends could make it, it really meant a lot to Travis and I both. Travis had a great time and we are working on plans for the next big thing in KEECHI. I'll keep you posted!

Apr 26, 2004

I hope he likes ducks and airplanes! --Mark

Julie had her baby today!

Andrew James Witten
7 lbs 6oz

He is one precious little redhead!

Apr 22, 2004

So I've been told once or twice that I'm an organized person but for some reason I can't seem to get my closet organized. I have piles of clothes waiting to be hung up. I have a basket overflowing with dirty clothes and boxes of stuff on the top shelf. It's a mess and it's making me nuts!

Yesterday I made an attempt to organize the top shelf. Travis told me to go from top to bottom. I went through every box and got rid of things that I didn't need and hadn't looked at in a long time.

I got rid of one bag of trash but you really couldn't even tell.

Just ask Travis.

I told him not to look any lower than the top shelf. He stood there wide eyed with a puzzled look on his face. It was like he thought I was joking about cleaning the closet out. LOL

Maybe he couldn't tell but I had one heaping bag of trash to prove that I had done something. . . .

So, today I'm going to make another attempt to get things hung up and make the space clutter free.

I have the latest issue of Real Simple magazine which has some great tips on how to organize yourself and simplify your life. The article, The Organizer, was a great source of inspiration for making my living space clutter free!

Clutter is that stuff you don't notice, use, or care about until it's time to get rid of it. Yet at that precise moment, although you know better, letting go of your Riverdance instructional video or those 25 blank notepads feels like smothering a piece of your soul. You are plagued with concerns: What if you need it someday? Why did you buy it? What would Antique Rooadshow say....

...Time to kiss the clutter good-bye!

Apr 13, 2004

The time has come for me to update!

Talk about a relaxing day for me!
First of all I'm off today. Actually I have been off since last Friday! I love being a teacher!

So this past weekend Travis and I went up to the farm for some alone time. It was a great weekend for us! Travis worked on tearing down a wall and putting up new paneling and I worked on my scrapbook. His mom sent us up there with a project to complete: paint the coffee table red! So we did and it turned out really cute! We headed back to Conroe on Sunday for Easter lunch with his parents and his brother Scott. His mom is the best cook! The rest of the day we spent unpacking his room and getting him organized. I think we have a little more work to do but it's almost done! Yesterday I spent the day at home and rented some movies. Travis has been wanting me to see All the Pretty Horses and I have been wanting to see Something's Gotta Give. I watched the second one with my mom last night when I went over there. I decided I'd go ahead and spend the night there since I had to take Lucy to the vet this morning for her third round of shots and for her watery eyes and itchy ears. So this morning I woke up and took her in and she cried and cried after being poked 3 times and having drops put down her ears but luckily the vet had doggy treats readily available to calm her down!

After that mess I went back to my apartment and dropped her off. Then I went to Houston Plant and Garden Center and bought 6 potted plants, a new pair of gardening gloves and a bag of potting soil. I found that HPGC has the lowest prices on plants, flowers and gardening essentials. From there I went to HEB to stock up on fresh vegetables and other healthy foods. If you have access to an HEB in your neck of the woods you have to try the Hill Country Fair Lime Water! It's the best flavored water out there and its' sugar free!


From there I went back home and unloaded my groceries and transplanted my flowers into new pots. Now I have the prettiest balcony in the complex!
See for yourself:
an assortment of flowers

some more flowers

and a few more.

. . . And just for kicks, here is an updated picture of Lucy!

Apr 2, 2004

Well this was quite the week at school. We had our annual fieldtrip to the Oil Ranch out in Hockley, Texas.
It was the perfect weather for a field trip- extreme clear and breezy! The kids had a great time running around all day! I had 7 parents who chaperoned and because of them I was able to float around and do my own thing, like go on a hay-ride! Yee-Haw!

It's true kids do say the darndest things. For example we traveled over 50 miles and one child shouted "Hey! Miss Johnson, we're not in Townewest any more!" Then upon arrival back at school (keep in mind that it's 2:20) I heard, "so now do we eat lunch?" and "We aren't doing any work today?"

Silly kids but you gotta love 'em!

The day after the fieldtrips are the longest because you're still tired from the day before and the kids are still talking about the trip and excited that it's the last day of the week, etc. I didn't think the day would ever end but it did and now I'm home! I'm thinking about heading to my favorite store to get Julie a shower gift! Please tell me you know what my favorite store is? If you guessed Target you advance to go and collect $200!
Her baby could be coming any day within the next 2 weeks! How exciting!

Tomorrow is the shower and afterwards I'm heading to Conroe to meet Travis' dad to drive up to the farm with him. Travis is already up there with his mom but Mr. Miller said he'd wait on me and take me up there! Should be a fun weekend! Oh and I'm getting Lucy's picture taken with the Easter Bunny at Petco!
So that'll be fun! I'll post pictures soon! Have a wonderful weekend!