A few days in Charleston: Episode Three--A "Hair"-brained scheme

Oh, hey Bieber, what's up? Oh, you want a haircut?? OKAY!

Step right up!

Hey, quit stealing all my hair rubber bands.

This one I fondly dubbed, "Friar Tuck/Overjoyed Sumo Wrestler".

And this one is "Rod Stewart".

This one is "I just got out of prison and I ain't never seen a cell phone."

If I hadn't grabbed it from him at just the right time he would have shaved off his eyebrows.

Nearly there!

He's BAAA-ACK!!!

Ah. Thank ya, JESUS. Y'all's prayers must've worked. ;)


A few days in Charleston: Episode Two--The Pawn Shop

Of course, if I am in Charleston, I'm going to carve out some time to see my ~*gurlies*~, one about to be flung to the far east, and one about to be flung into jewelry design fame. No, seriously. Kelly a.k.a Stinks is going to China to be a missionary. Used to be she might've said you couldn't get me to be a missionary in a foreign land for all the tea in China...and now she just might get to find out exactly how much tea they're talking about. Lauren a.k.a La or Raren is just tapping into the amazing world that is gemology and metalsmithing and is about to take Two Blue Stripes to the next level-like, woah!

And I am lucky enough--no, blessed enough--to call them dear.

Thursday afternoon the three of us convened at Lauren's house, both Kelly and Lauren pleasantly surprised that I was in town, to catch up, ogle Lauren's latest creations, and exclaim that Kelly just purchased her plane ticket to the ends of the earth. It was a glorious reunion, I have to say. It always is.

After an hour or so of chatter, we set out to see if we might find Lauren some "scraps" at a local pawn shop. She'd been dying to go and check it out, but needed reinforcements because, well, it's a pawn shop. Sketchy doesn't really cover it. None of us had ever been into a pawn shop before, and had only envisioned it as a place that burglars frequent to exchange their loot for cash, or that divorcees go to cash in on their dissolved marriages and turn in their rings. But what we didn't imagine was that this pawn shop was a cleverly disguised arsenal with guns of all makes and models lining the walls and glistening behind the fingerprint riddled glass cases. SCARY.

Unfortunately, we left empty handed, astonished at the overpriced junk jewelry but ready to get the heck out of dodge. Good story, huh? Hey, a blogger's got to blog about something, right?

Anyway, we met at Chic-fil-a the next morning to put our Bridge Run Free Chicken Biscuit coupons to good use and then Kelly went to work and Raren and I went to the beach with some peeps. Great day in the mornin'.

If you're totally disillusioned with my story-telling abilities, just wait until Episode Three. There are pictures and they are funny. I'll give you a hint: it's been a long time comin'.


A few days in Charleston: Episode One--Liar, liar.

Tuesday evening Andrew and I set out on a mid-week trip to Charleston, one, to spend time with my lovely sister, Jessica, and two, to pull off an epic surprising of my mother who was completely unawares of Jessica's imminent arrival.

First, we fleeced our own mother. We lied. Oh, man we told big fat falsifications and prevarications--by hook or by crook, we lied the whole two weeks before just to make sure Mama was totally in the dark.

Lie #1. Andrew had a meeting with WaterMissions on Wednesday, so we needed to come on Tuesday.
Lie #2. I had to work on Tuesday evening but they were going to let me off early, oh, around eight o'clock.
Lie #3. Jessica wasn't going to be able to come home this summer for lack of funds.

First, we made sure we had a mole planted on the inside to watch Mama's every move. The mole: my father. An ex-Army Seaman, this guy knows his stuff. The stealth factor is unlimited, not to mention his iron emotions when faced with probing questions.

Then we chatted with her, but no too often so as not to cause alarm or suspicion, and nonchalantly planted the "meeting with WMI" seed, noting a noncommittal day and time of the meeting, and reiterating the "we're not sure, but we'll let you know" right down to the last second.

Once we recovered Jessica's flight information via email reconnaissance, we launched Operation No Jessica Left Behind and planned to use my retail job as a cover--a likely story--so that we were unable to get home until around 12:30.

Mama's clock put us getting home late, when in actuality we would arrive at the Charleston International Airport just in time to meet Jessica at midnight, gather her belongings and arrive when Mama expected us. We hmmed and hawwed via text message about the "traffic" and our "arrival time", but in reality, we had left a little after seven, stopped at Chic-fil-a to pick up rations, and were on our way much earlier than expected.

When we walked in the front door, as expected, Mama was a-snoozin' in the bed, but Daddy was posted on lookout by the computer monitoring system he had rigged up using his MacGyver-Army training picked up back in 'Nam. Jessica military crawled it into the dining room as Mama sleepily came down the stairs. Andrew and I hugged and kissed all around and when we were about to head into the kitchen, BOOM! Jessica pounced on Mama like a cat on a mouse! You shoulda seen my mother's face! PRICELESS. Jaw to the floor, bug-eyed, and totally agog. (AGOG--look that one up and put it in your word bank. Cha-ching!)

Ah, sweet success. And that was only the beginning.


A smidge of randomosity

1. I saw a gentleman in Harris Teeter the other day with two 12 packs of Mountain Dew and a bag of Funyuns. Wikipedia says that Funyuns were invented by a bloke named Douglas Bubbletrousers. I'm having a hard time believing that the "Funyuns" bio isn't one of the reasons Wikipedia is not an acceptable source on college term papers.

2. I just painted my nails OPI's Bubble Bath. Ah, bliss.

3. I purchased Tigi's Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo so that my husband and I can take our grungy, dirty, hippie steez to the next level.

4. I'm already thinking about Christmas. and Fall.

5. Bing Crosby originally sang the song Pennies From Heaven in the clip from Elf. How'd you like your nickname to be an onomatopoeia?

6. "Elf" is a funny word.

7. It looks like we're having chicken again tonight. Womp, womp.

8. Why can' we have juss like a salad? (please, tell me you know what movie I'm talking about.)

9. In case you're clueless...

10. Amen.


"Let freedom ring; let the white dove sing." -Martina McBride

On the fourth day of the seventh month of the two thousand and tenth year of our Lord, Andrew and I got no takers on an Independence Day afternoon on the American Tobacco Campus in historic Durham. But we went anyway. Just him and me, me and him. We actually went out to lunch with some new church friends, spend two hours talking, came home and fell asleep and didn't leave the apartment until about six o'clock. But, since no one was joining us, we weren't actually late at all. In keeping with my latest trend of sharing the history of my topics, here's a brief rundown of the story of the American Tobacco Company, which later was renovated and refurbished to be the American Tobacco Campus, now a thriving area for art, music, food, sports, and community.

In 1865, Washington Duke of North Carolina was released from Libby Prison, having been captured during the Confederate army's retreat from Richmond. He was sent to New Bern, North Carolina-137 miles from his 300 acre farm four miles north of Durham. A federal soldier gave him 50 cents for his 5 dollar Confederate note, and with that Duke set off, walking 137 miles to his home.

There was little left of the farm except for a small amount of Bright leaf tobacco. Duke subsequently sold some of his land and became a tobacco farmer. With his family's help, he pulverized and cleaned the crop in a small log barn. Then he packed it into muslin bags and labeled it "Pro Bono Publico"--for the good of the public. The first wagon load he took to Raleigh was drawn by two blind mules.

Soon Duke & Sons found itself in tight competition with the Genuine "Bull Durham Tobacco Factory. His son, James Buchanan "Buck" Duke, decided the company could generate much needed profit for the relatively small but growing cigarette market. He succeeded in this area so well that in 1890 his four biggest rivals joined him and he became president of the new firm--The American Tobacco Company.

Duke & Sons found W.T. Blackwell's Genuine "Bull" Durham Tobacco Factory to be strong rival. In fact, it was one of the largest in the world. The "Bull" had many imitators, other brands that capitalized on the words "Bull" or "Durham" in their tobacco advertising. Buck Duke refused to follow suit, choosing instead to delve into the cigarette market in order to compete.

In subsequent years, American became the biggest tobacco company in the world with successful products such as the unique, "toasted" tobacco in the Lucky Strike brand. Pall Mall and Tareyton also ranked among their successes. American even enjoyed the help of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny in its promotional efforts.

In the early 1890's, Washington Duke left the business for his sons to handle while he became involved with local affairs. He succeeded in bringing Trinity College to Durham. Through the continued generosity of the Duke family, the school soon became the largest endowed college in the Southeast and, in 1924, Trinity College became Duke University.

Congrats for making it through that snooze fest. Raise your hand if you skipped to this paragraph. Be honest. Now I don't care much for cigarettes, or Duke for that matter, but I'm a big fan of history and knowing the Five W's about a place. Andrew and I went and listened to some live music on the lawn, ate tapas at Cuban Revolution, and then attempted to watch the fireworks after the Bull's game, however, we soon found that the best place to see them was from the highway. C'est la vie. (...Er, "that's life". Probably shouldn't throw in a French catch-phrase during a post about American patriotism. Uhh, um...freedom fries?)

Listening to live music on the lawn, "Red, White, Blues & Bluegrass". A very peaceful afternoon. I'm pretty aware that my eyes are quite misshapen in this photograph. Moving on.

The Lucky Strikes tower and the stage underneath, housing performing "Mandolin Orange".

The stage underneath the tower (you can't see it in the pic, but the stage was "floating" in a stream that ran through the middle of the lawn.

Annnd we're on to a different topic altogether! This past weekend we went to Brad and Cory's engagement party in Society Hill, SC. It was a delightful evening meeting family and friends and celebrating with the Coopers and O'Tuels, and one soon-to-be Mrs. Cooper!

Me and Andy--yep, there's a ponytail back there.

The good ol' Pee Dee River. Man, I love me some South Cackalacky. For those of you who thought you might appear in some of these party pics, let's just say I exercised my artistic license and decidedly omitted them. If you're not pickin' up what I'm puttin' down, call me and we'll chat.

Oooohhh yeah, don't forget to visit your old pal Facebook and vote for Meghan to be the next Levi's girl!

Ok, I think I'm done here. Am I done? Yep. Done. I mean, finished.


Levi Strauss, put 'er there.

What do you think of when you hear the word "Levi's"? Do you think "mom jeans"? or cool name for a hipster kid? or a Biblical tribe? Well, think no further--I'm talking about Levi Strauss & Co., making denim look good since 1873. Levi Strauss, a German-Jewish immigrant to America, started his company in San Francisco, CA in 1853 selling dry goods (fabric, clothing, combs, purses, hankerchiefs, etc) at his store, Levi Strauss & Co. Obviously since San Fran was the hub of the California Gold Rush, he was in a fine geographical location to make a pretty penny helping all those miners get outfitted for their forays into the wild unknown. Jacob Davis, a tailor out of Reno, Nevada, approached Strauss with a business deal: he wanted to make men's work pants "with metal points of strain for greater strength" and wanted to use the fabric that Strauss sold wholesale, as well as to make Strauss his business partner. In 1873 they received US Patent #139121 for using copper rivets to make the pockets of denim work pants stronger. They began manufacturing "jeans" and the rest, as they say, is history. In the LS&Co. archives in San Francisco they house hundreds of garments from just about every time period, (including the "XX", the oldest pair of 501 jeans in the world, circa 1879). There are also letters to the company from people like Cary Grant, Ronald Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson, Clint Eastwood, Henry Kissinger, and a cowboy from the silent movies--William S. Hart. Back in the day, they also didn't call 'em jeans they called 'em "waist overalls". Ha! You can read more about Levi Strauss & Co.'s rich American heritage by visiting their website.

So, why am I giving you a history lesson? Well, it just so happens that one of my friends is a FINALIST in a contest to be the face and the voice and the, er, "click" of Levi Women's online presence in social media: Meghan Ellie Smith. The contest is to be the next "Levi's Girl", someone who is "socially minded, culturally connected, and will best represent the Levi's Brand". Meghan is all those things and more--she is an incredible artist, a daring fashionista--even when she doesn't try --and she lives in Brooklyn, NY and goes to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Y'know, FIT? Yah. Meghan was born and bred in the deep south and now she kicks it with her urbanite pals in the Big City. When she's not in school, she's either painting or frolicking around the subway, streets, or parks making video montages and uploading them to her hilarious blog, Antlered Pigeons.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. Go to FACEBOOK and search Levi's. Then go to the company page, follow the link to vote, watch Meghan's stand-out video and VOTE FOR HER. You can vote once a day, every day, until July 15th. I'm going to do it. You should, too.

If you can't follow all that clicking mumbo jumbo, here's the link.


White washed

A few days ago I got a bee in my bonnet about some of the "accessories" around our apartment. I think it was just one of those things that I had a brief thought about, and then that thought dogged me until I decided to do something about it: probably 85% of my "decorative items" or tchotchkes, if you will, are wood. I actually love wood. I really do. But I've been reading a lot of home design blogs lately and I'm becoming obsessed with white--the gleaming possibilities of a can of spray paint loomed before me. Yesterday, I grabbed Stella's keys and without so much as a look in the rearview mirror zipped to Lowe's returning with primer and satin finish white spray paint. Some days you just gotta follow the craftiness inside your soul. So. Here's where we begin:

Wood stuff, spray paint, well ventilated and covered area: check.

Primed and ready for two coats of satin finished soft European eggshell a.k.a. white.

Finished product: 25 cent shelf from goodwill. Loves it.

Finished product: awesomely shaped squared wooden bowl (of which I have 57). Gorgeous.

Finished product: tray from clearance section at World Market. Nothing short of amazing.

It was an easy and CHEAP switcheroo to give us something a little different to look at every day. Change is good. Honestly I kind of wanted to paint more like 10 things, but I talked myself out of it. Let's ease into it, shall we?

Oh, and I also bought a $1.50 American flag at Lowe's. 'Cause I'm a sucker for those stars and stripes. Y'all have a happy and safe Fourth of July!