journey of doing »

For some reason, I really struggle with how to get whiter whites – I hate things that look dingy!  I don’t even know it happens, but I can’t stand non-white whites!  I mean, I just wear my socks in my shoes?!  I seriously don’t understand.  And, when I bleach them, it never seems to do much good AND it feels like there is a film on them.  After my successful washer cleaning, I decided to try another laundry trick from One Good Thing by Jillee.

Get Whiter LaundryP I N I T

How to Get Whiter Whites – Supplies:

  • Hot water
  • 1 cup of bleach
  • 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent
  • 1 cup of laundry detergent
  • 1/2 cup of Borax

How to Get Whiter Whites – Directions

  1. Add all detergents to HOT water.
  2. Let hot water at detergents agitate.
  3. Add items.  Let soak for a couple hours.
  4. Finish running wash cycle and dry as usual.

How to Get Whiter Whites – Thoughts

  • I’ve done this a couple times, and I don’t see a big difference between overnight soaking and soaking for a few hours.
  • I LOVE that despite all the soaps used in this method, my clothes don’t come out smelling like bleach or having a bleachy film on them.  It gets all smells out and just leaves them smelling clean.
  • This works SO well on pillows and mattress pads!
  • While I definitely have to plan for when I’m going to do these kinds of loads, I’m still on board for trying to do it at least once a week!!
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One of the most surprising and challenging aspects of moving up our wedding date was ordering bridesmaid dresses.  I am already in a difficult position because my bridesmaids could seriously have a competition on who lives the furthest from Dallas, and they would probably all tie.  My bridesmaids are from California (2), Washington, and one attends school in Massachusetts, and though she is “home” for the summer, she has an amazing travel schedule that I am *SO* jealous of.  As a result, there was never going to be a “group” shopping trip.  At most, I could have probably gotten 2-3 of them together for a weekend in California, but when we moved up the date, that flew out the window.

As soon as we moved up the date, my mom and I spent two days going to every single bridal salon in Dallas.  The ones that my mom and I didn’t go to, Tom and I either visited or called.  Some thought we were crazy (Nordstrom Bridal Suite), most thought we just needed to choose something and then figure out if it was possible to get it (Stanley Korshak, Mockingbird Bridal, Lasting Bridal Couture, and Stardust Celebrations), and one in particular bent over backwards to try and help me from having a meltdown (Bella Bridesmaid Dallas).

Image courtesy of the Coren Moore blog spotlight on Bella

Bella Bridesmaid was one of the first Dallas salons I visited back when we had an April 2014 date.  They require everyone to have an appointment and they carry several lines that most other salons don’t carry.  I found several dresses I liked there, and when I left my first appointment, I figured I would bring my “local” bridesmaid back to try things on.  A few weeks later, my mom decided to order my rehearsal dinner dress from them because they had SEVERAL things that my mom was obsessed with for me to have for various parties.

After we changed the date, I called Ashley for a last minute appointment, and she got me in immediately.  I went alone because I was getting overwhelmed with opinions.  Never once did Ashley make me feel bad for changing the date – she simply went above and beyond to help me make a decision that I was happy with.  She called reps for the bridesmaid dress I had originally picked out to see if she could get a delivery date while I tried on other dresses.  She found out that said designer made the dress locally and offered to pick up the dresses from the factory if needed.  As I narrowed it down to two dresses at two VERY different price points, she never put the hard sell on me to choose the more expensive one.  When I had questions about the color of a dress posted on a designer’s Facebook page, she called their offices to find out what color it was.  When I was between colors, she pointed out the pros and cons of each, but she never pressured me to go with the more expensive dress.  She didn’t hurry me, kick me out, or make me feel like I had created my own mess and now had to settle for whatever I could get.  In short, she was just what you would have expected your bridesmaids to be – supportive, helpful, and kind (which all of mine are!!).  By the end of the appointment, I had made a decision that I was comfortable with and Ashley took care of all the details – even going as far to call the designer and confirm that the dresses would be here in time to make sure we could ship them all over the country for alterations, that the belts would be specific to the girls’ waist sizes where needed, and that yes, indeed, that color was available for rush delivery.  She quoted me a higher price for rush delivery and then dropped it down when she found out we could do it for less.  She.  Was.  Awesome.

I’m so glad that I was able to give Bella Bridesmaid Dallas my business.  In a world where customer service seems to be dead, Ashley proved to me that it’s not completely dead – and that this whole wedding frenzy might just work out after all, so thanks for that!  (And I think my bridesmaids love their non-bridesmaid-y dress, too!)

Non-bridesmaid-y bridesmaid dresses from Dolly Pearl
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DIY Glitter Vases with Mod PodgeP I N I T Mod Podge DIY Glitter Vases with RibbonP I N I T

Since moving up the date, I feel like all things wedding have taken over my life… in the best possible way.  You see, I have an amazing friend who is the MASTER of all things crafty, who loves to party plan, and helps me figure everything out along the way.  Sadly, she lives 1,400 miles away, but even via email, we have managed to come up with some wedding crafts to help create my whimsy wedding vision come to life!

My mom and I are currently both prototyping our own version of these DIY Glitter Vases from The Sweetest Occasion to figure out what works best and what will be the best option for my wedding.

Not only that, but yesterday morning, the above mentioned amazing friend sent me her own prototype that she made!

DIY Glitter Vase with juteP I N I T

I love the fact that they are easily customizable and you can use them for any occasion.  These DIY glitter vases were seriously SO easy and took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.  That’s a win in my book, no matter what your party planning calls for!

DIY Glitter Vases – Supplies:

DIY Glitter Vases using Mod PodgeP I N I T

DIY Glitter Vases – Directions:

1.  Dip brush in Mod Podge and spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge all over the inside of the vase.

2.  Dump a considerable amount of glitter into vase (approximately 1-2 tablespoons for me!).  Slowly turn vase in your hand to spread glitter throughout entire vase.  Dump out excess glitter once all sides and bottom are completely coated.

3.  Let dry.  If you missed any spots, reapply a layer of Mod Podge and repeat steps 1 and 2.

4.  Adorn with ribbon, jute, twine, or just let it be.

DIY Glitter Vases – Thoughts:

  • At first I was afraid that my pink glitter was too light of a color, but as it dried, it darkened.
  • I need to find a better way to do the edges of vases that have a “lip” on them.  Maybe doing it like a margarita glass with the salt?  Have to try.
  • This is by far the easiest and prettiest thing I’ve done yet.  Totally a love it, keep it craft!
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photo1P I N I T
A few short weeks after we set the date for our Spring 2014 wedding, things changed.  We found out that Tom’s brother is getting deployed in December, so we were forced with the decision to move the wedding up, move it back, or just not have his brother there.  One of those choices was not an option, and we weighed the pros and cons of both.

Fortunately, we had a meeting scheduled with the pre-marital counselor at our church that weekend, so we were able to meet with him and nail down date availability.  We were also given our 186-question FOCCUS test.  Yes, you read that right – 186 questions about who we are, what we expect, how we feel, and what we know about ourselves and our relationship.  As we completed the FOCCUS, we decided that we would look at fall availability for our wedding, and we now have a September 7, 2013 wedding date.  Yep.  88 days away.

Luckily, I have an amazing team of friends who immediately sprang into action to support our [crazy] decision to get married in three months.  Truthfully, there are some advantages to this.  It means that I have to make decisions quickly, and I can’t talk myself out of things or wait for the next best thing.  It means that I will have to be organized and on top of everything.  It means that I’ll have to rely on friends and family for a lot of support and patience.  It also means that I’ll get a honeymoon right after the wedding and not after college admissions season ends.

It also means that I will be married to the man I love a lot sooner than next year, and letsbehonest, I’m pretty excited about that.  🙂

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  • erin vancura - It also means no time to order a erin condren wedding planner… Buuuuut that’s ok- because 88 says is pretty damn happy!ReplyCancel

  • Choosing our church » my journey of doing - […] to Pre-Cana with Mr. Hare who was also incredible in easing my nerves about the church.  We were assigned a really long questionnaire (FOCCUS), attended a Pre-Cana weekend retreat focused on communication, and suddenly, we were ready to be […]ReplyCancel

HillcrestP I N I T

My Dear Seniors,

Though we have all only known each other a few short months, I know how you have prayed for this day to arrive.  I have, too.  Though, now that it is here, I find that I’m not necessarily ready for it.  In the few short months I have known you all, you have changed my life, my purpose, my mission.

I had never met a “real” DISD kid.  It was an arbitrary thing that never crossed my path.  Though I was born in Dallas, I always attended private schools.  When I moved back after college, I worked in the suburbs and all my colleagues sent their kids to suburban schools.  Some sent their kids to private schools.  And, as a result, a DISD kid had never crossed my path.  In the world of college admissions, I had consulted for the very private schools I attended and sought to attend.  Though I live in the bubble, there was no crossover in my life.  Yet, I believed in ASP and the idea that through ASP, we could change lives and our community, and so I agreed to take on a development role and share my knowledge of highly selective college admissions by overseeing the college advisors.

In November, I was forced to take on the greatest challenge of my life, taking over your high school – a week before the December 1 deadline.  The first day I walked into Hillcrest High School alone, I was scared.  I was scared that you wouldn’t accept me, that you wouldn’t want my help, and most of all, that I would let you down.  I walked to my new office, put my head down, started to get to work, and prayed you would come into my room.

To my surprise, you all welcomed me.  Some more slowly than others, but everyone welcomed me warmly.  I never felt like an outsider.  You answered my questions, and more importantly, you trusted me.  Together, we worked endless hours on college applications and essays.  We submitted the first round of early application deadlines late in the night on November 30th and then got to work for those December 1 deadlines.  From there, we turned our attention to those pesky December 31 and January 1 deadlines, and we kept applying to college.  You each worked beside me, long into the night, and you thanked me for helping you.  Your thanks made me uncomfortable.  I felt undeserving – that I was simply doing what any good college advisor would do.  Word got around.  You brought me your friends.  We shared stories and laughs, and together, we overcame the obstacles that plague urban schools – bureaucracy, mediocrity, and low expectations – just to name a few.

With each passing day, I became more inspired by your stories and the challenges you each had overcome to become a high school senior.  We sent those stories across the nation — first to colleges, then to scholarships, and then we began the agonizing wait (and financial aid process).  There was never a day where I didn’t have work to do, but with each of you working right along side me, I didn’t ever think there was an alternative.  With each hour we worked, I became convinced of the one thing I knew always to be true — Hillcrest High School goes to college.

As decisions poured in, we celebrated and cried together.  We analyzed financial aid packages and offers of admission.  We practiced interviews and sent more scholarship applications.  We called schools and tried to shake them down for more money.  Sometimes, we were successful.  And through it all, you each never gave up on your dreams – even when things didn’t turn out exactly how we had planned – and you never gave up on me.  I told everyone I met stories about “my babies” and how you encouraged and inspired me, and through everything, this year never felt like work to me.  You each made my days bright with your laughter, your smiles, and your genuine compassion and goodwill towards each other.  I am not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it.

On May 30, Senior Awards Day, your day, you publicly thanked me, and I was brought to tears sitting alone in the back of the auditorium.  Your Senior Class President acknowledged that I had walked into a mess, but I took over the school and the ASP office, and I sent you to college.  I didn’t send you to college though – you each sent yourselves and your peers – by the work you did.  I simply facilitated the process.  And your words, not for the first time, left me humbled.  Unsteady.  Unwilling to accept that the end of time together had arrived.

I became quiet.  Somber.  Reflective.
Almost sad that this crazy year had come to an end.

Together, we have sent more than 1200 college applications in 5 months for a 280 member senior class.    We have obtained over $6 million dollars in scholarships and grants for you to attend college.

Today, I have to send you, my babies, off into the world.  I have been blessed, challenged and loved unconditionally by each of you.  I have tried to teach you how to be an advocate for yourself and a voice for others who cannot speak for themselves through my words and actions.  I have tried to push you to your fullest potential, and I hope you believe me when I say that I know you are capable of everything and beyond.  Should you ever doubt yourself, please remember that I will always believe in what you are capable of and that you have no limits to your ability to achieve.

You will forever be my little world changers – if for no other reason than you changed my world.

At times, and today especially, it is beyond my comprehension.

Miss Miller

Hillcrest ThanksP I N I T Hillcrest Thank YouP I N I T

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  • erin vancura - i kinda totally love that your “ms miller”. and you know what ms miller. . YOU ROCK.ReplyCancel

  • The Weekend without Enough Words » journey of doing - […] of 2013 graduate from college (and on time!) has been incredible.  I’ve been wanting to write them a letter like I did for their high school graduation, but I’m so overcome with emotion that I don’t have the words yet.  Yet, the words I […]ReplyCancel