Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I know you guys have all been waiting with batted breath to hear how the Paper Source opening weekend went. Well... maybe that's a little over exagerated.

The weekend was kind of crazy to say the least. I got an email from the North Carolina director of Operation Homefront on Thursday request assistance with almost 30 frozen turkeys that Rooms to Go had donated to needy military families. She was unfortunately out of state tending to her sick mother. So, I volunteered to pick them up, drop three of them off with families and then drop the rest off with one of the Operation Homefront contacts in Fayetteville. I figured I had skipped out on helping Jess bake cookies for the christmas packages for selfish reasons (the paper source openings), so I couldn't pass up this opportunity for the same selfish reason.

So, Friday night was LOOOOOOONG! I didn't get to Jess' house until almost 1am. Poor girl! It was worth it, though. I'm so glad that I could help and hopefully some families will have a turkey this thanksgiving that either wouldn't have had one or having one would have caused a financial strain on the family.

I came home Saturday night so that I could teach my movement class at Alexander Youth Network on Sunday. After that was over, I came back to the house, hurried Jay up, and we went to Paper Source.

There really is no way to describe what this store is like. It's like the Holy Grail of paper crafting! They have all the best tools, so many great templates, and they sale things both in large quantities and small so you can do any type of project. Unlike a scrapbooking store, this store understands that you may not be making only one of something. If you are making holiday cards or save the dates for something, you will need to make 10-100 just alike. So you they sell things in different quantities so that you can do that.

They have awesome stickers, sheets and sheets of different sized round and square stickers. The really nice things is that they also have word templates on their website for them. So, that way you don't have to worry about trying to figure out how to print on them.

I got so many cool things. I got a bone folder (which is actually teflon and not bone), a new small circle punch, a glue pin, some beautiful brown glitter to use with the glue pin, some absolutely gorgeous paper, this totally cool little sticker maker called a Xyron (love, love, LOVE IT!), and some awesome funny letter press cards for my brothers for christmas.

It's so nice to have somewhere to go that sales the tools I really need to do a good job at my craft projects. Michaels and AC Moore are good and have done me good for the last few years, but they are like the walmart or Sam's of craft stores compared to this store. For one thing, you don't have to weed through the puffy t-shirt paint from middle school projects or the summer camp inspired foam and plastic keychain making supplies.

And unlike Michaels and AC Moore, Paper Source is full of employee who are crafters first and employees second. One of the employees showed me how to use the envelope making template kit that I was buying as well as the envelope liner template that I'll probably pick up in a few weeks. She also showed me some great ideas for using punches, decorating unexpected areas of envelopes to show a fun surprise. She showed me how to use the embossing heat gun (which may very well be my next tool purchase), and great ways to use glitter.

I walked out with not only great tools, but great ideas and great encouragement! I highly recommend the store. It exceeded even my high expectations. If you get a chance (or make a chance) to go by the charlotte store or one in your area, absolutely do! And if you want to go with me, just give me a call! I'll probably be going most weekends. ;-)

Jay said that the longer I watched the demostrations, the more money he could feel coming out of our bank accounts!

p.s. hopefully tomorrow I'll post pictures of my loot!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paper Source Countdown...T-2 and 1 days!

Well, I wasn't able to post a countdown blog yesterday because I actually had to work and was too busy. (Gah! The nerve!)

So, today we'll have a double feature to make up. First up is this absolutely adorable boxed card set which portrays not only Paper Source's sense of style but also their sense of humor.

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In case it's too hard to read, the card says:

Dear ________________

Let me be totally honest, you're on the naughty list. It wasn't even a close tie. Better luck next year. Love, Santa

Love it! Love it! Love it!


One of the things I love most about Paper Source is that they cater to crafters of all skills and creativity levels. They have everything from printed personalized cards that are completely put together for you, but they also sell all the piece so you can do your own thing. In between they have these kits.

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And what would you do with this kit?

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Needless to say, I am very excited for the grand opening tomorrow. But it will be Sunday before I can get over there and start my shopping. Rooms to Go has donated 30 frozen turkeys to Operation Homefront and I volunteered to pick them up, deliver a couple in this area and then take the rest to Fayetteville, so I'll be able to help Jess make cookies for the soldier packages she's putting together! That should be really fun and I'm really looking forward to dropping off these turkeys at the homes of wounded vets and being able to thank them and wish them a happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paper Source Countdown... T-3 days!

Woohoo! Only 3 more days until the Charlotte Paper Source opens!

Today we have another envelope template. This one is a liner template though. How better to spruce up a boring ol' cheep envelope than using some of that left over crafting paper you know we all have laying around the house!

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And what can you really make with this template? Just take a look!

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Anyone want to go with me on Saturday to the Grand Opening???

See images here: http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/kits/envelope-kits.html

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paper Source Countdown...T-4 days!

Today in our Paper Source countdown, we have a fantastically amazing envelope making template! This will absolutely be in my basket on Saturday!

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Think of the possibilities... envelopes made out of the sunday comics, envelopes made out of your favorite wrapping paper, envelopes made of wonderful kraft paper and stamped for an individual flair!

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I simply cannot wait!

For those of you who are not lucky enough to be getting a store in 4 days... here is the link to the envelope template.


Monday, November 17, 2008

What is Love?

Due to the Country Music Awards last week, I downloaded a bunch of new songs. All of them have spoken to me in different ways. Expect there to be a few blogs coming about what they have been saying.

Today we start with...


by Sugarland

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*The duo arriving at the CMA Awards. Note that is hands down my favorite dress of the evening! Photo via www.cmt.com*

Is it the face of a child
Is it the thrill of danger
Is it the kindness we see in the eyes of a stranger
Is it more than faith
Is it more than hope
Is it waiting for us at the end of our rope

I say, it's love
I say, it's love

Is it the one you call home
Is it the Holy Land
Is it standing right here holding your hand
Is it just like the movies
Is it rice and white lace
Is it the feeling I get when I wake to your face

Repeat Chorus

Is it the first summer storm
Is it the colors of fall
Is it having so little And yet having it all
Is it one in a million
Is it a chance to belong
Is it standing right here singing this song

Repeat Chorus 4x

Is it a veil or a cross
Is it the poet's gift
Is it the face that has launched over thousands of ships
Is it making you laugh
Is it letting you cry
Is it where we believe that we go when we die
Is it how you were made
Is it your mother's ghost
Is it the wish that I'm wishing for you life, for your life, for your life the most


Is it having so little... and yet having it all.

Wow, what a thought. In these volitile economic times, sometimes we just need to be reminded of what is really important in life. If you haven't listened to the song, I highly recommend it. It's not your typical country-western where if you play it backwards you get your wife, your dog, and your truck back. I have a feeling that this song is going to be making an appearance in my movement class at Alexander Youth Network. I think the kids will really like the beat and the passion of the song, and it will give us an opportunity to discuss what love means to them.

I'd love to hear... what does love mean to you?

And if you have any song request for the Thriving is Elegant blog, leave them in the comments!

Paper Source Countdown...T-5 days!

It came to my attention about a week ago, that Charlotte will be experiencing a huge event this comming weekend! What you ask could be so newsworth as to be included in this very illustrious blog... PaperSource is coming to Phillips Place!!

I know a lot of you may not even know what PaperSource is, and if you don't just trust me when I say this is huge in my world! This store is the definitive source for all things paper crafting, and not only do that sell the best stuff, but they also teach classes and their employees are a wonderful resource (prospective employess are asked to provide a portfolio of work as part of the application process!).

So, in celebration of this, Thriving is Elegant will be featuring a PaperSource countdown!

Today we are featuring these beautiful backings.

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I know to the untrained eye, they don't look like much to celebrate over, but look what they can do in the hands of a trained and crative artist.

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Happy Monday everyone, and only 5 more days to go!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My First Protest

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How could anyone look at these two people and not see the love that they share. And having seen that love, how could anyone think that they should be denied the same benefits that my husband and I enjoy! I just don't get it. And knowing the homophobic house I was raised in, if I can have this outlook, then I accept no excuses from anyone!

Today was a national protest against prop 8 in california to raise awareness for same sex unions. Believe it or not, there were quite a few protests in North Carolina. I was lucky enough to attend the Charlotte protest.

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It was amazing to see so many Charlotteans out in support of equal rights!

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Although it's nothing compared to the protests in California and places like Chicago, to see probably 150-200 people out in support of equal rights in the middle of the bible belt was quite a sight!

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Some who know me will probably find this surprising, but this was my very first protest! I didn't grow up in a politically active family, and usually I feel that it's important that I stay fairly neutral in order to help people the most. For instance, if I take a very strong stand against abortion, then someone who is raped may not contact me for fear that I'll encourage them to have an abortion. But this issue is one where I just can't be silent.

I feel that this issue is the civil rights struggle of our time, and I want to be on the right side of history.

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Seeing that I identify as straight, people have asked me why I feel so strongly about this issue. Well, first of all I believe the quote that says, "No one is free, when others are oppressed." But additionally, I feel that it is often the majority who must fight for the rights of the minority. I also find it horribly unfair that my husband and I automatically have the rights of visitation, inheritance, adoption, etc, simply because our sex organs fit better in the eyes of certain people!

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So, bottom line, the protest was a big success, and I feel very good to have raised my voice against oppression. Hopefully, it won't be the last!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CMA Awards

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Really? Need I say more?????

I come from a long line of country music fans. In fact, tonight I sit watching the CMA's as one of three generations, both my mom and my grandma are watching it at the same time.

I did have a few observations from the night though.

1) When did it become so hard to distinguish between country, rock, and pop music? I'm all for the "new country" which is more like the rock I love the most, but I had to shake my head at a couple of things. First of all: I want to tell Lady Antebellum that having a SLIGHT southern accent doesn't make you a country music artist.

2) And this second one is so big that it deserves its own bullet... KidRock on the CMA's!!!! WTF! Is nothing sacred anymore!

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3) Martina McBride's costumer needs to be drug into the street and shot! I mean really, Gene Simmons called and he wants his outfit back!

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4) Why do all the new female country singers all look alike? Who can tell between Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, etc? Where are the brunettes? Where are the up and coming Martinas (minus the crazy outfit) and the Gretchen Wilsons and the Rebas.

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5) OMG! Is Reese Witherspoon not the most adorable thing that ever lived?!?!?! I just love her!

6) And how adorable was it when Brad Paisley came down from the stage to hug his wife and kiss his unborn baby through her belly!

7) Holy crap... I hope I'm not the only one who cried when the fallen vet's wife talked about how music had helped her cope with the lose of her husband and then Carrie Underwood sang Just a Dream!

8) And how sexist is it to end with MALE singer of the year! They should at least end with Album of the Year or something more gender neutral.

Overall I thought the CMA Awards were pretty good. There was plenty of nice scenery ;-), enough pretty outfits to oogle over and enough bad ones to make fun of to really make the whole thing worth wild. So, until next year, Bonnie Belle signing off from the... well... the living room.

*All images from CMT.com*

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thriving at the Grocery Store... Part 2

Well, believe it or not, we topped last weeks savings at the grocery store yesterday! Between coupons and store sponsered sales, we saved $48.90 on a grocery bill of $100 after savings! Holy CRAP! That's a really, really nice dinner out... or a nice bit of extra money to put into savings. Because goodness knows that at this difficult time in our economy when people should be spending on credit and going into debt for that flat screen tv or blue ray player, these stupid, irresponsible people are... dare I say it... saving money!

Maybe I just don't know anything about economics (which is a HUGE possibility), but I wonder if this economic crisis is less of a crisis and more of a "righting". By that, I mean, maybe our society has simply overspent and has been for a long time. We've been living on credit and over leveraging ourselves. We are one of the richest nations in the world, and what do we do with that, we live in a constant state of discontentment, wanting more and more and more, without thought to the consequenses of our have it now, pay for it later mentatlity.

I personally have seen this economic crisis give me a much stronger sense of gratitute for the things I have, both material and non-material. For the bottom line is... I have plenty of food to eat, and clothes to wear, and a roof over my head, and a wonderful man to live under that roof with.

Truthfully, I never thought that I would be clipping coupons. In years past, I have been very frivilous with my money. Always having what I needed (or the credit to finance it), I took money for granted. Now, having more limited funds, I see all the ways that I could be saving so that I can do the things I want to do, and have the things that are priorities to me. Life is all about priorities. Oh, and included in this grocery trip were the makings of the marble bread with chocolate ganach that I've been wanting to make. I'll be posting that soon.

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dear Deployment

Dear Deployment,

I know we have not talked in a while, over a year in fact, but since you were such a big part of my life there for a while, I thought it only fair to write you one last time. You and I have most certainly had a love-hate relationship. The hate seems stronger... but I must admit, there are things about you that I loved.

When I first heard that you were going to be taking my now-husband way for 8 months, I admit, I was mostly indifferent. Coming from a civilian family with grandparents that never shared their experiences in the military, I knew very little about you. But as the time grew closer and closer, I hated you more and more.

During those first few days, the days when my count looked like 1 day down, 290 to go, I hated you. I hated the fear of not being up to your challenge. I hated the jealousy I felt in having to relinquish the love of my life to you, knowing that you would not take care of him like I would. I hated the unknown; would it be a week before you would let him call, or would it be a month? I hated you for the things I knew you would put him through... long hours, months between port calls (ie days off), endless nights in a rack too small for his strong body. I hated the numbing isolation that came from suddenly realizing that I lived in a non-military town, surrounded by so few who understood the difficulties you were going to bring. And although I loved the growing appreciation that you brought over the simplest thing, like hearing the beautiful sound of my lovers voice, I hated you and that stupid female recording who would come on and warn us that we only had a few short seconds before his phone card would run out... and the dread that came knowing that it would most likely be weeks before I would hear that sound again.

But very soon, I began to love you. I loved discovering the instant bond between military significant others, bonds that transcended race, background, political and religious views, and even great swaths of the country. I also loved learning that one of the IT guys at my office was an "ol' salty sailor" who loved to tell his stories, and help me understand what was going on.

I loved the things you taught me. I loved learning that I am significantly stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I loved learning what I like to do if given an entire weekend to myself. I loved learning to tackle challenges head on with tenacity and grace, for I am a Navy Wife, what could life throw at me that was more difficult than a deployment? I loved learning that simply surviving wasn't enough, for I wanted to THRIVE in spite of and because of you.

I loved the many ways you taught me that balance is so important in life. I learned to strike a balance between allowing my love to still support me, and not burdening him with tails of difficulties he couldn't do anything about. I learned to live my life to the fullest, while making sure he knew that I missed him and would give anything to be with him. I loved the way you taught me to document my life both through blogs and photos so that my love could feel more connected.

I loved the memories you gave me... the ritual celebrations that my friends and I would participate in to mark your passing, the 2am cookie baking in order to get the Christmas package out by the cut off date, and celebrating the half way mark by riding the Soaring Over California ride at California Adventures and yelling "GO NAVY" as it soared over one of the aircraft carriers stationed in San Diego. Above all though, I will never forget the memory of standing on the pier that early morning in May… with thousands of other just like me… watching the carrier pull in, trying to see if my sailor was one of the many fulfilling the age old nautical tradition of manning the rails. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of anticipation, excitement, and joy that came when the bows were dropped and after what felt like a lifetime, liberty was finally called. The memory of seeing the love of my life coming through the crowd is something that will always be on my list of most memorable moments of my life.

But above all, I must thank you for the sense of appreciation that I would never have had if it weren't for you... an appreciation for the small things in life, like the joy of finding a gem of a donut shop walking distance from my apartment, or the excitement of finding just the right candy that won't melt on its way to the other side of the world, or the overwhelming joy of seeing the yahoo email alert pop up to tell me an email had come in from my love, or the excitement of getting a picture taken in a far away port and being able to see with my own eyes that my love was still in one piece. Thank you as well for an appreciation for the larger things in life as well… an understanding of the privilege it is to simply be with the love of my life, the understanding that every day is a gift and that holidays are nothing more than days on the calendar and the days you have to spend together are truly the days to celebrate, and finally an appreciation for the strength of our relationship and knowing that no matter what life throws at us in the future, if we survived you, we will be able to survive anything.

So, although ours has been a love-hate relationship, and I hope you and I will never meet again, I am forever in your debt. For the things you gave me and the things you taught me, thank you.


Bonnie Stafford
Forever IC2 (sw/aw) Stafford’s Girl
Until they all come home!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thriving at the Grocery Store

With our income getting cut temporarily, and the economy what it is, I decided it was time to take a hard look at our grocery spending and see what we could do to trim it a little. Even before my hours got cut, J and I had decided that eating out at $20 a pop (for a cheep meal) was really eating up our spendable income. We don't want to be those people who have to turn down their friend's invite to dinner out, so we decided that eating in would help us make sure we had a little extra spending money when we needed it.

Then last week, we find out that our income is shrinking some for the next few months at least. So, this weekend, before our weekly grocery store trip, I decided that I was going to figure out how to get us more for less.

We stopped at the gas station on the way home from our weekend eating out lunch trip (which by the way was financed by a coupon I'd found in the mail for a buy one get one offer at a new bbq restaurant we'd been meaning to try). I bought a paper, and took out my scissors.

Now, I'm throughly opposed to buying stuff just because you have a coupon. I've seen that lead to spending that wouldn't have normally happened, and saving money on something you wouldn't have spent money on in the first place, isn't really saving money in my book.

So before we started planning meals for the week, I made sure to clip only coupons for things we needed, or at least used regularly and would need again eventually. Then we pulled up the weekly sales circular from our local Harris Teeter. We then planned our meals for the week around the things that were on sale, specifically the meat since that is the most expensive part of our grocery bill usually.

It was so much fun! It was like being on an adventure hunt! And whenever you found a really good deal, it was like "HA! HA! Take that sucker! We win!"

So, to total it all up, we spent just a little over $150 (which is a little on the high side of our average but not outragous). In that $150, we got enough ground beef to last us for 2 weeks! A wonderful roast for 50% that will feed us and our two best friends on Tuesday night while we watch the election results roll in. And some AMAZING wild salmon that I will be able to cook on Wednesday night when I'm off of work. Additionally we got some things that weren't on sale, like a flour sifter and a bread pan that I need for a recipe I want to make soon (more on that later!), and some of our favorite... drumsticks! MMMMMmmmmmm......

And with all that we saved... over $35 between store discounts and coupons. Oh and Harris Teeter doubles all coupons below $.99!!! Woohoo! (Never thought I'd be getting excited about double coupons!)

I know it seems like a very small thing, but with everything going on in the economy and with my job situation, I firmly believe in celebrating every single victory! So, what are you doing to combat these difficult financial times? Feel free to share you victories, large and small, in the comments!

Oh and don't forget to vote!!!