Wednesday, November 13, 2013

AM~Erica Has Some Crazy-Talented Friends

So anyway...

I love trying to be creative. With my dance & theater background, my draw to fashion & costuming, and the most recent one being cooking/baking (with a blog of it right HERE), I love putting it all to use. I sing a little, I draw a little, I write a little...but I just tend to put it together in my head & see what comes out. However, I'm creative-not-crafty. If you have me try to actually make some kind of decoration or kid'll realize it was not a good idea.

However, I have friends who are like ones that do so well things that I would love to do...but I'm pretty wrapped up in a lot of other things...motherhood included. But I have friends who cook well, write well, sing well, sew well, crochet/knit well, and sculpt well, paint/draw get the idea. So many things I wish I could do, or do better...but I have these fabulous folks to live vicariously thru.


Just over a year ago, I volunteered to help out a high school friend who is an absolutely amazing artist! She was looking for folks to just do a "quick" sitting (of 3 or 4 hours) so she could hone her skills in being a faster painter. I volunteered to be a test subject...

The time I set up to sit with her, it was the day after the funeral & burial of MY FRIEND, RENEE'. I was in a very melancholy state of mind that day. Being able to just sit, listen to music & reflect about what had just happened & not having to do a thing was actually very therapeutic for me. was a very low-pressure setting. was awesome to see & spend some time with my friend, Tina, again. When all was said & done, I couldn't believe how the "practice portrait" turned out:

Very pensive & impressive. I love knowing people like her! And would love to sit for her again if we can work it out.


There's also this awesome chic who blogs & crafts...and is a suburban princess. Some of you may know her as The Mother Freakin' Princess. (Facebook page HERE; blog HERE) She is pink-haired & awesome! She has done this thing where she would send out mail to some of her BFF's (how she affectionately refers to her subjects...or followers/fans...or BFF's). When I got my real mail from her (which was super exciting) and I opened the envelope to find this:

Glitters & colors, and a big giant 'E'...all for me...from a princess. And she is all crafty & stuffs, too! She just joined I encourage you to check out her stuff & get stuff made from a princess, yo!


I have another friend who I worked with (at the same time as Renee', actually), and she always cracked me up. She's gonna laugh (hopefully) when she sees this...but Louise was always the blonde joke waiting to happen. Some of my favorite times would be when she would tell crazy stories on herself AND act them out! Those are times that rate up there as some of the peeing our pants. And she was always so much fun to shop with, too!

There is another talent she's art, also. I had seen pictures she'd drawn and photos of her murals & things. I was always amazed by what she could do. She recently opened her own Etsy shop, and she has been working on painting Christmas hat boxes. They are so the pictures.

I got a message on Facebook, in the last few days, from my adorable friend wanting my address so she could add it to her Christmas card list! YEA!!!

Today, as I got the mail, I noticed a package on the had my name on it...and it was from Louise!!! Awwww...I was quite surprised as to what might be inside.

I opened the box & there was a precious note from her, addressing me as one of our rotating pet names that would make you shake your heads, then apologizing for fibbing to me but that I would end up on her Christmas card list, and that she saw this picture & wanted to paint it for me. It was on a hat box, I could tell that. The colors I could see (on the bottom part of the box) made me wonder if it was some Halloween or autumn scene. So I took off the newspaper that covered the top of the hat box...and I couldn't believe what was looking at me! Seriously!

In that moment, I was overcome with emotion as to what was in the box. Floored. Because, I was staring at me...

Is this work breathtaking? My hubby was more than impressed when I showed him, too. Teen Girl was dumbfounded as to what she was looking at. And you might recognize the picture if we are Facebook friends.

This is the picture that inspired her to paint me a hatbox! Oh. My. Goodness. a true friend...she obviously used the airbrush technique. LOL!


I am delightfully surrounded by amazing people. Amazingly-talented people. I am inspired by them all the time! Even ones I haven't met face-to-face [yet]. Pictures & ideas they post on Facebook & Pinterest of what they want to try or pictures of their actual projects amaze me. So if I ever find out that I inspired them at all...I become this giddy fangirl. I get giggly ridiculous...and emotional. Usually it's shock, awe, and emotions.

The amount of respect I have for my folks who are the actors, singers, musicians, crafters, knitters, sewers, painters, writers, drawers, and most any other kind of all amaze me. You all inspire me...all of the time. And I am humbled by the lot of you!

And, in the meantime...please go check out these amazing friends of mine! Get some of their stuff! I am in awe of their talents...

The MFP - Art Unglued

Louise Irvin - Lou's Paint Shop

Then...they might inspire you, too.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

All AM~Erica Wants to Do is Give Thanks

So anyway...

HALLOWEEN HAS COME & GONE, and as usual...that means the onslaught of Christmas music, decor & food.

I have said it before, and I want to say it again...
I'm very sad about the diminished & disappearing November holiday.

Last year, I talked about the shocking disappearance of a particular "holiday". (read it HERE)
And, if you read it, you will see it's not the one you might automatically think of.

But, it's worse this year. And it makes me sad.

If I were to take a poll of a lot people right now, and I asked them to choose between a big meal with the family or to spend it in a crowd...most folks would SAY it might be the family time. But that's talk. Isn't it?

The concern of the dwindling holiday of Black Friday is disheartening. Why? Because it's not on just Friday. "Black Friday" has now become just a term for holiday shopping. But there is a bigger issue with this:
What is happening to Thanksgiving? That's a real question!

It's enough that each family gets together to decide that "dinner" is at noon, or 2:00, or 4:00...or an actual dinner/supper time of 6:00. Not sure why that is...but eat some breakfast or a decent brunch to lead into the gorging of the feast later in the day. That's all I'm saying. But there's a reason I point it out. If Thanksgiving was already set apart to plan on the eating & the get togethers...then why are we so willing to give in to giving it up?

I still blame KMart. The being open on Thanksgiving to shop is just sad. But they've done it for a long time...and it's pretty much the one gimmick they could hold on to. But now that so many other retailers have jumped on that bandwagon in the last couple of years...I sense this could be the absolute demise of KMart. They did it to themselves...killing themselves ever-so-slowly.

And while KMart is slowly is Black Friday...and so is Thanksgiving.

Now that there has been an outpouring of backlash to the additional retailers jumping on the Thursday "Black Friday" opening...more retailers are making their employees give up a time of thankfulness with loved ones to be ready to slave away on their registers with less-than-thankful customers who only care about the greed of getting stuff for themselves.

Wow...sounds so warm & fuzzy...(yes...that's sarcasm, folks)

People, I implore you: please treat Thanksgiving with the respect it deserves. Eat with your friends & loved ones to be thankful for everything you have; or go help serve meals to the less fortunate. Do NOT...DO NOT...under ANY circumstance give in to the Thanksgiving Black Friday. Because if you are part of the problem.

How soon is it that most stores will open at 6:00 AM on Thanksgiving for their Black Friday sales (which even aren't the real sales anymore, btw) to try to "beat the meal"...but really it will end up having staggered sales (like Walmart is gonna do at dinner time as it is) and the ONE item you want is on sale at 4:00? Then what?

I'll tell you. Thanksgiving will be an oxymoron term for the beginning of shopping, and then Black Friday will be the oxymoron for the rest of the shopping days.

This makes me sad. The greed is greater than the pausing for giving thanks. Shame on you for anyone who is justifying their Thanksgiving shopping! Facebook, Twitter & texting have all given way to the lack of communication as it is. Let's just give another reason to spend time with folks you don't know while being awful to those total strangers...all while ignoring those you should be spending time with...face-to-face...having actual conversation & sharing & laughing. *sigh*'s almost totally official that we are giving the bird the bird. SERIOUSLY!

If anyone takes in the sales...then it's worse next year...
...and so on...
...and so on...
...and so on...

Maybe we need a reminder. And the retailers need the reminder. We all need reminded of Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Click on the photo to take you to easier-to-read text. The overall message is quite important.Oh...and it's pretty much law & note.
What has society turned this into? I can answer that: greedy chaos.

Kelly Ripa (who honestly needs to be a best friend of mine...she just doesn't know it yet) pointed out that she has Thanksgiving dinner at a "normal time" of cocktails at 5:00 (because it's a fancy get-together & stuff) & dinner at 6:00. She pointed out that they have a little lunch to hold them over..."like normal people" (I have to talk to her about that ugly "normal" word). She questioned the chaos of the retailers opening on Thanksgiving & wondered if folks would just enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the JCPenney restaurant or how it's not the same at the food court.

People who think that TV is worth missing dinner with the family that they camp out in front of Best Buy in a tent & think they should put in an order for someone to bring them dinner should be out the dinner. They made the choice. A sad one...but that's extra greedy!

Not sure at point this would happen at this point.
But I would if I wasn't crashed on the a food coma.
(pic posted by several friends from LAUGH OR CROAK page)
Folks...while many of you are receiving "Black Friday" *cough-cough* ads, via email/text, I place it in front of you, again, to make plans to enjoy Thanksgiving around the table, enjoying our bountiful lives & loved ones...or get perspective by helping those less fortunate. If it's anything beyond might be part of the problem. We need to make the Thanksgiving shopping phenomenon stop here! Don't give in to the temptations...(trust me - better sales come later) Take back Thanksgiving as the holiday it was meant to be!

Who's in?

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

AM~Erica Still Reveling in the Undefeat

So anyway...

Just as a reminder: I love my Chiefs. In times of good & times of bad...they are my team. Period.

Even thru the last few season that were bleak & sad, I was still cheering for them. It was difficult, but I was still on the bandwagon after so many had hopped off.

Last season? Last season was embarrassing...but the positive thought in the whole thing was that we would get the first pick in the NFL draft! The year before, we needed that first pick. We were on the road & in the "Suck for Luck" race. (Remember that?) But, Todd Haley got us thru JUST enough wins that we could n't even get that. At a 4-12 season, there were worse teams than the Indianapolis Colts who could do nothing without Peyton Manning. So...they sucked enough to get Andrew Luck. And they are doing OK. It certainly didn't help the Chiefs. Figures.

As Andrew Luck seems to be working out just fine in Indy, and after the wake up fiasco of KC trying to make a move for, BUT FAILED TO GET PEYTON MANNING, the ugly season of 2-14 was proof that major changes were in need! So...THE CHANGES BEGAN...

With the mega changes made (i.e. - head coach & coaching staff, general manager, some team, etc.), we were getting hope of possibly a better season. We should be able to better the 2-14 record...even in [yet] another rebuilding year. (How many times have we heard that in the last few years? Geesh!)

The excitement from our new coach & our new GM was intoxicating & contagious! Kansas City was starting to see a resurgence of red jerseys & arrowhead logos again. All in anticipation of a better season ahead! And I'm not kidding when there was such an energy around Truman Sports Complex (home to Kauffman Stadium - home of the Royals, and Arrowhead Stadium - home of the Chiefs) that you could feel in the air when you drove by on the highway. I'm not kidding!!! Even my "who cares about sports" daughter could feel it.

Of course, we didn't want hopes up too high...but anything had to be better than what we had already gone thru...amm-i-rite?

And then, even though overall preseason wasn't great, the official season had begun...

And...the Chiefs won their 1st game...

And...the Chiefs matched what they did last season...

And...the Chiefs won more than they did last season...

And...the Chiefs won as many games as their new coach did last season with his other team...

And...the Chiefs won more than their new coach did last season with his other team...

And...the Chiefs won to match the number of wins they had in the previous 2 seasons combined...

And...the Chiefs won make them the only undefeated team left standing at 7-0...

And...the Chiefs won...

And...the Chiefs won!

The Chiefs stand at 9-0. The only undefeated team left in the NFL as we enter into our bye week to rest up.

Take note, haters: KC is proud of their Chiefs! We have hope again! We know our team hasn't played well...but we've been winning. Regardless of the schedule we were given...we've been winning.

Not only are we the only undefeated team left standing, but the Chiefs haven't gone 9-0 in a decade. Yes...a full decade. And, in this time...we became the loudest stadium in the world! We are the home of the 116; achievers of the 137.5. Just want to put that out there...and it was done in an outdoor stadium built in the 70's...without sound-enhancers. All human-powered noise, baby.

The deafening & beautiful Sea of's an amazing's an amazing experience!

We have been so happy with everything going on. It's even brought on something that I had suspected...but was greater than I'd ever thought. Halloween came around...but so was fan costuming throughout the league in stadiums where Chiefs had some away games:

Yes! They play dress up of our now beloved Andy Reid! Some of them need a double take. A quick glance on TV in the stands can look like Coach Reid hanging with the fans. It's pretty incredible!

Plus...the ad team doing the Chiefs Kingdom commercials, ever since we got our new coach, have been so incredible that it can bring chills to a Chiefs' fan.

You get the idea. There's a couple others I could not get on here...but trust me...they still give chills like these others!

Now then, hubby & I have been observing & talking about what the haters are saying. They are trying to tear the worst-to-first team down now. They argue schedules & weaknesses...and attempt to throw bogus or twisted stats out there. You know what? Those stats might come in handy for game films to research...or for fantasy football. Other than that...the only stat that matters is what the scoreboard ends up: it shows who won & who lost. Simple as that. It's not always pretty. The quarterback is given all the credit for the win (much like a pitcher getting the glory or the blame for baseball wins & losses). It's not that simple. It takes a team.

Not only does it take the takes the fans. It's a winning combination. Especially when you throw in the world's loudest stadium, the Sea of Red...and amazing smells of barbecued tailgating.

And those who have hopped off the bandwagon are trying to catch up & jump back on. And this ship is sailing & gaining more passengers along the way. Why?

So come aboard & brace yourselves. We aren't sure that the streak will last...but we can hope it can. Let's get rested up so we can take on Denver!! You know...the other Manning we need to beat. BRING IT!

Yes...this is totally how I looked going thru Denver (skyline behind me) as we were heading home from vacation...
Sorry Terry...*winks*
Last season, we heard that we were the best worst team out there; this season, we hear we are the worst best team out there. Guess what! We'll take the latter, if this is the case. Because we're WINNING! (sorry for the Sheen reference)

In the meantime, we have a celebratory locker room...with our very own Kool Aid man making his entrance every week...

Maybe the greatest GIF ever

And even though we keep it close every week, no team has scored more than 17 points against the Chiefs so far this season. the words of our fantastic & more-than-welcomed head coach after he enters the locker room of his winning team:

"How 'bout those Chiefs?" about them? They are in first place. And it feels good! And it's exciting since we will end the season with a winning record no matter what happens now. WOOT!!!

Just proud of my Chiefs. So I had to take a moment to rejoice. It's been a long time since we could feel good about cheering for


Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Saturday, November 2, 2013

AM~Erica's Choice for Ofrenda

So anyway...

As I enjoy keeping Halloween sorts of things going as long as possible (Right? Click HERE to begin to be reminded.), I stumbled upon one of the greatest cultural celebrations ever, about a year & a half ago! It falls on November 2nd, and is the Mexican holiday of Dios De Los Muertos (aka - Day of the Dead).

It's a little frightening, yet beautiful. It celebrates & remembers those who have gone before us. It's like the All Saints Day that we have come to know it, but with great celebration! Celebrating our loved ones (family &/or friends) is an amazing thought.

There is also beautiful attire for it. There is this fabulous thing called "sugar skull." It is decorated skeletons & skulls. You make yourself look like one, and/or do it by decorating in bright flowers & beautiful colors.

Some of you may or may not be surprised that I tried my own hand at making myself into a sugar skull for the sake of celebration last year:

I have totally become fascinated by this. The whole thing. I started a Pinterest board on the celebration, too. You can have a gander at it HERE. No really...go check it out! It's my board with the most followers by far!

There is also something called "ofrenda"...or the offering for your passed loved one(s). The ofrenda includes things like favorite foods, pictures, drinks...things to remember those who have gone on before us.

Yesterday, I came across something while shopping at Target...

My hubby & I were glancing around at the Halloween stuff on clearance. As we gazed & were still thoroughly entertained by things we were finding, I came across something...

This made me smile...and then giggle...and then I pulled out my phone to take a pic so I could

...oh...wait...never mind...I just started crying instead. Seriously crying. No pic taken of "Trick Arrrr Treat" to send on the Pirate's Booty Halloween pack. Because my instinct was to send it to my friend, RENEE'. And I remembered that I couldn't. It's been just over a year since she passed, and I was ready to send her that pic. And I just stood there crying as I stood next to my hubby in Target. It was ridiculous, but I was really missing my friend in that moment. Thankfully my hubby redirected my attention with his crazy-witty humor as we moved along to the Christmas candy aisle to cheer me back up. Because I really wanted Renee' to get as big of a kick out of that moment as I did. Because I know she would have...

And now, here we are: November 2nd. It's Dios De Los Muertos...and part of my ofrenda had been placed in front of me for my friend. So I got 3 boxes worth. And they are perfect. Not just for the ofrenda that makes me think of Renee', but also because when I got a couple bags of the snack for ITLAP DAY, I discovered that Lil Guy really likes it, too! Now I just need to get Naked (the smoothie drink, folks) to finish off that part of the ofrenda in remembrance of my friend.

 I also want to add Starbuck's, chocolate & sushi to this iAltar to my friend...covered with pink flowers

I will also be remembering MY GRANDMOTHER, who left us 2 & a half years ago. I still get several reminders from her, too. Like the sweet little lady who joined our church recently...
Her man is Santa! And she is his Mrs. Claus...that resembles my grandmother so much. When they joined our shook me to my core at the resemblance! From her stature, to her smile, to her facial structure, to her gentle much.

Will Ferrell - daisy swim cap & butterflies
I want to use this pic of Will Ferrell as a part of my
ofrenda choice for my grandmother. Not only because of the butterflies,
but she would have found this funny. It's right along the lines of our family's humor.

So, today, November 2nd, Dios De Los Muertos will be semi-celebrated as I remember my grandmother & my friend. Love them & miss them so much.

May you, too, take a moment today to remember yours, too. Eat &/or drink something in their honor. Or have something Mexican or Mexican-inspired (here's a few ideas HERE or from my Mexican food Pinterest board HERE).

Also...keep those who have left the Earth before us close to your heart. Like a makeshift ofernda display like I did here:

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Friday, November 1, 2013

AM~Erica's Amazingly Magical Halloween

So anyway...

I know I am trying to recover from Halloween yesterday/last night. Are you? We all celebrate differently, if at all.

And for anyone who doesn't, my pastor hubby had this to say to our church congregation on Halloween:


Pastors Corner
Today is Halloween, so I'm going to keep this short: be safe and have fun. Seriously. Far too often we try to read to many things into days like this. Should we as Christians recognize and celebrate Halloween? Of course. Remember, as longs as you keep God centered in your life it's OK. Most "Christian" holidays as we know them began as pagan celebrations. Instead of trying to stop those celebrations, the early Christians simply "re-purposed" them. In other words, they gave them new meanings. Be creative. I'm sure you can do the same with Halloween.

Again, be safe and have fun.


Pastor Chris

Halloween is my favorite! It really, ridiculously, is. It might qualify as an illness...but I enjoy every moment of it!

Just to remind you, you can click HERE to jog your memory of my Halloween passion.

Well, with a HALLOWEEN PAST FRESH IN MY MIND, I was pumped for Halloween even more so than usual.

Of course I had to have a perfect Halloween dinner to get things started. You can find out about the Boo Hash & Monster Mash Potatoes HERE.

Then my hubby & I got into our attire. We were so cute in our couples costume!

Tony "Dimples" Capezio & (the return of) Maisey J. Carmichael

And the kiddos were ready, too!

Wendy Corduroy from 'Gravity Falls'; Captain Rex - Clone Trooper; post-apocalyptic soldier

Only Lil Guy was trick-or-treating this year. That was weird. Teen Boy took Lil Guy out to get candy, then Teen Girl & my hubby stayed at home to help hand out candy. That was all a little weird, for sure.

However...I was so extra excited for trick-or-treaters this year! Seriously!
While we did our church's Trunk-or-Treat event, our car was parked by a really great couple who had these fantastic retro blow mold figurines! Ghosts & pumpkins & such...they all looked so good! And we went SUPER simple, but effective: just a couple of coolers with a spiderweb shower curtain as a table cloth, and then one of the brilliant ideas my hubby came up with to use at our house...trick-or-treat plastic pumpkins as luminaries!

As the evening went on, the really awesome couple came over & asked if we wanted more of those pumpkins. So we worked out getting several more so that we could have more than just 6 to light up a small part of our walkway to the porch...

Front porch on Halloween 2010. Yep...that's all, folks.

So this year...we ended up with about 18!! And I will tell you that it looked amazing on Halloween night to greet the trick-or-treaters at our house!

See this pumpkin? It's huge...and I got offers to trade for it twice.
That was a no-go. I love this pumpkin...

*sigh* looked great! And...AND??? We got several compliments about how awesome the simple-yet-effective setup looked!

I can't tell you how excited I was to be able to extend our modest decor out to the end of the driveway! We are on a street that is mostly, and sadly, dark on Halloween. We began to figure this out. Why? Well, it had to do with the last couple of Halloweens...

After our 80 trick-or-treater count on our first year in the neighborhood, the following year was a Chiefs' game on Halloween. We only ended up with less than 40 that year. I was so bummed, but wasn't surprised. But then last year came around & I hoped for numbers to go back up...but...not so much. As we discovered that the neighborhood was mostly dark on our connecting street, we heard that the main streets at the top & bottom of our street was bustling with activity! *sigh* And we didn't have much of a draw. So we only had 40-ish again.

So, I was pumped with our extended line of luminaries! Maybe we could be seen for a bit of a distance. And guess what...GUESS WHAT!!!! Even though our connecting street was pretty dark...imagine my happy-dance-excitement when we had a total of...



Plus, we had very few duplicate costumes come to the door! Very creative & original all the way around. It was awesome!

The weather was a perfect, slightly damp & chilly Halloween night. Kiddos were out in droves! We had long time friends come by, a surprise of someone who we didn't know what happened to them & it was fantastic to be surprised by that, we had a family where the mom was Cinderella & dad was hardcore Prince fabulous, and we had the cutest little Sully!

And not only did we get almost 80 trick-or-treaters of all sizes & ages (because that doesn't bother me...make an effort, say "Trick-or-Treat" or give a friendly "Happy Halloween" and I'm sold)! You know, there was a very tall guy that showed up as Spiderman...and Teen Girl gushed that she was so happy he came trick-or-treating. She said that he is one of the special ed students at the high school & that he is one of the sweetest kids you'd ever meet. who you judge who comes to your door. Just wanna throw that out there.

Also, not only did we get compliments on our walkway, but 3 girls (apparently also high-schoolers) who came as B-F-Fs who looked at me open the door...appeared amazed...and then the middle girl said,
"WHOA! I love your costume! And I remember you from last were the Queen of Hearts!! And it was so awesome!"
Which was funny since I was actually Rosey Redd 3 Halloweens before that! *snort* I guess it made an impression on her...but surprised she realized who I was between Rosey & Maisey!

Rosey Redd - 2010                                                 Maisey J. Carmichael - 2013

As we were running out of candy, and the witching hour was winding down, the kiddos were all home & getting settled, the dance party continued off & on in our entryway, the kiddos stopped coming to the door before 9:00. We had 76 trick-or-treaters on our doorstep in just over an hour & a half. It was incredible!

When hubby asked me what my original goal was...I was going to be happy to get 30 after the last couple of years. I was stoked, surprised, and humbled by the numbers we had!

And I love Halloween. Love it.

Also, Teen Girl said it was weird deciding to stay home for the first time...but she loved every minute of it! And she understood my point of view. Which is & can be magical!

Just hanging out & handing out candy...and loving it!
In the meantime, with my apparent excitement by the night, hubby & Teen Girl said they coul smell a blog post comin'! Well then...TA-DA!

I went & got a few more "luminaries" on clearance today to add to the ones we were so blessed to get from that hilarious & fun little couple...and I am so looking forward next always!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica