Monthly Archives: April 2008

DIY Canvas Grocery Bags

In another attempt to be Earth-friendly, I am trying to use canvas grocery bags. I picked up a three-pack of blank ones for a few bucks at Hobby Lobby a while back. Then I got some fabric spray paint and recruited my husband to help design the bags. Here’s a look at our Saturday afternoon art project.

1. Make a stencil. Tim cut his out free-hand. I found a couple of picture of birds on the Internet and just cut them out.

Tim\'s free-form stencil

Birds for the bag

2. Paint the bags. This was the fun part. We only had three colors: orange, pink and yellow. We would like to do it again or maybe make t-shirts, but stock up on some new colors.

fabric paint

Tim painting his canvas bag

my painted birds

3. Get creative. We started looking for other objects to incorporate. We used wooden skewers (from the kitchen) to create different designs.

creative canvas bag

4. Unveil the finished product. We love the way they turned out and we actually put them to use today when we went grocery shopping.

Finished canvas grocery bag

Tim\'s cross design

Tim\'s stencil bag

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Ah, Memories- My Night at the Dove Awards

This week thousands gathered in Nashville for the 39th annual GMA Dove Awards. It’s THE biggest night in Gospel and Christian music. Last year I was privledged enough to attend as a seat filler. Here’s a little story I wrote about the experience.

Dove Award Seat-fillers

Is This Seat Taken?
Adventures of a Dove Award seat-filler
By Alison Storm

I’ve applied for plenty of jobs in my 27 years, but none quite like this.  I was trying to get picked to serve as a seat filler for the 38th Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Nashville.  I knew I had what it takes: a love for Christian music, a black dress, and a butt.  I passed the application on to my fiance and a few friends.  Two weeks later we got the good news.  We were going to the Dove’s.
I don’t consider myself star crazy, but I like adding new anecdotes to my story telling bank. So to me it was worth a couple of vacation days and a five hour car ride as long as it lead to a new experience and a funny story. The five of us piled into my friend Marco’s Honda Element and hit the road bound for Nashville.  Hours later we arrived at our destination.
The air inside room 520 at the Lexis Inn and Suites was thick with hairspray. Plugs from curling irons, straightening irons and blow dryers filled every outlet. Eyelash curlers, bobby pins, and lipstick tubes littered the bathroom counter.  Our fancy faces were a stark contrast to the sweats and t-shirts we were still wearing.  Neck up we were A-listers. Neck down we were the stars of The Surreal Life.
With just 20 minutes to go before we needed to head to the Grand Ole Opry I grabbed my strapless black dress from the closet.  I shimmied it on, pulled on the zipper, and it parted like the red sea.
Oh crap,  I announced.  My zipper just broke.
Everyone took a turn at twisting, pulling, and yanking the tiny piece of metal, but it wouldn’t budge. Time was running out. The clock read 3:43. Our instructions said to be at the theater no later than 4pm.
Just sew it,  suggested my friend Michelle. No thread.
Pin it into place,  offered my friend Mary Grace. No pins.
We’ll buy you a new dress,  announced my fiancé Tim. No time.
Wearing just the dress wasn’t an option. The split revealed more than a promiscuous plumber.  A few more minutes passed and the situation grew more desperate. With no back up outfit, I simply pulled a long black t-shirt on over the strapless dress, but the dress still needed to be pinned so it wouldn’t end up around my ankles.   There’s a Walgreens two stop lights up,  Tim said after a quick fact-finding mission to the front desk.  We piled into the Honda Element and sped to the store.  Tim and Mary Grace ran thorugh the aisles snatching two boxes of safety pins, throwing a five dollar bill on the counter and hauling it back to the idling SUV.
Suddenly we were a team on the Amazing Race and the million dollars was waiting at the Grand Ole Opry.  While Marco and Tim navigated up front, the girls tackled my dress in the backseat. Normally I might be a little nervous about having sharp objects centimeters from my spine while swerving near semis at high speeds. But I was a seat filler and there were seats needing to be filled.
We pulled into the parking lot just as Michelle secured the final pin. I still had to wear the black t-shirt over the dress, but at least I knew I wouldn’t be offering the Dove Award audience my own show. The safety pins left a bumpy line down my back, making me look like I had a spinal cord disorder.  The five of us filed into secion 16 in the upper level, joining hundreds of others outfitted in black.
And we waited.
And waited.
Remind me again why we risked our lives trying to get here?  asked Tim.
Finally the volunteer coordinator announced our instructions.  You will sit next to celebrities,  she promised.  But don’t talk to them.  We will put you into groups and when the artists go on stage to receive their awards you will fill their seats.  That way when the camera shoots the audience it looks full.   Perfect, I thought.  I imagined myself congratulating Chris Tomlin and chatting it up with Rebecca St. James.
Two hours later we still waited for a seat to fill.  We couldn’t help but notice the nervous looks the ushers kept giving the group of hundreds of seat-fillers waiting in the theater lobby.  We worried they weren’t sure where to put all of us.  Finally we were given a seat to fill.   Follow me,  ordered an usher to our group of five. So we did. We followed her all the way to the top balcony. The stage looked like an apartment patio and the celebrities milling around looked like munchkins.  From the rafters it was painfully obvious we wouldn’t be giving Michael W. Smith any high fives or keeping Mac Powell’s seat nice and toasty. Maybe they stuck me up here because of my horrible outfit, I thought. They didn’t think I was camera-ready.
This stinks,  said my fiance.  Let’s get closer.  I agreed so I took his hand and we snuck out of our seats in the rafters. Our strategy? Act cool. Our plan? Get as close to the stage as possible.
We walked with ease past an usher and stood in the section where all the stars mingled. I scanned the crowd looking for familiar faces, but saw none.
“Point out some celebrities,” I asked Tim.
“I see people that I recognize,” he whispered, “but I don’t know their names.”
In a wave of confidence no one wearing a safety-pinned dress should probably have, I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the stage.  I smiled and nodded at the artists like we were old friends.
“I love that jacket ” I exclaimed to one spiky-haired blond man.
“Thank you so much,” he said with a smile.
“Where did you get it?” I asked.
“My wife picked it up for me,” he answered.
Our conversation continued comfortably and then I told the man with the cool jacket to have a good night and we walked over to another group of mingling musicians. I decided to talk to one sharply-dressed man with really funky hair. It was long in front and short in the back.  A strip of pinkish-brown sliced through the front while the rest was Anna-Nicole blonde.
“My fiancé has hair envy of you,” I whispered in his ear, even being bold enough to interrupt his conversation with another possible celebrity.
“Really?” he laughed. “That’s so awesome ”
I flashed him a smile and walked on. Then an announcer asked everyone to take their seats.  The show was about to begin.  “What are we going to do?” my fiancé said without moving his lips.
“We’re going to stand here as long as possible,” I said through clenched teeth and a smile. “Then we’re going to grab two empty seats.”  Our plan worked.  For the next three hours we filled those seats, enjoying live performances by Toby Mac, Stellar Kart and Steven Curtis Chapman. When Casting Crowns claimed their Dove for Group of the Year I realized the guy with the cool jacket I had talked to was in the band.  The guy with the funky hair was a guitarist with Family Force 5.  We laughed at Brian Littrell’s dumb jokes and cheered when Aaron Shust won Song of the Year.  A few rows up, winners returned to their seats carrying shiny statues.
After the Crabb Family took their final bow and the crowd started their slow exit, Tim and I lingered. “I have got to meet Leeland,” I told him. I spied the singer’s long red locks a few rows up.  So once again I mustered up my confidence and waited for my moment.
“Leeland ” I exclaimed like we were old friends. “Congratulations ”
“Uh, thanks,” he replied with a smile, probably wondering for what since he hadn’t made any trips to the stage to claim a Dove.
“I’m a big fan,” I informed him. It was true. His entire album is committed to my memory.  Meeting him was the perfect ending to this crazy night.
“Thanks,” he said again and introduced me to the girl by his side. “This is my fiancé Amanda.”  We shook hands and she smiled sweetly.
“I love your dress ” I told her. She was wearing a lacy, cream and teal Betsy Johnson dress with matching teal earrings.
And I didn’t see any safety pins holding it up.

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Cool Idea from Publix

Remember your shopping bagsDuring an ice-cream run last night my husband found something cool near the cash register at Publix. It’s a static sticker that they suggest putting on your car window to remind yourself to bring bags with you to the grocery store. This is something I just can’t seem to remember. I have several canvas shopping bags and I think I’ve only ever used them twice. I decided to put the little sticker on our back door because that’s the door I use when I leave every morning. I figure that way it will jog my memory so I can stop adding to my mountain -sized collection of plastic bags and do something “green.”

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Hate Junk Mail? Me, Too!

GreenDimes
If you hate junk mail and you want to be more green, check out GreenDimes. I found out about it a few months back after seeing a blurb in a magazine where Matt Damon mentioned it. I recently went back to the site and discovered something cool. GreenDimes is spending $5 million to pay YOU to stop your junk mail. All you have to do is go to the site, sign up for GreenDimes Basic and wait for your postman to say thanks. In return, GreenDimes will give you $1. But, if you’d rather not waste the paper of printing a $1 check, they’ll plant a tree for you instead. Cool, huh?

Greendimes

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A Blast From the Past- Rollerskating

Skatetown USA on White Horse Road in Greenville, SC is a happening place to be on Monday nights. (Can’t you tell by the photos??) But if you wait until the elementary school kids head home to get ready for bed, the real fun starts. Tim and I laced up to join some friends for a night of rolling around and around in circles.

RollerskatingTim RollerskatingRollerskating

It brought back lots of 80’s and early 90’s memories of air hockey, hokie pokie, the chicken dance and couple skating at the RollerRama in Sioux City, Iowa. For some reason, it seems like all rollerskating rinks look the same. The only thing they’ve updated in the last few decades is the carpet. They ripped out the orange carpet and replaced it with the trendier, glow-in-the-dark printed stuff. At least they kept the cool light fixtures, although I wouldn’t mind having one of those in my house. It was Tim’s first time on old-school skates. By the third song he traded them in for his own Rollerblades, but I stuck with the four-wheeled, front stopper skates. Even those aching feet made me feel like I was back at the RollerRama again.

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End of Construction- Thank you for your Patience

I’ve been to the Billy Graham Library once, but I’ve never been inside. I was there on the day of its dedication, the same day Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush joined Billy Graham himself at the new facility. Here is a picture I took from that day almost a year ago.

Billy Graham praying with three former presidents

My husband and I decided to drive up to Charlotte to see the library this weekend. We took the short road trip with his parents. It’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend visiting it. They even picked up and relocated Billy’s boyhood home onto the property. I recently wrote a story about the library’s one-year anniversary for a new Christian magazine called Daughter Sister Friend. It should be appearing in their first issue.

During his speech on the day of the library dedication, Billy Graham talked about how much he wished his wife could have been there, how much she deserved to be there. At that moment Billy Graham wasn’t a famous evangelist. He was a loving husband, longing for his wife.

Two weeks after the library’s dedication, Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham passed away. She had been ill for quite a while. She is now buried in the garden at the Billy Graham Library. Etched in her headstone are the words “End of Construction- thank you for your patience.”

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Would You Pay $17 for Conditioner… For Your Dog??

$17 dog hair conditionerSounds a little nutty, right? I just did a story for OnlyForPetLovers.com about extravagant pet gear. This conditioner sells for $17 a bottle. And there’s body spray to go along with it. I did like the fact that the label says the products are “people-tested.” But $17 so my doggie can have soft, manageable hair? How about $10 for three tennis balls? or $48 for a dog collar? Sorry, Bruno. You’re just going to have to make do with what you have.

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