Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movin' On Up

If you've wandered your way into our blog you may be wondering where all the action is...easy answer it is at the House of Shine!!!

We've moved to a bigger, nicer, newer HOUSE and we'd love to have you join us.

Change your bookmarks to and come on over to explore!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Funny Bone

Have I mentioned, I'm dyslexic?

Don't feel sorry for me, though. I get by just fine. Sure, I trevni srettel semitemos, tub tsom reven eciton.

So cashing in "Ahas" for "Hahas" was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.

Heather, our trusty Free For All camera woman assured me there were plenty of "hahas" tucked away in unseen Friday footage. Funnier than the mermaid? Funnier than the three of us sporting our bling while rapping?

Hard to believe, but take a look...

Oh, and here is me sporting my new bracelet. Thanks to my fierce competitors, Cheryl (Belt #1) and Heather (Belt #3) for consistently raising the bar and testing my shine.
Needless to say, the fierce didn't show up in your inner competitor yesterday. Not a single person brought us a visitor. That means, tune in later in this week to get a second chance at winning the Rise and Shine tool belt.

Signing off until tomorrow... Anniversary Day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Belt It Out

What kind of blog would Highlowaha be if we dedicated an entire day of our Anniversary Week to "lows?"

Heather, Cheryl, and I understand that lows are a fact of life. We get the whole what-goes-up-must-come-down, silver lining, darkest-before-the-dawn thing. Still, when brainstorming how to spend Anniversary Week, the three of us never got comfortable with showcasing "lows."

On January 22, Kat, saved the day. This loyal reader suggested that a competition between me, Cheryl, and Heather would be a fun addition to our Anniversary Week celebration.

Today's competition is titled, How "Lowe" Can We Go? It allows us to revisit November's Cookie Cutter Challenge when I created a Writer's Toolkit in order to showcase the screwdriver cookie cutter.

Each of us was given one $0.77 tool belt from Lowe's Hardware Store. Our challenge was to create a tool belt using the theme, "Shine" - something we think this blog knows a little something about. Before we get to the pictures, some important things for you to know.
  • First, each reader should vote in the poll below for the tool belt they like best.
  • Second, the reader who draws the most visitors to our comment section today will win the Shine tool belt voted #1.
  • Third, the other two tool belts will be given away as the week goes on.
  • Fourth, Heather, Cheryl, and I are competing for something shiny of our own. Get a glimpse of the picture at the end of today's post.
Shine #1
A little mascara and pretty feet are all a girl needs to conquer the world.
Shine #2
Rise and Shine
Start Your Day Off BRight!
Shine #3
Spread Shine
People who Shine let others know when they do!

Cast your vote in the poll below. Will it be Shine #1, Shine #2, or Shine #3?

Quizzes by

Who will shine Brighton? Cheryl, Heather, or Claudia? Polls close at 10:00 CST.
Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flying By

I spent last night watching the Men's Olympic Mogul Skiing. If you watched then you how thrilling it was when Alexandre Bilodeau finally won a gold for Canada and how proud we were when Bryon Wilson won a bronze for the United States.

I kind of like the idea of using mogul skiing as an analogy for today's post.

Like mogul skiers, Heather, Cheryl, and I are standing at the top of the slope, taking deep breaths in and then slowly, calmly exhaling out. Our year of hard work and commitment brings us to a moment feeling every bit as important as the Olympics - Highlowaha's Second Anniversary.

We want the gold. We want to reach Saturday's finish line and be greeted by all of you jumping up and down in the stands, cheering us on. But, between now and then we have some moguls to maneuver and, with a little luck, a few aerial moves that should leave us all flying high.

Tuesday we will weave in and around "lows" - Highlowaha style. Wednesday we will take creative liberties with classic Highlowaha "ahas." Thursday will feel like coming Home, because one thing remains certain: no matter how much the world around us changes, the 18th of each month is reserved for reflecting on our "highs," "lows" and "ahas." I won't give away too much too soon, but suffice it to say, we will finish the work week strong.

Don't forget about Saturday. Saturday we will stay true to our Yellow Envelope Project, except this week you will drive things!

This week is going to pass in record time.

Deep breath in; slowly, calmly exhale out. And we're off.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yellow Envelope Project: Harker Heights

Talk about shining. The Olympics is chock full of athletes who shine.

I decided, as someone who supports, studies, and scours the planet for people who shine, that it was my responsibility to watch the opening of the Olympics. I like to soak in as much shine as I can, as often as I can.

Sorry we're off to a later start than normal this morning.

Last week I got a good dose of shine. I went south to Killeen, Texas to reconnect with a friend of mine from graduate school. Debbie's husband, Robert, is in the military, so Killeen, Texas is just one stop along a long list of moves she and her family has made. Recently back from a year in England, I was anxious to reconnect with my friend of more than twenty years.

Sometimes, as is the case with people who shine, their brilliance has an uncanny way of illuminating the things about ourselves that we wished shined brighter. Debbie is the epitome of generous. She has accepted her role as a military wife and does it with such grace, such energy, and such enthusiasm, that it is every bit as inspiring as the troops oversees who are fighting to keep us safe.

Debbie has four kids between the ages of five and eleven. She has six schedules to manage, four car pools, two cub scout meetings a week, soccer practice, class mom responsibilities, and because of her husband's rank in the army, a leadership role among military wives that would rival most of our full time jobs. No joke.

Her kitchen is like Mission Control. Like clockwork, they get up, eat breakfast, dressed, and get out the door. The school bell, is also Debbie's signal that she must be off to the races. She has five hours to squeeze in meetings on military base, menu planning, grocery shopping, volunteering at the school, running errands for Robert, shuffling kids to and from activities, attending military functions, and oh, by the way... unpacking more boxes from their recent move, while also sewing costumes for her daughter's 100th day of School Celebration.

Debbie is the kind of strong and independent woman that makes it possible for our troops to travel oversees without having to worry about how families are faring back home. In fact, the only time a tear rolled out of Debbie's eye was when we briefly talked about Robert's deployment to Iraq come September. Even a star as bright as Debbie must feel the enormity of having to fly solo with four kids, while also managing the inevitable worry that comes with a husband at war.

Debbie is precisely why we developed the Yellow Envelope Project. No bells, no whistles, no awards, or accolades. Debbie just wakes up each morning, her feet hitting the floor, shining at everything she does and brightening - illuminating - her corner of the world.

Please join me in sending her a yellow envelope. Those new to the game, it's easy.

Write Debbie a short note telling her you think she shines and thanking her for making her corner of the world brighter. Place it in a yellow envelope - or a white envelope decorated with yellow markers and yellow stickers. Place the words, "Yellow Envelope Project" in the return address, and mail to the address listed below sometime before next Friday.

It's easy, you'll feel great, and Debbie will be reminded that shining is worth it.

101 West Great Plains Trail
Harker Heights, TX 76548

Signing off until tomorrow...

Friday, February 12, 2010


Our Friday plans were foiled. Heather, Cheryl, and I were scheduled to meet last night so we could tape today's Free For All Friday video. Eight inches of snow later, we wimpy Texans decided to stay home instead of braving the wet and slushy roads.

I promised the blog wouldn't fall apart in the absence of our much anticipated video and that, somehow, I would pull out an extra blog post for the week. Void of a real topic, I resort to writing about what is on my mind - good, bad, or boring.
First. Creativity is everywhere. Look at what some of my neighbors whipped up last night.

Second. How do you throw away a garbage can? My husband and I have been trying to throw away a garbage can for weeks. At first we tried placing the old garbage can in the new one, hoping they get the hint and figure out the can itself was garbage. No go. Then we tried printing "garbage" in black sharpie on the side of the can. Still no go. Got any suggestions?

Third. Today marks the culmination of the latest Target Challenge. A recap of this creative game for Highlowaha's newbies. I purchase an item from the Dollar Bin at Target and then present it to Heather and Cheryl. Testing their creativity, these women u se the item to do something clever. Then you the readers vote on who made best use of the item. I've recently decided to get in on the action, so check out all three and then vote on the one you like most.

Entry A
Inspirational Quote
Entry B
Cupcake Stand
Entry C
Dishwasher Magnet

Fourth. When all else fails, it's Free For All Friday. What do you want to talk about?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dragons and Cupids and Tigers, Oh My!

Raise your hand if you knew Valentines Day 2010 was the same day as the Chinese New Year.

It's a dilemma for someone who loves holidays as much as I do to decide how to handle a double decker kind of day.

One year Matthew's birthday fell on Easter. Obviously, we couldn't not celebrate both, so instead we turned Matthew's party into an Easter Egg hunt. Then there was the year I graduated with my doctoral degree during Mother's Day weekend. Graduation isn't exactly a holiday, but after three years of rigorous work and giving birth to a dissertation, I intended to celebrate like it was a national holiday. My mother, mother in-law, and I compromised. We celebrated graduation and motherhood while receiving manicures and pedicures from a local spa in Athens, Georgia.

So snubbing the Chinese New Year simply because we Americans can out commercialize the rest of the world didn't seem right.

Luckily, the Chinese love the color red as much as Cupid.
Matthew and I decided on a compromise for his classmates. Traditional red Chinese envelopes made from felt (not paper) and filled with a mixture of Chinese tokens and good old fashioned American chocolates. Kids get their much anticipated candy and China, a civilization dating back somewhere around 67,000 years, gets the respect it deserves.
And don't think I won't milk this one on Sunday night when I suggest we eat Chinese food for dinner. How about you? What will you be doing on Valentines Day? And, are any of you Celebrating the Year of the Tiger?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get to the Point

Side note. Has anyone else noticed Ray Wattson roaming the front page of our blog sporting all kinds of construction equipment? Monday a blue print, yesterday a ruler, today a shovel. What's he up to?

Food. That's the thing that holds today's blog topic together.

First food of old. Does anyone remember last April when we hosted our very first Fancy Flours Cookie Cutter Challenge? I was tasked with using a porcupine cookie cutter to celebrate Earth Day. Most memorable was the "sharp" (no pun intended), but anonymous reader who was kind enough to point out that I packaged my porcupine cookies in plastic bags. All while I had the nerve to ask, "What quill you do to help save Mother Earth?" Ouch... literally and figuratively.

The high of the day, however, was when one of our oh-so-creative-readers suggested using the porcupine to celebrate Valentine's Day. Her slogan, you might have guessed, was... "I'm stuck on you."

I know a good idea when I hear one, so I couldn't wait to bake up my very own batch of pink, red, and white porcupines. This will make the perfect treat for all the teachers and helpers at Matthew and Jack's school.
Next. More food.

Monday Struble Suds provided a great recap of Highlowaha's Super Bowl Snack Throwdown. Cristine shined like Howard Cosell, giving a play by play of Kate's Frito Fantasy Candy versus Ray's Two Bean Lettuce Wrap. Nobody commented. Nobody.

I am going to venture to say it's because the team we were all rooting for (Team Kate) didn't win. It's like the Yankees and their billion dollar pompous baseball team swooping in and winning the World Series again, when other teams are harder working and far more likeable.

But we must be good sportsmen - or women. So, hard as it may be... Congratulations Ray Wattson on your winning recipe and for earning the title as champion of Highlowaha's Second Annual Snack Throw Down.

And now, painful as it is.. May I present to you your limited edition Super Bowl.
Speech. Speech.
FritoRay here. So, what can I say? I'd like thank all the little people who helped make this possible. Thanks to the patrons of Struble Sud's who recognized that children, because of their size, should only get half a vote. Thanks to the gallons of beer for spurring on the festivities. Thanks to Kate, who overestimated the sophistication of the beer addled midwest pallet that will unthinkingly select any snack with sausage in it over any snack without. Thanks to the Commissioner of the league. Thanks to my hairy armed sous chef. And a special thanks to Matt and Christine Struble for................

Now about this bowl. I've been thinking about this bowl. My friends have told me that I should keep this bowl and enjoy it as a symbol of my greatness. I think this is too shortsighted a viewpoint. It's a really cool bowl and blessed with my image; but, I'm fortunate enough to have several mirrors in the house. I'm thinking what Kate and her blog needs is a little, well... me. A little Ray Wattson. So, Kate, I'm going to have Claudia send you the bowl. I know, I know, I don't have to do this. And, yes, I am the coolest. Stop stop stop. Just take the bowl. You can owe me one.

FritoRay Out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bad Apple

Can we all agree that sometimes trying to shine means taking a chance only to fall flat on your face?

Today's post was supposed to be great. It was supposed to shine and to provide you with another fun idea for Valentine's Day. It was supposed to showcase the great apple-shaped basket I found on sale at World Market for $1.38. Eyes in a basket with a note attached saying "You are the Apple of my Eye." It was supposed to be witty... maybe even clever.

It wasn't supposed to look more like a creepy Halloween treat than a romantic Valentine's gift. Or a April Fools joke more than a thoughtful gesture. But, alas I failed.

Sometimes we try to shine and we fail. It's o.k. though. There's always tomorrow.

Don't want to wait until then? Make a suggestion to improve my failed attempt. And, if you think that's useless, let's play Scrabble. Using the letters above U*R*T*H*E*O*F*M*Y, form a word.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Make a Fortune

It is my good fortune to bring you today's Valentine's Day gift idea. Four dollars and about forty minutes. That's what you'll need to create you own.
Using a glass, trace a circle onto poster board. Cut out.
Trace and cut circles from red and pink sheets of foam
Place glitter in one bowl and Craft Foam Glue in another.
Using a craft brush, apply foam glue to half of foam circle on both sides.
Dip both sides in glitter.
Let dry.
While drying, cut stripes of paper and write Valentine messages.
Put slip of paper in center of foam circle, parallel to line of glitter. Using your hot glue gun, glue in two places. First, glue glittered end of circle to non-glittered end. Pinch until dry.
Second, fold foam in half again and use a clothes pin to pinch inside pieces.
Set aside and let dry.
Place in decorative container with a few pieces of holiday candy and present to your special valentine... or day care provider, office colleagues, neighbors, or kids.

Special Note: Struble Suds called last night to say that sometime later today, they would post results from our Second Annual Snack Throw Down. Visit them at their site to see whose recipe reigned supreme.

Signing off until tomorrow. And hey... how about sharing a few ideas for Valentine messages we could include in our fortune cookies.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yellow Envelope Project: Superbowl Edition

You want to send a Yellow Envelope to someone who shines?

Send it to me:

Ray Wattson
House of Shine
Apt. #218
Anytown, USA
I'm freaking Raydiculous! This isn't going to be a Throw-down. It's going to be a Beat-down. Introducing.....FritoRay's Superbowl Two Bean Lettuce Wraps - homage to lettuce wraps with a little Texas flair.

The best part about this dish? No cooking. Well, that's not true. It wouldn't be the Superbowl without sausage. So I threw some in at the last minute. All you vegetarians out there take note. Sausage is optional.
Here's the recipe. Read it and weep.

1 package cole slaw mix
1 can kidney beans + 1 can black beans
1 package of breakfast sausage cooked.
1 can of Ro*Tel
Add 6 fistfuls of crushed Fritos
Couch filling in Iceburg lettuce wraps
Munch a bunch
So what'll it be, Kate's sweet Fantasy Frito Candy or my savory Two Bean Lettuce Wraps?