Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Update - 05.31.09

I know I need to get pictures up, but I just wanted to type a quick post to let you know what I'm up to / what I have going on.

Arielle and Bart's graduation party was a success last night - the room looked GREAT of course - that decorator they hired ROCKS :)!! I'll get a few of those pictures posted the first available minute I have to look at them. We broke down a lot of the decorations last night (thanks again for the help Tamar & Lydia). I brought home a car full of stuff that I need to go unload out of my vehicle. I'm meeting the unpaid 'hired' help in a few to finish the clean up and get everything hauled home and put away, I'm hoping it will only take two more trips to complete the clean up.

When I woke up this morning at my typical 5:30am I realized that I forgot to take a picture of the food table last night, so I'll have to show you the food tags without them being displayed by the actual food. Kind of bummed that I didn't take this picture - if anyone else did let me know please! I'll warn you now I didn't really take that many pictures last night. I once considered decorating and photographing a wedding for someone - bad, bad idea. Once you spend 2 days decorating you're pooped by the time the event starts and pretty brain dead. Lesson learned: you either photograph an event or you decorate it, but never ever both.

I've been editing the pictures of my cousin's twins who turned 1 a few days after I took their picture (taken a little longer than I wanted to edit with baseball starting and graduation and.....). I'll have those done this week and posted on the photography blog - cute 1 year old twin girls, of course you'll check back to see those pics.

I have an engagement session to shoot later this afternoon. I was suppose to do it last weekend but the rain kind of ruined our day, FYI outside pics don't look all that great when the subjects are soaking wet. So far today is beautiful, hopefully it stays this way all day so we can get this session taken (I'm really looking forward to doing their pictures).

So that's what I've been up to this weekend. Hopefully during this next week I'll be at home in the evenings some and will be able to catch up on my photo edits. Summer baseball started a few weeks ago (most games have been cancelled due to the mass amounts of rain we've had this spring) but I do have some pictures to get the season started.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Official

The Sesser-Valier High School
Class of 2009 Graduates!
I don't remember ever seeing soooooo many people in the gym for a high school graduation before, the place was BACKED.

Literally 2 minutes before I walked out the door, I took my charms off my bracelet and put together this for Arielle to wear tonight. I bought these charms 2 years ago to use on grandma's birthday scrapbook (which I haven't got around to yet) and thought they'd be perfect for tonight.

Here's a close up of the bracelet (if you know the Shurtz family you'll understand why Arielle was wearing pink flamingo's at graduation - if you don't know our family, just trust me on this one - it's a family thing).

Arielle and Bethany both received gold "HONOR" sashes for graduating in the top 10 of their class. Arielle was 3rd in her class (this is her getting her honor sash from Kyle). Bethany walked too fast and was partially hid when she received her sash. Bethany, Arielle and Bart all three received numerous scholarships also.

The graduating class all wore purple ribbons in honor of one of their teachers who's battling ovarian cancer.

My beautiful cousin Bethany

Bethany and her father, Darin

(the mass amount of people made the gym and commons area rather warm)
Arielle with one of her friends

6 1/2 G - Lightest Golden Brown

If I ever return to a hairdresser to get highlights I'll be overly explicit on what I consider a HIGHLIGHT. Twice now when I've asked for a few blond/strawberry blond highlights I've ended up with large chunks of dyed hair. This time I have five distinct chunks of blond with the one next to my head extremely blond (but not the rest of them).

I'm not quite sure when highlights strayed from weaving the comb end through your select strands of hair to add light shade variations as though you've been in the sun.......I don't like the newer version of picking up chunks of hair and haphazardly applying color. I want my hair to have the appearance of looking natural, not like someone attempted to create some masterpiece (gone terribly wrong) on my head.

So before I head to graduation it's L'Oreal to the rescue!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Thank You to all those who have served - past and present!
Happy Memorial Day, I hope everyone gets to spend time with family and friends today. My father took these pictures last year of Maple Cemetery in Sesser. I love when they fly the flags along the roadside, they have them set about every 6 feet apart the entire length of the cemetery.

We're having a few family members over later today for a cookout. I'd better get to it - cooking and cleaning that is. Before I know it people will be arriving and I'll still be on the computer in my pj's drinking coffee :) Arielle requested brats and we're also fixing ribs, hamburgers, cheesy potato casserole, fresh asparagus!!, mac salad (Aunt Eileen), chips & dip, lemon pie and chocolate cake hmmmmm I'm suddenly hungry.

With the overabundance of rain we've had in SoIL over the last couple of months, monument companies have been unable to set headstone footings. So unfortunately my grandmother & grandfather Shurtz's new joint headstone was unable to be placed before Memorial Day here at Maple Hill.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

20 Years, Seriously!?

I just returned home from the Baccalaureate at the Sesser-Valier High School Gym for the Class of 2009. It's rather hard to believe that it's been 20 years since I was the one wearing the white graduation robe and walking down the aisle in front of my family and friends. So much has happened in the last 20 years yet in many ways it feels like it was only a few years ago.

Its a good thing I wasn't getting paid to take pictures tonight because this photographer made a major error. I failed to take my 24-70mm lens, I only had my 70-200mm on the camera (the one I do the sports pictures with). The gym really isn't that big and I was able to get to the center to take pictures - unfortunately I was TOO close for the lens I had on my camera and couldn't focus the darn thing. I snapped one of Arielle walking the aisle but didn't get Bart or Bethany.
I'll be ready Thursday - promise!

A quick shout out - Arielle was keeping it in the family. She had on Lindy Jo's white sundress under her gown and my necklace. I wish I had older cousins growing up. Which talking of 'older' cousins, this one in particular felt old tonight - not only did I take Arielle's senior picture but am also responsible for taking her baby picture which they showed on the slide show tonight - so maybe it does feel like 20 years since I graduated.....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So Proud....

Last evening I had the pleasure of attending the 2009 Miss Herrinfesta Pageant at the Herrin Civic Center to observe 17 year old Miss Arielle Wheatley from the Village of Valier who was proudly sponsored by Com-Pac International (that's what she's saying in the pic above this).
While she didn't place, this was her first pageant ever and we're all extremely PROUD of her for getting up there. If you know her personality you'd understand how much courage it took for her to do this and she did GREAT!
I'll admit I couldn't do it when I was her age
1) the thought of changing in one open room with all the other girls - no privacy - don't think so
2) walking on stage with everyone staring at just me - nope
3) and then having to walk on stage in a bathing suit - definitely wasn't going to happen!

There are a few more local pagenats that give away scholarship money and we're hoping that with one under her belt she'll be willing to try another one.
Doesn't she look great!

I know she owes an extra special thanks to Lindy Jo, Aunt Eileen, Michelle and Samantha.

Most of her clothing was from Lindy's pageant days in college (Miss Bolivar and I believe she was 1st runner-up in Miss Missouri) and Aunt Eileen was able to alter everything in two seconds flat to fit Arielle like a glove. Michelle and Samantha (2004 Miss Herrinfesta) coached her the week prior on pageant protocol and did her hair and makeup.

I know I've not posted the prom pictures of Arielle.

I'm hoping we'll get to do a fun, relaxed shoot with her friends on Saturday. The temp is suppose to be warm with overcast skies - a photographers dream! Almost every picture I have of her from last weekend has her date in it and after the way he acted at Prom, I just don't want to post many pics of him. So as soon as we get to do a few "fun" prom dress pictures I'll get them up for everyone to see - promise!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Longaberger One-Day Sale

This Wednesday ONLY, May 13th you can get any one of the three baskets below at a great discounted price. You can purchase these on my Longaberger Site or call me (618-218-4031) and place an order direct!
Teaspoon Basket $20
Small Fruit Basket $25
Small Vegetable Basket $30
Don't forget the protectors and liners to complete your baskets!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Lunch

There's a local meat market that sells bacon hamburgers and charges you the price of gold for them. So for lunch today I decided to try to mimic their burgers in a cheaper fashion. I chopped up bacon and added it to the burger mixture - there weren't any burgers left over so I guess they were pretty good! I also fixed french fries - I think this was the first time I've done this since I left McDonald's.

Strawberry Cake (not low fat!)
Cake Ingredients:
3/4 Cup softened butter
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
3 Cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
3 Cups cake flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp strawberry gelatin
1 Cup thawed frozen strawberries - pureed (I don't do this)
1/4 Cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp red food coloring

Icing Ingredients:
1 1/2 packages softened cream cheese
3/4 Cup softened butter
6 Cups powered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange racks in center of oven. Grease three 9 inch round layer cake pans, line bottoms with wax paper or parchment paper. Grease top of paper and sides of pan, then dust with flour (I cheat and use the spray with flour in it).

Beat butter and oil until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until very light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flour with baking soda and gelatin and set aside.
Blend pureed strawberries with milk, vanilla extract and red food coloring and set aside.

Reduce speed on mixer to low setting and stir flour mixture and strawberry/milk mixture alternately into batter, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly among three pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until tops spring back if lightly pressed in their centers. (I didn't cook the full 30 minutes because the sides of my cakes were getting really dark - could just be my oven)

Cool layers in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto racks to completely cool before icing.

Icing - beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Gradually beat in powered sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla and continue beating until frosting has a smooth, satiny appearance.

Spread generously between layers and over the sides and top of cake.

The first time I made this I made cupcakes and used Wilton's buttercream icing. I love cream cheese icing but seriously think it was too much for this cake. I liked the buttercream better.

And this is what I 'made' for my mother......she loves them, what can I say.

The strawberry cake was for me, my birthday that is. I almost always get a strawberry cake on my birthday (different recipe - sheet cake usually), but this year Johnathon had a track meet and everyone got home late - so I made myself one today!

Call me grace

I must tell on myself:

1) I know I should have taken a picture (yes I have a camera), but it was one of those 'oh man I should have taken a pic' moments AFTER I was almost done cleaning up

2) I started on the strawberry cake (which I'll post a recipe for in a bit). I had to get into the 'seasoning' cabinet for vanilla and red food coloring - no big deal right? The vanilla is a huge bottle of Watkins and right in front, easy to get. The red food coloring on the other hand is on the top shelf and in the middle of a lot of other stuff.

Being a little lazy early in the morning I decided to streeeetch instead of getting a chair. Keep in mind I'm only 5'1". Well needless to say my morning stretch wasn't what it should have been and I accidentally hit a bottle of cinnamon hearts (you know, the ones you decorate cupcakes with). Miraculously these fell directly into my fresh cup of coffee sitting on the counter about a MESS.

I had coffee E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E the counter, floor, cabinets (top and bottom), Kitchen Aide mixer that was sitting ready to make my cake, butter ready to be beat, cake pans on stove, package of buns patiently waiting for today's lunch, and all over my shirt, pants & socks. Oh yeah, this day is starting off just swell!

Oh I forgot to mention, my Longaberger coffee cup holds 2 1/2 cups of beverage and 85% of it came out of the cup when the cinnamon hearts hit.....and it was a swoosh - no rim!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Third & Fourth

Congrats to Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman for finishing 3rd and 4th at Darlington just a few minutes ago. Tony has moved into second place in the cup standings - not bad for a guy who is in the first year of starting a new team.

Unbelievable Weather

For all my family & friends that don't live close by, So IL was a scary place to live in yesterday. A round of thunderstorms passed through around 1pm yesterday afternoon with a wrap around cell on the backside of the storms. Luckily Sesser was just on the northern edge of the severe storm, we personally just suffered lots down branches - not any different than a typical spring thunderstorm around here - power outages, funky green skies, branches breaking, trees bending, lots and lots of rain.

Just south of us is where the majority of the damage happened which was basically all along IL Route 13 - Murphysboro, Carbondale, Carterville, Herrin, Marion, Harrisburg. It pretty much stretched from Missouri to the Indiana/Kentucky border. There were winds report over 100 mph, that's class 2 hurricane strength! They've enacted a curfew in those counties, no one allowed on the streets after 8pm (4pm in one town!). In addition to the straight line winds, there were 3 tornado's reported in the Southern Illinois area also.

Just 10 miles south of where we live everyone is without power. The last I heard, between the three major electric companies there are appox 85,000 homes without power and they don't expect to have it restored until Wednesday at the earliest because of all of the trees that uprooted (big, healthy trees) and damaged the lines/poles. This does have a little good news to it - I may not have to go to work Monday and/or Tuesday - no power - no work!

The picture at the top is copied from a local tv stations site, 1000's of pictures similar to this are being shown. You know it's bad when Walmart closes. In the town's listed above, all Walmart stores, grocery stores, and gas stations closed when the storms hit due to damage to the buildings and loss of power - nothing has opened back up yet either. Benton had their power restored by 7:30 last night. You should have seen the amount of people from south of here literally flooding into gas stations, Walmart and fast food restaurants - it was unbelievable.

Interesting tidbit we heard on the news, do you know what the number one item purchased from Walmart is when there is a natural disaster...................Pop Tarts, go figure! The Walmart store manager they interviewed said that Pop Tarts would be brought in by the TRUCK LOAD to the area's affected by the storms. More people buy Pop Tarts than water, batteries, flash lights, etc.....who would have thunk it!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there reading this.
I'm fixing hamburgers on the grill, french fries, wilted lettuce (out of the garden), baked beans, and layered strawberry cake for Mother's Day tomorrow.

Check back sometime tomorrow, I hope to get some of Arielle's senior prom pictures on my photography blog. Of course she was just beautiful, that person who picks out her formal dresses sure does a good job - I wish she was working at Joyce's when I was in school (and skinny), oh well guess you can't win them all. Also on that note, never under estimate the value of a good seamstress and properly altered dress.

Quick update on the side business, I finally completed all of the graduation/party invitations and Lindsey's wedding invitations - hooray for me! All invitations are in the mail which means in a few weeks I can post pictures. In addition to finishing all of the invitations yesterday, I had to make Arielle's prom flower bouquet/boutonniere ensemble plus two poster boards complete with glitter for my mother for the Little Miss and Mister Rend Lake Water Festival parade that was this morning. I didn't get to bed until almost 1am, my scrap dungeon/basement looks like the hurricane force winds passed through it. Thought about cleaning it up some tonight, but I'm thinking it will wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


My day job has been keeping me BUSY (worked 109 hours in an 80 hour two week pay period). I had to have the first quarter financials done, the four companies consolidated with ratio analysis and in a professional format to present to our two banks. We had one meeting on Wednesday and the second one in St. Louis on Thursday. Friday was the fist day of the month which starts the month-end cycle all over.....

It rained almost the entire way to/from St. Louis. My directions to the bank are simple in theory, follow US64 to exit 34B. Problem is that US64 is closed at exit 36. So I had to get off on Kingshighway and then figure out how to get to Clayton the 'back' way. Since I don't have a GPS my only other option was to call the bank and ask them for directions. Good thing I did too, it wasn't a clear path from my alternate point A that I was at to point 'B'ank. In fact I took 7 additional roads to get there. That being said, I was only 3 minutes late to the meeting!

I was hoping to find that this had an available built in GPS luck, but I still want one really, really bad - JEEP not GPS. I'm still a little disappointed too that you can't get the remote start with manual transmission. So do I get the remote start or go for the manual trans which I enjoy driving? decisions, decisions

Yesterday and today I'm working on invitations. I've designed, ordered, received and stuffed Arielle and Bart's graduation announcement. Yesterday I designed and printed their party invitation, which is a two part invite (150 on them) that has to be hand cut (both pieces!). When I finish cutting them I have to do some design work to the top part, attach them together and stuff them in with the announcements. Then I need to work on Lindsey and Ben's wedding invitations. I have the general design done for these, just need to work on fonts/spacing, print, cut, adhere to backs and hand-tie on the extra 'decoration'.

Sorry I can't post pictures, too many of you will be gettting both of these in the mail soon! All non-relatives check back in a couple of weeks and I'll post pictures then.