Forwarding Traffic to New Site

We are going to start forwarding traffic from this site to our new site: Please make sure to make some bookmark changes!

We are also working on having email subscribers automatically forwarded to following the new site.

If you follow this blog on BlogLovin’, please go and follow us on the new page: . That way, you will get to see all of the new posts that are coming!

Posted in What's New? | Leave a comment

The Doyle Dispatch Has Moved!

Well, after a long time of planning, The Doyle Dispatch has moved! You can now find us at and Both of these will bring you to the main site:

After this post, we will not be using this website anymore. Pretty soon, when you enter our old address (, it will revert you to the new site. Curious to see what it looks like? It’s very pretty! Go on and take a look! Thank you so much to Andrea of A Kay Web Design ( for making this a reality!!!

Posted in What's New? | Leave a comment

Origami Owl Giveaway

Back earlier this year, I received my first Origami Owl necklace: a locket and 4 charms inside. It is simply beautiful, and I wear it practically every day. Inside are the symbols of our family: the four-leaf clover for Tim and his family, the chai for me and my family (“chai” means “life” in Hebrew), a dog bone for Lucy the Dog, and a paw print for Toby the Cat.


I had the hardest time narrowing down the choices to just those 4. I also loved the round plates that can go in the back, the dangles, and the tags. So many options!

true love

What is Origami Owl?

Origami Owl was founded in 2010 with modest beginnings. The goal was simply to fuel the founder Bella’s car fund. She started by selling these lockets at home parties and events. The news of her jewelry spread, and others wanted to sell it as well.


Who can sell Origami Owl?

Because Bella was so young when she started selling, she allows girls age 14 and up to sell her jewelry (with parent permission). What a great opportunity for young ladies to learn about business and customer service at such a young age! If you are interested, I know that our giveaway sponsor, Kelly, would be happy to fill you in on the details of starting your own Origami Owl business.


Where did the name Origami Owl come from?

The founder Bella Weems always loved origami and had it hanging around her house when she was young. She loves how it also represents her lockets: “Each person folds in their own way, so all have unique characteristics. That’s the signature of Origami Owl jewelry. No two are exactly alike.” (source:


What makes Origami Owl different than those other jewelry companies?

There are several points of difference that sets Origami Owl apart: customizable, exclusive designs, exceptional price point, design quality, O2 charms, O2 living lockets, O2 dangles, O2 chains, O2 clasps, O2 plates, pewter tags, natural stone, and packaging. If you want to read about any of these in more detail, click on the link to look at the PDF: PointsOfDifferencePDF



How much are Origami Own necklaces?

You can pay anywhere from $25 to $100+ for a necklace, depending on what you add to it. The lockets are $20-38, the charms that go inside are $5 each, the dangles are $6-10, the plates are $7-9, and the chains are $8-22. You can really mix and match to fit any budget!

About Kelly, Independent Origami Owl Designer

Kelly is from a small town in Illinois. She met her husband when she was a teenager, but it wasn’t until their path crossed again as adults that they knew it was their time to be together. They got married in 2005 and they had an instant family, as she became a stepmother to his two boys. As their family quickly grew, she knew that she needed to do something that would allow her to fulfill her dream of staying home and raising their children as well as helping out financially. When she was pregnant with her third child, she found Origami Owl. We was suddenly able to tell her story without saying a single word. Immediately, she was hooked. OO is a conversation starter.

As she wrote: “Your jewelry matches every outfit and every occasion. We have such a large selection of charms that include hobbies, occupations, awareness ribbons, birthstones, children, family, pets…the list goes on and on.  You can add dangles, plates, change out the necklace, etc.  They make wonderful heartfelt gifts that are one of a kind.  I love seeing tears well up in my customers eyes as they open their new locket or tagged collection necklace.  Not only am I able to be at home with my children during the day, I’m able to have some ‘me’ time and meet other women, share stories, and make friends in my free time.  Let me help you tell your story.”

How can you not root for a woman like that?



So, the giveaway?

Well, for one lucky reader, you can actually win a locket of your own! Thanks to Kelly Ryckeghem, a good friend that sells Origami Owl, you can pick out exactly what you want. Here are the details:

What: $50 gift certificate to pick out anything you want from the Origami Owl catalog. (Pictures throughout the post show examples of what you can receive in the $40-$50 range.)

Contest Starts: Tuesday, April 2 at 12:00 midnight

Contest Ends: Wednesday, April 11 at 12:00 midnight

How to Enter: Use this handy-dandy Rafflecopter link to enter. You have lots of chances to earn extra entries! a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want one of the extra entries, you can embed this code on your blog as well:


Posted in Giveaway | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

April Fool!

Happy April Fool’s Day! When I played Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, there was a terrific short scene where I (Lucy) talked to Charlie Brown:

Today is April fools day Charlie Brown. I think I’ll play a little trick on you. I think I’ll try a little trick. You understand what I’m saying don’t you? You understand this is April fools day? You sure? I want to be certain you understand. Okay! Hey Charlie Brown, guess what! That little red-haired girl is over there and she wants to give you a hug and kiss.

Really? Wow, this is fantastic!

April fool!! Just like shooting fish in a barrel.


(Yes, that is me with my best “mean girl” persona.)

Well, today is Lucy’s favorite day of the year. The day that you can play tricks on the most gullible Charlie Brown-ers, and you aren’t considered to be a meanie pants. Or maybe you are, but you just don’t care.

Happy April 1!!!

So, what’s your favorite April Fool’s Day joke?

I’ll start: I love this idea of Jello instead of juice.

I mean, who doesn’t love Jello? Plus I always used to eat it after slurping it up a straw. Ah, childhood!

Posted in Home, What's New? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Behind-the-Scenes

Back when I was in college, I had the amazing experience to do something to help change lives, be creative, and be on TV: I was on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition!

Here is the premise of the show:

Day 1: The family in need is surprised by a loud “Good morning, _____ family!” from Ty Pennington. They come outside and take Ty, the designers, and the film crew on a tour of their house and find out that they are getting a brand new house fit for their needs. They do not have any say in the process, and they are shipped off to a wonderful location for a vacation while their house is demolished and rebuilt.

Day 2: Demo Day. There is usually some big spectacular extravaganza to demolish the house. They can’t do it on Day 1, because they have to get the family and momentos out of the house and prep the house to safely get knocked down.

Day 3-6: Rebuilding with the TV design team, volunteers, contractors, and other local professionals.

Day 7: Reveal Day! This is when you have Ty and the team of onlookers shout “Move that Bus!” The bus moves, allowing the homeowner and the family to gasp and double-over in emotion. They then get to go inside the house, take a tour, and learn about their new home.

My Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Story

Day 1: “Good Morning, Crawford-Smith Family”

My story with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition starts on Day 1 of the week. It was December 2005, our junior year of college and the week of final exams for the semester. We found out on the Virginia Tech homepage that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (now hereafter referred to as “EMHE”) had surprised a local family with a morning wakeup call. The next day, they needed as many VT students as possible to come for a big parade down the street to the family home for the demolition. Knowing that this was the ONLY show that my parents and brother watched religiously, I knew I just HAD to be on it! I emailed my co-ed service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega), and asked if anyone wanted to do the march with me. I also called my family to tell them the news. Because I had done so well academically that semester, I could have gotten Ds on my finals and still received an A/A- in the classes, so my parents happily gave me their blessing to go get on TV!

Day 2: Demolition

Even though it was the week of finals, we were able to get a group of APO brothers to brave the cold and snow and make the march to the house. When we arrived at the meeting place, about 5 blocks from the house, we were met with our first EMHE experience: the producers. In the community theater world, you would have maybe 1 or 2 producers that are in charge of coordinating everything so that it runs well. In TV Land, however, they use the term more loosely. Basically, if you see this blue jacket with the EMHE logo on the back, you are talking to a producer. You would never predict how many there were. This producer had to give hundreds of excited students directions with how to line up. Good luck!

Day 2 March Instructions

Day 2 The Cameraman in front of us

Day 2 March Group

As we started to march, and the cameras showed up, students did what students do: they tried to get on TV. I don’t think they realized that out of all of the hours of footage, they would not include someone waving frantically to the camera in their cut. This is lesson #1 for getting on TV: act normally and not like you are at a football game saying “Hi Mom!”

Day 2 Cameraman

There were truly hundreds of us making the march. It was incredible!

Day 2 March People FollowingOvernight, our little town of Blacksburg had found out about the news, and all of the local shops were welcoming ABC and EMHE. This was a shop that we passed as we walked towards the house.

Day 2 Store Sign

When we got closer to the house, we could see the bulldozers ready for demolition.

Day 2 Bulldozers

Day 2 Streets

The house was a great little house, but it was really wrong for the family. The matriarch was a single mother (Carol Crawford-Smith) who was once a gifted dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She had MS and was slowly needing more help getting around her house. It was simply not laid out to be wheelchair accessible, and she couldn’t afford to make it so.

Day 2 Old HouseOnce we arrived, we participated in the second thing I learned about reality TV: be ready to wait. After we got there, they had to invite the designers out of their warm trailer, get them situated around the volunteers and contractors, and get ready to film.

Day 2 Ty Waiting

Day 2 Paul Laughing at us

This was our first shot to see which of the designers they had selected for us. From left to right, we had Preston Sharp, Paul DiMeo, Daniel Kucan (a new designer), and Paige Hemmis. We found out later that they typically traded off between Paige Hemmis and Constance Ramos, but there had recently been a disagreement, and Constance was not involved on the show anymore. I was thrilled we got Paige for this episode, because I love her signature pink!
Day 2 Designers 1

We then learned about Rule #3 when it comes to reality TV: learn who you need to know. I quickly picked up on the fact that blue windbreakers and gray hats = producers. Producers = be nice to them. Be nice to them = you get special privileges (You’ll see what I mean later in my story.). This was Eric, one of the producers that was hanging around during the set up and this early stage of filming. He was near us, so I struck up a conversation with him about what was going on. He was happy to talk to an interested group of people, so he told us about what had happened so far and what we needed to do if we wanted to volunteer later on in the week. His advice was perfect, and it gave me the confidence to actually get more work/volunteer hours throughout the week.

Day 2 Group with Eric

Finally, everything was set up for the filming to resume. Ty started waving one of the flag girls’ flags (everyone loves how goofy he could be- look at his hat!), and he did what Ty does: got the crowd excited.

Day 2 Ty Gathering Team 1
Day 2 Paul Whistling

Day 2 Ty filming Video Diary 4

Then, after they filmed him talking to the crowd, he went crowd surfing.

Day 2 Paul Crowdsurfing 1

This was essentially the end of filming for this segment, so we were free to go. Most of the other designers quickly went back to their trailer to warm up, but Paul stayed out for a little while to talk to those of us that were hanging around. I was so excited to chat with him and get this picture.

Day 2 Paul and Group
We had to leave, because they didn’t want any of us there for the demolition. I had a final the next day, so I went home to study.

Day 3: Starting to Build

Unfortunately, I did not show up to the set this day, so I don’t have any pictures or stories to tell. We did find out, however, that the architecture school had a special project to incorporate their award-winning solar house into a part of the final home.

Day 4: Building

Day 4 arrived, I was done with all but 1 of my finals, and I was ready to go back and volunteer! I arrived to the volunteer tent, where I signed in. I told them my construction experience (despite being a small-sized girl, I had been helping to build sets for my theater productions for years), signed a waiver, and sat down to wait. Occasionally, another producer would call down on a walkie-talkie to say that they needed this or that number of people to do XYZ. The producer in the tent would then point and say, “You, you, and you… Here’s a hardhat and a shirt. Put it on and go down to this person and do this-or-that.” Finally, it was my chance! I was told to go down and bring coffee and snacks to the construction workers. Not the most glamorous job, but it got me “on set!” Rule #4: be willing to take even the most basic of jobs, because you never know where that will lead. Do it with a smile on your face.

As I was walking the 3 blocks to get closer, I got my first glimpse of the new construction. I was amazed with how fast the house had gone up in the 48 hours I had been gone.

Day 4 a

I worked for about an hour and a half to deliver coffee and snacks to the other workers. This was great, because it gave me access to the food tent, and I could wander freely to find if anyone needed anything. Of course, to be the one to bring someone something to eat and a beverage to warm up was a good thing for me.

Eventually, I realized that no one really needed anything else, but I didn’t want to have to leave just because my job was finished. So, I just stayed. I found a producer and asked if I could help pick up some of the trash. He was fine with it, so that’s what I did. I still wasn’t allowed to go inside the house (none of the volunteers were), because it was still quite the construction zone. But I got really close. At this time, it was turning to night, and I was able to snap this picture with a Cheryl, one of my APO brothers.

Day 4 Cheryl and Me

Picking up trash got me better access to the house and the views around it. Notice the building in the back? That is the project from the architecture school. You’ll see more about it later. Day 4 c
Day 4 d

I went home eventually (begrudgingly, because I really could have just stayed as long as I wanted, since I now had the coveted hard hat and shirt). I turned in the hat, but I kept the shirt. I wasn’t giving that baby up, after I waited so long for it.

Day 5: Building

The next day, I went back to the volunteer tent, and there was an even longer line ahead of me. I still had my shirt, so instead of waiting, I bypassed the line completely and walked right onto the set like I knew what I was doing. It worked! No one questioned me. I found a producer and let them know that I needed a hard hat so I could pick up trash like I did yesterday. No questions from them (again, I acted like I was told to do this), and they got me the hat and a bag, and I started cleaning up again. This brings me to Rule #5: Act like you know what you are doing.

At this time, I was also able to get inside some of the designing tents. This one was in the early planning stages for one of the boys’ rooms, the “bike room.”Day 5 Bicycle Room Plans Day 5 Bicycle Work

We were finally allowed to get inside the house and do some actual work. This is where the real fun begins! I was still picking up trash at this point, but I was able to quickly segway into some actual work. My first chance was in the master bathroom.

This is an interesting tidbit of behind-the-scenes info. Weeks before construction and filming begins, EMHE contacts local contractors and construction workers to participate and volunteer their hours. They will have to work all hours of the night, and the businesses themselves are unpaid. Their payment comes from free publicity and the ability for a tax write-off. I learned this from two unhappy tile men, who were having to donate their time. This was actually quite shocking to me. We all knew about Carol’s diagnosis and her family’s situation, and I was there to help her out and be a part of an amazing experience. They viewed it very negatively, however, because they were having to work hard unpaid. It was the first time that the shine of this amazingly-run TV show started to wear off. Maybe it wasn’t a perfect machine, after all. I shrugged it off, as I was still thrilled to be a part of it.

Day 5 Laying Tile

While continuing to talk to these guys, I asked if I could lay a section or two of tile. They looked at me with a quizzical look on their faces, as they knew I had never laid tile before in my life. They were right, but I had watched countless hours of TLC’s Trading Spaces and HGTV, so I felt like I could do it perfectly. Eventually they shrugged because they needed a break, and I got my chance! I was able to snap this quick pic:
Day 5 Dory Laying Tile

I thanked them, picked up my trash bag, and went to another room. Here, I had more luck! This was eventually going to be the bike room, and I lucked into being told by a producer to pick up a brush and start painting. Finally! I was officially given some direction, and I was no longer “sneaking” around. I was officially a worker now!Day 5 Dory Painting

This is when I got really lucky. The room that I was in was the “bike room” that I saw some designs for earlier. This was actually Paul DiMeo’s room. While we were painting, he actually came into the room to check it out briefly. Of course, I got a picture with him!

Day 5 Paul Me Kristin

Once our work was finished in there, I moved on to the other rooms. With paint and dust on my shirt, I looked like a worker, and so no one second-guessed my being there. We ran into the newest designer Daniel Kucan  in the front hallway.Day 5 Kristin Daniel Me
I then took some downtime to look around. I went out to the solar house where they were building a rock wall for meditation for Carol.

Day 5 Solar House - 11 PM
Day 5 Rock Wall - 11 PM

I was also able to go back to some of the design tents to see some plans. This was for the other son’s room. He was really interested in science, so he had a chemistry-themed room. In this tent, they needed help painting some large round discs black that were going to be used as slides that would be attached to the wall. My hands got covered in paint, so I was unable to take a picture.Day 5 Science Bedroom PlansI went back to the master bath to see how my friends were doing. They had put the grout in, and they were just washing it off now. They were more than happy to see me again and quickly let me take over, instructing me that I needed to use elbow grease. Once I put my hand in the bucket of water, I could instantly see why they were so happy to let me take over. That water was frigid! 
Day 5 Tilework

Day 6: Building and Finishing Rooms

This was an incredibly long day, and perhaps the most exciting day of all. When I arrived on set (completely skipping the line and walking with my shirt and hardhat on), I went to snap some pictures of the improvements. This was the boys’ bathroom:Day 6 Boys' Bathroom Shower Day 6 Boys' Bathroom Sink

The hallway separates the kitchen and living area to the bedrooms. It was a nice, wide hallway, that could later accomodate a wheelchair when it was needed. It also had these beautiful cabinets on the other side to house all of the extra kitchen supplies and other storage.Day 6 Boys' Closet Shelving

On Day 6, Tim was able to get away from his studying and final projects to help with some master bedroom/bathroom touch ups. Although we didn’t get a chance to work together, we were able to squeeze in a quick kiss and this picture.

Day 6 Tim and I

After looking around a bit, I went into the “bike room” bedroom that I painted the night before. In it was Paul DiMeo (!!!) with one other volunteer. He invited me in and told me that he needed us to put together this two-tone rubber mat floor in a pattern. He then left. We got to work right away, and came up with a pretty neat pattern.

Paul came back just as we were finishing. He liked what we came up with, but he changed his mind, and asked us to just stick to one color and put the mats together. Oh well, there went our creative design. That’s okay, though. How many people get to talk directly to Paul?

When he came back in the room this time, he also brought a camera and producer with him. The producer ushered us out of the shot, had Paul lean down and put a couple of the mats in place, say a few words, and then the camera went away. Paul was great, though. He actually stayed for a little while to continue placing and rearranging the mats with us, chatting a bit as we worked.

Here were the two creative volunteers when we were finished:

Day 6 Jim and I with our Bike Floor

And the plain mat when we were finished:
Day 6 My Bike Floor

It was at this point that I realized that for as many hours as I had been on site, I had only seen glimpses of the designers. They would quickly enter with a camera, film a bit to show that they were “working,” and then leave as quickly as they had come in. Paul was the only exception. He was wonderful to actually stay and work. It was during this day that I realized that the designers really did very little “designing” of the spaces. Most of it was completed prior to the week of filming, and they were more TV personalities. Again, some of the shine was wearing off of the magic of the show. Still, amazing experience, and no complaints here!

Day 6 Me and Paige

As I was working, I noticed a familiar face from a previous episode. It was the builder from the “Novak” episode. He had a special scene where they were running around looking for the keys, and he had them. I took this picture for my mom, since this episode had recently aired:

Day 6 With the Builder from the Novak Episode

As I continued working from one room to another, we would have some down time in between jobs. I was able to get a hotdog dinner in the food tent and snap some late-night pictures. Day 6 Outside House 3

When they poured the concrete for the driveway, it was a source of stress, because no one was allowed to enter or exit from the front, we all had to walk around the entire house to get in and keep working. Day 6 Outside House

At about 11:30 PM, we were told that we HAD to leave the house because they had to film a crucial scene. The premise was that the designers needed to bring in all of the furniture, but they couldn’t lift it all. Then, all of a sudden, the VT football team comes rushing in to save the day and do the heavy lifting! In reality, they came in to film, carried a couple of items, and then left. We volunteers got the rest of the furniture in and settled.Day 6 Paige and Football Players

As we were carrying in furniture, I snapped this quick picture from the science bedroom of a microscope slide mural, still unfinished.Day 6 Science Room Mural

This was the custom bed for the bike room, still not totally assembled yet.Day 6 Two Pieces to the Bike Bed

At about 2:00, I collapsed on the floor for a short nap.Day 6 Sleeping on the Floor of the Bike Room at 3 am

At about 3:00 AM, I realized that I needed to get home for a couple of hours of sleep, a shower (I stunk!), and a change of clothes.

Day 7: Reveal Day

After just a two-and-a-half hour nap, I got ready and headed back to the site. It was Reveal Day, and we were nowhere close to having the house ready.

Day 7 Outside House 2Day 7 Outside HouseI went inside and immediately saw the designers in every room. I started in the living room, where Daniel Kucan was sorting through paintings with a couple of volunteers. He had noticed me from earlier on site, and he asked if I would pick out the pictures from his collection to go on either side of the window for the dining room. It felt great to have some responsibility!

Table settings and pictures

The final picture of the dining room from See those pictures on either side of the window? I picked those out!

He liked my work and then asked for my advice for the other paintings in the living room. We talked about the choices, and then figured it out. At this point, I had earned my stripes, and he pointed me to the curio cabinets and a huge stack of items. He told me that he needed me to arrange the items to look presentable. He wanted a lived-in look but still put-together.


The final picture from I wish I had a better picture of the insides of them, but it is still wonderful to have my “design work” on film!

I also was able to help arrange some of the dishes in the hallway cabinets. I still don’t know why they picked out orange and blue dishes, considering we were in Hokie territory, and one of the boys was a die-hard Hokie fan. Oh well. I’m sure they had a reason.

Plates in Hallway

Before we were forced to go outside, I got a couple of other pictures of the rooms:

Bike Room

Living Room Wall
Bed and Desk in Bike Room

Then, I was in the right place at the right time. A producer gave me a broom and told me to sweep the dust out of the house. Not a few moments afterwards, Paige came through telling us to hurry because the family was almost there. Guess what? This made it in to the final cut! While there were a few other times throughout my working that I was in the right place at the right time and there was a camera crew, everything else was cut out. This, however, was the lucky moment for me!

Once the house was cleaned up and ready to go, we were ushered outside. Directly across the house were hundreds of people waiting to see the family.

Day 7 Crowd

Day 7 Crowded Street

The main builders were in the blue jackets right in the front. The volunteers were taken to a section across the street (on the same side as the house) and off to the side a little bit.

Day 7 Building Team

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. At this point, I realized that I hadn’t seen Ty at all during the filming after the march down the street on Demo Day. I did see him that morning, however. As we were waiting, I was able to talk to some of the other volunteers, and I found out that the day after demo, Ty went over to another filming site to either start or finish another episode’s taping. They staggered the taping so they could essentially fit in 2 episodes into a week-and-a-half time slot. So he was at our site on Day 1-2, at the other site on our Day 3-5, and back to us on Day 6-7. When he was on the other site (our Day 3-5), it was either the beginning of the taping (surprise) or the end of the episode (reveal). What a busy guy! I also found out that during the time that he was here, he was actually at a different site for his Secret Project. With how un-secretive the entire site was during filming, I was amazed that no one spilled the beans on the Secret Project: a rebuilt and handicap-accessible dance studio space to renew the current space that Carol had occupied for her business.

Then, “that bus” (from “Move that bus!”) arrived and put itself into position! Finally! The big reveal would happen! Not so fast, though.

Day 7 BusRemember Rule #2? Wait? Yep! You have to do that for just a little longer. While we were waiting, Coleman Collins, one of the VT basketball players that had come back to volunteer that morning starting singing a Christmas carol. Just like in Elf when Jovi starts singing, we all started in on the carols. One song led to the next, and there were several of us just overwhelmed with emotion (and exhaustion) with tears in our eyes at the beauty of the whole situation.

Day 7 Football Players singing

Eventually, the limo came slooooooowly down the street.

Day 7 Limo Pulling Up
Carol and her two sons got out of the car and were met by Ty. They talked for what seemed like ages. Suddenly, someone started shouting “Move that bus! Move that bus!” and the whole crowd got in on the cheer.

Day 7 Ty and Family 1

 Eventually the bus moved! Immediately the family was surrounded by the cameras, designers, and Ty. Carol and her sons were amazed with their new house.

Day 7 Designers Meeting Family - Best Picture

They talked for about 5 minutes. Then, the family started the walk up towards their new home with Ty.

Day 7 Designers Meeting Family - Best Picture 2
Day 7 Designers Waiting
Carol seemed to be having trouble walking to the walkway, so Preston ran up to her and picked her up in his arms.

Day 7 Preston Carrying Ms Crawford to House

 Day 7 Ms Crawford Heading to DoorHe stopped, and she leaned back to give a wave to the crowd.

Day 7 Ms Crawford WavingThen, I was able to get one last picture of them before they disappeared into the house. We knew once they went inside, the experience was over.

Day 7 Ty Leading Ms Crawford to Front Door
The designers were still outside, so I went and found Daniel and thanked him so much for trusting me with the details in the living room. He told me how pleased he was with the work I had did and thanked me for it. One more picture before I left:
Day 7 Me and Daniel

And the experience was over. After hours upon hours, freezing cold, bitter wind, and pure exhaustion, it was hard to believe that it was all over.

Day 7 Production Trailer

Now we just had to wait for the premier!

We were able to get tickets to the premier at Burris Hall, where we got a chance to actually meet Carol. One of my students from my internship was her goddaughter, so I was able to get an “in” to the VIP area.

The premier was in the Burris auditorium. It was incredible to be surrounded by the volunteers, construction crews, and her loved ones. dsc02995 dsc03000 dsc03001

I met up with Mindy, a friend I had met during the filming. dsc03004

Our president, Charles Steger, said a few words, and Carol gave a wave. Then, when it was airing live on national TV, we got to see it in movie-theater style.dsc03007 dsc03008

Lessons Learned from Reality TV:

1. Don’t wave to your mom and dad to try to be on camera. They will cut you out. Instead, just act normally and

2. Be ready to wait. And wait. And wait. Patience is essential, and having a good attitude about it will be very helpful.

3. Find out and memorize who is who. Know who the producers are. Be nice to them. Be helpful and have a good attitude. Know who you have to impress, but don’t take it too far. Make your presence known, but not obnoxiously so.

4. Don’t be afraid to take an unglamorous job (such as serving coffee and snacks).

5. When in doubt, act like you know what you are doing. If you seem like you should be there, no one will question you. When you act shifty or unsure, they will ask you to leave.

Posted in Family, Friends, Home, What's New? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My (Donated) Coupon Clutch Giveaway on Belly Blog

My dear friend Sarah (from A T-Shirt and Pearls) is expecting her first little one this summer, and she has been quite busy. Not only is she a rockin’ kindergarten teacher at our school, about to celebrate her 4th wedding anniversary (I know this because we got married on the same day!), a great blogger, a soon-to-be mother, and great cook, but she is also a Scentsy, Velata, and Grace Adele consultant.

Recently, with her regular blogging, she has also been writing for the Belly Blog. Her newest post is wonderful, because it is about budgeting when you are getting ready for a baby. I’d like to claim that Tim and I turned her and her hubby on to Dave Ramsey and our “envelope” system.

Well, keep reading the whole post, because at the bottom, there is a giveaway from yours truly!

This coupon clutch is truly the best! Tim and I have it in a different pattern, but we use it daily for our “envelope” system… much better than bulky or flimsy envelopes.

You have until Wednesday, April 3 to enter the giveaway. Please make sure to check out the blog post so that you can be sure to enter!!!! Let’s show Sarah some love!

Didn’t win it? That’s okay! You can always order it on my Thirty-One website at

Posted in Family, Finance, Friends, Giveaway, What's New? | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Have a Hoppy Spring Silhouette Tutorial

You would never believe that with the snow that we have had in Virginia, we are into our first full week of spring. Crazy, right?

Well, it is! And to continue the decoration that I started with my Luck o’ the Irish sign, I thought that we needed one for the springtime. Since I am Jewish and Tim is Christian, I didn’t want a purely Easter sign (although I love the pastel colors), so I decided to use the colors and have a bunny theme. Hey, normally I try to keep it far from feminine in our house, but this is my one corner to cutesy it out.

Have a Hoppy Spring - The Doyle Dispatch

So, I used the essentially the same steps as I originally found on The Sensory Emporium, but I wanted to write my own tutorial since I have changed a few things.

Silhouette Studio Offsetting & Shape Words - The Doyle Dispatch

Start by piecing out the words that you will want to use. I have “Have a,” then “hoppy” will go inside the bunny (so I saved it for later), and then “spring.” You can also see that I was playing around with what I wanted my bunny to look like. I found these images through a Google search (you can actually do a safe search to be sure that you are allowed to use the images), then I traced them. To find directions on tracing shapes, look at my tutorial hereHave a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Next, I wrote “HOPPY” in all capital letters and placed it inside the bunny.Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then I chose my font and readjusted the size. I am currently obsessed with Oh {Photo} Shoot!, which I believe I got for free from a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I ungrouped the letters, which allows me to move, resize, and alter each letter individually.

Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Before I did too much readjusting, I duplicated Mr. Bunny, as I would need another copy of him later. I then readjusted all of the letters so that they will go past the outline of the bunny.
Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Next, I selected the image of the bunny and all of the letters and clicked Object –> Modify –> Crop.
Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

As you can see, this then cuts off all of the extra parts of the letter that are outside of the bunny. This also gets rid of the bunny (which is why you needed to have an extra copy of him earlier).Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, you can slide the duplicated bunny over again and do some last adjusting of the letters. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

This isn’t the most simplistic font, so I had to clean up a few points.Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I figured out what I wanted to cut on one color of my vinyl and I put it on the page. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

I always like using as little vinyl as possible, so I get creative with my spacing.

Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Once that was cut out, I realized that I wanted a little extra to the finished sign, so I highlighted the text and used the offset tool to outline the letters. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, I sent these backgrounds to the cutter. Have a Hoppy Spring Tutorial - The Doyle DispatchI am so excited with how it turned out!

Have a Hoppy Spring - The Doyle Dispatch

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Passover!

Last night was officially the first night of Passover. For all of my Jewish friends, enjoy that dry, brittle matzah for the next 8 days. The first bite is oh-so-good, but after about 3 days of it (and no bread), we are ready for some rich, moist, chewy, fresh-baked bread.

I’m sure many readers have no idea what happens in a Passover Seder (the retelling of the story of Passover and the meal that goes with that retelling). So, here I am to share!

If you’ve seen The Prince of Egypt, then you know the story of Passover: The Jews are slaves in Egypt. Moses goes to Pharaoh to say, “Let my people go!” Pharaoh says, “No.” G-d sends 10 plagues to punish Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Finally, after the 10th plague (killing of the first born males), Pharaoh lets the Jews go. Then he changes his mind and sends soldiers after them. Through a miracle, Moses parts the Red Sea. The Jews go through the sea. Just as they reach the other side, the Egyptians are crossing the parted sea. Then the sea walls collapse, killing the Egyptian guards. The Jews are free, but have to wander the desert for 40 years (and the story goes on and on)… So, the big themes in the seder are the yearning for freedom, the thankfulness for G-d, and the remembrance of our forefathers being in slavery.

This year, Tim and I were already going to be in town for my baby younger brother’s 18th birthday (even though I still think of him as being in 2nd grade), and my mom didn’t want us to have to drive back to Charlottesville tonight for the real first night of Passover. So, she did what we reform Jews love to do: improvise by starting Passover one night earlier. Does that technically mean we can still eat bread today, since it isn’t officially Pesach yet?

First comes all of the preparation of the food. My mom is a machine when it comes to preparing for the seder: matzah ball soup, charoset, chicken with matzah meal sprinkled on top, veggies, 5 boxes of matzah (did you know that it comes in high fiber also?), and all of the items for the seder plate. By the way, did all of these words make your head spin? Don’t worry, I’ll spell them out to you soon!

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch918 Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch
Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

This year, since we were actually in town during the preparation time, I was able to make the charoset (my absolute favorite part of the seder). This is to symbolize the mortar that held the pyramids together.

The first thing is to get your apples. For our huge portion of charoset, we actually used a total of 4 Red Delicious apples. Nice and crunchy!

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Next, get out the wooden bowl and slicer (I do not know the official name for this, but since it slices, I will call it a slicer). Passover 2013 - The Doyle DispatchStart slicing!
Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Once your arms feel like they are going to fall off, take a break to watch the dogs be just as cute as they can be.Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Then, keep slicing (or have your dad help and use his Muscle Man strength). Once they are finely chopped, put in the brown sugar and cinnamon. My mom went to the same chef school as I did. We don’t like to measure things out if we can help it. We like to add, taste, add, taste…Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Then add the Manischewitz wine. For those of you that don’t know what this is, it’s a really sweet red wine. I mean, REALLY sweet.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Then stir.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Then add the chopped walnuts.Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Then watch Lucy as she tries to get any items that may just happen to fall on the floor. Look at that smile! Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Mmm! Charoset!Passover 2013 - The Doyle DispatchOops! Almost forgot the honey!
Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

And voila, there were have the charoset. Delicious! The best is to make a Hillel sandwich: matzah, charoset, and maror (horseradish). For someone that doesn’t like hot items, I really love the different textures and sweet and hot flavors of this “sandwich.” My mouth is watering right now just thinking of it!

Then comes the rest of the preparations. Setting the table and putting the Haggadas/songbooks out:

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Placing the matzah in the three sections of our matzah cover:Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Finding the seder plate:

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

And prepping the rest of the food.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle DispatchPassover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

Once we start the seder, the entire thing lasts about 3 hours, including the meal itself. This is typically because we sing lots of songs (some more successfully than others), tell stories, laugh, joke, and enjoy each others’ company. Here are some highlights of the evening.

1. Dad hiding the afikomen (part of the matzah). I love his story that he tells every year about his seders when he was a kid, and his grandfather (my Poppy who passed away when I was a toddler) would hide one silver dollar for each child behind his back at the start of the seder. Throughout the evening, the kids would have to find a time to sneak away (under the table, around the back of the chairs) to steal their dollar. In our Seders, we have a special time when Dad will sneak off to hide it in another room. Then, Josh and I (yes, even as adults we get to participate in this) will run off and try tofind it later in the service. For some reason, Tim doesn’t push and shove to try to find it. This year, Dad hung the afikomen off the chandelier (on Josh’s side of the table… no fair!), and then went to hide it in the music room.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

2. Lucy falling asleep on my boots and Max on the towels that we used to dry them off. They were tired pups!Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

3. The songs. Josh (our resident musician) plays music throughout the whole seder on his guitar. When we get to a song, he will accompany us. During one of the spoken prayers (when it was his turn to read), he actually sang it as a Gregorian chant. We were in a fit of giggles over a Catholic theme to our Jewish evening.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

4. During the portion where we talk about a story of four sons asking questions to their father about the seder. One of the sons was “simple,” and so that none of the “kids” had to be deemed as unintelligent, my dad acted the part. For about 5 minutes, he played the part perfectly. Let’s just say that what should have been 4 words continued on and on and on until we had tears streaming down our faces because of my dad’s acting skills.Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

He was pretty proud of his comedic ability. Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

5. The plagues. As we tell about the 10 plagues that G-d sent down to the Egyptians, we have cute little stuffed items that represent each of them. They are pretty adorable for something that is supposed to be so gross.Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

6. Mom’s matzah ball soup. Although technically I’m allergic to eggs, and matzah balls have lots of eggs in them, I had to eat them nonetheless. They are my most favorite of all the different Jewish foods.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

7. Being together with family. We had our seder the day after my brother’s 18th birthday and the day that should have been my grandfather (and his twin Marshall)’s 88th birthday. While it should have been unbearable to deal with these two amazing men, there was something so wonderful about being together with our family, laughing, enjoying the beautiful snow, and celebrating the joys in our lives instead of the sorrows.

Passover 2013 - The Doyle Dispatch

One final note: I am usually very obsessive when it comes to spelling, but you may notice that I went back and forth with the spellings of some of these words. This is because when we go from Hebrew to English, there are different possibilities to spell the words. You may see matzah as matza, matzah, matzo, matzoh, and many other ways. This is simply in the translation that we have these changes. There is really only one way to pronounce it, however.

Posted in Cooking, Family, Home, What's New? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

No Spend Pin Day

No Spend Pin Day @ The Doyle Dispatch

As Tim has mentioned in his debut post, we are working at being thrifty and staying on a budget. This is easier said than done, as one of my greatest obsessions is Pinterest. Oh, how I could get lost in it for hours! Of course, the things that I love the most are the DIY projects that other bloggers/crafters come up with. I see them and I want to make them too!

One of my biggest troubles is how to recreate my favorite pins, but while not spend a cent.

So, I am starting a blog link-up called “No Spend Pins.” The idea is that we all have things laying around our house that are just begging to be turned into a project. Here’s our chance! To make it a reality, I’ll say that you can spend $5 on the project (plus whatever is already at your house). To participate, you don’t even have to make it (although that is the eventual idea).

This is easy to participate in! Here’s how you do it:

1. Create and publish a post on your blog that links to your favorite Pin (or original author), explaining how you can make it work in $5 or less. You don’t have to actually recreate the pinned project, but that would be a bonus. Don’t have a blog? Just paste the URL of your selected pin in a comment and explain how you would do it.

2. Link up below. Make sure to link directly to your blog post instead of your entire blog.

3. Make sure to put the link-up button on your post, linking back to this blog post. You can find the link-up button on the right sidebar. —–>
Each week, I will post a new link-up button that will link back to the specific post. To use it, simply copy the code and paste it into your blog post (if you use WordPress, it is the “Text” option, not “Visual”.

No Spend Pin Day @ The Doyle Dispatch

Thanks for participating and being thrifty! I will chose my favorite to be featured on The Doyle Dispatch (free advertising!).

Here’s my No Spend Pin for this week!

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Finance, What's New? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Luck o’ the Irish

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

In just a couple of hours, you are going to find out about my new series, “No Spend Pin Day.” This is a great opportunity to try out your favorite pinned projects from Pinterest, without spending a cent (actually, you can spend up to $5).

I thought I should participate as well, so here is my pin:

I had seen these before in all different kinds of shapes (I love the ones that are in the shape of a moustache), and I thought, “Hm. I bet I can do that with a shamrock! We are the Doyles, after all, and we don’t have a bit of St. Patrick’s Day decorations at our house.”

So, I found a shamrock image, traced it, and edited a few of the points a bit. Then, I followed The Sensory Emporium’s directions step-by-step. I cut them out, pieced them together, and then went shopping. The vinyl was free, since I already had it lying around after a big order from an online vinyl shop.

Michael’s (tied with Hobby Lobby for the ultimate superstore for crafting) had a 40% coupon, the picture frames for 1/2 off, and my teacher discount (the reason why I usually go to Michael’s first… Hobby Lobby doesn’t do a teacher discount). I found that adorable shiny-wood-bark paper in the scrapbook aisle. I then slapped the vinyl onto the paper, put it in the frame, and propped it up on our console table in our front hallway. The best part of it is that when I put the gold wording on the green clover, there were some bubbles. By using this patterned paper, you can’t even tell, because the pattern comes through all of the words.

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

I can’t wait to re-use the frame and do another one for April!

Luck o' the Irish - The Doyle Dispatch

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Home | Tagged , , | 3 Comments