This has happened, y'all. We have a dog. Meet Charlie.
Tye and I knew our days as non-pet-owners were numbered. The girls were pulling out the big guns in their arguments for a dog, and we had just plain run out of reasons not to do it. We had actually been visiting shelters and adoption events for a few weeks to scope out the field, and we knew we wanted to adopt from a rescue organization. Then, at the beginning of June, we saw this little girl in her cage and I knew she was coming home with us:
She's a mix of Shepherd, Doberman, and probably a few other things, but she's a sweetheart. Tatum thinks she has a new little sister and insists on carrying her around, even though Charlie is almost as big as she is now. She's about 6 months old and we don't know much about her past, other than she is housebroken and LOVES to have her tummy rubbed.
She was in perfect health when we adopted her, but had been treated for kennel cough a few weeks earlier. About a week after we brought her home, we noticed she was lethargic and having difficulty breathing. We took her to what was supposed to be her well check-up to get established with the vet and had to leave her there to be hospitalized with severe pneumonia! Sometimes kennel cough can come back as pneumonia if it's not treated thoroughly. We weren't even sure if she would make it. It was bad. And we couldn't help but see the dollar signs as the vet talked about x-rays, steroids, IVs and follow-up care. Ava, Gentry and Tatum stood in the exam room looking pleadingly at me as I discussed with Tye on the phone what we should do. Our commitment to this little dog was being seriously put to the test, and we hadn't even had her 2 weeks yet. Needless to say, we spent the big bucks to make her get better, and she's been a new dog ever since. She can tend to nip when she gets excited, but is extremely affectionate, playful and never aggressive. After I had to scold her for trying to destroy one of my mom's plants, she got offended and pouted in the corner for a while. Apparently Dobermans are sensitive like that. Awesome. We already have 3 girls who get their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat, so Charlie is a perfect fit for our family. 

Picking Charlie up from boarding after our lake trip. The girls were ecstatic to see her.

Tye built this awesome Snoopy-esque dog house from scratch and the girls painted it fire engine red. Our patio hasn't been the same since.

Welcome to the family, Charlie!

Lots of Name Pillows

The name pillows are still my best seller. I wish I had kept a better count of how many of these I've churned out, and what the most popular names have been.

How fun is this camo with orange minky a customer requested?

And a bright, citrusy set for sisters getting a room makeover

I don't know when exactly I'll start taking orders again, but I'll announce it here when I do. It's been a nice break to not have to worry about deadlines, post office lines or fabric store cutting counter lines, but I'm almost ready to get back into it again. I've been stocking up on some cute new fall fabrics and pinning some ideas on Pinterest (if you follow me you know that my Pinterest blew up with activity while we were away at the lake!) and I'm excited to try some new things.

Personalized Shirts

If football season is as big around your house as it is mine, you need a personalized football shirt for your littlest fan. Choose your colors to match your team or mascot. For an older girl, customize a fun shirt for her to wear on the first day of school or for a special birthday celebration.


Monogrammed Towels

We just got back from 4 days on a houseboat in Oklahoma, so I'm getting back in touch with reality today. I need to post several photos from my camera before I start back up sewing again and posting new products. These are all towels I have done recently. I made this first set for a high school graduation gift, and I think they look kind of Lilly Pulitzer-esque.
We recently repainted and decorated Ava's room (goodbye Pepto pink!) and we actually both like the new color, Asparagus, a lot. It took more diplomacy than the United Nations has ever exercised in order to agree on it, but we finally succeeded. I embroidered some new towels to go in her bathroom.

And then we realized that Tatum has never had a hand towel bar on the wall next to her sink. She's done just fine without one, but Tye had one up in no time. That, of course, called for a new hand towel with her initials too.
I'm so sore from the 6 minutes of water-skiing I did that I don't know if I can brush my teeth, but I have a long to-do list to get started on today. I hope to get a post done summarizing some of our activities from the last couple of months and some changes that may be happening with The Chocolate Zebra. Stay tuned!

The Fairy Garden

I've been wanting to create a fairy garden for my girls for a couple of years now after seeing some cute ones on blogs that I frequent. With my older girls teetering on the edge of puberty I find myself wanting to incorporate more childish activities into our routine to stave off the inevitable "tweens". It's working so far. I chose this little corner of our flower bed that is sheltered from the blistering sun by our crape myrtle. The girls and I started to hunt for fairy-related accessories and found some whimsical items at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and just around our house. The Radio Flyer wagon was a steal at a local antique store. I drilled holes in the bottom to drain water, and filled it with potting soil. We chose plants that look like they might grow in an enchanted forest, used pebbles for a cobblestone pathway and irridescent blue glass beads for a pond. We also hung lanterns from branches of the crape myrtle and put battery-operated tea lights in them. The girls each chose a fairy character and we placed them in their new habitat. It's been hilarious to watch the girls play. I stand inside at the window, hidden by the blinds, and laugh at their fairy plots, filled with mortal danger from the giant ants and crises like running out of fairy dust. I love it!
 The patriarch of the fairy clan, a gnome.
 A colorful ladybug clings to the edge of the wagon.
 My favorite piece is the little metal umbrella.

 Tatum's fairy taking a ride on the cardinal.
 The mushroom can serve as a stool when needed, but not for long. It isn't very tush-friendly.
 An aerial view.
 Ava's fairy frequently takes reconnaisance flights on the giant butterfly.

Someday when the girls are driving themselves to the mall and embarrassed to be seen in public with me, I'll console myself with these sweet memories.

The Happiest Place on Earth

Earlier this summer, my in-laws generously offered to take Tatum to Disney World. They were taking my niece, Callie, for her first time and since Tatum's only other Disney trip was when she was 18 months old, they thought she needed a refresher. I was concerned that Ava and Gentry would be jealous about not going, but they were surprisingly supportive and excited for Tatum to get to go (and we did plan some fun activities for them while she was gone). I put together some little Disney tubs filled with items for the little girls to enjoy during their plane ride (i.e. gum, activity books, Disney coloring pages, etc.) and some to use at the parks, like a personalized water bottle, visor and Minnie shirt.
 They each received their own personalized journal to record their memories in.

Tatum promised to journal her every activity so she wouldn't forget to share all the fun details with us when she returned. Here's the one and only entry she made: "We are driving to Papa's house to meet Callie before we get on the airplane to Disney World."
 Rapunzel is admiring that personalized water bottle.
Tatum had no idea this little trip was being planned until the week before they were to leave. We had fun surprising her with the news. The older girls helped me set up the tubs on the kitchen island and then we called her in. She guessed immediately what they meant. Kids have no trouble identifying the Disney font!
And here's a photo I "borrowed" from my sister-in-law's Facebook page during their trip. Two hot and tired little cousins making very special memories at Disney.

We weren't the only ones planning a fun Disney vacation this summer. A friend of mine ordered these shirts to surprise her kids with the news of their trip later this year.

Pirate Mickey

I'll be back soon with more photos and an update!