Friday, April 20, 2012

garden updates.

ok. so you might have noticed that i've spent all of this week telling you about things that we did last weekend. what can i say? that's kind of how we roll. our weeknights tend to be filled with things like laundry and dinner and jazzercise and reading and (sometimes) cleaning and tv and all sorts of other boring daily-grind type of things that honestly aren't all that exciting. our exciting stuff just naturally tends to happen on the weekends, when we have full days all to ourselves to do whatever we want to do and tackle bigger projects and not worry as much about bedtime and just generally depart from the regimented schedule that is our monday thru friday.

so that being said, i havent really told you anything about Mark's weekend, which was largely spent focusing on the garden. if you remember back a few months to our freakishly-mild winter, he was able to get his garden bed built and filled with dirt in January. at that time, he just wrapped some wire mesh around the whole thing to keep it from becoming a community litter box for all the stray cats, and called it a day.

on Saturday, he made the wire cage more permanent, functional, and much better looking. the cage got stretched across the back of the bed and the two short sides, and stapled to the vertical support pieces. the front of the cage is now a separate piece that can be removed for easy access to the plants. it is held on by a few strategically placed screws that keep everything securely in place, but also allow Mark to lift the front panel off whenever he needs.

after he finished the cage, he spent a good deal of time actually planting things in the garden! he has been reading up on all the different types of seeds that he is planting, paying attention to when he is allowed to put them outside based on what can survive the last few frosts of the season. most everything was started indoors, sprouted on damp paper towels or in little pots by the window, but some were planted by just putting the seeds straight into the dirt. and so far, so good! things are sprouting and growing!

i think this is the garlic.

i would have to ask Mark to be sure, but as far as i can remember so far there is broccoli, lettuce, carrots, garlic, and maybe something else outside in the bed. we still have tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers that are growing inside for now, but on nice days they get to be outside for a while too before they get taken back in for the night. i wish they would stop bringing so many ants back into the house with them at the end of the day, but they seem to like this system pretty well, and are growing like mad. 

right now they're all staked up with pencils and twine.

so that's our garden. we're hoping to keep it alive and actually be able to eat the things that we grow. i am doing my part by taking care of photo-documentation, keeping my black thumb away from any actual growing thing, and thinking of fun new ways to cook and eat all these veggies in the future.

i hope you all have a good weekend! it's supposed to rain here, which is fine by me since i'll be spending all my time packing and cleaning and trying really really hard not to completely freak out as i attempt to cross off all the things on my pre-vacation to-do list. (and maybe i'll finally make some time to repaint my toenails!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

i wonder what brand of mascara she uses.

the hubs and i went out over the weekend to meet some friends for dinner. as we pulled in the parking lot, i noticed a girl who was making eyes at my man.

its a good thing he's more of a motorcycle kind of guy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a story about the Goob.

internets, i would like you to meet my baby brother, the Goob.

some things you should know about him: Goob is short for Goober which is another name for a peanut and we've been calling him this for i can't even remember how long. he's turning 16 this month. he is approximately 8-bajillion feet tall and impossibly skinny. he likes video games. he is super smart and absolutely hilarious. i love him to death. even though he spent the first few years of his life trying to ruin mine.

ok so it might seem like that last one is a slight exaggeration, but before you cast your judgement let me assure you that i have plenty of stories to back me up. but for time's sake, (and also because i'm TOTALLY OVER that one time he stuck his fingers in every little cake for my 5th grade birthday tea party) i'm just going to share one story today.

when i was in middle school, i built a little bench in woodshop. i was so stinking proud of that thing, and i was happy to let my mom borrow it to use in the kitchen to reach things in tall cupboards and to keep the broken dishwasher door from opening too far. it was perfect. until the Goob got a hold of it one day and used it to work on his fine motor skills, by hammering various nails and screws into its previously perfect surface. and THEN, years later when i left for college the Goob convinced our parents to get a puppy, who used the corners of my previously perfect bench as a chew toy. sigh.

after years of abuse, i finally reclaimed my bench and its been living in the kitchen of my house, helping me reach things in the tall cupboards. here's what it looked like as of last week

and knowing what a big difference a little spraypaint can make, i decided that after over 10 years it was high time that this little bench got a makeover. viola! a whole new turqouise look for this trooper of a bench!

purty, huh? there wasn't really anything i could do about the dog-chewed corners, but i did take some wood-filler to all those nail holes in the top to make it seem a little more like-new and a little less like it was beat up by my baby brother a bunch of years ago. i guess that means i'm over it? yeah, lets go with that. love you Goob!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

in the dirt.

are you ready for the most anti-climactic before-and-after ever in the history of before-and-afters? because i've got it right here for you.

first things first, lets take care of the befores, shall we? care to tour the grounds with me? as we make our way around the house, please take note of the clever way that we have enabled overgrowth and death to intermingle in our flower beds. this creates a unique atmosphere that has been years in the making, and gives off an impression of complete and utter neglect.

there's a flower bed in this picture?
the flowers on that hydrangea are all dead.
this is where we store all our dead leaves for the winter.
so. many. weeds.
there used to be a GIANT ornamental grass in that big empty spot.

i spent about 6-8 hours on Saturday battling creepy insects, monster weeds, and the return of my seasonal allergies in an attempt to make some sort of progress in these areas that were formerly known as flower beds. i pulled weeds, and picked rocks, and bagged leaves, and made some pretty good progress on my tan. so here's what you've all been waiting for: the afters. see if you can spot the differences!

look! a flower bed that's not full of grass!

the dirt is very welcoming. honest.

the view from the end of the driveway

i really hope those bushes arent dead.

i spent way more time in this area than this picture lets on.

HUGE difference, right?! hardly looks like the same place! ok fine, so it looks pretty much the same, just now with less green and more dirt. the look we were going for was "blank slate," and i think we pretty much nailed it, dont you? our future plans for the flower beds/general outdoor space is still evolving, but this is kind of what we're thinking so far:

- tear out the bushes closest to the front door.
- also get rid of the giant ugly bush on the corner of the house closest to the driveway.
- remove all the white rocks around the perimeter of the house, replace with something less weed-y.
- lots and lots of mulch.
- figure out what kinds of shrubbery/flowers will work best.
- better define and fill the flower beds around the deck.
- powerwash the deck.
- make a patio area between the deck and the basement doors.
- define an area for the fire bowl.

so long story short: we've got more updates planned for our outdoor space, but for now we're back to ground zero. so the good news is there's nowhere to go but up! if any of you would like to be a part of this awesomeness, just let us know and we'll plan a bush removal/mulching/planting day sometime after vacation and make sure that you're invited! or if you're a sane person who would like to stay as far away as possible, then i totally understand.

Monday, April 16, 2012

meal plan monday: april 16.

is it possible to have a monday morning hangover that has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with having a non-stop weekend of fun, sunshine, yardwork, bike rides, tennis, and paint? because if so, that's totally what i've got going on today. i'm exhausted and sore and a teensy bit sunburnt and i just wish i had more days that could be like the past two. add on top of that the anticipation of leaving for vacation in a week (!) and i am so totally not focused at ALL when it comes to meal planning right now.

so in order to accommodate my early-onset-vacationbrain, everything we'll be eating this week will be semi-healthy and super quick and easy so that i can focus a majority of this week's allotment of brainpower towards packing instead of cooking.

Monday: quesadillas. (didnt eat them last week)
Tuesday: grilled chicken salad.
Wednesday: crock pot mac and cheese.
Thursday: soup from a can.
Friday: boboli.
Saturday: frozen raviolis. maybe a vegetable.
Sunday: leftovers. whatever it takes to empty the fridge!

Friday, April 13, 2012

friday the thirteenth.

hey guys. so apparently its Friday the Thirteenth. according to wikipedia, its the first of three we'll have this year.

its a good thing i'm not superstitious to the point of not being able to get out of bed today. because (not to tempt fate or anything) i'm having a really good day so far. i'm wearing my new shoes to try and break them in a little before Europe, and i'm sitting in a new desk at work (just for today) because i get to spend the day learning and working in a new program... and as much as i would love to someday spend a whole day at home doing absolutely nothing, i wouldnt have gotten to do any of these new things if i were still in bed.

it's shaping up to be a gorgeous weekend here. i'm hoping to get some gardening and a little pre-vacation shopping done, and maybe even find time to (finally) repaint my toenails. cuz they're looking pretty sad right now.

anyone else have fun plans for their weekend? or want to help me dig around in my flowerbeds tomorrow? or want to come over and mow our grass for us? anyone? bueller?

a blurry cell phone pic of my new kicks. $30 at TJMaxx. as of lunchtime, they are already significantly more comfortable than when i put them on this morning and stumbled around the house like i had bricks tied to my feet. i am quickly falling in love with that store.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

spraypainting into the wind.

two weekends ago, i decided to take advantage of the nice spring weather to do a little spraypainting. what can i say? spraypaint just makes everything better. plus, something needed to be done about the fact that our house has been operating for far too long under a BYOC policy (Bring Your Own Chair) and only getting worse.

lately, the community group that meets at our house every week has been growing, and the cheap chairs that we had from my apartment were starting to bite the dust, so we were quickly reaching a point where something needed to be done about our seating situation before someone tried to sit down and ended up crashing to the floor. somehow i dont think that kind of reputation would do much to encourage new people to join our group. we needed new chairs. and we needed them now. and since the new dining room table and chairs that we want will take 8-12 weeks to get to our house, we decided to just work with what we had for now.

surprise! we actually had more chairs in our house after all! these two chairs were ones that were left with the house when we bought it. they were a little bit wobbly and we didnt know what to do with them at the time, so we just stacked them in our laundry area of the basement and have been storing our paper towels on them for over a year and a half. 

after i tightened up the chairs a little with a ratchet, i started them out with two cans worth of primer. it was a little splotchy, but already an improvement.

i hardly waited the reccommended drying time, because i was excited to get to the main event: the color! after a little bit of deliberation in the spraypaint aisle, (and a couple funny looks from the hubs) i brought home several cans of this fun shade of purple. i think its technical name is Aubergine and i think its gorgeous.

i managed to get two cans worth of paint on the chairs before my hand got permanently stuck and my pointer finger refused to do any more work. so i had to wait a few days so that my hand could recover, the weather could rain a little an then get nice again, and i had a chance to buy more spraypaint.

the chairs took another can and a half of paint (thats 3.5 total) before they were completely covered. under different conditions, they probably could have been done with less paint than that, but i ended up losing a good bit of my paint in the wind that refused to calm down for me, no matter how much i pleaded.

the color is admittedly a little bold, but the chairs really look good in pretty much every room of the house. (except for maybe our room and the bathroom) even Mark has decided that they look awesome, now that he has seen the finished product.

i finished these guys up over this past weekend with two-and-a-half cans worth of glossy clear coat. all told, it took me two nice weekends and a semi-cooperative week in between to get enough paint on these chairs so that all of their nooks and crannies got covered. and thanks to the windier-than-i-would-have-hoped-for conditions, and in spite of wearing gloves and long sleeves, i think it'll take me at least that long before i'm able to scrub all the stray spraypaint off of my wrists.

our community group is coming over tonight, so i'm excited to see our 'new' chairs in action. i'll be sure to let you know if they end up being a total flop if for some reason they fall apart as soon as someone sits down, but they're really pretty solid so i dont see that being an issue.

anyone else out there love themselves some spraypaint? just me? cuz i may or may not have already had another spraypaint project all lined up before i even finished this one... but that doesnt make me an addict... right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

chicks in the mail.

i dont get a whole lot of exciting mail at my house. unless i've ordered something online, i usually only ever find an assortment of newspapers and bills when i open my mailbox. so it was a great fun surprise to find this little piece of happy that the mailman brought me over the weekend.

yes, that is a jumbo-sized plastic easter egg wrapped in packing tape. who knew you could mail things like that without a box?!? want to see what was packed inside? of course you do.

how. stinking. cute. its a little chick dressed up in her Easter best! and she even had enough room to bring us some Easter treats!

there were two packs of skittles and a note from the masterminds behind this eggs-citing postal adventure crammed into that plastic egg with the cutest poofiest chick i've ever seen. i think i was supposed to share the skittles with the hubs, but i ended up just eating both packs instead. i'm a good wife like that. also, i'm beginning to wonder what other kinds of random things the post office will be willing to ship as packages... oh the possibilities!

this great mailbox fun came to us courtesy of my sister and her kids. i think they're fantastic... wouldnt you agree?

Monday, April 9, 2012

meal plan monday: april 9.

i love easter. it's one of the only days of the year that i do not curse my alarm for malfunctioning when it goes off at 4:45 in the morning because i actually set it to go off that early on purpose. because there's just something extra special about an Easter morning sunrise service that makes me happy. and if you dont think that waking up extra early and bundling up to stand outside (rain or shine) for about an hour in the frosty grass and chill breeze sounds like something that would make you happy, then i think you need to come with me next year to watch the sun rise over the trees as an entire hillside full of people sings "Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleuia!" and echoes back "He is risen, Indeed!" it's totally worth the super early wake up call.

also, we go out for breakfast between services. its a great tradition.

also also, i made sure we got a picture of us all dolled up in our Easter duds before we changed into more comfy clothes for the easter egg hunt (yes,i am 25 and still hunting for eggs) and the general lounging that occupied the whole rest of the day. apparently last year i made the hubs wear a tie. this year, i rewarded him for waking up early with me without whining by letting him dress himself. turns out they'll still let you into church on Easter even without a tie. who knew?

well hel-LO pasty legs!

in short, we had a wonderful, beautiful Easter full of family, egg hunts, food, sunshine, fun, and naps. i'm sorry i didnt call or text anyone all day to wish you a happy easter - i forgot my phone at home in the morning and we didnt make it back to our house until bedtime. here, let me make it up to you by telling you what we'll be eating this week:

Monday: fish, rice, and asparagus.
Tuesday: baked potatoes and salad.
Wednesday: lazy lasagna.
Thursday: soup from a can.
Friday: shrimp pasta alfredo with broccoli (recipe-ish)
Saturday: quesadillas.
Sunday: leftovers?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

happy easter!

He is risen, indeed!

Halleujah, our Savior is Alive!

Matthew 28:5-7

Friday, April 6, 2012

vacation planning?

so i might have mentioned this once here in the blogosphere, like way back as barely a footnote as part of my thankful-list in November, but i feel like it's time to say a little bit more about the big vacation that we have planned for this year. you know, since the hubs and i are leaving for a 10-day trip to Europe in just over two weeks!


trust me, my mind is just as boggled as yours.

so here's how we got this opportunity: Mark's youngest brother is a senior at a small private Christian school. and the tradition at this school is that every year, the senior class goes on a senior trip. to Europe. (to make up for their lack of a real prom?) this year, their numbers were a little low, and they needed some more bodies to go on the trip to keep costs slightly lower than astronomical, so Mark and I are going as chaperones/stowaways this year.

we're paying our own way, using the monies that we had been saving up to get new windows put in our house. turns out the windows werent really all that bad after all. it honestly really wasn't a decision that was all that difficult for me to make. the windows can wait. but a 10-day trip through France and Italy that we didn't have to plan? not exactly an opportunity that lands in your lap very often, if at all.

so needless to say, i'm kind of excited. we're going to hit the beaches at Normandy, Paris, Venice, and Rome. we're going to the Louvre and we'll take pictures with the Eiffel Tower, and we're going to ride an overnight train! (just like in White Christmas!!) and probably a zillion other awesome things that i just cant quite remember right now...

...but DUDE this trip has snuck up on me! so here i am, with a buffer of a mere 17 days between me and what is poised to be one of the best adventures of my life to date, and... i'm stuck. i should be preparing. i should be shopping. i should be reading up on the things that we're going to see. i should be asking questions and trying to figure out what to pack and making sure that i have all the right accessories so that the outlets dont fry my new camera's battery. because i am so NOT OK with the thought of vacationing in Europe and coming home without any pictures.

but i just dont know where to start.

so i need your help: what do i need to be thinking about and doing and planning and packing to help ease the little bit of fear and dread that is creeping around threatening to snuff out all my excitment about this trip? i've heard plenty of horror stories, so try and keep those to a minimum, unless they come paired with a good solid piece of advice.


please to be leaving helpful thoughts and ideas in the comments. okiloveyoubye.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

another surprise.

show of hands: how many of you read my recap of my sister-in-law's surprise bridal shower and how it took us 3 months to plan and about 3 million lies to keep it a secret and you said to yourself, "self, i am NEVER throwing anyone a bridal shower EVER cuz thats a LOT of effort!" don't be shy, and don't worry about the strange looks you're now getting from your co-workers or your dog as you sit in front of the computer with your hand in the air. this post is for you.

this is my Jazzercise friend Ashley. she's getting married in 16 days. and since the group of ladies that we work out with twice a week is so sweet and wonderful, they put together a little surprise mini-shower for her.  

there were no fancy invitations or complicated debate about what date would work best for everyone. there was one email that was sent out about a week in advance to all the ladies, (except Ashley of course) and then a reminder email a week later to make sure we all remembered to bring a little gift.

the decorations and food were nothing extra-special, and it wasnt anything like some of the craziness that's on Pinterest, but a pink table cloth and some cupcakes with iced tea were all we needed to suffficiently jazz up the place. (no pun intended)

the deception was kept to a minimum. we didn't have to come up with a reason for her to be at the school at a certain time, because she always comes to Jazzercise. i dont think anyone had to lie at all. and she was still beyond surprised when she turned around after the cool-down song and realized that there was a party waiting for her.

i promised Ashley that i wouldnt post any pictures that i took that made her look bad, so i hope i did ok with that (because even though i have a new camera i still have my same old knack for taking pictures at just the wrong moment) but i wanted to make sure that i shared this little bit of my life with you for two reasons:1) to prove that throwing a surprise shower doesn't have to consume your life for months in order to be awesome, and 2) to just tell you how very much i love all the women i Jazzercise with, without having to post any sweaty pictures of myself...

so there you have it. a fantastic bridal shower with all the surprises and love and laughter and fun, but without the gargantuan amount of effort. i expect to see this repinned like a million times by tomorrow, so just go ahead and get on that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

naked no more.

so remember way back to my list of things that i said i want to do in 2012? well here we are now, suddenly 1/4 of the way through the year, (seriously, March flew by SO FAST) and i havent really talked all that much about how i'm doing on my flexible list of not-very-specific goal-type-things cleverly disguised as non-resolutions.

my sister recently set up a separate page on her blog to keep track of the progress she is making on all of her non-goals for 2012. i like that idea. maybe one of these days i'll figure out how to do it. but until then, you'll have to keep reading all of my rambling words about relatively trivial things that you probably dont care too much about but they make me happy and this blog is all about me so just DEAL, OK?

anyway, so tucked somewhere in the middle of my rambling list of non-resolutions, somewhere after 'make a reasonable meal plan' but before 'organize the office' was this little gem:

make curtains for all my naked windows.

this little statement really says a lot. if you know what to listen for, you can hear it screaming that
 1) we have been living without anything covering the majority of the windows in our house; no blinds, no curtains, no nothing
 2) we have been living this way for a significant amount of time, and
 3) that for some reason i think that i possess the talents and skills to create these window coverings on my own. (i should probably note at this point that, much to my grandmother's dismay, i do not own a sewing machine and the last time i really used one was sometime in middle school)

dining room: curtainless.

this project has been in the works for more months than i would like to admit. i bought fabric for these curtains last fall. we hung curtain rods before Christmas. i enlisted a friend with a sewing machine to help me out since i realized how terrified i actually was about attempting this all on my own. and then we all got busy. and the busy-ness never really stopped. and my windows were still naked.

fireplace room: curtainless.

so then i turned my attention to the idea of blinds, just so that we could have the option of having a little bit of privacy, ya know? but there were just too many issues: our windows are old and not extremely blind-friendly, Mark and I could not agree on a style that we both liked, and blinds are kind of crazy expensive, especially for the quantity that we would need.

front room: curtainless.

our solution: shears. or more specifically, thin white curtains from IKEA. i used 3.5 sets of panels to cover 5 windows (the little windows each got one panel that i split up the middle to make two skinny panels) and i had one panel left over that i just put up over the sliding glass door. i used Abi's Little Brother (her sewing machine) that she brought with her on her visit to make Mark's quilt and then generously left him with me so that i could sew the shears, because as much as i understand that iron-on hem tape works, i just like the look of sewn hems better. even the crooked hems that i managed to produce.

dining room: curtained and dark.

they're not perfect by any means, (i might have to re-do the ones that still drag on the floor) but they're progress. and progress is exciting, no matter how slow or long the project winds up being.

fireplace room: curtained.

so i guess technically i could cross this non-resolution off my list, but that would only really satisfy the letter of it and not the intent. because i still have a bunch of pretty fabric just waiting to get turned into fancy-pants curtains, but even after this month of non-stop curtain-hemming, i still dont feel qualified for the job.

front room: curtained.

PS sorry about the darkness of the after photos. i snapped them real quick this morning because i had a few extra minutes before work and i didnt bother to turn on any lights because i didnt want to forget to turn them off again. the curtains dont really impede any of the light coming in through the windows, even though these pictures might suggest that. we really like them and the fact that they make the rooms feel more finished and less like a fishbowl.

Monday, April 2, 2012

meal plan monday: april 2.

too tired today to post anything real thanks to a lazy weekend filled with a combination of staying up too late, spraypaint, hanging out with good friends, lots of fun, video games, and even wrestlemania. (yes, really) its all i can do right now to wrangle my sleepy little brain cells long enough to hash out a meal plan and a grocery list. and at the rate i'm going, it will be a small miracle if we wind up eating anything other than macaroni and cheese all week.

actually now that i think about it, that doesnt really sound all that bad...

Monday: macaroni and cheese.
Tuesday: chicken quesadillas.
Wednesday: grilled chicken salad.
Thursday: zucchini, blackbean, and rice skillet. (recipe)
Friday: fish, rice, and asparagus.
Saturday: soup from a can. and hard-boiled eggs. dyed, of course.
Sunday: Easter deliciousness with the in-laws.