Tuesday, April 30, 2013

pondering: patio furniture.

some facts about God of which i have recently been reminded:
  • God is sovereign.
  • He loves us enough to give us what we need
  • what we need is not always what we think we need
  • sometimes, its exactly the opposite
  • but sometimes, He gives before we even know we have a need
  • God is in control of the entire universe: planets, stars, Earth, humanity, disease, disaster, sunshine, rain, feast, famine, and even patio furniture.

a new couple recently started coming to our church, and also to the community group that we host at our house. they had a set of patio furniture they were getting rid of. they said they knew God wanted us to have it.

they didnt know that we had declared this year the "year of the outdoors." they didn't know that i was just beginning to think about what kind of furniture would work on our deck. in fact, they barely knew us at all.

but God knew. he knew all of those things and then some. he chose to bless us through this couple, and i am so excited (even if just a little bit nervous) to see what else he has in store for us, and in what ways he will use us in turn to bless others.

Monday, April 29, 2013

meal plan monday: april 29.

allergies are the pits. my nose is stuffy, my eyes are itchy, and my throat is scratchy because i have survived the past three days by mouth-breathing almost exclusively. i usually have about one extra-bad allergy week every year, and apparently this is it.

i spent an entire day yesterday at Hershey Park with friends, and i have zero pictures of it because when i wasn't walking all around the park and riding as many of the coasters as many times as we could stand, i was stuck in a foggy blur of allergy pills and tissues and resisting the urge to scratch my own eyes out. there was no time for cameras. which is sad, because even with all of my allergic mess, it was still a really fun day.

weekends are never long enough.

Monday: soup from a can. perfect for a rainy day.
Tuesday: spaghetti with meatballs. (recipe)
Wednesday: fish, rice, and a veggie.
Thursday: chicken and veggie quesadillas.
Friday: burgers on the grill. (recipe)
Saturday: grilled chicken penne pesto pasta.
Sunday: breakfast for lunch.

Friday, April 26, 2013

friday happy.

yesterday in the mail, there was an envelope. and on that envelope, there was a happy octopus.

and inside that octopus' envelope, there was a smaller, equally adorable envelope.

and inside that envelope was an embroidery hoop! complete with a sweet Hunger Games reference!

i won this little bit of awesome from Stitch Culture through a giveaway on NeonFresh (formerly known as NiceGirlNotes) i'm not sure yet where i'm going to hang it or put it, but it makes me ridiculously happy. i guess its true what eBay used to say - it just feels better when you win it!

Happy Friday Y'all!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ground zero(ish).

over the weekend, we kept chugging along towards our end goal of having pretty flowerbeds sometime this year. we had a few distractions, challenges, miscommunications, and setbacks along the way, but for what was maybe the first time EVER, we were able to roll with it without any major meltdowns (ok maybe just one minor one) and still turn out a pretty impressive weekend's worth of work.
just as a reminder: this is where we were coming from when it came to our front flower beds: pretty much just a giant monster bush and a bunch of weeds.
by early afternoon on Saturday, we had made it to this point: the monster bush had been cut down. a metric ton of river rocks had been picked out of the bed, along with probably 5 metric tons of small decorative boulders. trips had been made to the landfill, the mall, and Lowes, and i had wasted about 4 hours sitting waiting for mark's car to get its oil changed and brake pads replaced.

the rest of the day Saturday, Mark battled the monster stump of the monster bush, while i raked all the weeds out of the rest of the bed, mowed the grass, did some laundry, and made dinner.

in the end, with a lot of hard work and a little help from his dad's truck, Mark was victorious over the stump.

by the time we got the stump out, the hole filled, and everything cleaned up, it was time to go inside, eat dinner, chill out on the couch, and watch the O's game.

Sunday was mulch day. to steal the eloquent words of Ron Burgundy: mulch mulch mulch. i love mulch. we got a whole truckload from the landfill for a whopping $10. 

in an attempt to hopefully keep the weeds at bay, we used landscape fabric underneath the mulch. one roll covered both front beds with some extra to spare.

it took me a while to get a good handle on the best process for mulch spreading, but i finally settled on using the pitchfork to load the wheelbarrow, a shovel to distribute the mulch, and a garden rake to spread it evenly. and then in less time than i thought, we had mostly empty, freshly mulched front flower beds!

welcome to ground zero: there's nowhere to go but up from here.

surprisingly, that's not all we were able to squeeze into our weekend: we also took care of a couple other spaces that were not on our original to-do list.
bonus project #1: a bigger fire pit area in the backyard. while Mark was accidentally locked out of the shed while i had his car and the key to the shed at the shop on Saturday, he took the decorative boulders i had picked out of the flower beds and used them to spruce up our little fire pit.

its probably not the forever solution for this space, and obviously the rest of the backyard is still in need of a lot of love, but this little upgrade is a nice starting point for this area. hopefully it will also be enough of a kick-in-the-pants type of motivation to keep our outdoor upgrades going so we will hit this area sooner rather than later. i'm already looking forward to bonfires and cookouts and really enjoying our backyard this summer.

bonus project #2: a new front yard flower bed. after the front beds were done, we still had some landscape fabric and mulch leftover. so Mark took it upon himself to create a mulched area around the rosebush in the front yard.

we didnt have quite enough fabric to cover the whole area, so we opted to use what we had under the rosebush, to hopefully minimize the amount of weeding that will need to be done in under those thorny branches. (i took a thorn to the index finger on Sunday during the one part of the day i opted not to wear my gloves. not fun.)

we used every last bit of the mulch pile to fill this space - down to the very last half of a wheelbarrow-full. we couldnt have planned it more perfectly if we had tried, so i'm kind of glad we didnt waste any time trying to calculate just the right amount of mulch or just the right size of bed. Mark just eyeballed it to try and have it look decent and be easier to mow around. success!

oh, see that nasty looking tree in the background that is eating the OTHER front corner of the house? dont worry. its already on the list.

Monday, April 22, 2013

meal plan monday: april 22.

i am so over this whole meal planning thing. i know all of the positives about it: less stress at the store, less wasted time in the evenings, and all in all the whole plan doesnt really take all that much time to throw together.

and yet.

i'm tired of the meals i have in rotation, but i'm also too lazy to figure out new ones that require minimal effort and are still reasonably healthy. it just seems like a lot of effort. i guess some days i just need to whine a little about my totally awesome life. it makes no sense. i make no sense. but i guess i'll make at least one more meal plan:

Monday: chicken and veggie quesadillas. (didnt eat them last week.)
Tuesday: fish packets with rice. (recipe)
Wednesday: crock pot meatball subs. (recipe)
Thursday: soup from a can.
Friday: let's eat out.
Saturday: boboli.
Sunday: grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013: the year of the outdoors.

one of my non-resolutions for this year (which is actually one that carried over from last year) is to have pretty flowerbeds. we have lived in our house for almost three years, and in those three years we have been so focused on inside projects that we have given hardly any thought or time or energy to the outside of the house. in fact, we just barely managed to keep the grass mowed. but no more! we are finally at a good place inside (aka no big painting or drywall or bathroom projects for a while) that we can focus our attention elsewhere. so this is the year of the outdoors. the year i will finally have pretty flowerbeds. or at least flowerbeds that are filled with something other than weeds and dead things.
as with any good project, we're starting with demo. there were a few bushes around our house that had to go, because they just weren't doing it for me. so i made a list. and then i gave that list to the hubs and spent the weekend chillin' in New York City.
i didn't have have a chance to take any updated before pictures, so i went back through my archives and found these from last year when i painted our front door and weeded that one time. i even went so far as to highlight the offending bushes for your viewing convenience.
two bushes by the front door

overgrown lavender bush in the backyard
giant angry bush that would eat the entire house if we let it
since i was out of town, i was at the mercy of the hubs for process pictures. i got one. and i was never so happy to see an empty hole in the ground.

when i got home on Sunday, i was THRILLED to see all of the progress that had been made, and all of the things that had been crossed off the list. in addition to a few smaller items like raking up some leftover leaves and picking up all the sticks in the yard, the bushes in the front of the house were gone! its kind of wild to see just how much visual space their removal has opened up on the front porch.
and i can practically hear my works-at-a-lavender-farm sister's heart breaking in two over this picture, but that bush in our backyard was in bad shape. in fact, it didnt really have any shape at all. AND there was giant ugly grass that grew up the middle of it that was impossible to pull. mark claims that he did not see the family of bunnies that in the past has been known to live in the lavender bush and scare the life out of me by bolting out from under it any time i got too close to it with the lawnmower. i do feel a little bad about evicting them, but i'm more excited about planning something new to plant in this spot and disguise the well.

mark didnt have time to deal with the giant angry bush on the corner while i was gone, or maybe he didnt want to take it on by himself, but man oh man do we have PLANS for this weekend! so exciting!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

outtakes in the park.

in which i forget how a slide works.

nailed it.

in my defense, that slide was really wet, and i was attempting to keep my butt as dry as possible for as long as possible. it got wet anyway. see? feel how wet.

pretty wet. but not as wet as Claire's.

thanks to my sister Abi for capturing these meaningful family moments

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

a weekend in NY with claire marie.

a sequel.

Sometimes the park can be a lonely place.

And then along comes a friend.
 The kind of friend who shares your sense of style.

You know. The one who gives you a push when you need it...

...But who will just hang by your side even when you don't.

The one who just listens when you need to talk.

The same friend who holds you tight when life takes a downward spiral.

The one friend who will do anything you suggest. Without hesitation.

That friend who knows exactly how to make you laugh.

It's a great day when that friend who thinks the world of you shows up in your world.

i love you Claire Marie. always have. always will.

Monday, April 15, 2013

meal plan monday: april 15.

i spent the weekend with a few of my favorite people. it was lazy and fun and absolutely exhausting and a fantastic way to end the week. i highly recommend it. 
miss them already.

i had all sorts of good intentions to do lots of laundry and plan meals for the week when i got home last night, but instead i ate a bag of popcorn for dinner and fell asleep on the couch. so this week's plan is a little lazy and a lot thrown together and the only reason i even got this far is because i'm not really sure how Mark survived all weekend on what was left in the fridge, so a trip to the grocery store is at the top of my priority list for today.

Monday: Meg's fish packets with rice. (recipe)
Tuesday: raviolis with jar sauce.
Wednesday: crock pot chicken enchilada soup. (recipe)
Thursday: soup from a can.
Friday: Stouffer's lasagna.
Saturday: veggie omelettes.
Sunday: chicken and veggie quesadillas.

Friday, April 12, 2013

do you know the muffler man?

Who (the heck am I talking about): The Muffler Man.
What (is in his hands): a welcome sign.
Where (is he located): the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.
When (did i find him): yesterday morning at a career fair.
Why (did i bother to take his picture): for my mom.
for more information on Muffler Men, check out Roadside America.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

spring is at our door.

actually, a more accurate statement might be that spring WAS here. for about two and a half days this weekend before summer apparently could not wait any longer to grace us with her presence. temperatures around here have been in the mid- to high-80s all week, and today is forecasted to hit 90 degrees. driving with the windows down and the radio cranked? shorts and tanktops without a jacket? weeknight bonfires? sounds awesome. dont mind if i do. 
since i was not aware of the fleeting-ness of spring this year, instead of spending "springtime" working in my flowerbeds, i spent the weekend elbow-deep in spraypaint and hot glue. so without further ado, may i now present my second project of the weekend: featuring all of the joy of craftiness with none of the marital strife!
isnt it just so springy and bright and simple and fun!?!?!? i know i say this about pretty much all of my projects, but i'm in love. not bad for a cheap wreath form, some twine, and some discount embellishments. not bad at all.
i hung it with ribbon and some fishing line that is looped over a command hook on the inside of the door. i kept the top of the ribbon nice and flat and un-bunched with a little piece of a plastic straw. it hangs relatively straight on its own, so i havent had to resort to using any sticky tack to keep it in place like i did with my fall wreath.

we still have a long way to go before our house is really 'ready' for spring, (ive got plans for the flowerbeds, and for cutting down bushes, and the lawnmower is getting fixed, and the back yard has tons of room for improvement) but having this wreath on the front door makes me feel like we're heading in the right direction. even though there is still a reindeer on our welcome mat. don't judge me. he's adorable.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

how to paint a tray and maintain your marriage.

this weekend, i got crafty. and it was awesome. before this weekend, i cant even remember the last crafty project that i did: and that is sad. so what better way to get back into a crafting groove than with a simple spraypaint project? i thought it was perfect. it would be quick and easy, and i figured i'd have it done before Mark even got home from his morning softball games and then we could spend all afternoon outside enjoying the beautiful day. does that sound like something you would like? well since i'm in a giving mood, i'll share my process with you in case you are in need of a kick-in-the-crafting-pants this week:

15 Easy Steps to Turn a 2-Hour Project Into a 2-Day Adventure:

1. procure a tray. i got mine for $10 in the clearance section at Joanns. isn't she a beaut? not.

2. prep tray for paint. peel off any protective plastic films, and rough up any shiny surfaces with fine sandpaper. cover any and all parts that you do not want to get painted.

3. prime tray. alternatively, discover that your can of primer is empty, and also that your can of white paint-and-primer-in-one is clogged and is only good for spattering a few drops across the tray and dripping white paint all over your hands. just consider it abstract nail art.

4. paint tray. i picked a non-clogged can of spray paint that i already had in the basement. it took me about 4 coats to cover the weird 'italian' design. remember to allow sufficient drying times between coats. stop taking pictures about this time because you just forgot.

5. seal tray. two coats of already-owned-it clear coat did the trick.

6. let it dry until you cant stand waiting any more.

7. remove protective paper and tape. for most dramatic results, do this step while listening to your husband tell a funny story. be a little distracted and do not notice until too late that the tape has unexpectedly grabbed onto the fresh paint and has peeled off a not-insignificantly-sized bubble of ugliness.

8. get frustrated and upset. this will cause your husband to get upset that you are upset, and possibly say something very insensitive. take that insensitive comment to heart and get even MORE upset. now is the time for yellling and tears and slamming doors.
**pro tip: long drives around the countryside are a nice way to get out of the house and simmer down until you are capable of forming full sentences again made of words with more than four letters.

9. apologize and make up. he didnt really mean it. he's very sorry. look, he even started a new load of laundry to prove it. he's a keeper.

10. go out to dinner. because you can't fix the tray until it dries at least 24 hours, and you really didnt feel like cooking tonight anyway.

11. wait 24 hours. pass the time by watching baseball, reading a book, or starting a new project.

12. sand down any rough spots on the tray. use a very fine sandpaper, then wipe it all down with a damp paper towel to get rid of any dust.

13. repeat steps 2-6.

14. CAREFULLY remove protective paper and tape. take your time. focus. use a razor blade to ensure that the tape is not stuck to the paint anywhere.

15. CELEBRATE!!! the tray looks awesome, no one is ever going to notice those two rough spots on the edges. and bonus! your marriage is still intact! winning!

i had originally thought about painting stripes or a chevron pattern on this tray, but after the headache it has caused me just to get to this point, i think i'll just leave it a nice solid color for now. maybe forever.