Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Snowy Days and Mondays Get Me Down.

How was your weekend?   Splendid, I hope!  If I had to sum ours up in one word, it would be “productive” — we finally bit the bullet and bought a snowblower ahead of the impending “SNOW OF DOOM” that the weatherman has predicted to beat down on the Milwaukee area this week.   They’re predicting up to 20″ of snow by the time everything is said and done…time will tell.  Hubs is just a teensy bit excited to use his new toy machine to tackle our driveway. 

Also excited?  Our boys at the dog park on Saturday morning.  It was a perfect day to take them out — about 32 degrees and sunny — and they loved every second of it.

 
Very.  Happy.  Dog. 

That’s hubs’s black gloved hand telling the dogs to “sit” so I could take a picture.  Braeden opted to lay down completely.  Whatever works.  I attempted to take a video of the dogs running around, but it was harder than anticipated because it was SO BRIGHT outside and the screen of my phone was hard to see.  The most notable thing about this video?  This was the first time that Braeden was “off-leash” at the dog park — I’m happy to report that he did great! 

Uhm….in watching this video from the perspective of anyone other than hubs and myself, you’ll probably find it completely boring (if not annoying because of my high-pitched: “COME HERE, GUYS!”)  It’s all of ten seconds of dogs at the dog park…running back and forth.  Once.  Observe:

Yep, possibly the most boring video ever…but I love it because I think our dogs are super cute (obvs, I’m biased).  Not pictured:  Braeden running full-speed into me at the end of the video, knocking me over.  Anyway.  I’ll try to redeem myself with another video this week sometime; perhaps a vlog if I can figure out how to upload it without an error for once omgfortheloveofgod.

January 28, 2011

These Cookies are Amaze-Bars.

 

If your week has been anything like mine (and that would be of the, ahem, LONG variety) you might need a cookie this weekend.  Or a few cookies.  I’m not judging.   You should make these, and then try to share them.  Imagine a chewy peanut butter cookie layered with chocolate peanut butter fudgy awesomeness and then topped with crunchy peanut butter cookie dough that’s been jazzed up with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.   That’s the level of delish we’re talking about.  

These are technically a “bar” cookie because they’re made in a 13×9 pan…but you know what that means? That means if you’re lazy like I am, you’ll love that you don’t have to rotate pans of cookies to and from the oven and spend your afternoon listening to your kitchen timer go off!    Whee!  More time to watch Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby! 

 Peanut Butter Chocolate Amaze-Bars*

1  cup  butter, softened
1-1/2  cups  packed brown sugar
1  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
2 eggs
2  cups creamy peanut butter
2  teaspoons  vanilla
3  cups all purpose flour
1-1/2  cups  semisweet chocolate chips
1  14 ounce can  sweetened condensed milk
2  tablespoons  creamy peanut butter or butter
2  teaspoons  vanilla

Additional Ingredients:
1/2  cup  chopped salted peanuts
1/2  cup chocolate chips 

Let’s do this.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 pan with aluminum foil (I use the Reynolds non-stick variety) extending the foil over the edges of pan. Coat foil with cooking spray (yes, I still do this even though I use the non-stick aluminum foil).  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping down sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs, 2 cups peanut butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla and flour until combined. Set aside.

3. For filling, in a medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.

4. Remove roughly 2 cups of the peanut butter dough and set aside. Press the remaining dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.   Next, spread chocolate filling evenly over peanut butter dough in pan. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining peanut butter dough over filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips. 

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is lightly browned (and you can’t handle how yummy it smells in your kitchen any longer). Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift out of pan. Cut into small bars – believe me, I can eat cookies bigger than my head and these are super rich.  You’ll want to make the bars on the small side.  Make sure you have a glass of milk handy, too. 

Store them between parchment/waxed paper in an airtight container at room temp.  Otherwise, you can freeze them for 3 months - the ones I froze at Christmastime are still delish warmed up in the microwave for about 20 -30 seconds. 

(*recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home Magazine & a bunch of other places.  Obviously they didn’t name them “amaze-bars”.  That’s all me.)

January 27, 2011

Wedding Napkin Quilt: Let’s Start the Insanity.

Once upon a time (or really, last summer) I channeled my inner Matt Foley – Motivational Speaker, and posted about how I was going to go out and get the (sewing) world by the tail and wrap it around and put it in my pocket by taking an online sewing class.   I’m happy to report that I have not resorted to eating a steady diet of government cheese whilst living in a van down by the river. 

In fact,  Home Ec has gone quite well and I’ve learned a lot (let’s just not talk about how I haven’t exactly finished all of the tutorials/classes…that’s another story for another day).  I’ve learned enough to sew curtains for some of our windows, two quilted table runners for our dining room table, and a tote bag (with a lining! and handles! and an inner pocket!) to carry my extra “gear” to and from work.  I’ve come a long way from being scared to even thread my sewing machine, but I admit that I still have a very long way to go. 

Way before all of that Home Ec stuff, though….all the way back when I was a blushing bride to be, I posted about a grand idea I had to make all of the napkins for our wedding reception.   You’ll also recall that my mom had to step in and finish that project for me because I was full of ideas but low on time (and confidence!) to finish them myself.  And now, just because I love remembering how they looked on our wedding day…a little bit napkin action:


Credit: MThree Studio

So, where is all of this back story going?  Well, I’m happy to report that I’m about halfway finished with my biggest post-wedding craft project: our wedding napkin quilt.  (pauses for thunderous applause from the crowd….senses none is coming…moves on.)

I just want to stop here for a second and say that I don’t consider myself a “quilter”, so consider this your disclaimer.  You’ve been warned, and it might not be pretty learning from someone like yours truly.  But, I’m going to post this as a psuedo-tutorial — simply because it was easier for me to write it that way. 

I say “pseudo-tutorial” because I figured out very early on in this process that I needed a quilting tutorial for a complete novice since I had really only had the basics of sewing down: threading the machine, operating the machine in a basic manner, stitch length, tension, how to actually sew in a straight line so it doesn’t look like I’m sewing after 5 martinis.  Luckily I found this tutorial by Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter and it. is. fantastic.  I’m following it to a tee, with the only difference being that my quilt will end up being bigger since I had a lot of napkins that I wanted to use (her tutorial is for a smart & manageable 16 block quilt…mine is clocking in at a ridiculous and insane for a beginner 49 blocks.)

Following the tutorial, I started out by cutting my napkins into blocks according to the following dimensions: 11+” x 13″.  I will say that this “+” of fabric on the one end comes in extremely handy later when you’re squaring up all of your quilt blocks once they’re pieced together.  Then, I got up close and personal with my self-healing mat, my rotary cutter, and my fabric ruler and I cut the blocks into their smaller “strip” dimensions: 3″, 1 1/2″, 2 1/4″, and 6+”.   

Then, start piecing together your blocks.  The idea here is that you keep the left-most piece of fabric and the right-most piece of fabric the same, and switch up the two middle “strips” of fabric — that way, once you sew your block together, you have a bit of consistency with your pattern.  I took pictures of this process as I was piecing together one block.  (Note: I used a 1/4″ seam allowance — what Amy recommends in her tutorial…which is basically just lining up the right hand side of the fabric with the right hand side of the presser foot on your sewing machine — see step 3 below.

 In step 1, I have my left-most 3″ strip on the bottom, and the piece that I’m stitching to it (the 1 1/2″ strip) on top.  In step 2, I’m now joining the 1 1/2″ strip (now not visible) to the 2 1/4″ strip.  In step 3, I’m joining the right-most 6+” strip to the 2 1/4″ strip.  Step 4 is a picture of all of the pieces stitched together. 

So, that’s all there is to building your quilt blocks!  Repeat this process 15 (or if you’re cray-cray like me….48) more times, and your blocks will be finished.  Next up?  Ironing them.  If yours look anything like mine did, they’ll look like this after you’re done piecing them together.

No bueno.   Dig out your iron and your ironing board that have been relegated to the back of your spare closet and steam those puppies so that all of the seams are facing one direction like this:

Beautiful.  Again, repeat this process with all of your blocks.  Now, take your blocks back to your trusty self-healing mat and grab your rotary cutter and fabric ruler — trim those babies down until they measure 11″ square.  

At this point, you’re probably sick and tired of working with individual blocks and anxious to see how everything is going to look put together.   But, like an oasis in the desert or sweet (quilting) manna from the heavens, the fun part is up next: laying out all of your blocks and figuring out your quilt pattern.

You’ll need a pretty large area to do this — I used my living room floor.  I started with whatever block I wanted in the upper-left hand corner of my quilt, and moved left to right, like you would when you’re reading a book.  Alternate the pattern on the blocks and soon you’ll have something laid out that resembles this:

As you can (hopefully sort of) see, my blocks repeat every row so that the fabric in the blocks running diagonally from the upper left to the lower right repeat — this is probably easiest to notice on the black fabric blocks.  I digress.  You can pick any pattern you want, or choose no pattern at all.    Whatever trips your trigger.

The next step is sewing all of the blocks together into strips and then sewing the strips together to make your quilt-top….but you’ll have to stay tuned for that because I’m tired (and if we’re keeping things real, it’s because I haven’t finished that part yet).

January 25, 2011

“And her nose, stuck in a book(shelf)” – Part II

This was going to be my 2nd blog for the week, but Vimeo decided to go be a jerk and my video didn’t convert.  Or something.  There was some type of error, and I am definitely pointing the finger in Vimeo’s direction.  Oh, and did I mention that this is the second time that this has happened?  Yeah, not happy.  So, I’m working on figuring that whole…situation out so I can attempt to participate in Vlog Fridays.  Deep breath.  And we’re moving on.

In a fantastic streak of luck, I actually remembered to take pictures of our finished built-in bookshelves this weekend.  Success!  You’ll recall that in my last blog about the ‘shelves, I had picked our paint colors (um, it wasn’t that hard….I used what we already had) but hadn’t started painting yet.  Here are some more “before” pictures to jog your memory, sans Christmas decor:


The whole enchilada.


Left half.


Right half.

The first step was obviously removing all of the stuff.   Since I’m kind of allergic to things laying on the floor/out of place, leaving everything on our living room floor behind our sectional was driving me crazy.  But, I soldiered on, reminding myself of the big picture: no more peach paint.

I went through all of our books and decided which ones we could donate — I’d say we ended up giving about 90% of our books to Goodwill.  I mean, when am I ever going to page through my old copy of Business Law from my undergrad days?  The chances of that happening are even more slim than the chances of me deciding that chocolate chip cookies are just “passable”.

I also took the opportunity to go through our “knick knacks” and found new places around our home for them.  I also re-organized the cabinets underneath our bookshelves (and put some of the aforementioned “knacks” down there).  No pictures of this, though, because, um, boring.

Finally, it was time to paint!  I masked off the sides of the bookshelves and painted the backs first with the Bison Brown paint — it only took 2 coats, and it immediately had a huge impact, IMHO.

The sides of the shelves still needed to be painted, though.  If you look closely in the picture above, you can see that the wall color still kind of blends in with the side of the bookshelf.  What’s that?  It’s not that big of a deal and you can barely tell?  Whatever, not listening.

Once the paint on the back of the shelves had cured, I masked off the back of the bookshelves and painted the sides. This was a bit harder to do than the backs, as I only had a long-handled paintbrush and those cubbies at the top had some odd angles.  But again, I soldiered on:  the finish line was in sight!   

Or so I thought, until we attempted to put the shelves back in.  The layers of paint had accumulated on the sides of the bookshelves, making them too long to wedge into the brackets/openings!  Luckily, hubs had the insight to get out the palmsander so we could shave off a few millimeters of extra plywood on the ends of the shelves (that nobody would see) to make them fit.  My solution?  Whack them with a hammer.  Um, yeah…not the best solution.  It’s why we make a good team…he talks me down from the crazy ledge sometimes.

 Anyway, I digress.  Want to see the final product?  Hmm??

Ta da! 

I shopped for a few new items for the bookshelves: some baskets to hold old DVD’s and decorating stuff, a few new candles, etc.  But mostly, I used things we already had and just re-arranged.   I’m still working on the placement of the items/pictures/things on the shelves (keeping in mind the 75% 25% rule of short/tall combinations that I learned from Katie at Bower Power) and I have an itch to spray paint a few things with bright white paint to make them pop…but overall…I think it’s a huge improvement over what it looked like before!

 

So.  Much.  Better.  :)  Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately? 

January 21, 2011

Friday Five.

The ever-adorable Laura at The Luckiest in Love posted her response to “Five Question Friday” this morning. and since the following applies to my situation right now:

  1. It’s Friday.
  2. I’m lazy.
  3. It’s -5 degrees outside.

I am going to hop on board the Friday Five train with an easy-peasy post.   Plus, these questions are cute and I’m not sure I’ve blogged about some of them before.  On we go!

1. Where did you meet your spouse and did you instantly know it was love?
Hubs and I met Labor Day weekend in 2007.  And yes…we met at a bar.  ;)  It was actually pretty funny — that very night, I was talking to one of my girlfriends about how we hadn’t met any good guys lately, and we needed to start getting out a bit more to meet new people.  And then, that very night, I met hubs!

I don’t know if I’d say that I knew instantly that it was love, as I broke our first date!  Once we finally went out, I did know instantly that he was different (in a good way) from all of the other guys I had dated.  We never really had any discussion about “being exclusive” — we just both knew that we didn’t want to date anyone else.  We actually joked/talked about our “hypothetical” wedding very early on, as well — I’d say we talked about it within our first month of dating. 

Here’s the first picture we ever took together — I apologize for the quality — I had to steal it off of my F-book page.  Hard to believe this will have been 4 years ago this fall!
2. What is your favorite room in your house?
My favorite room has always been our living room / dining room combo with our built-in bookshelves.  (I know, I know, I keep talking about those darn bookshelves.  I’m taking pictures of the final product this weekend – pinkie swear.  I just need good daylight to do it!)  It’s comfortable, it’s cozy, and it’s very “us” since there’s wedding photos and pictures of us scattered around the room.  Hands down, my favorite room.
3. Can you wiggle your ears?
Ha — nope.  I’ve tried several times, but no dice.  Hubs can, though!
4. What is your evening ritual?
We come home to two barking dogs and one inquisitive cat (who usually greets us at the door!).  I refill the dog’s Kong toys and pop them in the freezer for the next day, and then make coffee — I like to get my “nightly chores” out of the way first thing!  Then, we usually go through the mail together.  I’ll make dinner and we’ll eat together at the table (possibly one of my favorite parts of the day!)  Then, hubs feeds & waters the dogs and we relax by watching TV or release some adrenaline playing Mario Brothers together on the Wii.  (Side note: I feel the need to interject here by saying that the newest Mario Brothers game for Wii is really, really hard.  It seems like it’s a lot harder than the old Mario Bros games that we had when I was a kid.  I’m not exactly sure how a little kid is supposed to get through this game when two grown adults are still only on the fourth world/level.  But whatever.)
5. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
My family teases me that I’m a grandma since I go to bed so early.  Luckily I married a man who loves to go to bed as early as I do!  I’d say on any given night, I try to get a solid 7 hours of sleep — 8, if I’m lucky.   I can function on less, but I get grouchy and headachey.  It’ll be fun once we have kids, I’m sure!
And, that’s about it!  There’s a Friday Vlog that I’m going to attempt to do this evening, but when I tried to upload last week’s to Vimeo it never converted for some reason.  So, fingers crossed that it works if I try it! 
I hope you have a fantastic weekend — stay warm!
January 18, 2011

Football Games & Valentine’s Day Wreaths

I know I promised an update on our built-in bookshelves, but (as is often the case) I don’t have pictures of them quite yet.  However, I can assure you that they are done!  So, pictures and stories forthcoming.

On Saturday, while hundreds of thousands of people in the great state of Wisconsin tuned in to watch the Packers take on the Falcons (and yes, I totally had to look that up to state the team name correctly) you would have found me wandering the aisles of Hobby Lobby and Pier One.  Yep…I went shopping during a football game.  It actually was quite splendid – the aisles were full of what I’m assuming were like-minded women: those that didn’t give two hoots about seeing the game. 

It’s not that I don’t want the Packers to win — actually, I think it’s great that they’re doing well.  I’m just not a football fan.  I see a football game as a significant investment of time (3 hours?  really?  I can barely pay attention during a 2 hour movie).  My hubs, on the other hand, is a BIG football fan.  BIG.  Thus, him going and watching the game with his own like-minded individuals and me going and shopping with my aforementioned like-minded individuals worked out quite well.  (All of this to say that next Sunday when they’re playing to figure out who goes to the Super Bowl, I will be attending a “party” for the game, but I see that as more of a social event.) 

Naturally, you’ll understand that when I was asked at work if I had seen the game on Saturday (ZOMGITWASSOEXCITING!) I had to inform them that actually I was shopping.  And when I came home from my shopping and started working on my project (I am not going to call it a “craft” project because, to me, that conjures up images of women in denim smocks glue-gunning sequins to plastic canvas) I did have the game on in the background, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it.

This has caused some people at work to question my values.  I’m alright with that.

ANYWAY.  All of that intro to say that — yay!  I made a wreath this weekend!  I had a wreath up for fall (a yarn-wrapped wreath with cute little felt roses…unfortch, I don’t have a picture of it)  and I of course had a wreath up for Christmas on our front door.  When taking down our Christmas decor, I realized that I didn’t have anything to put up in its place for Valentine’s day.  So, I set out to rectify that situation.

I settled on a hand-tied “rag wreath” which, ostensibly, you’re supposed to use spare scrap fabric for.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was driving away from Hobby Lobby with my fabric selections that I had a TON of leftover wedding napkin fabric in … guess what color?  PINK!  But, by that point the fabric had been purchased and it had only set me back about $10.

So, let’s get to the steps.  It’s pretty complicated; you’re going to have to follow along closely and maybe print this out and make notes in the margins to follow along.  SIKE!  (Anyone else remember sike?  We should bring that back.  Sike.)

Basically, you grab a wreath form from the floral section of the craft store.  Since I didn’t choose super Valentine’s Day-ish fabric, I went for the heart wreath form.

Then, you select one fabric for each wire on the wreath  form from your quilting/sewing stash.  Or do what I did…conveniently forget about your stash and buy brand new fabric just because it’s so darn pretty.    Then, instruct your cat to become super interested in your project and lay directly on your fabric, making it impossible to cut.  Having your cat attack your hand when you attempt to move her is optional.

That’s a pretty cruddy shot of the fabrics I picked, and I apologize.  But, basically they are a rose-colored broadcloth, an ivory broadcloth, and a greyish paisley print with some pinks and blues in it.  I got 1 yard of each, and this was more than enough fabric for my wreath.

Cut your fabric into strips — no need to be super exact here, but it helps if they’re all relatively the same length.  I just folded mine like I have them in the picture above (they’re about 5″ wide), and then cut them into 1″ strips using my rotary cutter/self-healing mat/fabric ruler. 

Then, start tying!  I tied the rose color around the very edge, the paisley print in the middle, and the ivory color on the inside of the wreath form.

Here’s what it looks like when you start — kind of weird.  But, just keep tying and filling in the form as you go.  Try to tie as many strips as you can in each section…this will make your wreath fuller in the end.  Also, the tying portion of the program took me a bit longer than I anticipated.  I think that the whole thing, start to finish, took me around 2 1/2 hours.  Maybe I’m just slow. But, because I’m stubborn and have to finish a project when I started it, I stayed up way past my “normal” bedtime to finish this puppy.

Here’s what the back of the wreath looked like when I was finished — I took this to show you how many knots/strips of fabric I stuffed onto each wire of the wreath form.  That’s a lot of knots, friends.

And when you flip it over, here’s what the front will look like.  (Cruddy, 11:30 PM lighting is also optional.)

I took another picture of it the next day when my lighting was better — here’s what it looks like hanging on our front door:

And a closeup of the fabrics:

I’m pretty happy with it!  I think the fabrics blend well together without being too matchy-matchy, and it looks cute on our front door which is what I wanted in the first place.  Mission accomplished! 

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day, or am I the only one who is super crazy about decorating for holidays?

January 13, 2011

“And her nose, stuck in a book(shelf)” – Part I

One of the projects on our home renovation to-do list is to organize/paint/rehab the built-in bookshelves in our living room.  It’s a relatively simple / low-cost task, so it’s an easy one to cross of the list (and I love crossing things off of lists).  The built-ins were one of the things that I fell in love with when J and I were walking through the house the first time — they’re so unique, and I think they could be a lot prettier than what they currently look like.  

When I moved in after we got engaged, things just sort of ended up on the shelves without a lot of rhyme or reason.   It was more “get things put away” and not an attempt at making it aesthetically pleasing  (they’re pretty cluttered).   Now that we’re staying put, I want to focus my attention on making them a focal point of our living room.

So, here they are (at Christmastime) …cut me some slack – the true “before” pictures are still on my camera.

(click to make it bigger…I don’t expect anyone to be able to read that at that size.)

Just to give you an idea of our floorplan…from where I’m standing, through that doorway is our front door / foyer / coat closet, to my left is our dining room, and behind me is our wall with our TV/entertainment center.  Oh, and a big picture window is to my right. 

So, here’s my gameplan for these babies:   1. Organize, for the love of all things holy.  2. Paint the backs/sides of the bookshelves so that they don’t blend in with our walls — it’s all about contrast! 

We painted the walls in our living room when we first moved in — they were a peachy pink color, and were pretty terrible.  The lighting in this picture is also terrible (thanks, iPhone!) because the walls are currently a beige color — Behr’s Cup of Cocoa, if you’re into that type of thing.  The back wall of the bookshelves is still the old peachy pink color, since by the time we had the entire living room painted we didn’t want to see another paint brush for a long time.

Recently, Jon and Sherry of Young House Love featured their own bookshelf remodel – it’s kind of uncanny how close their built-ins are to ours!  They painted the back wall of their bookshelves a color to make it “pop”, and I think the results are fantastic.

Photo Source – Young House Love

Again — other than the paint, one big difference is the organization of the items in their bookshelves.  Things seem to be placed strategically in their home, rather than haphazardly like in ours.  But oh, my friends, how I love to organize!  You’ll see in the notes on my picture that a lot of the “stuff” that fills our bookshelves is going away.  I’m donating the books, finding new places to put some of the chotchkes, and will also be implementing a few more design elements from around our home to fill the space.  I’m also going to get rid of one of the shelves on each side of the bookshelves – I think this will help make the shelves look more “open”. 

Since I’m doing this the el cheapo way, we’re going to be using leftover semi-gloss white paint from our cabinet makeover, and leftover “Bison Brown” paint from our fireplace room redo (pictures of that whole area of the house to come!)  Bison Brown is another Behr color, and it’s a dark, chocolate brown — the perfect color for the contrast I’m looking for. 

Stay tuned for Part II of our makeover — we’re planning to tackle it this weekend!   Are you planning on knocking any items off of your to-do list this weekend?

January 12, 2011

Vlogging. It’s like clogging…but without round-toed shoes.

Or, really, it’s not like clogging at all.  I just think “vlogging” is a weird/funny word and I suck at coming up with catchy post titles.  And it rhymed.

Anyway.

A bunch of people have done the dialect vlog that’s been making it’s way around lately.  Because I love to jump on bandwagons (and, honestly, because I’ve had so much fun watching other people’s dialect vlogs) I decided to give it a whirl myself.  I’m kind of awkward during it, but it’s the first time I’ve “vlogged” (ha) and you have to start somewhere, right?

Oh, also, I feel the need to note that every single person who has posted a dialect vlog (that I’ve seen!) has had their dog in their lap / around them while recording their video — it’s super cute.  :)  I followed suit, but Braeden is sort of camera shy.

Anyway, getting to the point!   Here’s the list of words that you’re supposed to say in your vlog…

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught
And here’s the list of questions…
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
And here’s my vlog:
So, that’s about it!  I’m sorry I had to keep fixing that stray piece of bangs that kept poking me in the eye….it was driving me crazy!  :)  I hope you consider posting this vlog (or any vlog!) and if you do, let me know — I’d love to see it!
January 7, 2011

Project Numero Uno.

Now that we’ve decided that we’re staying put, we have to start working on our home improvement projects.   As of today, we have a total of 34 projects on our “to-do” list.   I know this because I’m an organizer and I input all of our project ideas into Excel and subdivided them into categories and then listed if we would be “DIY-ing” or hiring a vendor, the projected cost of each item, the actual cost of each item when complete, the projected completion date, as well as the actual completion date.

I have a problem.  I heart organization and lists.

Anyway,  the first item on our project list was buying a new stove and microwave range hood.  (I think the technical term for this is “microhood” but that sounds weird to me.)  You see, both our stove and our microwave were on their last leg(s), they didn’t match our other appliances, and they were just old and icky.  The stove?  Well, one of the burners was an “adjustable” burner (we’re all electric in this house).  You could flip a switch and make the burner go from “small” for a saucepan to “big” for a stock pot or frying pan.  Pretty nifty, except for one time when I flipped the switch from “big” to “small” to make some macaroni and cheese (don’t judge) and the burner just…turned off and refused to work.

So, utilizing many of the tools in my home improvement arsenal, I did the most logical thing a girl could do — I whacked the side of the stove with my hand until the burner turned back on.   And it worked!  Except for the switch on the opposite side of the stove — the one to make the oven light turn on — started to make a sizzling noise every time I used it.  Yeah, like I said…it was on its last leg, and I’m thinking it was about ready to short out.

(I also feel compelled to tell you that both of these appliances were covered in a sticky, amber-colored goo when J first moved into the home.  I used everything I could think of — 409, Goo Gone, scouring pads, the “magic” eraser, etc. — to clean that filmy goo off of them to no avail.  I cleaned them to the point where I was comfortable cooking food on them, but it still irks me that I couldn’t get them completely clean.  What’s up with that, previous homeowners?)

But!  As if the stove with the janky burner wasn’t ghetto-fabulous enough, the microwave sensed that the stove was trying to make my life more challenging and decided to perform a one-up .  In my frenzied cleaning efforts on the microwave, I noticed that the door was a little…wobbly.  And every time I would wipe it down, a plastic piece would fall off the side (it covered the hinges where the door met the microwave).  I was annoyed that it was falling off, but the microwave was operational and we didn’t have the money to replace it.  Until.  UNTIL.

One day, I was just going about my business, getting ready to heat something up  in the microwave (most likely a makeshift quesadilla or something of that sort — again, don’t judge).  I pushed the button to open the microwave door — yes, a button, because our microwave isn’t normal and doesn’t have a HANDLE and you have to push a stupid button to open the door — when all of a sudden the front panel of the microwave door started flying DIRECTLY TOWARDS MY FACE AND THEN, SUBJECTED TO THE FORCES OF GRAVITY,  QUICKLY FELL AND HIT MY LEFT FOOT.  Yes.   You read that correctly.  The front panel of the microwave fell completely off of the microwave door.  And hit my foot.  And because I’m keeping it real, profanity ensued.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  As soon as we decided that we were staying, the two things at the top of my list were a new stove and a new microwave.  So, as of last Saturday, we are the proud new owners of this beauty:


(photo from Samsung’s website)

And as of tomorrow (delivery/installation time pending), we will be the proud new owners of this beauty to match the stove:


(photo from Samsung’s website)

Ahhhh.  Such things of beauty when compared to what we’ve been dealing with for the past 3 years.   I would post pictures of our old appliances here so you can compare and contrast, but really?  I don’t have any handy, and do you really want to see pictures of icky old appliances?  Probably not.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice: that microwave door even has a HANDLE!  It’s a modern marvel of machinery.

January 3, 2011

Well, I’m feeling sheepish.

First off, happy new year!  I hope your 2011 is bright and shiny and full of hope and promise.   I just wonder how many times I’m going to catch myself writing “2010″ before I get the hang of “2011″.  It’ll take me until February, I bet.

So, you know how last month I posted about how we were building! a! house! and how I was hesitant to put it out into the Universe, lest the Universe take it away?  But then decided that I need to embrace it and own it and put it out there so that good things can happen?

Ahem.  Well.

There was one other reason that I was wary to “put it out there” that I had forgotten about.  The chance that we would change our minds. 

We’ve changed our minds.

I know!  I know!  I shouldn’t have said anything until it was really for sure 100% decided.  But I was all worked up about dream kitchens and master suites and floor plans and square footage that I had to just share it.   So yes, here I am, feeling a little sheepish and that I should return everyone’s congratulatory comments with an apology note. 

Just exactly why did we decide to stay put?  Well, it was a lot of factors — money, being the first and foremost.  The amount that we would have had to put down on a new house could make some serious improvements into our current home.  Plus, we have a good mortgage, good property taxes, we live in a good area…etc.  All of those things.  Plus, we don’t really need more space than what we have now, but our house does need a good bit of TLC (which was one of the biggest reasons we were considering moving in the first place). 

So: old plan of moving = out.  New plan of fixing up/renovating/making the best of what we have = in.  Plus, if I’m being honest, I really do love parts of our home (my precious built-in bookshelves are coming to mind) and I know we have a lot of potential to make it awesome.   I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be a busy year!

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