Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring has Sprung

This winter was awful. AW-ful. Terrible. Cold, snowy, gray, and did I mention cold? And snowy. As in the schools missed a record 13 days of school, with some districts out even more. Let's just say that makes this spring even sweeter. The past couple of days have been warm and sunny. And I have been taking FULL advantage to finally complete a couple of projects I've been dreaming of since know, snow days #6ish (of course, my office doesn't follow the schools and never have snow days. This year, we took one. For the first time since I've started working there. THAT'S how cold/snowy it's been).

Our front yard has never been my super favorite. I like particular aspects at different times of year. We have a cherry blossom bush that is amazing in the spring. Not so much once the blooms turn to leaves and the bugs start munching. The fire bush is beautiful in the fall, until a storm comes through and knocks all the red leaves off. Plus, in the spring and summer it's just one more green thing.

The green is probably my #1 issue. I love me some green, but that's pretty much all we have. So I spent the winter dreaming how to change it. Then I made lists. Then I dreamed a little more. Then I decided I wanted to visualize how it would all look. Then I figured I should probably let my husband in on my plans. Sometimes I forget he has opinions...and good/helpful ones!

Here's our front porch before:

The plan:

And we'll call this "In Progress":

What we've done: Ripped up three bushes and planted two purple azaleas. I have purchased the day lilies, but still need to plant them. I also bought a butterfly bush instead of milkweed, which also needs to be planted. Instead of zinnias, I got...something that's dark red, which got planted in my bobble-head Mister planter. Oh, and we had a storm door installed. Mister's a little terrified of it.

I'm waiting on the pink jasmine to go on a trellis (which is to be purchased). And of course, there's the back yard, but that's a WHOLE other issue.

I also have some daffodils and tulip bulbs scattered around and those will need to get put somewhere, probably a larger planter somewhere.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Menu Plan Update

Remember my super amazing menu board that's going to revolutionize Husband's and my eating habits? Yeah, that was a big fat fail. Not the finished product, but the actual usage.  Whoever first invented these clearly cook no more than ten specific meals, nor did he or she ever try anything new. Once I went through my recipe binder and created strips for each meal, I easily had 200ish strips of paper. Which had to be sorted through each and every time the board changed. Plus, sometimes we just like to call an audible and eat out or eat something planned for a different day. So I retooled the board a bit.

I recycled all of the paper strips and junk and just hot glued a push pin to a paper pad I had.  The board is really a moot now, but it's so pretty! I left the clothes pins up as well, just in case specific things need to get clipped, like a paper recipe.

On the pad, I just write the various meals Husband and I decide to have when making the grocery list. I put about three meals worth of meat in the fridge and freeze the rest. As we actually cook, I cross the meal off the list and pull something out of the freezer. This has cut down on the amount of meat that spoils.

The pad below the "menu board" lists the staples we're running low on. Then I just add it to the shopping list.

What actually has revolutionized our meal planning/shopping/eating is the greatest website ever: Pepperplate. It's FREE and has an app for iPhone and iPad (we don't do Android, so I can't vouch for that).

It lists all of my recipes...

and you can import recipes--a handful of websites are supported for direct imports...

or you can manually import (i.e. copy and paste from a blog). Let's just say I don't repin recipes from Pinterest anymore. I just upload them to Pepperplate.

You can save the original website source (yay for legal!) in case you need to refer to it and upload pictures. There's even space for notes, so when Husband suggests a variation, I make a note. If a recipe needed a little something, I make a note. 

You can also create menus. We're hosting Christmas this year, so I'm already working on some recipes I may need.

It also has a menu planner, but as I've already mentioned, that style doesn't work for us.

What's truly awesome is you can select the recipes you're cooking and it will generate a shopping list. You can manually add in items (like those staples we're low on) and it's customizable so the categories can be switched up to match your usual grocery store. Because I'm always forgetting SOMETHING that's in one of the first aisles I hit. And it all syncs between devices, so the recipes I import on my laptop are available on my iPad when I cook and the shopping list is always on my phone.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Pepperplate. They have never heard of me and I was in no way compensated for singing their praises. I just think it's awesome, yo.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I logged on and fully expected that I hadn't posted here in at least a year. Nope. 7 months. #winning.

Several projects I wanted to update my sister on (Since she asked. Hi Mel!), so for now, I'll just do the biggest one. The longest one. The one I'm not convinced is actually done yet. The entryway.




That stupid bench has become a thorn in my side. I'm letting it be for now, but I built it and the legs bowed when sat on. Which is kind of the point of a bench. I tried adding a support in the middle and that was a massive fail. So I disassembled it and it sat in the garage all summer long. I've finally gotten into a routine with my work schedule, so I worked on it the past couple of weeks and abandoned the idea of the original turned legs for simple straight ones and also mitered a frame for it. I still think it wobbles, so we will see. But I do really like how it looks. I have buttons I plan to sew on the pillows. Just got too excited to get the bench in. That also explains the pictures. I keep forgetting to take pictures during the day, so excuse the lighting. And generally terrible pictures in general. They don't at all show what I did.

Since the table had to go for the bench, Mister's walk supplies needed a spot. I used this idea from Pinterest. He has a hook for treats, which need to start being taken on our walks for when the neighborhood kids want to pet him. There's also a hook for his coat, his dry off towel (which was the real need in the entry. We previously just left the towel in a heap on the floor), flashlight, and leash/collar/harness. Who knew such a little dog needed so much stuff!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weekly Menu

I have a confession. Husband and I eat out too much. Like, way too much. I always begin the week with good intentions, but usually by Wednesday, I'm so wiped out from work and school that take-out rules our household for the rest of the week. And my waistline is certainly showing that. Enter Pinterest (seriously, how did anyone come up with any kind of creative idea before Pinterest?).

The idea is that by having the visual reminder of what's for dinner each night, we curb the "It's a quarter til 7 and we just got home and we still have to walk the dog and what's for dinner?" So last week, I hit up Hobby Lobby to gather supplies (cork board and fabric) and spent a Saturday morning crafting.

I covered the cork board with fabric, hot glued thumb tacks to the clothes pins and meal envelopes (made from scrapbooking scraps), and cut/hot glued the days circles. I decided to do only 6 days because 1) That's all the room my board had and 2) If we can stick to meals during the week, I'd be OK with cheating on weekends.

I went through our recipe binder and wrote down almost all of the recipes (didn't do sides or desserts because I'm lazy and didn't have enough strips). I also made strips for standards that don't need recipes (like spaghetti and porkchops).

Rearranging the magnets and a command hook on the fridge later, you have this:

I know, I'm a terrible tutorialist, but since my inspiration came from tutorials, I figure you can just follow my sources and figure out what to do. Not that it's hard.

I, of course, picked the worst week to try a menu board. Notice I only have meals for Monday and Tuesday. Yeah, that's because Husband has been out of town on business, so I was on my own for 3 dinners. Like I'm cooking for just me. Time will tell if we stick to it, but I have high hopes.

Couple of ideas: I plan on adjusting the strips just a bit. As I was getting the board ready for next week, combing through the ideas was a pain. I'm not quite sure what to do about the overall idea, but I'm planning on making more strips but in different colors. So main dishes would be one color, sides another, maybe even crockpot meals another color. That way if I'm looking for something specific, I can eliminate strips more quickly. The pins will certainly hold more than one strip at a time. I also love the idea of using clothes pins--you could clip a new recipe and after you've tried it, decide to make a strip or let it go.

Also, I like having the shopping list right below. That way, if we have a hankering for something, we can jot it down.

Finally, I think it's a good idea to write where specific recipes can be located on the back. I used card stock for the strips, so Sharpies don't bleed through. Like I mentioned, I wrote the recipes from our binder and usual suspects that don't need a recipe, but I also went through one of our recipe books. We have 3 similar books (Taste of Home from different years), so I'm always confusing which recipe is in which book. I jotted down the book name and year on the back of the strip and I think that will help give even more options.

The strips are the most time-consuming part, but overall, this project was only a couple of hours. And if it helps us get back on track both health- and budget-wise, it's worth it.

Count this as a repin to my "I Actually Did/Made Something from Pinterest!" board

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I've always enjoyed reading. I always brought a book with me to restaurants during most of my elementary and middle school years. As an adult, I don't have the time to sit and read nearly as much as I'd like.  That's why I treasure the days we spend in Canada, where there's literally nothing to do but read. This weekend, however, I needed a Facebook break (one too many "announcements" will do that), so I dug into the mountain stack on my nightstand and picked up A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I've been a follower of her blog for some time, so I was super excited for her book to be released. I mean, any book that creates "vagina-gate" has to be good, right? Right.

I thought about so many ways to write about this book. Truth is, she's written the things on my heart in such a more thoughtful way than I ever could. I laughed, I read excerpts (and drove Husband crazy, because of course I had to add proper context), and I nodded. A lot. An "amen" or two may have been yelled said.

Most of all, I wished this book existed when I was in tenth grade Bible. I attended a fundamental Christian school and tenth grade was almost enough to ask my parents to let me transfer to public school. Almost. That year, my class was responsible for running off three teachers. And the fourth didn't return the next year. So four. Teacher #1 assigned a paper about any Biblical topic. I don't remember how many pages. Three maybe...a lot by high school standards. Teacher #2 was #1's wife, so they left together. Teacher #3 had to actually grade said papers and a presentation was part of the grade as well. After considering a list of suggested topics, I settled on "women's role in the church." I attended the same Disciples of Christ church my whole life and we're known for being a "liberal" bunch, so I knew my take on women's roles was NOT what anyone else in the class believed. I knew I could get an F on the paper. To make matters worse, I had to give my presentation after the other student writing about women's roles--with a traditional approach. Luckily, my mom was nearing completion of her ordination so she had no shortage of resources to help me defend my position, providing historic context for 1 Timothy. I got an A, by the way. I was sad when he left (which for the record, we didn't actually RUN off. His wife became very ill, so he left to care for her).

Rachel's (like how we're on a first name basis?) book wasn't anything earth shattering. I knew a lot of what she wrote, but she said it so much better. There was still plenty for me to learn and take away, particularly July: Justice.

Again, I struggled with how to respond to her book. There are so many passages I wanted to share. I will simply leave it with her conclusion: [SPOILER ALERT] "The Bible isn't an answer book. It isn't a self-help manual. It isn't a flat, perspicuous list of rules and regulations that we can interpret objectively and apply unilaterally to our lives.
     The Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, poetry and proverbs, philosophy and prophecies, written and assembled over thousands of years in cultures and contexts very different from our own, that tells the complex, ever-unfolding story of God's interaction with humanity...
     So after twelve months of "biblical womanhood," I'd arrived at the rather unconventional conclusion that there is no such thing. The Bible does not present us with a single model for womanhood, and the notion that it contains a sort of one-size-fits-all formula for how to be a woman of faith is a myth" (p. 294-295).

She goes on to describe the many things one can support with specific scriptures: slavery, oppression, war, peace, love, outdated texts, etc. Rather than read scriptures with a "what does it say?" mindset, ask yourself first what you're looking for and you'll find it. After all, Jesus himself said it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of A Year of Biblical Womanhood as a Christmas gift. I receive no compensation for my review and all opinions are 100% mine. You are welcome to agree with me or disagree. However, before you disagree, you are required to READ her book, not assume you know what it says. That's the only way to have productive conversation. I reserve the right to delete comments I suspect are simply to stir the pot.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Beginnings

I promise I'm not getting sappy. There's enough of "I'm looking forward to the blessings of 2013" or "2013 has to be better than 2012" on Facebook. And I'm under no illusions that I'll actually be a better blogger this year, especially since classes start back in 2 weeks.

The upside? It's my last semester and then I'll graduate with an MA Ed. with Literacy Specialist endorsement. I've spoken with my boss at work and there are plans in the works for me and my degree, so I'll hopefully be able to do what I love and be compensated both in hours and pay. Can't beat that with a stick (What kind of phrase is that?).

Anyway, I like to think of this as not just a decorating blog, though the few posts of late would probably beg to differ. I try to keep this as a "life" blog--yes, decorating our first home, but also the general comings and goings of Husband, myself, and our adorable puppy dog. Though, the puppy dog does a much better job keeping track of that.

In the spirit of life updates, here's a super-brief recap of the end of our year.

We hosted both sides of the family for Thanksgiving, again. Since I'm a glutton for punishment apparently.


The table

Waiting for food...or digesting. Who knows.

We celebrated our third Christmas in our house.

(sorry it's blurry)

Mister waited patiently for Santa Paws at my parents' house.

Mister and his cousin, Walt, begged for treats at Husband's grandparent's house for "calendar Christmas"

Mister received twice as many Christmas cards as we did.

And we rang in the new year in style.

See? Super quick. Be sure to watch the Rose Parade today. A local high school (Lafayette) is performing and one of our clients and the child of a tutor are both performing!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quick DIY Job

In anticipation of the hoodlums Trick-or-Treaters coming by tonight, I had a quick project last week: The doorbell:
That's seriously what it looked like. What caused the middle of the button to bust out like that, I have no idea, but ours is not the only one, so I suspect either a rash of doorbell breakers or it has something to do with the weather...I guess? Anyway, not exactly beckoning. Plus, there's lots of little ones in our neighborhood and I didn't want to traumatize them in these formative years. It didn't do anything like shock you, but still.

So I shut off the power at the breaker (FYI, the breaker for the doorbell apparently fell under "Family Room"...which is the other end of the house. Go figure) and unscrewed the main doorbell and then unhooked the wires.

I ended up with two wires. I hooked those around the screws on the back of the new doorbell and then started cursing. See that little hole where the wires come out? Yeah it's a small hole and the new doorbell had a large extension that needed to fit in the hole. I didn't trust my drilling capabilities with the wires (one wrong move could be very bad), so I went back to Lowes and got a flat backed doorbell. I then repeated the process above and this time, success!

Much better. I turned the power back on and no fires (yet)! I even tested it and Mister kind of lost his mind. We should probably work on that.