Summer!

Summer has officially arrived at our house.  Having summer vacation every year is a definite perk of my job and Carter and I have big plans together. 

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More down time equals more time for projects and blogging.  So much has been going on for me to share, I just need to sit down and get it written. 

Normally I would apologize for my absence (which at this point is not really surprising to anyone), but it was a conscious choice for me to spend more time with my family and doing projects for the love of them and not thinking about the “blog” aspect of it all. 

And I have to say it was lovely in a lot of ways.

In early March, I thought I had strep throat.  Nope.  Then I thought I just had the flu.  Three days of high fever and not leaving my bed later, I promised Derek that I would go to the doctor again the next day if I was not better.  That night I felt short of breath and it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.  Like I just ran 5 miles beating.  Since that was obviously not the case, I tried the taking taking deep breathes and thinking calming thoughts.  Nope.

To make a long story very short, I ended up in the ER and then admitted at the hospital for a couple of days with pneumonia and tachycardia atrial fibrillation (basically my heart was beating incredibly fast and in an irregular rhythm).  There were a couple of scary moments (like the heart monitors going crazy in the ER and 6 people rushing in….one with the paddles) but the good news is they think I am totally fine and the pneumonia caused the whole thing.  The question is why the pneumonia hit me so hard since I am not 70 and have never had it before, but we will probably never know. 

But spending a couple of days on the cardiac floor and hearing everyone be surprised my age and my condition (You are the patient with the A-fib???-hearing it more than 10 times makes you feel slightly like a freak of nature) put some things in perspective. 

Like how quickly things can change.  Like how the ability to have another baby is not a given.  Like how precious time with my family is.  And how short it could be.

So over spring break I promised myself there would be no to-do lists.  I would be present in every single moment and not running through everything else I had to get done.  It was a lot harder than I expected but by the end of the week it was getting easier. Not much was getting done, but we had a great time.  Since then the to-do lists are back but I try to make sure there is no guilt attached if not everything is checked off.

So if a blog post did not get done or molding did not get caulked oh well if meant spending quality time with my family. Or spending time trolling Pinterest.

And it was nice.  But I have missed the blog and the community.  And while I can’t promise three posts a week, I hope to be around here more often.  Or so says my to-list in front of me at the moment.IMG_8694

Because I have projects and quilts to share.  And a certain someone is almost 1 with a party coming up.  And it is summer.  Hope to see you soon.

My New Best Friend

I know everyone has probably heard of Angie’s List because it is nothing new.  But we had were one of those people who had never thought about using it.  Until our AC bit the dust. We joined in order to make an educated decision about hiring someone to replace the HVAC system.  Then we used it to find an electrician to fix the wiring in our house that was casing the A/C to keep tripping the breaker.  And the then we used it to hire someone to help us find our house again from the tree that was swallowing it. 

I was playing with the idea of just chopping it down because I hated it so much.  But it is amazing what a lot of trimming did to change my mind.

Here is the the after-

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I really meant to have a “before” but he came early and I had just gotten back from the pool.  It would have been weird enough to start snapping pictures of the tree with them there, but adding a swimsuit into the mix I decided it was not worth it.  So you will have to you you imaginations that it was covering all the top windows and only the bottom two feet of the door and bottom windows were showing.  No pizza delivery guy was finding our house.  And it was hitting the roof (which I do have a before pic of weirdly enough.)

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So while this site costs money to join, it was worth every penny as we have been very satisfied with everyone we have found through them.  Now if only tree trimming wasn’t so expensive…..

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Loving the Mint

Hope everyone had a happy and relaxing Fourth of July and you are enjoying your long holiday weekend.  We have been enjoying mojitos and making good use of mint plant.  This drink is worth adding a mint plant to your garden.  It is easy to grow, but it can be invasive so you may want to think about using a pot to contain it. 
My favorite mojito recipe involves about 12 fresh mint leaves, 1/2 a lime, a shot of rum, agave nectar, ice and club soda.  Agave nectar is my new secret ingredient in the drink.  The recipes I found use simple syrup or sugar for added sweetness.  But sugar in a cold drink is gritty and frankly I was always too lazy to make simple syrup even though it is easy.  Obviously I am very lazy.  We had bough agave nectar because supposedly it is better for you than sugar and we wanted to try it out.  It worked perfectly and it keeps a whole lot longer than simple syrup.  Glad I was able to solve this pressing problem.

Which is a good thing because we still have half a summer (and a mint plant) left.....

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Turn Back Time

There are some perks to sharing an office with the space that old school library books go to die.  Besides the potential for procrastination. And the ambiance that shelves of books bring (paired with the hum of the main computer servers of course).

Anyway you get to score these finds.


You know when you read the books from the 50’s about how to be a “good wife” and so forth?  Well these remind me of that but only with interior design and decorating….in 1987.  Which of course is also known as the golden years of design and fashion. But on the other really does not seem that long ago.  I would link to them for purchase (or possibly an updated edition) but could not find them anywhere.

Let me share some of the gems-
 


But I thought that the addition of this coffee table was interesting.….look familiar?

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Maybe they were onto something??  Nah, the mint and mauve definitely counteracted that.

Bring back any memories?

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A-Tisket A-Tasket…

What is the best thing about winter?   It makes you appreciate spring so much more.  Even going to the grocery store after a long day of work is enjoyable when it is 80 degrees and sunny.  Especially when a month ago you were wearing 6 layers and cursing the snow.

So in honor my newly found good mood, I decided to make a spring resolution.  And since I am putting it on the blog it makes it all official, we actually have to do it. 

When we were organizing the basement I stumbled on this odd shaped object all wrapped up in trash bags.  Hmmm what was that?

Picnic Basket

Our picnic basket!

Picnic Basket

This was my most favorite wedding present.  I was so excited when we opened it and had all these visions of packing it every weekend and lounging in the park together ….eating and drinking wine of course.

Now want to hear the sad and pathetic part?

Picnic Basket

Ummm that was almost five years ago and it has never been used.  Yep never.  Told you it was sad.  I swear it was because we have been too busy with house projects.

So in the spirit of spring I decided to bust it out of the trash bag and keep it out so we would be more likely to use it. 

Because who can resist this picnic-i-ness?

Picnic Basket

Picnic Basket

I am not usually a red gingham type of girl, but in this basket, I think it is perfect.

And to up the ante, I also want to make a picnic quilt.  I have a couple more baby quilts that are 75% done. And after they are finished, I swore to myself that the next one would be for us.  Since we have a big fat zero quilts in our house as I repeatedly give them all away.  The picnic one can be incredibly simple since it will be hopefully thrown in the dirt and eaten off of and washed many many times (you know with all the picnics we will be having).  But it will be ours. ….and I can save the more difficult patterns for a throw in the family room.

So will you guys hold us to it?  Any other fun spring ideas to add to my list?

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Spring Break!

Even though my flight was delayed three hours, I was 10 seconds from being embarrassingly airsick and it rained the entire time, my Spring Break Trip to D.C. to visit my college roomie was spectacular because…..

IMG_0719Isn’t she the cutest baby ever? 

Just in case you can’t decide here is some more pics…IMG_0667(1)

And with her beautiful mommy…IMG_0724

In case you still can’t decide…email me.  I have over 100 more pictures to make my case.  I was so busy snapping pics of baby that I somehow missed getting a picture of Katie and I.  Ouch.

I also brought with me her first birthday present, a new fun quilt.IMG_0676(1)

This was by far the most difficult pattern I have attempted thus far.  And I am happy with the results, but it is not perfect.  I titled it appropriately “Learning Experience.”

I used the free Off the Grid  pattern on Moda Bake Shop with Hunky Dory Fabrics by Chez Moi.  I thought the fun prints and colors were perfect for a little girl.

And the back-

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And the best pictures of a quilt…being loved by a baby-IMG_0664

Oh the leggings…IMG_0670

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And let me share this insanely creative idea for making incredibly cute big blocks inexpensively for babys that Katie came up with.  Use shoeboxes and cover them with scrapbook/wrapping paper and clear packing tape. Genius!

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I am not up on my baby crafts, but I thought that was so creative and thrifty.  She was always the crafty one of the two of us.

Of course we did some home decor and fabric shopping during the visit.  I gave Katie her first sewing lesson….and let’s just say we chose a project that was a little tough for her teeny tiny sewing machine.  I was forbidden from taking pics of this and hopefully we can try again next time

Derek is happy to report that since I had to get back on a plane I was not able to buy anything of substance on our escapades.  But Katie scored this amazing mid century modern screen that she plans on using as a headboard from a store called Modernicus.  And it was only $125.  If you are in the DC area and love authentic mid century modern pieces, you will love this store. 

And they helped us wrestle into her Camry in the rain….double score.

And now for your parting gift….IMG_0773

Yum!

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Makeover Time

In case you have not dropped by the blog in past couple of days, I wanted to announce that we have gone through a makeover. Yeah! If you have dropped by, you have seen the work in progress and you should look again at the somewhat finished product.

Thanks to Ellie at Rainy Day Templates, I was able to update the look of the blog very inexpensively and then use my own limited knowledge of html to add in some other pieces that she so kindly set up for me. In the coming weeks I am going to update some before/after posts with more detail and add some more links at the top, but for now I am loving the new design and am hoping that it makes navigation very easy.

So come out from behind your readers, take a peek and let me know what you think of the new look!

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Happy Labor Day!

Derek and I had a very relaxing weekend which was perfect because he has been working insane hours ans we have not had an entire day without one of us working in months. I could go back in the blog and tell you when that weekend was because I know I mentioned it, but that date will be too painful since it was so long ago. So trust me...it has been awhile.

We even swore off home projects this weekend. I know, I was surprised too. We almost caved on Sunday when we talked about finishing up the laundry room but we stayed strong (too bad for the blog). Instead we spent the day going to the art museum and a rose garden in a park we used to frequent when we lived at our old house. It was perfect.

No pics of the art museum because of that pesky no cameras rule, but I did snap tons of photos of the rose garden. I will spare you the million closeups of different color roses, but here is a sampling-


Since we moved out of the city and into the 'burbs we have not visited the park and I have really missed it. Especially the roses. The entire garden smells amazing and there are beautiful blooms everywhere. I told Derek that if we were not planning on having children someday and therefore needed a yard, I would cover ours with roses. But since that also would not be awesome for resale I will have to be satisfied with our 4 roses and try to make the trek back to the city more often.

We drove by the old house....which was bittersweet. Of course there were a couple of new cool bars and restaurants that have opened right there since we moved and all the pretty old houses made us miss the city. But we kept saying to ourselves...garages, closets, yards, and not having to pay for private elementary educations for future children. We absolutely love our new house and the location, but there is just something about huge trees and gorgeous old homes.

Our old house itself was also bittersweet. The lawn was overgrown, weeds were growing in all the perennial beds and the evergreen bushes on the sides were brown and dead. The screen door was also missing. And that was just the front yard that we could see.... Sigh.....

On another totally different note, I have another love in my life that was a Saturday purchase-
Wallpaper compliments of the rose garden

Not an Iphone, but the Sprint version- the Palm Pre. My previous phone was over two years old and only held a battery charge for an hour or two so it was not very functional. I am so excited and have been playing on it constantly.


I have literally not put it down as evidenced by the pics being snapped at the desk next to the computer.

Hope you have a relaxing Labor Day!

I am the Best Wife Ever

Today while we were driving home from my parent's house in St. Louis for Easter not only did we listen to sports the entire drive on an crackly AM channel....but the Master's. If you think watching golf is boring you have never heard garbled announcers whispering about someone analyzing grass with no picture to go along with it....for hours. Also every time I heard them say "Kenny Perry" I heard "Katy Perry" and then the song "I Kissed a Girl" popped in my head. I should have thought ahead and packed my Ipod.

Since I am such a nice wife I think he should help me paint my craft room and not complain about planting a million plants this spring. Even trade don't you think?

The Starfish Fiasco

Image courtesy Microsoft Clip Art Gallery

Looking at the bookshelves in the family room last night and thinking about bringing back the seashells for spring/summer I remembered the starfish incident of last spring. The memories......


After I got the family room somewhat together I wanted to accessorize the bookshelves. So I went to Michael's and got a big bag of seashells. I arranged some of the bigger seashells and starfish on the shelves and in vases. After arranging and rearranging I figured out the perfect arrangement.

Two days later while Derek was out of town I came home from work to find a single vase lying empty on the floor under the bookshelf.....

So I thought,"I wonder what was in there.....there are the big seashells, the coral...where are the starfish?"

I swung around and saw the perpetrators trying to look innocent-
The Eater


The Hider

Winter is a hider so I frantically searched all her favorite hiding places: in the couch, in her bed, under our bed, in clean laundry....no starfish.

Jack will eat anything....so I called the vet.

J: Hi, Could I speak to the vet, I think my dog might have just ingested a starfish.
Receptionist: A what?
J: A starfish, you know like an animal some people use for decoration?
Receptionist: Okay..................hold on
Vet: Jack ate what?
J: A starfish
Vet: Like a ceramic statue?
J: No like a animal
Vet: How did he get a starfish in Kansas?
J: It is a dried dead one, it was on a shelf for decoration
Vet: You decorate with starfish?
J: And seashells, it is actually very in right now so I am surprised Jack is your first patient with this problem
Vet: First time I heard it (insinuating I am a weirdo for using dead animals for decoration)...anyway how big was it?
J: About 7 inches across.
Vet: Did he eat a piece of it or the whole thing?
J: I can't find any of it so either it is hidden very well or he ate the whole thing....but he is acting fine
Vet: Bring him in just to check. Sure it was him and not Winter?
J: Winter is a priss and will barely eat her food. If it was her, she would have hidden it and not eaten it.

So at 5 o'clock on a Tuesday I am loading Jack in the car, causing Winter great stress that she wasn't going also, and then sitting in traffic to get to the vet's before they leave.

$200 and a stomach x-ray later Jack gets a clean bill of health .

No more starfish in our house.

In December I was putting on my snow boot when I felt something hard. I reached in and pulled out a half-eaten starfish.

The List.....

I honestly don't remember where I first got the idea for the 101 things in 1001 days. A blog? The Nest? Another random website? The idea came back up when Derek and I were having one of those "so when do we want to have kids" talks. We talked about all the little (and big things) we wanted to do before that time came. But instead of just talking about it, I decided we should each make a list so we had a better chance and actually doing it. So I googled "101 things in 1001 days" to get some ideas. There this actually an entire website dedicated to these lists here. Basically you make a list of specific measurable tasks to be completed in the next 1001 days. So Derek and I made our lists while driving to St. Louis at Christmas to visit family. When we got back I typed my up in a pretty font and have been diligently checking things off since then. (Derek has yet to type his but oh well.) But I have noticed that I have been slacking off in my checkmarks recently so I thought this blog would be the perfect place to make me accountable and document progress. Also it is a little sad how long my "house" category is so most of the things I would be posting about anyway.

I did not actually reach 101 things, but I have been adding things and whatever my number is, that is how many days I will give myself. Since I started 1/1/09 it will be easy to figure it out.

Also there are some things that are on the list that for personal reasons I don't want everyone in the world to know.

So here is my ultimate to do list- current completion date: about 1/1/11

House

1. Finish living room drapes

2. Finish sewing kitchen drapes

3. Paint master bedroom

4. New light fixture in foyer

5. Landscape front

6. Landscape side yard

7. Landscape back yard

8. Redo craft room

9. Redo guest bath

1o. Redo basement bath

11. Finish touch up paint

12. Paint master French doors

13. 100% finish kitchen

14. New photos in frames on photo wall

15. Get flower picture reframed

16. Put house pics on rate my space

Organization

17. Rip CDs in Itunes

18. Organize linen closet

19. Organize spice rack

20. Organize recipes

21. Backup pictures on computer

22. Organize coupons

23. Organize receipts

24. Organize magazines

25. Organize bedroom closets

Health/Fitness

26. Work out 5 out of 7 days a week for a month

27. Complete 30 day Shred

28. Complete 30 minute HIIT on bike

29. Ride bike on entire Indian Creek Trail

30. Run a 5K

31. Bike on Katy Trail

32. 2 bottles of water a day/month


33. Get a massage

Dogs

34. Be able to walk Jack and Winter together with no pulling

35. Master drop it command

36. Master leave it command

37. Master stay command

38. Take pups on family vacation

Personal



39. Visit World War I museum



40. Go to Art museum together again



41. Visit farmer's market on a regular basis



42. Host large party



43. Get and learn how to use digital SLR



44. Take an Art class



45. Take a second enrichment class at community college



46. Start a vegetable garden



47. Start a new rose garden



48. Go apple picking



49. Do marriage workbook



50. private



51. private



52. Go to a new piano bar



53. Get library card



54. Go to library one a month for 6 months



55. Join some sort of club (book, gardening)



56. Learn to crochet



57. Learn to knit



58. Take a sewing class



59. Volunteer

60. Do a rotating new recipe night 5 times

Financial

61. Private

62. Set up automatic transfers to savings

63. Use cash system for 6 months



Additions:


64. Start a blog


65. Put before pics of house in album


66. Organize inspiration pics on computer


67. Use Quicken consistently for 6 months


68. Sew four pieces of clothing


69. Read 75 books


70. Develop new storage system for jewelry


71. Finish living room throw pillows


72. New light fixture in guest room


73. Refinish bedroom set


74. Learn how to paint (oil/acrylic/watercolor)

Here goes nothing......

So I have been contemplating joining the blog world for a couple of months now and have decided to take the leap. Why you ask?

Why finally join the blog world when I can barely take enough time to ever update my status on facebook? Why blog since spelling/grammar/proofreading is not necessarily my strongest area? Why take the time to write posts that only my mother will take the time to read? Do I even have anything interesting to write about?

At least these were the questions I was asking myself......

I have decided to take the plunge is a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy being creative and currently do not have any outlet to share this with the world. I am a school psychologist by day that job does not satisfy my addiction to design, gardening, and DIY projects. I spend so much time researching DIY projects, inspiration photos and how-tos online that I hope adding my personal experience could be helpful to someone else. Also since I suck at phone calls and facebook, I hope that this will give me an opportunity to provide family and friends updates on our life. My friend Sarah has also been urging me and I finally gave into the peer pressure (so maybe she will actually read it too).

When I tried to think of a clever title I had lots that did not make the cut (or were taken by someone more clever and faster than me). Most of my interests involved the house but titles involving DIY projects and home design were too narrow since I also love other things like gardening and crafts. Although DIY-Manic almost made the cut-get it like dynamic but has DIY and Manic involved since I love those types of projects and I am a psychologist-not funny to anyone else but me and possibly insulting to people with Bipolar disorder so it was crossed off the list. When I thought about the common characteristics of all my interests (at least the ones I plan to blog about-I will spare everyone with my weird interests like watching COPS) they all involved something that was pretty/beautiful/creative. So I finally settled on the title of "anything pretty" since that will encompass everything I plan on writing about.

So here is my vision for my blog-lots of before and after pictures since we are currently updating our house room by room after finishing our previous house, detailed how-tos from projects we have completed and will be doing, inspiration pictures, gardening successes and failures, life updates, craft projects etc. Hopefully it will helpful and somewhat entertaining. Thanks for reading!

Jenny