Friday, February 26, 2010

Week in Review: 2/26

Valentine's Day!
I didn't really take any pictures this week so enjoy this one from Valentine's Day. Wine and crayons are always a good time!

The Sartorialist teaches us  how to knot our scarves! Now if only he could teach me how to take great pictures and dress awesome all the time. Maybe next week!

Some things are so exciting they deserve all caps, like CUPCAKE TOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so making some Mediterranean white bean salad next week from Budget Bytes.

I'm adding "turn mason jars into soap dispensers" to my already long list of things to do once we buy a house.

chookooloonks made a life list and is already off to a great start. This sounds like a great idea. I'll add it to the list of things to do as soon as possible.

Have a wonderful weekend! Lee and I will be going to my parents' for the weekend where I will get to visit my oldest friend's new baby! (Not that my friend is old, but we have been friends the longest. Since kindergarten!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Five Years Ago

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I spent a semester in London (with Caitlin!) and those were some of the best three months of my life. I told someone this recently and realized that it's been exactly five years.

To celebrate the trip and mourn the five years of separation between my dearest London and I (I mean, I lived across the street from Charles Dickens' childhood home and within a five-minute walk from original Jane Austen manuscripts! That's just not something you get to do in Louisville.), let's read old journal entries! I don't journal much, but I do when I'm in Europe. This might be a recurring theme for the next month or two so you have been warned!

Sunday, February 27, 2005 at 12:16 a.m.

Friday [exactly 5 years ago today!] we went to the Tower and saw where everyone died. I saw the tower were Thomas More was held which Brent [friend] was excited about.
 Tower of London
Today was awesome! We went to Alton -- a 15 minute walk to Chawton [Jane Austen's home] -- which turned into a 30 minute walk when we decided to follow the signs instead of the directions we were given. [The directions were to take a right at the roundabout but there were two rights!] The signs took us along the highway -- not the safest place to walk. But I thought it was a fun adventure and reminded me of Elizabeth's muddy walk to Netherfield when Jane was sick -- perhaps my eyes were also brightened by the exercise. ;) [Caitlin didn't think this was quite as cool as I did but at least I walked closest to the road so if we were hit I would've been hit first. I think that was very nice of me.]
 me at Chawton
Chawton had lots of neato things: the topaz crosses Jane and Cassandra wore, a quilt she made with her mom and Cassandra, a handkerchief she embroidered, her writing desk -- even her donkey cart.
 Winchester Cathedral
We were going to go to Salisbury but Stonehenge doesn't open until March. So went to Winchester -- saw the cathedral where Austen was buried and did some shopping and wandering.

It was a lovely Jane Austen day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And the House Hunt Continues

dream house?
Lee and I doodled our "dream house" while waiting for dinner at Macaroni Grill. If you draw it, it will come?

I hate to disappoint but the housing update is that there is no update. In fact, we have not (and will not) stepped into a potential house for the whole month of February because THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE.

*bangs head on anything I can find* (Actually, not really. I've been banging my head on things all month that it just doesn't matter anymore.)

On January 31 we saw a house that Lee loved and I was "shmeh" about. After further reflection, I came to see Lee's point that it has more than any house we had seen yet. How much more? It's painful to reflect, but basically: 2-car garage, pantry, walk-in-closets IN EVERY SPACIOUS BEDROOM, finished basement, deck, nice appliances, a master suite, on a dead-end street, most square footage we've seen (about 2900).

So who cares that it's at the top of the price range with all kinds of carpet I want to replace?! Plus had a kitchen that could use about $5,000 to really maximize the space but DIDN'T ACTUALLY NEED ANY ADUJUSTMENTS?! Apparently I do. Apparently that bothered me so much I had to stew on it and then it was sold about 3 days before we were going to see it again. Right as Lee and I were having daily conversations along the lines of, "You want to buy this house?" "I think I want to buy this house!" it disappeared from our lives forever. (And no, the financing hasn't fallen through yet. We've been hoping watching.)

I was expecting this. Everyone I know who has bought a house has had "the house that got away". But in the end they usually always find something better. So I'm sure at any minute now we'll find something better. It's just been a slow month. There have been some biggish snows that I'm sure have been slowing people down from listing my dream house. And rumor has it that March is the hot month to put your house on the market. And March starts in four days!!

I'm also consoling myself with the reminder that when we started looking at houses, I was more afraid that we would find something too soon than have to extend our lease (which ends April 27). I'm sure I said that I would rather extend the lease a month than move out three months early. And the longer we look the more money we save!

But oh! The anticipation is driving me crazy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yeah I'm a Shadowboxer Baby

Did I tell you all the story of my ridiculous holiday iPod indecisiveness? I wanted an iPod for Christmas so I got the 16gb nano. After loading all my songs onto it, I realized that my precious new little nano was already full. I didn't want to delete songs every time I added one, and while I loved the nano size, I loved more the idea of having all my songs with me all the time. Because you never know when you're going to need the Aladdin soundtrack right now! (True story. And the answer is late night drives when Lee needs you to help him stay awake so you resort to singing Disney duets. There might have been also been an Elton John medley except all I could think of was "BBBBBenny and the Jets. Benny! Benny and the Jets." on a loop.)

So the Apple store was so kind as to let me exchange my nano for a gigantic 160 gb classic. (There was a restocking fee but since I got a discount when I turned in my old iPod for recycling, I was totally cool with all this.)
Now I have all my music, all the time. The perk of this being that I have been reconnecting with some old musical favorites. On today's re-bonding list has been Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys (her first (I think) CD), and I'm currently listening to some Fiona Apple.

Fiona's really the one who started all this. Driving around with my nano, remembering how Shadowboxer is probably one of my all time favorites, and knowing that I could never take her off my iPod for future Glee soundtracks. I must have them all.

image: Gonzalo Baeza Hernández

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Definition of a "Crap Ton"

I say a lot of random things. I've recently realized that my response to things is often "sparkles". Something happy? Sparkles! Something not happy? Sparkes with sarcasm! Yeah, I don't know why I do this either. I also sometimes declare "Christmas!" when good things happen. Go figure.

But when discussing large amounts, I like the expression "crap ton". What is a crap ton exactly? Well here is a crap ton of goat cheese polenta:
a crap ton of polenta
Giada and I had a disagreement this weekend over exactly how much is "6 side dish servings", because after dishing out 5 side dish servings of polenta there was still all of the above left! That is like 13 servings Giada!! (But it's okay, Giada, I still love you. And apparently you can freeze polenta!)

In other amusing kitchen anecdotes, Danielle and I baked cookies this weekend before making dinner (with a crap ton of polenta) and while we baked cookies, I needed a sink to de-thaw the pork tenderloin in, so I put it in the bathroom sink. I thought it was pretty entertaining.
This might be the picture ID that appears when I call my sister-in-law now. Cool.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Week in Review: 2/19

We often refer to Kevin as our best pet. Because the other two are crazy. And high maintenance.

Monkey bread is one of my mom's signature dishes, but I really want to try out the smitten kitchen version because it has cream cheese glaze. Mmm....yes please.

Few things are as inspirational as a kitchen renovation for under $1000. (Of course, the home owner did a lot of the work himself and Lee doesn't know how to use a wet saw...yet!)

Several cute nightstand ideas from Apartment Therapy here and here.

If you're into college basketball, I recommend the College Basketball Road Trip.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I get Shady Lane Cafe cheese grits tomorrow morning so with that alone it's guaranteed to be a good one! Plus I'm hanging out with Danielle this weekend and we will hopefully make it to a very important scene in Pride and Prejudice!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chore Chart-ing

"cleanliness may not be next
to godliness but it sure feels

- Nikki Giovanni

I have got to clean the apartment tonight. After lots of postponing and telling myself I'd do a little here and there, I'm back in my usual situation: I've gotten nothing done and everything needs to be done. Even mopping. (Bad snow. Bad.)
When I reach this point every 3-4 weeks, I reflect on how if I broke things down and did a little every night the apartment could be really clean, all the time, without entire panicked evenings devoted to the situation.

So to prevent future nights like tonight, I've made a chore chart. (You can actually view it here.)

I feel very dorky about it and like I need to pick up some gold stars on my way home from work. Maybe some poster board too. But I feel dorky about a lot of things (the magnitude of my love for Jane, romantic comedies and Glee) and scheduling things out is a generally effective way for getting me to do stuff.

The chore chart, in addition to being delightfully alliterative, runs Monday through Thursday on a four-week cycle. I still need to do a big cleaning tonight, but if I start the schedule on Monday, hopefully I won't have to do any big cleanings in the future and I can easily transition into cleaning twice the square footage once we buy a house. 

(And yes, Lee often helps around the house, but since he's generally pretty busy with working and schooling full-time, I do must of this and he helps with the dish drying, dishwasher unloading, trash disposal, kitty litter emptying and Zoey's evening potty trip.)

Is anyone else this crazy about cleanliness? Am I the only childless chore-charter (ooh...alliterations!)?

image: unusualimage

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pretty Papers

Over the weekend I used some adorably patterns from lovelydesign to be easily crafty. Like play in Photoshop Elements, print, cut -- that easy-peasy. (Okay, anything with Photoshop isn't that easy but still.)

First, I made a little something for Lee for Valentine's Day. For V-day and anniversaries we tend to spend our money on the date and just exchange cards, but I wanted to get him a little something. I couldn't find any Valentine's Snickers, so I made Lee a Valentine-themed Snickers with lovelydesign's February pattern.
Valentine's Day treat
Valentine's Day treat
And I used her November pattern for a note card.
hello card

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It Is Finished!

Remember back in October (October!) when I started knitting a baby blanket, similar to this lovely pattern?

Well in December right as I was about to be drowned in holiday crafting, I finished the square of the blanket, but it was a pretty wonky square.
I attempted to size it (by wetting it and ironing it into a square shape) which helped the situation some.
Once I recovered from holiday crafting in January, I began to add a border to the blanket.

Then, last Monday, I finished it!

The ends curl up a lot a bit, but it works and is generally recognizable as a blanket!

I declare it a success! Except I think I'm going to stick to scarves for awhile. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Be Well-Read: An Update

This is about how I feel like my reading progress is going: s   l   o   w.

I have improved at remembering to read and making more time to do so. But this whole 50 Books in 2010 thing (fancy link in the left sidebar marks my progress!), which should be about a book a week, is progressing s  l  o  w  l  y.

I blame two things.

First, while I'm enjoying The Lord of the Rings, they're not a quick read. When you add lots of pages of tiny-printed complex storyline and my moderate reading pace, things don't get completed quickly. I feel like two weeks to tackle them individually is totally reasonable and I've been going at a pace of two-three weeks each.

Second, where has my time gone?!?!?! I was determined to finish The Return of the King this weekend but Friday I was doing house tasks and procrastinating on them ridiculously. Then Saturday and Sunday it was pretty much one event after another. The reading time I squeezed in was devoted to my church's women's book group book. While that does count toward my overall reading goal, my total books read is not on track at the moment.

But that's okay. As soon as the LOTR is done I'm going to down some quick reads, which should get me back on track before reading some meatier choices.

So while it doesn't seem like it, I'm making progress. I promise!

Random side note: I did not see Valentine's Day this weekend. We went, got tickets, got in line for popcorn...and waited...until I realized that the movie had already started 4 mintues ago! I leave Lee to go find a seat and the only two seats together are in the front row. So we got a refund and will hopefully go see it soonish.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Week in Review: 2/12 (Valentine edition!)

Valentine's graphic
I know just enough InDesign to be dangerous...

Kasey is going on a bit of a Valentine's run. Which inspires me to run my two miles tomorrow, even though the temperature is flirting with freezing.

Party Perfect has a cute, simple way to decorate Valentine cupcakes, which could be applied to other cupcake decorating themes (monograms, sports, boy/girl).

It's not too late to print your love a Valentine or a romantic Post-It.

My favorite morning radio show was talking about the "sexiest songs of all time" this morning but they totally forgot my two: Feelin' Love by Paula Cole and Turn Me On by Norah Jones.
Oh! And Kiss by Prince. So that makes three.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day everyone! Lee and I will be continuing our tradition of V-Day dinner at Macaroni Grill (yum!). Of utmost excitement, Lee agreed to go see Valentine's Day with me so *fingers crossed* he won't change his mind! ;) It's like they redid Love Actually with more of my favorite people! (Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift, McSteamy, McDreamy, Jennifer Garner...!!!!!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some Audio/Visual Entertainment

Some snow pictures

But better than pictures is video of Zoey trying to get through the snow on her stubby little legs.

Also, for your enjoyment, we have finally captured footage of Zoey and Reagan wrestling!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Funk

I think I've got a bit of the funk.

This weekend was crazy. Wonderful, but busy. I saw many friends who unless I saw them everyday I could not see them enough. Perhaps because these were friends, who for a brief time, I saw every day. I still don't feel fully accustomed to the idea of barely seeing them 3-4 times a year at best. They're only an hour away, how does that happen?!

So I saw wonderful friends and family this weekend, but really from Thursday through Monday I was not home very much at all. Then the snow came (In light of the SNOWMAGEDON in DC I feel lame just mentioning our 6 inches.) and I got to work from home. While I thought this would give me time to play catch-up, and it did,  I still feel the crazy to-do list towering over me and I can't find the few minutes I need to sit down and just get things sorted out.

Sometimes it feels like life is that mole game. You know the one at Chuck E. Cheese where the moles pop up and you have this big thing to beat them with but there's always another one popping up somewhere else?

I haven't read or worked out nearly as much as I need to. I really need to.

But I made it to the grocery tonight so now I have more food options other than Oreos. (Although I'm still suffering from a menu-planning mental block and even when I look through recipes the only thing I can manage to come up with is spaghetti. Ah...crazy funk!)

And I will be in bed tonight by 11 o'clock. That alone can cure many funks.

Side note: When I say "the funk" I free associate to Old Greg.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reality Check

I mentioned before that I'm reading Pride and Prejudice with Lee's almost 13-year-old sister. Since this is my seventh time reading the novel, I'm loving her fresh response to the novel.

During last night's reading (We read during the Super Bowl and took breaks to watch the commercials. Jane Austen > NFL football), Jane received the letter from Caroline Bingley saying that they whole Netherfield party had gone to London, was unlikely to return anytime soon, and hopefully Mr. Bingley will marry Miss Darcy. Ouch.

Jane thinks Caroline must have had some sort of kind motive in saying that she hopes her brother marries some other girl when Jane obviously (unless you're Mr. Darcy) loves him. Elizabeth rightly thinks Caroline is an evil wench. Danielle declares, "Jane needs a reality check. Someone could come up to her with a gun and be like, 'I'm going to kill you!' and she wouldn't believe them."
So true. :)


Friday, February 5, 2010

Week in Review: 2/5

One of my favorite thing about Fridays is's Top 10 Celeb Quotes of the Week. This week there was one I was especially fond of from Ashton Kutcher: 
"I think every day should be a day of romance. Then, on Valentine's Day, you should get to tell whoever you hate that you cannot stand them. There would be one day of hating, and 364 days of love."

How convenient! I found some pork tenderloin recipes from Redhead Recipes right after I bought some pork tenderloin!

I am loving this accent wall from All Bower Power

Wonderful photo idea via Cubic Dreams.

I'm on this preservative-free, knowing-what-the-ingredients-are kick (Twix and Oreos excluded, of course) so I'm starting to consider baking my own break. This looks easy-peasy right?

This link I save for last because you will click on it and leave here immediately once you know what it is (I don't blame you.) and I like to think you'll stay for the entire post, so here is my weekend gift to you: the recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough truffles.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I don't know why, but I love wearing pearls.

I pulled out all my pearls yesterday, just feeling fancy.

The pearl earrings from my aunt for my Confirmation, that at the time seemed like a horrible gift (I was 12 and confused.) but I now love dearly. The one necklace was my grandma's. Another, my father-in-law made me. The third was $1 at a garage sale.

Why do I love putting on my pearls? I think this has a lot to do with it...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Have I mentioned that I'm generally a big chicken? My fears range from reasonably common things (sky diving) to not as reasonable (bees...really all insects including flies if they catch me off guard) to really ridiculous (97% of my visits to WebMD). So trying new things that have higher injury rates than channel surfing tends to make me nervous.

Like skiing.

I have wanted to go skiing before, I just haven't had an opportunity. This doesn't mean that I wasn't slightly concerned about falling and rolling down the side of the hill at such a rate that my ski or pole will get loose and go straight through my brain.

This weekend Lee and I finally hit the slopes (We went to Perfect North, if you're in the tri-state area and care.) Trouble started right away when I couldn't get my skis on, due to a combination of general weakness and afraid that applying pressure to my heel would cause me to slip and fall on my butt. Lee had to slam my boot into the ski himself.

Lee dropped me off at ski class and by the end of the hour I was feeling pretty good so Lee and I headed for the bunny slope. (Yes, I got nervous riding the ski lift. I really wish it had a lap bar.) After some hesitation at the top of the hill, I finally began my descent, intentionally falling at one point because I was going faster than I wanted and couldn't get myself to slow down (Lee said I wasn't pointing my skis up enough as I was turning.)

After this setback I headed back to the extra bunny slope (You know, that one that has the moving sidewalk to the top instead of the actual ski lift.) for two more practice runs before returning to the big bunny slope. There we stayed for the next two hours. Up and down. My confidence slowly grew and I got to where I was enjoying it enough to want to come back and ski again.

As night fell I headed back inside to my book and iPod so Lee could have a chance to do the more challenging slopes. All in all, I'm pretty proud of me and my skiing accomplishments, though small.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Be Well-Read

Today starts a new month (already?!) and a new focus of my resolution-ing: reading.

For as long as I can remember, I've been an avid reader. In high school I always took a pleasure book with me to class to read if there was any free time. I was the nerd who had read the required reading a few years before it was required.

And then there was college. Reading books of my choice became something I only had time for on breaks. Once I graduated and could read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted...I didn't. It would take me months to finish a book. I would come home from work and busy myself with chores or mindless activities. I told myself I would read before bed but by the time I went to bed I couldn't stay awake for more than a page or two.

Despite how disappointed I've been with myself over this, I never really set about fixing it. So that is the goal for the month: making reading a priority again. I enjoy it when I take the time to sit down and do it, so now I hope to proactively find the time for it, as opposed to waiting until I have a free hour because that doesn't happen.

For added incentive/frustration/goal-setting, I'm hoping to read 50 books this year. I'm already behind probably because I'm working through The Lord of the Rings, (January 1 I was 60 pages into The Two Towers and now I'm starting The Return of the King. I did read another book in between though.) but I'm still moving at a faster pace than before. Probably because my default activity when I arrive home is to read. Not to watch TV or open my laptop.

I can't wait to get caught up on all the books I've bought or been given that I haven't read, all the ones I want to read, and all the ones I've been recommended!