Newlywed

Mason the Labradoodle, Our New Best Friend

Posted on April 30, 2012. Filed under: Dog, Home, Newlywed |

Adam and I will be bringing our new, furry bundle of joy home in less than 1 week. It’s unreal! We’ve been to visit the little critters three times! I can’t deny myself time with a litter of puppies. Who can?

 

We went back this weekend to finally pick our puppy. Last week was nerve-wracking. I was so nervous we wouldn’t get our first pick. (Let’s be real. I was freaking out.) We will welcome our new family member this Saturday! Since pictures say more than words, here is a sneak peek at what our newest family member looks like.

 

Not him, but his cute little sister

So the new member of the family is….

Mason

He was our first pick and he’s beautiful. He has a great little personality too. His coloring is dark apricot, but if he takes after his daddy he may darken to a red and lighten again with some highlights. He already has goggles (pale coloring around the eyes), a light chest, and a few white feet. He really is as soft as he looks. And though it doesn’t seem possible, he’s even cuter in person.

I brought him Mr. Moose, his future bed buddy, to play with. Mr. Moose was almost as big as Mason, and about the same color. How cute. He gnawed on Mr. Moose’s antlers a little bit, but he was pretty tired.

I will be back next week with tons of pictures (and probably the week after that and the week after that). Here’s some more pictures to get us through the week:

In case anyone is wondering what we are doing to get ready for our puppy, here’s the brief rundown after we did breed research and selected our breeder:

  1. Read At the Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
  2. Reading How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves by Sophia Yin
  3. Purchased wire crate with divider panel
  4. Purchased fleece pad for crate (eventually he will use this)
  5. Purchased training treats and bully sticks (the breeder is sending us home with a few days’ supply of food)
  6. Purchased a bed
  7. Cleaned off old puppy gates from my parents
  8. Purchased Nature’s Miracle, bitter spray, and toys
  9. Made a vet appointment for next week
  10. Still need to get a puppy collar and id tag
  11. Breeder will give us leash
  12. Need to get an ex pen for days we can’t make it home for a few hours
  13. May get a long lead for him until we get a fence
  14. Installing a fence is on the short to-do list
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Progress on the Puppy Front

Posted on January 23, 2012. Filed under: Dog, Home, Newlywed |

In case you didn’t know, I’ve been begging Adam for a puppy since the beginning of time.

At first, we were poor, unmarried, and not living together. Not ideal for co-parenting a puppy. Then we were married, slightly less poor, but living in an apartment and still adjusting to marriage – still not a good environment for a burgeoning four-legged friend.

Now, we’re still married (happily ever after), we bought and live in a house, and if we can’t afford a puppy now when we’re both working and have no children, when can we?

I plan to read these books:

 

 and

We agreed that as much as I want to drop everything and GET a PUPPY TODAY, it’s better for us to wait until the spring or summer to bring our furry friend home. Neither one of us want to house-train a dog in the dead of winter. Taking a puppy outside in the middle of the night in below freezing temperatures is not my idea of a good time.

We narrowed our breed choice down to the Labradoodle.

Image from MontanaLabradoodles.com

Image from Labradoodle Puppies

Aren’t those the cutest faces you’ve ever seen? And a Labradoodle isn’t an official breed, so I use that term loosely. But… I will say it’s important to find a breeder who can show you the genealogy of your doodle. Inbreeding is rampant in labradoodles because they are so popular. People want to make a quick buck.

They are pretty energetic dogs and they are highly intelligent. Labradoodles need a lot of activity, but they are fine with some romping in the backyard and daily walks. We were thinking of getting a Brittany for the longest time, but I’m just afraid we can’t give a Brittany all the activity it needs. They are hunting dogs and are bred to be quick in the field. They run a lot. I read some forums where people ran their Brittanys – ran them– 2 hours a day. If I’m honest with myself, I know I won’t be able to do that. Ever.

Labradoodles are great because if you do your research and go through a good breeder, you can get exactly what you want in terms of coat, color, and temperament. I grew up with a dog and never once experienced any dog allergies until I reached my early twenties. A few years later, I still experience a runny nose and itchy eyes around dogs. Labradoodles are fairly hypoallergenic, but if you’re allergic to dog saliva there’s no helping you. Labradoodles come in small, medium, or standard size. We are leaning towards a medium Labradoodle. Adam really wants a bigger dog. The mediums tend to be around 20 inches high and weigh between 30-50 pounds. The standards are about 24 inches high and weigh around 65-90 pounds. That’s a big dog.

Speaking of big, it is huge that Adam is starting to think more seriously about getting a dog. For years he has always been such a Debbie Downer when I bring it up. Now, he thinks we may be able to get one this summer.

We visited with a breeder this weekend outside of Atlanta. We got to see a lot of her adolescent and adult dogs – all in different sizes with different coats. We could pet and feel and experience what different sizes and coats were like and make an informed decision about what we want. Luckily for us, she is expecting a litter of medium sized pups in apricot or caramel (our preference) in mid-May. We met the daddy, his mommy, and the maternal grandmother and grandfather. Seeing all of the fam and their personalities was great. We LOOOVED the dad’s personality! Unfortunately, the mom was at a guardian home, but we can meet her when it gets closer to picking out the puppy. She had some puppies there that are 4.5 weeks old – so cute – and some that are 8 weeks old and waiting for their new families. They had all been claimed which was too bad because Adam fell in love with a green-eyed redhead!

I was so surprised at how soft they were. And neither one of us had an allergic reaction, and there were about a dozen dogs around us for 2 hours! I cannot wait until mid-May! We are on a waiting list (put a deposit down and everything), so I hope we can get a pup out of this litter. The odds are in our favor! Watch out! There will be lots of puppy stories this summer if all goes well…

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12 Bullet Points on 2011

Posted on January 4, 2012. Filed under: Newlywed, Wellness |

• January – Rang in the New Year with Adam’s family in Florida

• February – I got a promotion at work

• March – Adam and I took a mini-trip to Savannah and started looking for a house

• April – Adam and I ran a 5K (my first) and we both finished under 30 minutes

• May – We went to a great Zac Brown Band concert with friends, traveled to Washington, DC to visit Adam’s twin brother, Adam got a promotion of sorts, and we went under contract on our house!

• June – closed on our house and started the pre move-in renovations: painting, blinds, and some deep cleaning

• July – went to a wedding, moved into our house, celebrated my 25th birthday and had about 20 friends over to our empty and box-ridden home, I went to Austin, TX for a conference where the highs were about 112 degrees every day. Ouch.

• August – went to another wedding and spent a weekend on Lake Burton with our friends

• September – had Adam’s brother and friend from high school stay with us, started some major yard work, and had a date night at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

• October – celebrated our 1 year anniversary in the Smokey Mountains. I went to Nashville with my sorority sisters, visited my brother while I was there and helped him propose to his fiancée. I started working from home 1 day per week, we kept doing lots of yard work

• November – went to Birmingham to help my formerly-pregnant-now-she’s-had-a-beautiful-baby-boy sorority sister get ready for her little baby. We got our gorgeous kitchen table and chairs from Adam’s parents, celebrated Thanksgiving and Adam & Ryan’s 28th birthdays with my family in Atlanta, kept going with home improvement projects like curtains and painting, and raked/blew approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 leaves in the yard

• December – went to several office holiday parties, participated in 2 white elephant exchanges (1 with my book club and the other with my sorority sisters), Christmas shopping, went to Florida to spend Christmas with Adam’s family. While there, we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and got trampled on by muggles pretending to be wizards. Going on December 26th is a bad idea. Now we just have to go back. Celebrated a late Christmas with my family on New Year’s Eve.

Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2012:

• Various weddings all over the western hemisphere in North Carolina, Maryland, and Grand Cayman

• My sorority’s anniversary celebration this spring. It will be one giant reunion

• Our California trip. It’s the first real vacation we’re taking since our honeymoon. We’re beyond excited!

• Hopefully getting a puppy! GASP!

• New opportunities at both of our jobs

• Slowing down a bit with house-related projects – it gets exhausting

• Visiting Adam’s family in Florida and DC

• Having Adam’s family visit us in Atlanta

• Making progress on acquiring furniture for our house

That’s about it. Summing 2011 up like that shows me how busy we really were. While 2011 was very good to us, we’re hoping 2012 will be mellow. We’re ready for a slow-down. Anybody make any resolutions? I did. I made mine back in November though. That’s how badly I need to work on my potty mouth, eating healthier, and slowing down (I do too much. It’s a problem.).

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The Paper Anniversary

Posted on November 1, 2011. Filed under: Newlywed, Travel |

Our 1 year anniversary was at the beginning of October. Crazy. We can’t believe a year has gone by either. It seems like yesterday that we were up to our eyeballs in wedding paraphernalia, rocking out with our closest friends and family at our reception, almost missing our flight out of Atlanta because the Ritz didn’t deliver our scheduled wake-up call. Yeah. The Ritz messed up. Who can you trust these days if you can’t trust the Ritz-Carlton? They felt real bad though. And about this time last year, we were having the best time ever on our honeymoon in St. Lucia.

 

I asked Adam if we could go back this year. I was only half kidding. He said no. Something about money and hurricanes and that St. Lucia will lose its luster if we overexpose ourselves… (I disagreed to all points.) But we still took a mini-vacay to celebrate the occasion.

We rented a lovely house in Western North Carolina on Lake Nantahala for the weekend. There was absolutely nothing to do in the nearest one-horse town of Andrews. Thank goodness. To be honest, we’re both pretty sick and tired of all the going, going, going we’ve been doing lately. It seems like we’re always working on the house, working at our jobs, or attending some function or another.

The house was great. It had a huge front porch with views of the lake and Smokey Mountains. The fall foliage was amazing! Check it out:

There was also a hot tub and a big screen TV. I hit up the Red Box before we left Atlanta with a nice selection of movies. We relaxed all weekend, watched some flicks, watched college football, read (I caught up on all my catalogues and magazines), and disconnected from the outside world (no cell phone service or internet).

We’ve decided to adopt the traditional anniversary gift practice. Well, at least for this year. It may get harder as we progress. Like once we get to steel. That’s year 11, so I have a decade to save up for that Corvette Adam wants. Or a tank. I guess Corvettes aren’t made out of steel. They wouldn’t go very fast. Oh well. I’ve got 10 years to figure that one out. The first year is paper and coupled with our mountain getaway, we decided to do gifts less than $50. I ordered this custom print from Etsy’s your very own artist.

We have this Peter Pan thing that everyone on the outside of our relationship probably thinks is super cheesy and they’re right. But it’s special to us.  Adam and I did the long distance thing for a few years when we were dating and we’d always say on the phone at night that we’d see each other in Neverland (i.e. our dreams). So Peter Pan has become our thang. Adam even got me a first edition Peter and Wendy book as a wedding present. Yeah, he’s a really good gift giver. He’s so much more romantic than me.

He got me a Wedding Anniversary journal where you can jot down significant events for every year of marriage, what gifts you gave each other, memories from your wedding and the first year. It was super thoughtful. He filled out some of the questions in the book with his take on things which made me tear up a little. But that’s not all. He also wrote a note and sealed it like the memory notes I gave him in his wedding present last year. AND, he gave me a few frames of film from an actual Peter Pan film reel. How sweet is that? Now I’ve got to figure out the best way to display them.

It was such a nice trip. We really enjoyed relaxing, eating big breakfasts, drinking French press coffee, and curling up on the couch. Here are a few pictures of us on the mountain:

And here’s a little video of the drive down the mountain. Adam added some stock music because all you can hear otherwise is the phhhhhh of the wind. Can you say idyllic? So beautiful!

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The Trifecta

Posted on October 20, 2011. Filed under: Home, Newlywed |

This post is about curtains so if you’d rather read about running, cooking, making stuff that doesn’t require a sewing machine, or painting, this post isn’t it. I’m all about some curtains right now.

I got lucky with the master bedroom curtains. Bed, Bath and Beyond happened to have just what I wanted in stock nearby. Oftentimes, what I want simply doesn’t exist, which is why I’m learning to sew.

We had some gift cards leftover from our wedding, and Christmas, and um, myhighschoolgraduation. Yeah, I should clean out my wallet… So we saved some money, which is always a good thing. I bought the curtain rods at Lowe’s though I tried to use ones I already had. They weren’t long enough. But I get an A for effort.

Side Note: The Previous Home Owners left quite a few window treatments. We are keeping some of them, but most of them were pretty ugly and don’t match our décor. In fact, the only curtains I plan to reuse are these:

on closing day...

I hope to use these in one of our guest rooms. I’m considering dyeing them a chocolate brown and sewing a bottom color block on the bottom 3 feet or so. More on that adventure later…

And what you’ve been waiting for… Here are the master bedroom curtains. Drumroll please….

I now have my bedroom trifecta of bedding, rug, and drapes. Woo-hoo! Let’s bask in the ease of buying something at the store. It is sooooo underrated. Believe me. I suffered through a week of sewing 6 7-foot tall curtain panels. Not the most complicated project, but oh so time consuming. Anyway, I love, love, LOVE the color palette in our bedroom: cool blues and soothing grays and platinums. It’s so spa like. I was nervous about the blue drape on a blue wall, but I think it looks niiiiice. I’m a sucker for tone on tone.

Notice how high we hung them? I like my curtains pretty high. I think they’re about 5 inches from the ceiling. It definitely adds height to the room. We hung them about 10 inches out from each side of the windows. You can see that the left curtain panel is behind our headboard on the window near the bed. When we first moved in I was annoyed that the off-center window was going to throw off anything I wanted to do over the headboard. But I decided there wasn’t much I could do. The way the furniture is now is the only way it will work due to the placement of doors and windows in here. Plus, I’ve come up with a plan that will embrace all that asymmetry. I’m sure I’ll let you know what that is once it’s closer to fruition.

The curtains are a tad formal with those French pleats. But the lack of a valance brings the formality down a notch. Over time, I plan to bring in an eclectic mix of artwork – by yours truly, local artists, and those fantastic people on Etsy – to dilute the formal mood. We also have them pooling on the floor for a more dramatic look. Some people don’t like that, but I think it works for a bedroom. I would be wary if I let my curtains pool on the floor in a high traffic area.

Never fear! This is just the first post of a 2 part series on curtains! Next time, I’ll go on forever and ever about the curtains I made all by myself. I’m so proud.

UPDATE: Since these pictures were taken, we’ve acquired 3 new pillows for the bed. Yesss! My pillow purchasing habits have resulted in a throw pillow moratorium in our house right now. I’m sure I’ll get some pictures up of the room as it progresses.

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I Call This Room the Den for a Reason

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Home, Newlywed |

For our den, I picked the color scheme of apple green, yellow, and tan about a year ago when we moved into our first apartment. I still haven’t fallen in love with it, so I decided to incorporate turquoise for a cool (as in not warm) element. Here are some rooms off of Pinterest with similar color schemes:

from Domino

Not sure where this is from, but I love the rug

So far, I really like it. I have my doubts occasionally. It’s a lot of warring bright colors, I know, but I’m being careful by using them in accents like throw pillows, wall art, curtains, etc. I thought these tiles would be a great way to bring that color into the room. I plan to bring in some throw pillows and I also bought some little friends about a month ago.

Petey

Harley

Meet Petey and Harley. You should have seen Adam’s face when I pulled Petey out of that HomeGoods sack. I’ve never seen his eyes roll that far around in their sockets. My question to all of you is, “is life worth living without some birds?” And though he may not appreciate this idiom, Petey killed two birds with one stone: he was a turquoise element I needed and he was a bird. I love ceramic birds.

By the time I brought Harley home a few weeks later, Adam was not surprised. I got Harley from an antiques shop in Atlanta that’s closing its doors. It was a sweet deal! I love horses – even green ones. And then I found this guy on zgallerie and I feel like I scored!

I am so trendy! They want 100 buckaroos for this stallion and he’s a boring gray. Plus he’s veiny. Doesn’t he look like he could be Harley’s dull, nerdy, older brother? I snagged Harls for a fraction of the price and he fits in nicely in our zoo – er, den. Speaking of my love for horses, I salivate every time I see this pin on my pinterest from Ballard Designs.

I wish I could DIY something like that.

My animal friends are living on our mantle and in our built-in bookshelf to the right of our fireplace. I am one of those people that believe too many books on a bookshelf makes for a boring design visual. You have to have a variation of things: books, boxes, bowls, picture frames, and ceramic animals (fo’ sho’). Just watch Emily Henderson on HGTV. She’s a genius at staging shelves. Although she usually crams too much stuff on there to suit even my cluttered taste. Getting our shelf configuration just right will take some time, but I’m having fun with it. I needed some yeller stuff, hence Adam’s growing collection of National Geographics. The bookcase could use some metallic things that have interesting texture to them.  It is still a work in progress. But here’s what we have so far. I apologize for the bad lighting. Getting new light fixtures in this room is on the to-do list.

And there is our wedding album almost a year later! Hooray! It’s fantastic.

Up next – get ready for all you ever wanted to know about curtains: buying them and making them!

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The To-Do List

Posted on October 3, 2011. Filed under: Home, Newlywed |

I love to-do lists. I think I rely on them more than food, water, and shelter. And that’s sad. In college, I wrote down every single task in my planner. Once I graduated, I carried around a weekly to-do sheet. It had everything on there: laundry, gym time (this is beginning to sound like Jersey Shore), call the insurance company, go to the grocery store, etc. Anal retentive? Me? No, no, no. I found a system and it works for me. If I forget to do something because I didn’t write it down, I get stressed. Can you tell I’m Type A? Now, I rely so heavily on the list that if something isn’t on there, it doesn’t exist.

So what happens when you buy a 47-year-old house? You make an extremely long to-do list. The House To-Do List is completely separate from my everyday to-do list. With the everyday list, I plan things out on a weekly basis. The house list is going to be over the course of years and years – something I have to remind myself constantly. We were lucky because there’s nothing wrong with our home. Everything works. The plumbing, wiring, insulation, HVAC, and windows are all functioning and most are new. But it needs some updating and we want to make changes that will make it our own. We are up to the challenge. We’re already rolling up our sleeves and turning our house into a home. There are tons of things on here that we’ve already checked off that I haven’t shared with you. Hopefully, I’ll get back to blog business in the next few weeks and post some pictures of our progress. Things have been so busy with work, house stuff, yard chores, and fun times with friends that I haven’t had a spare moment to blog about our busy lives. So here’s the To-Do List in all its glory in case you’d like to see. Crossing off some of those items gave me such an endorphin rush.

1.      Replace washers in bathtub in hall bath

2.      Curtains for the living room, dining room, office, guest bedroom, guest bedroom, master bedroom, family room, kitchen, etc.

  • Navy and green flat-lined roman shade for windows in kitchen – need rods extended out on L-brackets or just ring screws with a hook on curtain
  • o   Spray paint black curtain rods
  • o   Pillow covers for throws in family room: 2 yellow, 1 turquoise, tan/brown/ivory

3.      Blinds for kitchen, master bedroom and bath, den

4.      Paint living room (Parchment Paper), office, kitchen (Behr Topiary Tint), master bedroom (Valspar lament blue), guest bedroom (Valspar Cincinnatian Hotel Taupe), guest bedroom, main, upstairs and downstairs hallways, master closet, pantry

5.      Stencil living room – in progress

6.      Trim branches off of utility lines

7.      Treat deck

8.      Purchase and install new light fixture for over master sink

9.      Replace the hardware on the built-in shelves in family room

10.  Paint the front door and shutters – maybe shutters a dark green and front door Valspar Allen & Roth Front Door Red

11.  Build or buy a larger window box that suits the scale of the bay window. Plant it.

12.  Add a lamp to the lamp post

13.  Dig up the weeping cherry and boxwoods in the front of the yard – in progress

14.  General cleaning-out of pine islands, over-growth, dead trees, little trees, little bushes etc. – in progress

15.  Expand pine island in front

16.  Plant fescue in front

17.  Plant foundation shrubs in front of house

18.  Fill-in some of the sloping in front yard

19.  Bury clean-out caps or cover-up

20.   “Wallpaper” the big hallway upstairs with mixed and matched frames

  • Apothecary sign, black frames (set of 3), framed wedding invitation, pictures from wedding,

21.  Paint the back of the bookshelves on the wall they are on with something fun and bright? Could wallpaper these or use drawer-liner

22.  Cheap art solution in living room over couch and upright piano

23.  Frame 4 photos on the sides of mirror in dining room

24.  Find a place to hang blue matted frame – office? Nook in basement?

25.  Hang ledge shelves we inherited from previous owners over master bed

26.  Add crown molding to the upstairs bedrooms

27.  Add chair rail in dining room and wainscoting molding

28.  Chalkboard paint the side of oven cabinet

29.  Add some fun organizational stuff to the garage near the backdoor (a hook for dog leashes, storage for shoes)

30.  Make or buy or refurbish a long bench for the foot of the bed

31.  Get vintage chairs for the living room and refinish and re-upholster

32.  Build a compost bin and a rain barrel

33.  Pressure wash patio

34.  Remove rose bushes, level out garden bed, and seed for grass

35.  Hang a swing and/or hammock from a tree out back

36.  Hunt down some thrift store or craigslist bedside tables and refinish them for the master (drawers for some hidden storage)

37.  Add shelving in garage

38.  Remove door on kitchen from hall

39.  Widen doorway on kitchen from hall

40.  Plant around mailbox

41.  Fence front of backyard and repair left side

42.  Remove ivy – in progress (this is torture)

43.  Remove dead tree

44.  Pine straw the side of house

45.  Cover patio with stampcrete

46.  Pave stampcrete path from patio to deck

47.  Remodel hall bath

48.  Remodel master bath

49.  Tile half bath

50.  Remodel kitchen

51.  New light fixtures for house, inside and out

52.  Get IKEA shelving system with cubbies for office or spare bedroom/craft room

53.  Repair molding to attic entry

54.  Nail down quarter round in downstairs bath

55.  Spray paint vents white – in progress

56.  Switch outlets to white – in progress

57.  Find an old chest on Craigslist and refinish for alcove in basement

58.  Make a sunburst mirror and spray paint gold for over chest in alcove

59.  Paint wall behind the washer and dryer

60.  Make Atlanta subway art for console table

61.  Make built-ins around the washer and dryer for functional space (ironing board, laundry supplies, dry cleaning bin, drying rack or clothesline)

62.  Remove sliding closet doors in bedrooms, replace with something else tbd

63.  Replace bedroom doors and hardware

64.  Repurpose closet doors into work table for office

65.  Replace garage door with a plantation door

66.  Make ombre painting for master bedroom

67.  Disassemble playground

68.  Add shelving in unfinished basement

69.  Get lampshades for lamps in master

70.  Spray paint floor lamp & buy new shade

71.  Build a recycling sorter

72.  Get full bed and dresser from room at home for basement bedroom

73.  Caulk and seal exterior of back door in family room

74.  Replace battery in smoke detector in basement

75.  Buy fire extinguisher (1 for basement)

76.  Replace toilet seats (3)

77.  Drawer and shelf-liner for kitchen

78.  Re-plant the planter that is built-in to the porch with some shade plants

79.  Re-plant the various planters around the yard

80.  Organize our closet and dressers

81.  Get storage solution for master bath

82.  Paint back door chocolate brown

83.  Brace deck

84.  Stain and poly trim around back door in family room

85.  Install low-flow shower head in master, get plumber to sign off so we can get the water turned on

86.  Dig up dirt for a summer garden in the sunniest spot in yard (back of garage)

87.  Get 32 Gal. rolling garbage can and recycle bins/bags

88.  Patch holes in dining room and paint over

89.  Install lighting underneath kitchen cabinets

90.  Purchase and install new light fixture for over kitchen sink

91.  Make 12 x12 wooden squares with scrapbook paper over loveseat

By the way, my personal to-do list has been reformed! I was nervous about going all digital with it, but I decided to give it a go. If you have an Apple or Droid device, you should check out the Remember the Milk application. It’s pretty sweet.

 

I have the app for the iPad and its design is very similar to Twitter for iPad – all those screens you can swipe off to get gone. It will sync with your Outlook tasks and separate work tasks, personal tasks, and school tasks. It sends you email reminders every morning with your to-do’s. You can mark things as complete. You can write notes for each task if you need to. You can give them a time deadline as well. So far, I like it better than carrying around a ratty piece of paper with crossed-off items in ineligible handwriting.

Update: I’m obsessed with Remember the Milk. It has changed my life. I don’t know how I ever lived without it before.

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Life Lessons Learned from Our Lake Weekend

Posted on September 19, 2011. Filed under: Newlywed, Travel |

About a month ago, we rented a lake house with 3 other couples on Lake Burton in the north Georgia mountains. It was so much fun! We boated around the lake all day Saturday, rode the Ski-bob, floated/swam in the lake, and laid out on the dock. At night we played card games and roasted marshmallows. It was such a nice getaway and a great time spent with friends. However, as a newlywed and lifetime lake-goer there are always lessons to be learned …

Life Lesson #1: For the sake of your marriage, don’t drive on unfamiliar, windy mountain roads that wrap around a body of water in pitch black. Come to find out I wasn’t the only one with white knuckles and rapid breathing out of our group of couples. All my girlfriends wanted to kiss the ground when they got out of the car. I never once said anything to Adam. Well, maybe once. But he could still hear my sighing and see me gripping the dashboard with one arm and the door with the other. Apparently, it wasn’t helpful. And driving on curvy roads in the dark makes the drive seem 3 times longer than it actually is.

Life Lesson #2: Speaking of a longer drive…Don’t trust your out-of-date GPS to get you to your backwoods destination in North Georgia with no cell phone service. It would be easy for me to blame Adam on this one. He’s the one that didn’t want to pay $50 to update my Garmin. Alas, I should have just printed out some maps or something. We ended up turning off the highway on the other end of the u-shaped road our house was off of. We had to drive 5 mph for 5 miles on a dirt road with ruts, no light and steep cliffs. It was scary. It was frustrating. We thought we were almost there. We had no cell phone signal to call to see if we were almost there. The gas light came on. Bugs the size of softballs were colliding with our windshield. We could see the erratic flight of a couple dozen winged rodents. And our patience was already gone.

Life Lesson #3: Don’t suck any lake water up your nose. The brain-eating amoeba may attack. I don’t mean to be insensitive. I think 3 people have died this year from amoebas that thrive in warm fresh water. It is a serious thing to be concerned about. Hopefully, the water in Lake Burton was too cold for them. It was less than 80 degrees. I think we’re safe by now. But I’m certain all of us sucked some up our nose except for the dog. Leo was the only one with any sense. We’ll keep you posted if we have any symptoms.

Life Lesson #4: Reapply your sunscreen after swimming, especially if you haven’t been outside all year because you’ve been painting the inside of your house. Good one, Meredith. My back was pretty red. You’d think at 25 years old I would have figured this one out by now.

Life Lesson #5: Don’t think you can hold on to the ski-rope handle when Ski-bobbing. Case in point:

And you’ll see that this is where I sucked water up my nose.

Aren’t Ashleigh’s camera skills Oscar worthy? She does offer quite the hilarious summary when she says “Mission Failed”, but my film editor cut that out.

Our lake weekend was fantastic. I think we tend to forget to take a break from our crazy lives. It was a much needed vacation and we’ll have a lot of memories. Memories of campfires and s’mores, Egyptian Rat Screw and Apples to Apples, good food, good fun, deadly microscopic water creatures, huge spiders, fish that bite your arse (true story), never-ending windy roads, and the 12th time’s a charm when boarding a Ski-bob.

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Wife Home Alone = TROUBLE

Posted on August 11, 2011. Filed under: Gardening, Home, Newlywed |

Adam left me home alone a few weekends ago when he went to visit his family. I couldn’t go since I don’t have too many vacation days left this year and want to save some for the holidays. So I sent Adam on his merry way while I conjured up what to do all by myself.

So whatever did I do in a new house whilst my husband was hundreds of miles away? What any nice gal would do: I tackled some home improvement projects so I could surprise my dear, sweet guy when he came home.

1. Planting in the Planters – the previous owners left over a dozen planters of various shapes, sizes, and materials scattered throughout the yard. Some even had living plants in them. Most did not.

I took a planter inventory and went to Lowes for the goods. I got a mixture of colorful leaf plants and flowers that will stand up to the Georgia heat and my novice gardening skills.

I also got some soil too – a 64 quart bag of soil. It was heavy.The thought didn’t occur to me that I would be the one responsible for getting all that dirt where it needed to be.

On Sunday, I set up shop on the patio with the garden hose and my new nozzle – woo hoo! I gathered all my planters and staged different arrangements with all of the plants before I started digging.

all the plants waiting to be planted

figuring out what I want in each pot

my little fake froggy friend that I found and have not (miraculously) named yet

From the time I sat down on the patio to completion, it took about 90 minutes. And here is the final product!

Pretty great for only a little amount of time and money.

2. Painting and Staining a Door

Before the Makeover

The color of these steel doors in our living room was an eyesore. I think this blue-gray was the color they came in and it did not match our red pine wood paneling. I thought this would be a quick fix, but I ran into a little problem. See this annoyance here:

Yeah, goo from velcro that the previous owners used for mounting their curtains. It took about an hour to get off. Not fun. These are all the chemicals I used:

Goo gone, mineral spirits, a sponge dipped in warm water, and after 30 minutes, I went a little rogue and used a steel scourer – very gently.

I took it upon myself to buy a quart of chocolate brown satin paint when I was at Lowe’s getting the plants. It took two coats, and I had to touch up some spots that peeled away when I took the tape off. I think the paint doesn’t stick as well  to steel as it does to sheetrock. Fingers crossed that it holds up for a while.

On Sunday, I tackled the door frame around the same door. You may have noticed in the previous pictures that it was unfinished. My Dad brought over some Ipswich Pine-colored stain the week before. I used a foam brush that I could throw away when finished. I tested a small section near the floor to make sure the color was close to the wall. And it was! I applied a coat of stain to one section at a time and wiped away the excess with an old tee-shirt. If you don’t do this, your stain may be uneven and will take forever to dry. To simplify, I started on the left side of the door and stained that piece of molding, wipe. Moved to the top piece, stain and wipe. Moved to the piece on the right, stain and wipe.

 Lucky me because it was the right color with only one coat. I waited a few hours for the stain to dry and broke out the poly late Sunday afternoon. I applied one coat of poly with a new foam brush and that’s all she took. I forgot to take some final pictures, but here is one from my birthday and you can see the door in the background. Check out my new do!

I plan to make some panel curtains for these windows and the others in the room, but one step at a time, people.

3. Bathroom Space Saver – I don’t think I’ve mentioned that our master bathroom is rather small. Well, it’s quite tiny. Our house was built in the 1960s when men and women did not get ready at the same time to go to work because most women didn’t work, so bathrooms were smaller. That’s my theory. To compare though, our master bathroom is one of the largest we saw in the many houses we looked at from the mid-century. And we have another 1.5 bathrooms in case we find that it’s too close for comfort in there. There may be a bathroom expansion project down the road, but for now I wanted to make it as functional as possible. Enter the Bathroom Space Saver aka the “over the commode load abode”. That was a riff on bras. You know “over the shoulder boulder holder”? I crack myself up. Anyhoo, I went to Target for this item because they had the best options out of BBB, IKEA, and Wal-mart. So here is what I chose:

This thing was HEAV-Y. Luckily there was a nice, beefy gentleman looking at the same product and I sweet-talked him into getting it off the shelf and putting it in my cart. Thank goodness he was there. It was God that helped me get it in my trunk and out in the garage floor. I had to open it up and carry it piece by piece into the house. I really missed my man for all the heavy lifting I was doing.

I put this beast together all by myself on Sunday morning. It was my church. Don’t worry; I talked to Jesus a lot during the agonizing time it took to assemble. It took me FOUR HOURS. That’s longer than any church I’ve been to. And I’m embarrassed. At least I was smart enough to put it together in the bedroom floor so I didn’t have to move it very far once it was assembled. But it was still a pain in the rear.

Why did it take so long? Well, we just moved so all of the tools are scattered throughout the house. So once I hunted down the drill and got back to the bedroom with it, I realized I needed a hammer. And then the search for the hammer took 20 minutes… This happened for all 10 items I needed. Ugh! Also, there is hardly any space between the toilet and the vanity on the left, or the wall on the right. Wedging the legs and horizontal support in there took some creativity. I had to thread the support behind the toilet and around the pipe and take the bit out of the screwdriver to screw it in because there wasn’t enough space to use the whole screwdriver. Yeah, I was MacGyver. Later I discovered I could take the tank lid off of the toilet and carefully lift the legs out from behind. I’m smart… And the dummies that wrote the instructions have you put together the whole top and then lift it to put it on the legs. STUPID. It’s freakin’ heavy. They should have you assemble it on the legs, over the toilet, so little people like me don’t have to pick up a 50 lb. cabinet and line it up on some wood pegs and cam bolts. But victory prevailed. And it looks goooood, as do my triceps. I plan to frost the glass doors because I don’t want to worry about how the inside looks all the time.

Not huge makeovers by any means, but it is nice to get a few of those small projects finished. And it may seem like that wasn’t a whole lot of stuff, but it ate up my entire weekend, including early mornings. That’s love. Adam was very appreciative when he got home, especially when he had to help me put on the cabinet doors and bolt the shelf to the wall. I’m nothing but thorough when it comes to getting things done by myself.

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My 25th Berfday

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Home, Newlywed, Wellness |

My fantastic husband threw me a 25th birthday party in our new backyard last weekend. Never mind that we only moved in two weeks before and the inside of the house looks like the worst kind of chaos you’ve ever seen. We still wanted to have our nearest and dearest over so we could break-in the backyard. And our friends aren’t the stuffy type that would turn their noses up at a bunch of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap in our living room. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of the party. I was too busy wearing my b-day tiara and having fun to snap photos.

We kept it pretty casual. Beverages were beer, sodas, water, and spiked lemonade. For food, we had grilled pork tenderloin, this amazing mac ‘n cheese from Bon Appetit, and … we also went and got a Bocce Ball set so we could have fun and GAMES. We know how to party! My parents also came for the shindig, providing much of the meal and the cake and the hands-on help that is necessary when you have 20 people over at the same time.

I love having casual get togethers with friends and family where you can visit for as long as you want, spread out, eat, drink, laugh, and there isn’t a bill at the end of the night. We are so blessed to have such great friends and family nearby. We know that there’s always someone to listen, help out with something, pick us up if we’re stranded, etc. Thanks, friends. Thanks for coming to my partay. Adam deserves all my hugs and kisses for such a special day. He’s pretty awesome. I’m glad you’re mine.

Oh yeah. Adam gave me this shiny, new toy for my 25th.

my hybrid bicycle. it goes real fast

It’s sweet. And mommy and daddy gave me a sewing machine. This one to be exact.

it sews and embroiders and has an lcd touch screen. i just need to figure out how to thread the needle... among other things.

And mommy and daddy-in-law gave me a very generous gift card to DSW. It will be used soon. Shoes are my weakness.

I’m sure I’ll let you know how the sewing goes. I’m excited to see what I can do with my snazzy machine! I’m hoping I can sew some panel curtains and throw pillow covers. If you’re nice, I may embroider a kitty on a tote bag for you.

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