Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas

Jason and I don't really like Christmas. We never truly have except for maybe when we were kids. Jason is much more a Scrooge than myself. I merely hate commercialized Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of Jesus. I love hymns. He hates all Christmas music. We both hate Jingle Bells with a fiery passion. 

But we both love Star Wars.

Our first married Christmas at the apartment we obviously didn't have much space, so I got a tiny (I mean 2-3ft tall) tree off of Freecycle and decorated it with Jason's old Star Wars action figures. I also made Star Wars snowflakes. It was a pretty magical first married Christmas.



Our second married Christmas, we were living with my grandma in order to save for a downpayment. We didn't bother getting a tree; we had nowhere to put it.

Which brings us to this year. Our third married Christmas, second Star Wars Christmas, and first homeownership Christmas. We got a 4.5ft tree for $25 in order to save money and get a nice deal on a "full size" tree for half price on the day after Christmas. I hope that pans out ;P

Chose to do Star Wars again because it makes us happy. We've discussed always having a "nerdy" or "fandom inspired" tree whenever we end up getting a full size.

Also, my mother in law gave us window "candles"... which I had been wanting to purchase, but was thrilled to inherit. I live the simplicity, also reminds me of my childhood. Jason is even ok with it!

So here's some pictures from this year.




ah :)

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

stress


this is your peace of mind.

Some people love the holidays. I genuinely love Thanksgiving. 
Christmas is okay to an extent (I don't love commercialism).
I love celebrating the birth of Christ. 
I love celebrating the entrance of a Savior who was bringing low the hills that the valleys might be filled [reference: A Stick, a Carrot, and a String by mewithoutYou].
I love food. I love spending time with loved ones. I love movie marathons. All these things collide at this time of the year. It's great!

But something else collides as well.

I heard on the radio today about a study specifically about stress increasing during the holidays. 

Sort of an *aha* moment for me for some reason.... 
I just couldn't figure out why my neck, shoulders, and upper back had been so much more tense as of late, but yep... that totally makes sense.

I never had trouble with stress & holidays until recent years. I can think of many reasons why, but there's nothing I can do to change them, so I shan't list them. But they do cause stress naturally.
a photo of what happens when jason and i get stressed. headdesk. circa 2006 or 2007. in a home that's right around the corner from our current home and has the exact same layout. the odds, yall. the odds.
This year I am going to make a solid effort to combat that. 
How? 

With gratitude, trust in my Provider, trying to see the best in everyone, taking time to relax (sip some kava tea, perhaps? or essential oil therapy?), listening to Nat King Cole and Sufjan.

I'm also considering taking a facebook fast for the month of December. 

But most importantly, I'm going to remember why this season is so important. 

That without this figurative season (of celebrating the birth of Christ, which was likely not in winter... that's why I say figurative) humanity would have been lost.

Remembering that God humbled Himself and became a baby. A helpless being that relies on everyone else for it's own existence. 

He came with news of grace, He came to take my place.

So that all whose wells run dry could drink of His supply.

And to remember that,
"when the rain picks up
and the sun goes down
sinners come inside
with no money, come and buy
no clever talk, nor a gift to bring
requires our lowly, lovely King
come now empty handed, you don't need anything"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

stones

"roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine.
together we can see what we will find.
don't leave me alone at this time,
for I'm afraid of what I will discover inside
"
-mumford and sons, roll away your stone

| | | | | | | | | | |

I'm often far too interested in people watching. I oft think I should have taken more psychology and sociology classes while I was in school. People really interest me. I love getting to know people, seeing what they get fired up about, what makes them tick, what makes them bleed.

In recent years, I've been especially aware of what myself and close Christian friends get ticked off about. It seems this transition from teen-somethings to twenty-somethings involves a lot of awareness of what ticks us off. We abhor oppression of the destitute, inequality, dehumanization, lack of care or self control... well, I could go on.

Recently there was a story that made the rounds about a pastor who stiffed their waitress of their tip, (please click here to read the full story) saying on her receipt, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?"

Yes, this is an outrage.
Yes, she is wrong (well, unless you have the perspective of Steve Buscemi's character from Reservoir Dogs... don't click on that link if you can't handle colorful language).
Yes, she is defaming the name of Christ and His followers.
Yes, she should be reprimanded by those who hold her accountable.

But here's the problem I have... especially with the internet age of instant gratification -
We often feel we can quickly slap a certain label on someone just by reading an article about them and their crappy decision. This happens all the time. I'm guilty of it too. I've quickly put a label on Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Pat Robertson and so many more based off of something they said to masses. And it's not right, I'll be the first to remind myself of that.

Can you imagine being in this woman's shoes this week? Receiving hate mail from all over the world from Christians and non-Christians alike? Probably receiving death threats from people who never knew she existed a week ago? She probably will not be able to get away with/from this horrible moment for the rest of her life.

Is that grace?

No, that my friends is exactly what the Enemy wants.

He wants division. He wants Christians attacking their fellow Christians. He wants us all making hasty judgements about an individual we've never met. He wants us calling her names. He wants us to all be holding stones ready to toss at her.

But what did Jesus say?

"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." [john 8]

 Our stones are easily quickly hurled at someone we see doing wrong.

But we need to carefully look at those stones and see them for what they really are - our most disgusting sins.

The rocks that seperate us from God but make us equal to the rest of humanity.

We all have them. We're no better than anyone else. None of our rocks are any bigger or smaller than the person next to us. We all have piles of them.


But we need to make sure to make the effort every day to see the person and not the stones, and definitely to not hurl our stones (or pick up someone else's) at anyone.


At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”



Go now, leave your rocks at the feet of Jesus.



[disclaimer: this is not to say that 1st Corinthians 5:12&13 are inapplicable; yes, we are to judge those inside the Church and hold them to the standard of Christ.... but I strongly believe we are to do that only with those who we have a strong relationship with, and obviously only when acting out of love]

Friday, November 15, 2013

tough day

two years ago today I was at work when I found out that my husband and several other members of his unit had been called up to deploy to Afghanistan.

it had already been a tough day before learning this. I had been thinking of the events surrounding this time thirteen years ago (now fifteen).

Zola was a wonderful woman. the most wonderful I have ever known, even though I only knew her for 9 of my 24 years on this earth.

she was the most incredible grandmother, mother, friend to anyone... you could have never doubted the love she had for you. she was always so genuine, so loving, so Christ like.

she prayed for all of us so much. I know that sounds strange, but sometimes I can tell the things she prayed for. I'm so thankful for all of her prayers. I'm so blessed to carry on such strength and such a legacy.

those who knew her well say that I favor her. I favor her in ways I've forgotten but then remember.

I was once trying on some sandals, and when I looked down at them on my feet... I saw her feet. I had inherited her feet.

I got her creativity and love of design. I got her taste in classic, simple pieces of wardrobe and jewelry... and wanderlust.

she did this thing that others dubbed, the "Nanny shuffle" which was this shuffle that she did that somehow calmed down any child she held. I can do that, and I don't know how to explain that.

she taught me so much.

but I always am reminded of things I wish she had gotten time to teach me.

like crochet and knitting. I'm so glad I have some of her beautiful pieces left, just wish she could teach me how to create blankets for my future kids. just wish she could be there to see my future kids.

I wish she had gotten to see me graduate, to meet Jason. oh, she'd love him. and he would love her so much. he'd have to taste test her coconut cake to compare with his mom's. oh, that'd be hilarious.

the hardest is when I dream of her, being with her. hugging her, talking with her and telling her about everything. . . then waking up.

oh what a glorious reunion to look forward to.

I try to remember those best times and the most beautiful memories about her.

I love when others can tell me the other beautiful memories.

planning our wedding was difficult knowing that some of those who I wanted most to be there would not be.

few people know this, but it's absolutely so true of who she was, and I never want to forget it.

my grandfather flew in from Brazil to officiate our wedding. I can't imagine how hard this was for him, wanting Nanny to be there so much (as we all did).

after the ceremony but before taking pictures, I hugged him.

he said, with a quiver in his breath,

"you know that Nanny loved you so much. and you know that she never complained. she never complained once in the whole time she was sick. she only ever said one thing that she was upset about, that she wouldn't get to see her grandchildren get married. she wanted to be here so much, Joanna"

[ at this point we were both bawling. ]

yes. yes, that was Nanny.


(this cutie to the left is olivia not me)






if you have any stories of Zola, please feel free to share.

here's a song she used to sing:


"I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck"

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Difference Between...

There's a lot of differences between men & women.

One being our communication.

Perfect example occurred yesterday.

Jason was wearing a jacket that I think is quite fetching on him, but I rarely ever see him wear it.

I say, "Oh, I love that jacket! Man, you haven't worn it in forever"

He says, "uuh I wear it every morning to work"

My response, "Um, excuse me... do I go with you to work every morning?"

He laughs.

This was hysterical to both of us at the time because it's terribly true and telling of our communication.

Something one doesn't see, the other points out. Then one thinks the other is being ridiculous because their statement is outrageous, but both are actually correct in their own regard.

I was correct in thinking I had rarely ever seen him wear that jacket. I was incorrect in saying he hadn't worn it in forever; I just hadn't seen it.

He was correct in saying he wore it often on mornings at work... but thought I was kinda off my rocker for saying he hadn't worn it in forever. He didn't entirely think about (in that moment) that I never see him wear it to/at work.  

And that's marriage in a nutshell.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cauliflower Craze


Cauliflower is a pretty big deal these days. Well, at least on Pinterest. You can supposedly make nearly anything starchy or light from the stuff. It has been touted to make great pizza crust, mashed potato substitute, and even a base for alfredo sauce.

Note my hesitancy.
So several months ago (before we finally got our house) I tried out a mashed cauliflower recipe (substitute for mashed potatoes). While I had some challenges that I learned from in this attempt....
note: it is FAR easier to make mashed cauliflower by boiling it IN water [not steaming!] for just over ten minutes than trying to steam in a microwave.
second note: it is also FAR easier to use your handy dandy blender stick to puree those suckers than try to use a hand held potato masher. But it was not my house, my kitchen, or my tools at the time, I made do.
.....they still turned out decently. I actually tried these out on my family in law... who rave over my actual mashed potatoes. They thought the mashed cauliflower was, "earthy tasting, but still pretty good. not overwhelmingly cauliflower tasting." 
I'd have to agree with that assessment.

The second time I tried this, I actually did half cauliflower and half potatoes. I enjoyed this much more. Could barely taste any hint of cauliflower, but if/when you did it was still good. This batch was also far smoother and creamier thanks to the potatoes (oh and much easier since I had my own kitchen with my tools!!). However, hubby still says he can taste the cauliflower and would prefer regular... but I think it's all in his head.

Anyhow, that second batch had me singing cauliflower's praises.

I had read about this cauliflower alfredo sauce online and decided that since this last batch of mashed cauliflower/taters went so well, I could probably tackle something new.

So I tried it out for dinner tonight.

No.

Thumbs down.

I'm sorry to those who actually like this sauce, but... it's nothing like alfredo. 

Tonight was the first time since I was a kid that I sat at the table forever trying to finish my food. And I'm the one who made it.

My husband agreed. Diiislike. To "my credit" this is the first time "in my history of cooking" (what, seven-ish years now?) that I've made something my husband or I could barely finish.
Our housemate, however thought it was okay. Not great, okay... and interesting. So she'll be eating that on her own for a while. Hahaha

What's so bad about it, you say?

It's not creamy. It's gritty and super thick... like non-creamy grits. Even though I pureed the heck out of it and added more oil, milk, and parmesan cheese than the recipe called for... and even tried adding half & half, ricotta cheese, and a romano/mozzarella blend that the recipe didn't call for.

No.

And it seems that the cauliflower is completely overpowering in this dish. I did everything I knew to try and get rid of that cauliflower taste.

No.

I even added bacon.

No.

You know it's bad when bacon don't fix it!

Added chicken and broccoli to try and mask the taste...

Made it barely tolerable (in my opinion).

So, this my friends is yet another tale of a day in the life of a quirky wife.

Mashed cauliflower.... Thumbs Up!

Pureed cauliflower attempting to pose as a base for alfredo sauce....

Thumbs Down.

Very far down.

But if you don't take my word for it, feel free to come over and try it.

Not even kidding.

We have a massive tupperware full of the stuff... and I don't think our housemate can eat it all on her own.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Healthy Zucchini Bread [muffins] Recipe!

This blog post goes out to Manda who gave me this recipe. She is one of my dearest loves.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So my dear friend Manda gave me this recipe many years ago, and it's been my go-to.

I've been making it a lot recently [YAY AUTUMN] and nearly everyone who's had them asks for the recipe.

And it's not on pinterest.... until now [here's the link to the pin on pinterest!]!

I've changed it over the years to be "more healthy".

My changes:
Either half white & half whole wheat or just all whole wheat flour, subbed out raw honey for white sugar [no refined sugars woo!], substitute coconut oil [expeller or cold pressed] or sunflower oil [expeller or cold pressed] instead of canola.

I hear there are ways you can substitute something for eggs [to make it vegetarian friendly] as well as gluten free flours you could use if you're gluten intolerant.

So here goes!! Sorry I don't have a step-by-step tutorial. It's pretty straightforward aside from the groupings... but you'll see that below!

"Healthy Zucchini Bread [muffins] Recipe!"
[I've color coded the ingredients by their groupings. The groupings ARE specific because if you just throw everything in helter skelter (guilty) it won't turn out well.]

1 C. shredded raw zucchini
1/2 C. peeled, grated raw apple [I do sugar free applesauce]
1 1/2 C. flour [I do 3/4 cup white and 3/4 cup wheat, you could do totally wheat]
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C. oil [I use coconut oil or sunflower oil. always COLD or EXPELLER pressed]
1 C. honey [raw preferred]
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C. chopped walnuts or pecans [optional, I've actually not yet done this

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (or muffin pan).

-Grate zucchini; peel and grate the apple. Set aside.
-In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda/powder, salt, & spices. Set aside.
-Beat oil, honey, eggs, & vanilla until well blended.
-Beat in [to oil, honey, & eggs] zucchini & apple.
-Slowly add flour mixture, beating just until combined. 
-Stir in nuts (optional).
-Pour into pan, baking until bread has risen and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (50-60 min for loaf, 14-17 min for muffins)

They should look a bit like this and taste muy delicioso.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trust

Call it a rant, tirade, PSA, whatever. I have something to say, and I think a good amount of folks may benefit from hearing it.

This goes out to all the parents (specifically of teen-ish age) out there. Oh, and also to the children of the parents to whom this applies.

[[ disclaimer: I love my parents very much and know they did their best. I also know that we all fall short (which I forgive them for, as I also fall short!). This was absolutely not written to highlight their shortcomings but rather to remind parents of the simple things they tend to forget when wrapped up in parenting ]]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Some of you parents (well maybe most of you) did stupid things you regret before you were married with kids.

Because of these things regretful actions, you decide you want to raise your kids to hopefully not make the same mistakes that you did. 

So you instill in them from a young age values such as honesty, integrity, work ethic, trust, loyalty, ect.

You watch them grow into a honest, loyal, hardworking, trustworthy person of great integrity. 

Oh wait a second, you actually don't. You have such a hard time seeing that because you are still so caught up in seeing yourself at their age and all the mistakes they could ever possibly make, many of which you did.

Or you're so overwhelmed by how much more evil the world is now than it was "in your day" (which was likely less than 20yrs prior) that you worry they can't help but give into alllll the temptation.

You can't see that they want to be a good person. 

You can't see that they actually might want to not make the same mistakes you did. 

You can't see that they are constantly beating themselves up because they're unsure they are making the right decision (ah! I might make the wrong choice and make a mistake! my parents won't love me if I do!).

You can't see how much they are trying to EARN your love by making good choices.

...All the while you know that your son or daughter could never earn your love. 

They stole your heart when they were born.

Why not choose to show them that?

Realize that they will make mistakes (and when they do you will still love them). 

Oh, and I'm sure right about now you're saying, "But Joanna, you've never been a parent. You just don't know how it is. It's not that simple."

No. You're right. I've not yet been a parent.

But at one point I was an honest, loyal, hardworking teen who was trying desperately to earn her parent's trust (and wrongly thought that was the only way to prove to them that I loved them and thus they would return the love).

I know what it's like to wonder why your parents don't trust you when they raised you to be trustworthy (see disclaimer if you missed it). 

It's not healthy.

Why? Your son or daughter will feel that the relationship is devoid of trust on your end. Knowing this, it may encourage them to make poor decisions. Now, it is wise to note that some parents are extremely trusting of their children and the child can also sense this and know that they can get away with nearly everything. Obviously there are extremes... so try and walk the line. 

So what is that healthy line?

Well, since I'm not yet a parent I definitely do not know the ins and outs of that.

But here's a start...

If you're a praying person - pray for your child daily. Realize that God is the best parent.

Go watch Finding Nemo. Not even kidding. So many great lessons on boundaries.

Try to not think of the "what if's" as much as you do.

Tell them what you enjoy about them ("I love hearing how you play piano"... "I love seeing how fixing a computer puts a spark in your eye"). Granted, this is probably easier to start at a younger age so it doesn't seem trite... but seriously positive reinforcement goes such a long way.

Stop worrying so much about them hanging out with the opposite gender (unless they randomly met them on the internet and must marry them upon meeting them for the first time, okay... yeah probably should be wary). 

Stop thinking they're dead when they're half an hour late.

If you want them to do things with you that you enjoy, you better be willing to first do the same for them.

Stop saying, "if you'd only..." and/or giving ultimatums (unless it's a life/death issue which is abnormal). Pretty straightforward.

Stop telling them how they did all their chores/tasks wrong every time you see a slight error.

I'm not saying "be a parent without rules or boundaries!"

Nah. That's silly.

Set healthy boundaries. Ask your child what they think of said boundaries.

If you never have their input and it's always your way or the highway, they are going to have a hard time coming up with healthy boundaries for themselves when you're no longer in the picture.

Remind yourself of the true end goal of parenting: raising a human being who knows they are loved and how to love others.

Sons and daughters - do not be dismayed! I have words for you as well!

First of which is... do not be dismayed!! hahaha

Know that your parents love you. Always have and always will. 

Know that they're pretty much taking out their lack of trust of themselves on you (yeah it sucks).

Know that I've heard these words uttered from a parent to child, "I trust you, but I don't trust Satan inside you." Know that if you claim to be a follower of Christ those words are lies because, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Know that one day you'll be out of their house living a great life and they will likely be wishing these days back to show their love and trust of you.

Know that even when you don't feel like it, it's wise to honor them. That doesn't mean you'll always like it.

Know that you should never give up in proving yourself trustworthy, honest, loyal, and intelligent! It is a noble quest.

To both parties: 
Try to see the best in one another. Try.
"Authority without love leads to authority being despised, and love without authority makes love unintelligible." -David Prince, Why Christian parents should not want good, happy, safe kids ... do read this article, please!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Guest Bath

So we've been quite a bit busy this week! Last Saturday (the 12th) we began painting the guest bathroom. I had actually prepped it for paint about 2 months ago. It's been waiting ever since.

This week we finished up the color. I had a vision from the beginning to do a stripe technique with different finishes of paint (satin and high gloss). I knew that was daunting, but I also knew that the classiness those stripes would provide would be worth the work.

I actually wasn't expecting to finish this project so quickly, but we have an unexpected guest arriving on Tuesday, so it is done! And good thing too because we actually need to shower in there temporarily until some things are fixed with our master bath shower.

ANYHOW....

Before (white flat finish latex. in a bathroom. real genius. and boring):

In Progress (you'll notice that it's a lighter shade of our family room [a satin finish indigo] accent wall. in progress photos are sans stripes):




After:







Now, some of these photos make the color appear more purply and significantly darker, but it's really not as bold, and is slightly more blue. It's a mysterious color and hard to capture on camera. I'd say the most accurate image would be the very first in the "after" sequence.
I don't know about y'all.... but... uh... I'm in love. Jason digs it too :D

HUGE shout out to my sister, Olivia for helping me with the stripes. She's mad good at taping.
And obviously, another huge shout out to my sweet hubby who puts up with my visions of grandeur.

Now, it's not 100% complete. Just 90%. The medium brown "wood" cabinets under the sink will be painted white (as will the ones in the master bath)... but that may not be for a couple months.

For now I'm enjoying the 90% complete bathroom. It's so loverly!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Accent Wall

So I realized I never actually did a blog post on the accent wall in the dining room. Not that it matters or I really had much time to. But I figured it's one of my favorite walls in the house so it's noteworthy!

I painted this when Jason was last at drill in September. I actually painted it a medium blue on that Friday... and realized that medium blue was totally hideous and clashing with the khaki bandaid color that is on the rest of the walls (that will get painted eventually...).  

That Saturday Jason herniated a disk in his back while at drill. I could do nothing about that situation (sort of used to that by now being a military wife for over two years now). So in order to take my mind off of that (instead of sitting there worried constantly texting Jason to see what was happening and just end up annoying him) I decided to complete this wall project! Take my worries out on a wall!!

A few turns of events (long story) landed me a free gallon of paint of this delicious indigo color. It's so mysterious. The color actually changes dependent upon the time of day and how much sunlight is entering the room. I adore it.

Here it is after we finished the hallway:


Just this past week I actually decided to rearrange the family room for various reasons (hosting, fitting more furniture, making certain furniture last longer). Here it is after the rearrange:


Dramatic lighting:
Oooh. So purdy. 

Glad I took out my worries on the wall on that Saturday :)

(oh and if you're wondering what's up with the banner - several weeks ago we hosted an autumnal baby shower for our brother & sister in law. we now have a new niece! she is tiny & beautiful.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Our Grey Great Hall

Okay, so it's not actually a "great hall" - that gives an illusion of grandeur. It makes me feel pretty great and grand, but most everyone else would find it bland.

We wanted to do this project at this time because FALL IS HERE! We entertain VERY regularly (we actually only have 2-4 nights a week where it's just us). And our coat closet in the hall kinda only fits our coats, maybe room for 3-4 more. This had to be remedied for the approach of chilly weather. People need a place to put their outerwear! So we thought about building a corner storage thing, but seemed like it would be a lot of work for not a lot of storage. So... a sort-of-board-and-batten look with hooks!! Yes! The perfect solution. And pretty low cost for a big storage (and decor!) solution.

Just in case you don't remember, here's what it used to look like:



Here's what it looked like in-process (Saturday the 28th):

Here's what it looks like with the grey (all done within 20 hrs, and 10 of those were sleeping! I did some before I went to bed and then after I got up the next day).


Aaaah! Isn't that so much better than bold khaki bandaid color? Yes. Yes it is.


(oh bonus in the photo above: first blog appearance of the mysterious indigo wall that I painted when Jason herniated his disk... as well as an appearance of the banner I made for Meredith's baby shower!) above pics are night, here's a few with cheery sunlight...



A nice close-up of our hooks! Came from Target; oil rubbed bronze pack of 2 for $3.99! Such a great deal. We have 10 hooks total, which is really 20 hooks total, since each has 2.

I actually have a hard time NOT seeing this every time I look at our hooks...
Can't unsee that.

Anyhow... This was a pretty cost efficient project, considering that all the paint was discounted (I am constantly checking the mis-tint sections, and the white we got from the Re-Store). We chose to go semi-gloss because it's a high traffic / wear & tear area. The grey I actually mixed myself. I had two (one previously used on the tops of the dressers) quarts of different greys (mistints!) that I poured into an empty gallon and also added some white to lighten it up. I'm so pleased with my custom mixing job!
The board (chose to buy already painted to save time) was from the trim section at Lowes, $7ish per, and we got 3, still have some leftover. And the hooks were actually purchased using a gift card that a sweet friend gave us (yes, I sent a self-letterpressed thank you note, of course!) as a housewarming gift (she obviously knew we love Target!!). 

Oh I should mention it's not COMPLETELY done yet. Hubby wants to finish off the corners better and then caulk everything to really polish it off and make it look professional. Which is fine by me! But I figured my iPhone (yeah I'm officially a lazy blogger now; just phone pics!!) camera wouldn't pick up the difference so it could hit the blog now!

We both love it! It's greeyeat ;P and utilitarian! We love when form & function come together to make a great addition of character to our home!

Here's some side-by-side shots...



polished

I don't know why I do, but I hold onto hurts. 

[some people seem to have such an easy time of letting go of them]

It's not like I'm sitting here daily holding onto my grudges like a pet rock.

It's usually when the same people hurt me again and again.

It's like I take the rocks, I put them in my little pail, and then when they hurt me again I pick up the pail.... put another rock in and them dump them out to play with.

Sometimes I just look at them.

Sometimes I throw them. Like Jenny does to her old house in Forrest Gump.
[and Forrest aptly says, "sometimes there just aren't enough rocks].

On rare occasion I sit there seeing all the pails and just cry. Why do I have so many?

I used to collect rocks, actually. All the really nice, polished ones. My parents and grandparents would actually buy me a pretty rock in a gift shop if they saw one. I had a box of labeled gemstones. And a bracelet.

I'm not even sure where those are.

But I need to take my pail of rocks and polish into shiny stones. Polish the hurt out of them. 

Until all I have is a collection of "whatever is true, whatever is honor, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." [Philippians 4:8-9]

I feel like that's almost cliché. But just enough truth to not be entirely cliché. 

I guess I better get started then...




How to Polish Rocks
1. Take a clean, empty plastic jar (like a mayo jar, plastic not glass) and fill it with 1/3 of a cup of sand.
2. Slowly, add water to the jar until there is a little more water than sand.
3. Put in your rocksDon't put in too many rocks; leave plenty of room in the jar.
4. Screw the lid on to jar until it's tightTake some duct tape and place it around the lid. Make sure it's very tight so that the water can't leak out.
5. Start shaking the jarShake it until your arms hurt. Then pass it to another friend and shake it until their arms go numb. Then give it to your little brother/sister or your kids and let them roll it around on the floor. This is how the rocks are smoothed out and polished. This will take a few weeks, or even longer, but if you stay committed it will be worth the effort!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor of Love [ progress: part I ]

So, I'm slightly torn about the lack of blog updates about our house.

On one hand, I know we've been so busy and I don't even feel like the things we've done are worthy of an update (because, frankly... nothing is complete. everything is unfinished).
And who says it's any of the internet's business as to what we've done (I know our frenemies are just stalking and making fun of us via blog updates, but screw them)!

On the other hand, I want to keep track of all the progress we've made when I'm feeling like, "we've done nothing! no progress has been made! those countertops and those floors are still ugly so that means NOTHING HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED UGH!"

I know we have accomplished much. And I know that one day our bathroom will have nice floors and the kitchen countertops won't look like the Emerald City on crack. 

But right now it's all in progress.
And I should be taking note of such progress.
Even in the awkward phase.

So. I'll share with you our Labors. Not just from Labor Day weekend specifically, but a good amount of the changes made (progress: part I) and our favorite "new" (or new to us) pieces (progress: part II). By the way, apologies on the low quality of the after (or rather, in progress) photos. I didn't entirely feel like finding the camera and the card reader... yeah. Laziness wins. But I'll get the camera out for actual after photos.

We begin with the small changes.

Laundry room, for instance. We actually just did this yesterday (Labor Day).
Before, there was just one shelf right above the washer & dryer. It was difficult to get to things on this shelf because of how far back it was from the front of the appliances. Awkward angle reaches.
Also, I needed a place to hang items that shouldn't be put in the dryer, so we finally came upon the proper solution this weekend and installed it yesterday. Oh, also there's a totally different dryer in there from when we bought the house.
Left: Before
Right: After
A small upgrade was made to the dining room. Well, it's a big upgrade to me. There was a nasty brass octopus (actually, that would have been way cooler. I would have spray painted it) hanging from the ceiling in there, but we found a great lighting fixture for $40 at Consignment Connection. It's so much better!
Top: Before
Bottom: After
We do plan on pulling up the carpet in here (what genius thinks it's a good idea to install carpet in a dining room?) and install wood flooring before the year's end. But it may have to be the whole front section of the house instead of just the dining room (to install wood floor in)... we just have to wait and see. We also plan on painting in there relatively soon. I'm still torn between what colors. But I believe we're going to do some contrasting finish stripes (flat & semi gloss, but same color). Also have to figure out what to do about curtains/window finishing in here. Eventually I'd love a window seat with storage!

So, the only rooms that HAVE been painted are in the master suite. We just haven't had time (or money!) to attend to the other rooms of the house just yet. Next on the docket will probably be (in no particular order) an accent wall in the family room, the entire dining room, and the guest bath & bedroom. No telling when those will actually happen.

So the only changes downstairs have been adding our things. Not that exciting. Oh well. First, the family room.
Top: Before
Bottom (middle and below): After
And the kitchen. Let me tell you what, that was pretty nasty. Needed SO much cleaning. So grateful to all those family and friends who helped us clean.
Top: Before
Bottom: After
Yes. Those emerald countertops are still there *twitch*. We want to concrete over them soon (using Ardex Feather Finish). We also want to do airstone under the bar eventually. The cabinets... well, still deliberating over those. As much as I love hardwood, I'm not sure if it would be worth it to strip and stain these rather than just paint over them. We'll see. Oh, and those hideous lighting fixtures will go... one day...

Another "small" change (that took a LOT OF WORK) was the bushes. We found out from a neighbor that this house had been vacant for a year and a half. Thus the bushes were overgrown and there were weeds taking over just about everywhere. We've now sculpted down the bushes and fully weeded 1.5 sides of the house (there's a lot of poison ivy so it's pretty treacherous).
Top: Before (overgrown messsss!)
Bottom: After (trimmed and tidy!)
There were actually a lot of trees growing in/behind/around these bushes. We plan to take out ALL of the holly (we hate holly) and just have simple boxwoods and flowers.
self explanatory
Now onto the "big reveal" items. . . . that are still not finished (but that's okay... just keep telling myself that).

Jason and I love entertaining. We also love grilling. But our backyard didn't really lend to an ideal space to do that. So we wanted to create one. Jason and Peter did that this past Saturday (after Jason mowed the grass and weedeated. He was very tired after all of this!). We don't really have enough money to do a super duper nice permanent patio at this point (and heck, we might add a deck or even a sunroom back there in 15 years so why do something permanent?). We voted on a pallet patio.
Top: Before (check out the fallen gutter hanging in the upper right corner)
Bottom: After (clearly the gutter has been fixed as well)
Jason was saving up a bunch of nice heavy duty pallets from his work. So they dug up the slate (moved those below the stairs), dug a small trench for drainage, added a weed barrier, marble chips and bricks to keep the pallets off the ground (to sustain them longer).
You can see the crisscross pattern of the pallets much better here (you can also see our little hose storage cart there in the background. I like that a lot for some reason). Ah, we just love it! 
They have not yet been sanded down and stained/sealed (we actually bought the stain/seal a month before building... it was a mis-tint! $5 for a $40 gallon!! yessss). So this is not exactly the finished product, but it sure is close! Doesn't it look so nice! They even built an additional section for the grill (free grill from Jason's parents)! Ah, so pleased. Can't wait to have our housewarming party back here! Eventually we'll make a some sort of covering for the area (I've got lots of pins on this) and put our patio table back, and have some nice outdoor lighting out here as well.

Now, the most dramatic change (in my opinion) has been the master suite. It was really nasty before. We chose to do two walls one color and the other two walls another color. The largest walls are a light-to-medium grey, and the smaller walls are a deep teal. Important to note that we couldn't have done this without our good friend Jason Pascale who is the best without-tape-cutter-inner ever.
Top: Before....GROSS
Bottom: After *angelic chorus*
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah yes. Isn't that so much better? And the dressers that we revamped about a year ago pop so nicely on the teal walls!
Top: Before
Bottom: After
This may look finished to you, but it's far from it to me. I would like real bedside tables, not $3 target ones (heh). I'd love a real headboard and pictures on the wall opposite the headboard. I'd also like some better light-blocking curtains that actually add something to the room... and... oh yes... new carpet.... eventually.... *grimace*

And now for my favorite bathroom :D The master bath! It's definitely only half-way done. So, please keep that in mind. But the half that is complete still makes a world of a difference.
Top: Before... hideous hideous sponge-painted pink walls. I hate pink.
Bottom: After! Lovely aqua!
Why is it only halfway finished, you ask? Well, I'm still waiting on this shower curtain to no longer be out of stock, I want to paint the cabinets, replace the floor (this actually needs to be done quite soon), and upgrade the faucets eventually.

You can't see it too well from this image, but I made the half-curtain that's hanging in the window! Yep. And All the brass fixtures (lighting, towel rods, toilet paper holder) were brass. Spray painted them silver. I have a strong, passionate disdain for brass.

So. Those are most all of the updates we've done. The next post will be our favorite pieces/touches that we've got in our house to make it feel like our home.

UPDATE: We got the shower curtain!! Izzz sooo puuurddyyy!!