Thursday, October 25, 2012

All of the Lights

I was doing so well there for a second, eh? I was posting regularly and feeling great about it. Then we made our trip to Maine, and, well, I lost my momentary groove. Surely it took Stella more than one attempt?

Anywho, since we've been back in the South (full of lobster, pumpkin beer and sweet family time), we've been hard at work on the house. As I've mentioned before our house was move-in ready but with a lot of potential to be a prettier abode. We decided to start with some fresh coats of paint and some light fixture swaps. Unfortunately I didn't get shots of all the befores, but here's what we've been working with.

In our kitchen, we started with a huge box of florescent bars. It was extremely 80s, made our ceilings feel low (they really aren't) and just made the kitchen feel shabby. When the painters were scraping the popcorn, we asked them to go ahead and take the monstrosity down. The hubbers and I spent quite a while at Lowe's choosing this fixture. We wanted it to feel bright and not too heavy. This three spot light has double globes that I love. It instantly made our kitchen feel fresher.
Next up was the porch light. Nothing screams dated quite like shiny brass. We still want to change our house numbers, but this swap was a no-brainer, and we fell in love with this lantern at first glance.

Thirdly, we have vaulted ceilings in our master bedroom with an exposed beam running across the seam (heeey, I'm a poet!). It had a pretty hideous ceiling fan attached to it complete with some bare bulbs, woven panels on the blades and just crap all the way around. The bedroom tends to be warmer than the other rooms, so despite the fact that I tend to hate fans, we decided that we need one. I wanted to use the ceiling height to our advantage and pick a statement-style fixture, and behold, we found the combo of both. It's hard to see in this picture but the fixture is gorgeous, bold and has an attractive fan. I'm in love.
And lastly, we have a soaker tub in our master bath, and my less-than-bright-in-desperate-need-of-a-haircut Sadie sometimes climbs in post-shower while I beautify and gets lost. Behold the furry confusion.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hangin' It Up

My goal for this house is to limit clutter. Much unlike our micro-condo, we have space and storage here, and I'll be darned if I let things accumulate and pile up (but don't like in our dining room right now... it's a clutter catcher). Jewelry is a huge clutter criminal, particularly long necklaces. I sort of hate most jewelry holders, so last night when I was unpacking my pieces, I didn't want to just pile them somewhere and let them sit until I could find a better place for them. I scoured our master suite and found this hand towel ring. Since we don't currently have a hand towel, I decided it was the perfect spot to keep my necklaces organized, neat and untangled. I also set up our new dresser... and see that wire bird thing in front of the picture of my husband? It used to sit on the coffee table with small eggs in each nest. Now, it's the perfect place to display bracelets, short necklaces and earrings. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Marry & Bright

One of the things I've been most excited about since our wedding is picking out Christmas cards. I haven't sent them out before, and even though we were engaged last Christmas, I wanted to wait until we were officially a family before sending them. Working at a church the size and pace of ours means that holidays are our busiest time of year, so I want to get a head start and order, stuff, and address them before Thanksgiving, that way, in December, all I need to do is drop them in the mailbox. This week I've been searching through Snapfish for cute, bright and cheery cards (I order prints of our wedding pictures from Snapfish and was so pleased with their turnaround and quality). We've pretty much decided on using this picture from our wedding on whatever card we choose (and we'll also be able to 2-birds-1-stone it by announcing our move as well)...
And here are a few of my favorite card options at the moment...

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Clean Slate

The house we bought was move-in ready. There are plenty of projects that we can sink our teeth (and wallets) into in the future, but for all intents and purposes, it was good to go. 

The biggest negative in the house are the popcorn ceilings in every. single. room. of the house. Those bad boys just made me ill. We were able to get into the house two days before closing and had a painter come out and give us a quote to scrape them all. And at the same time we had him quote painting trim throughout the house. The previous owners had installed crown molding in every room and chair rail in most, but some was wood stained, some was white... just a mismatch. We were eager to get all of that done before we officially moved in. 

When the quote came back we wanted to vomit, so we scaled back the project significantly having the painter and his team scrape and paint the trim in only the main living area, entryway, kitchen and master bedroom. We had grandiose plans to stay in the house through that process. The hubbers and I both wanted to be able to spend our first night as homeowners in our home... see how that works?

Well, as it turns out, popcorn scraping is not as delicious as popcorn consuming, and boy, is it a mess. We had plastic draped everywhere, ceiling dust coated everything, and I had minimal access to my kitchen. In fact, I spent my first evening as a homeowner huddled on the carpet in an extra bedroom with my 2 pups, a pillow, a blanket and my laptop to keep me warm. When the dashing fella of my heart got home from work at 2:00 in the morning, we dragged the mattress up through the mess and were able to camp out there for the next few days. It felt like our home ownership was on pause.

A dusty three days later, the painters had finished and unveiled a mostly-sparkling living space that was ours-all-ours. And I couldn't have been more excited to begin filling each room with our treasures and furniture. A clean slate for new memories.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Simple. Delicious.

When life feels out of control, as it has lately, I get an overwhelming desire to take control in any way possible... to cling to the strands of control I can find. That usually results in ignoring the complete and utter mess around me (half empty... or half full, whatevs... boxes strewn around our new house, for instance) and just make some meals. Nothing exacerbates that icky out of control feeling than several days of fast food. I just crave healthy, hearty, delicious, home cooked meals. 

Last night was that night. I spent the previous evening with my darling Little at Trader Joe's filling a cart full of meal necessities (I'm lightly treading into the world of menu planning, which goes hand-in-hand with my love of couponing). Instead of cooking that night, I just enjoyed a couple of Blue Moons and some delicious crockpot beef that Little had gifted us with.

Last night, though, I was going to own the kitchen and own it hard. I had pinned a recipe for barbecue chicken quinoa salad earlier in the week and couldn't wait to try it. I multi-tasked while I prepped the dish... organizing the cabinets, unpacking a few boxes to find my necessary gadgets, measuring cups, pans and so on and listening to a few podcasts (my favorite way to stay spiritually fed while working in the ministry). The end result (albeit it at 10:45 p.m.) was a tasty, easy meal with plenty of leftovers. A must-make for a busy week.

Barbecue Quinoa Salad:
- Barbecue Chicken (I used 2 chicken breasts seasoned with Cajun seasoning and slightly-more-than-simmered then in a small Le Creuset pan for 45 minutes with Trader Joe's Kansas-style barbecue sauce, so the chicken was able to be shredded with a couple of forks)
- Corn (I used three quarters of a cup of Trader Joe's frozen fire roasted corn... thanks for the recommendation, Little!)
- Black Beans (I used some miscellaneous amount... I couldn't locate a can opener, so I sort of jimmy rigged it open-ish with the counter, a spoon and a knife and just shook out the beans that I could)
- Cilantro (I just threw some in there without measuring)
- Shredded cheese (I had a shredded Gruyere-Swiss blend on hand, but white cheddar of pepper jack would be my recommendation)
- Quinoa (I ended up using 2 cups cooked)

Mix that mess in a bowl, add a little more barbecue sauce (I had extra in my sauce pan after shredding the chicken and just poured some of that goodness in my bowl), then top with avocado. I promise you won't be sorry.

A Bug's Life

My freshman year of high school included an honors biology class. In said class we were given a year-long project in which we captured, killed and displayed insects from several different species. We were taught the proper way to kill the insects without crushing them - simply place them in an airtight jar with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. They will suffocate and die while being perfectly preserved. My pride and joy of the project was catching a gorgeous, huge emerald green cricket. He was beautiful. I gleefully put him in the death jar, eager to pin him on my bug board. My joy turned to sorrow, dismay and intense guilt, when I couldn't take my eyes away from the jar as he slowly, painfully suffocated to death. For some reason that memory is vividly etched in my mind, and I doubt I'll ever lose it.

In so many ways life has been extraordinary of late - an incredibly happy marriage, leadership and influence in my career, a brand new, beautiful house that I'm slowly but steadily turning into a home with my husband. However, I can't help but feel overwhelmed right now. It feels like so many major life transitions have happened in the past year - new position at work, engagement, wedding, new marriage, house... and despite the goodness and joy of it, emotionally it's all finally catching up to me, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I feel like that cricket, wishing that alcohol-soaked cotton ball would be removed and set me free. Yet, at the same time, nothing is bad or wrong, per se. It's just so much.

I work at a job that is hyper-all consuming... I work close to 80 or 90 hours a week, 7 days a week, every week. My adrenaline is running on maximum levels at all times, and I don't know how to relax and disengage. And despite my love for it, I have to. I have to learn how to be present for my family, for my friends and for the health of my marriage. I have felt so trapped by the need to be everything to everyone (a chronic female condition, I do believe) that I've been unaware that that is arrogance in its sneakiest form. The world will not fall apart without me, and my insistence to be "on" all the time points to my need to feel as though it will. 

So what does that mean? It means that it's okay for me to admit my exhaustion... to share my heart with my husband. To skip yoga to go the grocery store because I need the stress management. To say no to activities when all I want to do is piddle around my house with a glass of wine. For me, it means blogging again. Not anything impressive or showy, but just documenting life to be reminded of the simple things that fill my heart.