Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More fun as a redhead? blonde?

DISCLAIMER: This post has nothing to do with home decorating, home remodeling, cooking or anything else this blog is suppossed to be about.

Today I played around a bit with the website Taaz. This is one of those websites where you can upload a picture of yourself (preferrably not a wedding photo with your spouse like I did) and play around with different hairstyles. It was cracking me up. As is obvious with my picture above, it works better if you hair is all pulled back and not on top of your head. Click on the picture to enlarge if you have trouble seeing my new red 'do (or 'don't). Or how about blonde? he he he

I believe you also can test out different makeup but I only got to the first stage before getting back to work. You also can have a network of friends on the site and share photos and do makeovers on your friends.

Too funny.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dang Rabbit!


No, I am not talking about the Trix rabbit, but rather our very own rabbit that has taken to eating many of our plants! About a week ago, I noticed that some of our plants had been chewed on. Nate blamed this squirrel that also has been hanging out, but then we discovered the rabbit this morning. One rather LARGE, fluffy, cute, brown rabbit.

Nate also saw the big rabbit in our garden and thinks it is pregnant because it is so huge and because he found a nest.

I don't want to kill the rabbit, by any means, but I also don't really want it to continue grazing on our plants and flowers. Plus, i don't want to take it away from it's nest if she's about to give birth any day.

So do we, leave it alone until after the babies are born?
Borrow a cruelty-free trap and then set it free and leave it to rebuild the nest?
Buy the coyote urine (suggestion from a grandma) to deter it from our yard?

Monday, April 28, 2008

NEW GRILL!



Our new grill arrived over the weekend! Nate's parents got us the Weber Spirit E grill and all of the accessories for our Christmas gift. We were very excited for it's arrival. We have not fired it up yet because we have to get gas for it and the weather has taken a bit of a turn this week. A wintry mix was predicted for yesterday but thankfully no wintry mix fell down.

Mrs. Meyer's Discount


Anyone who is a fan of Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products, you can get 30% off your order on the website by using the code DC30. This basically equates to free shipping.

Source: Daily Candy Deals

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Welcome This is a Farmhouse" Sink

There is a lot to consider when updating a kitchen.

What material do we want the countertops made of?
Do we get new cabinets, or paint the old ones?
Can we get rid of the soffet (wall above the cupboards?
What floor materials do we like?
Do we want to get rid of any of the existing cupboards? Add any?
What kind of sink do we want?

Oh the sink. I would love the farmhouse sink, that is one set a bit below the cupboard and is just one giant, deep sink. I love the look of it, as well as how utilitarian it is! Ever since I first did dishes in one of these sinks while nannying my way through grad school, I have wanted one of my own!









Sources: Kitchen & Bath Ideas, Traditional Home Blog, Minds in Motion, Cottage Living

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Relay for Life

Many of you know someone who has been affected by some form of cancer. Nate & I are participating in the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay for Life through the First National Bank of Hartford team this year.

Our goal is to raise at least $100 for ACS, which funds important research that leads to cancer prevention. My own work with ACS in graduate school heightened my own awareness of and respect for this organization. UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming generosity of some, we have increased our goal to $400!

If you would like to donate to this important cause, please click here to go to Nate's personal donation page.

Thank you for all of your support!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Spring

10. Our heat does not kick in as much, if at all. No more dry air!
9. We can open the windows and air out the house!
8. I don't have to sleep in a long sleeve tshirt, hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants and wool socks
7. We can run outside without slipping on icy sidewalks!
6. We can run outside in SHORTS and Tshirts!!
5. No more tights with skirts/dresses!
4. Sunshine!
3. GRILLING! (Our new grill arrives this weekend!)
2. No more snow shoveling!!
1. We can start our kitchen remodelling!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ready Made Magazine: New Issue Available Online

In celebration of earth day, several magazines are offering their April or May issues online FREE! Click on either of the two below to read.

Ready Made

Yoga Journal

Tshirt Bag: Thumbs Down

Last night I made the t-shirt bag.

I can't imagine it holding much. First of all i used a huge t-shirt from my high school days when huge t-shirts were cool. Following the instructions exactly made one enormous bag that would surely break if I did fill it up with groceries. So i modified it a bit and it is a little smaller now, but I still am not confident that the bottom would bust open and my produce would be squashed.

Aesthetically, it looks like a second grade craft. Nate actually said, "Honey, YOU can carry that thing to the grocery store. I'll stick with paper or plastic."

If anyone wants a Beatles t-shirt bag, let me know!

Today Martha is featuring the pillow-case bag:


I foresee the same problems with this bag, however here are the instructions.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Where were YOU one year ago?


Today is the running of the 112th Boston Marathon. Last year, I was huddled in a coach bus with the Fleet Feet Boston Bound group, donning a shower cap and watching people pee right outside our bus windows right before the start. This morning, I received a sweet email from DB reflecting on running the first half of Boston together with GG last year. Memories.

This year, I am huddled over my computer, anxiously awaiting the race start so I can track friends that are running. Good luck CN, LS & EH!! I'll be watching!

Spring Cleaning



In addition to yard work, i cleaned/organized closets this weekend, including getting rid of a bunch of clothes and shoes. Don't worry as far as I know, Hell has not frozen over. ha ha ha

We also rearranged the library (pictured above) to make way for the piano that will be coming in a few weeks. The back rooms are really shaping up to be more like rooms rather than storage facilities!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Sprouts

What a beautiful WI spring weekend we had! Plenty of sun to go out and get some yard work done!
Today we planted grass. (Not THAT kind of grass!) Hopefully these dirt patches will be sprouting in about 7-21 days.


It has been fun to walk around and watch all the stuff sprouting from our yard. Here are the daffodils that were just sprouts a few weeks ago:

And here are some that have bloomed in a sunnier spot in our yard:

The irises that I planted last fall are coming up slowly, but surely:

And I was THRILLED to find that the previous owners had some in another location as well:

I think these are some tulips coming up:

And I'm not sure what these are, but they look sorta cool:

And finally, the beautiful coral roses that my hubby got me:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Home Renovation NY Times

Interesting home renovation in the NY Times about a couple who have restored their home over the past 12 years without the use of credit cards.

Read "Don't Hate Me Because I'm A Solvent"

Finally - a practical home renovation story! Don't forget to watch the slideshow!

Our Miis for Wii

One of the first things you have to do in order to play a Wii is create a Mii - that is a little digital copy of yourself to play with.

Nate and I got pretty close with our Miis:



If you are over to our house, you can create your own Mii to play with. Our Mii meeting place is a little lonely with just the 2 of us!

Learning Never Ends

Last night I dragged Nate to this event held at the Rec Department called "Learning Never Ends: A night for Adults". The gist of it is you sign up for two hour-long "classes" that are meant to be fun, pay $10 and enjoy. It initially caught my eye because one of the classes was about landscaping, which a)we know nothing about and b)could use a little help with since we are frequently calling our moms, aunts and grandmothers with questions like, "When can we prune our rosebush?".

So we arrived last night and immediately saw that we were going to lower the average age of the attendees to about 63. Oh well. I got in line to get my cookies and decaf coffee with the rest of them.

It turned out to be one FUN night and we are eagerly awaiting the next event in October. Here is a recap of our classes:

1. Landscape: A New Look.
Two horticulturists and one "hardscape" installer from a local shop, Kanavas, led the class which mostly was about perennials and gave helpful advice about when to prune certain plants and how to pick plants for your yard. The hardscape guy seemed miffed that he only received about 15 minutes to talk about patios and concrete, and then only talked for about 3 minutes. Nate memorized his speech so give him a call if you want to hear about hardscape. I will say that after the class the guy was really helpful telling us about retaining walls, which we are considering in our front yard to get rid of the hill. We got a helpful booklet about perrenials, as well as a free 4-pack of pansies for attending.

2. Olive Oil & Vinegar
This class was what sold us both on the event. It was AWESOME. The owner of a new olive oil shop in the village, Oro di Olivo, came and did an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting and told us about olive oil. He mixed in three common grocery store olive oils, including an expensive oil from an organic shop, with his and we blind taste taseted a bunch of oils, two balsamic vinegars and then mixed the vinegars with the oil and tasted those. And by taste, I literally mean drinking a little Solo cup with olive oil in it. Like wine tasting. And man, olive oil is not what you think! My advice to you from the class is never to buy olive oil with the word "refined" on the label. Refined olive oil basically is taking all the crushed olives and scrapings and heating them to 425 to squeeze out the last drops of life from the olive. This used to be used as lamp oil. We received a bottle of a new olive oil arrival from Italy and a bottle of 18-year aged balsamic as a parting gift!!

I highly recommend going into his shop and tasting a variety of the oils and vinegars. Then go home and taste whatever bottle of olive oil is in your cupboard. You will be amazed.

Here is a picture of me using my newly acquired tasting skills on my glass of wine when we got home:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

74 Degrees!

I'd like to interrupt this day by posting that it officially is 74 degrees outside today...so says my desktop weather widget anyways. I have been stuck in my office since 8:02.

woohoo!!!!

New Idea for Reusable Grocery Bags


I will preface this post by saying that this idea has the potential to be super good or SUPER bad. I do like that it has so many green elements: reusing old tshirts, saving plastic bags and making a reusable bag that is unique.

Instructions to make the bag featured above are here.

I plan on making this and will give a report soon!
Source: Who else? Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Tax Day!

Ahh..Spring. After a particularly frightful weekend, yesterday kicked off a week of beautiful weather forecasts. After my nightly run, I helped Nate fertilize and clean up our yard, while watching the 50 yard dash competition some of our neighbor kids were having. I was pleased to see the only girl of the bunch kick the pants off the boys!

Anyhoo- here is a springy recipe for you that we tried last night. We halved this recipe. It is meat free but you could easily add chicken or shrimp if you wanted.
Risotto with Edamame, Lemon Zest & Tarragon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or Chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, thawed
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.

Stir in the broth, 3/4 cup at a time (waiting until each addition of broth is absorbed before adding the next), and cook, stirring occasionally. It should take about 25 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed.

Remove from heat and stir in the edamame, lemon zest, tarragon, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Spoon into individual bowls and top with the remaining Parmesan.

Shortcut: To thaw edamame and other frozen bagged vegetables quickly, place them in a colander or a mesh strainer and run them under cool water.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Source: Real Simple

Monday, April 14, 2008

Great Idea: Recycling Magazine Pages

I get a LOT of magazines. Something about all those glossy pictures...

Anyway, I also rip out a lot of pages of things I like from magazines and somehow, never do anything with them. I saw this on the blog "My Messy Thrilling Life" today - making pretty envelopes out of the pages!

Go here to check it out.

Hodgepodge: Bipolar Disorder, the Weather and What Else, the Foyer!

Each of these tidbits were not enough to be stand alone posts so I combined them!

1. This weekend we had a little weather set back that I like to blame on WI's bipolar tendencies. That is to say, we had snow in April. Not anything serious, or anything that actually stuck on the ground, but marching from bar to bar during a bachelorette party for JRS was not fun given the sleet that was coming down upon us. Oh well...this week is suppossed to be back to "normal" spring weather so I can't complain too much.

2. We named our Wii "Schlotty". Before you think we are too crazy, you do have to name it before it lets you go on to play any games.

3. We went to the Art in Bloom event at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The MAM is a fantastic place to be a member of since they are very good at putting together fun events like Art in Bloom. The event featured floral arrangements inspired by various works of art throughout the museum. It was so creative, and interesting to see how different floral artists interpreted a wide variety of art. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera so no pictures of them!

4. In other actual house-related news, here is a picture of our new mirror in the foyer.

We also got a rug, that unfortunately in this picture has a big rain spot on it.


5. Unfortunately for you, dear readers, we have decided not to do any more major house stuff until our kitchen remodel so you will have to endure little things like picture hanging, potentially more sewing projects and talk of the weather. Hopefully I will still come up with some material for this thing!

Friday, April 11, 2008

We have a Wii

Last night was a fun night. My husband came home bearing gifts.

1. Our china came in...and holy packaging!


It took us awhile to get it all unpacked, but here some of it is!


2. We have a Wii! Plus, with our presidential physical fitness log at work, I can count Wii playing as an athletic activity. Here Nate is hooking it up.


I hope we still are able to get stuff done around the house now!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Kitchen Gadgets



I have been reading "My Life in France" by Julia Child, which was a birthday gift received LAST year. I am finally reading it...and loving it. Apparently Julia Child was a freak about kitchen gadgets as well, which made me feel better about the wide range of kitchen gadgets we have stuffed into our own kitchen. We are definitely going to have to weed through some of them if we do take out the wall of cabinets that separate the dining room and kitchen during our remodel this summer.

I will soon be uploading photos of our home purchases made over the weekend. I am having a crazy work week and thus pay more attention to laying on the couch when i get home than I do to our house.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fish Fry!

Those of you familiar with Wisconsin culture know of the importance of a good ol' Friday Fish Fry. Nate and I LOVE LOVE LOVE fish fry Fridays. The typical fish fry consists of some battered cod, rye bread, coleslaw, some type of potato product and a good glass of beer. We love fish fry so much that our wedding rehearsal dinner was a fish fry and I subjected some ATL Friends to Fish Fry during my bachelorette party.

We have been on a mission to try all of the fish fry varieties in the area. Last Friday, however, we decided to DIY Fish Fry given that my dad gave us a bunch of fish he caught ice fishing. We tried the following recipe and it was delish. My friend, BK also notified us that the Gary Roach batter makes a tasty fry as well. You can find the Gary Roach batter in hardware stores. (No, I am not kidding)

Beer Batter:
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (We used Sam Adams White Ale - YUM)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, skinned with bones removed, and fish cut diagonally into 1-inch-wide strips (5 to 6-inches long)

In a Dutch oven or fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees F.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Batter:
In a large bowl, pour in 1 bottle of beer. Sift 1 1/2 cups flour into the bowl, whisking in gently until just combined, stir in House Seasoning. Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper and coat the fish in the beer batter. Dredge the pieces of fish in 1/2 cup of remaining flour and slide into oil as coated. Fry fish, turning over frequently, until deep golden and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Fry remaining fish in batches, returning oil to 375 degrees F between batches.

Source: Paula Deen

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Signs of Spring

It reached into the 60s this weekend! We aired out the house and got out into the yard and neighborhood today.

Our daffodils are starting to sprout!


So are the irises!


This bush is getting some berries!


I wore shorts & a t-shirt running!


I tried taking pictures of several robins but aparently I am not too stealth-like in movement so you will just have to imagine the robins!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Home Shopping in Chicago

Well that about sums up the work we did last weekend...and we are about to begin ANOTHER weekend! I would like to give a shout out to Mother Nature for the beautiful spring-like weather that is in store for us. The snow piles at the ends of our driveway are almost completely gone and I noticed our irises beginning to sprout! I also have seen more runners out and about, which is a sure sign of nicer weather!

We are headed to Chicago tomorrow for a wedding shower (tea at the Drake, oh my!) and are planning on stopping at Ikea and the Crate & Barrel Outlet on the way. I am very excited as I haven't been to either of these stores since becoming a homeowner. I am not always impressed with Ikea, but am still excited nonetheless. Perhaps we will have some new treasures to share on here!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Heart Lists

I previously have confessed my love of all types of lists.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I read about this book on Decor8 today. I may just have to go out and buy this!

I have already added it to my book list...and, no I am not kidding.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wooly Bully

Continuing with the recap of all things home that occurred this past weekend, we finally splurged on a rug for our bedroom! We have been looking at rugs in this white shaggy style all over the place. When it comes down to rugs, we decided that quality was worth a price as the cheaper options didn't a)feel as nice and b)looked, well, "cheap".

Enter the "wooly bully". I know I often use song titles/lyrics as blog post titles, but this really was the "name" of the rug! How could we not buy it after that!

The size of the room indicated that we would either need to have a custom sized, really large rug to cover most of the wood floor, or have a smaller rug on either side of the bed. Given our love of wood floors, we chose option two.

So here is the room when we moved in:


And now with our new rug (well, the furniture certainly helps!):

I love that this picture captures all of the warm sunlight we get through the dormer in the morning. It certainly makes waking up more enjoyable!
More pics with the rug can be found in the master bedroom album.

We still have plans to add a coordinating comfy chair in the far corner of the room, another woolly bully on the other side of the bed, and hang some stuff on the walls. Oh and then the far reaching plans for the master bathroom in a few years!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We love our Stripes...

One of the designers featured in the new issue of Domino magazine had this tip: "Don't neglect your entryway! Think of it as an appetizer for what comes next. It should reflect your home's overall style but also contain something special so guests want to see more." Am I using this quote to justify all the time and energy that is going towards the room in our house we spend no time in? Possibly...

And so our foyer/mudroom/entryway makeover continued over the weekend. First, the curtains...
We found fabric that is a 98.7% match to the bench cushion! Ten yards later, I was at the sewing machine. Again, we took a chance using striped fabric in a striped room, but due to scale difference, it really works...although through pictures it is hard to tell. Time of day makes a huge difference in how this room looks - the majority of these pictures were taken at night, with the exception of the light fixture pics.



I have yet to fix and finish the hems on the one side (you can really tell in the pictures) and we are probably going to paint the rods black, add a black mirror and i have yet to install the coordinating tiebacks I also made, but a huge step is done!

Then we moved onto the light fixture. The light fixture did look like this:


And here is the new one (also visible in some of the pics above):


Through the blogging process, I have come to a few conclusions:
1) There is no good way to take photos of this entire room given it's small size, and
2) Things look different in person. Many people upon seeing our house in person as oppossed to these pictures comment on how different it looks. A big part of this is that texture is hard to capture in photo and we have a lot of texture going on! So, if you are ever in the area, come visit us! We'll give you a deal on the tour admission :)