Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recycling Reads

Anyone interested in getting my hand-me down copy of either of the following two books to read, please comment and I will send/give them to you.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (click the title to read the book jacket)

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (yes this is the same book that was previously listed)

Also, not sure what to do with your old magazines? Check out the Budget Ecoist for some ideas. I usually try to find someone to take my old magazines, or I drop them off at the magazine rack of our fitness facility at work.

Speaking of magazines, I just received an email from Aveda. Their new promotion features a free 6-issue subscription to Ready Made Magazine with the purchase of 2 liters of shampoo and/or conditioner. Save waste and learn how to recycle your stuff into 'new' uses!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Running Update

"The miler knows that in just over 4 minutes the pain of severe effort will subside, but the marathoner must be able to tolerate pain and fatigue for over two hours."

~Buddy Edelen

Ok, so the 4 minutes and 2 hours referred to above are slightly longer in the case of me, but still this quote is apt to describe my current feelings towards running another marathon. I have struggled with motivation so far in my training for #5 and have not pushed myself very much, preferring to stay in the comfort (aka pain-free) zone.

I went to one of the build-up runs hosted by a local running group last weekend for a change of pace (literally) and scenery for my weekly long run. I knew that I would be able to push myself a bit more with people around, given my competitive streak. I was chugging along quite nicely for the first ten miles and then the heat, humidity and general fatigue (hey, it was early in the morning) got the best of me and I stopped. No sooner did I stop when this woman behind me said, "Oh no, you are not stopping. You are my motivation so you have to keep running for me. It will get easier just keep going." So I started back up with her again and through talking I learned that she was training for the World Championship Ironman finals in Hawaii and she had 3 kids. Well, that was enough motivation for me to get through the run. I'm hoping that burst of motivation continues to carry me through the week!

Love/Hate Relationship with Animals in our Yard

The garden in between our house and garage is flourishing! We were excited to see the very many bumblebees pollinating the flowers, given the diminishing bee population. Apparently coneflowers, hastas, roses and bee balms are their thing.

On the flip side, apparently some sort of tunneling rodent also enjoys this garden as it is digging everywhere, threatening our plants (and the bees!). Is it a mole? a vole? a chimpmunk? We don't know, but one of Nate's coworkers told him about this "foolproof" method for killing them. (Animal lovers please do not read the remainder of this). My husband made this drowning contraption (from the directions of the aforementioned coworker) in an attempt to catch the Great Tunneling Rodent on Saturday. So far, we have noticed that some of the peanut butter has been eaten, but still no rodent. Yesterday we added some sunflower seeds to the peanut butter, but alas. He/She is still outwitting us. Oh well, just the sight of this thing makes me laugh. I wonder how long it will sit there before "we" (i.e. Nate) give up on this gig.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Granite Countertops

A timely article in the NYTimes today if you are considering or have granite countertops in your home.

Sprucing up the Windows

We updated a few windows over the weekend. We traded out the dining room curtain hardware (previously reddish-bronze) for a brushed nickel one to match the rest of the room. How did we do that? SPRAY PAINT! :) We actually did purchase a brand new one that looked exactly the same as the old but a different color. It seemed a waste to get rid of the other one, especially since it was less than a year old. So we brought out the spray paint for yet another project.

We also recycled the previous dining room curtains for the library.

I can hardly wait to get the piano in this room now!

Updating the Dining Room Pays Off!

We just received word from the One Project Closer team that they selected our Dining Room Makeover for their weekly One Project Closer project! Fun! Habitat for Humanity will receive $25 in honor of our dining room. I posted about this project a few weeks ago.
Click here to read the article.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kitchen Update

Our basement cabinet painting workshop has officially been cleaned up - we are done painting cabinets, although we probably have a few touchups here and there. PHEW. Cross that huge item off the list. (Clearly we still have to get the range and microwave (?) to match the rest of the appliances)

Next on our list is attempting to removing the cabinet wall that divides the kitchen and dining room:

We will be taking the 5 door cabinet and making it a 2 door cabinet so that the cabinets will no longer extend beyond the wall. So, I guess we still will have to paint that when it is done with its alterations!

We also received a box of countertop samples - how cute is this?

I can't imagine ever wanting bright red countertops, but I guess it's nice to know there are so many options! We narrowed it down to 4 of the black countertops:

I think the lead belongs to "galaxy black" which has just enough gray tones to pick up on the appliance color but still is primarily black.

We are going to try to get a bigger sample to make sure we still like it when the stone is larger and not 1" x 1". The samples are Dupont Zodiaq Quartz.

EXCITING TIMES. I thought we would never get past that paint job!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Fun times!

I love entering blog contests - basically some blogs have contests to win free items like books, fabric, etc - and I finally won one!!

Thanks to The Cottage Nest I will be receiving Cath Kidston's In Print book. Those of you with my homemade fabric plastic bag holders should be fans as those were based off of Cath Kidston's product!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dishwasher Fixed...or Degunked

Yet another busy weekend - we had my goddaughter Liz (pictured with me above) over and thus got out of doing a lot of housework! :) This also resulted in some more craft projects, but that's another story for another day.

This morning we did get that dishwasher fixed. GE has been very easy to work with - I highly recommend getting GE products from that aspect, at least. You may say, "Why would I buy a GE appliance when you are having one fixed a mere 5 months after you bought it?" My response would be: because our dishwasher was not really broken.

We tried so hard NOT to be those stupid people that call the repair department with the simplest of problems. We had water that was not draining out of the bottom of the dishwasher so we went to the GE website and found a handy list of "things to check before calling the repairman". It told us to check for a kink in the hose. Check: No kink. It told us to see if there was food or something blocking the hole at the bottom of the dishwasher. Check: No food. It finally told us to check the air intake (that silver thing next to your faucet) and see if there was debris blocking it. Check: No debris...or so we thought. We had to call GE.

Given that our appliance is less than one year old, it is still covered under the regular warranty. The repairman showed up today and I explained all of the above and was quite proud of us for being proactive. Well, then he explained that i had to remove this plastic piece inside the air intake (and not just remove the silver cover) and sure enough - there was a twist tie that was grossly gunkified blocking the water pathway. The "repair" took him about 15 seconds.

Had we not had the warrantly this use of pliers would have cost us $75.

They really should include a schematic with those online directions!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Painting cabinets is ALMOST done!

A busy week has made me MIA in the blogosphere.

That and we really haven't done any blogworthy home improvements. Nate finished painting the last of the cabinet doors so we soon will have a picture of all of the painted cabinets! The process will have taken us almost exactly two months of working nights and some weekends. Then it will be time to rip down the cabinets dividing the kitchen and dining room and get new black (or very dark) countertops!!!

We also have to have our fancy "new" (as of February 2008) dishwasher fixed. ARGH! At least it is still covered by warranty!

Friday, July 11, 2008

House Beautiful Small Kitchens Profile

Sick of looking at pictures of our small kitchen?

Click here to look at pics from House Beautiful small kitchens.

Design Blogs & Free Caulk

If you like to peruse home design and decorating blogs, check out the 16 blogs that are featured in Domino Magazine Editors' Picks International Design Blogs for a few more to add to your Google Reader.

Here are a few of my favorites that were featured:

The Style Files

All Things Bright & Beautiful

Absolutely Beautiful Things

Desire to Inspire


And...if you need a tiny bit of caulk and don't want to buy a whole tube, click here to get a free sample of the Caulk Singles.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bright Lights, White Kitchen...Almost

Ok, if you are getting sick of posts about the kitchen, imagine how we feel?!

We ARE continuing work on it, but the doors/drawers part always is the slowest because:
a) we only have 2 sawhorses and thus our workspace is limited - we can fit a max of 6 doors on it.
b) paint does not dry fast enough. We have to paint one side of the doors, wait for it to dry, flip, paint the other side, etc etc for 3 complete rotations.
c) we have to paint hinges and wait for them to dry. Nate's contraption only holds 4 hinges at a time.
d) hanging cabinets sucks (although it is getting less & less frustrating).

Last night Nate finished painting Round 1 of the remaining cabinet doors and was able to hang 4 doors. Yay! We have some touch up work to do before we can put the handles on.

I started priming Round 2 of cabinet doors (and subsequently got paint all over my running shorts). We are down to the final 6 doors to paint!

The good news is that the drawers are now completely done! All of the handles are on, drawers are lined and refilled!

I THINK we can see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lowe's Creative Home Ideas

I am a magnet for anything home related and anything free. Thus, I signed up to receive the Lowe's Creative Home Ideas magazines after seeing the commercial on HGTV one too many times. We'll see how it is.

You can sign up to get your own FREE subscription to Creative Ideas, Outdoor Ideas or Woodworking ideas here.

If you are earth conscious, you can also view the magazines via PDF online here.

New Craft Project

A while ago, I posted about hotslings and how I was going to try to make them for all of the new moms/babies we know. (Welcome Patrick Quentin, the newest addition to the 2008 cohort!) Well, given that a lot of new moms that I know already had one, others were not into the whole sling thing, and the fabrics that come with the "real" hotslings are pretty fantastic, i gave up on this idea.

My new idea is to try to make baby shoes - like the Robeez ones. Thankfully, Joanna has posted a how-to pattern (thank you Stacey for sharing with me). I will let you know how my test project turns out!

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July Barbecue Recipes

A large part of our holiday weekend was spent on the lake with my in-laws. The meals were divided up and Nate & I were in charge of late lunch/early dinner on Saturday. We made beef kabobs, corn on the cob and this bean salad, among other things. The meal received rave reviews, and thus I am posting recipes.

Garlic-Mustard Glaze/Marinade
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

If using as a glaze:
Whisk all ingredients together and let sit at room temperature before using. Brush glaze over beef while grilling.

If using as a marinade (what we did):
Whisk all ingredients together. Cut up 2 lbs beef tenderloin for kabobs and put in a large ziploc bag with marinade for 2 hours in the fridge. Assemble kabobs and grill.

We used red pepper, yellow pepper, mushrooms, red onion and zuchini on ours - delish!
Source: Bobby Flay in Whole Foods Grilling booklet

Tri-Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
This is an old favorite from CD.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper
3 scallions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 can small red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl whisk together mustard and vinegar. Whisk in olive oil. Stir in salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add scallions, peppers, onion, beans and parsley and cilantro and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve

Source: Cathy Lowe for

Grilled Potato Packets

5 lbs red potatoes (if feeding 13 people)
garlic cloves
herbs de provence
salt and pepper
cooking spray
aluminum foil

Cut potatoes into cubes. Spray sheets of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Put potatoes, as much diced garlic as you want, sprinkle of salt & pepper and a handful of herbs de provence. Cube 1 TB of butter on top and fold foil around potatoes to make a packet. Grill for approximately 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Source: US!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

One Year of Homeownership!

Today marks the one year anniversary of our closing date on our house, and the start of this blog! We celebrated by doing absolutely ZERO work on the house for the past 3 days and eating our France Feast for dinner tonight - bread, cheese and fruit.

Another thing to add to the celebration of the one-year is that our fabric panels were featured on the At Home Redesigns blog on this week's "I Love These Ideas! Sunday"! FUN! You can check it out here. We now get to sport this black logo on our blog:

If you have any great ideas, feel free to send them to Mary via email: Your idea could also be featured on her blog!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Support Habitat for Humanity with your Before/After Remodeling Photos!

While reading This Young House, I came across this contest being run by One Project Closer. If you email your before and after pictures of home improvements, they will select one project each week between June 22 and September 21. For each project selected on a weekly basis, One Project Closer will donate $25 to Habitat for Humanity!

At the end of the contest, one entrant will be chosen to receive a $50 gift card to the home improvement store of their choice.

If you have before/after pictures of your home improvements, I highly suggest entering the contest by emailing your remodeling story and pictures to (Click on the One Project Closer link above for more detailed info).

And...another cool thing, the June 28 winner was from right here in Milwaukee, WI!!

And of COURSE, I will let you know if we get chosen!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Blooms & Cookies...What more can you ask for?

Remember the Lawn Boy that I complained about so much last summer? Well, this year, I must admit that we have had zero problems with it. Why? Probably because 98% of the time, Nate mows the lawn. I mowed the lawn once so far and i ended up with a huge blister on my hand and almost chipped a tooth.

Nate made the comment last night that since starting the kitchen we have really neglected our yard so we are trying to remember to give our flowers more attention. Here are some recent blooms, including rosebush #2!

While Nate tended to the flowers, I made coconut macaroons - Yum!

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg white
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Mix all of the above until smooth.

Add 3 1/2 cups coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a WELL-GREASED cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Optional: Melt dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.
Source: The Joy of Cooking

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Return to Cooking!

While our kitchen is not finished, we at least can return to cooking more elaborate things than one-bag meals from Trader Joe's now that our cabinets having things in them again. Don't get me wrong, I love the TJ gnocchi in a bag, but after the chicken stir fry, I was ready to get back to cooking. (The chicken was a bit rubbery - what can one expect from chicken that is cooked, frozen and then reheated?!).

I'm taking it back to the old school with this recipe from my grad school days at Emory, with a shout out to Silky JAW.

Jess's Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates, & Cinnamon
3 green onions
1 T (Tablespoon) olive oil
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 t (teaspoon) cinnamon
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground red pepper
1 (10 oz) package cous cous
3 T white wine vinegar
5 T olive oil
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped (can find these already chopped at YDFM**- not the flour-coated ones)
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
2 T cilantro (garnish/optional)
**For those of you not in Atlanta, YDFM= Your Dekalb Farmers Market - a MUST SEE if you ever are in the area!)

1. Finely dice white end of green onions, reserving sliced green parts for later.
2. Cook white onion pieces in 1 T olive oil for about 5 minutes
3. Stir in chicken broth, cinnamon, 1/4 t black pepper and red pepper.
4. Bring to boil and add couscous
5. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes
6. Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, 3/4 t salt, 1/4 t black pepper, 5 T olive oil in small bowl.
7. Fluff cous cous with a fork, put in large bowl.
8. Add and toss sliced green onions, chickpeas, carrots, dates, pinenuts.
9. Add vinaigrette and toss again.
10. Garnish with cilantro if desired.