Thursday, September 29, 2011

The $5 fix

With my dear and darling Ma and Pa visiting us this weekend, I decided to get my tookus in gear and fix up the woebegone wall I shared last week. The fact that I scored three $1.47 frames from a Target clearance rack also helped.

Better, right? I'm no professional, but I see vast improvement and the darker frames add good balance and I'm pretty sold on them because they required no painting and were ca-ra-ra-ra-zy cheap. This is what we in the decorating world call "justifying."

We've got a nice shot from our first anniversary outing to Russian River Brewery.

The best fortune ever written, placed on some scrapbooking paper from the Hob Lob.

It says "You are the greatest in the world!" and it makes me quite happy.

I learned while we were engaged that if you send the President a wedding invite, he will send you a nice congratulatory card. I framed ours because it seems so quaint and like something grannies would do.

Yes, these are all camera-phone pictures taken in the dead of night. I not only never claimed to be a decorator, I also never claimed to be a photographer or person with enough patience to find the camera and wait for daylight.

Not bad for a $5 project, right?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

For as much as I blather on and on about doing awesome kitchen things like making my own cheese and stockpiling homemade cinnamon rolls, I'm actually a sad little mess when it comes to making main dishes on my own. That's Hubs' job. I'll help here and there, but the concept and execution is just not my gift.

True fact: I have ruined the following dishes in my culinary lifetime (in chronological order): Pop Tarts, Kraft mac and cheese, instant mashed potatoes, couscous, all manner of chicken dishes, tuna salad,breakfast-for-dinner, etc. My epic kitchen failures far out way my triumphs, but I choose to think those who love me find this endearing and good for their waist-lines.

This week, Hubs decided to play soccer with fellow science folk after work, which meant I was - at the last minute - left to my own devices in the kitchen.

Here's how it went down, internal monologue style:

(looking through pantry and fridge, calm as all get out) Hmm. Seems like Hubs won't be home for a while. It'd be so nice of me to have something at least started so he can finish cooking this dinner. Because surely he'll be home soon and I won't have to actually think up and make an entire dinner. Surely!

(I find a giant bag of rice) Oh! We never make rice, even though we buy rice like hoarders. I'll start some rice.

Rice and (look in the fridge) green onions? carrots? frozen veggies? bacon? No, That doesn't even sound right. Let's try the old freezer and see what happens.

(sneaky peeky in the freezer) Chicken! Rice and chicken - that's a real thing. Hmm. Rice and chicken and bacon? No. No. Get off the bacon train. Rice and garden tomatoes? Perhappppps. Oh, but self! How's about some kind of southwestern chicken bake! We have gross condensed cream of chicken soup in the back of the pantry. This sounds familiar! This might become food!

(Google how to thaw a chicken, make sure I use the USDA regulations and not some shady blogger's tips)

(Google "southwestern chicken and rice bake" because if that doesn't sound like real food real people in real kitchens make, I don't know what does. Find this.) Get crackin'!

And so I followed the recipe and made dinner. And it was ready right as Hubs got home. And everyone liked it and it was officially added to the list of things we can eat for dinner. And I spent the rest of the night basking in the glow of main dish success.

And that is the story of how I made my very first dinner for poor old Hubs since we got married in 2009.

The end.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In which perfection shockingly alludes me

I've had this little hall mirror since 2004. It was purchased for less than $5 at Burlington Coat Factory in an effort to spruce up my crumbly sad college house.
Here is my wee little dark mirror, circa 2009. Waaay back before the new windows and back when two unruly felines had yet to destroy the upholstery on my green chair.

After living with the dark mirror for seven years, I got the itch. It was time to shake things up with my little discount store mirror and the only kind of excitement I could bring to the table was a pale gray paint left over from an old project.

This chip has been there as long as I can recall. It was likely earned during a legendary house party. 

 Taping mirrors always sucks because you I can never get a crisp line. If you look closely, you can always tell I just slapped some lipstick on a pig of a mirror. Nevertheless, I tried to wedge my tape corners down with a screwdriver and look of serious concentration.

Painting time! 
I failed to realize just how sticky-outtie the designs were until I was really trying to get in there with my brush.

I almost left the mirror in this stage of shabby chicness after just two coats of paint before realizing shabby chic has no place in my home. Mostly because the shabby rings just too true.

So I rolled on a third coat and called it good.

Today, the mirror hangs where it always had and I've got to admit - I'm underwhelmed.
 Missed a spot or two.

It just disappears.

Be honest, aren't you underwhelmed, too? It's just too light and airy that it fades away. I'm hoping that once I get my act together and paint all that trim white, it will be a little better.

Maybe I just need to gallery wall this shizzle and get my pops of boldness that way. What say ye?

This ye says that between my lame painting and having reflected hundreds of hard-partying accountants and pharmacists: That poor mirror has been through the ringer.

What paint mistakes have you made lately?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pack it up, pack it up, you got it, you got it

As a gal who was once known for her tendencies to blow this joint and head for shores unknown, I have long coveted suitcases as decor. So, imagine how stoked I was when I found this sturdy old guy at the bi-monthly antiques showcase, Urban Finds. I nabbed the case and the antique valet it sits on for a cool $25! I topped it with a rad little mercury glass lamp from TJ Maxx and a woodsy candle since this corner is dangerously close to the litter box hideaway.

Perfect for our basement's so-called talking chairs, where I imagine guests sipping wine and discussing the news of the day. This has yet to happen, but these chairs give a great vantage point to the action on the foosball table so I think we are getting close. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I think we are intermediate now

Since I got my sweet new purple bike, Hubs and I have been riding a lot. We've been spending Saturdays going 20, 30 then 40 miles all leading up to a little bike-cation over the long weekend.

Somehow, in the week leading up to this ride, it never dawned on us to check the weather for Saturday, so we were a little dismayed that as we got ready to roll, the news announced that several other outdoor events were cancelled that day because of rain.


I can say that because Hubs and I persevered, as we tend to do when faced with minor setbacks like a failed inspection or paint that needs four coats to cover.

Between downpours on the way to Martensdale.

Our plan was to coast down the trail that stretched from our house to a little town called Martensdale. From there, we'd be on county roads to St. Mary's and St. Charles and over to Winterset, where we'd stay for the night. All in all, Saturday would be 50 miles.

This route came from the latest Central Iowa Cycling map, which was probably the best $3.99 I've spent in some time.

Sunday we went north on 169 before getting on a rural road and getting back on the trails at Cumming - going just about 39 miles.

I know I wrote that like maybe we didn't stick to the plan, but you know what? We did stick to the plan and if you don't believe me, you can ask my poor hamstrings. They won't lie.

So, Saturday was rainy, but not as bad as I expected it to be and for that, I give all my credit to the two beers I downed at the Cumming Tap, seen here on our return stop, while we waited out the rain.

After that little knock-back, we were off to Martensdale and along the way, we met this guy:

His name is Bishop and even though he was very friendly, he wasn't 100% on board with our my idea of riding in the backpack for the next two days.

Once we hit Martensdale, it was lunch time. I went with a sensible salad and Hubs made another decision.

I suppose when you burn 2500 calories in one day, you really don't need to feel bad about eating a fried tenderloin the size of your face. Hubs sure looks happy.

After lunch, we tried desperately to not be killed by cranky drivers on two busy roads. We weren't doing anything wrong, but clearly the awesomeness of my purple bike threw some pick-up drivers into a blind rage as they loved honking and flying by at 80 on a 55 mph road. 

Luckily, our next stop was soothing and filled with gentle old people from Missouri - the oldest covered bridge in Madison County.

Sadly, things really started going downhill (even more sad, in no way do I mean that literally) after this charming stop. We had to take a detour on a gravel road for about two miles and then we hit the hills. Oh! Did we hit them! And the rain was raining. And we were sad. But the drivers were much nicer.

And soon, we saw this:

The lovely Madison County Winery and Twisted Vine Brewery vineyard and tasting room. We saddled up to the bar and ordered a beer flight ($3 for three samples! Hello, deal!) and a cheese platter while we recovered from a yucky ride. 

While we sat and recharged phones and ate giant chunks of Gouda, the sun was totally out. The owners were harvesting grapes that day and so they (being way smarter than us) got to work while the sun was out. Once we had downed our beers and were ready to go, the sky got dark. 

It is 11 miles from the winery to the bed and breakfast we were staying at and in the rain, that's not really all that fun. Zero fun, in fact. 

As we pulled up to the Heavenly Habitat, I was delirious. I wanted to be off my bike and done pedaling. So when  Steve, the owner, showed me this:

I very nearly fainted on the spot. Then, he showed us a washer and dryer which was hallelujah good news because Hubs and I only packed one pair of bike shorts each since a) that's all we own and b) we were our own UHauls.

Here we are the next day, fully healed from the rainy ride and ready to scoot out!

Sunday was a much quicker ride since there weren't a whole lot of places to stop at. Just lots of this:

One more quick stop at the Cumming Tap and we were practically home!

 It was an awesome ride and we're hoping to make it an annual trip. With my trusty Grown Up Bike, I can do just about anything.

Any other tips for fun weekend rides around these parts?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of Frasier, but I thought it might be fun for you all to interpret a dream I have had a few times over the past year. A little game of What Would Freud Do?, if you will.

In my dream, I buy this awesome house. It's huge and Victorian and the complete opposite of my real house.

BUT, I am relegated to the main floor because the attic has been rendered unusable by some very proper and very evil Victorian ghosts. They spend their days lounging in parlors and watering ferns (don't ask me why, but that just seems like something a suffragette would be all 'bouty 'bouty) and wearing corsets and they do NOT act kindly to non-ghostly visitors like me.

I also cannot go downstairs because it is constantly moving and crumbling and it looks like a really cheesy 70sVegas-style hotel with a carpeted refrigerator. It's also covered in bugs.

So, readers. A dream where I live in a house with no usable basement and no usable attic - can any of you tell me what this could possibly mean?

My vote is that this is proof positive that DIY house renos will indeed change your mental makeup - even way before they are started (the attic isn't on tap to get tackled for at least another two or three years) or after they are finished (happy five month-a-versary, Finished Basement!).
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