Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plans

Wow you guys.  I have been a horrible blogger.  Never even posted the second half of our big vacation!  Well, that will have to wait a bit longer, because right now I am at work waiting for queries to run and reports to download, and need to do something that won't add additional strain to my CPU: blogging!
I have a LOT of things in progress and just itching to get started at home.  Big and small, crafty and home-improvement-y, take a look:

Things I am currently actually in the middle of and plan to finish in the near future:
 - Crocheted shoes (which I made into boots) at the request of Mindy for Norah - just need to add buttons!  Think Paul will be willing to stop by JoAnn Fabrics on our way home this afternoon?
 UPDATE:  I finished Norah's boots!  See for yourself:

 - A gift for another soon-to-arrive baby, not saying what in case Kelly reads this :-)
 - Hang already-framed pictures in the living room

Projects I have mostly prepped for and am hoping to actually do in the not-too-distant future, like maybe during a few of my days off around Christmas:
 - Painting the vanity in the 2nd bathroom to cover up the hideous white-streaked-with-gold fake marble laimate
 - Painting the ceiling (blue) and walls (green) of the 2nd bedroom/future nursery
 - Painting the bookcase and side table that live in the 2nd bedroom
 - Using leftover paint samples to paint the canvas for some cheap coordinating art for the 2nd bedroom
 - Re-pot some houseplants that are in sore need of it and find a new spot for the peace lily, which is looking sad and hasn't bloomed in ages
 - Make some cool canned things to give away as Christmas presents
 - Bake various cookies (same purpose as previous bullet)
 - Get started on that knit onesie pattern I bought on Etsy

Other things I want to do soon, like before the holidays:
 - Decorate inside and out for the holidays
 - Purchase a living tree to be our Christmas tree for this and the next few years, until it gets too big.  This project also includes finding/creating an appropriately decorative pot for the tree to live in.  Maybe something big and square that I could cover to look like a Christmas present, so my tree would look like it is sitting on top of the biggest present under it?  That would be cool.

Other projects I have in mind but probably won't get to until next year (hopefully early next year!):
 - Make a tufted upholstered headboard for the 2nd bedroom
 - Re-upholster the diningroom chairs
 - Attempt the more-complicated re-upholstering of the awesome retro chair we got from Poppy.  It is currently covered with dark orange plasticy fake leather that is cracked and old-looking.  The color is actually perfect, but I want to go with something new and maybe slightly more modern-looking.
 - Finally sort through and get rid of a lot of the old junk in our basement to make way for inevitable future accumulation

What about you?  What non-every-day things are on your actual and hopeful to-do lists?

Friday, August 13, 2010

So Far

We're on vacation!

So far, our road trip has taken us from home, where we made salsa to use up veggies from the garden the day before we left:
 to Harriman, NY, where we hiked to the top of a mountain:

to NYC, where we visited some museums, Central Park, and Times Square:
to Boston, where we hiked the Freedom Trail all day and topped off our best day yet by meeting for dinner and drinks with Wes, Stephen, and Shaina:
Next we headed to Fort Ticonderoga, where we slept in a decent hotel for the first time, even though we checked out less than 12 hours after we checked in!  The Fort was great, but my favorite part was the King's Garden:
And today we arrived in Colchester, a suburb north of Burlington, near Lake Champlain.  The trip hear was cool, from Defiance Mountain overlooking Fort Ticonderoga, to some amazing views of the Vermont countryside with distant mountains and picture-perfect clouds:
We'll be here by Lake Champlain for our longest stretch yet, 3 nights, before heading to Montreal for 4 nights.  After that we'll spend one night somewhere along the way home.  For now, we're planning to take it very easy tomorrow and give our feet a much-needed rest by renting a canoe for the day and just drifting lazily around the lake.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Garden is planted!

Before we start in on the garden, observe my de-barked dog barking:


Isn't she cute?  She still only does it in that part of the yard, when I'm not too close by.  She was outside with me all day while I planted the rest of the garden, from about 10:00 AM until 3:00 or so, and she barked on and off for the first hour or so, then forgot about it for most of the day, then barked a few more times in the afternoon, then curled up in a ball and napped until I took her inside.

On to gardening!  It took me all day Saturday, but the garden is now completely planted.  Nothing left for me to do but water, weed, and wait...and maybe put up a fence if the bunnies get to be a nuisance.  And hopefully harvest, you know, eventually.


Speaking of harvesting, one of the tomatoes has two flowers, one of the pepper plants has a few fruits starting to form, and we are going to need to use some basil every week if we want to keep it from flowering! In the slide show you can see the lemon basil I planted already had flowers, so I cut all those off, and we'll wait a bit to harvest from that one.



In other news, this was the week of the mail-order shopping deliveries: we got the slipcovers we ordered from Bemz for our Ikea Tullsta chairs; I got the sandals I ordered: Teva Women's Mandalyn Ola Wedge Flip Flop, but I'm sending them back because they're too small; I got a replacement for my Nook because the page-turn button cracked on mine (it's a common problem), and I'm shipping the other one back; and I sold my copy of The Lost Symbol on Amazon now that I and everyone who wanted to borrow it is done. That was my first time ever selling anything on Amazon, and it was pretty great! I priced it the cheapest of the "like new" used copies, and it sold in less than 24 hours! I have the shipping label printed and it's boxed up and ready to ship, so tomorrow after work I will be stopping at the post office to ship the book and return my sandals, and at UPS to ship back my cracked Nook. Then there will be no more major purchases for us for a while!

Hopefully by next weekend there will be one or two sprouts from the seeds I planted too - wildflowers, lavender, hyssop, sunflowers, leeks, spinach, and pole beans. The only thing with no edible properties are the wildflowers, but if those come up (the seed packet is 2 years old) I will cut them and have fresh flowers inside all the time.

So chapter 1 of our gardening adventure is over...hopefully some interesting and encouraging growth will be visible over the next few weeks!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Juno Speaks

While I was gardening yesterday evening, I had Juno in her harness attached to our clothesline in the backyard so she could hang out outside with me.  I've been using this setup frequently since last Saturday, and she's getting used to it and obviously enjoys it -- she even figures out how to unwind herself pretty quickly if she gets her leash wrapped around a pole.  It's a good setup.

You should also know, if you don't already, that Juno is debarked.  She already was when we got her - the puppy mill that raised her and bred her must have done it to all their dogs that they weren't planning to sell.  It means they surgically cut her vocal cords, and many people consider it cruel.  Most dogs can still bark afterwards, just much more softly -- it sounds like a hoarse or whispered bark.  Juno has never made a peep, so we assumed she couldn't, and we've always wondered if her inability to bark was part of the reason for her extreme timidity.

Well, last night, Juno remembered how to bark.  She was on the opposite side of the yard from me, with her nose pointed challengingly towards the side yard and the street, barking like it was something she did every day.  I could hear her clearly from the garden, but it wasn't until I looked at her and saw her barking that I realized what it was.  She stopped when I said "Juno!  You're barking!" but she started up again a few minutes later, and again after Paul came out to hear for himself.

She was back to her usual silent self all evening, but this morning I clipped her to the clothesline again while I watered the tomatoes, and after a few minutes she went back to the same spot, pointed her nose in the same direction, and practiced barking some more!  This time I noticed that, while she's barking, her tail actually wags from side to side like a normal dog's -- something else we really haven't ever seen her do.  A few months ago when she met a friendly bulldog I thought I saw her tail wag one time, but since it stopped immediately I couldn't be sure.  So now all at once, it seems our little Juno has figured out how to wag her tail and bark.

Now that she's maybe starting to come out of her shell a bit, we will see more of the Juno we saw on Easter Sunday and I can get some more pictures like this one, where she isn't curled up into a sad and pathetic little ball!

I'm hoping to get a picture or video of her barking tomorrow evening or Saturday while I'm out planting the rest of our garden, so stay tuned for that, and for the next garden update I hope to post on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gardening!

Yesterday and today, I planted our garden!

We plan to buy more plants this Tuesday to fill in the rest of the vast amount of space, but I bought what you see here on Friday evening with my mom and Han, and planted some Saturday morning and the rest Sunday afternoon.

Here's what we have so far:
4 tomatoes, all different varieties
1 Sweet golden bell pepper
1 Jalapeno pepper
2 chives: 1 plain, 1 garlic
1 Oriental cucumber that will have long, skinny fruit
1 yellow summer squash
1 zucchini, bush variety
6 basil: 3 sweet, 1 big-leaf, 1 Thai sweet, and 1 unknown from my indoor pot
2 cilantro, but the smaller one was eaten to the ground so maybe only 1 cilantro


We plan to get on Tuesday:
3 more basil to fill in that square
probably more cilantro
more herbs in general
4-6 more peppers including more bells in different colors and some chili peppers like the kind Paul uses in our green curry
4-8 more tomatoes to fill in that square and probably another square
1-2 pumpkin vines to take up space
a few varieties of beans

Paul's mom got us a rhubarb plant, so that will be cool next year (we will plant it now, but won't be able to harvest it until next year). If this year goes well, I also want to try asparagus next year, and maybe strawberries.

I also photographed the front of our house since the rosebushes are going crazy, the clematis has devoured our lamp post but isn't blooming yet, and you can see the Gladiolas Paul's mom gave me coming up around the base of the lamp post.

In the lower left are two Blue Rocket Lupin that my mom got as a gift and didn't have a place to plant - they look about identical to the day I planted them, but Mom tells me they will get big spikes of flowers eventually. I hope so!

I am so so excited about our garden, so hopefully that will motivate me to keep track of it on here so I can look back next year and have a record of what worked and what didn't! Any suggestions for what else to plant? Will you take some veggies from us if we have too much to handle in a few months?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day update

I totally fell off the blogging bandwagon. And the facebook bandwagon, even, since I mostly just update twitter and let that update facebook. But mainly it's just been so busy and only getting busier, and I don't even have enough time to do all the knitting and cooking and laundry and cleaning that I need/want to do, so blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Christmas was lovely, except fot the part where Juno escaped from my parents' house and Paul had to chase her through the snow along the Conodoguinet creek for an hour in the cold rain. But we got her back, and at the moment she is grugingly sleeping in her bed, which I have positioned at my feet by the couch in the living room in the ongoing attempt to make her like us and hopefully eventually work our way up to voluntary snuggling.

We've continued to incrementally spruce up our house, with the biggest improvement being the basement: a few days after Christmas, Paul spent the evening moving boxes into the back and stacking them neatly, and a few weeks later he installed a shelf, so now we have a clean, huge room down there with our big, comfy couch and a TV. We haven't used the TV yet, but this Saturday we are picking up an elliptical machine we are buying from our friends Kelly and Luke, and I am dropping my YMCA membership (having lost my gym buddy in favor of her neighborhood's free exercize room), so hopefully I will be using that room and that TV multiple times each week starting Saturday!

Today has been a lazy day of me working from home while Paul enjoys a rare day to relax - the snow is piled up to our windows, and we haven't ventured out to shovel the driveway and uncover Paul's car yet. I finally got a new HP laptop at work, so I've been enjoying working from the couch in my pj's. Paul did do a little more than just relax, though, and has a pork roast in the oven for our dinner, which is filling the house with tantalizing smells. Tonight we plan to enjoy a slow dinner in front of the TV, watching a show on PBS that sounds interesting.

I've been getting into my stride at my new job (that isn't so new any more - it's been over a year now), while Paul is starting to wind down at his job in anticipation of going back to school full time this fall. He's been taking classes, this semester is pre-calc, but it's time to speed things up! Since the store will be closing or possibly changing hands this Spring, and with my employment feeling secure, there isn't going to be a better time for him to do it. I like to daydream of that day a few years down the road when he's graduated and found his career calling, allowing me to transition into a stay-at-home-mom/wife role, but until then I'm really looking forward to having a house-husband (at least a part-time one) once he's in school and not working. The few months between jobs when he moved down to VA with me, and again when we moved back to PA, were stressful because he was looking for work, but also really cool to have him home waiting for me with dinner made most evenings when I got home. This time around, it's all planned, so I'm really looking forward to it! I feel really lucky to have a job I like that also earns us enough to let Paul go back to school and not worry about work for a few years.

In the day-to-day-life department, I've been continuing to get together with a bunch of girlfriends almost every Monday evening, something we all look forward to every week. We switch houses every week, and one of the bunch just bought a new townhome right across from another, so soon we'll have a new location to enjoy. The spouses of all the girls sometimes get together, mainly during Monday Night Football season, and then we all get together on the occasional Friday or Saturday for parties that are always a blast.

We also continue to make the trip down to Northern Virginia pretty frequently to see the friends we made when we lived down there, most recently for the Super Bowl, and we always have a great time with them. My friend Jeneane and I just got together a few weeks ago in DC to see an author we both love, and who she introduced me to, followed by dinner; a couple months before that, we were down for Sarah and Ginny's wedding, which was beautiful and sweet.

I am, of course, still singing in choir at church every Sunday, with rehearsals every Thursday evening, but I dropped Bell Choir in order to have one evening a week at home with Paul. My mom and I don't see each other as often now that we don't have Wednesday evenings at bells, so we need to work on fixing that! I've also added one more church activity: I am extremely excited to be a member of the call committee that will be spending the next 18-24 (or more!) months calling a new senior pastor for TLC. Since I grew up at this church and now plan to raise my kids there too, I am so excited to get to help with the process.

Along with all that excitement, the list of things I want us to do in and around the house only grows! This spring, I want to sell the small Japanese Maple in the sunniest corner of our back yard so that I can put in a vegetable & herb garden, and I'm hoping we can also install a patio ourselves using supplies from a local home surplus store. The same surplus store has cheap laminate flooring we're hoping to install in the basement to replace the awesomely 70's orange carpet currently down there, and we're still deciding what to do with the fake wood paneling down there - we might save some money by just painting over it, but I would love to replace it with drywall, because I have a vision of painting the far wall with chalkboard paint in anticipation of using it as a playroom for our kids, and I think being able to draw on the wall would be so much fun. But speaking of our basement, we still need to contract someone to install a radon mitigation system, since our radon readings are pretty far above the safe limit, and that's something we definitely want to deal with before we have little ones in the house!

We still haven't scraped the glue off the walls in the second bathroom, which is partly because I can't imagine spending time re-painting in there until we can also afford to replace the hideous vanity. But the vanity is installed from wall to wall, so if we take it out, we end up needing to either uninstall all the tile and re-drywall, or patch up the tile, both of which sound equally difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. And come to that, I hate the wallpaper in our main bathroom more every day; plus, we want to cut down the mirror to be just over the vanity so that we can install some more storage over the toilet, but the wallpaper doesn't extend to behind the mirror, so once we take it down we'll be exposing something like naked plaster (which I'm hoping is at least sealed or something).

We exposed the original wood floors in our dining and living rooms last year pretty soon after we moved in, and we haven't regretted that for a minute, but we're still deciding whether to do the same in the rest of the house. But that would entail purchasing more area rugs, so we're not doing it yet, plus there's the additional question of refinishing the floors: there are a lot of ugly spots that need to be sanded down anyway, and I would really love to just go the whole way and re-stain the entire house a much darker color on the floors - the original color is very yellow wood.

And of course on top of all that is the looming possibility of offspring in the not-too-distant future, so that will mean either speeding up or putting on indefinite hold all these other renovations, and hopefully converting the second bedroom into a nursery with at least some fun painting and decorating to make it unique. My cousin accidentally introduced me to a DIY home improvement blog just before we moved, and I've continued to be obsessed with it, even though I know I'll never have the time to do all the ideas I have in my head for our own house. But, for example, I have a bunch more panels of the white Ikea curtain panels I bought for the whole house but only used in a few rooms, so I hope I'll eventually hang them in the second bedroom once I'm turning it into a nursery, and maybe I'll dye them a different color to match whatever color scheme I decide on for the nursery. I tried to talk Paul into doing away with the folding doors on our closets in favor of fabric panels, but since he didn't go for it, maybe I'll do it in the second bedroom/nursery instead!

Another big project I need to do is organize my pictures - it's been months, since the last time I posted on this blog in fact, since I downloaded them from my camera, and even longer than that since I shared any with anyone. I'm really hoping we can get a amatuer-quality digital SLR once I'm expecting, but if I'm going to ask for that, I need to get a lot better about keeping up with organizing and sharing my photos! My cousin and friend Kelly do such a great job posting pics of their bambinos on their blogs; our extended family will be living a lot closer to us than theirs do to them, but even so, I want to be as diligent with the updates as they are, just to have the record for myself years down the road! One thing I need to do is get better about picking the small handful of good photos out of the boatload I always take with a digital camera.

I'm a few weeks away from finally finishing the cardigan I started knitting for Kelly's beautiful babe last June, just in time to start knitting something for my friend Mindy, who is expecting in early May. In the interim, I've made a little bit of jewelry for Christmas presents, and crocheted a cover for the e-reader Paul got me for Christmas. I never have enough time to knit as much as I'd like to! The cover for my e-reader came out so well that I'd love to post the pattern and the item itself for sale on Etsy, but if someone actually bought one, I don't know if I'd have time to finish it in a reasonable amount of time! But I'll never be motivated to finish another one unless I know someone's going to buy it. I really should just bit the bullet, make another one in a different color, use the opportunity to solidify the pattern, and then post it for sale on Etsy.

I've never posted anything for sale on there before, and I'd love to try it; I'd post jewelry, but I'd never stand out from the thousands and thousands of others with the same thing. I searched for other e-reader covers, and found a bunch, but not tons, and none of them crocheted, so if I could do this, I'd really have something unique that I think I could sell, especially as they continue to catch on. I could even post links to my Etsy posting on the e-reader message boards I casually follow, and drum up business that way! What would I do if I actually got multiple orders right away? I could never finish a bunch in time to satisfy more than one or two people. Well, I suppose I shouldn't worry about that problem before I've even posted anything!

I haven't completely given up my little dreamlet of an idea to run a craft business some day, and I feel like getting a modest Etsy store running would be a decent first step in that direction. If I could get a few sales of the e-reader covers, maybe I'd be motivated to add a few more items like craft kits. And if I crochet that second cover and no one buys it, the worst that happens is that I have two covers for my own e-reader. Right?

Well there's a huge update for a snow day after two months of blog neglect. More for my benefit than anything - a wish list for myself, perhaps, to check back in on when I need motivation.
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