Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Purpose in Life.

Don't get scared, loyal readers. This isn't going to be a deep post about how I have some grand purpose here on this little ball of fire we call Earth... you know me better than that.

A friend of mine is working on making babies and recently commented that she felt like she was on this planet to be a mother. Makes sense for her, particularly because she also happens to run a daycare, where she is constantly mothering booger-y little kids (I know, I worked there once). As you can see, I'm not convinced that I was put here to guide young souls (with their sticky little fingers). But her comment did get me thinking about what it is I'm doing here. My life's purpose.

I admit I was stumped, and to be perfectly honest, it made me a little bit embarrassed that at this point in my life I'm still not quite sure what I'm doing. It's probably because I don't read the directions. I digress.

Today, I was on craigslist searching for fun free items, like I do every single day. I stumbled upon these two gems:

They are a FREE set of antique folding chairs (so a bench, really) and a FREE antique table with sexy turned legs. Do you want to see more? Of course you do:

Now... I don't need a table. I also don't need a bench of folding seats. But I'm worried that if I don't sweep in and rescue these items someone else will use them for firewood. GASP.

So I've been hemming and hawing over these FREE items for about an hour now, and have determined that I have to save them and return them to their prior glory with a nice deep stain and a glossy coat of poly. So then, what exactly, does this have to do with my purpose in life?

Can't you tell? I was sent here to rescue history from the clutches of the barbarians who would chop this stuff up and burn it. Honestly, I know it sounds real crazy - but think about how the world would be if someone let the Pope demolish the Colosseum because it was "old" and "in need of repair". Yes, that did almost happen!

So it might not sound as good as being sent here to be a mother, but I don't mind it so much, if my one true purpose on this earth is merely to rescue antiques... future generations of antique lovers and home decor experts will probably thank me someday, they'll throw a parade in my honor because I was "green" and saved some trees by just reusing something old.

Or... they'll call me a crazy old trash-picking pack-rat... which is probably what the Mr. will say when (if) I bring these treasures home. Whatever.

What about you? Have you determined your true purpose in life? Can you fill me in - I'm curious!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My House Goals 2012

Do any of you read Nesting Place? It's a cute little blog that I like mainly for one reason: the tagline.  "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" what a thought? What a genius thought? I really like that this blog encourages all of us to take comfort in our homes even though they don't always look like the pages of a Pottery Barn magazine. This is especially important for me to remember, as I try so hard to make our place something that it isn't.

Please accept my apologies in advance today, I've been sick for a month and I was just on vacation so my writing may not be as smoothly flowing as usual. Yah, I know that doesn't sound like a real sentence.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, the Mr. and I live in a duplex. We've been here for a little over three years now and have done a tremendous amount of work trying to make the place beautiful, but in the right context. You see, in a duplex, you have to be logical about your renovations because you don't assume the same kind of resale value that you would in a single family. For example, we didn't put granite counter tops in our kitchen because no investor is going to pay the extra bucks for a place with granite that will get ruined by tenants immediately. Similarly, we have gorgeous hardwood floors in our half, but we're not going to re-finish them because an investor would just count them as a liability, not as asset. See what I'm saying? In all of our reno's, we have had to keep things below a certain level.

I'm rambling.

My point is, I realize that in this house, I can't have everything I want. In certain ways, I feel like that knowledge has limited me from decorating the way I really would like to. Combining the notion of living in a duplex with the thought that we could move at any given moment, and you have what I would like to call "unpersonalized living". So that brings me to the point of this post: my house goals, 2012. Nesting Place offered a link party a few weeks back and suggested that people share the goals for their house this year. So even though I am a bit late, I thought it might do me some good to declare (publicly) what I'd like to do for the the old homestead in 2012.

You read my blog, so you know me. You know I love my dogs probably a little too much. But if you walked through my house, you couldn't tell. Not that there isn't paw marks all over everything, but I don't have a single puppy photo posted anywhere. Can you believe it? There is nothing in our entire house that proves that we live there. It's awful.

So in 2012, I have one very simple goal for our house: make it personal. Wow, I can't believe it took me nearly 5 paragraphs to get to that, good God! Sorry about the constant rambling! Anyway, I want to prove that I'm already on my way to personalizing, and here is how.

This is a picture of a painting of a picture of me, hugging a snowman in my Gramma's front yard. Isn't it amazing? The talent in this family is wildly out of control, I tell you! I wish I had the picture to show you just how lifelike this painting is. My Grandmother painted this for a me a while back, and I have had it in my craft room to give me motivation to actually do things (other than make a mess). But I decided that it's coming down to the main level to greet people as part of a personalized wall I plan on attempting in our mudroom.  This wall to be exact:

Well, the Christmas decorations are gone, so technically there is more wall space than you see here. Anyway, I brought my lovely little canvas of myself to JoAnn's to be framed yesterday, so when it comes back, it's going up on the new personalized wall! 

I do have more plans for the room, including actually putting some kind of curtain on that window, as well as re-painting the room. I like the yellow, but I did a really crappy job when I painted it the first time. You can see brush strokes and everything, so it will hopefully get changed this year. That's actually a funny story. Here is the jist of it: I didn't like the color while I was painting and I got mad at the Mr. for something, so I did a bad job on purpose hoping that it would motivate him to repaint it quickly.

Well, it's been 3 years.

Anyway, I know I've gone on and on long enough, so I'll stop. Do you have goals for 2012? Are they overly ambitious, or are they super ambiguous so that if you do nothing other than put up a few pictures of your dogs during 2012, you can look back and say "goal accomplished!"?

Not that I would do that...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Wedding Part III: Saturday

When 6:00 a.m. rolled around, I figured it was worthless to try and sleep in half-hour intervals, so I sat up in bed, alone in my big hotel suite and posted on Facebook, “turning into one of those people who can’t sleep in hotels.” It wasn’t more than 5 minutes before my friend Amy responded, “I am awake!” So I drove down to Friend HQ and picked her up. I paid for a bed and breakfast for 2 people, so 2 people would have breakfast!

It was a nice way to start the day as we sat in the breakfast room at the Oxford House, chatting about the day to come and keeping a wary eye on the weather. It was a fairly chilly morning for Labor Day weekend, and clouds dominated the sky. I was really nervous about how the weenie roast and canoe trip would go if it was cold and cloudy, but the weather in Maine is ever-changing, so I just kept my fingers crossed.
The Canoers were supposed to meet at 10:00 sharp at Saco Bound. But at 9:50, I was in Amy’s bathroom at Friend HQ plucking my eyebrows and cursing myself for being so forgetful about my own appearance.  After the group of about 30 signed all of the proper paperwork, got themselves over to the canoe drop point and finally got in the river, it was probably 11:15.

Meanwhile, my Mom was running around the grocery store with 2 carts in tow, trying to pick up everything we needed for the next 2 days. Dad and the Uncles were at the weenie roast site, making some last minute preparations. Additionally, non-canoers who wanted to attend the roast were showing up at the Farmhouse, trying to figure out how to get down to the site.

The beers flowed freely on the River, as they always do, and I was having a great time. Dan, the dogs and I were kicking back in our canoe checking out the scenery along the river, and noting how Irene had changed it all. Like an idiot, I forgot my waterproof camera, so I don’t have any pictures from the canoe portion of the day, but it was shaping up nicely.

We did have to paddle a bit, because in my head there was a very strict timeline and I wanted to be sure that I didn’t miss anything. Pulling into the beach and the roast site was wild; I could hardly believe the amount of work that had been done in such a short period of time. Aside from the tire marks, and the silt on everything, it looked damn good! The men had cut up the fallen trees to make seats out of stumps and placed them around the firepit. Tablecloths were on the tables making it seem festive and fun, the bean bag game was anxiously awaiting players, and my Uncles had already started cooking.

Then we hit a little speed bump.

A lot more people showed up than RSVP-ed, and my Mom only bought enough hot dogs for everyone to have one, so we quickly ran out. Add in the fact that there were a lot of drinkers who were hungry (and probably had more than 1 dog) and you get a few people who went without. Luckily, there were chips and pickles and watermelon, not to mention s’mores, so when it was all said and done, people had SOMETHING to eat. Guess that is a quick lesson in being sure to RSVP or, being more aggressive about getting your food if you did RSVP.

Like the night before, I tried to get around and say hi to everyone and see if they were enjoying themselves. I assume they all did, but with my scurrying around, it was hard for me to relax like they all were!

Hurricane Irene damage
By the time 3:00 rolled around, the canoers had to be on their way towards Pig Farm to get picked up. My Dad and Grandfather said that if I went the long way down river I might not make it in time for the pickup, so we took a short-cut (through Leach Island) and arrived at Pig’s Farm about 10 minutes later, abruptly ending the trip. Fortunately; Paul, Ian and Kasey managed to flip their canoe in about a foot of water… at least there was entertainment.

When all canoes were out of the water, we waited for the bus that would bring us back. We waited for a very long time!

I can’t remember much between that and the rehearsal, except for the fact that it was a whirlwind, and once again, I didn’t have time to get pretty like I wanted to. So I showed up to the rehearsal late, with wet hair.
Things went pretty well during that part of the night. We figured out timing for walking to the music that I had picked out for my cousins to sing and play. We practiced readings and seemed to get everything down pat. It was going well… too well you might say, so on the way to the rehearsal dinner, I did us all a favor and got sick so I could be the one thing that went wrong that day.

Someone should have told me not to drink during the canoe trip. I should have known better. Oh wait, someone did tell me not to drink, it was Dan – and he knew me better than I did. But like I frequently do, I ignored his warnings and spent too much time in the sun drinking alcohol.

Queue me in and out of the bathroom during our rehearsal dinner feeling very sick. I didn’t eat a thing (which I’m sure, didn’t help the situation) and couldn’t seem to get the waiter to bring me a damn ginger ale! You would think that the waiter would remember to bring the BRIDE her drink at her own dinner. This is without a doubt my biggest regret of the wedding, because I essentially missed it. My future mother-in-law gave a great toast welcoming me to the family, everyone was having a great time and from what I heard, the food was excellent… but I couldn’t enjoy it because I kept thinking I was going to throw up.

I guess it was a trade-off: drink and party during the day with friends, or drink and party at night with the family. In retrospect, I should have chosen the latter, but alas, I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed.
By the time it was over, I had dropped off Dan (at what became wild party HQ that night) and headed back to the farmhouse to pick up my wedding dress. Luckily I was finally feeling better (likely due to the gallons of water I drank instead of eating my dinner). I sat and chatted with my Nana and Uncle Rob late into the night discussing my sleep issues the night before. Uncle Rob shared an Ambien with me and said I would wake up refreshed instead of groggy like I do when I take Benadryl as a sleep-aid.

So then at the Oxford House that night before I went to sleep, I swallowed the Ambien and drifted off to sleep on my stiff mattress. Tomorrow was to be the big day, and I needed that full night’s rest.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


*WARNING - photo heavy post with not a single project in sight. You might want to skip reading this if you are impatient like me*

Remember when it was cool to say that? For example, someone would say "Yo, Mom and Pops are away -party" and then you (in your totally cool voice) would say "Word?!" Part question, part declaration. Some times I miss being as cool as I was back then.

Oh yah, I'm definitely kidding about that.

But let's get back to the point here: word. Layla from the Lettered Cottage issued a challenge of sorts for the people of Blogland to come up with a word of the year. Personally, I think resolutions are silly and ridiculous. I'm not one of those people who thinks a new calendar year makes me ready for a change or like I could use a fresh coat of paint somewhere in my house (I could ALWAYS use a fresh coat of paint). It's not a new start people, it's just tax time.

But I kind of like the idea of trying to live up to a word.

So my word for 2012 is Pause/Paws. Yes, I suppose that is more than one word. Stop criticizing!

2011 was a very full year with many time constraints, most of which I imposed on myself to be ready for my wedding, but it's not uncommon to go rushing about from one thing to the next. That's just the way I tend to function, always looking forward, never scoping out today for what its worth (good or bad).

So I'm going to pause, and try to act like I have paws. Cue the world's most adorable:

Heard the phrase, "It's a dog's life" lately? Well, it is... they are just living it up, with their endless toys, table scraps (if you do that... I don't because my dogs fart like crazy) and yes, doggy daycare. I admit I'm guilty, Aero and Bruno go to doggy daycare every now and again. So let's all acknowledge that most dogs lead a great life. But did it ever occur to you that they live a great life because they love it so much?

covered in mud, but he's so pumped!
Stuck on a porch, but it's SO AWESOME!

Dogs love it. They love every single terrible thing you make them do. They love it when you get home from work. They love going to bed, they love looking out the same windows trying to hunt squirrels even though they have never caught a single squirrel, not even once! You take them to the park down the street and it's honestly like you are taking a 7 year old to Disney. "OH MY GOD! IS THIS THE PARK DOWN THE STREET? WE LOVE IT HERE!" And then they run through the same woods, chasing the same deer and geese. Again, they never catch anything, but they keep doin' it!

They pose for the millionth picture even though there is a bird right over your shoulder that they want to chase and bark at.

Do you see how excited she is about the trees falling into our back yard?!

Look Mom, I found my ball that was hiding under the bed!!!!!

And when dogs need a break, they take a little break.

Sometimes they take a nap in the guest bedroom on the WHITE duvet cover. Even when they know they shouldn't!

Then they go crazy again.

They take naps on the porch.

But most importantly, they love and they are loyal. Even after you tell them to stop annoying you with their smoke-alarm bark. Even after you yell at them for going through the garbage, eating 6 cupcakes, and a tray full of stuffed shells. They are unconditionally supportive, and so very proud to be a member of your family.

So in 2012, I'm going to take at least one minute everyday and think "how would my dogs feel about this?" And if Aero and Bruno would rather take a nap than finish painting the apartment next door, well then, by God that's what I'll do! 

What's your word?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Goodbye Christma

I hate when this time of year roles around. No, I don't mean January, I love January because in our family it's Birthday Month (Me, Mom, Grandma, Papa, a cousin and an aunt). The specific time of year I am referring to is the "time to pack up Christmas" weekend. It's not only a pain to take everything down and package it away carefully like I do every year because I always think, "what if we move and I didn't pack things carefully?" but the house always looks so empty without the decorations.

But, according to society, it really should come down by New Years, so I guess the 6th is the latest I can hang on. So I started dismantling when I realized, oh no! I never showed you my back door entrance! I'm exceptionally proud of it because these are fresh garlands that I made. Check it out:

extra greens courtesy of the 3 feet I had to cut off the tree so that it would fit in our house

these pine-cones are still attached to the sticks, they came down in the freak Halloween snow storm

The lanterns (from my wedding) used to have Christmas Balls in them, but those got packed away on Wednesday

My Papa cut the birch logs on his property in Maine. Emil drilled the holes for those candles

yes, I broke down and bought 3 of these from Pottery Barn

Hey there, cute dogs!

So now you've seen my back entrance. I decided to put some effort in this year on the back entrance because its where 99.99% of people who visit actually come into our house. Now the pressure is on for me to repeat next year. It shouldn't be a problem since I have some genetic mutation that causes me to pick out Christmas trees that are too big for my house.

Speaking of big trees, here's a picture of the tree that was in my parent's house this year.

What a monster!? Oh well, I guess I should stop procrastinating and start taking things down. Goodbye Christmas, see you again in 11 months!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Work, Work, Work!

What does this look like to you?

If your answer is "snow" then you are false. If your answer is "sanded dust from compound wall patches" then holy cow you guessed right!

So, so much compound dust! And guess how it got from the wall to the floor?

That's right, yours truly was sanding for most of the day on Monday. Gotta love that headband!

So, so many patches... and when I wasn't patching, guess what else I was doing?


Yes, cleaning mold and mildew with God's wonder product, Kaboom Stain-buster cleaner. Don't stop reading in a huff, thinking that I'm endorsing my sponsor, Kaboom doesn't even know I exist. It just happens to literally clean anything off of anything... anywhere... ever. So if you have mold problem, you should really invest the $3.50 or whatever it is to pick this stuff up. For some reason, I can only find it for sale at Target.

Anyway, the reason all of this work is happening is because our tenants moved out at the end of December. Yes, fun fact, I am a landlord (by marriage). Our house is a 4,000 sq ft Duplex with a full basement, walk-up attic and barn. I note this because it explains how I have so much space to take home all of my street treasures and then fix them up. I realize that not everyone has the luxury to do so, I'm sorry, you can come live next door to me if you want! Next week there will be fresh flooring, carpets and paint. Plus, you get a fenced backyard, and you get to live next door to me!!! What's more awesome than that?

Ok, a lot of things. But don't say I didn't offer.

So once the work next door is complete (Mr. has seriously been working like a slave over there!) I can show you something very exciting that I have been working on!

But don't hold your breath, cause you know how I am...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pinterest Pursuits Part II - Food

As I announced in yesterday's post about finally attempting some of the things I had pinned, Part II is all about FOOD. Amen. Here is what I tried:

I'm not a fan of bourbon, so I hated these. People who like bourbon said the grapes were fantastic, but that the grapes and cheese combo would have been better with a cracker involved.

This recipe I changed a bit, and it was a big hit. I buttered and lightly toasted french bread for a minute or two under the broiler. Then I topped the bread with slices of plum tomatoes, drizzled a very little bit of olive oil, covered with parm cheese, salt and pepper and a small amount of dried basil. I baked them at the time and temp indicated, and they were fantastic. I will likely be making them again soon.

This pin did not feature any recipe or instructions or link to a blog. It was just this picture and I had to use my imagination. Luckily, I had a lot of very professional help on hand for my New Year's Party (Thanks Amy!!!) Amy is working on her PhD in Chemical Engineering, so you know she had this down to a science! She used the pillsbury crescent rolls, spread on a liberal amount of cream cheese, then added pieces of bacon and chopped jalapenos. They were excellent! The only thing I would do differently in the future is add more jalapenos, because I really like to taste the spicy pain. But they were great for a crowd, because not everyone likes to punish their taste buds like I do.

This recipe was a disaster for me, which is too bad because the thought of using bacon on chicken coated in coarse mustard with sticky honey makes me drool a little. The problem is that you have to know exactly what size to cute the chicken so that it will cook in time with the bacon. And unless you are a professional Chef, there is no way you know the ratio. A better way to do this little flavor combo would be to cook the bacon and chicken separately, then wrap it up at the end in bite-sized pieces kind of like scallops. By the time the bacon cooked fully, the chicken was completely dry, and I looked like the idiot that overcooked the chicken on Christmas Eve. Luckily I think everyone was drunk so they didn't care.

This was a very quick and painless thing to make on New Years. I used Potato Dinner rolls - they came in a 24 pack. It was good, but I think fresh dinner rolls would have tasted better. But let's face it, I'm a bread snob. Overall, this is a great party food, because it doesn't require a plate, and you can make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven right before you need it.

This was a great punch, and I ended up making 2 batches. but I will add that I used almost twice as much pomegranate juice as was recommended. Without the extra juice it was just too "bland" - which was fine for me, because I love champagne, but not everyone does. The extra juice went a long way to make the punch a crowd pleaser.

Finally, the Pièce de résistance: Champagne Cupcakes
Image via
There was a lot of drama regarding these cupcakes. I initially saw the photo shown above on Pinterest. It was featured on Some Kitchen Stories. Apparently, they had taken the recipe from Gimme Some Oven who had adapted it from AllRecipes. I like AllRecipes.com because people post reviews. When you are making a recipe for the first time, it's always nice to read the reviews and see how it worked out for others. Well there were a few negativos who noted that the cake was heavy or dry. 

So when Amy and I made this, we were super careful, being sure to whip up the butter and sugar until it was very fluffy and pale. Then we sifted the dry ingredients twice. And the egg whites - you have to wait a while to get the egg whites to the correct stiffness. It takes longer than you think. I did end up adding an additional 1/4 C of Champagne to the cake recipe, and I even mixed everything by hand and folded the egg whites in thirds. I would like to add that it was very strenuous physically to mix things by hand. In my cooking career, I have always had a kitchen aid. Mixing by hand is simply not done in my house. But I endured. And I'm glad because these little bad boys were excellent. We did make the mini-cakes and cooked them at 350 for 10 minutes. They were moist, they weren't too dense, and you could taste the champagne, which I liked, because as I may have mentioned... I am a lush. We also ended up using way more confectioner's sugar than the recipe called for, (probably a cup and half more) because it was too watery. But they were great. 

I had some again today, and they were not as good. So you want to make and eat them on the same day, but I do believe I will be making these again. I was very proud of our excellent efforts at hand mixing. 

So here I am, wrapping up this edition of Pinterest Pursuits, very impressed with my efforts. Have you tried anything that you pinned lately? How did it go? Fill me in!