Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes- New Homeowners Edition

--- 1 ---
My quick takes are a bit sparse today, because we've had a crazy week of painting (which is what we are still doing as you read these takes today!). We spent many days taping, then painting trim, then untaping in anticipation of my parents' arrival to tape some more and paint the walls. A four day weekend of painting.... yes, I do in fact have the best parents... why do you ask? Anyway, as new homeowners, we have learned some very valuable lessons.

--- 2 --- 
Lesson 1: For example, when choosing a color of white for your trim, the smartest thing to do would be to take the paint color cards to the house and find what one is already on there. If you don't, you will have to paint every centimeter of trim AND all of the doors in the house because the two shades of white won't match. And you won't realize this until you've already purchased non-returnable paint and have painted almost half of the trim, so take it from me- that's not the way to go.

--- 3 ---
Lesson 2: Another trim lesson...What looks white in the store may not look white in the house. After soooo many days of very hard work and short nights of sleep, we went over on Monday night to examine our handiwork. And that's when we noticed it. Our white looks ivory.... We are hoping that the change in wall color will make it look white again.

--- 4 ---
Lesson 3: Husbands don't know the difference between ivory and white. We had a 10% coupon and were standing at Lowe's trying to pick out a new blind for the living room because the one there was broken. Steven went home to measure the blind and I told him to check if it was white or ivory. He said white, so we bought white. Every single blind in the house is ivory And now that the trim looks ivory, the white blind will be painfully obvious. But since they cut it to our window size, there's no going back. There's something painfully humorous about the previous owners having white trim and ivory blinds, and us having ivory trim and white blinds.

--- 5 ---
Lesson 4: Buy a few nice drop cloths and a bunch of paper towels. Nice drop cloths are expensive. But those cheap ones will stick to your feet, move easily, and make it impossible to paint the trim. So we bought two nice drop cloths, and then realized we couldn't go from room to room because if paint was on it, we would just be dragging it across the carpet. So we bought 6 rolls of those blue paper towels that hold up and lined the rooms with that, with the drop cloths in the middle. We could immediately move the drop cloths, and could move the paper towels to another room as soon as an hour or so after. It made it so much easier.

--- 6 ---
Lesson 5: Murphy's Law totally applies to home ownership. Thankfully handy friends and parents ease the blow (for example, the $950 repair our AC needs is being taken care of for $650 by someone Steven went to church with when he was little). Learn to laugh and roll with the punches. I spent an hour being severely moody and upset about the trim. Then I decided that the thoughts of painting it again, even a few years down the road, was enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and stay there So, now I'm laughing about it. I'm hoping that either my eye adjusts or that ding-y trim work in houses will suddenly be 'in'.

--- 7 ---
Lesson 6: Don't plan your moving date for a few days after painting is over. Because painting still won't be over, and then you'll be painting around furniture and boxes. Luckily we realized that before it happened, so we moved it back a week well in advance. Oh and bonus lesson: make sure your husband has awesome friends who will help him move while you enjoy the AC and your comfortable desk chair at work. You know, because they are moving on a week day, and you just used a bunch of vacation days to paint. *Darn.*

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Bible Top Tens

My husband and I really enjoy ending our day with some type of devotional, prayer, and/or Bible reading. However, we felt like we were in a bit of a dry patch as far as materials go, and had been keeping our eye out on something to put in the nightly mix. So when I saw Bible Top Tens, I got pretty excited! We started reading it the first night it came in the mail, and it has really exceeded our expectations. The book is in "Top Ten" format with lists such as "Top Ten Villains" or "Top Ten Women With Attitude". We like it for several reasons. First, it's so easy to read as a devotional type material because we can do one or two lists and then put it down until the next time. Second, it has really encouraged us to dig more deeply in the Bible. Several times, we've found ourselves wanting to know more after reading something from a list, so we go to the book that the person or story came from. Last, I love that it applies to both my husband and I. Some books we read are more geared towards the male or the female. This one has lists that appeal to both, so we have both had a lot of fun learning more by reading it together!

I think my very favorite thing about this book is that it's not the type of book that will get read once and shelved for years and years. I would definitely use this book with children and teens as part of a Bible study or homeschool, and as a way to get them more excited about the Bible. I would recommend that parents read the lists first before sharing them with children, because there are some that aren't appropriate for young kids. I love a book that can be used in so many ways.... just as entertainment, as a way to learn more about the people and events in the Bible, or for personal reflection. For a book that can be used in your family for years to come, it is priced extremely well!

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Bible Top Tens. This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.

Friday, June 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I've always loved doing the quick takes, but lately I've loved it even more. You might have noticed that my blogging has become a bit sparse. I'm trying to catch up on my wedding/honeymoon posts STILL, and I did  do a couple guests posts, but lately I've appreciated having the quick takes to sort of float my blog along until life quits being so crazy (ie we are moved in and settled!).

--- 2 ---
So are you ready to hear about last week's date that I planned? I got the idea from Love Actually which has quickly become one of my favorite blogs to dig through! I adapted it to my own liking and we had SO much fun! We did the camp out idea. I ended up making my own invitation with camping guidelines. I named the campground after the street our new house is on, since the camp out took place at the new house! I wanted to make a fun memory in the house before we moved in, so when I saw this idea, I knew it was a winner!

 When we got to the house, we enjoyed pigs in a blanket in front of the campfire :).

Later on, we read ghost stories (I printed them offline so there was no pressure to come up with something scary on the spot).

For dessert, we made SMORES! YUM!!! 

 See? My campfire was awesome! :P 

We had a blast and I'll be using that blog many, many times for date inspirations!

--- 3 ---
We did have a few fails, including glow in the dark stars which did not glow, even after exposure to sunlight AND they pulled paint off the walls when we took them down (good thing we hadn't already painted!). Also, we didn't actually stay the night because his parents were coming super early the next morning to help us work on the house and I didn't want to have to pack extensive overnight bags since we have nothing there yet. So, I put on the guidelines that we had to return to the 'cabin' at 11pm. Honestly, I don't think either of us minded not sleeping on the floor!

--- 4 ---
I finally made a perfect loaf of bread this week, after many imperfect loaves. I've read about how bread machines can be a bit finicky, so I didn't want to give up. The only problem? I'm not 100% sure why it turned out perfect because, in a frustrated huff, I didn't measure exactly (a huge no no in bread), doubled the honey, and doubled the salt. So yeah.... who knows if I will ever have a loaf that perfect again! I have a feeling the salt in the original recipe may have been too low and that's why my loaves were coming out sort of holey in the middle. It meant that about every other slice couldn't be used for sandwiches, which is the only reason I make it in the first place. I love, love, love white whole wheat flour.

--- 5 ---
Steven's parents came last weekend and helped us get SO much stuff done on the house! Steven's dad is super handy, and we are the opposite of handy, so it was nice to have his expertise on some small things that we certainly didn't want to have to hire out. We: fixed both storm doors, patched a big hole in the living room, spackled small holes, began taping to paint the trim, mowed the yard, weeded the garden, fixed a roof shingle, replaced the baseboard in the master bath.... and I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting. We also met both next door neighbors while we were out doing yard work. The one neighbor is renting his house out, but gave us his contact info in case we have any issue with his renters.

 The hubby mowing the lawn. No that's not our house. Or that one. Or that one. This is our side yard, so you can't see our house from this picture. 

My father in law fixing the shingle.... I'm sure he'll love this shot of him.

 My mother in law spackling the bajillion holes.

Taping, which I did for hours that day, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, annnnd we're not quite done!

--- 6 ---

Last night, we attended the Fortnight for Freedom mass. You probably shouldn't kill birds with stones with it comes to church, but there were 3 birds killed, if we're keeping count. 1- Of course the main issue.... fighting for religious freedom. 2- I've always wanted to see St. Joseph's so I was excited to see that's where the mass would be held. 3- They were having a cookout after sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and, though we are painfully socially awkward in large groups, I like when we push ourselves to do things outside our comfort zone. And food always helps. Anyway, the mass was really beautiful, and it was nice seeing how everything was handpicked (readings, songs, etc.) for the cause.

--- 7 ---
And because I'm oddly out of things to say.... here's a never before seen wedding picture. Oh don't worry, I've got about 700+ of those ;)!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reception Part II.... Also known as Longest Post Ever

After the dances at the beginning, we started saying hello to some of our guests. It was SO nice to see friends I haven't seen in a few years, and others that I see about once a year at weddings. I also got to see family members that I probably only see every 5 years or so, and was so touched that they traveled to be there! Weddings are wonderful excuses to catch up! Shortly after we started visiting the tables, they began serving dinner. Steven and I had a sweetheart table at the front of the room, so we went to our table. Steven's dad got up and did the blessing. I don't exactly remember what he said, but I remember thinking what a sweet and wonderful blessing it was. I love that he was the one to say it. They served salad and rolls with a caesar dressing. After we finished our salad, we decided to visit a little bit more until the main course arrived. I was nervous about having enough time to spend with everyone. As it turns out, I didn't manage my time that well and one table, with my two cousins and my friend and her husband, I only got to for just a few minutes twice during the night. I really, really wish I had been able to spend more time with them! Anyway, we saw the main course being served up, so we went back to our table. I enjoyed the sweetheart table because it was nice to have a bit of time to just talk together. People would come over and talk to us on their way to the bar, which we enjoyed, but we also could just sit and talk about the day, the food, etc. and not have to be in entertaining mode the whole time. The dinner was chicken romano with peas and carrots and sweet potato casserole. When we did the tasting, we liked the chicken and LOVED the sweet potatoes. However, everything was so amazingly delicious the wedding- the sweet potatoes were melt in your mouth amazing, and the chicken was SO good! Two months later, we still hear good things about the food which makes me a happy girl because I had been slightly nervous about it, since we went with one entree/no option. Our guests were happy!

 We DIYed a few things and those candles were one of them. We put ribbons and flowers on each one. In retrospect, I would have ordered taller candles LOL! We also bought those satin napkins and used them as overlays, which turned out really pretty (and it's a good thing we got them since I just realized right this second that they used white napkins instead of the dark purple I had requested!) We also bought freeze dried petals on the cheap and  had them sprinkled around the tables to add a little extra something.

During the blessing...

After dinner, we did a mix of dancing and visiting throughout the night. There were some particularly funny moments like when a group of friends requested "I Gotta Feeling", which I didn't realize was an innuendo until they told me. I just assumed they were referring to "tonight" as in the reception. Later, one of my friends requested "Stacy's Mom" and my mom was so cute and such a good sport. She went in the middle of the dance floor and we all danced around her in a circle, pointing at her during the chorus. Jessica, my bridesmaid, requested a song that was my 'jam' back in a former life, In the Ayer, which I cringe as I type here lol, but it was hilarious and fun. She also requested a song for my brother and I to dance to. The DJ picked "All My Life" which threw me off, so I kept talking to whoever I was talking to until the dj walked up and said "... is this ok?" and I realized that's what he had picked, so I went and got my brother for a dance, which made for a sweet memory. We also had other fun moments like spotlighting certain people (I did dance, but I did NOT get in the spotlight lol!), and doing the thing where you have two lines of people and one person dances down the center until everyone has gone, which was particularly cute since it was a mix of our families doing it.
 Yes, yes, we DID in fact break out the sprinkler.

 During "Stacy's Mom"

We rocked the Cha Cha Slide...  I had never done it before!

My dad is a rockstar.

Dancing with my big bro <3

At one point, the DJ had me start leading the train, which turned out to be more fun than I was expecting. He kept having me wind behind his DJ table and the further I went, the more people we picked up. My mom was at the end, so I turned it around on her, and then she turned it back around on me!

Steven and I had plenty of slow dances to be mushy newlyweds to, and I loved looking into his eyes, wrapping my arms around him (as far as my dress would allow) and knowing he was my husband! The dress... I had read reviews about how dancing was hard because it cuts into your arms, but I didn't think I would be dancing much. I was very wrong, and yes, it was a wee bit hard. I couldn't really get my arms up and around Steven, so our first dance pictures are reminiscent of a middle school dance (you know, nothing touching but arms). Then when we were dancing to fast songs, my friends dubbed my style "The T Rex" because my arms couldn't move much. It was quite funny.

Me doing the aforementioned "T Rex" when everyone else can clearly actually raise their arms.

 Steven's parents.... married 38 years on our wedding day!

 And mine.... married 34 years on May 27th.

Lost in our own little world together!

The speeches... oh my goodness, the speeches! First, my dad gave a sweet little welcome and thanks to all the guests for coming. Then my sister got up... My sister's speech had me in tears, which is funny since I didn't cry through the entire wedding like I thought I would! It was the only time after I left the hotel that I cried (and have watched it twice on video now and teared up both times). I will have to type it up and post it one day. The best man's speech was hilarious, and was about how he and Steven ended up in a laundromat in their boxers one day in college, and how you know a friend is a good one when you end up in that situation and they stick it out with you lol!

Oh yes, the cake cutting! I was so sad to cut our cake! It was stunningly beautiful and I was sad for it to not be in the room anymore lol. The whole cake cutting was a bit of a fail. First of all, we sort of stood to the side of the cake where I guess it was a bit hard for people to see us. So we cut a slice out and Steven fed me, then I fed him. Then...... *crickets*..... people kept staring. So.... we did it again..... *Crickets*. I can only guess that people were waiting for a cake smash, which I informed Steven about 12 minutes after he proposed that we would NOT be doing. Maybe it was a mix of not being able to see and expecting a smash But either way, I remember walking back towards the crowd of  people and going to my bridesmaids and saying, "This is awkward!" lol! Eventually the crowd broke up and we went back to visiting/dancing. Then the cake was served and OH MY GOODNESS it was delicious. We had three flavors in 4 tiers- cream cheese pound cake with cream cheese filling and buttercream icing, vanilla with chocolate ganache and buttercream icing, and chocolate with caramel filling and white buttercream. The entire cake was buttercream because, not only did I not want to pay for fondant, but it grosses me out. I still can't believe how smooth and beautiful they got the buttercream and piping! We ate the vanilla/ganache and it was really good. In fact, it was so good that my dear husband fussed at me for having us take a break to mingle with people before he was able to finish his cake! So, I let the boy eat his cake and then we went back to visiting. At that point, I realized that we got the short end of the stick because we were seeing gigantic cake slices and ours had been totally normal! Plus, by the time we realized that, there was no more cake left for us to try the other two flavors. I had to mourn my cake for a few minutes and then I got back into the fun.

 We had the flutes, cake knife, and server made for our wedding through a Wedding Channel deal (by a lady who hand paints them), and I am SO glad we did because I love having them, and love that they are our wedding colors. It was sweet of the reception venue to give us a champagne toast since we didn't ask for/pay for it, and I felt bad that we both took a sip and abandoned it for our diet cokes! By the way, how beautiful are the gum paste flowers on the cake!?

 We didn't even know there were bows on the back of the cake until we got the pics back!!! We only ever saw the front, so it was a fun surprise!

Love our topper. We'll definitely be collecting Willow Tree figurines for other life events! 

Later on, we did our bouquet and garter toss. I'm pretty sure there were no single women there, so I told the DJ to get anyone who isn't engaged, so there were at least a handful. My friend/bridesmaid Jillian caught the bouquet and his friend Daniel (who was the only person to write something inappropriate on our shadowbox guest book.... "Get nasty!".....), caught the garter. I had told the coordinator and DJ beforehand that we had $10 gift cards for each and it would end there, to avoid any weirdness. But apparently the DJ forgot because he called Jillian back out to the floor and had Daniel put the garter on her. Luckily, they were good sports! The coordinator got the garter back because it was NC State and I wanted it as a keepsake, and we had a toss bouquet made so mine was still on display.

We ended the night with more dancing. We had some pretty good dancers (and yes, tons of not good ones :) !) and there were some awesome moves caught on camera! At one point, Jillian and Jessica lost it and started crying on the dance floor. It was sweet then, but even sweeter when I got the DVD and saw them dancing together during a slow song, both crying, and then having to leave the dance floor because they couldn't stop crying. I have such amazing friends! They told me they were crying because they just realized that I was married and the night was ending, and I was heading off to married life. Love them.
 My poor Jekka couldn't keep it together when she realized the night was coming to an end!

 Just LOVE this photo.... me with my girls and him with his guys, all hugging, all in the same picture, and not planned.

 The one jumping is the one who wrote "Get nasty" on our guest book shadowbox. I suppose I can forgive him since he provided our guests with entertainment.

My bridesmads CRACK ME UP!

It's funny because we planned to exit at 7:30, and at one point I began getting really antsy to leave. I was on the dance floor with Steven and our friends but all I wanted to do was rest my feet and be with my husband! Anyone who knows me well knows I get a bit.... cranky.... when I'm ready to be comfy and relaxed. I was thinking it had to be close to 7:30. Well turns out it was exactly 7:30, but our getaway car was delayed. But it's funny how I subconciously knew it was time to just be with my husband! So we danced for about 15 more minutes and gave lots of hugs to friends and family. When the car arrived, they had everyone line up outside with bubbles. A few minutes later, they called for us, and we exited holding hands into a cloud of bubbles. I love that memory! I felt like royalty with all our loved ones around us, the bubbles in the air, a red carpet to walk on to the fancy car, the driver dressed up and opening the door for us, and the photographers snapping our pictures. I really love that memory. I told Steven to get in first so I didn't have to crawl across in my dress, and as the car driver got ready to leave, we just sat there holding hands, smiling and waving at our friends, feeling like a million bucks.

 Can you see my friend, Jeremy's, face on the very left? His expression threw me into fits of laughter the first time I noticed it! It's the "Stacy is all grown up!" look. I love that my bridesmaid Jennifer lovingly consoled him in his time of need lol.

I had a lot of anxiety surrounding the reception in the months leading up to the wedding. I was afraid no one would dance (family and friends on BOTH sides danced.... we were shocked and thrilled!), I was afraid I would be socially awkward, I was afraid people might get bored, and the list goes on. But not only did none of that happen, we had the most amazing time. I so loved being with that many people who were all there to support us, and just letting loose to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. After we left, I was sad it was over and still get sad that it's already been two months! I don't miss the planning like I thought I would, but I miss the specialness and fun of that day! We are so blessed with the vendors who created an amazing reception for us, the help of our parents in paying for it, our bridal party for their moral support, and everyone who celebrated with us. It was an AMAZING day!

 This reminds me of something... maybe a painting? I just can't put my finger on it.


Next up.... the wedding night (not what you think!) and part I of the honeymoon!

Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes

These are the takes in which I continue to ramble about the house (takes 3 & 4 for those of you dropping by or catching up!). Again.

--- 1 ---
We closed on Monday! Honestly, that whole process was very anti-climactic. We were excited going in, but the realtor, mortgage guy, and lawyer, though friendly, were just sort of blase about it. I guess because they do this everyday! We did get a congratulations at the end, but the whole thing didn't take very long and we didn't get the keys because the mortgage papers didn't arrive there until Friday, closing was on Monday, so there was no time to record it at the courthouse. So we walked out to the car and were excited that we were homeowners, but had to cancel plans for a picnic lunch in our living room floor. We ended up going to our (current) neighborhood pizza place to celebrate over lunch, since we'll miss it dearly when we move.

Right before closing! It's a horribly unflattering picture, but the only one I took so we will forever have to look at it and say "awww!" and not "ewww".

--- 2 ---
Tuesday Steven went and got the keys and rented a rug doctor. We went to the house and I scrubbed out the fridge, dusted the woodwork in the kitchen, and took down all the curtains while he went to work on the carpets. If we had lots of money, we would definitely replace the carpets. But we don't, so we are making do. They do look MUCH better after a good cleaning, and we'll just strategically place furniture to cover any spots.

Curtain graveyard

--- 3 ---
I never knew how nasty a house could be when it's just 6 years old. It's the motivation we need to do a 'spring cleaning' of baseboards, windows, etc every year. It's empty, so it's not like there's any trash, which is good. But the walls are SO insanely marked up (did I mention we are painting every square inch of the inside?). I cleaned food off a wall AND a lightbulb. The front door was almost black where I guess they put there hands every time they came in and out. The vent in the little girl's room had all kind of 'treasures' stuffed inside which I'm sure the mom didn't know about. The neon pink paint from the girl's room is on the carpet, ceiling, AND trim which was clearly unintentional, and somehow the neon orange ended up in a few spots in the master bedroom. The good news is that they left a whole bunch of cleaning and painting supplies.

Ahhh... neon pink and princess. Maybe we should keep it for guests to enjoy?

--- 4 ---
Our timeline is spending the next two weeks cleaning, fixing up (minor things like the handle on the one toilet, patch a hole in the wall, replace doorstops, replace the quarter round in the master bathroom), and filling the closets with boxes that we have yet to acquire or pack. Then my parents will come the last weekend of June to help us paint for a 4 day weekend. Then we'll probably move in within a week or so after that. So I think we are looking at about a month.... I am SO excited to get in there I can't wait to sit on our sweet front porch and organize our ginormous bedroom and closet.

--- 5 ---
K- ready for some non house related takes? How about money related takes? Yes, let's do that. We spent $750 in one day (and that was after closing on Monday) We bought $400 worth of supplies at Lowe's, plus changed the locks and installed deadbolts for another $350. And that doesn't include the fee for the HVAC to get serviced and the cost of getting the needs-to-be-replaced-but-we-can't-afford-it carpets stretched so people don't visit, trip on our carpets, and then sue us. It is a spendy, spendy week! Oh, I went back to house stuff didn't I?
--- 6 ---
I have a SUPER FUN DATE planned for tonight for Steven. We each plan a non-typical date once per month for the other person, and I am sooo excited about what I have planned. I can't write about it just yet because he may read this before tonight, but hopefully I can write about it and include pictures next week, plus give credit where credit is due (you ladies will LOVE LOVE LOVE the blog I adapted the idea from). I gave him two hints so far .... we will be out late, and we are sort of eating out but sort of not. Muahahahaha.

--- 7 ---
Speaking of super fun dates, we had one last night. I made a veggie dinner and put it in the corningware (a wedding present I didn't ask for and now can't live without!), drove over the new house where Steven had been working on stuff, and had a blanket picnic dinner. Then we went up the road almost a mile where they have a Thursday night summer concert series. It was so fun feeling like part of the community! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!