Thursday, July 29, 2010

closing time

Tomorrow is the big day. (well, the first big day of many in the next couple of months). Bill and I close on our house tomorrow!! That's right, as of 11am tomorrow, we will be home-owners. Sadly, I have about 100 pictures I've taken of the house, but none are of the front, or else I would show you. And then you'd be able to see the rockin' cactus planted right by the front door. (One of the first things to be done to that house is to pull it up... anyone have any idea how to do that safely?)

In all seriousness, pulling up a cactus is definitely worth what we are getting in return. This house is amazing, and is perfect for us. Unfortunately, I am going to Richmond for several days, so moving and painting and all of that will have to wait until next week. But I get to stay with LISA, and I am so excited!! I think the crazy whirlwind of August/September is about to begin, so who knows how often I'll be able to update this... But have faith, I'll be back as soon as I can!

Monday, July 26, 2010

IKEA

IKEA. It just feels like coming home. To 1,000,000 different homes within one building. and I love it. Does anyone listen to Jonathan Coulton? Bill loves him, and his music is hilarious. He has a great song about IKEA, that I just laugh out loud at every time I hear it. (He also has a song about SkyMall, which is quite possibly my favorite magazine!)

Anyways, I was down in Charlotte this weekend staying at Bill's parents' house for a little party last night celebrating the fact that I will be an old married woman in just EIGHT weeks! (Which is an incredibly short amount of time when you consider the fact we've been dating since 2005, and engaged since 2008. Finally!) Bill came down and we decided to take a little trip to IKEA this afternoon. See, at my bridal shower in March with all of my girl friends, they decided to do a group gift. These wonderful girls (see a picture of the group here) collected money and got a gift card for IKEA, since that megastore doesn't have a wedding registry... and let me tell you what, I love these girls and they must certainly love Bill and I in return because it was an amazingly generous gift. See the look of shock here when my I opened the card and showed my mom:
Anyways. Bill and I decided to finally spend some of this money, as we close on our house THIS FRIDAY and still need a lot of things. Among today's finds were some great LEDs for under the bar, a clock (it's sad how dependent we've all become on our phones and computers to tell us the time... I had to buy a watch the other day because I realized I can't be on my phone at work all the time this fall!), lampshades for our bedside tables (which are yet to be purchased... don't judge, please), a new wine rack, an AMAZING pendant lamp to hang above the dining room table (which we do own!), some CD storage boxes (I was able to get a new cuter, less cluttered method of storage now that so many of my CDs are gone) and a bottle of Pomegranate-Apple Juice and a sleeve of cookies picked up in the checkout aisle. So this post is basically a big shout out saying THANK YOU, from the bottom of my mine and Bill's hearts, to the girls who love us enough to help us put together our new home! Everyone's invited over soon... and you can come sooner if you'll help paint!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Paint

As promised, a quick little post on my love of paint and the wonders it can do.

Take for example, this cheap-o Target bookshelf. Don't get me wrong - I love this baby. Michelle and I both bought one of these (for less than $25) before we moved in for our second (and final - *tear*) year of living together at Carolina. And they truly served their purpose. It's much sturdier than you would think, and it was great for a dorm room, and then a year living in an apartment with mismatched furniture. But now that I am getting ready to move into a big-girl house, I'd kind of like to have nicer furniture. Or at least, nicer-looking furniture. Starting grad school, buying a house and getting married are not exactly events that leave you well off, so who am I to throw out a perfectly functional bookcase just because it's covered in fake blonde-wood laminate? Since the desk I have in my parent's house is moving with me, and is very dark wood, I decided to paint my bookshelf a dark brown to coordinate. (And once I move, I'll be painting my IKEA Trofast unit to match as well... I'm just waiting to move before I take it out of the box and put it together). Anyways, I was a little worried about painting this shelf because I did not want to sand it. It's sturdy, but I didn't think it was thick enough to handle an electric sander, and let's be honest - the back is made of cardboard. So I did a little research, headed to Lowes with Bill (aka Bill's version of heaven) and we stumbled upon this:
Universal. As in all-purpose. As in, WORKS ON LAMINATE. It took almost two cans of this miracle worker, but my bookshelf is now a sleek and sophisticated espresso brown. That was Monday, and I took a picture before the final coat, so it's still a little splotchy:
Don't worry - another picture of the final product is forthcoming... once it's in a house and not a garage. I did go out and admire it today, though - no drips or streaks. I'm not a huge fan of spray paint (it gets EVERYWHERE), especially when painting larger items like this. A word to the wise: if you are spray-painting an enclosed space, like the inside of a bookshelf for example, be prepared for some of that spray to come back on you. I looked like I had a tan by the time I emerged from the garage, and well, we all know that will never actually happen.

And now for the second reason I love paint: I just don't like white walls. As Bill's preparing to move out, we're getting his house ready to rent/sell. This past weekend, we finished what we had been putting off for a good year - painting the stairwell. We painted the entire downstairs of his house in April 2009, but the stairwell was such a daunting task, we left it as it was. You can see in this picture why it was a little more difficult than painting the kitchen or living room - the walls are stinkin' tall! But with the help of an extender rod, arm muscles (and some Papa Johns pizza for energy!), we got the job done. Thank the Lord.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Okay, I lied! This next post is not about my love of painting. I promise that's next though, because I do have some pictures to share of my current project! So come back soon.

What I really want to talk about right now is a little list of my current favorite things. AKA, my current obsessions.

Number one is Smitten Kitchen. Really, why and how has it taken me so long to discover this lady's blog? I am a little in love with her and a lot in love with all of the gorgeous pictures of the delicious food she makes! Doesn't this look fantastic? And this? And this? I could go on, but I won't... instead, I'll just say I cannot wait to get settled into my new home (with my new kitchen!) and start!

Next up is The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. I am sad to say that I have temporarily given up on Catch 22, but it was moving so slowly and I just couldn't take it anymore. Has anyone actually finished that book? What is the actual plot? I know Yossarian wants to get out and go home, but that's really all I've gathered in the first 150 pages... Anyways. Charlie St. Cloud. This book is great so far. I'd never heard of it until I saw the movie preview, but I teared up at that alone, so I knew it had to be a winner. It's sad, obviously, but it seems to be a good story. I'm really not very far into it, so we'll see if I continue loving it as much as I do so far.

Another thing I am loving right now is chocolate cake! My mom had a birthday this past weekend, and it's just not a birthday celebration without a cake. So I made this one, and it is delicious, and it has taken all my will power to limit myself to only one piece at a time! (This made me think of another thing I love - gel food colors! These babies are awesome. They're a little messier than the regular food coloring, but they are SO bright and it doesn't take much coloring at all to change a whole batch of icing!)

 
Coming up next is this girl (she's on the right, I'm on the left): Wandaly!
Funny story: we both went to Furman for our first year of college, and transferred to UNC at the same time. We didn't know each other at FU (student population: about 2600) but we met and became great friends in Chapel Hill (student population: about 18,000 undergraduates). This wonderful friend of mine is sadly moving back to Miami soon, but I am going to get to see her tomorrow, and I am just so excited!!


And of course, when talking about my favorite things, we cannot forget the two loves of my life: my fiance Bill and our puppy Sensei. I haven't mentioned the dog in a couple of posts, so you knew it was time! Sensei "graduated" from his puppy class at PetSmart (PetsMart? both make sense to me) just the other week. His teacher Geralyn (who is freakin' AMAZING) said he is one of the rare dogs who doesn't have to repeat the class! I know I am bragging, but Sensei is just the greatest dog ever and I love him. This is a picture from his last class, where he obliged Bill and I and sat still with that silly hat on long enough for a photo to be snapped. Normally he freaks at things on his head, but maybe that's because my latest endeavor has been to try to get him to wear this squirrel toy he ripped open like a Daniel Boone coonskin cap - it's hilarious!










Well, now that I've shared some things that make life worth living, I'm diving back into my novel. Good night!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I was so naive

To think that moving just meant finding a house, packing up your belongings, and transferring them to your new home. oh no. It is so much more.

As I have discovered within the past few weeks, an individual can accumulate a lot of junk. Especially when that individual has lived in the same room of the same house for close to nineteen years. Especially when that individual is especially sentimental and likes to save things. Or, at least, doesn't like to throw things out. And by things, I mean every movie ticket (in an old altoids tin) since the 7th grade. Clothes that haven't seen the light of day since 2004. A life-size Jake Delhomme that has lived in the closet for years. Every article in every magazine or newspaper within a fifty-mile radius that even mentions Jon Bon Jovi. Posters from the movie theater, courtesy of friends who were ushers. In case anyone was wondering, that individual is me. I spend some time every day going through my stuff, and making decisions about whether to pack or purge something. There are always 3 piles in my room: Trash. To be packed. To be donated. And please, let's not forget the FIFTY-NINE CDS that can be given away - that's right, I purged my collection of 59 CDS. Anyone who knows me and my love of music knows that was like cutting off and giving away a limb. But I decided it was finally time to part with my S Club 7 and Backstreet Boys records and donate them to some pre-teen who would give them the loving, and air-time, they deserve. Although said teeny-bopper has probably actually never heard of them. (Side story: a few years ago, I was in Europe and there were some middle schoolers on my trip... who had never heard of Destiny's Child! Seriously? Bugaboo was my jam in the 6th grade... and we all know Bootylicious is my personal anthem.) So if anyone is feeling a little nostalgic and wants a copy of BBMak's Sooner or Later or Shawn Mullen's Soul's Core, I'm your girl.

Stay tuned for my next post, on why it's sure a good thing I love to paint. (Hint: because I'm about to be doing a lot of it)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Books

To make a long story short, I LOVE to read. Both of my parents love to read, and I definitely inherited that from them. My mom is just like me and always has a book at arm's reach. She trades books with her sisters all the time, and I'm lucky enough to be able to read ones they recommend. So here's a little list of some of my favorite books that I've been reading this summer...


1) Dead In the Family - Charlaine Harris
The latest installment in the Southern Vampire series. Not my favorite of the series, but these books are GREAT. The TV show True Blood is based off of these, but I think the books are way better. I think they're better than Twilight, in terms of vampire novels, and we all know what a huge fan of Twilight I am!

2) The Boy In The Striped Pajamas - John Boyne
My aunt Nancy gave this to my mom to read, who then passed it on to me. It is an easy read - it took me less than 24 hours, but it's pretty powerful. I will warn you - it's sad, but it gives you a lot to think about. Apparently there's a movie, my aunt Kathy has seen it, so I'll have to check that out soon.

3) Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Has anyone read this? It's really hard for me to get through! I find myself skimming over paragraphs and then I don't know what's happening. Both Barnes & Noble and Borders were having huge summer sales last week though, and this was on clearance for $3.99. I couldn't pass it up, especially since it's supposedly a modern classic. It is pretty funny, and it is yet another book that makes you think.

And on a related note, talking about the sales... I also bought "Invictus" and a GREAT muffin/cake/cookie book! I made these strawberry jam and shortcake cookies for 4th of July and they were delicious. The biggest problem is that this book is definitely not American, and most of the measurements are in ounces, rather than cups and spoons, so it's a little tricky. And of course, there was the presence of an ingredient not carried in my local grocery store, but it all worked out!

All the book covers were taken from Amazon.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010

the wedding industry

I have more than a few things to say about the wedding industry. And the fact that it is over-priced, over-commercialized and overwhelming! In the past 21 months of engagement, I have discovered that if you want anything for your wedding, it is going to cost 10x as much as you expect. (well, that may be an exaggeration, but things are too expensive!) I understand that food, flowers, gowns, entertainment, all cost money but if you take a product or service and put the word "bridal" or "wedding" in front of it, somehow in our society, that makes it okay to double the price. Literally. Take the latest example I have found: hair pieces. Imagine this: two FAKE flowers on a comb. $70. Feathers glued to a clip: $49. Insane. So I am proud to say that my mother and I took it upon ourselves to create my own hair piece for the wedding. Quick stops at AC Moore and Rite Aid, $7 and an hour at the kitchen table resulted in what I have to say is a pretty freakin' awesome piece for that big event coming up on September 18.

Alas, I am trying to keep all of the specifics of the wedding a surprise, so no pictures until after the big day... but I am really excited how it turned out! I will say that all it took were some flowers from the baby aisle, a crystal pick I broke apart, a metal comb, and some hot glue. And of course, a little inspiration from my best friend (who is the first one who suggested I kiss those bridal stores goodbye and make my own).

In other exciting wedding news, I had my first gown fitting today. Yippee! It's almost crunch time, ladies and gents - according to theknot.com, I've only got 73 short days to go!

Monday, July 5, 2010

it's the simple things in life...

like when and where.

Now, I'm not here to quote Kid Rock lyrics to you, but that song is perpetually stuck in my head. Luckily, it's the middle of a hot southern summer, so at least it's applicable.

Anyways. I hope everyone had a happy 4th! I was lucky enough to celebrate two nights in row, and see two fantastic fireworks shows. Coca-Cola sponsored a festival at the USNWC in Charlotte, so I went with Bill's family Saturday to celebrate with food, climbing, oohing over the baby (Bill's sister's beautiful 9-month-old girl!) and fireworks-watching. Sunday, I was able to go to the fireworks show at Town Square in my beautiful hometown. It is the epitome of small-town southernness, and I loved it! I was able to see many friends, help Ruby sell ice-pops (or, Chilly Willys, as I always called them!) and see a second night of fireworks. Surprisingly, even though this was mine and Bill's 5th July 4th together, and we have both lived in this little town our whole lives, it was the first time we went to this particular show together!

And don't worry - pictures of the fun are forthcoming!

Now on to more simple things I'm loving:

- The miracle of Goody's Spin Pins. I promise you, they are all the commercials make them out to be. Believe the hype, people!

- Packing boxes. You'd be amazed at how much I can fit into one box. Which is awesome, as I'm currently packing up my whole life!

- These new frozen yogurt places that are popping up everywhere. The ones where you get all the flavors and mix-ins you want, and pay by the ounce... the closest one I've found is in Greensboro... Catch up, Winston!

And now pictures from my trip to San Diego! This trip was far from simple, as it was jam-packed with new and fun things, but the pictures just take a few minutes to look over and remind me of what a great week I had with Bill :) Here are some of my favorites!



Our rental car! With the 70-degree weather, a convertible was the perfect ride.


At the Torrey Pines' Gliderport.


My first view of the Pacific Ocean!


Bill took me to Seal Beach, at La Jolla.


Casa de Balboa at Balboa Park.


The dome of the Museum of Man in Balboa Park.


It's not a trip to the West Coast without a stop at Rubio's for Bill's favorite fish tacos!


Hiking at Torrey Pines' State Reserve.


Putting my feet in the Pacific Ocean!


The koalas at the San Diego Zoo. Seeing as they sleep 20 hours a day, we didn't see any active ones.


But luckily the polar bear more than made up for all the other sleeping animals with his antics!

So there you are - my favorite 11 pictures (out of the 319 I took!) from the West Coast!