Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birthday Fit for a Dog

Today, we officially became dog owners (graduated from puppy owners)! Isn't she sweet?

Ellie turned 1 and we made a bit of a fuss - not a lot, just did a few special things. First, we took her over to our new house for the first time and let her run around in the fenced yard while we cleaned the gutters. She really loved it.

It was such a beautiful day.

We came back later in the evening and gave her a few birthday presents: a new purple bandana and a rawhide bone bigger than her head.

"Heyy, it's my birfday!"

"Is this all for me?"

Yes, it's a bit silly to celebrate a dog's birthday, but until we have some baby birthdays to celebrate, we'll keep doing it! hehe :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Garden Plans

We close on our new house on Monday, and our home improvement plan-making is in full swing, including plans for our first real fruit & vegetable garden! Even though we've lived in apartments, the past few years we've maintained a few potted vegetables, but we are planning to step it up a few notches in our new place.

We've been talking about this garden for a long time now, and we are asking ourselves a few questions to decide what to plant.
1) What do we eat most often right now? Green beans, peppers, lettuce, spinach, onions, and basil.
2) What could we grow that will store well? Berries (jam!), tomatoes-onions-jalapenos-cilantro (salsa!), and potatoes.
Once we came up with our list of plants, we started our research on how much spacing/sunlight each will need as well as what plants grow well in the same bed. Then we mapped it all out and MS-Paint'd our plan so we could share it with all of you!

Tentatively, we are going to build two raised beds next to our driveway that are 20' x 4' each, with a 4' walkway in between. On the east end of the garden area, there is a partially shady spot near one of our trees (that's what the big ol' gray circle on the map is all about).

 1 Potatoes  6 Kale 11 Jalapenos 16 Basil
 2 Beans (Bush)  7 Lettuce 12 Strawberries 17 Cilantro
 3 Asparagus  8 Spinach 13 Blackberries 18 Oregano
 4 Tomatoes  9 Onions 14 Raspberries 19 Parsley
 5 Cucumbers 10 Bell Peppers 15 Blueberries

We don't want to overdo it this first year and have half our garden go to waste, so we're probably not going to plant as much as we have in our plan. For example, we will probably only plant one row of green beans but leave some space in case we decide to do a few more rows for next year. Oh, and we've already missed the planting season for some of these, so those won't actually make an appearance until next year.

Also, have I mentioned that we've never done this before? I think we'll both be happy as long as our garden isn't an utter failure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garbage Challenge Strategies

Alright, we're in our second month of what we've been calling "The Garbage Challenge", and we're starting to put to use some of the strategies that will (fingers crossed) help us reduce our total waste.

1) Get paperless statements.
2) Use rags instead of paper towels. My paper towel usage is quite embarrassing.
3) Pay attention to packaging.
4) Reuse produce bags.
5) COMPOST. We will post again on this later once we are moved into our house and using an actual outdoor composter. We're still trying to decide what kind of composter is best...

In the interim, we are just using a small bin with a tight lid to hold our food scraps.
6) Eat more whole foods. Including foods we will grow in our own backyard this summer! (hopefully)

We also want to find a way to opt-out of junk mailings, since they make up about 50% of the mail we get and they always go straight to the trash. Haven't figured this out yet though.

And here are some things we already do:

1) Reusable grocery bags.
2) Never buy bottled water. And if we have to, we refill them as many times as we can before recycling them.
3) Save and reuse gift bags/tissue paper.
4) Recycling. I hate to admit it, but I was once a non-recycler.

So, that's the plan! We'll see soon if it's actually working.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ellie Monster Turns One

My puppy girl is going to be a year old in a few weeks. How has time passed that quickly?!

So I was thinking the other day about all the ways she has helped me prepare for being a parent someday. Here's the rundown on the things she has forced taught me to have:

Patience. Some people can internalize their frustration and let it out constructively after they have calmed down. I am not one of those people. When I get super frustrated, I basically explode with emotion. There is throwing and crying and cursing and gnashing of teeth. I can't even count the number of times that I have gotten to this point while puppy training. People warned me when we were first talking about getting a dog that it was a lot of work. It's so true.

Over the last 12 months I have severely improved my ability to stay calm and collected in the face of total disobedience. My dog doesn't really have an "I didn't do it" look, but I've definitely gotten the "Yeah, so what if I ate the memory card for the camera, what are you gonna do about it" face from her. There is, quite possibly, nothing more composure-shattering than when your animal, who knows better, intentionally ignores/spites you. I'm sure it's at least 1,000 times more difficult when your opponent is a same-language-speaking, tiny human.

Selflessness. The times when Ellie has needed me most, always seemed to be around 3am on a week night. The event was usually something like an upset stomach (surely caused by eating something she wasn't supposed to) that resulted in her vomiting, etc in her kennel. Which then required one of us to get up and clean her/the kennel/the carpet, do a load of laundry so she has a fresh pillow/towels to sleep on, and rub her belly until she falls asleep. Who doesn't want to sacrifice hours of precious sleep for that? Oh, me.

In those moments though, I could feel just how much she loves me. It's really pretty great to have someone or something that just needs you like that. Once I could get past the frustration (see #Patience), I actually kinda treasured these moments.

A more relaxed attitude. Having a perfectly neat home (even for a moment), with no random plastic shrapnel strewn about is a thing of the past. Treasured home decor pieces and picture frames now all have at-least-slightly-chewed corners. Being on time happens less often because, sometimes, the dog just does not understand that you have somewhere to be and she would rather watch the birds in the trees than go #2 for you.

But it's all good. I absolutely love and adore her.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buffet Table Refinished

So you remember about a week ago when I posted about the great table we found at Goodwill? Well, we got to work right away on refinishing it and I'm excited to show you how it turned out! Here's the before/after shot!

I am in love with it! Here's the process w/ pictures...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's the Little Things...

We will be closing on our first home in less than 3 weeks, and we are beyond excited! Aaron and I have been busy making plans and doing research. We're also becoming frequent "just looking" visitors at Home Depot because we can't actually start the work/making purchases until we have the keys!

I did, however, make one purely-for-fun purchase out of excitement/anticipation. I was catching up on posts from All Things Thrifty when I ran across these great custom address stamps!

They're from Paper Cafe, and I couldn't help myself, I just had to get one. After much consideration and debate, I did eventually decide on a design. Here's the one I ended up going with:

So it's just a fun, little thing, but I can't wait til I get to actually use it. And have a permanent address again! I have moved 11 times in the last decade! Hopefully we will only move once (maybe twice) in the next one :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Great Find

We went rummaging, auctioning, and goodwilling this weekend for things to put in our new house (that we close on in 3 weeks!) We really enjoy auctions in particular, if you're patient you can get some really great stuff for super cheap. And they are so fun to just find interesting stuff and see what it goes for.

Not only do we have a long list of home improvements to make to our new place, but I've also got a long list of furniture that I want to purchase. One of the pieces that I've been keeping an eye out for is a buffet table to put in our dining room. In the 2.5 years that we've been married, we have never even taken our "good dishes" out of the box! We haven't ever had a place for them/enough cabinet space. Definitely need to change that in the new house.

So, I've been scouring blogs and magazines for ideas. I had decided what size and level of detail I was looking for, and when I spotted this table at Goodwill I knew it would be perfect!

The table definitely has scratches and stains, but I wasn't too worried about those because we're planning on re-finishing it. It's got an older/retro look to it, but I just know that a new finish will make it pretty fabulous. I love the hardware and the shapes in the doors.

Oooh and I haven't told you the best part yet... Want to guess what we bought it for? A whopping 10 bucks! Well, that was until we tried (and failed) to load it into our Civic... During our struggle with the table and our car doors, we were approached by a kind man who offered to drive it to our place in his truck! We paid him $14 for his time & gas, so really the total cost was $24... But still!
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