Category Archives: Home

Trip Pics and the Worst Text Ever

I got back last night from Sacramento, and the conference turned out to be really fun. It helped that it was held in the downtown/Old Sacramento area, within easy walking distance of a ton of fun restaurants, shopping, parks, etc. Normally we wind up in a Radisson across from a business park where the main attractions are Panda Express and Office Depot. Lunch the first day was on our own, and since I didn’t really know anybody I wound up eating by myself at a cafe on the river. The view wasn’t too terrible:

IMG_5111

Neither was the food:

IMG_5114I was in town attending a health/wellness conference, so I went with the somewhat healthy-ish option of a smoked salmon BLT on wheat bread. I’m sure the thick cut bacon, basil aioli, and crispy sweet potato fries outweighed any health benefits the salmon offered, but whatever. It was good.

I was about halfway through my meal when I noticed this little hipster dude staring at me over his Moscow mule. One minute I was looking down at my phone, and then when I looked up he was squatting awkwardly next to my chair.

Him: “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get your autograph?”

Me: “Huh?” (FULL DISCLOSURE: Some bacon sprayed across the table when I said this.)

Him: “Aren’t you the girl from Interstellar?”

Me: “Yes, it’s me, Jessica Chastain. I could be relaxing on my yacht in Italy, but instead I’m here in Old Sacramento inhaling a plate of bacon and fries while wearing a $15 dress from Old Navy.”

For the record, I think I look nothing like Jessica (aside from the hair), but it was a nice change from Wynonna Judd and Fergie (the royal Fergie, not the peed-herself-on-stage Fergie).

The next day I received this text from Dave, which makes me feel simultaneously relieved and horrified:

IMG_5120TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS. The worst part was that he said the majority of them were living on the outside of the bedroom wall that our headboard is on. I WAS SLEEPING WITH TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS NEXT TO MY HEAD. I mean, they were separated by a layer of drywall and some siding, but still. Home Defense is supposed to work for 12 months, but I’m trying to convince Dave he should spray every month just to be safe. That’s not crazy, right?

Operation: Deck Flowers

Thanks to everyone who offered advice on types of flowers that deer won’t eat! We’re likely going to go with a combination of marigolds, iris (Dave’s cousin is giving us a bunch from her house!), and peonies for the front of the house. I hadn’t really considered peonies until we were visiting Dave’s grandma last week and she had a bunch of them in full bloom. I asked about them, and she said they do really well in our climate and the deer don’t eat them. Plus, they’re pretty gorgeous:

Peony

Breaking blogger protocol by posting a picture of a peony that’s not sticking out of a $2,000 handbag.

On Saturday, we decided to go ahead and get some color on our deck since we don’t have much of a critter problem back there. I got a little too excited about all the pretty options at the store, and wound up spending close to $200 on flowers, planters, and soil. WHOOPS. It’s definitely looking better out there, though!

Deck

It took us two years to do this, so our dream deck should be ready just in time for us to retire.

Now I feel a little better about inviting people over to hang out back here, which we did on Friday night after the Rangers/Lightning game. We bought a few sourdough loaves, some delicious cheeses, and all of the wine, and had ourselves a little wine and grilled cheese party. This is pretty much how I want to spend my Friday nights for the rest of the summer.

Wine

We’ll have to invite everyone back over next weekend, since there’s no way they remember what the deck looked like after all that wine.

Up next is finding a couple of bigger plants to put in the corners of the deck (a potted lemon tree could be cool!) and figuring out some better lighting. This will probably consist of a combination of string lights (I like these, to string up the tree in the middle of our deck) and a better wall light than the one we’ve got now. I think a Lowe’s trip will have to happen next weekend.

And in case you’re thinking that that doesn’t look like $200 worth of flowers, you are correct: some of the plants we bought on Saturday went out front, but I’m going to wait to post photos until we’ve made some more progress out there. Step 1 is for Dave to spray spider poison under the lip on the siding of the house, since he has seen multiple black widows out there this spring and my hands will not go anywhere near the side of the house until it’s been thoroughly coated in lethal chemicals. And even then, I’ll be dressed like this:

kigvAnyway, that’s our progress so far. I leave tonight for a work trip, so we’ll see if they’re alive when I come back Tuesday night!

DIY Cake Stands (and some other stuff)

IMG_5065

Last weekend I made these cake stands out of thrift store/dollar store finds for an upcoming party. I was going to post a tutorial, but it turns out it’s super simple and I don’t want this to turn into one of those Pinterest-bait “how-to” posts about projects that could be carried out by a moderately bright tapeworm.  I swear I once saw an entire post devoted to a “recipe” for raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips.

tumblr_m3z539oi9w1qzsknv

Anyway, if you want to make these cake stands just do this:

– Find some vases/wine glasses/other glass vessels of varying heights.

– Buy glass plates at the Dollar Store.

– Glue them together.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 7.39.30 PM

We were out of super glue, so I bought a tube of this super mega industrial strength adhesive at Walmart. I noticed midway through my project that the packaging was covered in warnings about cancer and/or kidney failure. I wasn’t in a well-ventilated area and got it all over my hands, so who knows how long I’ve got left. If a day goes by and I haven’t Instagrammed a cat photo, send someone to check on me.

Other things of note:

– Something keeps eating the flowers in our front yard, which pisses me off because for the first time in my life I’ve actually been remembering to water them. I’m pretty sure the culprits are either deer or squirrels. If you have some suggestions for wildlife-resistant flowers, I’d love to hear them because I’m pretty close to becoming this guy:

getoffmylawn_2010-11-16-humor-motivation

– Dave is making mini blackberry-lemon cheesecakes with lemon-infused crusts for the upcoming party mentioned above. I’ll try and talk him into guest-blogging the recipe, because he makes the greatest cheesecake ever and also he’s a funny writer. Feel free to peer pressure him in the comments.

– Ally McBeal is on Netflix Instant, and I’ve been bingeing on it regularly because IT IS SO FUNNY. I remember watching as a kid and thinking of them as “old people,” and I was kind of appalled to find out that they’re only supposed to be in their late 20s. I’M OLDER THAN RICHARD FISH, WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Bygones.

Bygones.

I’ll leave you with a pic of our sad flowers. RIP, PETUNIAS:

IMG_5054

Fake Spring/Back Yard Plans

Every year in late March we get a week of gorgeous, warm, sunny weather. Everyone on the block pulls out their lawnmowers, we start prepping the garden beds, and I break out the fake tanning lotion because LO, WE HAVE SURVIVED ANOTHER WINTER. And then we’re hit with another week or two of rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. Seriously, this happens every year. And every year I’m out there with all the other idiots during fake spring, rejoicing in the streets and buying $50 worth of flowers to plant, only to have them die two days later.

sarah-silverman

This year I only spent $30 on a hanging flower basket, so I guess I’m making progress? It actually hasn’t died yet, which is kind of amazing since I keep thinking I should move it into the garage to protect it from frost, and then I keep not moving it because … well I don’t know why. I was going to blame it on forgetfulness, but I can’t use that excuse since I’m typing about it RIGHT NOW and I could have moved it twice in the amount of time it’s taken me to write this paragraph. So I guess we’ll call it laziness.

tumblr_li48nat0LH1qcrhd0o1_500

Speaking of laziness, let me tell you about my plan for our back yard this year, which Dave will carry out while I drink fruity cocktails. Just kidding. (OR AM I?) First, here’s what it looks like now. Before you judge, know that what you’re about to see was essentially a big pile of dirt when we moved in:

img_4580

Beaver dam or pile of firewood that still needs to be chopped? YOU DECIDE.

We’d like to plant some sunflowers in that raised area behind the giant stack o’wood, which will hopefully be gone in the very near future. Believe it or not, there’s a little cement pad with a fire pit on it hiding behind all that wood, and I’d like to put a few chairs in that area for easy s’more making once the warmer weather hits. Mostly because I need to utilize my lap in order to assemble the perfect s’more without dropping it. (In case you’re wondering, the perfect s’more = honey grahams, a Reese’s cup, and a ‘mallow that’s been burnt beyond recognition.) Someday I’d like to find a way to put solar panels back here – it gets a ton of sunlight. However, the area I’m most excited about is the deck:

10 Deck 1

Hopefully the site of many future barbecues.

12 Deck 3

Note to self: power wash the house.

My parents moved to Hawaii last month, and they left behind their pretty patio furniture set for me to use. We’ve currently got an old table and some plastic chairs out there, which I’ve conveniently not included in the pictures, as the table is covered in six months’ worth of dirt and an old candle jar full of cigar butts. It’s very chic.

Anyway, once I pick up the new patio furniture, we’ll just need a few things to make the deck party ready. I’ve included my top picks in a graphic, mostly because Dave is watching hockey highlights and I needed a way to pass the time:

Deck essentials

Railing planters  |  Solar Twinkle Lights  |  Melamine Plates  |  Illume Citronella Candles  |  Beverage Tub  |  Outdoor Turtle Shell Speaker

For the record, when Dave saw that beverage tub, he rolled his eyes and was all, “we already have a cooler in the garage.” So that is how this project will go. Wish me luck.

House Progress

It’s been forever since I posted a house update. Actually, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged at all. It turns out, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to. (Actually there probably are; I just choose to devote too many of them to watching shows about serial killers on Netflix.) Anyway, since I have today off work, I decided to create a little house progress report. Dave and I agreed when we moved in that we should tackle the inside before attending to the outside. So far we’ve replaced all the flooring (and portions of the subflooring/drywall in the kitchen where the dishwasher had leaked), painted the walls, fixed several plumbing issues, and built a little indoor bar area. It looks a bit different in here these days: Before and After

Dining Area

Our last major project inside is the kitchen – we bought a really pretty glass mosaic tile backsplash to install, and we will also paint the cabinets white and replace the counters with something dark.

Backsplash

This tile is so pretty I just want to stand around taking derpface selfies with it all day long.

We originally planned to do the kitchen last fall, but then I got a new job and a new car and the holidays happened, so it got put on the back burner. But now the kitchen is officially back on the front burner, and we are also ready to begin adding some curb appeal. We hope that one day we can stop avoiding eye contact with our neighbors, who all seem to have meticulously-kept lawns. If you’ll recall, the front yard when we moved in was less than ideal:

1 Exterior

Worst yard on the block? Very yes. Worst yard in the world? Possibly.

That was in August of 2013. Here’s what it looks like now. It’s not spectacular, but I think we can agree that things are moving in a better, greener direction:

Spring 2015

If you drink two beers and squint, it almost looks great.

Our original plan was to lay sod in the front yard, but thanks to the drought California is experiencing and the subsequent water rationing imposed by our city, we are only allowed to water the lawn three days a week. Sod is clearly not going to happen, since you have to water it twice a day for the first few weeks after you put it in. Instead, we’ve just been sprinkling grass seed and hoping for the best. It may not be lush, but it’s better than the scorched, brown “before” shot.

You may have also noticed that we removed the dead rhododendrons along the front of the house. It only took a year and a half of walking by them every single day for us to take on that task. At this rate we’ll finish our landscaping in about 2060, so we’re trying to pick up the pace. Other curb appeal projects on the horizon include:

– Adding flower boxes under the front windows
– Edging the lawn with river rock
– Planting flowers along the front of the house
– Begging Dave’s grandpa to help us construct a front porch in that area to the left of the sidewalk leading up to the front door
– Applying stone veneer to the exposed foundation (like this)
– Getting a screen door that doesn’t look like it was ripped off a life-size gingerbread house

Eventually I’d love to paint the exterior a different color, but unless I receive a mysterious inheritance, that will be put off for a few years. We’ve also got some plans to make the backyard more barbecue-friendly for the summer, but that project deserves its own post. Hopefully it won’t take until my next work holiday to write it!

Dishes are done, man.

Exciting news: this week we made the final payment on our stove! Now that it’s a year old, I’m sure it’ll kick the bucket any day now. In fact, I hope it DOES break because I bought the super mega extra extended warranty. This is probably the most fundamental change that home ownership has made in my life: Pre home-purchase, I used to think warranties were for suckers. These days, I’d buy a warranty on a pair of used gym socks if somebody offered it to me. Because guess what? EVERYTHING BREAKS. Everything breaks, and one day you’ll wind up dying alone in the gutter because Social Security ran out and you spent your retirement savings on replacing the same kitchen appliance every three years.

Anxiety is fun, guys.

Anyway, we’re  being good Americans and celebrating our financial win by purchasing more stuff. That’s right, we’re getting a dishwasher! Whee! If you’ll recall, when we moved in there was a big gaping hole where the dishwasher used to be. We patched up the wall when we moved in, and we have been living without a dishwasher for the last year and a half. We’re basically living like pioneers.

Oregon Trail

I should also note that Dave is adamantly against this purchase. He seems to be operating under the impression that dishwashers don’t get dishes clean enough, and I’m under the impression that he is insane because SRSLY, WHAT? All I know is, if we don’t get a dishwasher soon I may resort to alternative methods.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.20.24 AM

Like this.

However, it did occur to me last night that a dishwasher isn’t really a plug-in-and-go appliance, so I’ll probably have to pay somebody to install it. And if that process goes like any of the other home improvement projects we’ve tackled, it’ll cost 10 times what we’ve budgeted and will conclude with me plotting the best way to burn the house down and make it look like an accident. You may think I’m overreacting, but I’m not and here’s why: I looked up some diagrams online, and apparently a hose has to connect to the garbage disposal. And while we technically have a garbage disposal, it doesn’t so much dispose garbage as it does take up unnecessary space under the sink, thanks to the previous homeowners’ less-than-stellar DIY skills. So already I’m looking at adding “garbage disposal replacement” to the list of project expenses, and I haven’t even set foot in a store. Guys, a lonely gutter death is looking likely. I’m at least sure of one thing: I’ll be getting the extended warranty on that sucker.

1232121

Oh Hey There

Things I did last week instead of blogging:

Worked, a lot.

Last week was a big one for my staff. We hosted our first event, participated in a two-day technical training for our grant project, and I started writing my very first grant application(!). I was kind of nervous when I woke up on Monday morning, but everything went perfectly. Someday I will learn that worrying is a big fat waste of my time. Just kidding, I totally won’t.

Scored this kickass mid-century sideboard.

Sideboard

A couple in my town started up an online auction last year, and mostly I just look at it and laugh at all the crap people are trying to get actual money for. Thirty dusty seed packets from 1992. A cast iron pot missing its lid. A pile of filthy boards titled, “Rustic Barrel Project: You Assemble.” But every once in a while I come across something awesome, like that sideboard up there, for which I paid a grand total of $43. The auctioneer says it’s from the ’40s, and it still has the original tags on the inside of the top drawer. Now comes the fun part: styling it. I’m thinking a cool lamp (like this or this), some pretty framed prints (I love this), and a few decorative accents will  make all the difference. (If you listen really hard, you will probably be able to hear Dave’s eyes rolling in their sockets the second he reads the phrase “decorative accents.”) I was thinking about painting it like this, but it’s so pretty as-is that I think I’ll leave it alone for now.

Reading.

Confession: I’m kind of a book snob. If you tell me you like, say, Nicholas Sparks, I will not necessarily write you off as a terrible person, but I will definitely question your judgment.

Nicholas Sparks

I’ve always kind of lumped Stephen King into the “overrated” category, probably because of his mass appeal, but I picked up “The Stand” a few weeks ago and SOMEBODY SEND HELP BECAUSE I CAN’T PUT IT DOWN. It’s so good, and now I’m totally kicking myself for waiting 30 years to pick up a Stephen King book. I only have a few chapters left, so I’m trying to line up what to read next – please let me know if you have suggestions. (Unless you’re a Nicholas Sparks fan.)

Shopping.

I was perusing the Anthropologie sales section this week and discovered this dress, which I obviously need to own because polka dots:

Maeve Orange Dot Dress

Only I went to order it, and they didn’t have any left in my size. After some sleuthing I was able to find it in my size on eBay for only slightly more than the sale price on Anthro’s site. Between this dress and the sideboard, I’d say last week was one of the better shopping weeks of my life.

I was going to wrap this post up with an eloquent ending, but Dave just turned on a Lifetime movie about stalking, and I’m powerless before terrible actors pretending to commit crimes. Happy Tuesday!

Best Of: Valentine’s Day Decor

So, Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few weeks. I love it, but not for the typical reasons – we don’t plan some huge date night or get each other heart-shaped boxes of chocolate or anything like that. I feel like if you need a holiday as an excuse to eat chocolate and do nice things for your significant other, you probably need to evaluate your life. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if a stupid holiday gives you so much rage about being single that you have to flood everybody’s social media feeds with anti-Valentine’s Day posts, you probably need to relax a little. Have a drink and celebrate the fact that you don’t have to shave your legs on a regular basis.

I mostly love Valentine’s Day because I can’t resist a good cheesy holiday celebration. I’m the dork who wears pink and red and bakes treats to bring to the office every February 14.  I think I get it from my mom – in her world, no holiday is too small to celebrate. Every February she would decorate our house with hearts and set out festive foil-wrapped chocolates, and on Valentine’s Day we’d wake up to little boxes of See’s candy and pink heart-shaped pancakes. I haven’t really decorated my home for Valentine’s Day as an adult, but this stuff is making me want to start:

Valentine collageOne | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven

I actually think most of this stuff could be left out year-round (except for maybe the heart-print dish towel). Do you decorate for Valentine’s day?

Best Buys of 2014

Best Buys of 2014So, I did quite a bit of shopping in 2014. I know, shocking. Below are some of my favorite purchases of the year, with links so that you can buy them too. So really, you might say that all that shopping was a selfless act to benefit my blog readers. YOU’RE WELCOME. (Heads up: some of these are affiliate links, so Google the product name instead if that bugs you!)

1. Old Navy The Rockstar Mid-Rise Super Skinny Black Jeans

Black skinny jeansConfession: I used to be super snobby about Old Navy jeans. I tried to love them back in 2006 when I was a poor college student, but even the super affordable price tag didn’t make up for the frumpy fit and cheap quality. Fast forward to a few months ago: I was hanging out with my sister, and she was wearing some really cute black skinnies. I asked where she got them, and she told me Old Navy. Naturally, I had to try some on, and I was sold – the slight stretch makes them super comfortable, and the mid-rise allows me to eat as much cheese dip as I want with nary a muffin top in sight. Good on you, Old Navy.

2. LOFT French Terry Zip Sweatshirt Jacket

Loft jacketThis jacket is magical – you look pulled together, but feel like you’re wearing a sweatshirt. (So basically it’s a work-appropriate version of Pajama Jeans.) On the weekends I often wear it with the black skinnies mentioned above, and on weekdays I’ll  throw it over my work dresses instead of a blazer. Boom. Stylish, easy, and comfortable.

3. Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese

Oregon Blue2014 will go down in history as the year I learned to like blue cheese. I’ve always thought I hated the stuff, and it wasn’t until I tried Rogue Creamery’s Oregon Blue that I realized not all blue cheese has to taste like crusty gym socks. Go figure. This stuff is super mild and buttery, and every time I’m at the creamery I pretty much eat an entire wheel in free samples. I’m honestly kind of shocked that they haven’t posted my picture with a DO NOT SERVE sign behind the counter.

4. Threshold Seersucker Comforter Set

White comforterI love me some crisp, white bedding, and I looked at comforters for months before settling on this set from Target. Between my habit of drinking coffee in bed and the fact that the cat likes to be all up in our grills when we’re sleeping, I was kind of afraid that it wouldn’t hold up well. Turns out, it washes up nicely and still looks nice and new almost a year later. Plus, it’s currently on sale for 30% off!

5. Converse ‘Shoreline’ Sneakers

Converse ShorelineI’ve been a lifelong lover of Converse, and the new Shorelines are the best. It’s amazing how some slight modifications make them so much better – I used to avoid wearing mine with crops or skirts due to the dreaded clown-feet look, but these look awesome with both. They’re the perfect classic, casual sneaker and I think everyone should have at least one pair.

6. Anthropologie Inside Out Bowls

Anthro bowlsI have several of these scattered throughout the house to catch all the clutter that randomly accumulates throughout the day: car keys, earrings, bobby pins, etc. I suppose it would be cheaper to just stop being a slob, but then I wouldn’t have an excuse to keep buying cute little bowls.

7. Slow Cooker Liners

Slow cooker linersMaybe everyone else already knows about these and I was the last person to find out, but OH MY GOD, do they make life easier if you use a Crock Pot often.

8. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color

Insta DriI have a really hard time sitting still while waiting for my nails to dry, so I picked up a bottle of this stuff at Rite Aid one day on a whim. This is now my new favorite polish; I even like it better than Essie (gasp!). It dries within a minute, and I never get those little air bubbles that always seem to form when I do my nails at home.

9. Elephant Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener

Elephant Bottle OpenerNo beer-lover’s home is complete without a wall-mounted bottle opener, and this whimsical little elephant makes me feel a little less bad about cracking open a second bottle on a weeknight.

10. Sugar Paper 2015 Daily Planner

Sugar Paper PlannerFor years I’ve used my Google Calendar to run my life, but I forgot how good it feels to cross things off a list. This sucker is big (8.5×11″), which means you have plenty of space to lay out your daily tasks. Plus, it’s pretty.

My wish list for 2015 involves some bigger ticket items – a new dining set and landscaping, for starters – so my plan is to nix the impulse buys a bit this year. What’s your favorite thing you bought in 2014?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

So I blogged exactly three times during NaBloPoMo. That’s a pretty spectacular fail, even for me.

At least I tried, I guess?

At least I tried?

What was I doing all month instead of blogging? Working, mostly. My new job is amazing, if not a little bit intimidating (like all new jobs tend to be, really). I was also putting up a crapton of Christmas decorations, much to the chagrin of Dave, who will most likely bury my debit card like a dog in the back yard if I bring home another lighted garland. But in my defense, look how pretty!

Garland

Yes, that’s exposed drywall behind the sink. Yes, our beautiful glass mosaic backsplash tiles have been in the garage waiting to be installed for over two months. Yes, I know that I’m the worst.

Do you know who DOES appreciate my Christmas decoration addiction? Whiskers. Every night when I get home from work he sits under the tree and stares at me with his beady little cat eyes until I turn on the tree lights.

Whiskers tree

So noble, for a creature that spends half his life licking his own butthole.

And then I spend the rest of the night yelling at him for trying to chew the sequins off of my tree skirt. If you visit our house between now and Dec. 25, prepare to hear a lot of early 90s Amy Grant Christmas music interspersed with the occasional, “KNOCK IT OFF OR I’LL KILL YOU” aimed at the cat. It’s super magical.

And speaking of early 90s Amy Grant Christmas music, I’m working on a Top 10 list of my favorite Christmas albums ever. With any luck, I’ll actually get it written before next Christmas rolls around.