Sunday, August 30, 2009


Back in MARCH (really, 6 months ago?) I teased a post about a still-unfinished former doggie room turned office. This weekend, we *finally* put the finishing touches on this room.

Let me go back to the beginning and touch on the dangers of procrastination. We had big plans to remodel the third bedroom once the dogs had outgrown their rage sprees (in recent news, Roach was put on steroids to combat a constant itchiness problem, and he has reverted to puppylike behavior, with lots of eating, destroying, and general hysteria). We peeled the strips on the walls (trailer, ew) and mudded them to smooth them out, then painted the room a lovely shade of muted peach. Next, we painted all of the trim work (top and bottom, I couldn't put my arms down for 2 days) a bright white. The last part was the floor -- I loved doing the floor last because it meant I could slop paint everywhere and not worry about ruining anything. We decided to use a snap together Pergo flooring we has used in our master bathroom. It looks gorgeous, withstands puppy and people foot stomps, and is easy to install. We purchased the boxes we would need to complete the project.

And let them sit in the room for about 3 months. Maybe more. Either way, when we finally got it together to lay the flooring, we ran short by 5 boards. We went to Lowe's to pick up one final box, when we found out that the color had been discontinued. Long story short, 9 trips to various home improvement and flooring stores throughout Jacksonville yielded no results. We needed a solution! At first, I thought we could leave the middle of the floor empty, and cover it with a big area rug (for obvious reasons, this was not a long-term solution). Finally, we settled on creating a storage/seating bench to compensate for the area of the room that was missing flooring. Always the handyman, Deane fashioned a boxy structure out of plywood from the half pipe that used to live in my front yard (free AND eliminated a massive eyesore? win-win!), with a lid that would be on hinges. We planned to upholster the top with a cushy foam and pretty fabric, and either paint or do a wallpaper treatment on the sides.

Other projects (mostly wedding related) came along over the months, and this one floated in and out of the priority scale. Gripped by a sudden sense of urgency with the upcoming wedding, we are in all-out finish-the-house mode. I think it's something about us wanting to start our lives together as newlyweds in a lovely cozy home that doesn't look like a construction site. Today, we set forth to put the final nail in this project, and it came out really cute! It was the ultimate exercise in creativity -- not only did we have to come up with the idea for the missing flooring, but there was a HUGE section of drywall that had been cut out to access a bathroom leak a while ago. Rather than patching the drywall, I fashioned a built-in cushion that is attached to the wall. Here are the final results:

And a close-up of the built-in cushion...

I really love the finished product! I have been super motivated the past few weeks, and I hope it continues. The invitations are almost complete, my washer and dryer have been running steadily all day, and the kitchen has undergone a complete purge of old in preparation for new. I even organized my knitting space, even though I haven't picked up the needles in waaaaay too long...

Let's hope we keep on checking things off the to-do list, so I can get some knitting done soon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Of all of the countdowns I have going on (mostly wedding related), the most important event of the fall is a mere sixteen days away. On September 13th, a Colts crew much different than that of last year (Dungy, I miss you already!) will hit the field for 16 weeks of regular season action -- sixteen games that I will not only write my work schedule around, but also scream, jump, cry, and (hopefully) rejoice over.

Every season, I mark my excitement for the return of Colts regular season football with a mini shopping spree to bulk up my inventory of horseshoe gear. I usually hit the order a solid 10 days before the first preseason game, but the budget wasn't in my favor this year, and that tradition had to be skipped. As if they were on the same financial page as myself, this year, my catalog appeared a little bit later than usual (just 2 days ago). After combing through it with a Sharpie and highlighter (marking a firm "no" on anything by Alyssa Milano or with the words "flirt", "sequin", or "glitter"), I was delighted to see the retro logos well-represented throughout. This little lover has been on my list for three years running, but for some reason is a ridiculous $49.99, and I cannot commit...

Every year I also add a jersey to the collection, and even though I know in my heart of hearts I need some defensive representation, I am a lover of the double digit (having invested in #11 Gonzalez last year), and Dallas Clark (#44) away jersey is waiting in my shopping cart (so is Bob Sanders, I just can't make the final call!). I managed to resist the new addition of the Colts bikini (and tankini!) and added two retro-inspired pieces to my online cart:

Sadly, neither of them are scheduled to leave the warehouse for 3 TO 4 WEEKS. Last year, my favoritey fave shirt purchase was backordered, backordered, and ultimately canceled. I had given up hope until a late night post-Kenny Chesney concert Colts pro shop visit came through with a Hail Mary for the W. Let's hope I don't have to head back to Indy again this season to find what I need!

Then again, I may as well check the fall concert lineup...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Domino Effect.

This whole wedding planning thing has been SO. EASY. Seriously, this week, I was thinking, "I don't know what everyone gets so stressed about!" The only thing that was really pressing on my wedding to-do list was figure out the invitations. Since I am planning on making them myself, I was going to use my time off this weekend to prototype the invites and figure out the exact amounts of supplies I needed.

Simple, right? I thought so, too. Bear with me on this rollercoaster...

Ok, invites. First thing -- location address. Only... we hadn't quite finalized that. Hm. Certainly, things were a bit backwards here. I mean, I couldn't make invitations for something that had no venue. Where would I tell the guests to go?!

We had been tossing around a ton of ideas for venues, but the favorite (and most affordable) ended up being the last one we found, a suggestion from Deane's mom after a slightly sporadic stop in a bar downtown. We found out that the bar was renovating the old upstairs so that they could start renting it out for parties and "intimate gatherings". Deane and I made an appointment and looked at the space. Once I got over all the half-painted walls, piled up kitchen equipment, and stacks of extra furniture, I knew the space would work beautifully. There will be plenty of room for all of our guests to dance and mingle, a nice area for the dessert buffet, and a beautiful outdoor deck with a view of historic downtown. I took a deep breath and asked about price. We had to wait a day to get the exact quote, and then I had to suppress my screams of delight and excitement when I found out how dirt cheap it was. We were also thrilled that the bar has an outside courtyard which we can close off privately for the ceremony (no extra charge!). We dropped off the deposit Saturday, and I managed to snap a few pictures of the (still very unfinished) space...

The courtyard in which we will be married (still a ton of work to be done here, but will be v. cute).

The stairs leading up to the upstairs space/outside deck (vice versa, the stairs I will walk down to the ceremony, hopefully gracefully...)

More of the stairs, this time showing the lovely gate.

An outside view of the upstairs, from the courtyard.

The last step I will walk down into the courtyard! And the first step we will walk up together as a married couple!

I know it's really hard to envision by just these pics (and the massive amount of work still to be done), but I think it's going to be just perfect. Right in historic downtown, walking distance to choice after party locales, and close to hotels for out-of-town guests. I scooped up the address and came home to get to work on some invites.

I started the same way I start all projects -- by making a list. This list was all of the information I needed to include on the invite. Only, by the time I was done with my list, it looked more like I would be sending my guests the equivalent of a college freshman's orientation packet. When you're handmaking invites, that was not an option. I needed to streamline my info so that I would not be left with arthritic talons for hands on my wedding day.

Enter the wedding website. I hadn't made one, because I thought it was silly for the type of affair we were planning -- my guest list was so small, I figured I could answer everyone's questions personally by email or phone. But the more I thought about it, I wouldn't have time to be repeating the same info over and over, or finding hotels for everyone, or suggesting things for them to do during their stay. The website made a lot of sense. I can just list the address on the invitation, and everyone can hop on the web for our wedding deets.

A few hours and a lot of hissy fits about formatting restrictions later, I finished our wedding website! I was pretty pleased with the information I was able to get on there, and I think our guests will find it really helpful.

I was revelling in my two HUGE accomplishments when I noticed the top banner of the website and suffered a mild stroke: "83 DAYS". I thought for sure I had at least 3 months?! Now I have an actual countdown to wedding day, and it sent me into a slightly panicked tailspin. I gathered up my Lilly Pulitzer planning notebook, a fresh Sharpie pen, and an unopened Diet Coke, and hunkered down with Deane at the kitchen table to bullet point everything that needs to happen in the next (*GULP*) 83 days. He was calm, collected, and sweet, pointing out things that he would like to accomplish around the house, as well, since a lot of our family has never seen where we live.

We made it through list-making without a single tiff, and I am feeling really good about the timeline we have set forth for ourselves. Funny how my one fun task this weekend ("prototype invites") was not completed at all, but instead I cleared two major hurdles (venue, website) and tried on my dress, to boot!

It was quite the rollercoaster weekend as my emotions ran all over the spectrum of harried bride to calm and collected recently engaged girl, but I am finishing out my Sunday night feeling pretty in control. On to the next checkmark...!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drop Top.

I couldn't resist this photo op today when Roachie woke up from his nap with a funky ear......because he looked *just* like the Drop Top neon sign we had seen at our wedding reception venue (more on that later) this past weekend.

The resemblance is uncanny!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Straight Up, Now Tell Me.

I'll believe this when I see it. Or, don't see it. Then I'll do a victory dance.

And then I'll wait for Kara DioGuardi to get hit by a bus.

I'm starting a petition to bring back Dunkleman.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

VitaMuffins: Take Two.

I am a slave to media in all forms. I love TV, books, magazines, podcasts, blogs, social networking sites, movies, newspapers, and commercials. I will try or buy pretty much anything. I have been known to watch an entire infomercial. The phrase "Oooh, I want that" has passed over my lips more than any other 4-word combination in the span of my life.

Mix this consumer-driven mentality with a love for food, and you've got me -- a hungry, hungry girl, always looking for the next best thing to gobble up while keeping away from the 200lb. side of the scale. Enter HungryGirl. I've been receiving Lisa Lillien's daily email newsletter for well over a year now, and she is always sharing the scoop on the latest and greatest products. (She's even clever and witty enough to have earned a link on my sidebar).

Now, I adore HG, and I love her morsels of food knowledge and tips. But there's a few things HG swears by that I haven't been able to hop on board with. The first was tofu shirataki noodles. Cook 'em, dry 'em, and enjoy 'em, HG says. I have spent half an hour and half a roll of paper towels on these bad boys, and I simply cannot get them to be dry enough to be anywhere near edible. Yech.

The other major disagreement I had with HG was her endorsement of VitaMuffins and VitaTops. As soon as I read about them, I was so excited to try them! Delicious chocolatey flavors! Tons of fiber (I was on a WeightWatchers kick at the time)! Your daily vitamins and minerals! Not to mention I love a good breakfast baked good. I hightailed it to Harris Teeter and snatched a box of these little lovers.

I didn't even make it through one. I thought they were dry and required too much chewing. Plus, they were required to remain frozen, and when I followed the defrost microwave directions, the middle was steaming hot and the muffin top was still cold and gross. EW.

This past weekend, I was picking up a few things at our newly remodeled WinnDixie when I spotted my favorite attraction of all grocery stores -- the clearance freezer. And what was in there? VitaMuffins! 4 in a box for $1.99!! Normally these puppies retail (4 in a box) for well over 5 bones, so even though I knew I kind of hated them, I couldn't resist the deal (see opening paragraph of this blog post). I added a box of Deep Chocolate to my shopping basket and hurried home. I threw the muffins in my freezer and never thought twice about them.

And then this morning, it was exactly one week since we had been all-out grocery shopping, which means most of the food staples were gone, and we were left with the dregs (this is also the point of the week where Deane kindly points out that all of his delicious food purchases -- chips, KitKats, sugary cereal, etc. -- have been consumed, and we are left with my healthy intentions -- yogurt, high fiber bread and wraps, and cottage cheese). I remembered my muffins and popped one in the micro before I hit the gym.

I was skeptical, but it turns out the muffin was pretty good! Not great, but good. I still had a problem with the de-thawing not being even, and I had to eat it with a fork because of the choco-chip meltiness factor, but it was satisfying -- although I can see it as more of a nighttime snack with a glass of milk. I don't know what changed my mind, but I am glad I gave the VMs another shot. Maybe I should try it with more foods I thought I hated with a fiery passion. I might be surprised what goodies I discover!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Duds!

Life has been pretty quiet around here, and we all know my knitting had been neglected for quite some time, so I haven't had much material for new posts. A couple of mildly interesting things have happened in the past few weeks, though, so I thought I should drop in for a quick update.

On the heels of gaining Emily's commitment to co-run the 26.2 with Donna half-marathon in February, I finally made the decision to invest in some new running shoes. I had asked for new shoes for my birthday, and had gathered enough cash to be able to visit a proper running store and buy whatever footwear they prescribed without worrying about the price. On Thursday, I headed to 1st Place Sports at Jacksonville Beach with my old Nikes in hand, ready for a change. I was greeted by the very friendly Charlie, who looked at my old shoes and then asked me to walk around the store with no shoes on. He measured my foot and determined that I have a very high arch and looked at the places where my old shoes were worn down. Resisting the urge for him to search the stockroom for something green and black, I waited for Charlie to return. He came back with several shoes which I got to try on and then run on the treadmill to see what fit best. Charlie explained that feet swell when we run, so I needed a (gulp) size bigger in a running shoe than my normal size 10. He also told me I was tying my shoes too tight, resulting in blisters. I settled into a lovely pair of Sauconys, which felt one million times lighter than my old shoes.

Now, let me tell you, nothing motivates me more for a run than new gear. I have dropped many a dollar on Under Armor tees, new Nike Tempo shorts, or even new socks just to get me revved up for that day's workout. Thursday Hal only had me scheduled for 45 minutes of cross training, but I was feeling good and really excited about trying out my new footwear. I hit the treadmill and was ecstatic to bust out 2 easy miles in under 20 minutes. Saturday's "long" run of 5 miles proved just as easy, requiring only one 2-minutes walk break, and an overall finish time around 51 minutes (I do realize I am hopelessly slow). It may have been all in my head, but I am 100% obsessed with my new Sauconys, and am clearly convinced that they have unlocked the key to my running success.

As I look to train for 13.1 miles in February, I know I have to sign up for a few road races along the way to (pardon the pun) get my feet wet before the big day. I am looking at running the Turtle Trot 10K on Labor Day weekend. It will be nice to start with a race here instead of having to drive 40+ minutes into Jacksonville. Plus, my future mother-in-law is planning a bridal shower (eep!) for that weekend, so I will be able to indulge in all of the fabulous goodies without feeling guilty.

Speaking of wedding stuff, I also made a big checkmark last week and got my co-MOH dresses! I had almost thrown in the towel and hit up Old Navy for tanks and JoAnn's for green fabric, determined to go to a seamstress and demand the simple tank dress that I wanted, when a miraculous dress came into my store and answered my prayers. Black, green, casual but gorgeous, and oh-so-affordable with a generous employee discount... enter the Jacqueline dress!

Natch, we are losing that icky green ribbon belt and adding a wide black (sure to be stretchy, my fave belt feature) belt instead, but overall the dress is perfect, and there are 2 snuggled safely in the back of my closet next to my wedding dress for the big day (there's also a 3rd in my closet, sure to make its debut this week, as I could not pass up the opportunity to also purchase this little lover for myself). Em and Linds immediately went to work researching shoe options, so I'm sure a decision will be made shortly on those, as well.

I'm nearing the 90 day countdown to my wedding, and we still haven't finalized a venue, but at least some of the details are getting worked out. I'm sure insanity will ensue, but right now I'm happy to have 3 dresses and still holding on to my groom-to-be :)

On a conversational note, my ipod shuffle is really getting stale. My only recent additions have been Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield" and Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling". Anyone have any suggestions for must-have running songs?