Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday PS

I'm 30 years old and will be going to a girls sleepover tonight.
Don't judge.
I'm pretty stoked.

What about Matt?
He'll have to survive without my witty repartee for an evening.
Or he might just watch a marathon of 21 Jump Street & forget I'm gone.
Yeah. That's probably how things will go down.

A Day At the Races

Today we'll take a small pause from the topics of house and home to discuss a recent eye opening experience. I went to the horse races and a nearby casino. We were secret shoppers. It was an interesting cross section of humanity, rivaled only by the diversity of an airport or an emergency room.

1. I bet on a horse named Endless Possibilities. That was a misnomer. When he came strutting out I turned to the man next to me and asked, "Where's his mommy?"

2. We stood in line to place a bet behind a man who was a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers. There was a glint of determination in his eye that was rivaled only by Jaws or Mr. T and I gave him a wide berth.

3. I observed the slot machines and saw an old woman with lavender hair, a walker and a fanny pack that had a high probability of containing a set of brass knuckles.
4. I also observed a nicely put together woman in her 40's wearing an expensive suit and carrying a Prada purse who proceeded to assault her slot machine while spewing profanities about, "Stupid bing cherries, blankety blankety blank."

5. It must be a requirement for workers to dress according the fashion standards of the 1970's. I was so enthralled with the blue eyeshadow on my black jack dealer (and the likelihood of her eyelids being able to land a plane with the aid of a small spotlight), I accidentally went double down in a fairly public and stupid way. Then again, the only gambling I've done in my life was playing for pennies with my cousins.

6. And last but not least, as we exited the building (and passed an alarming number of families with small children), I saw a woman clutch papers in her hand and whisper, "Come on... give me some luck... mama's gotta make rent."

The day was... memorable.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


There are some homes that seem, well, like home. I'm not sure what that defining quality is, but I know it when I feel it. Like Ashley's house. The moment I walk through the door it feels, familiar. It's just... easy to be there. And you know someone is a good friend when they let you prowl their home with your camera clicking. That's love people.

And being within those walls makes me think about something I've done a pretty good job of avoiding for the past 8 (almost 9) years. Kids. Kyle and Ashley are good parents, they love it, you can see it in their eyes. But they never push us about the kid thing. They never gaze at us like we have tentacles and say, "Is it because you don't like children?"

Truthfully, Matt & I are very busy. We're very happy. And we adhere to the adage of "If it ain't broke don't fix it." But when we go to their house, their accepting, calm, welcoming house... we like their children. We like how they 'do' parenting. It's a nice change of pace, to hold their little boy and watch Matt read to their daughter (this btw, was not even a children's book, Matt was just flipping pages and making stuff up about magical dogs).

Honestly? I don't know about the kid thing. It's a question that gets asked over and over, and I'm getting pretty good at avoiding direct answers with funny quips and blank stares (depending on my mood). But I appreciate these friends of ours. Friends who let us play with their adorable kids. Friends that accept us. Friends that welcome.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mabel's Momentary Mohawk

Dear Mabel,

We promise that heretofore, we will never, ever, give you a mohawk again. It was evident that you immediately sensed the degradation of this experiment. We are sorry your ego and sense of justice were bruised in our poor attempts to amuse ourselves while we laughed at your misshapen body. We are bad people.

You are a good and tolerant dog. You put up with us when we hang your donut-ring toy over your head, causing you to run around blindly. You suffer our hide and go seek games, the bright pink sweaters, and our inability to be of sober and sensitive minds when you get poop hung in your backside fur and are unable to move, frozen in a permanent u-shape in the backyard. Please forgive us for making fun of you. Please forgive us for the mohawk.

Please come out from under the dining room table.


The Management/Your Parents

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pillow, Baby Potato Vine, Book

To everyone who's commented or emailed lately, I'm terribly sorry for my sluggard response time. Life is moving at a crazy speed here lately.

I'm working on the book, literally, every second I can carve out of my waking hours. It's funny, because if anything else consumed this much of my time I'd be miserable, but this doesn't feel like work. Even with a lack of sleep. It's funny, the conversations I'm having with my family.
Me: "Remember when Rachel was a baby and blew a raspberry into Dad's boss' face?"
Mom: "Yeah."
Me: "I think I'm going to put that in the book somewhere. Do you think she'd mind?"
Mom: "Probably not. Does that fit with the theme?"
Me: "Um, not yet. But it will."
Mom: "Oh. Well. Ok. How much sleep did you get last night?"
Me: "About four hours."

But on the flip side, things have slowed down around here. The emails. The tv. The dishes. The cleaning of the house. It's oddly quiet, just a new pillow and baby potato vine. Thanks for bearing with me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Love Story

My great-grandmother, Clara, worked in the store above. In fact, she's the young woman working behind the counter in this photo. It was there, in that store, that my great-grandfather Sam walked in, saw her for the first time and elbowed a man nearby.

"Who is that woman?"

The man answered, "Clara Belle Taylor."

Sam watched her for a moment and stated assuredly, never having met or spoken to her (and not knowing he was speaking in confidence to her cousin), "I'm going to marry her someday." And he did.

Hours fly,
Flowers die.
New days,
New ways,
Pass by.
Love stays. --
Henry Van Dyke

Friday, February 19, 2010

You CAN Put a Price Tag On Bliss

And that price tag reads $8.

Yep, $8 dollars for a white glass/wood trim mid century lamp.

Of course, I ended up paying $25 for the perfect lampshade, but let's not open up THAT wound.

Yesterday, as I was buying more hyacinths (I know, I know, I have a problem), I eavesdropped on a conversation. Not that it's an irregular event in my life, Matt refers to me as 'Bat Ears' these days, but I cant help it.

Man, very grumpy expression on his face : "Didn't you just buy flowers last weekend?"

Woman, obviously his wife: "Yes."

Man, suddenly sniffing pitifully: "I think I'm developing allergies. Don't buy any more."

Woman, jaw set, "I'm buying them."

Man, crossed arms: "Well...I don't like them. I think they should stay out on the porch."

*At this particular juncture I moved closer, risking a sliding glance, noting the man's mud splattered boots & the woman's carefully coiffed red hair. Matt calls this 'skulking' but I prefer to think of myself as a skilled observer of humanity. But... in about forty years I'll just be some creepy old lady with a walker, holding her hearing aid out to get a better frequency.

Woman: " Well... I don't like your giant tv and deer antlers, so lets put those out on the porch when you get rid of all my flowers."
Man: Silent, begrudgingly defeated.

Matt hasn't protested my flowers yet.
And thank goodness for his lack of deer antlers.
Besides, there's no room in our house.
Too many lamps.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm on a Design Sponge high today.
Thanks so much to Grace for featuring my guest bedroom here!
Although, some people liked the before pictures better.
They're fearful I got rid of the quilt.
Please be assured, that did not happen.
In the controversial words of Charlton Heston:
"Mr. President, from my cold dead hands."
But thankfully the President isn't taking away flower garden quilts.
It's been safely reassigned to my office. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Turner Classic Movies Should Hire Me as a Guest Host

1. At age six I requested a Myrna Loy costume for Halloween.

2. At age seven I paid personal homage to the late great Harve Presnell by yelling “Da#* you Molly Brown” on the playground and subsequently got in serious trouble when Matthew Green ratted me out.

3. At age nine, while all my friends were swearing undying allegiance to the New Kids on the Block, I was in absolute love with Jack Lemmon and insisted on watching “Good Neighbor Sam” until the video cassette wore out.

4. At age 10 I threw over Jack for Rock Hudson.

5. At age 11 I pretended to mix cocktails like Nick and Nora using orange juice and ice cubes. My mother was not amused.

6. At age 12 I made note of our almost all-female family and dubbed my dad Father Goose. He was not amused.

7. At age 13 I spent most of my time acting out Oklahoma in the privacy of my own room, only to find out that my family was listening to my musical debut through the laundry chute and laughing. A lot.

8. At ages 14, 15, and 16, I tried to figure out how to dress like Doris Day. It never seemed to pan out, mostly because I could never figure out how to put my ankles on a diet.

9. At age 18 I tried to dye my hair platinum like Carole Lombard. I like to call this my "brass chandelier" hair phase.

10. At age nineteen I passed my classic movie love down to my sister Rachel, who proceeded to belt “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” out the car window at alarmed pedestrians.

Need more iron clad proof Robert Osborne?

My mother went into labor with me while watching “The African Queen.”

Thank you. I'll be waiting for your call.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spicy Lamb Stew & Hyacinths

It's that time of year again. Amid all the ice and short, dark days I can always count on good old Kroger to stock its shelves with blooming hyacinths. There's just something about their smell, the bright green leaves. It's a hopeful flower, a flower that promises sunshine and flip flops and patio dinners just around the corner. I suspect these little guys might be good luck charms, because I heard doves cooing yesterday morning.

Of course, then it snowed again.

In other news, Matt & I spent an afternoon doing what we each love best. He cooked and I spray painted. Granted, my project wasn't nearly as labor intensive as his. Remember the red and yellow striped lamp shades in the dining area? I've been pretty sick of them. So, with nothing else to lose, I spray painted them black. Surprisingly enough, it worked (they're heavy duty paper shades, not fabric). So good riddance stripes.

While this was going on and a Harry Potter movie played in the background, Matt cooked stew.
If you don't own this book, buy it. Buy it now. It's a book that reads like a blog and contains great recipes and house projects.

Anyhoo, Katie's Spicy Lamp Stew recipe is fantastic. Matt made a few changes (doubled the ginger) and left out a few ingredients (we HATE dates), but it was fabulous.

The ingredients alone were beautiful.
Matt declared the leeks looked like 'giant onions from Pandora.'
I'd like to say I had an 'after' picture of the stew, but frankly, I was too busy stuffing my face to bother with my camera. It was soooo good.

Spicy Lamb Stew

2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
3 lb boneless leg of lamb, cubed (could substitute beef)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 whole leek, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives
½ cup chopped, dried dates (we left this out)
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup sliced almonds (toasted (we left this out)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Season lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Brown lamb cubes on all sides. Transfer to medium bowl with slotted spoon. Add remaining oil to Dutch oven and sauté onion, pepper, leek and garlic 4-5 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, cumin and ginger; continue cooking until vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Return lamb to Dutch oven. Stir in olives, dates, tomatoes, and beef broth. Break up tomatoes with wooden spoon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered 1 hour, or until lamb is tender. Stir in parsley. Add toasted almonds, serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dear Winter

I have one word for you.

I'm good. You can stop now. Please send spring.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Day I Turned 30

I turned 30 this week.

Nature gave me a birthday present. A snow day at home.

So I spent it playing in the snow run-off.

Not to mention taking pictures of my shoes.

I thought about what it means to be 30. To be quite honest, I'm not sorry to leave the 20's behind. They were exciting, but a time of great upheaval. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing? Will I be able to pay student loan payments? When will I get a job?

It's good to move on.

I thought about Angela. Her birthday is next week. I thought about how we always exchanged little presents and made jokes about crazy Aquarians. I thought about the black balloons she probably would have given me. I'm thankful that it's getting easier to think about her, talk about her, look at her picture.

Life seems a little clearer the farther I move away from being a college student, newlywed , ground-floor employee. I don't find myself questioning why I'm here on this earth, what I'm supposed to be doing. If the past few years have taught me anything, I know I'm on a path that was already written for me. And that's nice.

I spent my 30th birthday in the company of sunshine, ice, a quiet neighborhood, and memories of a friend. It's going to be a good decade.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guest Room Makeover, Finally

I must confess, this room makeover took me a seriously long time. It was one part finances, one part time, and one part laziness. But either way, it's finished.

I liked the bedroom just fine as it was, but I was itching for a change. The one thing that really 'gets' me about guest bedrooms is how they are essentially, except for a few days a year, wasted space.

And I don't know about you guys... but I've got a lot of stuff. Namely books.

So we painted the walls my favorite shade of gray, painted the dresser, and bought new bedding. I also painted a mirror I already had the same guacamole shade as the dresser. But the room still needed some storage.

Instead of traditional side tables, I bought two bookshelves and a couple of clip on reading lamps. The shelves came from Target, and while I loved the affordable price, I wasn't loving the black backing that came with the shelves, so Matt put them together and left the backs off so the gray wall would show through.

The shelves provide some much needed storage (not to mention a place to put flea market finds and a few 'paper moon' photos found on the net).

Oh yeah, and globes. Globes are a must-have.

So there you have it. The guest room makeover that I've been talking about for ages. I don't know if it lives up to the hype, but I'm pretty happy with it. Product details below:

Duvet Cover & Pillow Shams: Jonathan Adler, ebay
White Coverlet: Goodwill (courtesy of my mother-in-law)
Wall Paint: Seashell Gray (Valspar), Lowe's
Dresser/Mirror Paint: Guacamole (Olympic), Lowe's
2 Bookshelves: Target (clearance sale)
Clip-On Lamps: Target
Sheers: Wal Mart

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back On My Feet. Maybe Not Literally.

I’ve tried to think of an entertaining blog post relating to being sick. But there is no entertaining or literary way of saying that this past week kicked me in my posterior end.

Thank you for all the emails and well wishes. No I didn’t fall off the edge of the earth, get hit by a car, or give up blogging. But we did get a lot of snow. Ever had vertigo? For five days? Well, let me put it this way: It was like being a permanent bobble head doll lost in a fun house trapped inside a tilt-a-whirl. Not good. Not good at all.

And poor Matt. He had to come home every day to an ashen, non-makeup-wearing wife lying on the couch, blankets thrashed about, who yelped (not unlike the huggable mother in Throw Mama From the Train), “I’m so dizzy I can’t see! Quick! Bring me another amoxicillin pill!”

Long story short, I’m back on my feet. Sort of. The world is, frankly, still spinning a little. Apparently allergies can lead to colds which can lead to weird inner ear infections that cause monster cases of vertigo. I’ll get better. But until then I’ll be abstaining from ocean cruises, riding in the backseat of cars, sky diving, or watching Avatar in 3D.

Sigh. There go my weekend plans.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February Ice

I'm sick of being sick. It's been a heck of a winter. On the other hand, I've drunk enough tea to qualify for the "Honorary Englishwoman" award. If that was a real thing. I think it should be.

If I've heard it once I've heard it a billion times, "You southerners just don't know how to drive when it snows."

Ahem. Pardon moi.

Southerners don't get regular snow. We get sleet, then ice, then freezing rain, then a slight dusting of snow. Unless you have bionic chains made from kryptonite strapped to the tires of a four wheel drive truck.... no one can drive on this ice skating rink.

Which is why I was housebound. And before my present cold set in (which I will henceforth refer to as The Black Plague), Mabel and I went out and played in the snow. I mean sleet. I mean freezing rain. See what I mean?

Mabel wore her new sweater courtesy of Aunt Deletta. And despite the fact that she was slipping and sliding around on the growing patches of ice in the backyard, she still thought it would be an excellent idea to throw sticks. Here she's inspecting....

... and then the attack.

Somewhere underneath all the ice are the hostas I planted last spring. I hope they come back.

Little birds congregated on our back patio, hopping and tweeting and leaving footprints everywhere.

I also had to physically grab Mabel's face and force her to hold still for this picture. A nanosecond later she was back to attacking a stick and slinging it against my leg. No. Really. I have a bruise.

So that's me. A no-driving-in-ice southerner who's eyeballs are floating from too much tea. If there was such a thing as an 'Honorary Englishwoman' award, I'm pretty sure they would revoke it based on my previous sentence.

My guide to surviving winter?

1. Drink tea

2. Wear scarfs and knit hats indoors

3. Play with your dog.

4. Beware the ice.

You cant go wrong.