Friday, December 21, 2012

Feeling abandoned?

I know, I'm's been like 2 months since I've been on here.

Next week is Christmas, but thanks to the warm weather, it certainly will not be white...I miss snow, and am holding out hope that I'll have some by (or for!) my birthday.

Tomorrow night John and I are going to a friend's wedding (well, reception--they actually got married in Nice over the summer!) and I'm super excited. I got a pretty dress, sparkly gold 4-inch heels, and a manicure. I'm ready to bring it.

After that it'll be a two-day marathon of baking and cooking for our holiday travels.

I'm planning to pop on here at some point next week with a pictoral tour of my baking--I'm attempting one new recipe and tweaking an old classic of mine, so I'll be eager to share and debrief. Tonight I'll be crafting and assembling the cute cookie boxes I bought. It's a cute DIY set I picked up while doing Christmas shopping last week. It's perfect because it comes with 4 dividers and little fluted papers (like in Milano packages), and I happen to be making 4 varieties of cookies this year! The set also has pre-cut ribbons and gift tags. I've got high hopes.

So that's all for now. Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ireland, Freaking Hurricane Sandy, and my Tattoo (Yep, you read that right!)

So, I suck. I'm sorry!

It's a little sad that when I was writing my last post, I was on the verge of leaving for Ireland, and here I am now, a month later, meaning a month has passed already since the trip. I can't believe it.

Part of the reason I've put off writing about it is that...well, it's just really hard to put it down in words. It was absolutely amazing. I had a few specific dreams in going, and I'm happy to report I achieved them: befriend an awesome elderly couple? Check. Bottle-feed a lamb on a farm? Check. Sing with an Irish band? Check. Yup, I am awesome.

Another reason I've delayed this is that I've already recounted the trip to most of you in person. Maybe someday I'll feel inspired to do the daily breakdown, but for now, I'll say firstly that there is an album on my Facebook page with a large portion of the photos (titled Ireland 2012) if you would like to see photos and have not checked there yet. Secondly, here are a few highlights if you want a quick glimpse of the trip:

Also, I'm writing this post-Sandy. That storm was a bitch, dude. The state pretty much shut down as of Monday, though the brunt of the storm didn't make landfall til 6:15pm that evening, and didn't bombard our area until about 8:00 that night. We watched, horror-struck all day as the coastline of New Jersey was eaten away. Boardwalks swallowed whole. Here in Btown, we were extremely lucky. The winds truly started to howl at around 7:30. We cooked an early dinner in case our power went out, which it did, around 8:15 or so. Cue my mini-anxiety attack. It was so creepy to hear the wind, hear branched cracking, but not be able to see much of anything.

In addition to the dark, our windows were spattered with so much rain, visibility was really low. What we did see, though, was plenty of good-sized tree limbs downed, and the loud crack we heard was a huge part of the tree out front falling. Thankfully, it did not take down the power line, nor did it land on any of the buildings. Our power came back on at 10:30-ish, and has been back ever since. We haven't ventured out yet, so I can't speak to where else power is out (I suspect most of the houses in town are dark--that's how it went with Irene, too), but it seems, from what we can see, that our area was truly spared the damage other towns suffered.

I'm thankful, too, for Facebook and cell phones. It was reassuring to keep up with friends and family, and to know they are safe. Tomorrow will be our third Hurricane Day, and I'm starting to feel a bit cabin fevery...we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping roads and things will be recovered enough to get out and about for a little bit. To those still recovering and cleaning up damage, know our prayers are with you for a safe and quick trek back to normalcy.

And yes. Tattoo. I has one! I know it may be surprising to a lot of you, but I've actually wanted one for a really long time. But I couldn't commit to a design or a location. To bring things full circle here, I decided there was no better time or reason to finally get one than to commemorate our trip to Ireland. So I started getting some inspiration before we left, and absorbed lots of ideas while there. When we came home, I called the tattoo shop, No Ka Oi in Philly, to book an appointment with artist Cindy. Last weekend was my consultation and this past Sunday (yes, as Sandy was heading right for us!) I had the piece done. Long story short: I created the design with the help of MS Paint. Decided I wanted it on my wrist. Learned my wrist was too small for the level of detail. Decided to move it to my ankle, where it now resides.

How was it? I mean, I knew it would hurt, and I know the ankle is a particularly painful location, but it honestly wasn't too bad. It hurt, yes, but after a while the whole area hurt and kinda plateaued/numbed. Until she hit the shamrock on the ankle bone. That hurt like hell. At the moment, it's still a bit sore all over, but the ankle bone feels like it has a bad bruise on it. Probably the weirdest sensation was to feel the gun vibrating. So it was a wiggly kind of pain.

I had a fabulous experience, and highly recommend the shop in general and Cindy in particular! Also, it's a woman-owned business, and most of the artists are women. So rock that!

Because I know I'll be asked, here are the meanings:
1. Circle of Celtic knots--the knot, in Celtic tradition, is a symbol for life after death as well as neverending love--the same concept as a circle--no beginning or end.
2. Shamrock--probably the best-known symbol of Ireland. And since it truly is incorporated into ancient as well as modern Ireland, I didn't feel cliche in using it. Seriously, this little guy is in architecture, in jewelry, in clothing,'s everywhere.
3. The kitty is Pangur Ban, a character in a poem written by a monk in the 8th century. The poem is about little Pangur hunting mice while the author is hunting words and inspiration. The poem is linked with the Book of Kells, which is an incomprehensibly beautiful illuminated Gospel text. I mean, come on? It's a cat, first of all, but it's also deeply linked to poetry and Irish history culture. The likeness of Pangur here is actually his cartoon character in the movie The Secret of Kells, which came out a few years ago. It's a great movie about--I highly recommend it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Beat Goes On (to Ireland)

For your perusal, here is a quick summary of where we'll be and what we'll be doing, with links in case you want to poke around. I hope to give a day-by-day summary with photos when we return, but it'll likely take me a while. Perhaps a Wednesday evening activity while John is in his graduate classes.

Without further adieu...

We depart on Aer Lingus tomorrow evening to make the overnight 6.5 hour flight into Dublin International Airport. I'm still thinking about how best to handle the overnight thing and the time zone hopping. I'm sincerely hoping to catch as many Zzzs as possible on the plane since that is when I'd be sleeping regardless of what side of the pond I'm on. That way, when we land and it's about 9:00am in Dublin I'll be (sort of) ready to start a new day, even though my old one never really ended.

First up is checking into our hotel, The Burlington, in Dublin. We'll be taking the Ireland equivalent of the Magic Express from the airport to the hotel. Once there, I pray we can check in, shower, and maybe pass out for a while before meeting the tour group at 2 for introductions and a city tour including stops at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trinity College to view the Book of Kells.

Day 2, Monday, October 1, will begin our journey west across the country. Itinerary items include Stroketown Park House, the Famine Museum (I know...sounds like a blast, eh?), and the Shrine at Knock in County Mayo. Tonight we'll lodge in the Downhill House Hotel.

Day 3, Tuesday, October 2, will take us to the coast and to Galway Bay. On the way, we'll be travelling through Westport onward to Connemara, where we'll see Kylemore Abbey, and enjoy the evening doing whatever we want to do before finally nodding off in our room at the Connemara Coast Hotel.

I'm probably most looking forward to day 4, Wednesday, October 3, because we'll be visiting a working farm (Rathbaum Farm)! We'll see how the family lives their daily lives tending to their farm, and when that's done, we'll be welcomed into their home for tea, scones, and friendly chat. First, however, we'll tour Galway Cathedral. Once we've been refreshed at the farm, it's onward to the Cliffs of Moher, of which we'll have a spectacular view since we'll be seated higher in our tour bus than pasenger cars. Last stop of the day is a ferry ride, which will take us across the Shannon Estuary to our next two-day destination of Killarney. Tonight and Thursday we'll be staying in the the Killarney Towers.

Day 5, Thursday, October 4. The entire day will be devoted to the Ring of Kerry on the Ivernaugh Peninsula. We'll see a waterfall and enjoy a hike unless the weather is completely inclement. We'll also have the opportunity to see Muckross Estate. I just bought a good, weatherproof pair of hikers from New Balance in anticipation not only of this excusrion, but of all the walking we'll be doing with th epotential for soggy, muddy ground. Yeh, planning packing's been a bit stressful!

Day 6, Friday, October 5. This is pretty much the ultimate for any trip to Ireland: Blarney Castle. I will not, however, be kissing that nasty stone. I know they shut down a few times during the day to scrub it, but unless I'm #1 post-scrub, not happening. Plus, there is so much more to explore on the grounds that while everyone else is waiting on line to smooch the stone, I plan to wander the various gardens on site and taking in the general majesty of it all. Once we've looked and walked our fill, it's back eastward to Waterford for a tour of the House of Waterford Crystal and flopping into bed at Dooley's.

Our last full day, Saturday, October 6, brings us back to Dublin. Much like Blarney Castle, the Guinness Storehouse is also so quintessentially Irish we might cry. We'll tour the facility and then head up to the tasting room at the tippy top to undertake the Perfect Pour Challenge. Following this, we can spend our remaining hours however we like before heading back to The Burlington for our final sleep in Ireland.

After years of dreaming, months of waiting, and weeks of planning, I can't believe it's finally here, and that we're leaving tomorrow. I get to start my favorite month (October) in the land of my people with my husband. Absolutely amazing, and I am not taking a single second of it for granted. We'll have the computer, and while I won't be blogging while over there, I hope to pop on Facebook and email when we have a chance to check in and keep our family and friends stateside in the loop.

Wishing you all a lovely end of September.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Falling for Fall

And we're into September. I feel like this month always creeps up on me. Once day it's summer and then it's back to school and I'm wishing for the chill air.

Key West was amazing, the wedding was beautiful, and the weather was cooperative. I have most of the pics posted on Facebook, but here are some highlights.

Ending our first day in the keys.

 Starting our second day. At the hotel waiting for the shuttle downtown.
 Trekking to meet the kitties on the Hemingway property.
 My first meeting with a six-toed kitty.
 Getting ready for my first snorkel adventure.
 John, more seasoned of course, headed out to do some more in-depth exploration.
Jenny and Shane exchanging seaside vows at the Key West Garden Club.

A nice shot one of the wedding guests took of me and John on the dance floor.

Next up: Ireland in 24 days! 24, you may be wondering? Yes. We were initially supposed to fly out at the end of October, but we found out last month that that itinerary had been cancelled because not enough people booked those dates. So after an afternoon of freaking out, a few days of thinking, and an afternoon on the phone with our AAA booking agent, we were back on track: an identical itinerary departs on September 29, and ships out regardless of seats sold. So we're all set, albeit about a month earlier!

I'm so extraordinarily excited. It's almost here. My dream is about to come true. I'm so ready to break out my cords, my sweaters, and bask in the 50-degree often cloudy-rainy weather. I'm ready to see sheep and meet an Irish farm family. I'm super ready to check out the swanky Irish hotels we'll be staying in. I'm ready to chase the sun across the Atlantic and watch the Emerald Isle pop into view after hours of black nothingness over the ocean. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I feel like going there will give me some irrefutable sense of self. I've been listening to it call to me for so long, and here I am...about to answer. Purely, absolutely amazing. I take none of it for granted, and plan to do my best to take it all in, and not get caught up in taking the perfect photo, but rather get swept up in every single moment. I'll probably have to break up the debrief post into a few smaller ones, which may be better--I can highlight each stop along the way with its own post.

On my to-do list before we leave is to shape up my garden in preparation for next spring. I have to get all my caladiums in the ground so the bulbs can root in and settle in for a long winter's nap. Then I'll start thinking about fall planting, since I currently have nothing that will bloom once the first frost comes along. I'm open to suggestions for shade-loving cold-weather plants! I've had failed mums because they haven't gotten enough sun. Which is sad because I love mums. So that's where I'm turning my thoughts next.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lapse in Posts

I know I've been super lazy about posting on here. Honestly, I'm not on my computer very much these days beyond checking email and a few other e-visits.

Life has been chugging along, though! We've helped our friends move into their new house, which is thankfully still very close by (seriously, a 5-minute drive). We're now simply waiting for their baby boy to arrive so we can finally meet him. : ) Still feels crazy to say that.

None of you need get any ideas about us, though! We're still very much newlyweds (we get the whole first year to say that!), and are simply enjoying our time as Mr. and Mrs., traveling, and planning for house hunting, as we're learning we're fast outgrowing not only the space in our apartment but also our patience with apartment living.

We're also managing to sneak in lots of mini-trips and activities, too. Sometimes it feels like too many, but then I find that when we have a day with no plans, I get moody and bored very quickly. So I'll take the breakneck speed for now. Part of it may be a sub-conscious reaction to the reality of September now being little more than a calendar flip away, and with that comes my hectic and crazy work schedule, and John's return to graduate classes.

We've already completed our week in Las Vegas (photos on Facebook; I'm too lazy to repost here). It was lots of wonderful time with family, but also lots of wonderful couple time as we had more freedom to roam and do as we pleased this trip since we did all the main touristy things last time. We pretty much lounged by our hotel pool and I acted John's lucky charm at the cards tables in between yummy meals, shows, and general casino-gawking. We spent three days back at my aunt and uncle's house between time on the Strip, and those were days full of...lounging by the pool. haha Lots of girl talk with my aunt, and we also got to meet my cousin's husband and their baby. Probably the best time I had was just sitting on the back deck watching the sun set and the moon rise, and listening to the coyotes howling in the desert beyond. It was spooky and beautiful. There was also an awesome lightning storm over Mt. Charleston on our last night there, which was spectacular. Especially after two glasses of sangria.

Up next is Key West for a college friend's wedding. We'll spend the first day meandering from Ft. Lauderdale out to Key West in our rental car, then spend the next three days exploring Key West, its beaches, and the island life. We'll culminate with the wedding on our last full day, then meander back through the keys en route back to the airport on the fifth day. I can't wait to dig my toes in the sand. And the drive out on the Overseas Highway is going to be breathtaking. My mind is already there...

Most immediately, however, we have the annual DOT Trenton Thunder game tonight, and then the BFF comes over on Saturday, Saturday night John and I are going to a restaurant in Princeton town for a Dogfish Head tap takeover, and Sunday is celebrating birthdays with the Riggis. I also can't wait to get back to the Jersey beaches--Avon is closest and has this amazingly clear water: the waves can be lapping at your shoulders and you can look down and see every single toe. Beautiful. I also miss the boardwalk down in Ocean City, though. It just doesn't feel like a beach day without walking the boards as the sun sets.

There's a lot left to cram into this summer, and I certainly intend to cram!

Until next time, friends, stay tuned for Keys pics.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In Full Swing

Vacation countdown is now in the single-digits: 9 days until Vegas! I'll really have to hunker down one day this week and take inventory of what travel necessities we have, and what I'll need to run out and get. Don't even ask about packing...sigh. But I'm so ready to get away. It feels like Disney was so long ago already (in fact, on this date 8 months ago, we were in the Magic Kingdom! Crazy!).

I'll be home tomorrow, but it won't be for vacation--Hubby is having his wisdom teeth removed. It doesn't sound like a picnic, and I've never had it done, but I'm sure it's much better now than if he had it done even 10 years ago. He'll be home from work for a few days, but should be back in action by week's end. Which is good because we have fun weekend plans and then vacation! Gotta get those chompers ready!

Despite the heat wave, it has been an extraordinarily productive weekend! Yesterday we went to the Adventure Aquarium for the first time since their New Year's Eve gala, and they done so many improvements! They basically redid the whole upstairs section that previously housed the "Weird or Wonderful" section (where the piranhas were) and the tropical section by the alligator and pretty useless area that was good for family photos and little else. In addition to that, a few other permanent exhibits got refurbished, that big old crocodile (Mike) was given the heave-ho in favor of bringing back the former exhibit with lookdowns and ducks and all, but with the addition of some baby nurse sharks, and (to my utter delight!) a baby bonnethead! The main attraction, however, was Sharkfest 2012, with the star attraction being lots of facts and artifacts of megaladon. It again made use of a normally void area, the rotunda, where a life-size "bone structure" of a megaladon was set up and filled with fossils and pictures and other cool stuff. For pictures of this, take a look at my Facebook--in the "2012" album. Lots of goodies there.

Back at home, I had finally hung our two 11X14 wedding prints in nice frames we got from Kohl's. Yes, please enjoy the AARP commercial on the TV--I was too lazy to grab the remote and shut it off. Below, also enjoy the gallery wall I created in our hallway using more wedding photos and a mish-mosh of frames. Also, the big frame that looks empty is actually a document with my favorite conversation from When Harry Met Sally, which my mom typed up and framed for me.

This morning we set up the new printer we bought in anticipation of having to print boarding passes before any local facility (library) would be open, and also we simply needed one. Our previous model had gone on the fritz and refused to print in color long before the wedding, and then Hammy knocked it over and broke it. So we've been without a home printer for over a year. Now we have a nice little model that runs off the wireless so we didn't even have to tether it to John's desktop, and we were able to place it somewhere Hammy can't really send it to the floor.

We spent the very last of our wedding gift cards at Bed, Bath, and Beyond today and got a nice set of 16 "grown up" drinking glasses. Now we've chucked most of our old plastic cups in favor of the pretty new set. We've saved some plastics, of course, for when we're too lazy to handle breakable pieces, but it'll be nice t have guests and set out simple, elegant, and (matching!) drinkware. But how will we know whose is whose, you ask? My friend gave me these funny little suction cup glass markers a while ago, but now we can really get some use out of  them! One set are little monster-type guys, and the other set are little birdies (you can see the boxes in the pic, but didn't think to put them on the glasses in the pics).

Lastly, since I had to make room for all the new glasses, I took the opportunity to gut the kitchen cabinets and clean and re-organize them. I wound up flip-flopping the contents of so the new glasses can be housed together and without fear of getting knocked into/over by other shelf inhabitants. In doing so, I no longer had a use for the shelf divider in either of the two flip-flopped cabinets. But that inspired me further...much like beneath the sink, my spice cabinet has been in desperate life-saving need of a makeover since...well, since we moved in, dang it. So, voila! The shelf divider finally corralled the bottles of spices, etc., that had taken to falling out on my head every time I needed to grab one. Ahhhh.

I figure just when I get this place all organized and perfect, we'll buy a house and I'll have to start all over again. But with that comes the dream of having actual storage space and less need to do the ridiculous things you have to do while living in a small-but-charming (but still small) apartment.

And so, until next time...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Downpours, and lightning, and hail, oh my!

What a wild ride to work this morning! We were at a near-standstill on 295 as rain came down in sheets, and then, if that wasn't enough, hail started pinging off my windshield. Nothing big enough to do damage, but it was still a bit unnerving. Oh yeh, there was some Hollywood-worthy lightning, too. Sheesh! Got to work safely and without incident, if not a little late. The it was intermittently sunny and cloudy the rest of the day with no more showers. Crazy.

After work today I met a friend for dinner while John took care of some errands of his own. I stopped at Target, too, to get some boring things like Febreze and Tide, but also to get two new lampshades! I inherited a nice table lamp, but its shade was a little too Giddy Up Corral for me, so it had to go. And the shade on the Ikea lamp in the living room was pretty much incapable of holding its shape after some 4 years and 2 moves. And so, the home sprucing continues!

Bedside lamp, before:

Bedside lamp, after: breezy and light.

Living room lamp, after (cuz I forgot to take a before apparently).

In backlog sprucing news, I have tackled the problem under the sink! There are two small repairs that are needed--the hot water knob is really wonky; and the pipe sometimes leaks. So there's still an old throwaway bake pan under there to catch drips until we get them repaired. I do love me some organizational helpers!

It came from beneath the kitchen sink...

But then its neatnick cousin visited and we have this...

Next project, new shoe storage. Still searching for something I like to corral the kicks.

And lastly, my once-drowned caladiums (in the front yellow pots) are making an extreme comeback! This is what they looked like a few weeks ago, and below is what the look like now!

Hubby and I spent Saturday at our beloved Ocean City, NJ. We left early, grabbed some Wawa for the cooler, and were on the sand by 9:30. Ahhhh. The air was warm, and so was the water, even if we had to trek through about three feet of broken shards of shells that had washed up in Friday night's storms. We spent hours riding swells, floating around, and laying in the sand.We stumbled upon a wedding--literally. We walked out of a shop on the boardwalk to find OCBP had blocked boardwalk traffic so the bride and her dad could process across and down onto the beach where about 50 guests, a photographer, and her groom were waiting. It was awesome and beautiful. John and I John and I watched for a while, then continued on our way. We even had a delicious and romantic dinner at a restaurant right on the boardwalk.It was my perfect day. We paid a bit in the end, it was our first outing, our pale flesh burned in the relentless sun. But we were strict in reapplying sunblock, so it wasn't too bad, and nothing we can't nurse with nice, cool, from-the-fridge aloe. No pics to share, though, since I had a completely unplugged day. I didn't turn my phone on at all, didn't even take it with me. And likewise left my camera home. I even left my purse, grabbing only the few bare essentials I'd need. Perfect, glorious, blissful. More, please.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summa, summa, summa time!

Heat wave is dominating New Jersey, and our air conditioners are doing their darndest to churn out cold air. Did a little more summerizing around here, and am happy to see my once-drowned but now-rehabilitated caladiums popping back up and opening their leaves. Will post some pics of them soon--just wanna give them some more time to grow tall.

In the meantime, I'm white-knuckling it until Saturday, when John and I will depart for a day at our beloved Ocean City (New Jersey, not Maryland). Gosh I miss my beach. So looking forward to a day in the sand and surf because it's the one time and place I can completely unplug from all worry and ties to real life back on the mainland. Ahhh.

Went to tea with some girlfriends after work today, which was a much-needed disconnect from work. Sipped a delicious ginger peach iced tea, and we split a Mediterranean platter with pita, hummus, babagonoush, and tebolah. Yes, I likely misspelled them, and yes, I'm too lazy to search the proper spelling. Then I stopped off at Target to pick up some last-minute beach essentials (new floppy hat and flops), and also to scope the cute strapless knit dresses that were in the ad for this week. Well, seems I waited too long and all the cute ones in my size got snapped up. Tried one on a size too large and it looked nice, but was juuuust big enough that it didn't fit right. I may cave and order the one I like in the size I need online. Thinking that over. Then...the adventure with the maxi dress.

The maxi dress, folks, is supposed to be the breeziest piece in a woman's summer wardrobe, yes? Throw it on and dash to the grocery store, dockside drinks, twilight dunes...I could feel the breeze in my air as I closed the fitting room door. Then, I realized I might actually be too stupid to navigate one. The spaghetti straps for the slip were attached to the overlay so they'd stay together while in the store. This bamboozled me because the dress could not be shimmied up over my hips, so I had to put it on over my head. Because the straps were attached, I kept getting both arms through both straps, and the overlay was choking me. This happened in varying maddening degrees long past when I should have given up. But finally, I flipped the overlay inside-out, pulled the slip on (arms in the proper holes) and then flipped the overlay over my head and into place. Badda bing! Had I stepped out of the fitting room, everyone would have though I just woke up looking fabulous, never knowing I was struggling like a mofo behind closed doors.

Will post pics of the new stuff later on, but for now, summer in my dining room:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Improvements on the Homefront

Subtle though they may be. I've got the bug...the I-wish-it-was-summer-now bug. Not because I'm aching for the heat and humidity we're currently experiencing to stay for good, but because it will mean the annual calm-down at work, vacations galore, BBQs, and lazy hazy days spent at the beach or lake.

I initially intended to wait to start busting out the summer decor until next weekend, as a celebration of post-commencement happiness. But alas, after a feverish afternoon of shopping for fun things like fans and vacuums, I couldn't help myself. I assembled said fan and vacuum as soon as we got home, then got down to changing up the bedding, arranging a new dining room centerpiece, swapping out the shower curtain, and putting said new vacuum to use. Oh, yeh, baby!

Why am I so freakishly excited about a new vacuum? Our old one functioned rather well despite its age (John got it as a hand-me-down when he started college--I'll let you do the math). But it was a Bissel, and those suckers (haha) are built to last. It was starting to wear out, however, and I really wanted one with the attachment to inhale the mounds of cat hair that are piling up. And holy crap is it amazing! Revolutionary! Life-changing! I don't know if Hammy hasn't yet realized that this is a whole new monster (he was, of course, terrified of the older model), or mybe this one isn't as loud/audibly upsetting to him, but he remained in the room while I vacuumed, simply starting at the thing as if he wasn't quite sure whether or not to trust it.

The tower fan for the kitchen was a long-overdue necessity. As the kitchen is the only room in the house without a cross-breeze, when you couple that fact with the fact that the back of the house bakes in the sun pretty much from 1:00 onward, it gets rather sweltering in there. Doing dishes, cooking...forget it. You better hit the showers afterward. We meant to get one last year, but just never got around to it. This year it was at the top of the to-do list.

The last new and exciting piece was a towel rack for the bathroom door. Our current one had been with us since our first apartment, and performed admirably until the bottom rung broke and I kludged it back together with duct tape. Except that it recently reached a point where I could kludge no more. So we happened upon a great replacement at Target today, and we took it on home. It even has an awesome little shelf that's handy for solving another ongoing problem: lack of storage. We can now keep extra hand and face towels right there. Ahhh.

Here are some pics, cuz I know you're dying to see and be as excited as I am! Happy almost-summer, everyone! Make sure you toast our veterans and military personnel this weekend. I have a handful in my own life I'm thankful for.

 Oh, hey there, good-lookin. You must be the new kid.

Behold, my new cleaning obsession:

Ahh, this truly makes such a difference.

Goodbye, old busted towel rack.

Hello new multi-tasking genius!

My mom made the napkin rings--they look like life savers and say S.S. Riggi on them.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Garden: Check!

Well, it's as complete as it's going to be. My caladiums flooded and the bulb rotted, but I repotted and mixed in new, dry soil so maybe they're dry out and bounce back. I'm not giving up on them yet. : )

Here are some shots of what things currently look like now that the complex's landscapers have re-edged the flower beds and put down fresh mulch. Now the plants pop against the black background instead of blending in with the brown dirt. Just posting the before and afters. If you want to compare the whole process, read down one post.

Full garden, before:

Full garden, after:

Section one, before:

Section one, after:

Section two, before:

Section two, after:

End garden, before:

End garden, after:

And here is my Shepard's hook, finally completed with bird feeder and lantern:

I've also recently gutted and reorganized and cleaned the hallway coat closet, but forgot to take pics. But boy does it make me smile every time I go in there. Versus the anxiety-inducing cringing that used to happen. Next up: It Came from Beneath the Kitchen Sink! That is the other black hole...I hope to also take that from nightmare to dream. Stay tuned.

And eventually I'll pop back on with some pictures of recent baking adventures. Hello, muchstaches. 

For now, off to enjoy the balmy day with the bestie.