Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Conan filming in Atlanta

Our amazing friends, the C&C fun factory, were great enough to take us to the first Conan taping here in Atlanta.  (He is here all week filming before the Final Four.)

Stephen saw his ads for Conan State University and we had to participate.  Stephen gets 100% credit for our hats.  He wrapped the baseball caps in fabric and glued it all together and even made the tassels!  What a man.

Click here to see the rest of the pictures from Monday night.

The show was so much fun.  Our night, the guest was Seth Rogen and he brought a clip of his upcoming film, This Is the End, releasing in June.  He was hilarious and told some pretty great stories.  You can catch the trailer for the movie here.   I laugh every time I watch it.

There was one bit where Conan had a Georgia Peach fight with a Florida Orange... let's just say he was kissing up to his GA crowd.  However, when he put on a UGA shirt, he was booed - so that made up for making fun of FL.

Team COCO!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Four Ingredient Pancakes

Sunday morning we woke up to a very cold Atlanta morning.  We had one injured dog (Goose cut his paw, just like a puppy) and neither of us were really in the mood to do much in terms of cooking.  I headed to the kitchen to whip up a healthy, quick breakfast.  I could have gone with eggs, but that seemed predictable, so pancakes it was.

I remembered seeing a recipe for Greek Yogurt Pancakes from Julie of the blog Peanut Butter Fingers.  Click here for that recipe.  I assumed that the recipe on the blog was for one so I doubled it for the two of us, we could always freeze leftovers.

I used:
4 egg whites
12 oz of fat free Greek Yogurt
1.5 cups of old fashioned oats
3 strawberries

Pancakes were also a great excuse to use my immersion blender.  Every time I use it I forget how much I love it.  I blended the ingredients and then cooked like you would any other pancakes.  The mix will be thick, make sure you have your temp right on the stove

I could have used a couple more strawberries but ours looked pretty bad so I went with what I had.

They were so good and so easy!  And with those ingredients, you know they were healthy, too.  (Ignore the maple syrup that I poured all over mine!)

Next time I'll try with some bananas and blueberries.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

It was a Sunday morning, I have no photographic evidence of this breakfast.  Sorry!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sunburst Mirror using Shims

I thought I'd have so much more time to craft and clean the house and basically fill my time with fun stuff after the wedding and holidays past.  Boy, I was wrong!  We have been so incredibly busy the past few months I haven't really had too much time around the house to be crafty.

We did have a cold weekend a few weeks back and I decided it was time to make something for above our bed.  It was a huge empty, white space that was in desperate need of some pop of color.

The mirror is perfect for the space
Of course I turned to Pinterest and was drawn to the many Sunburst Mirrors out there.  Like this one and this one and this one.  Ultimately I was drawn to this one from Tonya of the Love Of Family & Home blog.

I gathered all of my supplies:

  • 3 packages of shims from The Home Depot (I only used 2)
  • Gorilla Glue Wood Glue, you'll need a lot
  • Craft Paint
  • Circular picture frame with hanging hook already in place
  • 5" mirror
  • Sandpaper
Some bloggers have noted using a scrap piece of plywood and a picture framing hook instead of the picture frame and to be honest that was my plan, but I found a 12 inch circular picture frame at Michael's for $3 and grabbed it.  

My first step was to go through the packages of shims and find all the pretty ones.  You'll know what I mean.  You want some uniformity across the shims, so make sure you pull out the ones that look the best and are the strongest.  Once you have all of the shims, it's time to sand them down.  You can probably skip this step, but I wanted to make sure I didn't have random wood splinters sticking off of some of the shims.  It will take 10 minutes to sand them, just do it.  Also, if you're going to attach your hanging kit to the back of your scrap plywood, do it now.  Don't wait until the shims are glued down!  Once those babies are attached, it is very difficult to move around.  

Painting and gluing begins
Once everything was sanded, I laid out the pattern that I wanted for the sunburst.  There are so many ways you can go with this, do what makes you happy.  I chose to lay my shims flat, others have made a design with the shims on their side.  Be creative.  When you have your layout worked out, with a light pencil, mark your layers if you're like me and did two layers with different colors.  This keeps everything organized when it's time to paint.  

I painted each of my shims their appropriate color (leaving the backside unpainted) and let them dry overnight.  I probably didn't need to wait that long, but I wanted to be sure the wood glue would have no problem sticking.  I would have also painted my picture frame (or plywood) the color of the bottom layer, but I didn't.  Learn from me.  Do it.  

When the paint was dry, it was time to glue.  I used Gorilla Glue Wood Glue and I wasn't shy about how much I used.  I put a generous amount on the back of each shim and placed them down on the picture frame.  To make sure they stayed in place and that the glue held them down with no chance of them falling onto our faces in the middle of the night I put a scrap piece of paper on top of the shims where they were glued down and then put the two heaviest, thickest books I had on top.  I left them there over night.  I wanted those suckers to stay.  In the morning, I removed the books and let the glue dry the rest of the day while I was at work.  The following night it was time to add the 2nd layer.  Because these overlapped I only did 3-4 of these at a time.  Same process - generous amounts of wood glue, placed on the picture frame, held down with heavy books overnight.  I wasn't planning on the project taking a week, but it did.  

Once all the shims were in place and there is no chance that they're coming off, attach the mirror.  Same process - lots of wood glue, heavy books overnight.  I actually left the books on the mirror for a full 24 hours, just to be safe.  

When it was ready to go Stephen and I measured and hung it on the wall!  (Shhh - it may have taken 3 time to get it right, but all evidence is hidden.)  I love it.  Even the small mirror makes such a difference in the room, reflecting the light from the window.  The finished project is 3.5' to 4' across, not a small piece of art.  Yours will depend on how you place your shims, so make sure you have enough space and measure while you're laying it all out in the beginning.  

While I was taking pictures of the mirror on the wall, Mabel wanted to get in on the action.  I saw her coming towards the bed while I was taking pictures and I waited to see what she was going to do.  

Classic photobomb.  She jumped up on the bed, right in front of me and sat there.  I love it.  She knew something other than her had my attention and she was jealous.  I love that pup.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bon Jovi at Philips Arena

I'm not the biggest Bon Jovi fan out there, but I enjoy some 80s and 90s rock every now and then.  When some tickets showed up at work and nobody else took them, I jumped on them and invited 3 ladies I knew would have a great time with me.

Jon Bon Jovi turns 51 on Saturday, March 2.  The man still puts on an amazing show.  He dances and runs around the stage the entire set.  I'm not sure I could keep up that enthusiasm for two hours and I'm 20 years younger than he is.

I'm not one for pictures during a concert because I'd much rather enjoy the show than spend time fumbling with my camera so I don't have any shots of them in action.  Here is the set list, pretty long - 26 songs!

Source: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com via accessatlanta.com
About one minute into I'll Be There for You something crazy happened with the speakers and everyone stopped playing.  Richie even ducked and joked that it sounded like they were being shot at.  Being the professionals that they are they picked up at the first verse as if nothing happened.  After the song ended Jon said, "At least now you know we aren't using a tape."  I have no idea what the noise could have been.  Keep on rocking Jon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Learning to Sew - Step 1

One of the things I'm sad that I don't know how to do yet is sew.  My mom is a great seamstress and she always told us stories about how she would make her own clothes.  Stephen's grandma could make anything with a sewing machine.  Stephen has an overcoat made by his grandma, Goose has a jacket, we have a soft sided cooler and so many other things around the house that she made for us.  It seems silly that I don't know how to sew.  And with how much DIY stuff I want to do around the house, I should be able to make my own curtains and pillows.  OH, and quilts!  My grandma was a quilter and I'd love to be able to make quilts for friends and family.

We put a sewing machine on our wedding registry and one of our great friends bought it for us (me).  It's been 6 months and I've finally cleared off space on the desk in the office so I could set it up.  Isn't it pretty!?!  It looks so small in the photo because of where I was standing, but it's normal sized.  That booklet in the photo is the size of a regular piece of paper.  Here is a link to the machine on Amazon.

Step One to learning to sew: I started reading the booklet on how to set it up and what all of the moving pieces do, but it's still a foreign language to me.  There are so many terms that I've never heard before, there will definitely be a learning curve.  Tonight I pan on figuring out how to actually load up the thread and hopefully see how the baby moves.  There are more than 30 stitches that it can do and it came with every needle and foot attachment that I could ever want.  And yes, it came with a quilting foot, so I'm set there.

Once I know I can sew a straight line and I've made some curtains and/or pillows, I want to try my hand at a quilt for a baby.  The couple who bought us the sewing machine is pregnant with their first baby and I'd love to make them a quilt with the gift they gave us.  We'll see if that happens.  I always think really far in advance...

There is a ton of fabric in the background of the photo.  I look pretty over zealous if I'd already gone out and purchased all of that stuff.  It was actually a gift from Stephen's grandma for Christmas.  She knew I wanted to learn to sew and wanted to teach me and her garage was full of cabinets of fabric.  I could take any that I wanted.  Just a few days after Christmas she passed away.  I never got got my lesson in sewing from Grandma, but knowing that all of that fabric is from her makes me think of her every time I see it.  And the stacks actually go up a few more rolls in each column.

I already have a board of projects and tutorials on Pinterest that I want to try soon.  I'll keep updating as I get better and better with my machine.  I may even take a class or two.  My mother-in-law is also a great seamstress and has offered to sit with me a few times to teach me a thing or two.  This could be the start of something beautiful.

Anyone else recently learn to sew?  What were your biggest challenges and how quickly were you able to pick it up?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fencing in the Backyard

We finally did it!  The dogs can now play in the backyard without having to be on leashes.  It's only been up 3 days and it feels like a world of a difference.

Stephen and I have been talking about fencing in the yard for a while, even before we got Goose.  Then it became, "We won't get another dog until we fence in the yard."  Obviously that didn't pan out, we fell in love with Goose almost a year ago.  Then it was, "After the wedding we'll fence in the yard."  And then life got in the way.

We actually had a few contractors come out to give us some price quotes back in September, but one thing lead to another and then it was the crazy holidays and it never went up.  So here we are, February, and the fence is finally up.

The team from Allied Fence, who we found through The Home Depot, finished the job in one day.  (Probably would have been a bit faster had they brought the correct cedar wood, they brought pine and we had paid for cedar.)  We couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  You can't tell from the photo above but at one point we could see 7 houses from our back deck.  Not much privacy.  Now, we can see the rooftops of a few of those houses and some of them are completely blocked from view.

The dogs don't quite get that they can be out there without us yet, but they're getting it.  Stephen and I love to stand in the backyard and watch them run around.  It's freedom and space that we were able to give to them and they're paying us back with big, tongue out of their mouths smiles.  Goose even learned to play fetch with a stick.  He's only had balls and ropes.  It is adorable to see him learn something new.  He's so proud when he gets the stick from Mabel.

Goose is worn out from running.  Mabel and Goose chase a ball.  Goose looks like he is peeing on the wall - he's actually jumping off the corner.  Mabel is running so fast she's blurry.  

You can see in these pictures that the backyard as a giant wall towards the back.  There is definitely room to go on top and up by the fence, and the dogs have loved exploring up there.  We've been tossing around the idea of adding some big planters back there.  There is lot of concrete up there, so I'm not sure much would grow in the ground anyway.

We'll also need to get some grass seed down.  We haven't really used the backyard because there wasn't a fence, now it's time to clean it up.  It's not a huge yard, but it's perfect for us.  And Mabel and Goose couldn't love it any more than they do.  (This morning Goose was hopping around the yard.  Acutally hopping.)

We've also talked about repainting that wall.  Any thoughts on colors?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

60 Stories for a 60th birthday

My dad is a very special man.  I'm 100% a Daddy's girl.  I'm not sure how that came to be, but I think it has always been.

Like most Irish Catholic men, my dad is a storyteller.  He loves to tell stories and is very good at it.  The more beer you get in him, the funnier and longer the stories become, too.  It's fantastic.

Dad is turning 60 today, Valentines's Day, and in my eyes, that's a big deal.  I didn't know exactly what to get him, I've purchased more than my share of golf balls and golf shirts, so I turned to Pinterest.  Not even really looking I came across a story about a daughter who had friends and family write down stories about her dad.  She wanted 60 stores to share with him on his 60th birthday.  For a man who enjoys a good story like my dad, this is perfect.  That post can be found here.

Two months before his birthday I reached out to all of Dad's siblings and immediate family.  I wanted to get 60 stores for my dad's 60th.  Through a lot of follow-up emails and hounding some people, I did it.  I got to 60!  (To be honest, if everyone had participated I would have cleared 100, easy, but I'm okay with reaching my goal.  I know people are busy.  Too busy to write a few sentences in an email...I'll stop)

As each one came in, some emailed, some hand written and mailed to me, I placed it in an envelope and numbered it.  Some letters came in with multiple stories, some were inside jokes that I'm sure only my dad will understand written on a notecard.  For letters that had more than one story on a page, I counted the stores in the letter and numbered accordingly.  I purchased plain envelopes at a Paper Affair and used stamps for the numbers.  I think using stamps vs. having numbers printed on the envelopes really makes a difference.  The stamps feel much more personal and because they aren't perfectly straight each time, there is a handmade quality about them.  In the end, I think I ended up with 28 envelopes with 60 stories.

I'm so excited.  I can't wait for him to sit down with a glass of wine or beer and be taken back to days throughout his lifetime.  I won't be able to be there with him when he opens his gift, but I'm looking forward to the phone call after.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tartan Trot 10k

For the past few weeks I've been teaming up with fellow blogger/UF Grad/awesome person, Lisa, as we work towards our personal running goals.  Last month I set some goals for myself and I was worried about how I was going to stay motivated to reach them.  I want to get to a 10:00/mile for a 10k (a 5k first) and I want to run at least 10 miles each week for the full year.  I also set a goal to run one race a month.  Stephen doesn't share my love of races and finding time for both of us to run after work is hard so I was looking at doing a lot of this solo.

I joined a gym in December to stay in shape through the winter and to get a head start on my training for the Half Dome hike this summer.  It's been very helpful having a treadmill on these dark, cold winter nights after work.

I ran a 5k in January right by my house and posted a picture on Instagram.  Lisa did the same thing.  We soon realized that we had pretty similar running goals and I joined up with her and some of her friends who were already running together.  We're like our own little running club.  It's been great to have people to keep me motivated.  Even waking up at 8:30am on a Saturday to head to the park isn't too bad when you know you're meeting friends.

My first race, the February race, with Lisa and friends was the Tartan Trot in Dunwoody.  There was a 5k and a 10k.  Two of us ran the 5k and two of us ran the 10k.  We had a great time, even if it was 30 degrees at the start of the race.  It was so cold that after I took my phone out it's case to take a picture it stopped working because it was so cold.  I didn't have music or my pace keeper lady from my running app.

I ran the 10k and even with the crazy cold, the 2 awful hills and not having music or anyone telling me how fast I was running, I beat my previous 10k time by four minutes!  I finished the Tartan Trot in 1:05:17, that's a 10:32/mile pace.  Much better than the 11:00+/mile runs that I'd been running.

We have a 5k in March, right after my birthday and hopefully I'll be even closer to a 10:00/mile by that time.

We look like we're going for a run in the snow

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Lentil Soup

Source: Real Simple

Last night I had the house to myself and that's when I'm most comfortable trying new recipes.  If I mess up I can always have a bowl of cereal when I'm home alone.  If Stephen is home and I mess something up I feel awful, so trying new things becomes much more stressful.  (However, I do enjoy having him there with me when I'm cooking for reassurance when I try something new.  I sound crazy.)

This soup is called the Winter Lentil Soup from RealSimple.com.  When I read the recipe I was a little nervous because I've never cooked with lentil, leeks or kale.  Typically that alone would immediately make me skip the soup, but I love a good veggie soup and I wanted to try to find one that could become a staple in our house during the colder months.

I followed the directions with a few minor adjustments after reading a few of the comments.

  • I added some extra lentils, probably 3/4 of a cup instead of 1/2 a cup
  • I added the kale 15 minutes into cooking the lentil.  My publix also doesn't sell kale in bunches, it is already chopped up in a bag - I used about 5 handfuls.  I have no idea how close that is to what I should have used.
  • I didn't drain the tomatoes before adding them, I wanted to keep some of that tomato juice in the broth after I added the water
  • I didn't top with cheese
Overall, the soup was a huge success.  I even got seconds.  I had two servings last night and we have 4 servings for leftovers, so I'd say it serves 6, maybe 7 depending on any side dishes.  Each serving is 226 calories, and that is including the cheese.  I don't feel bad at all for having 2 servings!

Give it a try.  Now that I've cooked with lentils, kale and leeks I can say that there was never anything to be afraid of in the first place.  This is such a good vegetarian soup!

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Wow - I haven't posted in a very long time.  To anyone out there who has missed my posts, I apologize!

We are 18 days into 2013, but it's better late than never: Here are my 2013 Resolutions.

  1. Run 10 miles a week
  2. Hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
  3. Finally hit a 10 minute mile running pace
  4. Read 12 books
  5. Visit all 3 of my sisters
I'm always working towards being more patient.  I think that's my biggest character flaw.  I get frustrated very easily.  And God forbid if something doesn't go according to plan, sometimes I don't know how to handle it.  But I'm aware of these "traits" and I'm working on making them better.

What are some of your resolutions for 2013?  Big plans for the new year?