Monday, May 31, 2010

May Wrap Up

Geesh! I can't believe it's already the last day of the month!!!! This year is seriously flying by! Today I wrapped up all of the little nagging things on my list. I took care of transferring a Netflix gift certificate that my husband got for his birthday to our Netflix account, so that we won't get charged for the next three months (nice!) and I finally sent out an Evite for my future sister-in-law's bachelorette party and bridal shower weekend. There are a lot of out of town friends on the guest list and several people are trying to plan vacation time, etc. Jaime sent me the e-mails for everyone on the guest list two weeks ago and I just hadn't sat down to get that Evite out! I'm glad I finally tackled that today! I also finally (a month late) scanned our tenant's renewed lease and e-mailed it to him so he would have a copy. Last year I am pretty sure that I never scanned and sent it to him, so I guess a month late is better than nothing! (right???)

I also worked on two fun little projects. The first was fixing a broken picture frame that Jaime had given me two years ago. I love the frame, but somehow the glass in the left picture frame broke. If she gave it to me two years ago, then that glass has been broken for 1 year and 11 months.

So, I went to Goodwill, armed with my 10% off coupon that I received a few days earlier for making (another) donation... and I found this picture frame that I paid a whopping 91 cents for!

I switched out the good glass from my new Goodwill frame for the old broken glass... and... viola! All fixed! Now the fun part... figuring out where to hang it and what pictures to put in it!!

The second project I worked on was a box to keep my baby book and Andy's baby book and some keepsakes. I looked for a suitable box at Walmart, but couldn't find anything cheap enough to fit my budget, so I just took an old box we had here at the house and covered it with some cute baby wrapping paper that I had. Everything fits in it perfectly! Eventually I'd like to find something with a lid, but this will certainly do for now!

There is one more thing left on my list and that was to read the bible study book that I borrowed from my neighbor. I've finished the book, but I'm going to write that post tomorrow when I'm not so tired! And then I suppose I'll need to get June's list up! Eeeek!

Our Home Improvement Weekend

Well, my husband and I definitely had a nice, but productive long weekend! We tackled a bunch of projects around the house. My grandparents were also here visiting until Sunday. We spent a lot of time relaxing and spending time with family, but last night and today we got to work!

I worked on cleaning out a dresser that I had put in the room that will eventually be Andy's "big boy" room. Up until last month, I had actually totally & completely forgot that I had anything in that dresser! Ha! It was FULL (all 4 drawers) of my stuff. Clothes, socks, maternity clothes, etc. I sorted through it and weeded out things for Goodwill and things to keep and move to my closet. The dresser is now empty. As it should be since it will eventually need to hold Andy's clothes!

I also spackled the holes in the wall from the baby gates we had at the top and bottom of the stairs. Andy ripped the downstairs one off the wall a while ago and finally ripped the one off the top of the stairs last month. Sigh. So, I spackled, sanded and painted over those areas. Looks much better now! the door frame to our bedroom... ummm... I bought this chair for a steal on Craigslist last month, but it wouldn't fit through our bedroom door...

So, we took the door off it's hinges, and the chair still wouldn't fit... so we pried a piece of the door frame off...

Not very evenly I might add! Last night I had to chisel away at some of the wood to even it up. Andy had just gone to bed when I started hammering (I knew I had at least 15-20 minutes before he'd fall asleep anyway)... and my heart just melted when I heard him start hammering in his crib (he had taken his plastic hammer to bed with him) every time that I would hammer! It was just sooooooo darn cute!

Today I nailed a new trim piece on, caulked the sides and brushed on two coats of paint. Good as new!

Next I worked on the handrail in our bedroom. Since our room is over the garage, we actually have 3 steps down from the hallway to our room. I took the handrail off the wall when I painted, but never put it back up.

Matt (and Andy) held it in place for me so I could screw it back into the wall. It's nice to have it back on the wall and OFF of our bedroom floor!

The next thing I tackled was actually a new project! I have been wanting to put a shelf above our back door in our kitchen pretty much since we moved in. I bought two wooden brackets and a board. I primed and painted them and then hung them up. I LOVE how it looks! I stuck some vases and pitchers up there that I had around the house, but I'm not going to keep that arranged the same way. I'm thinking I'd like to put some letters up there spelling out a word or two (not sure what yet) with a few pottery pieces... but we'll see.

The last two things I tackled today were cleaning our the junk cabinet in our kitchen (you know it's bad when you clean out and organize your junk drawer, and then start a junk cabinet!)

AND... I pressure washed our driveway!!!! Matt pressure washed the front of the house and the front porch and since I was dying to use the pressure washer (there might be something wrong with me) and I've been so sick of sweeping the driveway...I pressure washed it! It was SOOOO gratifying to blast all that dirt off! It looks like a totally new driveway! We've owned our house for almost a year so, it was definitely time!

I feel like there are so many more things I want to do around the house, but when I look back at all we've accomplished in a year, I'm pretty proud of us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Painting The Office

Okay, so I know it seems like I'm a little behind on my list this month, but really, I'm not too bad! I have a lot of things in progress. Some of my resolutions this month just can't be finished in a day. (well, they could if I wasn't also trying to keep up with a million and a half other things!)

Today was a little hectic. I had some errands to run this morning, I finished painting the office (YAYE!!!), put together a recipe book for my friend Heather who is due with her second little girl ANY day now (we all made her frozen meals for after the baby comes and I put together a recipe book for her with all the meals we made! Fun! I love projects like that), got together with friends to give Heather her meals and book and take her out to her favorite tex-mex place for dinner, came home and cleaned the heck out of my house in preparation for my grandparents coming into town tomorrow afternoon, cleaned my floors in preparation for babysitting for my friend's two year old and six month old tomorrow morning and finally I went for a run. Let's just say, sitting on the couch right now feels REALLY good!

Okay, so remember when I posted about getting the office cleared out? Yes, well... that didn't exactly last very long. I will say, that the rooms that I have finished and decorated have stayed clutter free (for the most part), but since the office wasn't done yet, it became my collection room. A lot of the stuff that's in there is office stuff... but still! No excuse! This is what it looked like the other day before I tackled the painting...

Ummm... ya... I can see a Medela hand breast pump in that picture! That doesn't qualify as "office stuff" so clearly I was just throwing anything in there!

Okay, so I moved some stuff out, pushed the rest of the stuff to the middle and started painting! This is what the walls look like now...

I am completely in love with the color! I've never painted a room this dark a shade of blue before.

I think it looks GREAT against the hardwood floors!

So, next month I will be tackling the actual furnishing of the office. Now, our budget for this room is practically nothing. I have already bought a desk with hutch off of Craig's List for $60. I'll be refinishing that in June. I'll also need some lumber or MDF to build my "addition" onto the desk. We need some sort of seating as well. That will definitely need to come from Craig's List or a consignment or thrift store. I would like to do a chandelier instead of the flush mount light fixture, so I plan to scour the Habitat for Humanities Home Stores that we have in our area until I find something cheap that I can refinish. My biggest splurge that I will have to save up for will be the area rug I saw at Target that I would like in here. I can't WAIT to get started on this room!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our New Flag

Today we hung up a flag on our front pillar! I've been wanting to do this for a while, so I am excited to finally have it up! We didn't have much money to spend, so I couldn't get any kind of fancy flag pole. I had looked at flags at Walmart once before and knew the price, so I was excited the other day when I found them on sale! The flag and pole set was $19. So, I bought it!

Well... last night I went to Home Depot to buy paint for the office (soooooooooo in love with the paint color I picked, so hopefully I'll still be in love with it when it's on the wall! ha ha Hopefully I can start on that tomorrow). Anyway... we had some kind of crazy thunderstorm, serious rain, wind and hail storm here yesterday that started about 2 minutes after I walked in the door at the H.D. Needless to say, I was trapped inside wandering around for about an hour (oh, darn!...another excuse to stand and read every home improvement magazine available!) So, while I was wandering, I found the same exact flag and pole set that I had bought at Walmart... but it was $6 cheaper! So, I bought the one at Home Depot and returned the one to Walmart. Really, when does that ever happen? I never find things cheaper at Home Depot than Walmart.

Anyway, the pole was a light color wood and our house is red with a dark brown door and shutters. I picked up some spray paint and got to work!

This was the pole before...

And here it is drying on my clothesline! It has a clip at the top to hold the flag up, so I just clipped it to the line so it could dangle and dry!

Then I started to drill the pilot holes in the pillar... got about half way through... and called my husband in to finish the job because I don't know WHAT those pillars are made of, but I was not strong enough to drill far enough in.

I love it!!!

We've never had a flag out in front of our house before. I'm really glad we do now! I've started on several other projects on my list, but haven't finished any to blog about yet. I'm planning to get the office paint cut in tomorrow and then hopefully get it rollered on the walls on Wednesday.

I also started reading a book that my neighbor lent to me that she read in her bible study. So far it has been really good and very thought provoking. I'm excited to post about it when I'm finished.

I've also been really bad about watching what I've been eating in, I haven't been. I haven't weighed myself at all, so that's why that number hasn't changed on the side of my blog. I'm operating under the assumption that if I don't actually weigh myself, then as far as I know I've lost 15 lbs and haven't gained any back. That's probably accurate, right? Well, I'll be getting on the scale tomorrow. My husband has been doing the P90X workouts and is following the eating plan. On Sunday we planned all of our meals for the week and I'm going to follow the plan with him. Basically it just means no eating or drinking anything bad for me. Sigh. However... I know it will help me shed a lot of these extra pounds, and that is worth it if it helps me get pregnant again, and look good in my bridesmaid dress in September!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Starting Potty Training

Today we started potty training....dun, dun, dun! I think it went pretty well for the first day. Andy will be 21 months old at the end of May and he has started showing a few signs of being ready to potty train. We'll see. People keep telling me that there is a small window of time now, or I can wait until after he turns 2. I don't really understand why there is a window now... that I guess goes away?? But that is what I keep hearing.

Anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading lately about different methods of potty training. I have no idea what is ultimately going to work for us, or if Andy is indeed ready, or if he is in this mysterious window of time... but here is what I have done so far...

A few weeks ago I bought a potty chair from Target to put in his bathroom upstairs. The seat is covered in frogs and turtles, so at least that part is a big hit! I also got the potty chair from my husband's childhood out of the garage and set it up in the bathroom downstairs. We started talking about the potty, bought a potty book to read and started sitting on it a few times a day. One time he told me he had to poop so we went and sat on the chair and he did #1 instead, but I made a big deal about it, he got an M&M, etc.

Well, this morning we started our first round of more intense training. We stayed home this morning and spent a few hours downstairs (on the hard floors and AWAY from the carpet!) without any diaper on. I also moved his potty chair into the kitchen for the morning. He got to drink as much watered down apple juice as his little heart desired. This kid LOVES. TO. DRINK! He will suck down two large sippy cups full of milk in about 2 minutes... only stopping to ask for more in between!

When he would start to go to the bathroom I would take him immediately to the potty chair. If he went in the chair, I made a big deal and he got an M&M. We got to the point where he would stop what he was doing if he had to go to the bathroom and yell "POOP!" and then start peeing on the floor (so there might be some confusion as to which is which! ha ha) but immediately stop and go to the chair... once on his own, the other times with my help... and finish going IN the potty!

I'm considering that a success for today. I think that for the next two days I'll just have him sit on the potty several times during the day and then we'll do another session like this morning on Monday. My neighbor lent me a book tonight to read as well, so I'll go through that this weekend and see what else I should add that I think might work for Andy.

I definitely DON'T want to force this, especially since it's early, so I'm just going to see how he does. If he resists, then we will stop and revisit it later. He's a pretty smart kid, so I think he is going to get the concept pretty quickly, but I'm not sure he'll really care. He would stay in a dirty diaper all day if I didn't change him. It just doesn't bother him. So, that part of it makes me wonder if he even cares to be clean and dry!

We'll see! I'm glad we have started the process and I'll take his lead from here on what he is ready for.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baby Pictures

Over the past few days I have been working at putting all of the pictures from Andy's first year onto a disk. I thought this was going to be pretty easy. Of course, I was wrong.

When I sat down to do this on Saturday night, I realized that I couldn't find 90% of his one year pictures on my desk top! I thought that maybe they were actually on Matt's lap top since mine stopped working last year and it took me a good three months to take it to get fixed. However, when I checked his computer, they weren't there either.

Then, it all started coming back to me.... I actually started this project sometime in the fall. I remember putting the pictures on a disk, but not finishing it. The disk never got labeled and Lord only knows what has happened to it since! The kicker?... I was doing it to help clean up my desktop, so I deleted all of those pictures after I put them on the disk! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

My solution? I remembered that I have e-mailed pretty much every picture worth putting in an album to my Mom. So, I went into my sent mail box in gmail and searched for everything I had sent to my Mom from August 2008 - August 2009 (which was... ummm...hundreds!) Then I looked for every e-mail with an attachment and re-copied all of the pictures I had sent her back to my desk top. This took a little over two hours.

Tonight I copied them all onto a disk labeled in HUGE letters with a INDUSTRIAL Super Permanent Ink Sharpie from my husband's work bench. Now, I just need to figure out what to do with them all! I'm going to be realistic here and say that there is NO WAY I am going to get a one year scrapbook done. That is not a precedent I want to set! I just got our wedding album put together for goodness sake!... Four and a half years late!... Plus, my future siste-in-law (boy it will sure be nice when I can just start saying SISTER-IN-LAW! Although I guess this is better than what I used to say when I would talk about her which was "my friend Jaime who is also dating my brother." We were friends for seven or eight years before she started dating Jeff, so I didn't want to short change our friendship by just calling her "my brother's girlfriend")... anyway... I digress... Jaime made me a scrapbook that is already put together and just waiting for pictures, so I do have that! Yaye! And I'll pick some pictures out and put that together next month. But what to do with all the other pictures? I think that since I have so many photo pages left over from the wedding album, I'll just buy an album to start putting all of Andy's photos in and maybe divide it by year. I do like the look of those bound books that you can order with the pictures printed right on the pages, but they are too pricey for our budget right now. If I could find a good deal on them (which I do see from time to time) then maybe I'll do one of those instead.

Maybe I need to Google photo archiving and see what kind of systems people use! Sigh... that's a task for another month! For now, I'm just glad to have year one stored in one place!

Oh, and I am also crossing another thing off my list... I called Verizon and had them take the Internet access off of my cell phone. Andy had signed me up for a $5 a month plan. Fantastic. I have to watch him like a hawk with anything electronic!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trip to The Post Office = Three Thing Off My List!

Last night I worked on several of the small things on this month's resolution list. As usual, I'm leaving all of the bigger projects until the end of the month (well, except for the landscaping). The first thing I did was take care of sending back a baby sling I had that had been recalled. This wasn't a huge deal... I just had to follow the directions and cut part of the sling off to send back and fill out a form and print the shipping label. It's just such a pain right now any time I need to print anything since we don't have a desk set up. Getting the printer out and hooking it up at the kitchen table always seems like a nuisance, so I tend to put that stuff off.

The reason I am annoyed with myself is because I waited so long to send this in. When the recall originally came out and I looked at the replacement products, they had a wrap and tie type carrier available. They must be all out of those because it wasn't an option last night when I filled out my form. Instead I'm getting the Infantino equivalent of the Baby Bjorn carrier. Which is fine, but we already have something similar. Anyway, I cut off the section I was supposed to (NOT that easy, since I had to cut through a zipper. Even with my Cutco scissors, it was hard!) and I packaged it up to mail.

Next, I printed and filled out the form from the city to register the alarm system we put in our rental house in North Carolina. We were supposed to register it when it was installed in September (oops!). You get fined if you have a false alarm and your system isn't registered, and then even once your system is registered, you still get fined (just more money) every time you have a false alarm. Thankfully this hasn't happened... yet... although the other night my cell phone rang at 10:45 p.m. and it was one of our tenants. My stomach completely jumped into my chest and every imaginable catastrophe was running through my head. This happens pretty much every time a tenant calls, no matter what time of day, ever since I got the phone call at work, the week I was due with Andy, from our frantic tenants because a pipe had burst in the attic and half (NO KIDDING!) of the house (upstairs and down) was flooded with ankle deep water. Oh. My. God. It was a nightmare. Luckily our homeowners insurance was awesome, and our tenants were awesome, but, seriously, I gave my future sister-in-law my cell phone and a detailed list of all the contractors, insurance agents, tenants etc. involved in the fiasco so that she could handle anything necessary WHILE I was actually giving birth. Oh, the joys of being a landlord!

So, why did our tenant call the other night? Because she set the alarm off and couldn't remember the code. Crisis averted! That was an easy question that I knew the answer to... AND... did not require me spending any money to fix something! YESSSSS!

And last, but not least, Matt and I finally signed the tax form that our CPA had sent to us with our taxes and asked us to sign and mail back ... at the beginning of March. Our tax appointment didn't exactly go smoothly at the start, so the accountant had to mail everything to us. Anyway, this took all of 2 seconds, so I don't know what took me so long to get it done. Oh, wait... our office has yet to be set up... there is no filing system... and everything just gets sucked into the abyss of that room and put in a pile of things to sort through later... that I seem to promptly forget about as soon as they get put there. Right. Just like everything else on my to-do list! Ahhhhhh!

But, I am feeling a sense of accomplishment today because I just cleaned out my car, vacuumed, wiped down the seats, sprayed the windows with glass cleaner... the works. Now I can stop apologizing to my husband for the messiness level of the car every time we get in it to go somewhere as a family. Now if I could only keep it clean....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Curb Appeal

Let me start off by saying that my back and hamstrings are KILLING me!!!! I could barely move when I got out of bed this morning and I'm fairly certain that I'm doomed for the same fate tomorrow morning. This project has been a work in progress. We started on it last weekend and finished up today.

Our front yard was really really Blah... with a capital B! We hadn't done anything to our front yard since we moved into our house almost a year ago. The builder had planted some shrubs out front and put some small juniper plants and TWELVE (yes, TWELVE) of those little palm plants all over the place and around the giant oak tree in our front yard. I know that they are very popular plants down South, but, I'm just not really a fan. I've been wanting to take those suckers out since the day we closed on our house! The builder also pine straw-ed the heck out of our front yard. Personally, I feel like the landscapers were either really lazy, or ran out of sod because they didn't even sod all the way around the tree trunk... they just put pine straw all the way up to the corner of our driveway.

Over the past year, a lot of the pine straw had worn away (and I had already raked a bunch of it up before I remembered to take "before" pictures!) That was fine with us... we are more mulch people. Not really fans of the pine straw. I have been having a hard time with all of this landscaping because I've never really done it before, so I wasn't sure what plants to pick and what would look the best, etc. The one thing that we had decided on was putting white azaleas across the front planter. Other than that, it took me multiple trips to look at plants to decide what I would go with.

Here is the finished product! (for now...)

We took all of the shrubs out of front planter and re-planted them along the left side of the house. Then we put in our new azaleas and some perennials.

This is what the front planter looks like now... much better! We also added some sod along the front edge. The previous area that was covered in pine straw was much larger. We thought it would look much nicer if the sod extended straight across from the walk way. I'm really happy with how it turned out! (especially since I put all the sod down myself!)
Here is how the right planter looked before... you can see that there was pine straw (although mostly worn away) on both sides of the walkway... not anymore!

I don't have a before picture of the right side of the house along the driveway edge, but there weren't any plants. Just pine straw. I planted some hostra today and filled in with mulch. It looks a lot better now!

This is what the front planter looked like around the tree... UGLY! I was so happy when Matt dug up all of those palm plants! We also found someone who wanted them all, so they are going to a new home tomorrow.
This is the view from the front of the tree before...

And here it is after! I can not believe how much better it looks with sod in that corner and in front of the walk way! It made a huge difference. Oh, and by the way... I cut all of the sod in the circular shape around the tree with my Cutco scissors! Those thing are amazing! I use them for absolutely everything!

Here are all the shrubs that we moved from the front of the house and planted along the left side. There weren't any plants here before. Just more pine straw. It's nice to have some green on this side too.

I'm definitely really happy with how the front yard turned out, although there were several times today when I found myself wishing we hadn't started this because it's just one more thing to keep up with now... but when I look back at the "before" pictures and realize how ugly it was... I'm super happy we got it done! Now I just have to do my best not to kill everything!!! I'm not sure how much of a green thumb I have!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Last weekend I signed up to be a consultant with Thirty~One. I'm pretty excited about this new venture. I've really been struggling with finding a way to earn a part time income without having to put Andy in child care and also enjoy what I'm doing. In November I became a full-time stay at home Mom when I was laid off from my job. Before that, I did a combination of working from home, bringing Andy to the office with me when he was younger (he was every one's favorite co-worker!), taking him to a sitter's house in the mornings and for the last few months of work, we had a wonderful sitter come to our house in the afternoons and I was home with him in the mornings.

I love this picture of Andy at work with me! I was so incredibly lucky because I worked for a construction company and they had a separate back building that was mostly used for storage and files, but it also had an un-used office and a bathroom. They moved my phone and computer to the back office and I set up shop in there! It was okay if he cried because no one could hear him! I had a pack n' play for Andy to nap, a swing, a play mat, an exersaucer and even my brother's old mini-fridge to keep my pumped breastmilk! It worked well until he got closer to 6 months old... then it was time to send him to the sitter!

(geesh! Looking at that picture now it's hard to even remember him being so little!)

It's working out well for our family to have me stay home with Andy. There seems to be less stress overall (most days!) But, we have definitely taken a significant financial hit. However, I think that a lot of what I've been feeling has been more than just finance driven. I have been wanting to have an outlet for ME that allows me to earn money and get out of the house. I just feel like it's something that I need.

A few weeks ago my neighbor had a Thirty~One party and I totally fell in love with the products. My first thought was I could totally sell this stuff! I also liked how reasonably priced everything is! So, after much thought and discussion with my husband, I decided to take the plunge. My start up kit arrives on Monday and my first party is on Friday! I'm actually hoping to be able to build my own team and help others be successful as well. I think I will feel like I have a little more balance in my life with this new venture!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Wedding Album

I finally put together a wedding album... and it's almost done! Matt and I will have our five year wedding anniversary in August, so I figured now would probably be a good time to put one together! ha! I made small wedding albums for our parents for Christmas the year that we got married, but never made one for us. I really didn't mean to procrastinate this long! It's been one of those things that has been bothering me for a while, so I'm glad to finally have it done.

We had a friend of ours take all of our wedding pictures, so it was my plan all along to put together my own album. I knew I didn't want anything fancy, but I still had a hard time finding an album I liked. We got married at the end of August in 2005. In October 2005 we bought our first house. All of our family and friends thought we were completely nuts because it was built in 1920, is 2,800 square feet, did not have central heat or air and needed TONS of work! But we could see the potential and were totally in love with it... still are... and now since we moved to South Carolina, we have a great group of Duke graduate students who rent it out.

Needless to say, given the condition of the house, pretty much everything we owned stayed in boxes. The house was constantly covered in plaster dust and saw dust and every other kind of dust imaginable. I didn't exactly have a place to sit down and work on something like a wedding album! So, I didn't really look too hard for an album I liked. If I was in a store, I would check them out, but never found anything. Fast forward to a year ago this past March when I took Andy out to visit my friend Kim in Omaha, Nebraska... we were at one of several shopping meccas in the area... and there was a HUGE photo archiving store! I finally found what I was looking for! It's an ivory colored leather (I'm sure fake) box type album with a ribbon tie on the side. I still need to figure out which picture I want to put on the front, so those little baby feet won't be there!

The inside has three rings. I bought a few packets of different photo page inserts for the inside. Most just hold 4x6 photos, but a few hold some that are larger. The page I used for the first page also has a 12x2 vertical strip running along the left side. I'm going to insert a strip of decorative paper there that has our names and wedding date and location on it. The inside is lined with black velvet. It's simple and pretty... and just what I was looking for! It took me about an hour to put all the pictures in order and put them into the album. I'm so happy it's done! (well... almost).

So after taking three and a half years to find an album and then another year of just being lazy before I actually put the album together... I can finally cross this one off my list! It was really fun looking back through all the pictures. I had the best time at our wedding and I wouldn't change a thing! Here are some of my favorites... (all pictures are courtesy of A. Langford Photography)

Our completely adorable flower girls

The guys

Our first dance

The wedding party

Mr. & Mrs!

Our "Cupcake Cake" (made from $38 worth of boxed mix & ingredients)

Our "official" wedding picture

On the back of the trolley

.... can't believe we will be celebrating our FIVE year anniversary this year! Man! Time flies!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, I realize how incredibly ridiculous this sounds considering the fact that I am 31 years old... but with the exception of childhood, I have never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch. How sad is that??!! It's sad because it's due to pure laziness. It's not like I always buy the ready made dough... I mean, I do remember a few occasions where I actually bought the boxed mix that you add water to... sigh... that's still really sad (and lazy), huh?! Especially since, as my future sister-in-law said "But you have a Kitchen-Aid mixer!!!!".... and she's right. My husband won me a Kitchen-Aid mixer at work 2 years ago and I had never used it... until today. My husband has used it multiple times! But me, not so much.

So, today was the day! Our weekly Stitch n' Bitch group was at my house tonight, so I figured it was the perfect time to bake some cookies! Lots of people to help me eat them! And thank goodness, because the recipe made A LOT of cookies! I was all out of vanilla, so I borrowed some from my neighbor... and returned it with several cookies... and I sent the girls home with little sandwich bags of cookies tonight as well.

Andy decided that sleeping was overrated and didn't take a nap today (despite my best efforts) so he was my little helper!

We followed the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag!

We mixed all the ingredients up really well. Andy even got two things of sprinkles out of the pantry... I guess just in case we needed them (we didn't).

Yummm.... looking good! I even added a little extra flour thanks to some advice from Jaime. She let me know that since the Kitchen-Aid mixer mixes so well... sometimes the cookies can turn out a little flat, but a little extra flour fixes that problem!

We now only own one cookie sheet since we had to throw our other one away two weeks ago after my husband's failed attempt at making cookies from the recipe on the back of the Heath toffee chips bag. After realizing the cookies DID NOT turn out right, he forgot that he left the second sheet of cookies in the oven (after the oven was turned off). They hardened onto the cookie sheet so well that I couldn't even scrape them off. The whole thing had to get tossed.
My point? It took me 4 or 5 rounds of baking cookies on my one cookie sheet today to get through all the dough!

Diligently watching the cookies...

Seriously, Mom! When will they be ready???

And there they are in all their perfection! I was planning to take a cute picture of Andy eating the finished product, but since he just reached up and stole a cookie off the counter top and RAN... that never happened! But they sure were good! And guess what?! They were pretty easy, and much better than the store bought dough! The girl's loved them tonight too! Usually no-nap days end badly... but this afternoon turned out really nice!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Busy, Busy Weekend!

Well, although I didn't get a blog post up over the weekend... I was very busy! I've started a few of the bigger projects on my list... but since my camera is out of batteries at the moment... those posts will have to wait until tomorrow. (hint hint Matt... a good gift idea for me...rechargeable batteries!... for any gift giving event OTHER than our anniversary!)

I hope that everyone had a great Mother's Day! Mine was very nice. Anytime I get to spend the day with Matt and Andy I have a nice time. (Plus... I got a Kitchen Aid Immersion Blender! Yippee! Remember when I hinted about it here?? I honestly had NO CLUE what they had gotten for me! Especially since Matt told me not to go in the garage (because that was where he had put it) I thought it had to be something too big to put in the house! ha ha Oh, and it's RED!!! swoon!

Some major accomplishments this weekend... I finished an eight mile run/walk on Saturday morning! I'm getting really nervous about my race! Eek! I can't believe it's less than a month away!!!! I also started to tackle the landscaping in the front yard... more on that in another post... AND... we started potty training! (I'll post more on that later as well!)

The thing I'm crossing off my list tonight has been nagging me for almost five years. That's right... FIVE!

I finally updated my e-mail address with USAA. Okay, I am really REALLY slack on some things. We have our auto and home owner's insurance with USAA. We have always had our insurance with them, like, before we got married. So, I changed my e-mail address when I got married. Yes, that was OVER four and a half years ago. I NEVER UPDATED MY E-MAIL WITH THEM! I'm sure you are thinking who cares?! Well, they honestly send me a letter every three months telling me that they have correspondence waiting for me online and could I please update my e-mail address because their e-mails to me keep getting returned. So, they have wasted at least EIGHTEEN pieces of paper, envelopes and postage on asking me to PUH-LEEZE update my e-mail address. So, what do I do instead? I log on... to my account... you know, where I would have to go to UPDATE MY E-MAIL ADDRESS... and I read the correspondence and then go on my merry little way. So, finally, on Friday night, I updated my e-mail address. This took all of ... ohhhhh... 5 seconds. Literally. After I signed in, it took 5 seconds. I felt a little stupid. least it's done. Four and a half years late.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not Sure I'm a "Cookie Cutter" Neighborhood Kind of Girl

Actually... I know I'm not a cookie cutter neighborhood kind of girl! BUT... that is where we live now and although I love our house, and our neighbors (most of them), I know in my heart that I would rather live in a big old house complete with lots of character, that sits on lots of land, where I don't have to ask permission to plant certain flowers in my front yard! Oh, and while I'm being choosy, I'd also like for it NOT to be 90 degrees and humid THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY!!!! Sigh. Humidity and I are not friends. I dream of the day where I pack up kids and dogs and go stay in a farmhouse in Maine for the summer... and then eventually live there all the time...with a big old barn...

Okay, where was I??? Oh, ya... the dreaded Home Owner's Association. I know why we have one. I'm happy it keeps the neighborhood looking nice... blah blah blah. Our neighborhood is new, so the builder still has control over our H.O.A. and we have to get approval for everything. So, tonight I e-mailed in my request for approval to make some landscaping changes. I drew a map of our front lawn showing all the existing plants...

And then I drew another map showing the changes. I also spelled everything out in the body of the e-mail AND included pictures of the plants I would like to put in our front yard. The one thing I am dying to do is get rid of all the stinkin' pine straw! Ahhhhhhh! I can't stand it! I am very excited to get some good dark brown mulch and spread it around. Of course, I'll be regretting that decision as I'm actually out there spreading mulch in the 90 degree hot and HUMID weather that has descended upon Charleston for the next 4+ months... but I digress.
Phase I of my front yard makeover plan also includes edging the planter beds with some kind of nice stone or something. Not sure yet. I need to go browsing at Lowe's and Home Depot. It also includes putting a flag out front on one of our porch posts. I have bigger plans for Phase II that include putting railings up on our porch, putting in a porch swing and some lattice with Confederate Jasmine crawling up it as well as two comfy chairs with ottomans or rocking chairs. Alas... Phase II will not be taking place for a while because all of those changes cost a lot more money than buying plants!