Monday, June 28, 2010

1st Anniversary Trip!

Matt and I had a great time on our 1st wedding anniversary :)  We got up Sunday morning and left for Monticello, near Charlottesville.  We had a nice drive down and passed through lot of old farms with names like "Strawberry Hill Farms" or "Sunnybrook Farm."

We got to Monticello around 12:30 and toured the house and grounds.  It was beautiful, but so HOT!  We were sweating up a storm.  It was probably around 95˚.  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the house, but anything outside was fair game:

We bought a small snack from the cafe there and then hopped in the car again.  The bed and breakfast we stayed in was about 40 minutes outside of Charlottesville.  If you plan on staying in the area, I highly recommend the Harmony Hill Bed and Breakfast.  It was awesome!  Our room had a king size bed, a whirlpool tub, a big screen HDTV, a cozy sitting area, and plush bathrobes!  They also had a complimentary glass wine filled with chocolates when we arrived.  Everything was so comfortable--we're trying to figure out when we can go back! 

After spending a while relaxing (in the A/C!) and cleaning up a bit, we left to go back to Charlottesville for dinner.  We had made reservations at the Melting Pot which is a fondue restaurant.  It was delicious!  They had saved a cute table in a small room for us, so it was very private and quiet.  We both decided on their sampler platter which came with samples of chicken, fillet mignon, salmon, shrimp, and a teriyaki glazed fillet plus vegetables.  The table has a built-in burner and they bring out a pot with your choice of fondue sauce.  Our choice was an oil with lots of garlic, spices, and wine in it.  So good.  It was fun cooking our own food.  We also got the chocolate dessert fondue which was delectable.  After stuffing ourselves, we drove back to the B&B for a relaxing evening.

In the morning we had a wonderful breakfast prepared by one of our hosts.  We had pancakes with blueberry syrup, eggs, bacon, baked apples, fresh pineapple, and coffee.  It was all delicious!  We walked around the B&B grounds after breakfast and then packed up to drive home.

We had a lovely time away and hopefully we will have a chance to go back!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Atypical Dinner

Dinner in our household ususally is pretty simple.  An easy chicken dish, spaghetti, hot dogs, maybe some pork chops; served with a side of whatever's around and definitely no cheese.

Well last night, we had an atypical dinner.  A dinner so unusual, so unlike anything I've ever fixed before, so many things thrown together that I shouldn't like...and it was delicious.  I have the lovely Pioneer Woman to thank for this recipe.  You can see her version here.  

It's a Summer Shrimp Stir-Fry.  Do I like shrimp?  Not really.  Am I crazy zucchini fan?  Not at all.  Yet, those are two of the main ingredients.  She made it look so good, I had to try it.  I changed two things and it still turned out great.  First, I used pre-cooked tiny shrimp, not the fresh shrimp that you have to shell and devein.  I decided I wasn't up for that task.  Also, I used a 1/2 cup of chopped regular tomatoes, not the halved grape tomatoes she used.  So good.  You should certainly stop by her site and see her pictures and recipe.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

New and Improved Apartment!!

As promised, I've taken pictures of parts of our apartment that I've recently updated and/or organized.  Of course it would have been handy to see "before" pictures, but who am I to think that far ahead??  

One of the generous gifts I was given at the end of the year from my class was a Target gift card.  Matt and I put it to good use over the weekend and I love the little things we were able to do.

Project 1:  Organize Bedroom Closet.

I have seriously wanted to reorganize our bedroom closet since Christmas.  I'm not exaggerating.  It quickly became a disaster zone once we got into the whole summer/winter clothes change over.  We didn't have enough storage space (bins, dresser drawers, etc.) so things got all piled up and gross.  Organizing the closet was one of the things I had the least desire to do on a Saturday after a long week at school.  So the project was put on hold until now.  Picture a "before" closet with clothes on top of the dresser; pillows and random blankets on the top shelf; shoes and purses on the floor.  Here are the results of our "make-over:"

Yay!!  There is almost nothing on the floor and just a few trinkets on top of the dresser.

Bins from Target are a lifesaver.  The clear bin has most of my winter clothes in it.  The blue and green bins have pillows and blankets.  Picture all that mess all over that shelf in piles.  Not hot.

Project Two:  Make Bedroom Cozier

On one side in our bedroom we have a huge wall that is pretty much blank.  We had had a picture hanging of an old antique map with a dark brown frame and it was just too...dark.  We picked this up for cheap at Michaels and things look much much brighter and friendly!

Project Three:  De-clutter and Organize Laundry Room

Our laundry room was another disaster zone.  When you walk through those doors you have the washer to the right and the dryer to the left.  Above each are white metal shelving units (two shelves on each side).  I wisely chose to use one shelf above the washer for laundry detergent and other laundry supplies.  That left three shelves to use as storage.

Here's a secret for engaged couples or couples who will probably get married:  When you register for wedding gifts, you will get many of them plus other things you didn't register for.  Many of those things are nice and you will want to keep them, assuring yourself that although you don't need a salad bowl big enough for 12 families to eat out of right now, you will at some point.  With this in mind, you keep everything and exchange nothing.  Bad idea.  That huge salad bowl, pizza cooker, toaster oven, and three types of blenders actually have to go somewhere.  And if you live in a 2 bedroom apartment like us, there are not many places for things to go.  

So where did many of my random bowls, plates, and serving dishes go?  That's right.  Those handy laundry room shelves.  My friends, those shelves were stuffed.  Some items ended up on top of the dryer.  If I actually wanted to use something, I had to take down five or six other things to get to the thing I wanted

Anyway, this ended up being a two-part project.  I cleaned out and reorganized our office closet and was able to store some of those thoughtful gifts in there.  That left me with much more space in the laundry room for things I use on a regular basis.  I also added a fuzzy blue mat and a picture collage with cork board on either side.  All our coupon clippings are in there now (instead of on the refrigerator).  Here's a peek:

And the picture collage:

Project Four:  Spruce Up My Bathroom

I have a nicely sized bathroom with lots of counter space that I love.  For me, though, large spaces are easily cluttered.  I added cork board to hang jewelry on and some fake flowers in a vase.  There was an under the cabinet space with no door where I keep my hamper and extra toilet paper.  I bought a cheap tension rod and curtain and hung that.  Here's what it looks like:

Whew!  That's all for now.  Maybe you can use some of my ideas in your place to cozy things up a bit :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


For your enjoyment and information, here is a comparison of my current daily summer schedule and my typical daily school-year schedule. Just so ya know:

Summer Schedule:
8:00 a.m.: Alarm goes off. It's not one of those annoying buzzer alarms, but one of those alarms with the peaceful ocean waves to lull you into consciousness. Lay in bed for another 15-30 minutes.

8:30 a.m.: Get up, make coffee, enjoy a leisurely breakfast while checking email, news, and other sites of interest.

9:30 a.m.: Turn on the TV and watch any World Cup game that is on.

12:00 p.m.: Game ends, take shower. Spend time fixing hair and using my neglected hair dryer.

12:30 p.m.: Check email again. Delete newsletters and mail from sites I'm too lazy to unsubscribe from.

1:00 p.m.: Decide to be productive and wash some dishes, unload the dishwasher, or clean up the coffee table. ONLY do one of these things. Never all three.

1:30 p.m.: Think about checking the mailbox. This involves going outside and down a flight of stairs. Realize that the mail is usually not here by now and decide to wait. Check email and other websites since it's been almost an hour.

2:00 p.m.: Haven't had lunch yet. Fiddle around in the kitchen and scrounge for food. If I'm lucky, there will be some edible leftovers--eat those. If not, have a large snack. Popcorn, bowl of cereal, or waffles are good ideas.

2:30 p.m.: Think about the mailbox again. It
may be here by now. Go check. It's not there. Go back upstairs.

2:35 p.m.: Contemplate checking email and websites again. In order to not feel like a loser, convince myself that nothing will have changed and I will not have gotten any interesting emails.

2:40 p.m.: Realize we forgot to pick up something at Target, the grocery store, or that we need to mail bills. Run out and buy, drop off, or do other errands.

3:30 p.m.: Whoo! I need a break from all this productivity! Take nap or play Age of Empires.

4:30 p.m.: Snack from 2 hours ago is wearing off. Eat something small like chips or fruit.

5:00 p.m.: Start thinking about dinner...then go check email again.

5:30 p.m.: Really start thinking about dinner. Even though I just went to the grocery store, I don't want anything I just bought. Try looking up new recipes.

6:00 p.m.: Getting hungry. Matt gets cranky waiting for me to decide on a dinner I'll want to eat. Settle for something like hot dogs or spaghetti. Fix it fast.

6:30 p.m.: After eating dinner, clean up the kitchen a bit, but not completely. Leave some dishes in the sink and maybe a glass or two on the table.

7:00 p.m.: See if there's anything good on TV. Unless it's Thursday, there's nothing good on. Settle on watching something random on Food Network.

8:00 p.m.: Want dessert. Contemplate the fact that there are no cookies or pre-made dessert available. Think about making something. Look up recipes. Find a bunch of really good-looking recipes, but realize I am missing at least one key ingredient in each.

8:30 p.m.: Start to get sleepy.

9:00 p.m.: Get second wind. Decide to clean something or put something away. Again, only do ONE of these things.

9:30 p.m.: Think about going to bed, but then see that a fun TV show is coming on at 10:00. Stay up late like a grown-up!

10:00 p.m.: Show starts.

10:30-11:00 p.m.: Show ends and we get ready for bed.

11:00 p.m.: Get in bed, but talk for half an hour.

11:45 p.m.: Finally fall asleep.

After reading that, you may think I'm incredibly lazy and unproductive. And you would be right. However, after reading my school-year schedule, you may be a little more forgiving:

School-Year Schedule:
5:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Get up immediately and stumble out to kitchen to turn on lights. Walk with eyes closed to bathroom.

5:35 a.m.: Fix breakfast and coffee. Usually a bagel and yogurt or cereal and yogurt.

5:35-5:50 a.m.: Eat breakfast and drink as much coffee as possible while checking email and a handful of websites.

5:50 a.m.: Still have half a mug of coffee and several mouthfuls of breakfast left, but put it in the sink and head to the shower.

5:50-6:10 a.m.: Shower. As fast as possible. Want to dry hair, but no time. Pull wet hair back into bun and secure with huge clip. I'm stylin'.

6:10-6:20 a.m.: Slap on some make-up, brush teeth, get dressed.

6:20-6:25 a.m.: Wake up Matt, say goodbye. Slip on shoes and grab lunch and water bottle from refrigerator.

6:25-7:15 a.m.: Drive to school.

7:15-7:55 a.m.: Prep time in classroom.

7:55-8:25 a.m.: Staff devotions. Half way through, realize there's something important I forgot to do. Try not to think about it.

8:25-11:45 a.m.: Teach some kids. Settle numerous tiffs and put a band-aid on non-existent boo-boos.

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Take kids to recess and go to lunch room. Let out big sigh as I sink into a grown-up sized chair. Peace and quiet is so lovely.

12:30-1:00 p.m.: T.A. teaches Bible. Prep for afternoon lessons.

1:00-3:00 p.m.: Teach some more. Get on a tangent discussion that takes up 20 minutes. Science experiment takes way longer than I planned. Be okay with that.

3:00-3:25 p.m.: Carpool. Entertain kids with stories from my childhood so they'll sit quietly.

3:25-4:00 p.m.: With kids gone, use time to answer emails, prep for tomorrow, run around.

4:00 p.m.: If I'm lucky, I leave school. Sometimes I stay later (until 4:15 or 4:30). Drive home.

4:45 p.m.: Arrive home and go to the bathroom. First time since 5:30 this morning. I'm a champ.

4:50-5:30 p.m.: Collapse on couch and relax for a bit. Think about dinner.

5:30-6:00 p.m.: Fix dinner.

6:00-6:30 p.m.: Eat dinner and clean up.

6:30-7:00 p.m.: School work time. Answer more parent emails, grade work, or work on lessons.

7:00-8:00 p.m.: More school work or TV.

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Get ready for next day. Fix coffee and lunch. Wash face and change into PJs. Pack bag with school stuff.

9:00 p.m.: Go to bed. Lay there for awhile thinking about

9:45 p.m.: Finally fall asleep.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome, Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!

Seeing as how I'm on summer break and have gobs of time to do whatever I want, I decided to start a blog. Hopefully I can establish a habit over the summer and continue this when school starts up again in August.

I've been organizing, reorganizing, and adding some fun decor to our apartment. I'll post some pictures later today. I made our laundry room inviting. Crazy. I might actually be excited about doing laundry.

More to watch me some World Cup!!