Thursday, April 30, 2009

And Here We Go!

Has everyone been entering for their chance to win HGTV's 2009 Green Home? If I win, I promise to let everyone come visit.

It's funny that I was talking about redoing our bedroom because Matt came up to me the other day and said he thinks we need to work on it. I took that as him giving me his consent to spend our money on things. So I went out and bought these. We want to lighten up the room (you paint one wall of a tiny room chocolate brown and the room suddenly shrinks in size - who knew) and make it look more open so I bought the Dune color. I thought those curtains were a steal. I saw them in the store and the quality is impressive for the price. In store they were $29.99 a panel so I ordered them off the website for $22.99 and got an extra 15% off the sale price. I ended up paying $99 after shipping. I didn't think that was bad for curtains.

And yes, I know that I'm supposed to be anti spending money right now, but give me a break. Sometimes a girl just needs to shop for curtains. I was going to alter the ones we have, but I want the room to look luxurious and grownup. My crafting skills do not embody those two adjectives. Plus, I want the room to have style. I'm finding that hard to do since I really have none. I've been looking around at some websites and I think I want to go for a sort of loose interpretation of "mid-century modern" with really clean lines and geometric shapes. We'll see how far I get with that before I get all "polka dots and stripes WHEE!" on this project.

Check out this Mid-Century Modern group on Flickr. There is some awesome stuff in there. Obviously, since I have no knowledge of interior design history, our bedroom might end up looking nothing like those pictures and could be better described by some other decorating period. What came after mid-century modern? Later-century modern? Pre-acid-trip mod? I don't know...

Friday, April 24, 2009


I think I'm going to spend Saturday finishing up on the chairs that I'm redoing and moving around some furniture.

Thrilling. I know.

The chairs have become a home project of epic proportions. They cost me $4 and weeks and weeks worth of brain melting snags. But they're looking pretty cool. Hopefully, it will all be worth it when my butt is sitting on them Sunday morning.

And then I'm leaving the living room behind and moving onto the bedroom. In our bedroom we have exactly:

one bed
one night stand
one lamp
one entertainment center
five Beatles pictures on the walls.

Some of the trim is white, some of it's brown. The rug is awful. The room needs help. My biggest issue with it is that it feels really dark. And the furniture in there doesn't really make sense. Our nightstand is a side table from the living room, and the entertainment stand is a night stand. Why? Why is that? I want to shuffle around some things between the bedroom and the living room.

And then I will magically make the room fantastic in the following 8 steps:

1. Paint everything brown, white. The biggest thing that bugs me about that room is that I painted the trim around the closet white (the old owners painted it beige for some reason) and then then left the closet door in it's original, ugly, wood veneered state. I'd like to paint it white.

2. Then I'd like to paint a couple of really wide white stripes across the wall behind our bed. The wall is a powder blue color so I think it will look nice.

3. Then I want to buy a headboard. It's the most uncheap step of the plan, but oh how I want that headboard.

4. Buy a couple of cheap used tables, paint them white and turn them into night stands. Buy a second lamp that goes with the first one.

5. Get a new rug. Preferable a shaggy, soft one that will treat me well when I step out of bed in the morning. Target has one for something like $40.

6. Figure out how crown moulding works. Probably call my dad a million times for help and power tools.

7. Rearrange the Beatles mania. Maybe cut back on it a little.

8. Lengthen the curtains with some white and blue polka dot fabric that I bought and then never used.

I'm sure no one really cares about the list. Really, I understand that. I'm a glutton for lists though. Thanks for reading it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

For Real?

You know what's annoying?

I've had two people come to me this month and tell me that they want websites that look like The Office TV show's website. Whatever, it's a fun site. That's not the annoying part.

The annoying part is that Matt and I avoid all things Office and wait until the DVDs come out so we can sit in front of the TV - like a couple of losers - and watch the seasons all in one sitting. It's so much more satisfying that way. During the TV season we avoid it at all costs. We plug our ears and humm through the commercials. We leave the room when our friends talk about it. I fast forwarded through clips during the Emmys. I've stopped reading peoples' blogs who talk about it.

And now, after all that effort, I'm forced to view their site for my job.


The hands-off approach to saving

Clark Howard: The hands-off approach to saving

Wonderful article about the over-spending habits of Americans and simple steps to curbing our impulsive shopping.

Easy Recipe: Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

I made this last night. It was really, really easy. And delicious. I didn't take a picture of it because you probably wouldn't want to make it if I had. Beige colored food does not photograph well.

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Package of 2 refrigerated pie shells
12 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 pound of chicken
1/2 an onion
Small can of mushrooms
Can of cream of mushroom soup (or whatever kind you want)
Can of turkey gravy
Salt and pepper
Cheese (if you so desire)

Cut the chicken into strips and season it however you'd like. I sprinkled mine with Lawry's and chicken seasoning. Creative, I know... Boil it in water for 5-10 minutes (until it's white inside) and shred. Throw it in a pot with the veggies, mushrooms, onion, gravy and soup. Cook over medium heat (you're really just warming it up before it goes in the oven). Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste. It actually needs a decent amount of salt. I never add salt to anything I cook but I thought this recipe definitely needed a sprinkle. I think I also threw in some bay leaf and worshishtershirerer worcestershire for some extra help.

Press the first pie shell in the bottom of a pie pan. Add the filling. Cover it with cheese if you choose to. Press the second pie shell down over the top and trim off excess if there is any. Pop it in the oven at 425° for 20-25 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden color. You can also brush the top with a little melted butter before sticking it in the oven to give it a nicer color.

Easy. Delicious. What else can you ask for?

On a side note... Can you believe how expensive meat is? It's outrageous! Why is chicken so expensive? They're rotten little birds that are born by the dozen. Farmers should be giving them away for free! I often make several vegetarian meals a week because grocery shopping is insane otherwise. We tried to buy a hunk of roast beef for Easter dinner and a 5 pounder was nearly $20.

For beef?

In Nebraska?

Is that a joke?

From My Inbox to You

I was ranting the other day about not being able to find practical and cost effective ideas to use around the house. Here are a couple of things I've found that have a few good budget friendly tips. Bonus points for these also being "green" ideas.

I somehow got signed up for an email newsletter from DIY Network a few weeks ago. I've actually started reading it now and it's pretty cool. It's full of DIY tips (obviously), green products, budget friendly ideas, and on and on. It's great to click through their site and find all kinds of easy and cheap tips for around the house.

From DIY Network I found Ecologue. Ecologue is where I am going to spend the majority of my afternoon I'm afraid. It looks like most of the articles are compiled from other sources like HGTV and DIY network. It's great that everything is all in one place where it's easy to find and reference. Right now I'm loving Going Compostal! I've always wanted to start a compost pile.

Check out their Crafty Recycling tips. There are a few really cute decorating ideas in there for little money. I really like the tips for reusing cans in Can the Clutter but I think I would give my husband a nervous breakdown if I put any of that stuff in our house. His biggest phobia is cutting himself on the edge of a cut can. I would have to buy one of these.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Issue With Home Decorating Recources

I love to read home decorating blogs but I'm becoming increasingly annoyed with them. First off, home bloggers and magazine editors must think that everyone lives in an architecturally stunning home. I do not have twelve foot ceilings. I do not have 100 year old wood floors. I to not have a patio that overlooks hills and mountains, nor do I have columns or archways.

I have this:

This is a home. This is what the vast majority of Americans live in. Houses. Average, everyday, affordable to the other 95% of us, houses. Of course I wish I was living in something Frank Lloyd Wright designed or a townhouse on Park Avenue, but let's get real. I'm 25, recently married, and a first-time home owner. I do not have the resources to afford such a home.

This lady knows what I'm talking about.

Which brings me to my second issue. Money. I want to have a great, personal looking house but I don't want to spend thousands of dollars on furnishings. If I had thousands of dollars to spend I'd make major home renovations, not buy some crazy ass sofa that my dog or morning coffee spills are going to ruin. I love good deals and cheap crap. I think it's possible to make a lovely home with next to no budget but it's hard to find the resources sometimes. And yes, that $300 lamp on sale for $99 might be a steal, but it's still $99. I want to make my own lamp with fabric scraps and $4 in supplies. But I need someone to show me how!!!

You know one person who really gets what I'm talking about? Martha Stewart. Martha gets it sometimes. I just read on her website how to create a faux wood looking table using paint and some weird roller brush. YES! Cheap! Awesome! Creative! Leave it to one of the richest women in the world to show us how to pinch pennies in style.

That's why she's Martha.

I'm trying to come up with some of my own ideas and plans for cheapo home decorating. I bought all the furniture and big stuff I can afford and now I want to make the room look full and cheery and personal without spending an arm and a leg that I don't currently have. This is a recession people. And I am certainly recessing with the frivolous spending in my life. Starting with this. I will not buy that. Even though it's on sale for $199, it's still $199. Maybe Martha can show me how to weave my own peace sign rug with old unraveled sweaters.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Running Your Own Race

Here it is. Month three already. Can you believe it?

I certainly can't.

You know what else I can't believe? How great that 50mm lens is. It's changed my life. My photos have improved tremendously without me actually learning anything new. I'm impressed...

I'm finally getting to the point where I like my shots straight out of the camera, and I don't feel the need to bury them in wild Photoshop actions. I definitely love me some actions. I do. But I use them as a crutch most of the time to hide the fact that my photos are sometimes flat. With this last batch though, I didn't even touch half of them. I'm so happy that I'm seeing improvement in my work. The learning curve is the hardest part of any process and it's easy to get frustrated with it. I love looking at other portrait photographers' work and I have a hard time not comparing myself to them. There are so many amazing photographers out there and it makes me feel like I have such a long ways to go.

That reminds me of something I read during marathon training a few years ago: Everyone has to run their own race. That's become my mantra in life. You can't compare yourself to everyone on the track. There's always going to be someone faster and in better shape than you are. You'll never make it to the finish line if you spend the entire race focusing on everyone else. You have to focus on yourself, your own training and your own motivations. Crossing the finish line is the ultimate goal. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there.

That thought definitely applies to everyday life. Let's all try to remember that. Let's also remember that if you don't keep up with your cardio, those awesome calf muscles you built during marathon training will disappear about three months after you stop running, leaving you once again with chicken legs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Update On the Living Room

We (I) started working on fixing up our living room back in September. This is what we started with...

We rearranged it a couple of times...

And this is where we're at right now.

If I had more money I would continue to fill the room with furniture.

I. Love. Furniture.

I think the room still needs more texture too. Another rug, maybe some wallpaper... It just needs more. The room is really open so I kind of throws me off. An interior decorator I never claimed to be.

It feels like our home though. It's definitely a room that looks like Matt and Christine live in.

Whoops. Impulse Strikes.

I did something a little impulsive today. I bought this:

50mm / 1.4

I've been eyeing that lens for two months now. It's never in stock though. Anywhere. I finally found one here in Omaha so I bought it. Yikes. I was afraid of it selling out again.

It's a business investment, it's a business investment... I just have to keep repeating that to myself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Busy Weekend!

I don't think this last weekend really counted as a weekend. I'm exhausted this morning.

Friday, I spent three hours baking a German chocolate cake.

Saturday, I woke up early to do last minute Easter prep shopping. You know, there's something to be said for living in suburban Nebraska. Everyone gets up and does their Saturday morning shopping in their pajamas. I'm never alone in looking like a dirtbag at the grocery store. If I lived in a trendy city that required me to look good when I went out, I would probably never leave the house. I suspect that's why home delivery services are so popular in places like New York.

I got home from shopping and then cleaned the house. And then raked the yard. And then battled the giant tree-sized weed that we let run amok behind the shed. And then baked another cake. All in preparation for...

Sunday. Easter. Thanksgiving the Sequel.

All of my family came over for the holiday so Matt and I cooked our butts off. We made a pot roast, a spiral ham and three casseroles. We managed to send home all the leftovers except for a small container of candied sweet potatoes (which I hid from people) and some of the pot roast. My absolute favorite part of any holiday is eating leftover meat and dinner roll sandwiches.

Needless to say I didn't get to do much relaxing this weekend. So, it's extra needless to say that I'm not jazzed about working this fine Monday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meeting Jackie

I finally got to meet Jackie last night. She is the tiniest thing I have ever seen.

That picture is a couple of weeks old. And obviously from a phone. But you get the idea. She is a wee one. Her head is about the size of a baseball. Her weight is up to 3lb, 11oz and her preemie clothes are still too big for her. It's pretty cute. Her legs reach about half way down her pant legs. She's noisy though for how little she is. She makes little squeaks and has big huge yawns.

So. Freaking. Adorable.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Solar Powered Fountain

How cool is this! I really want one of these... Our backyard needs some major help. It's large and fairly flat, so it's a perfect space. But visually it's pretty awful. It needs some TLC. It also needs a solar powered fountain now.

I did a very responsible thing last night and I started cleaning up the outside of the house. Whee! Yard work! There are still leaves, leaves, leaves everywhere. I plan to tackle the rest of it on Saturday.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A few things this week...

Few things going on this week...

1. Matt and I are having Easter lunch with my family at our house. It's my first ever holiday dinner. Whaaaa? I have massive cleaning to do. I got a few things done this weekend but there's still some work to do done. But then again if people come over and our house is gross, I might not ever have to host a holiday again...

2. I need to finish fixing those chairs so people can sit on them.

3. A friend of mine who has literally been a part of my life since the day I was born asked me to take some candid/photojournalistic photos on her wedding day. I've also been recruited to photograph her shower, rehearsal everythings and maybe some engagement pics. Sweeeeet. It's great experience and I know she won't kill me if the pictures don't turn out. They have an official wedding photographer who is doing the wedding so the pressure is off of me not to eff it up.

4. Matt and I have been talking about moving lately. We're giving Omaha until he turns 30 (in two years) then we might move in pursuit of our careers. The top runners are Nashville and Portland, with San Francisco and Colorado also being considered.

Nashville is the most comparable to Omaha as far as cost of living goes. I also like the idea of living in between our families in Nebraska and Florida. Plus, Matt knows a semi-famous musician in Nashville who owns a recording studio so he has industry friends down there.

However, Portland is completely rad.

Colorado is freaking beautiful.

San Francisco is Mecca.

We'd go straight to SF were it not for the fact that we would have to choose between living on the streets or selling ourselves for rent. (Hello 520% housing cost increase.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Public Photo Archives

I've been staring at this picture for the last two days. I just can't get over how amazing it is. I found it in a public domain archive. The photographer is Toni Frissell. It's just so beautiful...

Friday, April 3, 2009


You think your day sucked?

I went to a memorial service for a baby today. My niece. There is nothing on this planet more heartbreaking than watching two parents, who I love dearly, saying goodbye to their Julia who was gone before she ever had a chance to be born. There is no consolation that I could possibly offer anyone involved in this. All there is to say is, "I love you."

I've spent the majority of the day either crying or holding back tears. My heart is broken for Julia and her wonderful parents who miss her so much. I know I've blogged about it a couple of times already, but this is pretty much what has been consuming my thoughts for the last couple of weeks.

As time passes and I acquire those experiences that only age can bring, I realize more and more that nothing in this life matters more than the people who love you. That "I am a rock, I am an island" business is bullshit. Family, friends, a support system. It's necessary.

I love you. I love you. I love you. Having someone to say it to doesn't make you codependent, it makes you strong. It gets you through the day. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning. Love is the most inspiring and spiritual force on Earth and it is the only thing that I can possibly think to offer my family right now.


Half of what I say is meaningless
But I say it just to reach you,

Julia, Julia, oceanchild, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering,
In the sun

Julia, Julia, morning moon, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind, Julia

Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Hum hum hum...calls me
So I sing a song of love for Julia, Julia, Julia

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy One Year House Anniversary!

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of closing on our house. Only 29 more to go until it's paid off! Hooray! I've been taking a mental inventory lately of all the things I intended to fix on the house when I bought it and pretty much 99% of those things are still undone.

First off there's the inside... I never fixed the red paint in the dining room that stops halfway into the kitchen. But that's okay because it matches some holes in the living room that I patched and then never painted. Then, last week there was an incident involving large pieces of furniture being moved and the wall in the hallway...

The sun shining on the outside of the house makes it very clear that the old owners attempted to touch up the paint with the wrong color. And then left it. They also didn't feel a need to replace the piece of downspout that looks like it got ran over with a truck. But neither did I, so touché old owners.

There are still old tires behind the shed for some reason. And a computer monitor inside the shed. I can't go in there though because the door is guarded by the universe's biggest spider.

Sigh. Maybe I'll manage to fix everything sometime within the next 29 years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Couples Pictures

I met my friend Taylin and her girlfriend Michelle on Saturday to take some pictures. Those chicks are awesome. We went out for drinks first and talked about movies, music and babies. They of course are on a different side of the reproductive line so it was interesting to talk with them about being married and having kids.

This was the first time I've photographed a couple, so I was a little nervous. As were they. Hence the drinks. I thought all parties did a great job though... :)