Archive | May 2014

An Update “Couched” in a Sectional…

One of the first things Keith and I did as newlyweds (well, besides go on our honeymoon) was buy new couches.  I didn’t own a couch and his had been around for a while and we just felt it was time to update a bit as we sought to turn “his” house into “our house.”  After checking out a few stores, we found some light blue microfiber couches at Rooms-To-Go that fit our taste and our budget.  We bought the sofa and matching loveseat and I just couldn’t get past how pretty the robin’s-egg-blue looked in our newly painted front room.  But after the remodel of our house a year later, we started to feel that the love seat and couch scenario wasn’t as practical for our new space.  And while the couches aren’t uncomfortable, they also never turned into that sink-into-and-take-a-long-nap sort of coziness we kind of hoped they would one day soften into.

Our light blue couch and loveseat.  I sure did love them!!!

Our light blue couch and loveseat. I sure did love them!!!

As we talked about what sort of couch we might like to one day have, the conversation turned to a sectional.  It seemed like a great way to be able to snuggle on the couch together while still having enough room, provide additional seating, and best utilize the space in our now-much-larger living room.  So the great sectional search began.  And as with all furniture purchases in our house (you guys know the drill by now) I was looking to find exactly what I wanted at exactly the price I was willing to pay and would settle for no less than fulfilling both of those goals.  (If this is your first time “furniture shopping” with me here on the blog, you can catch up on my find-what-you-like and then at-the-price-you-want style by checking out my posts on buying an ottoman and my dining set, a chair, and light fixture…just to get you started.)

After considering possibly every sectional ever created, Keith and I decided that the Pearce sectional from Pottery Barn was precisely what we needed.  We loved the style, the dimensions were perfect (dimensions were tricky for us as everything seemed to either be too long or too short) and the price was, well, close.  We knew that a sectional was going to be something we were going to save up for since giant pieces of well-made furniture don’t typically come cheap, but we also wanted to get the best price we could.  So we waited.  And window shopped the Pottery Barn store in the mall several times.  And requested practically every free fabric swatch you can request on the PB website.  Unfortunately for us, the clerk told us that the “oatmeal linen” upholstery that we loved had never gone on sale in her several-year tenure at the store…a fact supported by the three times the piece went on sale in other fabrics since we first looked at it about 2 years ago.

And then.  Behold.  One day as I was surfing the web, I clicked over to look at “my sectional” again for fun and the oatmeal linen was on sale!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  Keith and I decided that maybe it was time to pull the trigger on our big purchase.  But when we added the couch to the online cart, it showed a $125 “large item” delivery surcharge on top of the normal taxes and fees that get added on at the end.  So we called the Pottery Barn store about 20 minutes away to see if we could waive the fee.   Not only did the store offer to match the online sale price, but they added on some mysterious discount to erase the $125 delivery fee that ended up discounting it even further.  A win all the way around!

We sold our other couches on Craigslist for exactly what we were asking for them (the girl who bought them was positively delighted and kept saying, “but they look NEW!”) and the sectional was delivered last Thursday….just in time for me to hit the Memorial Day sales this weekend to grab some new throw pillows.   And I can for sure say that it’s everything we hoped it would be and more.  It’s comfy, it brightens up the room, we can both curl up without anyone’s elbow in the other person’s ribcage.  It’s lovely.  And it could probably sleep a person or two as well if anyone needed to crash.

And I promise, next week I’ll blog about something that has nothing to do with furniture.  Probably.

Our new Pearce sectional and it's throw pillow friends.  So thrilled with our new set-up!

Our new Pearce sectional and it’s throw pillow friends. So thrilled with our new set-up!

Out With The Old, In With the…….Older

By now, you’ve probably realized that I can’t keep anything the same for too long when it comes to furniture.  I love swapping out items for something cuter and more functional, particularly if I can get it at a bargain.  But my quest for something new doesn’t always mean actually NEW….just new whatever place in the house needs something different.  In fact, some of my most favorite pieces in our home are old, like a dresser that I’ve been using since just after college.  It was my grandfather’s dresser when I was a kid and sometimes I expect to find his clean white hankies carefully folded in the top left-hand drawer when I open it.

But as all you married folks out there know, one dresser, no matter how fabulous, is not enough for two people.  We’ve been on the hunt for a second dresser for a while now, limping along with a cool, but impractically designed inside, chifferobe that I bought at an antique store for cheap in college.  The problem was that we loved my grandfather’s dresser so much that we didn’t want to give that up, but finding something that matched was impossible and even something that merely complimented it was proving a monumental task.  I was about to just throw in the towel and buy a dresser, any old dresser, just to be able to put my laundry away.

A few weeks ago when Keith and I were in Mississippi helping with the garage sale at my grandmother’s house, my mom was trying to figure out what to do with the “good furniture.”  We’d been able to sell anything that lacked sentimental or actual value, but there were several pieces remaining in the living room that were legitimately antique,  were still in fabulous shape, and that quite frankly, no one could bear to part with because there were just too many memories attached.  We were able to make space in my parent’s house for a couple of them by rearranging and selling a bookshelf of my mom’s, and several things were earmarked to go to my uncle’s apartment, but a few pieces still needed a place including a beautiful buffet that has been in my grandparent’s dining room as long as I can remember.  It had been given to them by my great-grandmother who had used it in her house, so while I’m not sure exactly how old it is, I’m thinking that 75 years or so at least is a safe estimate.

And then it hit me.  Just because it was intended to house dishes and silverware, china and goblets, didn’t mean it couldn’t be the perfect home for socks and t-shirts and running clothes.  And while my grandmother always adorned the top with a teapot and tea cozy year round and tins upon tins of pecan sandies and other cookies at Christmas, that didn’t mean I couldn’t set all my perfume bottles and jewelry out on an old mirror.  I bought some dark wood Old English scratch cover and polish, gave it a loving coat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  And love that not only is it practical, but it’s a little piece of history as well.

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2014 Garden Tour

Besides our actual new baby, we sort of have another new baby right now, albeit one that is much much quieter – the garden!  Knowing we’d be having the baby this spring, I was envisioning more of a “3 tomato plants and a pot of basil” type of garden for this year.  Happily, I underestimated and we’ve got a lot more going than I expected.  (Tip:  Low expectations can be so rewarding!)  Both my husband and I really enjoying working out there, so I find it easy to run out there for a quick errand to pull a few weeds or stir the compost.  And, I should also mention that we got off to a great start due to a heroic effort on the part of my parents.  My mom (and dad and husband) spent an entire afternoon out there, and those of you who know her well will probably be amused by that.

Additionally, the previous owners really put a lot of work into their garden and we definitely got a leg up by picking up where they left off.  The dirt is super rich from being heavily composted and “worm juiced” and so forth.  Its all soft and easy to till up.  Plus there are several semi-raised beds which help make things neat and tidy. And there may be an irrigation system that we aren’t sure how to use exactly.  Thanks previous owners!  (We’re not as ridiculous as you thought.)

Anyway, this year we are growing:

  • 5 tomato plants
  • 4 types of peppers
  • A bed of strawberries
  • Two beds of okra
  • About 50 sweet slips
  • Two long rows of lady peas
  • Peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm
  • Plus the previous owners’ leftovers: cilantro, leeks, onions, garlic, and asparagus

I’ve been meaning to pick up some oregano.  There is talk of planting corn.  And I think that should cover it.

In case you are wondering, “lady peas” are my husband’s favorite and frankly they are about the best type of peas I’ve had.  I’m not a huge fan of peas in general.  However, they are hard to find, even at local farmer’s markets.  But, I believe I found some on a website appropriately titled “rareseeds.com”.  My husband is skeptical that they are the “right” thing, but only time will tell.  The little seedlings are definitely doing good, so we are pleased with our purchase from that aspect.  And I’m kinda looking forward to making some future purchases of weird produce from them – like red okra or purple tomatoes.

Now for the “tour” part:

 

IMG_3168The blueberries are looking good.  Last year we gathers at least two gallons worth.  And this year looks about the same.

IMG_3169It appears to be a good year for produce in general.  I guess the plants appreciated all those polar blasts.  The peach tree has a promising crop (as do the plum, the pears, the apples.)  Fingers crossed!  I wonder if we should be spraying with something?

I should start making plans for jams and jellies.  Mmmm.

IMG_3170Asparagus from the previous owner, now gone to fern.  We harvested about 8 servings worth, of which I ate at least half – so good!  Better than store bought.  Now we wait for another crop in the fall.  I also want to look up whether there’s anything we could do to get MORE asparagus out of these plants.  More is always better in the garden.

IMG_3171Onions in “flower” mode?  I don’t know.

IMG_3172Tomatoes and pepper plants, all in a row.  I took this pic last week and those tomatoes have doubled in size.

IMG_3173Strawberries in the foreground, garlic in the rear.  Leeks on the right.  Still haven’t eaten a leek.  Mom had to identify them, I was clueless. 

Nowadays they are looking kinda worse for the wear, so I suspect their season may be ending.

IMG_3174This is our wild forest of cilantro.  I’m hoping to harvest some seed (coriander) off these puppies, in order to eat it, and also in order to plant more cilantro in an actual pot or bed, and not just out in the middle of everything.

IMG_3175(It appears that something is on/in my camera lens.)

These are the little sweet potato slips, growing like crazy.  They know they’re in Mississippi where the best sweet potatoes come from, I guess.

IMG_3176Peas in the front, okra in the rear.  The okra ain’t looking too hot. August thinks its the shade, I wonder about the quality of the seeds we bought.  We are thinking about putting a few more seeds out.  However, okra is a heavy producer.  Theoretically I still think we’ll have more okra than we know what to do with.

So friends, come visit us later this summer.  I will cook you stuff straight from the garden and it will be fabulous.

 

Newborn Survival Guide

I’m feeling like a total rebel right now because its actually “nap time” and the babes are asleep, which means I should be napping too, in order to properly stave off the sleep deprivation.  That’s like Rule #1 of Newborn Survival.

But ya know what???? I don’t feel like napping!!!  Mama free time!!! Wooo!

Crazy town, I know.

Sorry.

Today I wanted to jot down my thoughts on surviving the onslaught of the second child.  Its a bit different that having that first child – but in a good way.  Actually, its much better than I imagined.  Actually, we are pretty much having a blast over here with Mr. Davis.  Here are some ways that Baby #2 is different from Baby #1.

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Those long sleepless nights aren’t quite so long.

Having that first child is a bit of a shock to the adult system.  Parents instantly go from having total control over your own life to basically none.  The newborn takes charge of your sleep schedule, shower schedule, eating schedule, social life, work life, and so on.  Eventually, little by little, you regain some of that control, but not all of it.  As parents of a 3.5 year old, we still can’t stay up all night watching 6 consecutive episodes of _____ on Netflix without serious consequences.  The preschooler won’t sleep in.  In fact, he’ll probably wake up earlier than normal because kids have a sixth sense about these sorts of situations.  That doesn’t always mean we make the right decision about the number of shows to watch.

I remember thinking at those 3am feedings with Kid #1 that I literally might die from sleep deprivation.  Who even knew it was possible to survive on 2 hour naps for weeks (months) on end?  Hey, I survived.

The sleepless nights were what I most dreaded about having another baby.  Thankfully, its not nearly as bad this time, not as painful as I remembered.  Knowing what to expect and knowing its doable makes all the difference.  Its just one more feeding, and the house is peaceful and quiet.  Life goes on. 🙂

IMG_2974Ransom’s last day at preschool was ‘Wacky Tacky’ day. He was a natural at it.

That panicky inner voice in your head isn’t nearly so loud.

With the first baby, even I, the most laid back person of all people everywhere, could hear that voice in my head telling me that Child #1 was probably dying every time we couldn’t get him to stop crying. Or at least starving? Some being emotionally damaged?  Something else terrible.  Baby #2? We’re more able to hang on to our sanity and just enjoy the little guy, even when he’s crying.

He doesn’t really cry that much after all.

IMG_2904I think they are performing a freestyle rap duet here.

Enjoy it, none of this will last very long.

Again, with the first, we were more worried that he was… not sleeping long enough… not developing healthy napping skills.. depending on being rocked to sleep… not getting enough to eat… getting too much to eat…  Baby #2?  If you want me to rock your sweet little noggin to sleep, sure, I’d love to.  There will be plenty of time for self-soothing later.

IMG_2912Davis has already outgrown this onesie. 😦

Cut out everything.

To get the most out of this oh-so-short newborn phase, really, cut out all the stuff.  Forget it.  It’ll wait.  I knew this the first time, but I really really get it this time.  I’m doing a much better job at doing nothing.

I cut out cooking.  Its my favorite hobby (truly eating is, if we’re being honest) and it takes up a big chunk of my time.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of running our household on mostly-from-scratch, healthier-than-average meals.  (Cheaper too, icing on the cake!)

This month we are eating meals I froze in the last few months, take-out, and preprocessed foods like pop-tarts, cheetos, frozen pizza, canned soup, PB&J, cereal.  No one has died yet.  I’ll ease back into cooking in a few more weeks, but for now, bring on the high fructose corn syrup.  In fact, we’re having ‘breakfast for dinner’ tonight which will involve scrambling eggs.  Baby steps!

We also used exclusively disposable plates, cups, and plasticware right at first.  Sorry earth, I’ll make it up to you later.  There’s just no time to wash dishes right in the beginning.  I stopped worrying about the recycling (its not easy here in the boonies but I do my best), but I just don’t need a counter full of drying tin cans these days.

So in summary, to make this easiest, I recommend you take all the shortcuts and don’t feel bad about it.  Its certainly working for us.

IMG_2939Regression… its real.

Make lists and set timers.

New mamas do have a little free time.  It just comes in unexpected bursts, at ever varying times of day, for unknown lengths.  What works best for me is to keep a list of things that I’d like to accomplish.  Keep it simple.. e.g. paint toenails.  That sleep deprivation will keep you from being able to remember anything ever, unless its written down.

And then, if I’m doing anything that is time sensitive, do set a timer.  Again, you’ll totally forget you started that rice boiling, and 30 minutes later be wondering what that weird smell is.  (did it)  I prefer the oven timer because it keeps beeping until someone addresses it.  You can set reminders in your phone too, for calls that need to be made, bills to pay, etc.  These things come floating across your brain at that 3am feeding, but then they are nowhere to be found in the light of day.

 

IMG_2976Selfie.

Download some e-books.

Okay last tip.  Babies take up an enormous amount of time with their round-the-clock feeding habits.  You will be chair-bound like, 4+ hours per day.  I downloaded some books to read on my phone with the kindle app.  Even though this isn’t my preferred way to read, I can easily manage my phone with just one hand.  And having something intelligent to do keeps your brain from rotting out.  4+ hours is too much time to spend on facebook!!

Next time, I look forward to talking about something besides babies!  Although I do love babies. 🙂

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Packing on the lbs.

 

“A” for Asparagus

The other day, my parents were passing through town and we popped over to see my boss’ garden.  There’s lettuce galore right now along with other leafy greens and the beginnings of other things, but what I was particularly enamored with was her asparagus bed.  It wasn’t but just a few years ago that I hated asparagus, and now I can proudly say that I’ve eaten it 3 times this week and just writing about it makes me crave some more (and I just had it like an hour ago.)  I bent low to admire these little asparaguses (asparagi?) popping out of the ground while mom picked lettuce and Dad and Kelly discussed the trials of getting a good crop of tomatoes.

My friend Erin will attest to the fact that cooking asparagus in the Bordeaux kitchen has often been synonymous with setting off every smoke alarm in the house.  No matter what we tried, it seemed that it never cooked super well (either too tough or too burned) and we’d have to open all the windows and fan the smoke away from the detector.  Then one day, quite out of laziness, I hit upon the perfect way to cook it.  I’d bought some fish from Whole Foods that needed to be cooked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven, and since I didn’t want either the main dish or the side dish to get cold while the other cooked, I decided to just throw it all in there at the same time and crossed my fingers.   The result was delicious and I’ll never cook it another way again.  So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make an impressive and healthy side dish, I bring you this “recipe” if you can call it that.

 

Ingredients:

*1 bunch of asparagus

*about 3 teaspoons of olive oil

*ground sea salt

*ground pepper mixture

Directions:

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Rinse off asparagus

3. Cut about half an inch off the bottom of the stalks and throw the tiny pieces away (the end with out the fluffy part.)

4. lay all the asparagus out on a cookie sheet….the kind with a lip (otherwise it’ll all roll off and that would be a pain.)

5. lightly brush the asparagus with the olive oil using a pastry brush (silicone or bristles…either is fine) until there is a light coating of oil over all the stalks.  (This is the key step.  Just a thin coat.  Brush, don’t pour.)

6. sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over all stalks.

7. bake in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes.

8. enjoy!

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