Monday, April 29, 2013

A Week with a Stay-At-Home Husband

I just want to start by gloating about the weather that I've gotten to enjoy this week. And after the winter I've endured, I have every right to gloat. It's been in the sixties and sunny for the past 4-5 days, and this week's forecast isn't predicting anything but warmer and sunnier skies. That, my friends, makes me one happy girl.

Now onto the main topic.

A couple weeks ago, Patrick was off for a shut down week. It was a long overdue break for him, but it didn't slow him down one bit. He wanted to cook supper the first two days, which is a HUGE deal. He's always been interested in the whole cooking process and even watches a couple cooking shows with me, but he's never attempted to make even a side dish. So when he agreed to make dinner, I did not oppose.

After working all day on Monday, I came home to a fresh fruit salad and chicken thawing for dinner. I was totally impressed. Hubs had gone to the store, bought all the fruit and ingredients for dinner, and prepared the salad before I even got home. Plus, he took a picture of the ingredients for my blog (Sorry, we didn't get an after shot.). I could really get used to this.

This fruit salad was unlike any other I've had before because it had the nuttiness and chocolate crunch of the trail mix. I ate it for every meal until it was no more. So, for the first time in married-life history, I'm sharing a recipe created by my husband.

This is the perfect dish for the hot, humid summer days ahead. Light, refreshing, and a touch of chocolate. Yes, please.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Boston Experience

Patrick and I were both anxious to go to Boston. We were in dire need of a getaway, and since Boston is only a few hours from where we're living, it set itself up nicely to be the perfect trip.

Then tragedy hit.

We knew the heartbreaking, horrific event last Monday would affect our trip, but we could never foresee what was going to take place once we actually arrived.

As we pulled into our charming bed & breakfast on Thursday, we quickly parked our car and starting walking to our first planned stop without even checking in.

Patrick, being an engineer, wanted to check out MIT, so we leisurely strolled through the campus before getting on the train to Cambridge for a tour of Harvard. We were in awe of the beautiful spring day and the historic buildings that lined the streets. Once we decided that we had seen enough of MIT, we searched for the nearest transit. Being that we just arrived, we had no idea where to look, so we found an MIT police parked on campus to ask. In his deepest Boston accent, he promptly explained exactly where we needed to go.

We found our way to the infamous gate leading into Harvard's campus and immediately caught up with a student-led tour, which was led by a very well-spoken, knowledgeable, humorous young man. I would expect nothing less by a Harvard student. This is a must do if you ever plan a Boston trip.

After our brains were full of Harvard knowledge, we enjoyed a picnic in Harvard yard.

We carried on with our afternoon by strolling through the streets of Cambridge before heading back to our room to get ready for a date in the North End, which is most readily known as "Little Italy." We dined at an amazing Italian restaurant, which was a real treat because I typically only recommend restaurants that I have coupons for. Then we grabbed a couple cannolis at Mike's Pastry before we called it a successful first day.

 Being the early risers that we are, we woke up before 7 and promptly turned on the news. Every channel had breaking news coverage of the two bombers: "One dead, the other on the loose." Anything that is said to be "on the loose" doesn't settle well with anyone, even if it's only a wild monkey. But a teenage mass murderer on the loose in the city that you're currently in is quite eerie.

My first thought, "The police and F.B.I are far too smart to not capture this guy in the next hour or so."


And second, "We just talked to an MIT policeman yesterday!"(Thankfully, it wasn't the same man, though our prayers go out the victim's family.)

An hour went by and the mayor came on the news and shut down the entire city. This was serious. Still I thought it would only last a couple hours. We had a Red Sox game to go to that night, so they needed to catch him before game time. (At least that was our selfish thoughts at the time.) Patrick and I tried to make the most of the morning by chatting with the other residents and sitting out on the porch swing, but the frustration of staying put on a sunny 70 degree day with a list of activities to check off was getting the best of me.

My moodiness only got worse as the hours were ticking by. Yes, people, I get moody. It's unbearable at times. That's why God blessed me with such a patient man. I just felt like our entire trip with all of our Living Social coupons, history tours, and a Red Sox game, which was canceled, had been ruined all because of a stupid 19-year-old boy.

The B&B kindly prepared a meal for all us since every restaurant and store within a thirty mile radius was closed. As soon as we returned to our room we noticed a riveting scene on the news. They found the guy, but was trying to take him alive. It was like watching a suspenseful movie, but no clear end was in sight. We wanted to go downtown since the holds were released by the mayor, but it was hard to pry away from such an exciting scene knowing that it was taking place less than 10 miles away. There was no telling how long this capture would take, so we went to the oddly vacant downtown streets for a little while only to return to exciting news, "The police captured the hostage alive!"

We originally planned to head back to Maine the following afternoon, but Patrick refused to let this trip go to waste. He talked to the inn keeper, and luckily they had a few cancellations, so we decided to stay an extra night. We got to go on our Duck Boat tour Saturday morning and found a pair of tickets to the Red Sox game that afternoon. If we were ever going to go to a Sox game, Saturday's game was the one to go to.

They honored the police who had just captured the bomber, Tito Ortiz gave a shocking, yet chilling speech, and Neal Diamond even came out after the 7th inning to sing "Sweet Caroline."

It was also nice the Ortiz hit a home run in the 8th to lead the Sox to a win over the Royals.

That night we went to Boylston Street where people had started a memorial for the bombing victims. To witness a crowd of people fixated on a wall of posters, flags, flowers, and hand-written prayers and notes was chilling. To think of what had just occurred right down the street and how the people of Boston were coming together to support one other was a moment I hope to never forget.

To conclude our trip, the next morning we completed the Freedom Trail (a 2.5 mile route that takes you through all of the historical sites) and made our way back north.

Patrick and I thought we had planned the perfect Boston vacation. Though it may seem like the tragic events ruined our once "perfect" plans, they only made them that much more memorable and meaningful than they ever would have been otherwise. I'm proud that I got to witness a strong city become even stronger, and the goodness pouring out of our God and the nation that He protects and loves.

(More pictures will be/have been posted on my Facebook)

- Diana

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DIY Fabric Chandelier

Before getting engaged, I rarely ever looked at wedding things for two reasons; one: I didn't think I would be getting engaged any time soon, and two: I knew my mind would change on the things I liked by the time I actually got engaged.

I knew I would eventually marry Patrick, but I thought he was going to wait a lot longer before proposing. We dated for two years before getting engaged, but it was a SLOOOW start. He really shuffled his feet at the beginning of the relationship, and I expected nothing less when it came to our engagement. But low-and-behold, he proved me wrong, which was a very nice surprise. So once he popped the question, I punched my time card in on Pintrest and every wedding blog out there and didn't clock out until a week or two before the wedding. I knew I wanted a soft, "vintagey", story book wedding, but figuring out how to put it all together was the challenge. 

The first project I completed (with the help of a my roommates and a couple friends) was two fabric chandeliers. Patrick and I hadn't booked a venue yet, nor did I know if I was even going to be able to use them, but I loved the idea so much I just had to do it. 

We had an AMAZING photographer. If you're in middle or east TN, you should definitely check out Jessie Holloway Photography

I knew we were going to have to pay quite a bit for a few things for the wedding, so to keep the budget intact, I Goodwilled and yard saled all of our decorations. The chandeliers were among the cheapest of my thrifty finds. 

The only items you need to make these is fabric and a cooling rack

I realize fabric can get very pricey, so I bought a couple different sets of sheets in coordinating patterns (including fitted and pillow cases) and lace curtains at Goodwill. I think the most expensive set was $5, which is cheap when you think about how many yards of fabric you get in a set of sheets. And, luckily, I found two cooling racks in the same Goodwill trip, which cost me ninety-nine cents a piece. 

This project is so simple that I broke it down to three easy steps. 

1. Using sharp fabric scissors (I learned the hard way), cut 1"-2" strips in all of your fabric. To give you an idea of how much fabric you need to make two chandeliers, I used about half of the fabric in the three sets of sheets I purchased (I used the remaining fabric in other wedding projects). After cutting the strips, you need vary the lengths, so leave a third of strips long (lengths vary depending on where you want to use it), cut the other third an inch shorter, then the last third an inch shorter than that. I went back once I finished the chandeliers and trimmed it up to make it look loose and undone. 

2. Next, take one of your long strips and wrap it around the ends of your cooling rack, tying it in a simple knot at the end.

This just disguises the fact that you're using a cooling rack. 

3. Lastly, beginning in the middle of the rack, tie the longest strips of fabric in the middle and work your way out with the shortest strips obviously being on the ends. In order to hang your chandelier, take the left over strips and braid four long, even ropes. Tie these in the corners of the rack, then bring them together and tie into a strong knot.

To give it some texture, braid some more of the strips of fabric together and tie in random places around the ends of the rack. 

I think these chandeliers fit perfectly in the downstairs cellar of The Knoxville Botanical Gardens. The gardens fit everything Patrick and I imagined our wedding to be: quirky, woodsy, and quaint. (More on that in a coming post)

The chandeliers are still hanging in my closet at my parents house. I think they will look great in a guest room, office, or my personal favorite...nursery. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's To Come

It's Friday, and my husband and I both have the afternoon off! This is extremely rare, folks. So what do I do? Brew a cup of hazelnut coffee, turn on the Masters, watch it snow (I've decided that spring is never going to come), and blog about it all. This is all while the hubs naps. It's a great way to start the weekend!

With it finally being Friday, that means I've just completed another long work week. I'm so incredibly thankful that I have a job, but honestly I never expected to be working as much as I have. After applying for an extreme wide variety of jobs, I was just expecting to maybe get something part-time if nothing at all. Little did I know I would land an incredibly rewarding job and working 40+ hours a week. Just a little reminder to myself that God truly listens to all of my prayers and blesses me in His perfect timing. But this means my blog has suffered. I find myself extremely exhausted once I get home, and not wanting to use my brain after 5 p.m. I've been spitting posts out a couple times a week at best, including this one.

I blog for two reasons: to keep my friends and family in touch with our lives in Maine and to keep my mind fresh and sane. So I've decided that I need some accountability. Resolution: Make a list of topics so it gives my tired brain a little rest later on, and I have one less excuse not to post several times a week.

Be watching for:..

  • DIY Fabric Chandelier 
  • Hand-Made, Home-Made Wedding
    • Crafts
    • Money-saving tips
    • And blurbs about the planning process
  • Three drool-worthy cookie recipes
  • DIY Wall Art
  • Boston Trip Re-cap
  • Beauty Favorites
  • And all of my awkward moments in between

I think that will be enough to keep me busy for a while. If any of this got your heart palpitating or feet sweating (Your feet don't sweat when your excited? Weird.), be sure to check back soon and keep me on top of my game, friends.

Enjoy your lovely spring weekend while we play in the snow!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Ramblings

I have five things, plus one, to share with you today. Enjoy.

Number One:
I'm making an oath today. I'm not getting on Facebook until it's actually warm here. All I've been seeing are posts exclaiming how beautiful of a day it is and how spring has finally arrived. Well, I'm still bundled up in the 20 degree weather in Maine. We've had a mild day or two recently, but I need consistent warmth. Though the whole oath thing might have been an exaggeration, I'm still envious of the fun, warm activities my Southern friends are enjoying today. Think of me as you're frolicking in the sun this weekend.

Number Two:
My mom sent me an enormous amount of coupons, so I spent my Saturday morning clipping coupons and grocery shopping. Ever since I learned that Shaw's, the local supermarket, doubles coupons up to .99 cents I've been saving anywhere from 40-60% on groceries. Today, I saved 45%. I get really excited when the cashier hands me the receipt, and I see that the price is almost half of what it originally was. It's kind of like reading a Facebook status about how warm and sunny it is and I can actually agree.

Number Three:
The only reason I'm blogging right now is one: I'm waiting on my nails to dry; therefore, I'm physically unable to do anything for at least the next half hour; and two: my husband and cat are both conked out, so I have nothing else to do.

Number Four:
Speaking of my husband, I have the best there is. As I was grocery shopping this morning, he swept and mopped the floors (even under the rugs!), did the dishes, and straightened up the apartment without me even having to ask. I'm glad I snagged this guy before some other gal got a chance to!

Number Five:
This evening will consist of pizza and basketball. All three of us filled out a bracket this year. "Did she say three?" Yes, that is not a typo. Walter filled one out too. We flipped a coin for him, but he had a vital role in the whole process. It just so happens that he picked NC State to win, so he wasn't a threat for long. Patrick and I, on the other hand, are neck-to-neck. He chose Louisville, and I picked Michigan. So, it's come down to the final games for the winner to prevail!
Actually, this is reason #3 I'm blogging today. I wanted to document to the world that I chose Michigan before they actually win it all so I can bask in my victory...or tuck my tail when they don't even make it to the championship.

Plus One:
We go to Boston in less than two weeks, and Grandad is flying up two weeks after that. Fun times are a-comin'!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

This past weekend was a breath of fresh air... literally. Not only did I need a break from work (which I know I just started, but it's been exhausting!), but I've been needing some warm, sunny, relaxing outdoor activity action for some time now.

Patrick and my friend, Will, decided last minute to drive up from New York this weekend, and I'm oh-so-glad he did. Since they both love to hike, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and venture on to Acadia. I went last month with my friend who came in town (which you can check out here), but it was still very cold and snowy, so we just drove around the island for some scenic fun. This time we decided to strap on our hiking boots and go to the top of Dorr Mountain (one of the peaks in Acadia). 

It started off a bit chilly, but the steep steps warmed up our legs in no time. As we climbed higher, we started to get warmer even though the ground was still cover in snow. It made for a very unique hike. One that none of us had ever experienced before. As we were hiking through the slick, deep snow, we could see the ocean the entire time. It was absolutely incredible and rewarding.

I've gone on several hikes in the South, but none compared to this. It wasn't that it was any greater than the southern Appalachian or Cumberland mountains that I've hiked, it was just a completely different kind of beautiful. One that I'm so blessed to have gotten to experience. 

This is one of the many times my slow, heavy foot fell through the snow. Patrick and Will are so swift and light on their feet that they didn't seem to have a problem, but I was falling through every few steps. It didn't take long for the snow to make its way in my shoes, which caused for one of my all time greatest annoyances, wet socks. 

Don't you just hate when you're walking around the house with your warm, cozy socks on and all of a sudden you step in a puddle of melted ice that fell from your ice maker, or the pool of water that your significant other left in the bathroom when he or she jumped out of the shower soaking wet on the floor and not the water absorbing rugs you specifically bought to keep the bathroom floor from getting wet...or cat pee. Oh, you've never stepped in cat pee? Just come visit us because Walter pees all over everything ONLY when we have company. He's extremely territorial and rules the roost at all times, so when someone new intrudes in his space, he'll show you who's boss by peeing on all of your belongings. 

Okay, enough about my wet sock frustration and cat pee. Here's a few more shots from our hike. 

After we made it back down the snowy trail, we decided to explore the rest of what Acadia had to offer. We seriously couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day...well, I wouldn't have minded if it was about ten degrees warmer, but the sun made all the difference. We stopped by Sand Beach and the cliff rock overlook area while we were taking a cruise around the island. 

Being the weirdos that they are, they decided to advertise their employer by wearing mesh and blue jean matching hats.

 Out of all the pictures Patrick and I took this weekend, this is my favorite. The hubs snapped this one on our final stop. I didn't need to edit it or anything. It definitely sums up the beauty of Acadia.

After an exhausting, adventurous Saturday, we joyfully celebrated Easter on Sunday. We worshiped at a local church and I prepared my first Easter dinner, ham and all! Though I wish we could have celebrated the risen Lord with our families, it was special to spend this Easter with just my husband, Will, and of course, Walter. 

What a breath of fresh air!