31 August 2010

Lagoon, Meet Your New Sister, The Deep End.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Ever since I painted the floor in The Lagoon, I've been jonesin' to give the kitchen a little makeover. It's not that it was awful (at least, I didn't think it was awful until I changed it), but it wasn't particularly pretty. See, the cabinets were a color that I like to call "Formerly White, Now Nicotine Yellow" (the people who lived here before us smoked in the house). The cabinets were chipped, the trim was looking rough, and the whole room was just kind of dingy. One of the walls even had [hopefully not lead] paint chipping off of it.

And don't even get me started on the wallpaper.  Sure, there was a certain charm about the strawberry print that had probably been there since the late '70s.  But it was peeling off, and also sported the smoker dinge.  Yuck!

(see the chipped cabinets at the top of the picture?)

I had resisted the kitchen project because I knew that it would be a bitch, and, plus, we rent this house.  To do it right would require days of work and waiting for paint to dry, and more work.  Plus, we wouldn't really be able to use the kitchen during that time.  I knew that the expense would be minimal, but I didn't know when I would have the time or energy to take on such a feat.

And then Matt made plans to go out of town for the weekend.  I didn't have much to do, and I had four nights with nothing planned.  Hmph?  So Thursday night I was talking to Cassie about how bored I was going to be all weekend, and threw out the idea that I might just tackle the kitchen project, and she encouraged me to go ahead and do it.  For about fifteen minutes we discusssed what to do, and then, inspired, I set out for Home Depot.

Eighty-two dollars later, I had three gallons of paint and some supplies (and two new friends from the paint department).  I made myself a little schedule:
  • Thursday night, remove wallpaper
  • Friday, remove everything from kitchen and prime all walls and cabinets
  • Saturday, paint all cabinets
  • Sunday, paint walls, clean up, and put everything back in its place
Easier said than done. 

I think at this point I'll just let the pictures tell the story. . .

Phew!  That was a lot of work!  But it sure was worth it.  Check it out.

This bin was the only new item (with the exception of the Amish Butterprint bowls) to enter the kitchen.

(That note on the refrigerator says, "This is your last chance to forgive me and that's what God wants."  Cassie found it at the kiddie table at Old Navy and gifted it to us.  Oh, and do you see where I missed a spot?) 

I had to frame part of the border, just like how Uncle Jesse on Full House framed the pink bunny.

Howl if you love the new kitchen!

Total cost: $89 (and the brain cells I lost while priming).

And how's this for a before and after?

Oh, and I know it's been killing you that The Lagoon has such an awesome name while the kitchen has to settle for "the kitchen."  Well, no more!  Starting tonight, we will refer to the kitchen as The Deep End. (Thanks for the suggestion, Cassie!)

30 August 2010

Amish Butterprint Delights!

So, a month and a half ago or so, I was at Matt's parents' lake house, sitting on the couch reading my interwebs.  I was reading Caitie's blog, and she was writing about how she'd celebrated Bastille Day.  Caitie was making truffles (How fun is that?), but it wasn't the truffles that grabbed my attention: it was her bowl.  She was using this old-timey white bowl with a rooster on it.

Upon seeing the bowl, I blurted out--Veruca Salt style--that I wanted that bowl. 

Later that week Matt's mom and I went to a few antique shops, and I kept my eye out for the bowls, but had no luck.  But she told me that she was headed to Bouckville, an antique festival in New York, later on in the summer, and she'd look for them there.

I wish I could be all, "And then I completely forgot about them," but I can't.  I can't because I obsessed over the bowls.  I thought about them and fantasized about the beautiful roosters and imagined how beautiful they would look in my kitchen.  So when my [out of control wonderful] mother-in-law called me in the middle of the afternoon to tell me that she'd found an entire set of them, alternating in blue and white, asking if it was okay that some of them were blue.  Um, yes!  Yes, that's okay.  I squealed a little.  Okay, I squealed a lot. 

And when they arrived at our house on Friday afternoon I squealed some more.  I rushed to open the package--that contained not only the set of four, but also two additional mixing bowls--and just held the bowls and stared them.  And I pet them and ran my finger around the rims.  And I'd smile some more.  And then I'd squeal some more.  And then I'd call my friends to brag about what a great mother-in-law I have. 

(Note:  She's wonderful even when she isn't buying me incredible gifts.  She's kind and understanding and wise and reasonable and tells me when she disagrees with me.  She's a great shopping buddy and an enthusiastic listener and she raised a pretty great boy that I got to marry.  I love her.)

So here are the bowls. Their official name is Amish Butterprint, and they were made by Pyrex in the '50s. It's actually kind of ironic that I would be so in love with these bowls, considering how much I detest the Amish. (Cheaters. If you're reading this and you're Amish, you're just proving my theory that you're all dirty cheaters with bad haircuts and no buttons.)

Aren't they so pretty?  And just wait until you see how they go in the kitchen post facelift!

They Couldn't Have Found a Cuter Shirt?

When we were in college, Becky saw an ad for Clorox that had some mom trying to wash her son's shirts (because he, of course, was WAY into sports), claiming, boys will be boys.  She was deeply offended.  Becky believed that the Clorox company was being sexist and claiming that only boys participated in sports, while the girls stayed indoors and helped Mom with the laundry.  She wrote letters to the Clorox company, and boycotted Clorox forever.  She still gets pretty riled up if you bring up that commercial.  At first, I thought she was being silly, but the more Clorox commercials I saw, the more I started to side with Becky.  Like this one. 

"Oh, would you look at those wild and crazy boys just being boys, while the little women get to stay inside and clean up after them."  (Though, I suppose that if they'd had little girls in a similar mud bath, there would have been outrage for different, more lewd reasons.)

Anyway, the only reason that I was thinking about Becky's hatred of Clorox is there's a laundry commercial on right now that I absolutely loathe.  It's this one for Tide.  You've probably seen it.

I get it.  I mean, there are only so many ways that you can market laundry detergent, and it seems like everything's been done already.  Surely there's a dearth of ideas.  I guess this commercial's got one thing going for it, and that's that it's memorable.  Memorable for being stupid, sure, but memorable nonetheless. 

But I hate it.  And I don't hate it because I think it's sending out some kind of awful message to society, like this girl does, but I hate it because, well. . .


The color!  The length!  The side ruffles!  I'm surprised that the stain didn't come from someone puking all over the shirt after catching a glimpse of those side ruffles in that hideous shade of green.

 I don't find it hard to believe that Tide is powerful enough to remove stains, but I do have trouble believing that both a mother and daughter would want to wear something so heinous.

29 August 2010

This and That

  1. Tomorrow is the first day of school.  It's my 22nd first day of school, and I still get nervous and excited.  I hope that never goes away.  One of the best parts of teaching ninth graders is that I know that they're so much more nervous than I am, so I try to exploit that and scare them into thinking my class is going to be way harder than it actually is.  Classy, huh?  I can't wait to meet my new kiddies tomorrow morning!
  2. Matt's been gone all weekend visiting his friend Drew in Virginia.  Initially, I was less than thrilled about him leaving me for a whole weekend (because I'm a loser and I never want him to go anywhere without me).  When he told me that during his weekend with Drew he'd be doing fantasy football drafts, though, I couldn't get him out the door fast enough.  I HATE sitting around while Matt does fantasy football drafts, and I always get a little bitchy about how long and drawn out they are.  (Also, he hogs the computer to do them.)  So, really, I believe that Matt's having gone away for the weekend is good for our marriage. 
  3. As much as looking at my toothbrush sitting there all alone in the holder can bum me out, this weekend has actually been pretty great.  I gave our kitchen a little makeover (pictures to come), I got an amazing package in the mail (pictures to come), I watched season 8 of Friends (for the hundredth time), I cleaned, I listened to music and podcasts, and, whattayaknow?. . . I participated in a fantasy football draft of my own. 
  4. My reasons for joining the fantasy football league were threefold. 
    1. I really like the people who are in the league, and since it seems that my Savannah friends all move away, I need to be more outgoing. 
    2. I could possibly win money.
    3. Most importantly, there's a chance that I could win in my league and Matt would lose in his.  I am a bad wife.
  5. Today I bought the Goody spiral bobby pin thing, and I'm completely in love.  I can basically make my hair look like it's in a fancy up-do with no work at all.  Go buy them.  I think you'll agree.
Well, I'm off to pack my lunch for my first day of school.  Wish me luck!

25 August 2010

I Will Always Be with You.

So here's why today was awesome.  I got a crapload of work done at school today (including dragging a cart with 600 lbs. of books across campus, sweating like a sweaty pig girl), I went to lunch with two super fun and sassy coworkers, I got my second pair of perfect trousers from Gap using my 40% off coupon, I checked out The Beatles' White Album from the library (and absolutely DID NOT load it onto my computer so that I can burn copies to listen to it in my car**), I got to go to Publix, I cleaned the shit out of our house, my phone (the one I broke with my tears) started working again after being buried in a Ziploc bag full of rice, I talked to Grandma Carol (love you, Grandma!), Cassie brought me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers (in JMU colors!), we ate BBQ chicken and pineapple quesadillas, I indulged in a few glasses of wine, and. . .I remembered the idea that Tanya and I had years ago, the idea that will likely earn us millions.

Here's how it all started.   Cassie was over for dinner, and after we ate, we sat around the kitchen table, just a talkin' and a laughin' away.  Somehow the topic of what we wanted done with our bodies after we died came up, and we all agreed that we wanted to donate our bodies to science.  But apparently, when you donate your body to science, the science folk cut up your body and look at it and stuff, but then when they're done dissecting you, they cremate you.  So we're stuck, then, with what to do with the ashes. 

So what to do with the ashes?  I initially suggested having a serial killer stick my ashes to a wall with his saliva, and to have his victims point to the ashes, but that seems really complicated and hard to orchestrate post-mortem (plus, I'm pretty sure it's been done before on some TV show).  Matt suggested putting his ashes in a coffee can and dumping them in the Pacific, a la, The Big Lebowski (a movie that I have watched in short segments over the course of eight years, and when I finally finished it I was all "Seriously, Matt?  That's your favorite movie in the world?***), which I think means that he wants someone else to stand there while his ashes blow into their face.  Cassie said that she wanted her ashes spread from some mountain in Italy, the highest point in Cinque Terre, where she and Hugh honeymooned.  She added that she wanted some of them thrown in the direction of the beach, so that the sunbathers would be coated with a little bit o'**** Cassie.  (Would that mean that they would suddenly find themselves able to cook delicious meals and arrange flowers beautifully?) 

And then I remembered. . .ASH PACKETS.

When Tanya and I were in high school, we were pretty innovative.  One night, we came up with the best idea of all time (well, second or third best--after the invention of wine and making dogs be pets).  Ash packets.  What are Ash Packets, you ask?  Well, here's what happens.  You die.  You get cremated.  Your ashes get distributed in packages similar to those that house the famed moist towelette (or wet nap, for those of us who are less fancy).  AND THEN, your Ash Packets can be distributed as favors at your funeral. 

And you know how your sense of smell is connected with your memory (like how I can smell Bath and Body Works' Creamy Coconut and immediately think of spring break '02)?  Well, for an extra fee, you can make your Ash Packet scratch-'n-sniff.  Did you always wear Clinique Happy?  Well, your Ash Packet can smell like that, and when your friends and family hold that little bit o' you, they'll smell you, too! 

For another small fee, you can add a little voice recorder chip.  (Now, this would require a little bit o' pre-planning, because, obviously, you'd have to record this before death.)  The clip could say something creepy like, "I will always be with you" or they could say something funny like, "BANANAS!"

And, people could collect Ash Packets.  You could have a whole wallet full o' them.  It would be like how you collected senior pictures senior year, or, if you chose, you could have one of those shelves that people have for shot glasses with the little individual spotlights.

I think it's a million dollar idea.  What do you think?  (For the record, Matt and Cassie both thought it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.)

**By the way, if I were to have a soundtrack of my senior year of high school, it would basically just be The Beatles' White Album.  Tanya and I would listen to it over and over again.  Our favorite song (well, her favorite song that quickly became my favorite song) was "Why Don't We Do It In the Road?". When Tanya and I made lists of the top ten qualities that we we looking for in a future husband, she listed, "A willingness to do it in the road."  I love Tanya.

***It's not his favorite movie.  It's one of his favorite movies.

****I am either feeling very Irish, or am having a craving for a Bit O' Honey.

24 August 2010

Love and Marriage

Matt:  So I called the doctor today, and he said--

Me:  --No more monkeys jumping on the bed?

22 August 2010

This and That

  1. Just finished watching True Blood.  I'm about ready for Sookie to get offed.
  2. Brett Favre is such a drama queen!  This is why I broke up with him a few years ago.  Well, the drama queen thing and the way he just couldn't seem to make a decision.
  3. Matt and I have been pro-baby for two full weeks.  That could be a record.  Understand, though, that I'm about to head back to school, and there's nothing like a classroom full of ninth graders to make a person anti-baby.
  4. Thunderstorms = awesome.  Especially because I can cross off "water hydrangeas" from my to do list without having to go outside.
  5. We went back to B. Matthews for brunch today, since last week's experience had been so incredible.  And guess what?  It sucked.  The food and service were lackluster.  Do we chaulk that up to a bad day for the restaurant, or is it just hit or miss at B. Matthews?  Savannah people, any thoughts?
  6. I'm headed back to work tomorrow morning, which I'm actually pretty excited about.  This will be my fifth year teaching (how did that happen?), and I don't think I've ever been this eager to get back.  (I am, however, decidedly less excited about being to school at 7:15 every morning.)  In preparation for the coming year, I have:
    1. Bought new pants.
    2. Bought new shoes.
    3. Bought new anti-frizz hair stuff so that maybe I will blow dry my hair for work and go to school looking like a real girl, not a hobo in a cardigan.
    4. Bought a mini refrigerator. (Cost $50.  Will save me $90 over the course of one year.)
    5. Bought a microwave. (Cost $29.  Decided that the refrigerator paid for it.)
    6. Made a big to-do list of things to do tomorrow. (Two pages long!)
    7. Refrained from drinking wine tonight. (Also, Georgia doesn't sell wine on Sundays.)
    8. Thought a lot about how to tweak my American Literature class. (Less Puritan garbage, more Vonnegut?  Can I swing that?)
    9. Set out my clothes for tomorrow.  (More of the hobo look since it's just pre-planning week.)  Also packed my school bag and set that out for tomorrow morning. (That's where my water bottle and missing sunglasses were hiding!)
    10. Finished this blog post early so that I can get to bed and be at school at 7:15. 
Happy week to you!

20 August 2010

Scaredy Cat

Okay, so first of all, let me tell you that I'm not a big scaredy cat when I'm at the house by myself.  Sure, that time I was in the shower and Mitch came in and licked my leg I screamed a little.  Sure, I occasionally think that a ghost is messing with my hair or swiping cupcakes.  I exercise caution when I'm home alone--you know, by locking the doors and refraining from dancing naked in front of the windows--but I usually feel pretty safe. (And I sometimes daydream about how I would defend myself against a would-be murderer.  Three words: cast iron skillet.)

But here's the thing.  In the last two days, Matt and I watched all of season 4 of Dexter.  I won't spoil anything for you, but season 4 features, I believe, the creepiest, most disturbing killer of all time, and he's played by John Lithgow. 


Horrible creepfest.

3rd Rock from the Sun will never be the same again.

Since we started the season I've not only been having bad dreams about being murdered in a bathtub, but I've also been scared to be at home by myself.  It's been years since I've been afraid to walk into a dark room, but I find myself rushing to get a light turned on, releasing a sigh of relief when I don't see a murderer in the bedroom, and then checking around to make extra sure that there's no murderer.  I've refused to close the shower curtain (something I nag Matt to do) because I'm afraid of the murderer hiding in the bathroom.

I tried to watch the Real Housewives of D.C. to wash the Dexter out of my brain, but it didn't work. (In fact, it just made me wish John Lithgow's character would head to D.C. to keep on keepin' on.) I listened to music, but that just made me more afraid that the murderer would be able to enter the house unnoticed. 

Guess I'll just be sleeping with a cast iron skillet under my pillow for the next few nights.  That sounds comfy.  (But it beats the hell out of being murdered in a bathtub.)

19 August 2010

True Love

Hello, you perfect trouser, you.

If you're in the market for some fantastic black (or gray or navy pinstripe) pants for school or work or just plain ol' hookin' (actually, you shouldn't be hookin' at all, and if you are hookin', this seems to be more appropriate than nice, sensible trousers), then scoot yourself down to your local Gap and pick yourself up a pair of these babies.

Also, Gap's been giving out these 40% off a single item on Wednesdays coupons, so get one of those, and then go on Wednesday and get the perfect trousers for a more perfect price. 

Oh, and in case you were wondering (yeah, like you were wondering), that is not my body in those pictures.  Girls don't get to looking like that by eating hot dogs four days in a row.  Seriously.  I've eaten at least one hot dog every day since Monday.  It's disgusting.  And delicious.  But more disgusting.

Cheap Wall Art

So, my new favorite room in the house, the Lagoon, is still in need of a few finishing touches.  For one, I need to install some quarter round, since the room used to be a porch and the other day I watched a baby spider crawl in under the baseboards.  Second, I was in need of some wall art.

The one wall in the Lagoon is between 4-5 feet wide, and made of the most difficult material to drive nails into that I could possibly imagine.  (I would bend about 8 nails for every one that I finally got to go into the wall.  There were hammered thumbs, and many a choice word directed at the wall.)  Originally, I had planned to do a little photo gallery featuring some pictures of food, friends, and family.  But then I realized that I would have to drop lots of money on cool frames, and I would have to spend hours upon hours cussing and trying to get nails into the wall.  Plus, I had a revelation: I am no good at constructing photo galleries.  No good at all.  While I'm usually pretty good at spatial relation-type stuff (or, as I tell Matt, I'm good at shapes), there's something about the photo gallery that is just out of reach for me.  Maybe that can be a goal for next summer?

Anyway.  Here's the wall before.

And, here's the wall now, inspired by this post from Young House Love.  (Also, note Mitch's weird "getting off the couch" stretching move in the background.)

Oh, and the cost?  One fifty.  One fifty as in $1.50--as in, cheaper than the Simply Raspberry lemonade that I drank while shopping for the clothespins at Target.  (I already had the ball of twine, a la Gary and Elaine, which I picked up in Target's dollar spot years ago.)

The twine clothesline (or pictureline?) is so fun to me because I'll be able to switch the pictures out any time I want.  (Matt put it well:  "Yeah, and then if Opal really pisses you off you can just rip her picture off, tear it to pieces, and throw it on the floor.")  Cassie brought up another fun point, noting that this will be a great place to hang Christmas cards.  And, of course, if Mitch and I do any paw painting, then I will have a great place to display his creations.

18 August 2010

Mama Grizzly Response

The Mama Grizzlies respond to everyone's favorite nutjob. 

In case you missed it, here's the video they're responding to.  Well, they're responding to that, and the fountain of stupid shit that sprays from that woman's mouth each day.

Kung Pao Chicken

Matt likes his chicken spicy.

Matt likes spicy chicken.

Matt likes to tell Mandy, too, that he likes his chicken spicy, always speaking of himself in the third person.

Matt watched too much Seinfeld.

George and Matt both have an affinity for Kung Pao.  And after Matt shared Kung Pao with Mandy years ago, Mandy began to like her chicken spicy.  (That whole sentence sounds dirty.  Mandy assures you that it is not.)

Matt and Mandy have been working to learn how to cook good Asian food at home, and the other night they tackled Kung Pao.  Matt and Mandy agree that there are three primary benefits to cooking Chinese food at home.
  1. It's healthier.
  2. It's cheaper.
  3. It doesn't make you feel like shit afterward.
It's not the prettiest meal that's ever been, but Mandy and Matt agreed that it tasted very good, and that it was pretty easy to make. 

Here's the recipe.

Kung Pao Chicken (adapted from this recipe)


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into chunks
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Matt and Mandy use the lower sodium one)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 ounce hot chile paste
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts (Matt and Mandy skipped these because they don't like the crunch.)
4 ounces chopped peanuts


1.To Make Marinade: Combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together. Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2.To Make Sauce: In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onion, garlic, water chestnuts and peanuts. In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic.
3.Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and saute in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is aromatic, add sauteed chicken to it and let simmer together until sauce thickens.

*Note.  Matt doubled the sauce, which Mandy would recommend.


Remember when I found and bought my dream shoes last week?  Well, there was a minor hiccup.  See, I wear a size 8.5, and the shoes were only available in an 8 or a 9.5.  I decided to go the half size down, since the heels were 3.5 inches and I didn't want to be unstable when walking around.  I even went and found another pair of peep toe slingbacks that were the same brand and tried those on to see if my toes could handle a smaller size.  My toes said that, yes, they could handle the smaller size.  My brain said that the smaller size would mean we were putting safety first, since I would be so much more stable.  (Let go of these pretty green shoes last year because I felt like I would fall down when I wore them.) 

I'll tell you one thing.  My toes and my brain are leading me on a path to destruction!

When the shoes arrived I wore them around the house to break them in.  And it was during that time (perhaps while I was wearing them whilst vacuuming?--how very 1950's!) that I realized that if I wanted to both wear these shoes and continue to have toes, I would need to find a way to stretch them out.

After a little bit of research on the interwebs, I decided to go with my favorite plan, filling the shoes with ziploc bags of water and putting them in the freezer.  The idea was that the water would expand when frozen, and it would stretch out my shoes.  Well, I couldn't even figure out how to make that happen.  Matt walked into the kitchen while I was trying to shove a freezer bag of water into these peep toe slingbacks, and just shook his head and walked away. 

And then, a stroke of brilliance.


And it seems to be working!  I mean, is Matt really annoyed every time he goes to change the channel?  Yes.  But is it hilarious to watch Matt change the channel while holding a pretty shoe?  Hell yes. 


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