Friday, March 28, 2014

Bear's Posse

Bear is the most social dog I've ever met.  He loves people (especially kids) and adores his neighborhood dog friends.

The unspoken rule in our neighborhood is that if no one is using the courts to play tennis, the dogs get free reign.  We make daily trips to the courts for Bear to run out his wiggles.  He loves it best when there are other dogs there to play with.  Bear is a submissive little guy, so he gets along with even the most grumpy dogs in the 'hood.  He's developed quite the posse.

First things first.  When we get to the courts Bear does a preliminary perimeter search.  He then finds the tastiest stick of those left behind by other dogs, and runs around with it trying to get me to chase him.  He lives for keep-away.

If I see another dog coming, I'll say "Bear, where are you friends?" and he'll stop whatever he's doing to run to the gate, tail wagging with anticipation.  Once the other dogs are in the court it's a free-for-all.  Running, air wrestling, face licking.  It's all fair game and a big ol' ball of fluff.

Two of Bear's favorite pals are Ruby and Pepper.  Ruby is a golden retriever mix and Pepper is a terrier-corgi-something else mix.  Bear plays with them a couple times a week.  It's great for me because it tires the little guy out.  Thank goodness. A tired puppy is a happy puppy...and a happier owner.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Tulips are my favorite flower.  Poppies come second, but tulips are definitely at the top.  When they're in season, Blake's been known to surprise me with a pot of them now and again.  I prefer live potted tulips to cut tulips because they last so much longer and don't droop as much.

Though we'd already bought each other our anniversary gift (a circular romantic!), Blake surprised me with these pink beauties when we were out grabbing our obligatory post-anniversary-dinner doughnuts.

As an aside: we may or may not have eaten dinner and dessert at a French restaurant, but still got a box of chocolate doughnuts on the way home.  This is something, however, that I will neither confirm nor deny.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mega desk

Blake and I have been coming up with office schemes for the past four years.  The old set-up was fine, but the bulky IKEA desk we had jutted out into the room and made it feel smaller and more broken up.  In our post-Christmas enthusiasm, we decided to finally take the plunge and make the changes we'd been dreaming of.

First, we moved one of the built-in shelving units to under the opposite window to give us a longer, uninterrupted space for a desk.  Then I painstakingly painted the room a soft grey color.  I say painstakingly because there was an incredible amount of trim work in this room with all the built-ins. Thank goodness for audio books and Pandora radio or I might just have gone insane somewhere during the second coat.

I coveted the Pottery Barn Bedford file cabinets for years, but when it came down to it, I couldn't justify spending almost $700 just on file cabinets.   After a long, but fruitful google search, I found a great alternative at Home Decorator Collection.  With a coupon code and free shipping, they were less than a third of the cost and were shipped to our house in three days.  That said, I think you get what you pay for.  Don't get me wrong, the quality of the file cabinets is great, but they took ages to put together and nearly ended my marriage.  (I'm kidding...mostly...)

We didn't like the hardware that came with the cabinets (I thought they looked a tad small and wimpy), so we bought some cheap Martha Stewart pulls at Home Depot.  Adding these suckers turned out to be more of a pain than we'd planned.  We had to drill new holes and it was nearly impossible to get them centered correctly.  What I mean is: don't look too closely.

The desktop is made from reclaimed wood by a local company called The Great British Pine Mine, which is one of my favorite destinations on Antiques Row in Kensington.  It's a custom 10-foot long table top and I've got to say I'm absolutely in love with it.  Now we have space for two work stations and the room feels so much larger.

Next up is hanging the roman shades and building some more shelving in the closet for extra storage. But for now I'll just bask in the glory of a slightly more organized work space.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A sheepadoodle is the best home accessory

There's just something about the spring that makes me want to rearrange.  Maybe it's because it allows me to deep clean behind all the furniture.  Maybe it's because I have design ADD and love to change things up a lot.  Or maybe it's because re-arranging is a free make-over because I'm shopping the house instead of shopping at a store.  Pick any of those reasons.

Blake has been so patient with my ideas and requests for furniture moves.  We've lugged all sorts of things up and down our narrow, steep stairs in the past few weeks, but the rooms are really coming together.

I've wanted a navy blue velvet couch for ages.  We bought one last year for the basement, but once it was down there we realized we'd rather have it up in the living room.  Don't worry. It's only taken us a year to get it moved up to the main floor.  We actually had to hire some guys to do it for us because it had to be hoisted up our outside back stairs since our inside stairs are too narrow.

Even with two guys lifting and me directing, it was sort of a circus. Our house was built in 1951, so the doorways and hallways are small, and the staircases are super steep and narrow.  This does make for an easy furniture move.  I'd explained this all to the guys when I set up the appointment, but I think even they were surprised when they saw what they'd actually be dealing with.

Moving two couches took almost an hour if you can believe it!  We moved the brown leather couch downstairs and the blue velvet upstairs.  And we only mildly scraped the paint off the back wall.  I count that as a win.

When I handed the guy the agreed-up cash, he started to ask me for more, but then thought better of it.  I think he just wanted to escape while he was still standing.  Maybe he could sense that I was just about to ask him to move a few more things for me while he was at it.  Smart man.

We used some of our Christmas money to buy a new chair and moved the over-stuffed chair downstairs for comfy TV-watching purposes.  The new leather chair takes up less space, and I like that it gives us more of a walking berth between the entry and the living room.  Plus, it's comfy.  Comfy and esthetically pleasing.  You can't beat that.

I wasn't kidding when I said furniture was traveling all over our house.  We moved our garbage-found steamer trunk down here and moved our darker trunk up to the bedroom nook. I feel like steamer trunk really lightens up the space.

And now that I've droned on for two thousand words, here are some pictures to get me to keep quiet.

After all that moving and re-arranging, Bear remains the best accessory of the room.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Listing, listing, 1, 2, 3

I am a girl run by lists.  I keep a small spiral notebook on top of the fridge where I organize my life.  Each Monday morning I sit down to write out the week's items.  I've got tabs for:

To do
To eat
To buy

To buy is generally a grocery list, but also includes odds and ends.  To eat is a weekly menu by day.  To do is a daily to-do list.

I sure do love crossing things out or making that check mark next to an item.  Am I weird?  I'm weird.  I accepted that fact a long time ago.

But that doesn't change how much I enjoy a good list.  I think that's why I love Goodreads and Pinterest so much.  Digital lists?! Why didn't I think of that before?

Recently I purchased a couple more small notebooks to carry in my purses for last-minute list additions and, more importantly, story/plot ideas for the book I 'm working on.  I'm fairly certain nothing will ever come of it, but I'm having fun anyway.  Plus, if I'm able to finish and only my nieces read it, well, I'll consider that a success.

This all brings me to my question of the day.  My main character (and, therefore, most of the characters) is 16 years old.  I'm struggling to write conversation in the book because I'm not sure how informal to make it.  Should she speak like a normal teenager, with tons of "likes" and "awesomes" etc. thrown in, or is that just too painful to read in print?  Where's the happy balance?

I'd love to know what you all think.  The good, the bad, the like totally ugly...regale me with your opinions.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Blake and I celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary on February 28th.  We celebrated by going out to dinner and by buying ourselves a circular saw.  We figured that since the 5-year mark is technically the wood anniversary that a saw fit the bill quite well.

Instead of going on a separate celebratory trip, we decided to take a day in Florida to explore the coast.  A couple google searches later and we'd come up with the perfect plan: kayaking with the manatees.  I was ecstatic - manatees are the coolest!

We drove 50 minutes through the heartland of central Florida (welcome to the south!) to Crystal River, which is on a bay on the gulf coast.  We rented a tandem kayak and paddled out into the canal toward the warm, crystal clear springs where the manatees spend their winter months.

I wasn't able to get a good photograph of an actual manatee (you can sort of see one having a snooze on the bottom in the middle-right picture below), but the scenery sure was gorgeous.  It's the sort of magical place you want to visit over and over again.  I can't wait to go back.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Flo Ride AH

Last weekend Blake and I went down to Florida for a few days with his parents to enjoy the warm weather and to help decorate their new vacation home.  When we went down last spring our flight was delayed on the way back for 9 hours, so the airline gave us vouchers for a free flight.  So, with a free flight and free place to stay we had the perfect excuse to escape the horrible DC weather for some fun in the sun.

When we came down last time there was no furniture, the walls were a grungy off-white, the floors were carpeted, and there were hospital blinds and floral swag on all the windows.  In a word, it was awful.

The first weekend we were there we:

Took down the ugly blinds and swagger valences
Tested 6 paint colors on various walls to see how they reflected the light
Made a successful trip to HomeGoods where we filled 6 carts
Made several trips to Target and Home Depot for other necessities
Met with the painters
Picked out new wood floors and met with the install guys

It was a busy three days.

I had also put together a Pinterest board for Marilyn (Blake's mom) based on her preferences for a blue and white color scheme.  I'd add things to it as I found them online.  Then she'd call me anytime she wanted to order one of the things and Blake or I would take care of it for her.

This past weekend we hung the new drapes, put together furniture, touched up the paint, made a couple more runs to stores like Home Goods and Home Depot, and then pulled out our splinters and chipped the paint off our hands while relaxing in the sun.

I wish I had before and after pictures, but I think it turned out pretty darn well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More Eatin'

I've been slacking this week because of the snow day and because we're traveling for a long weekend,  which means frozen pizzas, quesadillas and bagels.  But here's what we ate last week.

Tortellini pepperoni salad
Steamed broccoli

Verdict: The tortellini salad was yummy, but if you're looking for a healthy meal, this probably isn't it.

Minted orzo salad with feta and chickpeas

Verdict:  This was so fresh-tasting and delicious.  It's the sort of meal I could make once a week and eat every day for lunch.  I think I accidentally doubled the recipe and we had tons of leftovers, which was great.  You can eat it warm or cold.

Baked asian salmon

No recipe here.  I just mix up soy sauce, spicy pepper paste and brown sugar to marinate a salmon filet. Then I bake it at 375 for 40 mins.  Always a crowd pleaser.

Balsamic salmon pasta

Again, no recipe here, but an old favorite.  I marinate a salmon filet in balsamic, garlic and bake with lemon slices.  Then I flake the salmon and mix it in with pasta, feta, kalamata olives, red onions, broccoli and balsamic dressing.  Easy, healthy and delicious.  Can also be served hot or cold.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

This post brought to you by the letter B

Bear just had his 8 month birthday last week.  The texture of his fur is changing slightly and he's getting more easily matted.  This is bad for both him and for me because he hates being brushed (well, he just thinks the brush is something to be wrestled with) and I hate spending ages brushing out his long locks.  So, as much as I hate to think of giving up these luscious locks, I think it's nearing time for another haircut.

Do any of you out there have dogs with a thick undercoat?  How often do you get them groomed?  We give Bear a bath at home every week, and I try to brush him out every day, but I'm worried that an every-3-month grooming schedule just isn't going to cut it.

I never thought I'd be the type of person to spend a fortune on my dog, but I guess it might be necessary.  The most disturbing thing is that his haircuts are twice the cost of mine.  Yikes! This dog is spoiled rotten.