Saturday, May 30, 2009

Busy With My Mommy

I know I've been a little MIA lately in the blogworld. My mom arrived for our girls weekend on Thursday evening and we went straight to get pedicures. Friday was shopping, 60 min. deep tissue massages, BBQ-ing, and Coldstone. Today we went to a wedding, are about to go for a walk to some local waterfalls, have dinner at our fave cafe, a bit more shopping, and then possibly watch a movie. It's been great. I miss having my family around so much that whenever we are together, I just love it.

So anyway, I'll be back to regular blogging soon, I promise! But until then, give your mom a call and tell her you love her, k? :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Out of the Wild

Day 1 here.

Day 2 of our Memorial Day weekend we woke up after having gotten little sleep due to the lack of pillows and the hard surface we laid on. And.. sure enough, it had rained.. A lot. Luckily the pack with our food that we had tied up in a tree (to keep away from bears) was waterproof, so the contents were mostly dry. So we got up, ate some gorp & apples, and started cleaning up our campsite.

We left all our gear, except one pack filled with water, gorp, & toilet paper (of course), at the campsite. Our hike for the day was into a place called Abram's Falls.
See those people to Z's right? Unfortunately, the trail they were on led them straight through the river! :)The sign & bridge right before we got to the falls.
There were a lot of people at the falls because there was another trail that led there from a nearby parking lot. We saw a group of twenty-something guys goofing off near the edge. Some were jumping off the cliff just to the left of the falls. Z and I couldn't help but think that it would be awfully easy for them to get sucked under by the current.

Then we found out on Monday that someone actually died a few hours after we left. Wow.. that sign wasn't so amusing anymore! You can see the article here. It's such a hard, sad way for people to learn a lesson. I can't imagine what his friends are going through.

The hike back to the campsite was pretty tough. The fatigue from the previous hiking was starting to set in. When we got back we packed up all our [wet] stuff into our packs & started back towards the car. If it hadn't been for my ankle braces, Z's encouragement, and several quick breaks, I might've been in pretty sad shape! The front of our toes were in serious pain from the steep downhill & our (okay my) legs felt like Jelly!I've never been so excited to see a car with AC. It was ridiculously humid, especially for this New England girl! Combine that with the fact that I was probably sweating more than I ever have, and you get one wifey who was very excited to find a hotel! More on that next time though.

As we were driving out of the Park, we saw this:

I just love seeing rainbows. They always make me say a quick "thank you" prayer.

Day 3 to come!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take a Hike!

I'm a little late getting this posted, but it's been a whirlwind since we got home, and I imagine it will continue to be until my mom gets here on Thursday! But anyway, on to the Memorial Day weekend recap.

Saturday morning we got up and drove to Tennessee. And of course it just wouldn't have been the same if we hadn't stopped and taken some random tourist photos:

And then it was time to stop messing around and get on the trail. Z's cousin & her husband were sweet enough to lend us their awesome backpacks and sleeping mats. After loading those things up with 45-50 lbs. each, we strapped ourselves in & started the trek to where we'd set up our own little camping area for the night. Don't we look hardcore?

our little camping area.. that's the fire pit we made ourselves
And this would be our "shower/bath" :)

Back Country Camping Essentials:Gorp. Known to most as trail mix. Bonus points if you make your own!
Disinfecting wipes- this kind was awesome! I even used them to wash my face and felt perfectly fresh after.. well, almost.
Toilet paper- when ya gotta go, ya gotta go! [Note: Please do not make the same mistake I made. Make sure there is not a trail with hikers on it directly behind the area you're sticking your pasty white bum out.]A Mini Propane Lantern. Worth it's weight in gold when your hubby realizes he just used his only pair of socks as a loofa to wash up in the river. Yes, if you have patience, it will dry your socks. Just don't burn them.Whaatt?? These ARE essentials! Who says you can't brush your teeth and deororize in the woods?? Just be prepared for the hubby to give you a hard time.

Lastly, don't forget to admire the gorgeous handiwork of your Creator & Lord. Man, He's good at what he does!!
More on Day 2 & 3 of our adventure to come!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

You've Got Mail!

If you're anything like Z and I, you have a problem with too many papers, envelopes, receipts, magazines, etc. piling up near your entry or where ever you set all your stuff down after walking in the door. I got fed up with this problem Friday on my day off, and came up with this solution:

A DIY "Mailbox".

Step One:
Get yourself an old used USPS flat rate mailing box, or something of similar size. Mark lines where you want to cut.
Step Two:
Use an Exacto knife or similar tool to cut your lines. Precision and straight lines are key.
Step Three:
Lay the cut out box on fabric of your choice and measure how much you'll need to cover the inside and outside. It's just like wrapping a present!

Step Four:
Cut the fabric at the corners and fold into the box. Secure with a spray adhesive or good old no-wrinkle Elmer's. Continue folding and gluing as if wrapping a present.Step Five:
Once all your flaps are glued down, stick some of that clutter in there, and get it off your kitchen table/entry console/whatever you use.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Call Me Annie..

Annie Oakley, that is. Due to the enormous amount of people that are apparently flocking to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for Memorial Day, all the "normal" (a.k.a. front country) campsites are reserved. ALL. And it's a huge park. So, being the adventuresome duo that we are, we are resorting to back country camping. As in, you leave your car, carry everything you need with you, hike several miles, and find yourself a secluded spot off the trail to camp. No running water, no outhouses, no air mattress, no electricity, no anything.

Just me, my darling husband, a bazillion black bear that want to eat our food, a 50% chance of rain, and lots of bug spray, sun screen, and deodorant! What girl could ask for more? :)We'll be roughing it for one night, and hopefully staying somewhere with a shower night #2. Because this naturally curly hair does okay for one day without a shower, but more than that... well let's just say it wouldn't really give our trip that "romantic getaway" feeling we were going for! And cuddling up next to your hubby isn't quite as good with a rock in your back and a certain unpleasant odor wafting down to your nose.

But seriously though, I really am looking forward to the adventure of it all! I've done plenty of camping in my lifetime, and can probably set up a tent and start a fire faster than most men- thanks to my parents taking us kids growing up. I'm looking forward to checking out Z's mountain man skills as well! ;)

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekends!! I have a scheduled post for while we're gone, and I'll be back with lots of pictures on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Weekend in the Smokies

Our internet was down at work today, so I'm a little behind on things. It was actually kind of nice not to have it- a little break. Except for I was running around all day trying to get us the right router & help with the office space transition we're going through right now (people switching offices, creating new workspaces, etc.). That, and I had another lovely surprise that caused me to scurry to get things done- I have a 4 day weekend!! The bosses decided to give us tomorrow off as well! I love small companies sometimes!

It's also supposed to be in the mid to upper 80's this weekend, so that makes me super excited. Z and I grilled out on our patio tonight for the first time (yum!) & that got the wheels in my head turning...

Our 6 month anniversary will be on the 29th of this month. That weekend is going to be super busy with my mom visiting (Yay!), a wedding, and a baby dedication, so we were trying to figure out another weekend to do something to celebrate. Then it dawned on us that this weekend would be perfect! So... the plan is to head to the Smoky Mountains in TN!! I've never been down there, so I'm really looking forward to it! We're going to bring our tent and camp, hike, sightsee, and hopefully canoe or kayak.. and of course a wee bit of "Newlywed celebrating"(you didn't read that, mom & dad!). Just look at this place:
photo creditphoto credit

We also plan on going into Gatlinburg to do some sightseeing as well. I've heard it's a super cute town. I'm so looking forward to a weekend away with my hubby! I can't believe we've been married for almost 6 months already, and I'm so happy we're going to do something to celebrate! I don't imagine we'll celebrate every 6 months forever, but I definitely want to do something special every year. It's a great way to slow down, and remember to cherish this amazing marriage that God has given us! And have some fun, of course!! :)

So anyway, I plan on spending tomorrow catching up on your blogs, cleaning the house, doing a mystery shop, making campsite reservations, planning our menu for the weekend, grocery shopping, and packing the car with our camping gear. Then, saturday morning we're off to Tenessee!! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Retro Swimwear

I'm absolutely in love with Jantzen's 2009 line of Retro Swimwear. In my opinion, it's very flattering & forgiving in structure. Yesterday after work I got the urge (or rather I gave into the urge I'd been having for weeks) to go check out our local Marshalls. It's a rare occurance that I don't find an amazing deal in there!

So I walked in and was immediately greeted with their summer display area- Better known as the "make you fall in love with a million things you don't need" area. And fall in love I did. I saw this & was hooked:
Then, I tried it on, and knew it was love (this from a girl who HATES bathing suit shopping). Talk about flattering- the way the faux tankini top comes down below the top of the leg opening is genious. I've never liked seeing that area of the thigh right along your joint & bikini line- on anyone. I don't know why- It just made me squeamish (could be because of one too many woman who don't know the value of a good bikini wax or shave, but we won't talk about that). Well, problem solved. I love the polka dots, I love the tie in the back, I love the sweetheart neckline, I love the 50's glam feel, I love it all.

It even has detachable straps, shown here, in red:
And, it also comes in solid colors (more shown here):
I can't remember the last time I owned a one-piece bathing suit. But I've been keeping my eye out for one lately, and this sealed the deal. Can't wait to wear it for our week on the lake this summer.

Oh, and I can't finish without talking about the price. If you buy it direct from Jantzen, it will run you $100. If you buy it through an online discount site, it'll be about $80. Any guesses what I got it for??

Ridiculous, right?? I came home a very happy little wifey!!

Little did I know, this suit has actually gotten a good bit of publicity, shown here. I'm a wee bit proud I picked it out before knowing Elle & Vogue did too! ;)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doggy Business..

As soon as Z & I get a house (we've been beat on 3 so far..bad market, my butt!), one of the first things we want to do is get a puppy. Every time we see a cute dog we just about melt! Z is convinced he wants a husky. Brett didn't help the situation much- with her adorable doggy pics and videos! I mean, look at little Ty:
But.. huskies get big. And I've heard they shed a lot. So I just don't know about that one..

So anyway, I need your input! Here's what I'd like in a dog:
  • Small to medium sized- NO huge guys if they're going to be let in our house- We watched Marley & Me!!
  • As little shedding as possible. We don't deal with dog hair well.
  • CUTE. And no, I don't consider poodles cute. (Sorry!)
  • Not a "yapper". I can't stand tiny dogs that just bark all. the. time.
  • Did I mention cute?
I'd love to hear about your dog experiences! And pictures or links to pictures will probably sway me the easiest! I'm a sucker for a cute puppy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

I was "that girl" in high school. Busy, busy, busy. Worked, played sports, in the band & choir, class prez, salutatorian, banquet (didn't have prom) queen, and in a bunch of other groups/teams. Worked my butt off, and couldn't wait to get out of there & explore the world. I grew up in Northern Maine, and swore I'd never come back- it was too boring, too remote, too limiting.

And I got exactly what I wanted. Married a guy form the midwest & stayed here. While I don't really dislike it here, I miss home like crazy now. Mostly because of my family.. and the gorgeous scenery that doesn't exist in the flatlands.

It's funny.. I just didn't appreciate the place I grew up while I was there, and now it's the one place I'm missing. If I believed in Karma, I'd kick it in the face. :)

So now, the place I once longed to escape is the place I'm racing back to for vacation. Yeah. Vacationing back home. And I can't wait.

Z and I are taking a week in July and going home to spend a week on the lake. Picture it- cute little cottage surrounded by pine & birch trees, the old rope hammock swaying in the wind, the dock my dad made extending out into the cleanest lake water in the county, the speedboat docked & waiting to take us skiing, tubing, knee- or wakeboarding, the canoe and kayaks ready for calorie-burning morning trips as the sun rises, campfires & making smores with the family.. Heaven.

Oh. And there's nothing like waking up at dawn to a lake that's as smooth as glass and being the first waterskiers on the lake. Pure Heaven.

So, I wanted to share some pictures from our more recent (past ~2 yrs.) times at "camp".Sister #1 & I.. goofing off. :)Daddy & I.. a little blurry but I love it!Little cousin & I.Marshmallow Mouths... can you tell we're sisters??My boat driving skills have been known to flip a friend or two.. ;)We made our own comic.. :)The perfect summer snack!

I absolutely can't wait! What're you looking forward to this summer?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Restaurant Condiments..

I have a slightly strange obsession with this dressing. It's Wendy's Reduced Fat Ranch. And people, if you haven't tried it, you need to go get some. It totally makes up for the crappy fast food salad! It's like the perfect ranch dressing with this surprising little zip of flavor.. and hello, it's reduced fat!! Not sure why I'm dedicating an entire post to this stuff, but I stopped in & got some with my side salad today after work and may or may not have thought about sucking it straight from the package. Yeah. That good.

Am I the only one with a restaurant (if Wendy's can be considered one) condiment obsession?? Please, if you have one, do share. It'll make me feel alot better about scheming to order a case of this stuff..

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Decisions, Decisions..

Sometimes the toughest decisions are those that put our logic up against our emotion. I think that's what I'm struggling with tonight. We just went and looked at a property that Z is totally ready to put an offer in on. Me.. still trying to decide. I'll give you a quick rundown, and I'd love you hear your opinions.

The Facts:
  • It's a one story, brick, ranch-style duplex
  • Garages in the center separate the living spaces (cuts down on the chance of hearing your neighbors)
  • On 1.5 acres in the country
  • Approx. 1200 sq. ft. on one side, and 1300 sq. ft. on the other
  • 3 bed, 1 1/2 bath on each side, with the option of adding a bedroom or den on each side (there's a "closed frame" porch addition on the back)
  • Tax appraised value is double the asking price (hello, instant equity!)
The Good:
  • GORGEOUS area- lots of hills, woods, beautiful scenery that reminds me of home (Maine)
  • Away from the city- way less crime, safe for kids, etc.
  • Privacy!!
  • Incredible Value
  • Plenty of room for us to live in one side & rent the other out. The rental income would pay for at least 2/3 of the mortgage. Very smart Financially.
  • Lower taxes than properties we've looked at in a county closer to the city
  • Great layout, not cramped-feeling at all.
  • In great condition- ceramic tile floors, newer berber carpet in some bedrooms
The Bad:
  • It would be a 45 min. commute to work for me. I work on the Northeast side of the city- Z works on the Southwest side- it would be 30 min. for him- the same time we're driving now. So, not a big deal for him, but a little UGH for me..
  • Having renters live right next door. Not ideal, but then again, it would only be temporary (~3-4 years).

So, I'd love to know your thoughts. I know most of you are already homeowners, and have been through this process before. So you know where we're coming from: We're still pretty young, aren't planning on having kids for 3-4 years, and are using that time to really try & "get ahead" financially. We LOVE the country, and are used to driving (I averaged ~700 miles/wk. in high school), just not sure I want to do that again..

Oh, and here's the view out the sliding glass back door (rainy and blah out today, but pretty nonetheless!):

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pretty Food

Today I'm home from work, sick with this "thing" that won't go away. So looking at pictures of past pretty meals is going to be as close as I get to cooking one today.

*BUT* before I show you the yummy chicken skewers from a few nights ago, I do have to give you a quick update: We didn't get the house. :( All we know is that there was a cash buyer. That's a whole heck of a lot of cash to have hanging around! So we're pretty bummed- but I think it's toughened us up. We're going to keep looking but we've learned not to get too attached until we have an accepted offer. We also know that God's in control, and He has the perfect home picked out for us. We just have to trust that when the doors close on one place, He'll open them on another.

So anyway, on to the point of the post:

Satay Chicken Skewers, found here

One 10-ounce jar satay sauce or spicy peanut sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 11⁄2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper
1⁄2 cup peanuts, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)


Pour 2⁄3 of the satay or spicy peanut sauce into the medium bowl and add the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes; 2 hours is preferable for optimum flavor. While the chicken is marinating, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Twenty-five minutes before serving time, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and divide it into 6 portions. Slide pieces onto skewers (depending on size of skewer, this may mean 1 or 2 skewers per person) and place on baking sheet. Discard remaining marinade (raw chicken juices in it make it unsafe). Dust the skewered chicken with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Bake for 20 minutes. For the final 2 minutes, turn on the broiler and broil the skewers close to the heat, until the edges look crisp but not burned.

To serve, place the skewers on a serving platter and sprinkle with the peanuts, cilantro, and scallions. Pour the remaining satay sauce (not marinade) into a bowl on the side for dipping.

I served these with roasted potatoes. Just put the potatoes on 1/3 of the baking sheet and pop them in the oven about 15-20 min. before you add the chicken.

Pretty, right??

Monday, May 11, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend & great Mothers' Day! I've been a little MIA from the blog-world due to a lovely battle with bronchitis/flu/annoying sickness. Had a bronchitis attack yesterday which was a little scary, but Z took care of it well- called my mom(who is a nurse) & got instructions on what to do. There were plenty of less-than-glamorous details that I'll spare you. So anyway, your prayers for a speedy recovery & my voice back would be much appreciated.

Now, on to more important matters- we have a giveaway winner! Congratulations,


These goodies are yours:Please email me with your address & I'll ship them out to you!

Thank you all for entering!