Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fitness Friday--December 13

Yikes!  A whole week without a post!  And really, what an insanely busy week it has been. 'Tis the season and everything...

So a brief fitness Friday update for y'all--

I'm not walking nearly as much as I should, but am doing moderately well with slow and steady weight gain, which seems to be good for the parasite.  I have my gestational diabetes test this afternoon--cross your fingers!

J is also on the fitness bandwagon, and I am so insanely proud of him.  He decided to join Weight Watchers about a month ago.  While he is doing the online version (no meetings and you do your own weigh-in), it's been a really good experience for him.  I like, too, how the online version really does emphasize the 'eat less, move more' mantra.  He's wearing my WW pedometer and every evening enters his steps (except when I beat him to it!).  Just over a month in, he is *thisclose* to losing his first 5%!  I keep thinking we need to come up with a great reward for his 10%, since he obviously won't get the keychain that motivated me so well!

The busy week continues with a long day today and lots of meetings and Christmas parties this weekend, so I doubt I'll get another post up before Tuesday when I'll be back with a post about making columns for the church Christmas Pageant.  Hopefully it will be a great post with a super-useful tutorial, rather than a post about failing columns...

Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday--December 6, 2012

Yes, it's been a while.  I know.  I also know, though, that my daily thoughts of thankfulness have been on the upswing for a while now.  I've just not been terribly good at remembering to write them down or type them out.  On the other hand, it means I've got a bunch to share this week!

First, I'm thankful for the third trimester, which officially started yesterday.  Honestly, when we found out we were expecting a little more than 23 weeks ago, I couldn't imagine what this might feel like.  Luckily, it feels pretty good (uncomfortable hip pain and weird feeling in my throat that I may have just self-diagnosed as heartburn aside).  As side notes to this thankful thought, I'm super thankful for an active baby who likes to punch, kick and roll without hitting anything painful.  And I'm thankful for my Snoogle, which arrived yesterday, and already makes sleeping a little easier.

I'm thankful, too, for my new countertop in the library/office.  And for Don, the laminate sales guy who moonlighted as my fabricator/cabinet installer only because (I think) he has his own daughter with a grandbaby on the way living too far away to be much help to.

Finally, I'm thankful for the holidays, and our pre-lit tree that I finally managed to get all the lights working on yesterday (how did I break three lightbulbs this year??).  It's amazing how just putting my grapevine bow on top and plugging in those lights can immediately turn our living room into a place of comfort and joy.  Maybe next week I'll be thankful for the ornaments that haven't made it to the tree just yet?

What are you thankful for?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Another library progress report...

I would imagine that when I shared last week about my trip to the "laminate-yard" that you imagined it would be weeks before it I would be back with an update.  That's kind of the rate of progress around here.  Apparently, that's far from the rate of progress for the guy I worked with there.  He called Tuesday with a quote, I called back Wednesday with a laminate choice, he came out Thursday to measure, and then called me Saturday to let me know he was ready to install.  If you think my head was spinning, you're right!  Luckily, J was working from home Saturday afternoon and was able to assist with clearing that end of the room and carrying in the new counter.  It's about as close to perfect as I could have hoped for material choice!


While here, the fabricator/installer went ahead and installed the base cabinets, screwing them together and to the wall.  He also made some oak pieces to help us attach the bookshelves to the wall when we're ready. I think J was relieved when he suggested we wait a week or so to put those on top of the counter.

So what's left?

  • Attach the doors (the dark piece you see in the bottom of each cabinet)
  • Come up with some sort of interior shelving for each cabinet
  • Finish the bookshelves
  • Place the bookshelves on the counter-top (and attach to the wall for safety)
  • Add hardware?
  • Find a chair/stool for the desk space we created between the cabinets

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The best kind of leftovers!

After Saturday's food fest, we had a fair amount of leftovers to get rid of.  While sandwiches may be the standard leftover fare, we had my favorite kind of leftovers on Sunday morning--Thanksgiving Ebelskivers! 

These little Danish filled pancakes can be made with a sweet batter or a savory batter.  On Sunday, I started with the savory batter recipe, then folded chopped leftover turkey and some leeks into the batter.  For the filling, I used leftover cranberry-orange relish.

These were delicious!  (and at 5 points for three, a touch heavy on the WW points, but not nearly as many as Saturday's feast racked up!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Library Built-ins

I'm back with another update on the library built-ins.  In case you're wondering what we're up to, this is a mock-up I did nearly five years ago when we first started talking about this project.  Shockingly, the finished product is going to look pretty much like this, too!

I showed you the bookshelf progress last week, but I realized at some point that finishing the bookshelves will do us no good if we don't have a counter top to place them on.  The counter top issue has been quite a problem.  First, the width of this room is basically 10'8".  Guess what 'standard' lengths generally stop at?  Ten feet. Argh.  Also, you'll notice that I put in a black top--thinking something like soapstone or black granite would look nice.  I still think it would look nice, but I've never been able to convince myself that we needed to spend $1000 on a counter top in this not-too-frequently-used room.
Having given up on a high end counter, I decided that we should just use oak, which would blend nicely with the rest of the built-ins.  Unfortunately, I've been picky and didn't want to have visible seams (so putting two or three planks together was out).  For a while I thought oak plywood would work (it's what we used for the window sill, after all and that looks nice).  It turns out that 12 foot long pieces of oak plywood are nigh on impossible for a regular person to get their hands on  and anything shorter would result in unseemly seams.  After months of trying to make that work in my head, I've given up.
This brings me to today's field trip, to a cabinet supply shop down in Nicholasville.  Remember my trip to the stone yard in Louisville when we were working on the main bath?  This is sort of the same, except that this facility has aisles of laminate!

I took in one of the cabinet doors we finished and held it up next to dozens of sheets of laminate.  I picked two to get samples of to bring home to J, and then I'll be having someone make a counter for me.
Option 1: a faux stone "HD" laminate

Option 2: more of a matte, leather-like finish
Is this exactly what I had in mind initially?  No, it isn't.  Am I okay with that?  Eh, I'm okay with a finished product and being happy enough to move on to something else.  Seriously, I think that it is going to be very serviceable, it's going to look better than something I could cobble together myself, there aren't going to be any visible seams, and we're not going to bankrupt ourselves using materials that aren't necessary in our neighborhood.  And did I mention that it's going to be done?
So what do you think?  Is laminate the way to go?  If so, which of these options would you choose?


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday smells like...Thanksgiving Dinner

J and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving Thursday at home (aside from waking up early to serve breakfast at a place downtown, which was an awesome way to start the day). We postponed our Thanksgiving Dinner extravaganza to today (Saturday) to share with friends who had other plans on Thursday.
We are pretty much sticking to our typical menu (turkey roasted with herbed duck fat, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin ice cream) with a few additions (grilled asparagus and vanilla ice cream, too).  I'll be back throughout the day with pictures, because they'll say so much more than I could try to find the words for!
We'll start with my cranberry-orange relish, which is best when made a couple days early and allowed to sit in the refrigerator.  (By the way, this recipe is 2 points per 1/4 cup serving.)

Next up, y'all know that duck fat plays a big role in our Thanksgiving.  The herbed duck fat compound is used to bard the turkey (Basically, you squeeze this concoction between the skin and the meat of the turkey.  As the turkey cooks, the fat melts and drips down through the turkey.  Makes for an incredibly moist bird!).  You start with frozen duck fat:

So you cut off a chunk of duck fat and throw it in the KitchenAid stand mixer.  Then, you add a variety of chopped herbs and blend it all together.  When you scoop it out, the compound looks like this:

 Then, this is the cool part (I think)--you roll the duck fat compound up into a cling wrap tube of yummy goodness and toss it back in the refrigerator.  It stays like this until you're ready to pop your turkey in the oven!  (On it's own--though I don't know why you'd eat it on it's own--the herbed duck fat compound is about 5 WW points per 1 tbsp. serving)

---
Okay, as of 11:00 we've added the following:
See how the turkey is kind of green now?  That's all of the herbs in the duck fat compound, smoothed out under the skin!

The legs are in the oven, getting a head start on roasting, and the turkey breast/wings are chilling (literally) waiting for their turn to join the legs.

Since the ice cream base needs to set up a bit before actually turning it into ice cream, I went ahead and made the vanilla and pumpkin (below).  Both are cooling in our rapidly running out of room refrigerator!

Next up--prepping ingredients for the stuffing and asparagus, and boiling potatoes!

----
12:30 update:
The turkey legs smell and look amazing!


The breast is now in the oven, and I'm struggling not to compare it to a frog!  With its wings tucked back, they kind of look like legs.  To me, at least...

The pumpkin ice cream is made and hanging out in the freezer.

Next up...hmmm...same as last time--we still need to prep stuffing ingredients and boil those potatoes!

-----
2:30 update!  Ready for more? We finally got started on our sides by putting the potatoes on to boil and browning the sausage for our stuffing.  J sliced the leeks earlier today, so that means all of the 'parts' are ready to combine for the stuffing.

He also prepped the asparagus, and since he cooked the bacon and sliced the onions earlier, that dish is ready to put together just before we eat, too!


I also made the vanilla ice cream, so it is setting up in the freezer with the pumpkin ice cream I made earlier.

What's next?  Chantilly cream for the pumpkin ice cream and mashed potatoes are the last of the 'make-ahead' items.  When the turkey comes out of the oven, we can put the stuffing in.  Then, we're just waiting until closer to meal time to make the gravy and the asparagus.  Oh, and I need to set the table...
-----
Okay, I failed to get back with another cooking update before dinner, so this part of the post will probably be even heavier on pictures (and since it's nearly ten and I'm exhausted, lighter on words!).  The turkey breast came out:

...and the stuffing went in.

The Chantilly cream was whipped...
(but I forgot to take a picture)

...and the potatoes were mashed.

The stuffing baked...

...and the gravy was made.

And somehow, I forgot to take a picture of the food table (we did buffet style).  Believe me, though, everything tasted just as great as it smelled today!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A glimpse of the library built-ins progress

So last week I told you we're working on the library built-ins, and I thought I'd show a picture of the progress today!



This is just one of the shelves, and it needs to be poly'd before we can call it done, but I'm really pleased with it!  Forgive the blotchy look of it; I think that's the lighting, because it doesn't look like that at all in person.  Forgive, too, our messy laundry/work room!  Our new (to us!) washer is in the foreground taking up entirely too much space, and I'm realizing from looking at the picture that those bar stools really need to go, too. The tree will head upstairs next weekend and free up quite a bit of floor space for the next month!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Progress! Seriously!

I don't even know when I last mentioned the built-ins in the library (even as a one line mention on a to-do list), but needless to say, it's been a long while.  Well, this weekend we started making progress on that project!  The current (Make the MP Baby Friendly) to-do list runs something like this:

  • Finish the built-ins
  • Move all the books off the pool table onto the built-ins
  • Sell the pool table (sniff!)
  • Clear out the nursery-to-be
  • Paint the nursery-to-be
  • Buy nursery furniture
You'll notice that finishing the built-ins is key to the next few steps, so we finally seem to have the motivation necessary to cross this project off our list.  While I was out of town this weekend J bought all the supplies and started sanding the book shelves.  I did a finish sand today, and later this week J will spend an evening with smelly wood stain.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll actually finish this project before the need for a nursery actually arrives!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day!

I remember going to the polls with my folks long before I was old enough to vote myself, and I look forward to continuing the tradition with our little one!  Here we were yesterday just after voting:


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!


from the Melton Point

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween means Julius!

We're totally behind in our Halloween decorating at the MP, but as a friend pointed out the other day, we have plenty of time--Halloween isn't until Wednesday!  We did manage to add an important piece to our Halloween decor this weekend--

Julius came out!  Here he is posing for his first picture with the Parasite!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anniversary Flowers--Yellow Roses

Remember back in July when I shared one of my anniversary arrangements?  Well, I actually bought those pretty pink and white roses the day J and I got our BFP.  Even though no one else knew, it was nice to have those flowers as an outward sign of our little (huge) secret.  Yesterday, I dropped by the florist to pick out another arrangement.  I've been in a few times since, but it's the first time I'd seen the owner since July.  Needless to say, she was surprised (and excited) by our now rather obvious news.  I'm so glad to have this special relationship with her, and so grateful for her help in picking out flowers whenever I drop in!  

On this trip, she'd just received some yellow (buttercup) roses, that made a great foundation for a Murray State-esque arrangement for our kitchen table!




Monday, October 22, 2012

Around the MP

Happy Monday!

I promised to give an MP garden update today, and I've actually been thinking about writing a general MP update, too.

First, the garden!  Back in May when we planted the garden, we had great hopes for our garden.  Those hopes were half-fulfilled.  The bad news is that this was not a great year for tomatoes.  Not only did the first two plants not make it, we tried and failed with another five plants later in the summer.  Friends with successful tomatoes this summer told me that they only did well with the earliest plants (like, back in April).  That made me feel a little better...

Now, our second container was incredibly successful.  The basil bush (yes, bush!) has provided (and still is) months of pesto, fresh basil, dried basil, etc.  The pepper plants continue to produce peppers, and the other herbs are holding their own, too.

In other MP news, my dad asked the other day what we'd done around the house this year.  Um...  The only thing that came to mind is the new gutters/trim work around the house.  But that just happened, and I felt awful thinking that was it!  So, I scrolled back through our MP Mondays posts from this year (there aren't many, and it didn't take long...).  On the list of things we've accomplished outside this year:

  • New gutters!  (longtime readers know this was a longtime project around here!)
  • Wrapped the wood trim in vinyl to match the gutters
  • Painted shutters and back door black
  • Had the phone line into the house cut down and the cable line moved to a less unsightly point
  • Added lights to the back deck
We've not done nearly as much inside, though I did make the headboard for our bedroom and add storage to my craft room upstairs.

I figure the reason I couldn't think of most of these things has something to do with the fact that most of them happened before our biggest project of the year--gestating a baby!

So that's what we've been up to this year.  With only two months to go, I'm not sure what other projects are going to be crossed off our list.  You can be sure I'll let you know!

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Half-Baked!

Finally back with a picture!  Here's our baby girl!



Tap...Tap...Tap...

Anyone still out there?  I'm both surprised and shocked to see that it's been two weeks (TWO??) since my last post.  Last week was a busy one, at work and with DAR, so it was easy to push the MP to the back burner, but I still didn't realize just how long it had been.  I do apologize for that!  I'll be better (maybe not back to daily blogging or anything, but certainly better than a couple posts a month!) and promise to give an update on our container gardens before the frost sufficiently kills everything!

So what makes today special enough to actually write a post?

The baby is half-baked!  I'm officially 20 weeks pregnant today, and we go this afternoon for the 'big' ultrasound--the one where we get an extensive look at the heart and hopefully confirmation of the sex.  At our appointment four weeks ago we got a good guess about that, but have been holding off on any announcements until after this appointment.  If you popped in today hoping against hope for a picture, come back later today--I have one in mind to share!

So.  We're halfway there.  I guess it's time to actually start believing this might happen?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Harvest time!

If you've been reading the MP for any amount of time, you probably know how much I love going to the pumpkin patch in the fall.  J and I have a busy October, so I'm not quite certain when that trip will happen this year.  Luckily, this year we had our very own pumpkin patch out front!  Now, I told you about the ups and downs of front yard farming about a month ago, but I never came back to share the result:


I do regret not putting something in the picture for scale, but the pumpkin ias about ten inches in diameter and a foot tall.  And, thanks to J's diligence in regular turning, it is fairly pretty from all angles--no unsightly flat sides!  We're incredibly proud of our pumpkin, and we're still enjoying flowers on the plant out front (though no other pumpkins have developed).

Also in our front yard 'plot' we have the mums that I bought last year for the pot on the front steps.  I was certain I'd killed them a couple of times, but they are incredibly hardy!  I noticed buds last week, and am thrilled that they are starting to bloom!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Woodn't it be lovely?

Pardon the horrible pun, but J and I celebrated five years of marriage on Saturday.  The traditional gift for the fifth anniversary is wood.  While we haven't yet purchased gifts for each other, our plan to give each other a new deck this year, which works well for a wooden gift!

In an attempt to keep with the wood theme of this anniversary, here is a picture from our honeymoon--the wooden cabin we called home for a couple of days and nights at Jasper National Park Lodge!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday--September 28

So I've been confused about the day of the week all week.  I'm not sure why, since I had a normal weekend/day off on Monday, but I spent much of Wednesday certain it was Thursday and much of Thursday thinking it might be Wednesday.  Needless to say, I am looking forward to this weekend!  Since I'm completely confused, I missed writing a Thankful Thursday post.  So here goes:

I'm so thankful for the wonderful fall weather this week!  I've taken many opportunities to just sit outside on our deck and enjoy the cooler weather.

I'm thankful, too, for the return of our EfM class (Education for Ministry).  This class meets weekly during the school year and is a small group devoted to studying the Bible (as opposed to a Bible Study!).  J and I just started Year 2, which is focused on the New Testament. We lost three class members to graduation (it's a four year program), but have three new members and I am looking forward to getting to know them better.

Finally, it's been a busy week at work (and apparently the parasite is going through a growth spurt, because I'm been tired this week), but I'm so thankful for the various different projects that have popped up.  We're working on our stewardship campaign, two potential brides dropped in, volunteers have been in and out, it's just been one of those weeks that no two minutes are the same.  I love that, and I'm so thankful for it!

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What do you see?

Remember a couple weeks ago when I mentioned in this post that we were celebrating Baby E's second birthday with a Brown Bear party?  Well, the party was held Saturday at the park in our neighborhood and was so sweet!  I had an idea a month or so ago for a cake, and it turned out pretty well.  At least, it was recognizable to the birthday boy, and that's really the most important part!  Also, I really tried to pay attention to baking the right amount of cake, rather than leaving the family with enough cake for an army!  I think I just about got this one right!
The base is a white cake with white butter-cream frosting. The bear is a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate butter-cream.  The grass is actually a chocolate GF mix (my trusty Pamela's).  So tasty!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fitness Friday--September 21

It has been a while (a long, long while--all the way back to July) since I wrote a Fitness Friday post.    To be honest, it was for a great reason.  I really didn't like lying to my mom (and the rest of you) about my WW weigh-in every week, and after nearly a month I just couldn't do it anymore.  So here's where I am in terms of physical fitness:

J and I found out we were expecting on July 2.  That was also my last WW "official" weigh-in (I got an unofficial weigh-in a couple weeks later when I dropped by to pick up a cookbook).  Apparently WW lawyers have advised them that allowing pregnant women to stay on the program is just inviting underweight baby lawsuits (or something like that; I'm guessing).  I guess that's fair, but I felt as if I'd been set adrift!  Anyhow, my last "pre-pregnancy" weight was 193.5.  Now, this was certainly vastly better than my weight six months prior, but is still considered 'overweight' (thank you, government determined BMI).  As an overweight person, I was advised to try not to gain any weight in the first trimester, and was told that it wouldn't be unusual to actually lose a little.  As it turned out, I did lose another five pounds or so, as my appetite tanked and I found it difficult to take in enough calories to both feed the parasite's rapid growth and maintain my weight.  In the last couple weeks of the first trimester, I found those pounds.  As my appetite returned and my exercise habits waned (err...went away altogether), the scale crept back up.  I finished the first trimester at about 193.  The second trimester is the hard part--I'm supposed to gain an average of one pound a week.  For a girl who has never tried to gain weight, this is a totally new (and kind of scary) place to find myself.  At my appointment yesterday (16 weeks, 1 day), I weighed 194.4.  I started walking regularly again last week (a mile or so every day; not the same regimen I'd been doing, but a more manageable routine for now), and feel better.  My next appointment is in four weeks, and I'll let you know how the weigh-in goes!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday--September 13

It's been a while since I managed to get a Thankful Thursday post up (heck, it's been a while since I managed to post two days in a row!), but whole second trimester energy boost has finally hit, so I thought I'd write you a post!

For starters, obviously we're thankful for the Parasite.
I'm incredibly thankful, too, for J and my boss who have been absolutely amazing for the last few months--absolutely waiting on me hand and foot at times!
Oh, and for our Dr., who responds to my 'freaking out' texts with such reassurance!
And for our friends and family, who have celebrated with us and been so encouraging!
Yep, we have so much to be thankful for!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What do you see?

Baby E turns two in a couple weeks (remember when I made his first birthday cake?  Seems like just last month!!), and that means another party is upon us!  His favorite book right now is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" so his momma B is planning an amazing party to go along with this theme!  Last weekend she invited me over to help make some decorations.  She ordered colored Chinese lanterns and we added card-stock and other materials to create the animals mentioned in the book.  This is one of my favorites--the goldfish:


Check back in a few weeks to see what I have in mind for his cake!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday smells like...Chicken and Waffles

So last Monday, I woke up wanting waffles.  Unfortunately, after trips to Bob Evans, IHoP and a local breakfast place, we determined that everyone else in Lexington wanted to eat breakfast out, too and gave up.  So last night, when I realized I still wanted waffles, I gave J a heads up and asked if we had the ingredients already.

This morning, he woke and and told me that he wanted chicken and waffles.  Now, the Parasite doesn't appear to be a fan of chicken, so this morning, neither was I.  But, the whole recipe included waffles, so I was game.

While I found a waffle recipe online, J mixed up chicken breading and started the fryer.  I've no idea what he used in the breading, but the tenders looked just like what you'd buy in a restaurant.  I was incredibly impressed!


I ate my waffles with butter and honey, while J ate his with chicken and maple syrup.  Even I had to agree--they looked pretty good!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In the MP news

So.  Many of you have seen this already, but I know some of you haven't, and I would like to 'come out' across all of the technology platforms J and I use...



Surprise!  I've been keeping a secret for the last couple of months.  And y'all, that has been hard!  The considerable drop off in posting is directly related to that--unless I had a very specific post in mind, I was at a loss of what to say knowing I couldn't say the one thing at the forefront of my mind and most conversations around the MP!

It's such a relief to be through the first trimester (a far scarier time than it needed to be, I'm sure), and an even bigger relief to be 'out'!  I'll catch you up in the next few posts with all the details (what few we know at this point).  The most important (it seems, based on what people have asked in real life and on facebook) is the due date:  March 6.  Obviously that's just an estimate, but we've had the benefit of several ultrasounds at this point, and the Parasite (our term of endearment for the little guy...or girl) is measuring right along with that timeline. 

Another apparently important detail: no, we didn't steal that road sign.  Obviously the best case scenario would have been to find one of these in its 'natural habitat'.  Since we couldn't, we borrowed this one from a local road contractor.  Don't steal signs and blame us for it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

Well, I completely forgot that today was Wednesday until this evening, so this Wordless Wednesday is rather late (but at least I'm still posting on the actual day, unlike a few weeks ago...)

Anyhow, I realized last week that I've not updated you on our pumpkin patch!  In a nutshell, it's been a bit of a roller-coaster.  It looked great, and the lawn mowing company did a great job of avoiding it.  All was well.

Then a pumpkin (an actual fruit!!) started to grow.  We were very excited.  Imagine the thrill when the roller-coaster reaches that first summit--serious excitement!

And then I went to show the pumpkin plant to my mom when she was in town a couple weeks ago.  I discovered that the lawn company, in an attempt to clean up around the plant, week-whacked the main stem.  The gut wrenching feeling you get when the roller-coaster drops off that summit into nothingness is about what we felt.  J and I were crushed.  

Somehow, some way, the little pumpkin plant that could has continued to survive this tragedy (Yes, I'm exaggerating.  A little.).  We don't know how exactly, but it seems that the little plant is putting every resource it has into growing our little pumpkin, which is actually becoming quite a nice-sized pumpkin:


We're happy.  Tentative and unsure, but happy!  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday--August 23

This week, I'm thankful for lots of little things:

  • We've had the most amazing fall-like weather this week (of course, it's supposed to be back in the 90's this weekend, but that just makes me more thankful for the respite!)!
  • My boss and a couple of the volunteers have completely brightened my week.  In our office I'm often alone, but there have been tons of people dropping by this week.  While not great for my productivity, our offices have been filled with stories and laughter instead. 
  • I thoroughly enjoyed spending last weekend with DAR friends, and I look forward to another night and day with them again this weekend (even if it does mean another weekend away from J...).
  • J and I survived a frustrating dance lesson last night, and even managed to laugh about it and remember that this class is just for fun!  We're now almost competent in several steps in the foxtrot and rumba, which is something we certainly couldn't say a couple months ago!
  • Of course, I'm thankful for my new gutters!
What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gutters!!

So remember way, way back over a year ago (don't bother looking for the post; I found it for you...sixteen months back...) when I mentioned that the winter of 2010/2011 was rough on our gutters and that we'd have to replace them?  Well, we interviewed folks.  We asked our friends and neighbors.  We thought about, prayed about, forgot about it (except for every time it rained...then we remembered again).  Then, this spring (after spending all that money we'd saved on the refi and new cars), we decided to spring for covering the wood trim on the house in vinyl.  So we went back to saving money for a few months.  Earlier this summer, I got brave and started looking for a new gutter company.  Thanks to Angie's List, I found a guy from Frankfort who had great reviews.  I went out on a limb and called to see if he serviced Lexington.  The good news?  He was willing to!

So long story shorter, we got a quote right before the company owner went on vacation, then once he got back it took a couple weeks to work us into the schedule.  Much to my surprise, he showed up yesterday morning (bright and early!) with a crew of four guys to tackle our job.  It took them less than one day to remove the old gutters (actually, that part alone took less then five minutes...the front gutters basically fell off when they tugged...), replace a rotten bit of fascia, fabricate and install trim, soffit, fascia and gutters, and to install leaf guards on those gutters.  And the best part?  My Frankfort contractor cost us half what a Lexington contractor quoted us for the same work.

So without further ado:


The new color is called "sierra" and I asked for a sample so that we can get some exterior paint color-matched.  Those windows pop in a horrible way now!  Needless to say, I'm pleased!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A walk in the park

So usually on Mondays I walk with B and Baby E (BTW, B--at what point should I just say E?  'Cause I'm thinking he may develop a complex in his teens if he's still Baby E...).  This summer we've been joined by the Superkid, too.  This Monday, Baby E had his first(!) gymnastics class, so B asked if I'd hang with Superkid.  Not one to miss my walk entirely (or, quite frankly, one to know what to do with a six-year-old for an hour), I suggested we take Zep for a walk.  We had a great time (well, I did...I hope he did, too!) wandering around the walking trail in the park.  About a mile in, Superkid asked if he could hold Zep's leash.  I've seen him walk his own family dog before, and Zep was pretty tired at that point, so I figured it would be okay.  As he started to jog ahead, Zep trotted along, then suddenly glanced back.  I waved, they ran on, Zep turned around again.  I laughed, grabbed my camera and caught this picture on the fourth glance back.


It's as if he was completely sure about what was going on and why I was clearly allowing some small human take him away!  Luckily, they stopped just after this and let me catch up.  I took the leash back for a while, and the next time I handed it over, Zep seemed much more comfortable trotting along with his new friend!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Everywhere BUT the MP

What's going on around the MP lately?  Not much...  Saturday morning we enjoyed a lovely morning on the deck on an unusually crisp summer morning.  It was so nice to put on long sleeves and drink hot tea!  After a quick game of fetch for J and Zep, we both got to work (which we'd brought home from our respective j-o-b's) and I then spent much of the day tackling DAR work.  Our summer workshops are just around the corner and there is much to be prepared!

Yesterday was the Sunday School Kickoff Cookout at St. R.  I got there at 8:00 a.m. to prepare, made announcements in the early service, met with a parishioner, met the inflatable set-up guy, set up for the cookout, made announcements in the late service, put on the cookout, then waited for the inflatable guy to come back and pick it up.  J, ever the awesome partner he is, dropped me at 8:00, went shopping for cookout supplies, then manned the grill for two straight hours.  He was just as happy as me to leave at nearly 4:00 p.m.

While exhausting, the day happened without a hitch, and the kids LOVED the inflatable.  I bet you will, too:



Yeah, that's Noah's Ark (there's actually a blow-up Noah on the other side).  Even my 'too cool' middle schoolers were impressed, and the little kids stayed busy bouncing most of the afternoon!  I've been excitedly showing off pictures from the company's website for two weeks, but it was way cooler in person.  I'm tempted to go ahead and make our reservation for next year's kick-off!

So there you go--not much going on around the MP, but a lot keeping us busy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's the great pumpkin plant!

So...I was a day or two late in taking this picture and then I forgot to blog when I got to work.  So welcome to...Wordless Thursday.  Um...just go with it!

Remember last year when we had a pumpkin plant out front?  It ended poorly for the plant, probably because it kept being moved and its delicate little flowers fell off early.  I was so bummed that I decided to better our odds for this year, an after Halloween I dropped all our pumpkins off the side of the porch in hopes that we'd have another try.



Success!  In fact, thanks in large part to the mowers leaving it alone and just mowing around it, it's doing really well!  We've got more than half a dozen flowers and I'm hopeful something good comes of it!  If anyone has tips on how to ensure those lovely flowers turn into pumpkins, please let me know!  I'd love to be able to grow our own this year, and maybe even supply our friends!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday--August 2

Happy Thursday!  Happy New Month (well, technically that was yesterday...but it's still a new-ish month, right??)!
You know the best thing about August?  (Try to keep up--this gets a little convoluted...)
The football pre-season starts this month.
You know why that's so awesome?
Because it comes right before the football season.
Why is that so awesome?
BECAUSE FOOTBALL SEASON MEANS FALL!!!!  And of course all of the wonderful things that come with fall--autumn nights, pumpkins, cooler temps, long-sleeves and sweaters on crisp nights, trips to the pumpkin patch and corn maze, burning leaves, family.

So this week, this month, I'm thankful for the change in seasons, and the reminder that this change happens every day, and that the change toward my very favorite season is happening right now.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coolest Field Trip Ever

Remember last week when I mentioned that VBS was sucking my soul out of my body in the slowest and most painful way possible?  Oh wait, I was too busy to write that and too tired to think of the words anyway.  So yeah.  VBS.  Killer.  We have a three day VBS for all of our elementary aged kids, and quite frankly, it went really well.  There were hiccups, of course--any event has those--but really, I enjoyed the week and I think our children did, too!
The biggest hiccup had to do with Friday's schedule.  Initially, we planned a field trip to EKY.  On Wednesday afternoon, Fr. Johnnie said "oh the place we're going Friday has been condemned.  I got a voice mail."  Quite frankly, I thought he was joking.
He wasn't.
I learned on Thursday that it wasn't quite that dire, but that it was pretty serious.  The facility had a bat issue.  A family of a protected species of bat had taken up residence.  The Executive Director was, understandably, flipping out.  (My interpretation of her situation.  She might have been calm as a cucumber...but she didn't sound that calm.)  She was grateful when I suggested we would find another field trip.
As it was, no one was really looking forward to a two-three hour drive with little people, so we set about brainstorming local field trip ideas.  The conversation in my office went something like this:  Music (the VBS theme)... field trips... hmm... Recording studio?  Does Lexington have a recording studio?  I dunno, let me Google it...  Oh look, we do!  Oh!  This place actually looks cool!  Fr. Johnnie--call this guy!  One quick phone call later, we had a field trip scheduled.  And let me tell you, it was COOL!  I wish I'd taken a picture in the room with the sound mixing equipment, but I did grab this shot of the owner talking to our group in the drum room. (The room is big enough they can put a whole band in to record a 'live' take, but usually they don't.)

So, if you happen to find yourself needing to reord some music, I highly recommend Saint Claire Recording Company in Lexington.  They are set up to house overnight guests (some artists stay for as long as a month), so you can stay there and invite me over to visit.  The hot tub looked nice...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fitness 500!

So this is VBS week at church/work and I've not spent nearly enough time near a computer.  As I commented to a dad yesterday, I totally underestimated the ability of 15 kids to wear. me. out.  Seriously.  I've been leaving work at 5:30, driving home, and crawling right into bed this week.  But, I had a super-exciting moment this morning on the scale that I wanted to share with y'all--

I officially weigh the least since purchasing our scale in Winter 2005-2006.  We entered our heights, weights, and other details into the scale, and every time I get on, it tells me how much my weight has gone up (or down) compared to that first weigh-in.  Today, for the first time, the scale showed a net loss.  So my "unofficial" weight is just under 190 (189.2).  That alone is exciting (for beating my last two attempts at weight loss), but is made doubly so by beating out that very first weigh-in.  

THEN.  (Yes, it gets more exciting!)  I pulled up the blog to share the exciting scale-related news and realized that this post (this very post that you're reading right now) is our 500th post here at the MP!  Crazy, right??  I feel almost bad for not realizing this milestone was approaching--some blogs would do something special for a special occasion like this.  Sadly, I'm too focused on VBS to even think clearly about a special giveaway to mark this one.  

So--reader involvement time--What do you think we should do to celebrate 500 posts??

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fitness Friday--July 20

I had the best walk Monday morning (actually, it was hot, insanely humid, and it took me the better part of an hour with a fan pointed right at me to recover), and it felt so good to be back on the walking wagon (that part is true).  I've missed regular walks and am glad to be back at it.  My WW weigh-in is evidence that I've been doing something right, as I weighed in at 191.0 this week.  This is a huge milestone, as I went back and dug up records from previous weight loss attempts.  Y'all, I've not weighed less than 191 since probably some time in 2005 or 2006.  In 2010 I made it just to 191.0 before I started gaining.  My 2007 weight loss had a similar result. We'll see what this year brings for me!

With respect to fiscal fitness, I mentioned last week that we're starting our annual spending freeze early this year.  (Read about our first spending challenge back in 2008 here) Specifically, this year we're doing two things.  First, we are each limited to $75 for eating out, entertainment, and other personal incidentals.  To hold us to that limit, we're using cash which is totally foreign.  Does anyone really use cash anymore?  Second, we're limiting the grocery budget to $125 a week.  To help meet that goal, I'm now back in charge of grocery shopping.  We're under $60 for the week, though that's really because we are saving some to go shopping with on Saturday for our game night.  Simply put, when we started pulling up the pie-charts in mint.com, it became clear that our food budget (groceries, restaurants, fast food, etc) was out of control.  Way out of control.  If we can stick to this challenge for a few months, I think we'll be on our way to new food spending habits!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday--July 19

This week, I'm thankful for Bill Meck (For those of you not in Lexington, he's our local weatherman.  He lives for severe weather and there's no one I trust more than him...even when he's kind of freaking me out.).  We had some severe storms go through yesterday evening, and when I couldn't understand the 'voice from the sky' as I walked in the front door, it was so reassuring to know I could just go downstairs, turn on Bill Meck, and know that I'd be informed.  (Yes, there are other weathermen and women in town, both on WLEX and the other television stations, but I'd bet money that Bill Meck is everyone's favorite.)

I'm thankful, too, for Fr. Johnnie who has been out of town for the last couple weeks.  This is his first full week back, and it's so nice to have him back in the office.  The only counter to this is that the "problem parishioners" are all flooding in this week to see him.  The awesome thing, though, (and what makes me so thankful for him) is that Fr. Johnnie has an awesome sense of humor and lightens the mood when I'm complaining!

Finally, I'm thankful for our group of friends, who are coming over Saturday evening for game night.  We haven't hosted in a while, and our gatherings haven't really involved games in a while, so I'm really excited to just have everyone over and pull out some board games.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Anniversary flowers--July

It's been awhile since I shared a picture of my anniversary flowers, so I thought I'd pop in with my most recent bouquet--


The best part of this particular visit to the florist?  Being told that I'm not buying as much as J'd apparently intended.  The florist is fairly certain that I've got at least another year of fresh blooms coming my way!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just another Manic Monday

I would love to have an exciting post about all the exciting things going on at the MP, but really, I don't.  J brought work home this weekend and I pretty much just vegged out. Don't get me wrong--that was awesome, just not exciting.  (During most of the year, a quiet weekend without plans is a fleeting dream, so that fact that I've had two in a row is not lost on me, and I'm making the most of it.)  I'm pretty sure that the most exciting thing that happened was me thinking to run the silverware container through the dishwasher (SO clean and white again!!).  
On tap today is a good walk, laundry, grocery shopping, gutter replacement company shopping, and a vestry meeting (work for me).  I'm so glad I enjoyed a quiet weekend, because today will be anything but!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fitness Friday--July 13

Okay, so it's been three weeks awhile since I posted a Fitness Friday post.  In the past, that probably would have meant I'd fallen off the healthy living wagon and was too embarrassed to discuss it publicly.  Guess what?  That's not the case!  When I last posted I had lost a bit more than 28 pounds and was solidly in the 190's.  Now, nearly four weeks after that weigh-in, I've reached my "Summer" goal and am happily hanging out in the low 190's!  Getting past this threshold will be another long-term goal for me--to reach and to stay there for awhile without bouncing back up as I've done so many times before.  While schedules and such have prevented my Monday walks with B for the last few weeks, I have managed to squeeze in walks with J, as well as a dance class.

With regard to fiscal fitness, J and I have decided to put ourselves on our annual fall spending freeze a little early.  The goal for this year?  Keep personal discretionary spending (hobbies and meals out) to $75 a week each.  I reviewed our food spending for the first half of 2012 the other day, and lets just say we spend a lot of our budget there.  We start Monday, and I'll keep you posted!


How are you doing at working towards your summer time fitness goals?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday--July 12

First off, I'm so thankful for readers who don't give me a hard time about sporadic posting, but still drop in every so often to check for new posts.  I've had great intentions and ideas for posts for the last week or two, but have been lacking in time (energy? motivation?) to get them written.  Today seemed like a good time to jump back in!

Second, I'm thankful for J, who I've come to realize is an incredibly tolerant man/husband.  Tuesday night I dragged him off to dance lessons.  Just because.  We Survived.  He even managed to crack a few jokes with our instructor and avoided stepping on my toes (more than once or twice).  I think we'll go back.  Now, don't expect to see us as pros on Dancing with the Stars or anything, but maybe (just maybe) you'll catch us on the dance floor at a wedding someday.

Finally, I'm so thankful for the DAR ladies I call friends.  I had the best time at our national convention, Continental Congress.  I didn't have nearly enough time to catch up with old friends, but to see them all briefly, and to work together for the Society, just makes me SO happy!  I can't imagine keeping myself busy with a better group!

So what are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday--June 28

This week will be a quick one as DAR in underway!

I'm so thankful for J who celebrates his birthday today!!  He opened his gifts during a phone call yesterday so I could hear his reaction--so sweet!

I'm thankful, too, for my many DAR sisters.  I'm having the best week catching up with old friends and cementing new friendships.

Finally, I'm so thankful for the chance to spend time in this wonderful city every year.  There's something magical about walking across the Ellipse to the DAR Hall in the morning, or driving past the Washington Monument late at night!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can you canoe?

Remember last August when my dreams of canoeing the Kentucky River were dashed?  Well, while J and I were in Kingsport, TN, a few weeks ago I heard about river rafting near there.  I tried to make plans, but the scheduled tours just didn't coincide with our schedule.  That idea, though, reminded me of the Kentucky River tour, and I called last week to see if they were offering it this summer.  They were!  When Allison called back to confirm our reservation, she confirmed that the lock would be open (YAY!), and then mentioned that it would be closing this week for months of construction.  Wait...we actually landed on the right side of luck this time??

So here we are, canoeing (J's first time ever), locking down, paddling past Buffalo Trace Distillery (which, of course, smelled as delicious from the river as it does the road!), swimming (me, at least...right before I stepped on an errant shell and sliced my toe open...about that luck thing...), and locking back up the river!  We joined a group of folks from Louisville, and had two tour guides. I highly recommend this tour (at least, after the lock re-opens) and you can expect to see J and me heading back to the River and over to Elkhorn Creek again soon!



Preparing to enter the lock from upstream


Buffalo Trace

Immediately after paddling into the lock from downstream; the lower door is still open behind us.
A picture of me taking a picture of the rest of our group while hanging out in the lock.  The upper door (gate?) is built on top of the damn, so water pours in under the gate while we wait.  I suspect that's part of the construction work planned.  The dark line on the wall is the water level when the upper gate is open, so we had a while to wait at this point.