Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Our oven caught on fire this weekend.  It's only 2 years old (remember this post?).

I'm super pumped about that............................. (sarcasm font)

Before I publicly thank my lucky stars we are not burned to a crisp, let me recap our summer:

  • I quit working.  Zero income from my side.
  • Our furnace/AC dies - (remember when I said our house was a selfish brat?)
  • Our water heater dies
  • My car has random electrical problem that is as-of-yet un-diagnosed (even after many weeks in the shop...).  Mounds of charges are expected.
What did we do wrong?  That's what I'm asking myself!  Are we cursed?

No, not seriously, but COME ON!  We were sooooo good, saving up money while I was working to have an emergency stash while I was in school.  We've lived on a tight budget for almost two years now.  We paid my car off.  We have no debt (well, except smallish student loans now).  I'm helping little kids have a brighter education.... we're saints, practically.

Ok, so anyway, back to the oven.  We had heard a funny pop sound the night before it enflamed, but we assumed it was the cookie sheet we had in the over bending with the heat.  There was also a weird smell, but we were cooking so it just smelled odd, not definable.  Next morning, Tony went to warm something for breakfast, and there was a huge pop (causing all of the lights in the house to flicker), and smoke started pouring out from behind the electrical control panel.  The stove is electric, not gas, and it was clearly an electrical issue, not an in-the-oven issue.  Luckily, Tony was standing right there and got it unplugged and out of the house very quickly, and nothing else actually caught on fire.  I was waiting in standby mode, ready with a fire extinguisher that I don't quite know how to use!

We were using it just as you are supposed to, and clearly this is a manufacturing default (don't worry, Tony has already been in touch with Whirlpool, for what it's worth...)

But here's the scary thing ---- how often do you turn the oven on to heat up, walking to another room or even getting in the shower or going outside to get the mail.  Sure, not the smartest thing to do, but we all assume that if we are in or near the house, it will be ok... If he had done that, the entire kitchen/house would have caught on fire so quickly.  

Lesson learned.  Lucky stars thanked.  Blessings counted.

So, the point of this drama is:
1.  Don't leave your oven unattended (at all!)
2. Our possessions are out to get us, and our precious emergency fund is dwindling.
3.  Emergency funds are good to have, even if you have to use them.

In the meantime, send some happy thoughts the way of our dryer, fridge, and microwave.  They need all the help they can get.

It only has to get better from here, right???

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I feel very happy this Saturday morning.  We woke up to semi-fall-like temperatures.  We went on a morning walk with the dogs, and even now from the window I can see a clear blue sky, free (for the moment) of the humidity haze.  I'm dreaming of falling leaves and pumpkin candles and jeans.  I'm listening to a song that makes me nod my head back and forth.  I'm stuck inside doing homework - but it's ok.

I'm happy today.

I had a really good week.  I mentioned that I started my student teaching, which marks my first real experience in a classroom.  I went into teaching somewhat blindly, with no real prior knowledge.  I was so scared.  I had so many fears.  What if I got in a classroom and didn't like it??  Not just the teacher or the room, but being a teacher.  We've put so much (time, energy, money, sacrifice) into this, into allowing me to change my life completely.  What if, after all of that.... I didn't like it?  What then?

But today I am happy.  

I loved it.  I love it.  And it's not just the room or the school or the teacher or the specific kids.  I love the feeling.  I can really see myself as a teacher.  I know there will be good days and bad, and I know I have so very much more to learn and experience. But I know deep down that this is what I was meant to do.

thank goodness.

Simple Pleasures

My roommates from college, whom I lived with for four years.  We finally had a reunion of sorts, and it was such a blast.  Love them!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

Whew!  Ready for this brain dump of a post?  Yes?  Ok!

  • I started the intern portion of my student teaching this week in a 5th grade class (the part where I'm more of an observer than the actual student teacher).  It's going really, really well!  I definitely feel like I'm on the right path - this is what I want to do!
  • I also started back with my own classes.  So... lots of reading... no time for blogging
Well, that's it.  I feel guilty writing this and not doing my homework.

      School is busy.  The end.    :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe 2!

I'm on a roll now, yall.  

I don't even know who I am anymore.  I cook, I clean...  too bad it's short-lived!

This was technically the second time I have made this recipe, so I figured twice was enough to count one in my corner - recipe #2 for my list!

Pinterest is becoming quite the source for me for recipe inspiration.  Today's recipe is Creamed Avocado and Lime Chilled Pasta, found via Pinterest and originally posted on this blog.

It's basically what it sounds - some lime juice, avocado, garlic, cilantro, and yogurt all blended together to form a cool and refreshing sauce for pasta.  

It's easy, requires minimal ingredients, and is perfect for a hot summer day (yes, it's still super hot here... I wish it were fall, but sadly that's quite a ways away 'round these here parts).

You simply cook pasta, food process, and mix.  Fast and easy, my type of recipe.  I think it would be a good lunch option too.

You can follow her recipe, but so you know, I changed a few things a bit.

  • Mayonnaise is the scourge of the earth, in my opinion.  So since the recipe calls for a few tablespoons of  the icky stuff, I just substituted Greek yogurt.
  • I used the juice of two whole limes, since we didn't have the bottled kind.
  • I added diced red bell peppers (cold) and leftover rotisserie chicken to make it more of a meal, since we had it for dinner.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Miss Marlee, who makes the best faces.

Don't worry, I'm not playing favorites.  Her brother Parks got a shout out a few weeks ago. :)

I've had the chance to spend a good amount of time with these awesome little ones these past few weeks - and I am so grateful we have them in our lives.  They melt my heart.  

Head over to Kacy's blog if you want to see more adorableness that is Parks and Marlee.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crystal Clear: A New Storm Door

Since Day 1, I have loathed the storm door that came on our house.  I think you'd hate it too.

See what I mean?  Even the husband and dogs peering out doesn't do much to help it's case.

The white panel at the bottom looked so dated, and the bar cutting across the middle just drew attention to it.  Not to mention the top and bottom glass panels didn't sit flush, so I had a tacky piece of tape across them to keep the bugs out.  Klassy!

I know some people would opt for no storm door at all.  And I would usually agree with them.

However, we have such a lack of natural light in our house, that the light gained by opening the door is a tremendous difference.  It's like gaining an extra window.  I'm crazy about natural light, but apparently didn't take that into consideration when we purchased this house.  It's soooo dark, and that's the #1 thing on my "want" list when we go to buy a new one.  I'm one of those people who feels the compulsive need to open blinds in other people's houses during the day.  I love lamp sunlight.

Not to mention, our dogs love watching the cars go by.  It keeps them amused, which makes me happy.

So the point of all that is this:
  1. Like storm door idea
  2. Hate actual storm door
We needed a new one.  The kicker?  Those suckers are ex-pen-sive.  Well, at least when you're on a budget like ours.  $150+ for a decent one.  So when we saw a Craigslist ad for a new-in-box one for $75, we couldn't resist.

Brimming with pride about our patience and frugality, we went to open the box, only to discover that the frame had basically broken apart, due to some pretty flimsy plastic L brackets holding it together.  We didn't blame the sellers, just the poor quality of the door...  

Long story short, we ordered new brackets from the company for $6.  Hmmmm... the replacements they sent were METAL.... why they don't just use those from the start, beats me.

It took us 5 hours to put the door up.  We had to get creative with the new brackets and shoddy workmanship from the previous door installation, etc.  FIVE hours.  We didn't kill each other, so that's a plus.

Enough talk - here she is.

The dogs love it!  They have an uninhibited view of squirrels, walkers, cars, and golf carts. 

And we love it, because it now blends in with our house, instead of sticking out like an eyesore.  A much needed upgrade, regardless of how long it took!

I just need to touch up the trim and fill in nail holes and we have a lovely new entrance for cheap (ish).  

Next on our curb appeal agenda?

  • Upgrade light by the door
  • Add much-needed color to the landscape
  • Trim and possibly rearrange the bushes that have grown like crazy recently.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Have you all ever had a madeleine?  

They are vanillaey, cakey, cookies that are downright heavenly.  My mom made some as favors for Courtney's wedding - and I fell instantly in love. 

She swears they are easy to make, and this recipe seems to be fairly simple enough.

You need a special madeleine pan to make them the traditional way:

I might have sneaked a few treat bags home with me - for blogging purposes, of course.

So I'm on the lookout for a madeleine pan at the thrift store or something, since if I actually went out and bought one, I'd be in big trouble (ie: I would make some today and subsequently eat the whole pan).  

My mom actually made these a little while ahead of time and froze them - and they were still fantastic!

I'm thinking they would be great Christmas gifts - perhaps dipped halfway in chocolate and covered with sprinkles or decorated somehow - packaged up in a nice little box.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Meat Adventures

I'm sure you've gotten the idea by now that I don't cook.  At all.  Occasionally I will bake something easy, and I can boil pasta, but that's it.  Literally.

Meat scares me.  I don't like touching it, I don't really like eating that much of it, I don't know how long to cook it for or at what temperature or if it really is done even though I've prodded and poked it and it looks done but I still don't know....

You get the picture.  So in my (now-waning) free time, I decided to cook dinner.  Of my own volition. Inspired by this pin.

We had most of the ingredients and I had the time (lots of it!) - so I went for it.  Seemed easy enough.

Tony thought it was hilarious, so much so that he actually went to find my camera to take a picture to document that it really happened.

(Yes, I have been dressing up in my time off...)

So the recipe is Jamie Oliver's Crunchy Garlic Chicken.  It's basically a lemon, garlic, and cracker coating on chicken - but it's baked.  Very little oil used but it still tastes somewhat fried (ie: good).  I had to do fancy things like zest and food process things.  I had a very hands-on experience with raw chicken.

It was an adventure.

The best part - IT TURNED OUT GREAT!  TONY LOVED IT!  We had leftover chicken so he requested to have it again the next night - victory!!

With wheat pasta with a light lemon butter

I get it.  It's not that challenging of a recipe for you chefs out there.  But if you're like me and need an easy start - this one was it.

I did change a few things, based on what we had available:  
  • I used some Wheat Thin chip/cracker things we had on hand, instead of saltines.  I imagine it gave it better flavor anyway.  
  • I also used chicken tenderloins, instead of breasts.

If you recall, The List of 2011 goals had me learning 5 new recipes that were edible.  I'll chalk this up to #1!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Popcorn  Shrimp!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beach Week: The Outtakes

You guys have been troopers through my Wedding and Beach weeks.  Last one, promise!

Here are some funny pics that didn't really fit in elsewhere:

Girl loves acting like a big kid

My dad MADE these cornhole boards.  Amazing.  Cake stands and cornhole, his specialties!

Someone didn't wear sunscreen! 
She almost got it!
Grammy playing cornhole! Yes!

Dad providing a nice target for Grammy's throw...

She didn't realize we were throwing pretzels so close to her and the seagulls were hovering!

Senior portrait

Lyla has a thing for putting hair into her ears.  Weirdo.

Shannon - the closeup for you!

Pumpin' a keg in a bridesmaid dress - classy!

What can I say?  I get excited when Tony takes pictures of me.

Match made in heaven.

Thanks for coming to the beach with me, guys!

Wedding Week: DIY Backyard Beach Wedding Done Right

Now we've come to one of my favorite parts - the details!!  My mom and sister put a lot of work into the details of this wedding, and they are begging to be shared!

One of the best parts of a casual beach wedding is the ability to DIY relatively cheaply and easily, and it still looks fantastic!  

For the aisle, they found driftwood sticks in their local lake - no easy task, so I'm told.  They they took mason jars and dyed them pale blue, wrapping them with twine onto the sticks.  Fresh flowers from the local grocery store added a touch of color and sweetness.

My photos don't do it justice, but it looked sooooo good coming down that aisle!

The tables were, by far, the best-looking part.  Aren't those colors fantastic??  With such a small group, they were able to get full table settings, complete with real silverware, plates, and glasses.

I love the colors!

It looked wonderful at night with all of the candles!

See those napkin rings?  Yeah, my dad made them!  He stamped words onto the metal, different for each setting.

The photographer asked my mom if she did this for a living.  I can see why he asked!

They got this on etsy, but it was their guestbook - we all left fingerprints.

My mom made this too with a giant letter and a little craft moss.

Next, the food!

A family friend did the catering, and she did a fantastic job!  It was delish.

Food labels, one of my small contributions to the DIY.  I just printed on iridescent paper (font is Starfish from Dafont.com) and hotglued to seashells.  Turned out nicely :)

 Pinterest-worthy, isn't it?? :

 I also made these little water bottle labels, but they didn't hold up so well in the August heat!

Next, the "cake" (ie, cupcakes!)

My dad built this cake stand.  From scratch.  My dad is handy, for realz.

He took plywood, spindle things (what are those called??), and dollhouse molding, and stuck it all together, finishing it off with this great turquoise color.  I told him he could make a killing selling these online - he said it took too much time!

The cake plates:

The cupcakes themselves - super delicious, but adorable too.  My mom made the seashells for the tops, and the "sand" made them quite tasty.

Lanterns I want to steal:

Personalized beer cups - I want some for our house!

The cups are from IdaClaire.com if you're interested!

A DIY beach wedding, done right!
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