Sunday, June 29, 2008

Work Work Work

Aside from work, we helped some friends paint an apartment in one night on Monday.  There were enough of us there that the work went fast and finished by the time everyone left.  Initially they had planned to be painting all week.  

I also had another dentist appointment on Tuesday.  When I arrived a few minutes late, they had given my appointment to another person.  Well I asked how long of a wait and she said not long and I said if it was like an hour we'd go grab dinner for Peter who was starving and come back.  Being told "no definitely not that long" we waited.  Well it was an hour.  I was mad because of my stressful day at work prior to my arrival, the dense traffic which caused me to be late (by less than 10 mins).  Plus I'm at the dentist ALL THE TIME!  I have never just not showed up and that's what our receptionist claimed she thought would happen?   I was like whaaaaat?   I pieced it together later though that they had a cancellation right before my appointment and so they were hoping I came earlier.  When I didn't, the person that arrived early for their appointment after mine was ushered in causing me to wait.  This ultimately meant I  missed Young Adults as I didn't even leave the dentist until after 7 PM.  And to top it off they had to send my crown back to the lab to be altered so it's still not finished.  They're supposed to call me because it was only supposed to take 2-3 days.  I'm going to call them tomorrow though because sometimes I think their receptionist isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, if you know what I mean.

It was nice to leave early on Friday though.  I have some PTO hours I had to use because of year end and didn't want to lose them.  With the licensing visit tomorrow, I couldn't use them.  So I did on Friday.  Peter and I drove to Arlington VA for the annual RESNA conference which is where we've been since.  His company is here presenting, etc.  It's been cool to see some of their product users and get to know them; as well as learn more about the field of alternative augmentative communication.  

Traffic down here is nuts though.  We were going to go to Richmond to visit Emily but the traffic was insane.  Bumper to stickin' bumper with no end in sight.  We had an interesting experience with the HOV lanes as well and saw a cop pull over 4 cars simultaneously.  We cancelled our meeting with Emily and got back to the hotel 4 hours later.  Whew.  Kind of a wasted afternoon haha.  Oh well.

Now Peter is finishing up a presentation with Bruce and we'll be heading home.  The lobby here at the Hyatt is pretty nice with 3 floors plus two floors below with meeting rooms and chairs/couches all over.  

It will be nice to get back to Pittsburgh though.  At least we know how to deal with that traffic haha.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beautiful Sunday

Today Peter and I officially joined Hebron Church.  It's the church we've been going to for about a year now and have become involved in.  David Shrader spoke today too so it was a double good service.  After church, we went out to eat at Max & Erma's.  We actually still had a $25 gift card from Christmas so only paid $14 for the rest and tip.  We had a very delicious meal.  We shared a nacho appetizer with cheese, seasoned beef and sour cream topping.  I had the hula bowl which is a salad with baby greens, grilled chicken, grilled pineapple, mandarin oranges and honey mustard dressing (yum!) and Peter had a corned beef sandwich of some sort with fries and a baby green side salad.  Then we got chocolate chip cookies for dessert because they are a must!  

After lunch, we stopped into Lowe's because I'm still looking for handles for my dining room buffet piece I put in the kitchen.  The center to center holes is 2.5" and most come standard at 3" so I'm having a bit of trouble finding something.  I want them to match what we already have which are fifty years old haha.  I know I won't find exact, but similar.  I did find something that matched in style that were chrome that I could easily paint black but they were 3" too.   Bummer.  I also picked up a new paint pad because we are going to help the Shrader's paint their apartment since they are all moved out now in preparation for their big move.  I also have some painting to do at home and will need a new pad so I figured I'd get it to use it for both occasions.  

We came home in the afternoon to just relax.  Peter even took a nap to catch up on some rest.  After he woke up, we did a few random things around the house.  The first of which was hanging the shelf in the kitchen.  The brackets have been up forever and we just haven't had time and a chance to get the shelf cut and put up.  It was relatively easy and I am so glad to have it.  More counter space!  

This is the most recent picture I had before the shelf went up.  It was from about a year ago though haha.  But it gives you a good enough idea.

And here is my new shelf!  The wood was actually left here by the old owners who had some shelves all around the kitchen that we took down.  I was able to move my canisters off the counter to free up some space and get my cookbooks off the top of the fridge and move my recipe box from the windowsill.  I also put the fruit bowl there to fill the space at the end and free up the countertop beside the stove.

We also changed the a/c filter, cleaned Cadi's litter, got the trash and recyclables ready for tomorrow's pick up, and just tidied the place up a bit.  

I was looking around the kitchen and how different and how much better it looks than from when we first moved in.  It hasn't even been 2 years but geeze have we been busy!  My husband is awesome because he has helped soooo much!  His muscles sure come in handy and he's learning to use power tools from Jeff which is great!  

Now it's storming again and we're just winding down to get ready for bed.  I love these evening thunderstorms.  It's been beautiful during the days and then storming at night.  My flowers are getting watered too which saves me time and money from the water bill haha.  The only bad thing about the storms are that Cadi gets scared haha.  

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yard Work Progress!

Well today was a verrrrryyy productive day outside.  After sleeping in a bit (til about 9 haha), Peter and I had some breakfast and went outside to do some work.  Peter cut the grass and I did a whole lot of weeding in preparation for laying mulch.  Peter also cut down the pine tree in the corner of the back yard.  It was growing to close to the red bud tree and was being taken over by the hillside.  And he cut down the holly bush in the front yard.  I love holly bushes but it was too huge and in a very awkward spot.  We worked outside for roughly 5 hours and I couldn't be more pleased with the result:

We had already fixed up this area prior to today, minus the mulch.  We will probably be getting rid of the tall green shrub when we cut down trees eventually because it's dying.

This is the area that we've been working on.  I pulled out all the old stuff that was growing here and last weekend Peter turned over all the soil.  2 azaleas, 1 barberry and 1 basil plant later and this is what we have.  Plus the few lillies bit of phlox that was already growing there.  I also transplanted a columbine that was growing from the other side of the driveway to match the one that's growing on this side between the 2 lillies.  I'm going to move the lillies to the backyard after they bloom this year.

Here's a great picture of our grass that has grown in nicely.  It's already starting to really blend with the older grass too.  We used to have huge ornamental grasses here that I absolutely hated haha.

At the end of the driveway on the left side here I am going to finish digging up the things growing right now, turn over the soil and round it down to the driveway and plant grass.  I've pretty much divided up the landscaping work into sections and now that the first two are completed, this is the next section I want to tackle along with a small section on the right side near the road that has a bunch of junk growing in it that can't be seen from this picture.  I think the larger portion of the right side of the driveway will wait until fall when things start to die off.  We're just going to take everything out from there and plant grass as well.

This is where the holly bush used to be haha.  We're going to get rid of the stump and plant grass here as well.

A view from the porch:

I took this from the dining room window.  I am so happy with all of our hard work!

Our house as of today.  Love it!

We are really checking things off of our to do list for the yard.  When we cut down all the pine trees etc we'll be ripping up the one area in the middle of the yard and moving the rhododendron and salvaging the few flowers that grow there and moving them to other areas.  Planting grass is pretty much our theme.  We love pine trees too but there's just too much.  Everything is growing into each other and just going to get bigger.  Some day this summer I think a few friends will be coming down to help cut the trees down.  And we're looking into doing the hillside in the back ourselves with some friends sometime soon too.  It's exciting to see the great changes being made :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kitchen Storage

Our kitchen isn't that big, but it gets the job done.  The only real hassle is counter space.  Especially when I'm cooking and trying to balance cutting boards on the edge of the counter haha.  We've been trying to rearrange things to make more space, but we just had too much on the counters still.  (ie toaster, toaster oven, canisters, knife block, paper towel holder, dish drainer haha)  We finally came up with something that is great for us and has freed up a lot of space by storing it all in the same unit.  

Our kitchen used to look like this in the one area.  The shelf was left in the house so we put it to use and the stand the microwave is on was our TV stand that wasn't needed since the old owners left a great console tv that we use.

About 2 or 3 weeks ago, we purchased this dining room buffet piece from Craigslist for $75 with the owner delivering it to our kitchen.  Not too bad.  It looked way too much like a dining room piece though..duh.

I then pulled out leftover paint from when I painted all of the cupboards/cabinets in the kitchen when we first moved in.  I also used leftover shelving paper that I put in all of the cupboards/cabinets and drawers to line the newest addition as well.  This is without any of the hardware done since I ran out of black spray paint and had to pick some up on Friday after work (96 cents at Wal-Mart and it's indoor/outdoor) which is good so I can use it for other projects too.

This is with the doors back on as of tonight.  Looking great!  I am buying two new handles since it had the old school drawer handles on it and I'd like it to match the more simpler looking ones on the rest of the cupboards/cabinets.  I also have to paint the two handles for the doors.  They were nailed on and not able to be removed so I'm going to have to tape around them and try to paint them.  I'm thinking of just ripping them out and getting ones that match what we have, although these two aren't as odd looking compared to the drawer handles.  This unit holds both the microwave and toaster over as well as the coffee pot, crock pot, and deep fryer down below.  I also store all of our food storage containers and travel mugs down there with bottled waters.  And there's room to spare!  Plus I have two empty drawers that I can fill.  I'm going to rearrange some of what we keep in the dining room (like spare kitchen towels etc) and put them in the kitchen drawer for this unit.  It doesn't stand out as a buffet piece anymore and matches the rest of our kitchen.  Took a whole lot of sanding though since it had varnish on it.  Plus 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.  I'm becoming a pro at this :P

Landscaping Progress

In the past few weeks, Peter and I have been working hard in our spare time and on the weekends (when it's not raining or 95 degrees out haha) to get our front landscaping in shape.  It sure is a lot of work, but today we accomplished even more by turning over all the dirt in the area I want to put a few plants.  This means tomorrow on the way home, I can stop at Lowe's and get my plants and plant them.  Then whenever Jeff comes down with his mulcher, I'll pull weeds one more time and use the mulch that we get to cover the area.  I'm so glad it's going to be done soon!  No more huge piles of dirt in the front yard haha.  We also have planned to take out quite a few trees from our yard to make room for our nicer trees.  We have two beautiful dogwood trees, one on each side and we're going to cut down the pines around them.  There's just too much going on and we'll mulch up most of the trees for the mulch for our landscaping.  The 2 dogwoods are different but each sooo pretty.  

This one is my favorite.  It's a Kousa Milky Way Dogwood.  So pretty!  It blooms later than most dogwoods.  I don't remember it looking this pretty last year.  I think this year we had a great Spring for flowering trees, etc.  because everything seemed in much better bloom than last year.  This Kousa dogwood really grew since last year too.  We'll have to trim it in the fall to keep it from getting too much bigger.

A close up of the Kouse.  I love how the flowers layer right over the leaves.  It is such a unique look to me. 

This is our other dogwood the blooms earlier in the Spring, closer to the beginning of April.  It's a regular Cornus Florida dogwood that most people picture when you say dogwood.  Ours is white but the CF dogwoods also bloom in pinks and reds.

Here's where Peter got all of the dirt turned over.  I can't wait to get the plants and mulch in!  It took so much from the beginning of Spring this year with digging out these huge rooted plants that were ugly, dying and a big pain in the neck to digging our a weed type ground cover.  It wasn't really a weed but spread out flat like one and had really strong roots.  I am so pleased to be nearing the end of this project.  We still have the other side of the driveway to deal with though.  Our goal is to just make that all grass, but we have to dig out all the junk that's in there now.  It dies in the Fall/Winter so hopefully we can get lots out then and get grass seed planted.  One thing at a time, but I get so anxious to do it all that sometimes when I'm outside, I get scatterbrained with what I'm doing and have to refocus on one area at a time haha.  I'm looking forward to when Jeff comes down with his mulcher because I think Barney will be coming along with my aunt Paula and cutting down trees and the holly bush will make such a huge difference too.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rainy Day

It has been raining all day today, with a few storms throughout.  I'm not complaining though.  I actually really enjoyed listening to the rainfall all day and watching the storms.  Last night it stormed too and we watch the lightning from our bed.  It really lit up the sky.

This morning we had a meeting at 8:30-10:30 about joining Hebron Church.  Next Sunday Peter and I will be joining.  The process for this church is actually pretty easy which I am glad for.  The meeting was really great and basically just sealed the deal for us.  We've been going there for a while but never had a formal meeting about the beliefs of the church, etc.  So after this morning we were both sure it's what we wanted to do.  

I was going to do some work outside but opted not to since it was raining.  I ended up taking a nap and lounging around for a while.  Peter and I also got a few random things checked off our "to-do" list.  We made the reservations for the house in NC for the week of Labor Day when we take our vacation with Tim, Vasti and Bella.  I'm really excited to be spending some extra time with them since I haven't really had the opportunity to yet outside of Christmases, Easters, etc.  I also talked to my mom and dad on the phone for a bit which was nice.  I think we might vacation with them in NC next year.  After doing a few more odds and ends, we made pesto pasta with grilled chicken and fresh green beans for dinner which was really yummy and then headed out to Kohl's and Barnes & Noble.  After our adventures out, we returned home and found a movie on TV to watch--"The River Wild".  We had both seen it before but it's been a while and now we're staying up late watching it til the end haha.  Hope we're not too tired tomorrow!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baby Blue Jay

Today when Peter and I got home from work, there was a baby blue jay on our porch step.  We walked up really close to it and it didn't fly away so we became concerned.  As we knelt down to see if the bird was injured, it began squaking and hobbly away.  We felt so bad for the poor bird and thought maybe something was wrong with his wing.  Then we discovered another baby blue jay laying dead under one of our trees.  I looked around and spotted a nest.  We figured that they either fell out or the nest blew over or something because they weren't able to fly yet.  As the first baby blue jay is hobbling away, we spot a third baby blue jay in the driveway.  When both of them get to squaking, the mommy blue jay came, also squaking.  Before we knew it, there were about a half dozen blue jays as well as 2 robins and 1 cardinal in our front yard haha.  It was a really neat scene the played out, but we felt bad because the baby blue jays kept getting lost from their mother when they blended in with the gravel in the driveway.  Eventually, both of the baby bird that were alive and the mother made it across the road and into a neighbor's shrubs.  

If you look closely, you can see the mommy blue jay on one of the wires in this picture.  I tried capturing a picture when all the birds were flying around, but it was too hard with the sun and ducking from getting dive-bombed.  

One of the baby blue jays that's lost in the driveay.  It basically looks like a darker gray rock in this picture.  They didn't have too much blue on them yet since they were so little.

Here's when Peter was trying to get the baby bird in the driveway to make noise so that the mother would hear it and find it.  He had to be careful though because blue jays are very aggressive birds and would fly right towards us on the porch.  I was the lookout and when I spotted some in the pine tree near the car, he made a run for it haha.

Here's the bird in the weird tree by our house that has horizontal branches.  This is where the nest was.

On last silhouette shot of one of the big blue jays.

Here's a brief video of when the first 4-5 blue jays arrived.  They were all in this pine tree and dove out of it looking for the baby that had made its way to the side of the car.

Good luck to the birds...we have lots of outside cats in our neighborhood so not sure how they'll make out.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No Expectations

Last night at our what we'll call "Serving As Senders" meeting...we were all asked what we expect to get out of this group or what we expect to happen.  As the people before me shared, I thought about what their expectations were (keeping in touch, learning to love Muslim people, etc.) and realized I had absolutely no expectations except to see God working.  As I shared my reasoning with the group, I explained that I don't have any expectations because I think that limits ourselves and God.  By having an expectation, we are limiting what we want/think should happen.  And that ultimately opens the door to disappointment.  We have very limited perspective and knowledge while God can see the big picture.  And He knows what will happen.  If something doesn't meet our expectation, we will think to ourselves that that isn't the way it was supposed to happen and could easily lose focus.  

I didn't go into much more detail with the group because I didn't want to get off track, but had an extended conversation with Peter on our way home to explain more to him what I meant.  For example, the girl who expects to stay in touch could grow apart from the couple who is leaving.  And that might be sad but God may have other plans for their lives.  I think that God places people in our lives to help get us through situations and things like that and I'm not saying that's what this is, but just by setting the expectation to stay in touch, it could lead to disappointment and frustrations if it's not met.  

I think that sometimes just by simply (consciously or subconsciously) setting expectations, we are giving Satan ways to tear us down.  His ultimate goal is destruction.  He will start working immediately on trying to have those expectations not met so that he can hurt us.  

By having no expectations, I hope to just maintain an open mind and avoid some of the heartache that comes along with expectations.  I think that this "no expectations" theory originated with me in our premarital counseling class we took at EFree.  We talked about expectations and unsaid/unmet expectations and the potential harm they carried along with them.  Since then, I try to just keep an open mind and follow God's will.  I can definitely say there have been several times where this theory has come in handy and has been a blessing.  When I feel myself starting to formulate expectations, I quickly remind myself of what I've just written here and it's sure helped a lot.  

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It's already June 1?

Today was a productive day.  After church, we did some errands, grabbed lunch and were home by 3:00.  Peter got a haircut, I picked up Ashley's contacts, we returned things at JCP, and purchased superglue and a new adapter for one of our kitchen outlets.  We recently bought a new piece of furniture from Craigslist to hold our microwave, toaster oven, etc etc.  I was going to sand and paint it to  match all of the kitchen cupboards I painted last September, but got too busy so it will have to wait til next weekend.  We did manage to get some yard work done today though.  It was mid 70's and sunny so much nicer for doing such things.  Peter cut the grass and weed wacked and I did some weeding and digging in front for our landscape we're working on.  I think by next weekend I'll be ready to put some more plants in which I'm super excited about.  I know, nerdy, but I am.  We cleaned up, showered and were relaxing by 7 which was nice.  We ate leftovers for dinner because we've had so many yummy dinners this week all yielding leftovers since I cook more than what is needed for 2 since we take the dinners for lunches the next day, etc.  We've had Balsamic Chicken Pasta w/Broccoli and Portobello Mushrooms which I totally made up one day a few years ago and its delicious, also a chicken salad recipe I got from my mom that we had on toasted whole grain bagels (yum), Chicken Lo Mein which I totally made up as I went along and it was great (lots of yummy veggies in it too!) and Steak with Corn on the Cob and a salad.  We both chose the Chicken Pasta tonight as we watched some more of "The Office".  We're total addicts.  We've made it to season 4 which we watch online at nbc and I'm super excited Jim and Pam are dating.  Again, nerdy, but that's the kind of girl I am. :)

Peter and I both have a 4 day weekend next weekend which we're really excited about.  Plans?  None.  Well, that's not true.  We have a bunch of little ideas and things we want to do like explore Carnegie Library and part of Pittsburgh, paint that piece of furniture, do some misc. housework, etc.  Just a great 4 day weekend.  I have time to use before June 30 and have a big audit and things at work so that was the last I could use them with a weekend to make a 4 day weekend.   I'm glad that we'll have 4 days at home to do whatever we want.  Weekends go so fast and anytime we have an extra day off to use with weekends, we're always visiting family because we don't get to see them too often.  It's a lot of fun, but it means things at home don't get done and it's also tiring sometimes.  We just went to Berwick and Philly last weekend and are driving to VA/DC at the end of June so we didn't want to have to drive anywhere this weekend.  Lazy?  Maybe :P   Now I just have to make it through the next 5 days of work.  Then it's 4 days off, 3 days of work and another 2 days off haha.  I know it'll come and go before I know it though.  Ah, the realities of life :P haha