Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy 2 Year Houseaversary

This year we finished The Wall, started a shed, built a one week shed, re-did the laundry room, put a new ceiling in the kitchen, built a pantry, replaced the HVAC, fenced in and expanded the garden, got a snazzy new front door, added an old fashioned bed, messed up the downstairs bathroom, gussied up the upstairs bathroom, built a ramp and Pooch Porch Perch, added some carpet, installed new light fixtures AND FINISHED THE SIDING.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fall Sneak Peek

Right now I have all of the windows open and the house smells delightful because I am making  chai! Last night one of our neighbors had a fire going and the crisp air, wood smoke and tranquility had me feeling giddy for fall!

Another thing that has me giddy? After 67 days the siding is done.

Isn't it lovely? Bb and Porter did such a good job and really worked hard to make sure it was perfect. They worked on 100 degree days, survived mosquitoes and giant spiders, and basically were a pleasure to have around the house. 

I'm going to miss them making noise in our yard. Sugar looks for them when she goes out, I know she's going to be sad this job is done.  I know they are happy to move on to their real jobs.

Ladies, if you see something you like, let me know. They come with good references.

The other excitement this weekend was a visit from Gramma Melinda. 

I joked that visiting us was like vacationing in a Jane Austen novel...all we do is take you on long walks, eat big meals and visit historic home sites. I think we're a little tame for a jet setting, salsa dancing, city gal like Gma Melinda...but we still have a good time.

G and G the super couple of 2015 visited with us at a nice dinner.

 Next week, cast or no cast, B is taking off of work in the hopes of killing some of the bathroom to do list! I hope to have more updates and a full before and mid-point of the siding soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This post not sponsored by KB homes


Imagine yourself home.

What does that look like? Does it look like where you are? Does it look like your house?

We're coming up on two years in this house and I've realized that when I picture, "home" in my head it looks nothing like where I actually live. Apparently, I'm not the only person who has this problem. I was talking to a friend about this yesterday and she also felt a disconnect between "house" and "home."

So that begs the question...what am I imaging and how can I make my house more like it? When I picture a "home" I imagine a 2000 sq ft cookie cutter suburban house with builder beige walls that is totally clean and sparsely decorated. Something like this:

This is a "Before" photo from 

If you tell me you're watching a football game or a movie or something this is where I'll picture you.
Same thing for kitchens, I don't imagine my kitchen, I imagine this kitchen:

Cedar Bay Mattamy Homes Model Kitchen Northside Jacksonville FL

None of the rooms in my house even remotely resemble these rooms. I've never lived in a house that's been decorated like this. If you gave me a million dollar budget and an entire Pottery Barn catalog to choose from I would never, ever come out of the other side with rooms decorated like this. You can check out my Pinterest boards for the evidence. This is great but it isn't what I'd pick.

Julie do you want beige? 


Dark cabinets?


A tan sectional?

One of those tall kitchen tables and bar stools for the island?

Not really. No.

So why is this somehow the gold standard for me? How in the world does this read as "home" when I've never had a home that looks anything like it? My friends and family don't have homes like this either. They have eclectic and funky houses, classic style, beach themes, cottage chic or just a mish mash of joyful mess that somehow works perfectly.  I've been to houses like this but I've never had any lasting impression of them. What's the deal, brain?

Regardless, whatever we have going on isn't working for me. Too much clutter, too many tools, too many holes in the floor....besides the obvious approach of "patience" I don't know how to make myself more comfortable. 

I'm a little concerned that my nomadic lifestyle may have made feeling settled in one place an impossibility. 

SO, in the mean time, I find home not in the space but in the details.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Circle the Wagons

Well fam, work on the house has ground to a halt and we're not going to meet that end-of-September self imposed deadline to finish everything. B had an accident while rock climbing and fell and broke his wrist. It looks like he'll have a cast for 6-8 weeks. It doesn't totally prevent him from using his left hand but he's certainly not going to be able to repair a joist, hang dry wall and tile a bathroom. He's also not going to be able to put tin on the roof of the shed or any of the other nonsense we thought we were getting done before our two year House-a-versary.

Work on the siding continues and it's starting to pay off. Neighbors have been stopping us to comment on how much better the house looks and we're excited that they like the color of the pre-primed boards on the house because that color is incredibly similar to the paint we've picked out. Now that the sides that face the street are done it's easy to imagine what it'll look like. Although it's been a long and expensive summer it's nice to see that things are coming together.

Check out our new and improved power bill report card:

Thank you new HVAC. I can't wait to see how you do in the winter. 

As if last week didn't have enough in store for us in terms of dramatic medical mishaps...our little Pumpkin was also sick. She went to the vet on Friday and they prescribed her some special food. Her energy level seems better so I hope she's feeling better.

This weekend we took a much needed break to visit with some friends, have a picnic, listen to stories being told under twinkle lights, take naps and get ice cream at a local dairy farm.

I'm also back at work with students and I've signed up for a project where NASA is giving us a grant to send a weather balloon with an experiment to near space. We have until April to work on it. I'm excited but it's going to be a mad dash. My classes all seem great but my schedule is a little weirder than normal so it's been a challenge to keep the house tidy and make dinner every night. It's a work in progress.

Also, I want to have a party but everything is in shambles so who knows when I'll have the time. Maybe we'll have a Siding is Done party instead of the planned Bathroom is Done party. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How to Make A 30 Second Skirt From a Thrift Store Dress

I hesitate to share this tutorial.

Only the backwards dress exposes one of the weird things I do all the time that no one notices...and I'd like to keep that way.

However, I can not in good conscience sit on this secret and withhold it from my fellow thrifty sisters (new band name) any longer.

If you see a dress like this with a fabric you love but you know you can't wear this kind of dress because of the ridiculous teeny boob triangles. BUY IT!

If you go thrift shopping you'll see a ton of these dresses. Everyone makes them. Everyone sells them cheap.  Tons of people fall into the trap of buying them and then they waste away in closets because:

- Only 98% of the population is lucky enough to be able to utilize the triangular boob flaps.
- Layering with something under this looks sloppy.
-Pinning is a gamble.
- It's too hot to layer.

So what's a girl to do? 

Simple. Take some sharp scissors and cut off the boob triangles. Now you've got a skirt! These dresses typically have about 50 layers of elastic shirring under the triangles and that's perfect for creating a no-sew skirt. As long as you're careful when you cut it'll all hold together in the wash...and let's face're not tucking your shirt into this skirt so no one will ever know....unless you blog about it.

The best part is that because of the 50 layers of elastic you can buy virtually any size.  Just hold it up in the store and stretch to make sure it'll fit. And if you mess up? It was probably only $3 to begin with.

Give it a shot!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Best Sandwich Bread

I found this recipe somewhere on the Internet months ago and instead of pinning it like I normally do I wrote it on the back of an envelope. Now the envelope is dingy and crumpled because I've made this so many times since then. It's an easy and foolproof bread to make that turns out fantastic so I wanted to write the recipe down before I lost this envelope because that would be terrible.

Great for slicing, toast, and sandwiches. It's very dense and makes a substantial loaf comparable in size to store bought bread.

You'll need:
1 c of water
1 c of milk - both should be just warm enough that you can notice they are warm
2 1/4 t yeast
3 T honey
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 c all purpose flour
1 c regular oats
4 T cooled, melted butter
1 T salt

- Mix your warm liquids with the yeast and the honey and let it sit. If it foams up a little and smells yeasty then you can proceed. If it doesn't your liquid is too hot or too cold or your yeast is too old.

- If the yeast checks out then you can add everything else and knead or mix with your stand mixer. I use my stand mixer. Mix/knead until it is all combined.

- Cover (I use a plate) and let rise for at least one hour.

- Mix/knead again and plop it into a large loaf pan. Smoosh it around until it's loafier. Let is rise for another hour.

- Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

An Update from the Biological Field Station

I've had some cool visitors stop by this week.

This guy was hanging out on the Pooch Perch Porch last night. It's generally just Slug Fest 2015 out there every night so it was nice to see something a little different.

The highlight of my weekend was seeing that little guy hanging out in my make shift bird bath. I was watching him for a while as I watered my crispy flower bed and I was delighted to watch him catch and eat a wasp. It was amazing.

Work continues on the siding.

"What do you think we should do next?" 
"I have no idea."

One side is done, though! 

Did you know that coloring is the next best thing to meditation? I've been coloring for about a year...ok for about 29+ years...but one of my friends finally gave me a grown up coloring book. It's so much fun and so relaxing.

My fall seedlings are coming up great. I need to plant some lettuce on the PPP before I get too busy with work.

I've grown about 4 okras and I just harvested about 9 teeny potatoes. Some things don't seem to have that much of a pay off in the garden.