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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

" A man might be the head of the family but a woman is the neck."

That quote is loosely taken from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It's totally true at our house. Every once in a while B will have a "Great idea." Generally, this is an idea that I have had weeks or months before and already conveyed to him a few times. Sometimes he'll even have given me reasons why the idea is a bad one or even worse, impossible....that makes it funner when it becomes his idea later on. Gives me more ammo.

The mini shed is just such a project. I've been telling him for months that his big shed is going to be great but that he should use it as a workshop and get a smaller shed for holding his crapola. Homeboy has a ton of crapola, it's all over the place. His anvil and his bucket of sticks and box of boxes need a place to go besides his schmancy new shed.

"Nope. It'll all fit," he said.

Eventually he came around to the idea that he might need something else. I showed him Sears-eque metal sheds, pre-fab wood kits and pinned plans for tiny sheds. I said, "You should just put up some posts and then put plywood all over it. It'd be super quick."

"Nope," he said.

THEN ONE DAY he came home from work in a tizzy! One of his co-workers had built a TINY shed in ONE weekend by putting up some POSTS and nailing PLYWOOD over it. He made it from wood in his yard. WHOAH. What a great idea.

I was so eager to get this done that I was like, "Yes. Good. We'll do it this weekend. Here's $300 from the buttercow. Go get what you need. Let's call all of our friends. I'll make pizza."

Thus, the one week shed was born.

The KEY to building a shed like this is to have two Gregs come help. One Greg will work but it's really better if you can have two. It also helps to have a Kurt for a little bit. Two Kurts would have been ideal but one was at the lake.

Here's the "Tarp tent." It is a temporary shed that we've had up for two years. This is what we're replacing.





















Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Postess with the Mostess



I added a few ways for you to follow the blog. Right above this post is a Google Friend Connect button, just click it and you can get updates of when I post on the blog.

You can also go to the bottom of the page to get alerts by email or RSS.

I rarely update Facebook when I post, I don't like doing it but some folks have requested it. This will give some "fans" a way to keep up when I don't post to Facebook.

And you're going to want to keep up because next week is going to be BIG.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Houses I have Known: Special Homestead Edition

When you're remodeling your home by hand you don't have a lot of time or money for vacationing so you have to get creative. This weekend we took a quick trip to Charlotte, NC after G got done at his NCSU engineering camp.



Here he is with "Team Swagbots" presenting about the robots they made during the week.

Right after camp we hopped in the car and headed to Charlotte. This trip was all about the dealz. When we go places I like to do my research to make sure we're getting good prices on things. I used a Restaurant.com gift certificate for dinner our first night, named my price on Priceline to get an insane deal on our swanky hotel, used my state employee discount to book the boys Carowinds tickets and saved money on my massage upgrade. I was proud of G too! When the hotel charged for WiFi (crazy) he found a way to sign up for a free rewards account to get free wifi and then went down to talk to the front desk about a refund. 




The first thing we did was meet some friends at Great Wall of China South. The best Chinese restaurant this side of China. Of course, I may be biased since I went there every Friday night with my family from age 4-13. We even knew the owner. Despite all of the crazy, constant changes in Charlotte the interior of the restaurant has stayed the same.



We were so full after dinner that we walked into the famous Amelie's....and walked right back out!


The title of this post makes you think it is going to be about houses and not all the marvelous places we ate at in Charlotte (Ru Sans, The Diamond...omg yum.) On Saturday night during our scheduled pool time we had a big storm and a temperature drop so we were out of sorts and decided to go visit my childhood home. We've had a lot of houses before and after this one but this is the house I "grew up" in. This is the last house I lived in with my brother and so it feels the most like my family home. We had some great times here. Luckily it had just sold and was vacant so we got to snoop!




My mom's clematis is still on the mailbox! 

And her plaque is still by the front door...because dad bolted it in!

I'm sure some of this is because of the age I was when we lived here but I kind of hold this house up as the gold standard of houses that we've lived in. The lay out was great for a family home. The inside is dated now sure, but the bones of this house will always be good. When we visited the neighborhood I was struck by how much bigger the houses seem now and how much smaller our back yard seemed when viewed through my grown up eyes. When I was little that backyard was the whole world. I told the boys, "This creek is why I'm a geologist."


The outside color palette for our new house is loosely based on this house. We're going to have yellow paint, dark green shutters and a red front door with white trim.

Saturday night we had a late dinner because we were all so full from lunch. On the way to the restaurant G said,  "I'll just have a salad and whatever you guys don't eat." Famous last words! We had about a 40 minute wait for a table because Ru Sans was hopping. "I've never been to a night club but I'd imagine it's like this," said G as some girls doing sake shots started chanting, "USA! USA!" to the Canadian World Cup final.

The menu at Ru Sans is overwhelming. It's page after page with a million items. We picked a bunch of sushi at random and submitted our order. The waitress came back at one point and said, "Um. This is a lot of food. Is that ok?"

Sure!

When she brought out our order it covered the entire table. We were in awe...and then she told us that TWO MORE PLATES were coming. It was delicious and we ate all of it. G did eat that salad though!

Sunday we hit IKEA on the way home to pick up the pooch from Gramma and Grampa.


When we pulled up to the house I was like, "Ugh. This house. This house is terrible."

But then we went on a walk and saw two baby bunnies, the goats, the horses and a nest full of baby hawks. 

Ok house. You win this time. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cohort

Besides  the word, "cohort" nothing makes me roll my eyes like chalkboard paint. Chalk board paint was ubiquitous in blogs and Pinterest for a while. It was coating everything from mason jars to bed room walls...and frankly, I thought it was hideous. Chalkboard surfaces feel gross, chalk feels...well chalky and all of it leaves a gloppy residue over everything. Nope. I'm against it.

Well...until I wasn't.

I've got this big ugly white thing in the laundry room. The hulking mass has been cluttering up the place and sitting empty for months...or it was until I had the bright idea to:

a) Take all the crap on the floor and actually put it in the massive storage cabinet.
b) Move it from the dumb spot to the good spot next to the washer and dryer....you know the spot with the giant hole in the wall where we were going to put cabinets.



Oh. THAT spot.

So after accomplishing those two tasks in about 15 minutes my dislike of the humongous white thing turned into appreciation of the tidiness of the laundry room. The cavernous white cabinet was now useful but still an eyesore....it's one of those cheap-o lowe-depot fiberboard and plastic creations and the doors don't line up and it's just sort of BLAH.

So I dallied with the idea of coating it in chalkboard paint. BUT THEN I HAD A BETTER IDEA....chalk board contact paper! Aw yeah. Less cost. No mess. A ton easier.

Check it out! Before:


And After!!


Yes, that is our actual grocery list. I wasn't trying to be cutesy for the blog. Now I have a good spot to write all of the things that we run out of. 

But what about your other chalkboard, why not write your list there?


In order to update this list I have to drag a chair from the other room and perch on it while leaning over the cat food. That's why.

That's also why it hasn't been updated since...um....February. 






Friday, June 19, 2015

Chai havarti? Gouda.





A few weeks ago, on what I thought was a hot day (but was actually about 15 degrees less than today)  B and I went on a walking garden tour of historic downtown Hillsborough.

We ducked into a coffee shop to get something cool to sip on and I ordered an iced chai. I've never been big on chai but it sounded so great at the time. It was delicious and didn't have too much cardamom.

Since then I've been drinking chai from store bought concentrate in the afternoons when I would normally start to crave coffee. I kept putting off learning how to make my own but I knew I had all the things I would need.

This weekend we had brunch with our friend Melania and she served some delicious home made chai. When I asked for the recipe she said, "Well, it's really more of a technique than a recipe."

That started my gears turning...I could make chai that didn't have the spices I didn't like in it! (I mean, duh, Julie.)

Here's a secret about my recipes, they are not for you. They are for me to not forget them because I almost always tweak the recipes that I make...assuming that I don't all out invent them. I also like to write them on small bits of scrap paper and leave them all over the place.

However, just in case you've always wanted to make some chai concentrate at home here's my easy recipe made from mashing together a bunch of internet recipes and techniques. This makes nine one cup servings.

You'll need:
2 pitcher sized Black tea bags (I used decaf)
1 Cinnamon stick
1/2 t Nutmeg
1/2 t Cloves
pinch Cardamom
pinch Black pepper      < YES.
1/2 a cup of Brown sugar
and Water.

1. Bring 4.5 cups of water to boil.
2. Remove from heat and add spices and tea bags and steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and the cinnamon stick.
3. Add in the sugar and mix until it is dissolved.  Your tea should still be warm enough to make this happen.

When you're ready for a cup of hot or cold tea mix equal parts concentrate and milk. Any kind of milk will do but I've really been digging almond milk.



Linking up at Savvy Southern Style!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm Not Your Stepping Stone




On Saturday B had friends over to work on the One Day Shed (more on that later) and I had friends over to make stepping stones for a pathway.

We like to feed people who help us do manual labor on days where it's so hot you just want to sit under the sprinkler so we had an impromptu pizza party. I made my new favorite pizza dough the night before and everyone had a personal pizza they could top with whatever they liked!

Then at about noon, on the hottest day thus far this year, we made some pavers! This is a great thing to do with friends on a cool day with a nice breeze. Otherwise you'll be mixing quikrete while thinking about how nice it'd feel to put your hands all in it like I was.



Mix a bag of Quikrete. (About $5 a bag.) Pour it into any boxes you have available and then design it how you'd like. We used flat marbles, broken glass mosaic pieces and colorful bottle caps. Even the box thinks they are, "Adorable!"


My helpers are pretty adorable too.


Every few minutes one of the boys would wander over to check our progress and they all coyly asked, "Did you put anything on the boxes to keep the cement from sticking?"

"Pam," said Jessica.

"Yeah we lined them with plastic wrap," explained Erin.

"We used parchment paper," snorted Julie.




We didn't use anything. The cardboard just peels right off after the Quikrete sets. A few of the stones did crack because I shifted them to cover them with laundry baskets due to a slight chance of rain overnight. They are still very sturdy and if they crack I will just have more pavers.

I think they turned out great and at $15 the price was right!


That night as we were watching TV in the air conditioned bliss I saw....a small head...peek from behind the entertainment center.

"Um. I think I just saw a mouse...or something...bigger than a mouse," I said to B calmly. He got up and looked behind the entertainment center with a flash light.

"Flying squirrel."

Now, let's back up about a week or so, we were driving through the neighborhood talking about flying squirrels, like you do, and I explained to him that they live in our neighborhood.  B said he'd never seen one and I told him that's because they only come out very, very late at night. Our friend Kurt is a biologist who works with flying squirrels and he's my expert on these kind of things. I wished aloud that I'd see one.

I guess Punkin heard me because she brought us one. 

We caught it with my ever useful $1 "butterfly" net....that's turning into more of a "Anything" net and put it on the porch. It let me snap a few photos before leaping into the night.


IT WAS SO CUTE!!!!

In other biologic news, we saw a turtle lay eggs. Here's the hole it made with its butt. 


Also, our cardinal babies have fledged. They also very courteously let me take a picture of them before they left.


My eldest nephew also fledged this week.


They grow up so fast.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Checklist




Raised Flower Bed
Raised Vegetable Bed
Shed
Downstairs bathroom
HVAC
Siding
Paint the house
New front door
Paint the "library"
Trim in the kitchen
"Quiet" the house
Get all of the junk out of the yard
Make the patio pond
Grow a million tomatoes
Go to Boone, Charlotte and the beach

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Terrible Towel Giveaway!

I had lunch with my friend Yung last week and we stopped into a cutesy boutique before going to the restaurant. While we were in there checking out the goods we found ourselves in a corner with gorgeous linens and a luxurious staged bedroom. The duvet had a fabulous turquoise motif that made you day dream about beach houses.

While we sauntered through the store Yung mused, "I'm so glad my ex is gone. Now I can have nice things without having to explain the difference between a normal towel and a nice towel."

I died laughing. This is a very common lament in my household. In fact, the other day B, who is in charge of the laundry, sat in front of me sorting "nice" and "not nice" towels and failing miserably. I had him guess which ones I wanted to separate out as rags...it was too much for him.

Which towel goes in the powder room and which do you use to drain spinach?

(Yes sweetie, I can hear you yelling, "Cucumbers!" at the computer. It won't do any good. This is my story.)

The only thought that has crossed my mind about the Caitlyn Jenner transformation publicity is, "I wonder if she can tell a good towel from a bad towel now."

Is this something that happens at your house too? Can you tell a good towel from a bad towel?

Well! We'll be the judge of that. This debate has inspired me to do my second giveaway. The rules are simple...I'm going to post two pictures of towels. One is a good towel for using for company, rising bread, hand drying and other delicate kitchen tasks. The other is a bad towel for cleaning spills, changing the oil in your car and livestock doula situations.

I haven't gone easy on you. I didn't pick a flour sack tea towel that was crisply ironed and still had tags on it. I picked a towel that's seen a few rounds in the washing machine.

State your guess in the comments and...right or wrong....you'll be entered into a drawing to win a tea towel hand made or value added by me.

This contest will be over by 06/11/15 at midnight...and I'm a teacher so I'm serious about deadlines.

Ready!

Let's begin!

Your mother in law is coming over for brunch, which of these do you offer her when she needs to dry her hands? Think fast hot shot!


And which of these do you use to clean the spokes on your bike?


WHICH ONE?



You only get one guess! Leave it in the comments.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Waiting is the hardest part.

It's that time of year in the garden.

You've passed the flurry of excitement that seed catalogs bring in the Spring. You've gathered your supplies and marked the Frost Date on the calendar, sowed precious seedlings indoors and marveled at the tiny, green shoots.

You've spent heady days in the cool Spring temperatures placing new plants all over your garden and making sure everyone is watered, fed and cozy in their new spots. 

You've been thrilled to see how everything doubles in size after a hard rain and old friends return all over the yard.

But now comes the part that is the most frustrating, at least for me, the awkward part where nothing is blooming or fruiting and it's all watering and work in the hot sun.

UGH. WHERE ARE THE TOMATOES ALREADY?

WHERE MY CUKES AT?

ZINNIA'S STOP BEING SO GREEN ALL THE TIME.

Let's focus on the positive to pass the time while we wait for the literal fruits of our labor.




B's corn patch and my pumpkins have mysteriously not been eaten by any neighborhood deer herds.

The Shed is coming along swimmingly. Google auto added this old timey filter to it, which is hilarious so I kept it. The Old Homeshed. I do kind of want to move into it. B needs to build me one in the mountains.

On a lake.

Yessssss.


I have a bunch of new and poached plants in my bee bed. The empty looking spots have zinnia and marigold seeds. I also have some scratch and dent plants that bees like and I moved the hydrangea from the back yard. I can't wait til this looks like a big, bushy mess.


My $2 Ollie's Roses are starting to bloom! They look and smell marvelous. 


I'm drying and freezing basil like a champ. This is the easiest way, imho, to preserve basil. Rinse the leaves, snip off the stems and let it all air dry for 30 minutes. Then just freeze it loose in an air tight container. 


See those little red lumps? Those are future potatoes. Curiosity got the best of me and I yanked out one of my potato vines to see what was going on beneath the dirt. This is how baby potatoes are made, ya'll. Aren't they cute?

The nice people from Alternative Aire  came out and patched up our failing HVAC system so it can limp along until we get the whole thing replaced. Everyone in the house is thrilled. We've had a real hot spell this week so it couldn't have been a better time to get things going.  Pommy had the right idea, just hang out over a vent.

I've been spending my free time while the garden is being s-l-o-w hanging out with people. Me and some ladies went to Audio Under the Stars on Friday night. It was phenomenal. I highly recommend it.




I also went out with the DurCHillsborough Backyard Garden Society on Saturday to visit the NC Botanical gardens. It was free to get in and had enough shade where you didn't feel like you were totally going to die out there. It's much bigger than I remember and a lot more peaceful than Duke Gardens. The carnivorous plants were the highlight for me.



I've also spent time getting ice cream with friends.


And hanging out with old friends at Honeysuckle Tea House. Honeysuckle is another place that stays mysteriously cool on a steamy day.


With all of these adventures (and lack of AC) the house remodel has taken a bit of a back seat. My trust paint brush will be making it's Summer debut very, very soon. We're also getting quotes for siding (I CAN NOT WAIT.) and installing new cabinets. B is letting my try my hand at putting up the trim in the kitchen. Hopefully that won't end in tears and/or blood shed.

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