Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sorry for My Abscence

It seems that the holiday season has gotten away from me. A combination of stocking-stitching (a record-number of orders in my esty shop!), lots going on at work, and time spent getting ready at home has kept me away from my blog. Here are some highlights from the past month.

Joshua's exciting Christmas gift to me was ruined by Mary at the Wireless Store. At the beginning of December, I received a voicemail that my iPhone was ready to be picked up. What!? So, I received that gift a bit early, and I am officially a trendy phone person. I'm still getting it all figured out.

Mom, Dad, Kati, and Ryan arrived for a Christmas weekend spent at our house in Peoria. Along with Mom and Dad came a bounce house! (Each year I put a couple of funny or unrealistic gifts on my list, such as peace on earth, two turtle doves, a bounce house, etc.) Yes, Mom and Dad really rented a bounce house. It was in my backyard for 24 hours, and the weather was so nice, we were able to bounce away. I'm sure my neighbors were curious.
Christmas Eve was spent relaxing (rather than stressing about snowstorms, as we have the past couple of years). We drove up to Geneseo to celebrate with Dad's family. This year was the first that the party hasn't been at Grandpa and Grandma's. Aunt Kathy hosted in her more spacious basement, a necessity with all the little ones running around these days. Things went very smoothly, and the macaroni and cheese I took along went over very well. We also had a chance to play Wii Dance Party game with Kylie for a few minutes. Too funny!

Christmas day was a gift extravaganza at our house. Mom and Dad outdid themselves, as always. Some of my favorites included an adorable red, curvy-handled umbrella (I don't love bland umbrellas), numbered glasses (modern, practical, and fun!), and some new knitting supplies. The fireplace also made it's Christmas debut on my TV; it's sure to be a cozy favorite for years to come.
Joshua, Shaun, Mom, and Ryan spent a large portion of Christmas afternoon assembling the Imperial Flagship, a massive Lego creation that Joshua was so excited to receive. Yes, Joshua loves Legos.
Grandma Norma and Grandpa Joe drove down to say hello later in the afternoon. It was nice to see them, and I was, once again, glad for the beautiful weather.

On the 26th, we celebrated Dad's 51st birthday. I always feel a little bad for the poor people who have birthdays so close to holidays. It just seems like they don't get the full celebration they deserve. Shaun made a red velvet cake, and we went out to dinner before taking Kati and Ryan to the airport.
Overall, a very enjoyable holiday. One thing that really became obvious was how much nice weather can improve everyone's moods and outlook. It was gorgeous, sunny, and in the 40s all weekend. Perfect! We did what we wanted to do and enjoyed each others' company. It was certainly one of the nicest Christmases.

On to the new year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Today Joshua and I are celebrating four years of marriage. How quickly time passes by!
It truly seems like a minute ago we were working our way through med school and grad school, living in a small apartment in Litchfield, planning a wedding and our lives.

I love you, Jush. So glad you found me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Yule Log or Not to Yule Log

So, I have decided that my non-fired-placed house needs a yule log dvd for Christmas morning. Silly? YES! Essential? YES!

I thought I would go right to Amazon and add one to my cart. Easy cheesy.


It turns out there are many choices, with extremely opinionated reviews. I am lost, basically. If you would like a laugh, you should certainly go to Amazon and check out the reviews...

The review that finally helped me choose the best option was from the very kind, and thorough, John Hillstead. (Can be viewed here for those of you who are beginning your own hunt for that perfect, fake fire.)

After careful consideration, I have decided to purchase the HD Moods: FIRE (Blu-ray Version). It comes with Christmas music, spooky Halloween music, and general, relaxation music. This thing is going to be worn out with all the use it's going to see.

And, with Joshua's comment yelled up from the man cave, "I've got your hard log right here!" I'm feeling quite inspired.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Shaun celebrated her 30th birthday last week with lots of activities!

On Wednesday, Shaun, Mom, Lena, and I went to see Wicked. So fun! I even rocked hooker boots and leggings for the occasion. You're only young once, right?
Thursday, Shaun's actual birthday, she, Bill, Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa went up to Galena for a hot air balloon ride, one of Shaun's dreams for a long time. Personally, it's not appealing, but I can understand the excitement.
Friday was dinner at Osaka, with cake after at our house.
Sunday was pumpkin carving at Bill's house, not really birthday, but still fun. I made the dots one and the two silly faced ones. Shaun made trick-or-treat and helped with mine, and Bill spent a very long time making the perfect border collie. On Monday, there were plenty of trick-or-treaters to enjoy our creations.
Happy Birthday Shaun!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Horn of Plenty - Quite Symbolic

May I present my seasonal door decoration - courtesy of my favorite floral arranger (thanks Mom!)
After wrestling with a standard circular grapevine wreath for a couple of hours, I was able to create the cornucopia base for this arrangement, which I love. And what nice symbolism, too. Such a plentiful home I have... good friends, family, a rewarding job that I really am enjoying (mostly!), and lots to look forward to in the coming months. Although fall brings on horrible winter weather, I can't be too upset when there is so much to be thankful for. Hope you're feeling warm, cozy, and content, too!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday marked Joshua's 29th birthday. We celebrated with a small party (Wes, Shaun, Bill), and a Dairy Queen Cake.

Here are some blurry pictures from the events. (camera frustrations...)
Friday night we had a few more friends over, and another Dairy Queen cake. Yes, two ice cream cakes. Yum!

Happy birthday Jush! Love ya!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birthday Bash

Today we celebrated Ava's first birthday with a small family party. The hat was a big hit, and fit perfectly!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall Projects

It seems that Fall is on it it's way (cooler weather and back to school is here!), and with it has come some fun projects.

When we first moved in to our lovely home, we got right to work on several projects to bring it up to date. (I'm sure you're thinking back to all those blog posts with new paint, curtains, and organization.) After this initial push to get things done, much has stayed the same, until very recently. I got it into my head to take down the ugly scalloped wood piece over the sink that I've hated for two years. It came down in less than five minutes, and then I promptly decided that the grape-themed light fixture had to go as well. Here's what I came up with.
Yes, I installed it on my own (after Dad helped me changed it from a pendant to a semi-flush mount). Go me! And I love it!

The only problem was an adorable matching fixture for the dining room. After all, is a green clover light fixture any better than a grapes light fixture? After hem-hawing for a couple of weeks, Shaun bullied me into it yesterday (I needed the push), and the two of us got it up. Go us! Quite the handy ma'ams (anybody else watch that PBS show in the mid 90s?) Also noteworthy, my projects have come full circle. After spending an afternoon taking down many plant hooks, I installed one of my own for the light fixture. Made me smile.
I couldn't be happier with the result, although now Shaun is pushing me to buy the third matching piece in the collection for the entryway. I agree it would look fantastic, but fixing up an older home has to end somewhere. Also, the three-way switch that it's on has me flashing back to terrible memories of the ceiling fan installation nightmare that ended up costing $800. No, thanks. I'm done, unless the lighting fixture fairy stops by :0)

The project list goes on, with a very fun knitting project for my favorite soon-to-be one niece baby.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rained In

Well, it finally happened. After several years of fantastic Labor Day weather, we were rained inside on Saturday. We still managed to complete the crab boil, thanks to a handy propane burner that could be set up under the covered porch. Unfortunately, there was no such solution for playing rolle bolle.

Despite this disappointment, we still had a nice time chatting with family, learning a cheer from cheerleader Kylie (we saw her in action Saturday morning before the game was rained out.), and eating lots of good food.

Crossing our finger for better weather next year.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to Work

I finished up my first week of work at the new job with Peoria Schools. The retired speech pathologist left me quite a mess to clean up, but overall, I love having an office and am excited to get working with students. It should be an interesting year with lots to learn!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Knitting Success

I've been knitting like crazy the past couple of weeks. I'm addicted, and not to dishcloths any longer. Here's my first real project, as in it's not a square or rectangle :0) It turned out so cute and really didn't take all that long to knit up (and no, Jenna, I'm not pregnant, just too nervous to attempt a larger sweater). The pattern is from, a fantastic site that has tons of patterns and helpful hints. Now that I've completed my first sweater, small though it may be, I have the confidence to try other projects. So fun!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wisconsin Vacation

Last week was our annual trip up to Joshua's grandparents' house in Wisconsin. We spent lots of time on the lake, ate a ridiculous amount of Cedar Crest Caramel Collision ice cream (my favorite treat in the entire world and unavailable in central Illinois), chatted with family, saw some sites, and basically just enjoyed relaxation time in the sun.Me hoping to see a lumberjack appear in the forest next to the lane to the house. Dang, I have bad hair while on vacation!
On the way up, we stopped at a little Italian restaurant where we were ushered to a private, little alcove to dine. How fun!
In Hayward, the site of the lumberjack championships, which are available for viewing on one of the ESPN channels.
Joshua likes dinosaurs...
Enjoying some evening sunshine, and more bad hair.
Pedal boat and...
more pedal boat!

Always a fun trip, thanks to Joshua's grandparents, who basically run a never-ending bed and breakfast for family during the summer. They are so generous to share this fantastic place with us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Well, now that took awhile.

Exactly a year ago I took up knitting. After a very frustrating couple of months, it seemed that knitting wasn't for me. I was still working on the same scarf and not enjoying it. I put it aside for a couple more months and thought my knitting days were done. Then one day after joking about my poor skills, one of the ladies at work suggested I make a dishcloth, a fun, easy, and basically mindless project. While I scoffed at first, I decided to give it a try.

After only a couple of evenings, my first dishcloth was done, and unlike the scarf, it looked great! Since then, I've been dishclothing away. Friends and family have received them. (If I've left you out, write a comment, and I'll get one made up for you!)

So, with my confidence increasing, I was inspired to attempt a more challenging project, which, of course, requires new supplies. I researched needle sets and came upon one with great reviews, and a store location in Morton. I got them last week, and after a quick dishcloth project to test them out, I have started a more challenging knit. I'll be sure to share some pictures after I see if it's going to turn out. Until then, here's my latest dishcloth and needle set. I'm quite excited!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Filling In and Brightening Up

After two years of steadily working to improve my gardening skills, and thus, our curb appeal, I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. (Just in time for us to move next spring/summer... Oh well, there will be others yards to beautify.)

After updating you on my progress last summer I decided to snap a few more pictures. Things are filling in so nicely! I also can't resist another comparison to when we moved in.
Before, things were overgrown, disorganized, weedy, and bland.
I'm much happier with things now. Everything is colorful, bright, and tidy, not to mention the new deck that you can walk on barefoot without worry of a splinter. I would say my yard is just how I want it to be (although I might change a few things if I had it to do all over again!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Extreme Couponing!

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to get into coupons, and yes, I was inspired by the show. While I couldn't handle having a giant hoard of products stocked at my house (like the people on the show), I do like the idea of saving a little money each week.

Wes has kindly started saving the Sunday circulars for me, so I'm ready to go. Here are few pictures from my first clipping.

Me realizing that I had just purchased some deodorant last week that there was now a coupon for! Rats!

So, the first batch of coupons have been used for a total savings of $5.50. I'm not taking a trip to Jamaica with my savings yet, but it is still a bit exciting. I can see why people get into this.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ten Years Later

This weekend, we hopped in the car and drove on down to central Illinois for Joshua's ten year class reunion. We met up with his high school friends, all four together for the first time since our wedding, I think. We ate Filippo's pizza and then spent some time playing mini golf and in the batting cages (my first time!) I managed two holes in one! Very exciting.

The reunion was as expected. It was at a Lake of the Woods in a fairly nice, somewhat air-conditioned hall. I met lots of people; today I couldn't tell you their names. We ate some food, chatted for two hours, and then went back to Matt's parents' house to play games. Joshua was a bit nostalgic about the event. It is interesting to think about his life has changed over the past ten years and how it will continue to evolve over the next ten. It really was a fun night. Here are couple of picture from the weekend.