Friday, July 30, 2010

Not okay.

My parents and Josh are in town, so today we did a little sight seeing. We saw more than we bargained for.

This couple was on a park bench, and at first glance they appeared to be one person. They were entwined like pretzels for the entire 45 minutes we were there. People were gawking, making comments like "This is a public park! There are children here!" I was taking (blurry) pictures. They were completely engrossed and unphased by all the attention. Occasionally she would stop stroking his head and they would gaze into each other's eyes, nose to nose. It was incredibly awkward.

I feel the need to share the awkwardness with you. This is how close they were to us while we fed the ducks.
We walked back by an hour later, and they were still there. Hadn't moved. So Josh took another picture.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Painting the driveway.

If you're looking for a new activity to do outside, you need to give Sidewalk Chalk Paint a try. It is so much fun!
Crayola makes a version of it, but it can also be made at home (and for way cheaper). While I was looking for a recipe online I came across this blog with lots of fun ideas for kids--definitely worth checking out.

So here's what you need: food coloring, cornstarch, cups, paint brushes and water. Mix equal parts cornstarch and water, stir it up, add the food coloring and go beautify the neighborhood! It will look really watery when you mix it, but when it dries it looks chalky like this:

I made the paint thicker than the recipe calls for because we have dark asphalt and I wanted it to show up well. We also used a whole lot more food coloring than necessary since I let Skylar add it, but the paint still didn't stain anything. (The food coloring stains, but not once it's mixed into the cornstarch).

After almost an hour of painting, we poured the leftover paint onto the driveway and ran through it to make footprints.

When we were done playing I stripped her down and sprayed her off with the hose while she screamed like she was being killed. A neighbor watched disapprovingly from her yard.
Then Skylar asked to do it again the next day. And the next. So it appears freezing water is small price to pay for all that fun.

We will definately be trying this in the snow this winter!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A case of the crazies.

Have you ever had a dream about something completely ordinary that turns into a horrible, stressful nightmare? I used to have them about waitressing and getting everyone's orders wrong. I had one last night. It was the latest in a series involving the zoo.

(In dream one I was shoveling a never ending pile of Elephant poo, and dream two involved an escaped gorilla).

It went something like this......

I'm cleaning an aquarium because that is my zoo job. Everything is going well and I'm almost done when I realize that there has been a water snake hiding in the aquarium the whole time I've had my arm in it and I didn't know. I start to panic. Then lo and behold there are a whole family of water snakes. Suddenly they are aggressive and I'm trying to get the lid back on the aquarium but they are all coming out of the top and biting me.


Then to top it off giant frogs the size of cats start flying out of the aquarium. I don't know where they came from but they're disgusting. I give up on trying to contain them all. I flee while they chase after me.

Then I wake up in a cold sweat and vow to never go to the zoo again. Until tomorrow that is. We have a play date.

Bizarre. Just remembering it makes me nervous.

I have no idea what a dream like that means. But it may have something to do with my life long fear of snakes, going to the zoo almost every week for the last 18 months, and the fact that Skylar recently got an aquarium in her room.
Her fish "Blue" is pretty ferocious.

And so is her hair in this picture. Yikes. Who takes care of this child?

Oh yeah....a crazy lady who has nightmares about the zoo, that's who.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Easy photo display.

A couple of years ago I bought several white frames for Skylar's room to frame family pictures and make a wall collage in her nursery.

It never happened.

Mostly because I realized I would need a whole lot of frames to get all 9 Aunts and Uncles, 2 sets of grandparents, and 2 sets of great-grandparents in there (not to mention assorted dogs-they're her favorite). I really wanted her to have pictures of her extended family since everyone is scattered all over the country and she doesn't see them very often.

Then I remembered this idea I had seen somewhere in a magazine years ago (you've probably seen some variation of it too). It's kind of a spin on the traditional cork board or photo board. So here is my photo collage Plan B.

I got a frame for $6 in the 90% off aisle at Hobby Lobby last winter (I have a hard time believing anybody would pay $60 for it). I used some leftover paint I had (Benjamin Moore Navajo White) and painted it.
Using picture wire I made four rows on the back and stapled them with a staple gun. (There are only 3 rows in the picture here, I ended up adding a fourth).
I just stapled the wire and then wrapped the extra around the staple to secure it like this. There's probably a better way to do it, but I'm all for easy. It took about 3 minutes.
Then I used some metal binder clips ($2.50 for 50 at Target) to attach the pictures. This frame is 24 x 31 1/2 inches and it holds 20 pictures.

Skylar loves looking at it and naming everyone and she especially likes me to quiz her so she can point people out. The cool part is that she's seen all of these people in the last few months so she knows exactly who everyone is.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vintage charm.

I never knew I loved old houses until I started living in one. They are quirky and high-maintenance (I'm sure those days are coming) but they more than compensate with all the character.

Here are a few of my favorite things about our house that I didn't even really notice until we moved in.....

The door knobs. They are all glass like this. Even the ones in the cellar. They sparkle at me and I love them.

There is a bread box drawer. It's completely lined with metal, and back in the day they used to slide the lid across the top of the drawer to keep their bread fresh. I use it to hold dish towels, but I think it's really fun.
Skylar's bathroom is a headache to shower in (it's only used for showers when we have guests), but I think the original plumbing is cool. The top set of knobs turns on the shower, and the bottom set fills the bath.. To the left of the front door is the mail slot. Our mailman Freddie (complete with knee socks and shoulder bag) walks up to the front door and drops it right in the foyer for us everyday. Freddie listens to his Ipod, chews his gum and smiles at everyone. I heart Freddie. He makes me feel like I live in Pleasantville.
Best of all, I can spy on the neighbors through the slot, you know...if there was anything worth seeing. There isn't. But the house is for sale. Wanna be my new neighbor? It's kind of an ugly house.
And on a totally unrelated note, I love Mt. Rainier cherries. I wait all summer for them to drop to a reasonable price (like, below $4 a pound). Then I scarf them up. We ate them at breakfast and I decided they were so pretty I had to take pictures of them.

Kristy taught Skylar how to say "cheers!" so now she does it with everything.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond the pictures and projects.

It occured to me the other day that if you regularly read my blog you might think my daily life consists of fresh cut flowers, hosting family get-togethers, decorating, crafts, baking, and taking pictures of my photogenic daughter. It probably looks really easy and happy and fun.

Of course those things are all part of it. But only because that's the part I blog about. So is that my real life?

Well, yeah....right now my life is pretty easy and fun. But that's all going to change soon.

I know a lot of my mom friends are maxed-out and frazzled. You feel like you can barely breathe, let alone try a new recipe, paint a room or sew throw pillows just for the fun of it. So if you read my blog and feel like you can't relate, or mistakenly think that I have it all together, I apologize. I don't.

Hopefully you don't feel that way, but I felt like saying that just in case. Not because I think anybody out there wishes they were me, but because I know that most women (myself included) tend to compare themselves, and that's especially true for us moms. There will always be someone thinner, funnier, more patient, more creative, more spiritual, etc. than us. But that would be a whole other blog topic.

We all go through times where we are just exhuasted by life.

Obviously a blog isn't a full account of life, just "a snapshot" of what's happening. I don't spend all day doing fun things.

BUT the fact of the matter is, I DO have a lot of free time right now. I have ONE child not two, three or four. And she sleeps 11 hours at night (although not uninterrupted!) and takes nice long naps. I am fortunate to not have to work outside the home. I also have a husband who currently works 7 days a week, often 12 or 14 hours a day in preparation for deployment. So I have a lot of time to myself--naptime and many hours in the evening to do whatever I want.

So I fill my days with playdates and activities to keep Skylar entertained, and I entertain myself by taking pictures of it all. (Ask anyone who knew me 5 years ago--I never had a camera or took a picture of anything. Don't feel bad if you don't take 100 pictures of your child every week).

Given the choice I would prefer to live in a house half this size and have a husband who comes home at 6 pm for dinner every night, or even to be 6 months pregnant and exhausted like I could be.

I recognize that our family is in the calm before the storm right now and that this is my downtime. (Although I am already feeling like a single parent. Skylar is lucky if she sees her daddy before she goes to bed at night). Because "the beast" is lurking on the horizon.

That's how I refer to deployment in my head-"the beast".

It's sort of the grown-up equivalent of being a little kid and having a monster in your room--an anxiety inducing, sleep robbing, monster. I know it's there waiting for me, and all I really want to do is hide under the covers. But that won't make it go away. I have to grab this beast by his horns and deal with it. The anticipation might be the worst part--knowing that something horrible and difficult is coming our way soon.

So I accept that my husband will come home from work at 9:30 pm on a sunday. Or that after working 17 hours yesterday, he still had to be in by 5 am today for a meeting. Deployments are really a year plus the 2 months leading up to them. There's no point in fighting it, because I can't change it.

I promise I'm not complaining. It's our turn for a deployment. We've been fortunate, and many of my military friends have been through far more than I have.

Just know that soon I'll be feeling maxed out and exhausted knowing that the daily grind of raising Skylar and taking care of everything at home will not relent for a year.

But for now, I'm enjoying knowing that my husband is only 30 minutes away instead of 3 days away, even if we rarely see him.

And that is the rest of the story:)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let it rain.

We think it's fun to sit on the porch during rainstorms.

Until Skylar got an umbrella from Mimi. No more sitting on the porch for us, that umbrella needs to be used and there are puddles to be had.Skylar wore her "poo poo shoes" (that's what she calls her jellies because they stink to high heaven no matter how many times you wash them--we don't wear them in public anymore) and I put on my flip flops and tried really hard not to think about all the worms as I ran through puddles with her. I'm hardcore like that.Some of our neighbors have really cracked sidewalks, so there were some giant puddles. She was soaked by the end.

And now she keeps asking for rain. I don't think we'll be watching rainstorms from the porch ever again.

The end.

Friday, July 16, 2010

You know it's bad if they pay you to take it away.

At the commissary this morning there was a special table set up at the front and the lady working there practically shoved this into my hand. "It's free with the coupon!" she said. She told me Skylar would love it.

Turns out this little heart attack costs $.79 and the coupon was for $1.00, which means the commissary paid me $.21 to take this off their hands.

Even if I didn't have an aversion to all meat in casings (hot dogs, sausage, bratwurst, wieners in a can, you get the idea) I still couldn't in good conscious feed this to any member of my family considering it's almost an entire days worth of sodium, fat and saturated fat packed into under 3 ounces.

Incredible when you think about it.

But then I realized I could make all of Jack and Sabot's doggy dreams come true......

So thanks commissary, I like you today!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A living room tour.

I posted my "before" living room pictures when we first moved in, but other than the mantle, I never got around to showing you the finished room. I was in "crazy person work mode" unpacking and getting things done before house guests arrived (it was nice to have a "deadline"--I have since lost all motivation to finish other rooms in the house) and then the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of family.

I figure since we are on the edge of the country and on the way to absolutely nowhere, most of our friends will not be traveling this far north. So I'll give you a virtual house tour starting with the living room. Just pretend like we are drinking Iced Chai lattes in front of the fire and watching our children torture the dogs:)
The before:
And after a coat of paint and our furniture all moved in:

I decided the living room was not the place to experiment (not to mention my green couches limit my options) so I played it safe and painted the walls "Luminary Gold" by Sherwin Williams. It's a color I got from my mom--most of my parents house in South Carolina is painted this shade--and I've used it before so I knew exactly how it would turn out. Then I painted the trim "Clean and Crisp" by Kilz.
My real challenge was how to make the room feel smaller and cozy. I wanted to arrange the furniture without wasting too much space and still make use of the fireplace while simultaneously being able to watch TV. I didn't want a formal living room, so we put our TV in here.
The view from the foyer:And the view from the porch (you can see the dining room beyond--I haven't done a thing in there yet). I inherited this piano from my parents when they moved last summer. They stored it in Columbia so it was waiting for us when we moved there. It was built the same year as the house--1900--and fits perfectly in our new living room. My grandparents bought it in Germany for my mom when she was 10. It's the piano I learned to play on (as well as most of my siblings), and hopefully Skylar will too. My sister Nicole broke her arm playing it with her feet when she was 6. (If you know her, that won't surprise you in the least).

Making the curtains was my least favorite task. I have a thing about curtains. I can never find what I want in a store (at least not at a price I'm willing to pay) so I almost always make my own. Not because it's fun, but because I like my curtains to go all the way to the floor, and the cheapest way to get what I want is to do it myself. I also like to hang my curtains rods higher than the window, but in this case they were already hung and it wasn't worth changing them.
Usually I slap them up, but this time I decided to do it the right way and line them. Ugh. It took all of my free time (and some of my sleep) for 5 days to finish eight 9 foot panels. I loved the fabric sample in the store, but I kind of panicked when I hung them on the window and realized it was a whole lot of pattern. In the end I think it works because everything else in the room is solid colors. (The fabric is from Joann's, on sale for $6/yard).

Eventually we'd like to find a bigger rug, but for now the one we already have is better than nothing. We'll see how cold the floors are in the winter.

And that concludes the living room tour. All we need are a few friends on the couch, but we're still working on that one:)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Things.

Flowers from the garden in vintage inks wells from a local antique store (a birthday gift from Margaret and Thomas--thanks guys!). I can't wait to go back and scavenge through that store again!My world famous mojitos (okay, obviously they aren't world fameous, but they are fameous in my world and they are yummy):
Family dinners:
And whole wheat cheese biscuits (lets just pretend they're healthy, okay?):
And since I haven't posted a recipe in ages, here's my spin on the traditional Better Homes and Gardens biscuit recipe on page 123 of the cookbook. (If you've ever gotten married you were probably given two or three copies of this cookbook). Remember the two cardinal rules of biscuit making: Use very cold butter and always use buttermilk regardless of what the recipe says. It's the difference between flaky biscuits and hockey pucks. The women in my family have mastered the art of the biscuit, and they all have the recipe memorized except for me. I made hockey pucks for years. No more.

Whole Wheat Cheese Biscuits
3 Cups of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
4 tsp of baking powder
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 c butter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
6 ounces of sharp 2% milk cheese coarsely grated
1/3 cup Italian parsley chopped (or whatever you have on hand--thyme or dill would be good--I used fresh but you could reduce the amount and used dried)

Stir together dry ingredients, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs, add the cheese and parsley, make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Mix with a fork. Roll out dough and cut biscuits (I use the top of a wine glass to cut mine, you can just drop them by the spoonful if you want). Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. I ended up with 28 small biscuits.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More pictures.

The 2010 Rue Family Vacation Extravaganza drew to a close today:(

Everybody's gone now and we are left with a lonely toddler roaming the house asking "Where's Kritty? Where's Uncle Dean-y?" The doorbell rang earlier and Skylar said, "Mimi's here!!". (Mimi is the grandmother formerly known as Granbabe.... turns out Granbabe was too hard to say. Bummer.)

We did some sight seeing here in the Thousand Island region with the clan. We caught a boat ride and toured Boldt Castle, which was beautiful.
It was hot and humid......Coloradans don't do humid.
Bill whipped up some grilled delicacies including a salmon stuffed with shrimp and crab, and some delicious scallops (my favorite). Come back Bill, we're hungry!
Skylar showed Mimi around our new (tiny) local zoo. Noni and Papa got us a membership as a house warming gift and we've already used it 3 times. It might get a little old looking at the same 20 animals over and over, but all Skylar really cares about are the farm animals anyway.
She especially loves the "neigh neigh's". Good thing she was born into a horse loving family (on her daddy's side)!
Meanwhile, Bill was a DIY machine! It's so great having a handy father-in-law. He installed 3 ceiling fans, fixed a ripped screen on the porch, added some latches that Skylar couldn't undo to the screen door, installed a new shower head in our bathroom, hung a ginormous mirror, and best of all, replaced the faucet on my kitchen sink.
I love my new faucet. Love.
It was on the top of my list of things to change. The sink is small and I couldn't fit a tall pot under the old faucet. I also wanted a sprayer. Here's the before (booooring):
And here's my gorgeous new water efficient Moen faucet:And here's Bill in all of his handyman glory, shaking a wrench at me no less:) Thanks Bill!
Gayle got a hedge trimmer and went to town shaping up our yard. It looks much better and she looked like she was having fun. I can't wait until it grows back so I can have a go at it!
Skylar had so much fun playing with her Aunt Kristy. She has the best ideas, like making a tent in the living room and eating milk and cookies in it!

Poor Kristy.......

We had a great visit and already miss you guys!!!


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