Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Lil' Bit of Life: Snapshot (1)

---I cleaned the gutters a week ago: truly an easy process but one that I've put off doing several times. Being that close to the roof made me realize that it's probably closer than I & the landlords thought to needing to be replaced.

---Tall D and Wali G power-washed my deck and patio this week, and let me tell you, they look amazing! I no longer need to repaint the metal work around the patio cause it's glistening and the paint on the house even looks a million times better. The picnic table got a deep cleanse too and tonight it got sanded.

---Apparently the end of July marks the end of season for patio goods---we're just getting into the really good weather in Oregon and already the patio goods are gone! I also can't find battery operated Christmas lights to string through my arbor for the life of me.... But I DID snag some metal tiki torches, a fire pit for the upper deck, and new chairs for the upper deck. The finishing touch items are just hard to come by is all....I've been envisioning lights & paper lanterns for party mode.

---All this yard work makes me excited to see the yard start to come together. I'm thinking it'll be better to focus on finalizing the back and then head to the front (although I'm sure the neighbors are ready for me to finally tackle the front...aka rip out tons more bushes.) Next major backyard projects: fence extension, reseeding the yard, and new wood chips/mulch.

---For some reason I've had bananas ripen like crazy and I signed myself up for bringing mini-banana muffins  for a family event tomorrow, so tonight marked the third batch of banana muffins I've made this week! My aunt found a "zuke bat" for me, so I hope to shred that and get baking on some zucchini muffins/bread etc.

---While not exactly what I had in mind, today while at Costco I saw a good deal on fish (salmon & tilapia) so I bought, cut into servings, and bagged for the freezer.

---Part of my goal for this summer is to straighten out the "pantry" and food storage. I'm hoping to organize all my dried beans/grains/etc into glass containers...project started this last week but I'm going to need to save, wash, & use some empty glass containers :)

BOOK CLUB--Truly book club deserves it's own separate post but not likely it's going to happen....but this month's book club felt like one of the best yet. All of the gals were much more comfortable with each other (including our two newbies), much REAL conversation was shared, the food was delish (simple garden salad, sandwiches made from broiled french bread w/ pesto, mozzarella & tomatoes, coconut cream pie & skinny cow ice creams for dessert!), and it truly just felt legit. We talked about life, we talked about the book (Wild by Cheryl Strayed), and we talked about how the two did and didn't go together. We laughed, there were tears, and frustration was present. I loved every second of it and left feeling so fulfilled!

ZOO--I have been wanting to go to the zoo since before we moved back to Oregon and today was FINALLY the day! I met my sister, her teen boys, her grandbaby, and my brother there and we wandered around enjoying the different amazing creatures. Honestly, until today I never knew that there are sub-species of zebras and giraffes! How did I not know this?! :) It was so much fun to just walk around and take in all the animals. :)

FAMILY HAPPENINGS--Tomorrow we'll be celebrating Granny's 101st birthday with her usual tea party with us females in the family...and then Tall D & I agreed to host a family BBQ at my house in the evening so that the males can participate in celebrating Granny too. Will be a full day and pictures are sure to come! :) Should Sunday decide to be over 80, we're also trying to float the river!

---Tall D's buddy from the Army is here visiting from Wisconsin, so we've spent time together showing him around, taking him to happy hours, playing Frisbee Golf, and I was able to take him to a work meeting with me to connect him to a new sustainable ag non-profit being developed for veterans. We'll see....but there's a chance Wali-G just might stay and become an Oregon transplant. ;)
---My gal from Texas was in town this last week also, so I was able to join her and some of her other PDX crew for happy hour. It was the first time her bf had been to the city and it was great seeing it through his eyes. She's registered for a half in November in SA....and I'm contemplating attempting to train to make that goal but we'll see. (It's a lot of money to fly for a half, when I could do one here!!)

TRAVEL---Booked my ticket to Savannah to see my best girl D and several of my milspouse friends (Heather, Katie, & maybe a few others). I'm hopeful to do one or two overnight trips elsewhere to check out nearby areas---I've been wanting to enjoy more of Charleston for one and there are a couple other people I know in SC. D is stoked to have a beach mate (yea for Southern beaches!) and she's guaranteed me that a week with her lil man might cure me of any baby mania starting to take hold of me. ;) 
---I'm also in email exchanges with a friend of my SIL who is a missionary/health worker in Africa. On my list of goals this year is to finally make it to Africa!
---Roadtrip is coming soon!

---BIG interview on Monday; still need to prepare some. Job is somewhat out of my league but I also know I have the skill set to do it....SO here's hoping it goes well. If this one doesn't pan out, I'm submitting my resume & cover letter for a part-time position on a different campus that just opened and there's scheduled to be a FT opening on my campus for a different position. I have faith that all will be provided in due time.
---Had a phone chat with a potential renter. He doesn't sound like the right fit but he may be an option. Timing wise I don't think it'll pan out and something tells me to just be patient. I've only had a few hits to my own ad, but I've emailed a few other individuals who had their own ads looking for rooms....we'll see... If I could get by without a renter, at this stage in my life, that might be better. I partly feel bad because I have the space...and partly worry that I'll need the rent money eventually.

---I've always wanted a BIG, fluffy dog. If I tell you where I got this idea, you can't laugh at me....ahem, the LL Bean catalog. HOWEVER, at happy hour with Texan friends the other day, the bf mentioned a relative who used to breed Great Pyrenees. (Read: DREAM DOG). Then, while in Lowes the other day, there was a Great Pyrenees puppy that I was loving on....and the owner told me she was a rescue and that there is a PNW Great Pyrenees rescue group. So, yes, I have two adorable dogs that I love like none other....but I'm drooling over these rescue Pyr's online these days too! :) I'm just trying to figure out if three dogs really is too many, if my landlords could ok a 3rd dog, and if it'd throw off the balance of what already exists here. Regardless, owning a rescue Pyr just got officially added to my lifetime goals.

For the number 30, I'm attempting to tell my PDX friends to block out the day for me. I thought about a wine tour (too expensive and I'm still so-so toward wine these days....) or a spa day (expensive and only a handful of ladies). Tall D has been pretty set on helping me celebrate as he knows how important to me it is to have this birthday be memorable and meaningful (ahem, Tall D, if you're reading....might you make me a carrot cake?!) :) I'm thinking about this (or a float).... and this with a backyard BBQ in there somewhere. That way people can participate in whatever and there's something for a whole lot of fun! :)

And other than all that, I've just been working, working, working....and grading. ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Friendships: Choosing 'em for a Lifetime?

So I've been thinking a lot about friendships--in the last few weeks, in the last few years, ha, ok really I always think a lot about friendships!

Generally speaking, I've always been one to be fairly selective in my friendships. As a young kid, it took me a long time to make friends, even or maybe especially with all the moving around we did in the military. In those awkward late elementary and middle school years, I could never seem to find a decent friendship niche. And in high school, I was always friends with the boys (less grudges, less petty judgment, and I was perpetually that girl with a boyfriend anyway....), until I finally landed in with a randomly thrown together group of 3-4 amazing gals. Those gals still speak to my heart, even if I only get to see most of them at max once a year and maybe talk twice more than that...and that's if we're lucky. Some of us have drifted and become other people, we don't always agree with the choices the others make, but there's something about the fact that no matter how much time passes, our hearts still speak the same language when we get together again. (Hence why I'm looking forward to scooping one of these gals up and hitting the road to visit another in Arizona....)

My year in Argentina pushed me way outside my usual self, but the few friends I made there (even with the language barrier) and I still have similar interests to this day. I've also continued to maintain contact with them and my last two host families (including my 11 host siblings total!). In college, again, I struggled to find new friends. I've never been much into the party scene and in general, I was a pretty determined and idealist college student. Luckily another of my closest gal friends from high school married a guy from high school who was going to college with me...and while the three of us are very different, we shared some of the same friends for the first two years (and that gal is one of my best friends and more like a sister to me than any of the rest). Then my last year of undergrad I moved in with a few wonderful gals, and was able to bond with a couple of great gals from my social work program (including my gal N!).

The most continual fun I've ever had occurred with a solid group of people VERY different from myself who I met during my first grad program. It was one of the first times I was ever the life of the party and really let my outgoing personality show through. It was an incredibly fun year, taught me a lot about myself, made me lose some of my other like-minded friends, but all things together the people I met and who I was during that year were definitely more seasonal than anything else. My second grad program again found me struggling to meet people who I really connected with....but my second year of the program (mainly due to a few select classes and my GRA position) allowed me to establish bonds with some great gals I'm still in touch with today. Somehow there's been something about grad school and my employment opportunities that take some of the guess work out of finding similar values---you already know that you have stuff in common and it's just trying to figure out if the rest of your lives and values are similar enough.....

Being an enlisted military spouse who was highly-educated, professionally-minded, and pretty liberal was again a major challenge, as it was rare to find others with similar opinions and values....and I so desperately missed my like-minded gals and supportive guys from back home. I again had to attempt to push myself way outside my comfort zone and deny other aspects of myself in order to interact socially and I was so relieved when I finally landed a job with several other like-minded coworkers. Yet there's also something about the military family....that the few other milspouses that I did connect with (Heather & Katie--you two being some of them!) will forever be close to my heart!

One of the things about me is that while I'm incredibly selective in my friendships, I'm also extremely loyal once I let you in. I usually have to see that people really are who they say they are and that they're loyal in return...but then I have the tendency to really stand by my lifetime friends over the test of time, even as our lives divulge into different paths. I think some of the reasons I'm so selective in who I want as my friends however, is that I hope to cut down on losing friends when paths do divulge because if you have enough in common then different life circumstances shouldn't really matter AND because I want to be accepted for who I am, which means free to be opposed to certain lifestyle choices/behaviors and able to speak/live freely about the values that I hold.

All of this comes to mind for three reasons:
1) I recently read "Why is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30?" in the New York Times and had posted it on Facebook---only to have several people comment that they were in complete agreement. The funny thing about this is that while I agree with the article, I also find that the issues presented (proximity, interests, current life stage) are things I've used in the context of selecting friends for a long time. I definitely can see how many of these issues are more of an issue as lives divulge and schedules change however. I'm also realizing that around 30 seems to be another time when there's a push toward larger professional goals...and with that can come a change in behavioral/life expectations (more to come...).

2) One thing that my separation from Tall D has again reminded me is that 40 minute distance from friends does matter. Originally it was a complete adjustment for me when we moved back from Louisiana to find that the friendships that I'd so dreamed about rejoining in Portland had grown in different directions and that having half my friends live across the city also meant that I'd rarely get to see them. Although the few friends I had on this side of town, also had lives of their own and not much room to add me/us back into them..... Thus our move back was much more lonely than I'd ever imagined. My friends have been incredibly supportive during the separation, but I've also again come to realize that I'm probably at a stage when I do need to make some new connections that are located more on my side of town!! (Which is probably one reason why it's been so convenient to hang out with Tall D AND one of the reasons why I'm so stoked about my new coworker friend T!)

3) And lastly...One of Tall D's and my biggest issues is a difference in how we socialize and in how we approach friendships. While I'm incredibly selective and loyal, Tall D is more up for seasonal, good time friendships and he's more protective in letting people get to really know him. I on the other hand, like to have friendships that I can "be real" with and I tend to lay my life/values/opinions out for those that are regularly a part of it. I also don't really enjoy having to explain why I believe the way I do or feeling like a weird-o for believing the way I do, which is probably why I generally choose friends that have similar values, behavioral choices, and viewpoints. I don't know that either way is better than the other....but it's hard to have common ground when he and I view something so important from such different lenses...and it's always made me apprehensive about how to "be" around Tall D's friends and some of his family. Additionally Tall D is definitely more of a good time individual, while I'm somewhat *ahem* maybe snobbier in this realm. I definitely like to have an overly good time a couple times a year, but the rest of the time I prefer to keep things pretty low key. I'm pretty mindful of trying to maintain a professional/responsible demeanor most of the time. Blame it on how I was raised, blame it on being a (slight) control freak, blame it on professional aspirations, blame it on this sense of what I think is "right"....but it's just how I am and I really don't think there's anything wrong with it. And for better or for worse, I've always pretty much avoided continually socializing with those that view it from the other side.... While I definitely hope it's not the case, in some ways it'll be pretty ironic if the end of us as a couple is somewhat based in an inability to mesh on the socialization scale....especially since he's honestly one of my best friends....

So what are your thoughts on friendships? How do you select who your friends are? And how do your spouse/partner/other agree or differ on friendships/socialization? I'd definitely love any comments!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Summer Wear Fare

Alright folks, it's a fashion post. I found these cute lil sandals this evening (along with a few other staples: black and gray replacement ballet flats and layering camis) but I just can't decide if they should stay or be returned....what do you think?!

Funny thing about sandals....I actually had to get a new pair when I was downtown the other evening because the pair I was wearing broke at dinner! I had three minutes to spare before my fave lil neighborhood shoe shop downtown closed so I high-tailed it to Ether, where they let me peruse until I found something I liked and could wear on my feet for the night. I just snagged a T-strap black leather sandal....and a cute brown clutch. Just what I needed---another excuse to buy something cute! :)

The weather has been a total mix lately--mid 60, gray but warm feeling days and 80 degree sunshine weather. So sometimes deciding on what to wear can be a challenge!

But below you'll see a smattering of what I've been wearing to work and out-about the last few weeks. I've been trying to mix it up and wear trouser jeans or shorts a bit more than usual:

Skirt (thrifted), cardigan-cami-ballet flats all old Target

tan & gray plaid walking shorts-Penney's, gray ruffled tunic--Target clearance, white cardi--old Walmart clearance, platform wedges (purchased from my gal Heather)

Black bermuda shorts-Target, ballet flats-Nordies Rack, black floral button-up-Penney's clearance

Red tunic (Penney's & altered by mom), my poor ol' Target sandals that gave out, gray cardi-Target, shorts--no clue they're so many years old!

White button-up: Target; Trouser jeans: Banana Republic outlet; nude wedges: Nine West outlet; khaki blazer: passed-on from friend

CK dress via Costco; adorable Steve madden sandals via Ross; belt & cardi via Target

Trouser jeans via BR outlet (recent); blue tank: OLD; cardi via Penney's clearance (recent); tan platforms via friend 

WORK: Same dress, Different twist
Dress: Target (recent) & Cardi: Target
Tan platforms: friend

cream cardi & gray skirt: both Target (& available still); cream sandals: clearance 
necklace: one of Mom's donations :)

Definitely some new looks thrown in with some old stand-bys. I'm thinking I'll wear the floral skirt from the first picture with black flats, a black blazer and some color underneath for my big interview coming up in the next few weeks-----any other thoughts on what to wear to show authority yet fun personality for a job that's somewhat out of my league?! ;)

And....for real, keep or return the blue sandals pictured up top?!

Happy dressing!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's Cooking as of Late

 Townsend House is having a cooking link up--LOVE IT, especially since attempting to cook/bake/preserve more is on my list of goals for this summer.

Dinner last night: Pre-made eggplant raviolis (Costco) with sauteed spinach, sundried tomatoes, feta, & pesto

Dinner several weeks ago for a night with Tall D: baked salmon w/ Tony's seasoning w/ halved grape tomatoes and cubed red potatoes all over rice. Dessert: sauteed strawberries, homemade biscuits, & whipped cream

Beyond that we're in the season of simple summer meals:
Baked potatoes loaded with homemade guac & salsa; sides of sauteed onions & zukes; more homemade banana nut muffins; berry smoothies; mixed greens salad w/ feta, pecans, cranberries, & cucumber; backyard egg scrambles w/ spinach, feta, & onions; weekend blueberry waffles

I've also still got my summer goal of loading up the garage freezer so this week a Costco trip I did make: extra bags of frozen tropical fruit for smoothies, extra bags of organic, shade-grown coffee beans, loaves of local, organic bread (although I should really make my own & freeze them), pre-made raviolis. I'm still picking and freezing our blackberries as they come on...and there will be more fresh fruit and veggies to add as the season continues. I'd love to find a fish source but that's a work in progress :)

What's cooking in your neck of the woods?

Ramona Falls Day Hike

Trail markers and a bit of the PCT

Ramona Falls

Gorgeous views of Mt Hood

Little bridges spanning the creek.

Tall D and I were going to do an overnight backpack trip....but a late night the night before and a much needed sleeping in morning the day we were to head out, prompted us to take a day hike instead. The hike itself turned out to be a fairly easy one---about 7.5 miles round trip but it was a great opportunity for Anna to test out her new dog hiking pack and we've been a lil concerned that Roxi's getting older aka she's not going to hack these 15+ mile trips anymore. It was a warm day so both the dogs were completely tuckered out by the time we were done--only further proving that Roxi will be staying home on longer trips. Anna totally loved her pack, albeit it'll be an adjustment for her to realize that her shape/size has changed with it on!

This hike would be a great hike to take out-of-state visitors on---great views of Mt Hood, a beautiful waterfall at the half-way point, and a few lil bridges to cross the creek. There are some great camp sites and spots to camp for back packing as well--we'll definitely have to go back and explore some more of the terrain as time permits this summer! It's been neat to hike a few lil' stretches of the PCT since that's the subject of our book this month--sort of makes me more able to envision the journey. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Perfect Backyard Afternoon

Sometimes I love that after five hours of work at the office, an afternoon in the backyard can go from this:
A heaping colander of black berries picked while enjoying blueberry sun tea made on the deck.

A blackberry & rhubarb crisp from the backyard and two pints of blackberry freezer jam.

Plus a dinner of sauteed zukes from the aunt's garden & a scramble made from eggs from my chickens to provide energy for my newest yard project this evening.....And this is why an Oregon summer is!

Side note: Today Tera (the hen) laid her first egg in the laying box and the ladies were able to put themselves to bed without assistance this evening! (In case I haven't advised the chickens eventually gained names. Tera--for the frequently broody hen who puffs and squawks like a teradactyl and Turd-o--who has never quite figured out how to not drip poop down her backside....and there you have them! ;))

A Good Sunday & The Coop's Done

Hi all! How have you all been doing? Hopefully well!

After a quick trip to the family beach house Friday night-Sunday morning, which included finishing the book for book club, a wonderful long walk on the beach with my gal N and her husband (who both also happened to be over there at their family house), and dinner with the two of them out at the local pub.....I was ready to come back to settle into my own home. As much as getting away can feel great, I definitely missed my own shower and bed! The trip was much needed however as I'm trying not to stress about all the unknowns in life. The reality is that I posted an ad on craigslist for a housemate and have had no responses, and without a housemate or a new job option, the smartest thing would be for me to move within the next couple months. (Although I really hope this doesn't have to happen!!) Additionally, in recent conversations, we've come to realize that what we based our marriage on was not in fact reality and there's a good chance that even though we're extremely compatible that really we're incompatible in some big ways.

Thus a few days away to listen to my soul was much needed....and it was great to come back to some wonderful things on Sunday afternoon.

1) My aunt invited me up to her place to pick blueberries from their bushes and she contributed some roses from Poppa's old rose garden. Walking through the same rows of roses that Poppa tended for years, picking which ones I wanted and breathing in their deep scent, honestly was amazingly good for the soul. Poppa was an incredible man....and there was something about walking through the rows that felt like his strong embrace was surrounding me.  I came home with a huge bag of blueberries and enough roses for two smaller arrangements:

2) Baking and preserving! One of my unofficial goals for this summer has been to work at cooking more (something that for various reasons I stopped doing in my marriage) and to also do more preserving of items from the garden. There is an extra freezer in the garage and it dawned on me that I should really attempt to fill it up with extra fruits, veggies, fish, breads, etc. Before I went to bed last night, I was able to make three rounds of freezer jam from those delicious blueberries. I also had two mushy bananas that I made into seriously a-ma-zing banana nut muffins, and a few of those were double bagged for the freezer also. To top it all off, I made a super simple but delish dinner for Tall D and I: baked potatoes topped with shredded cheese, salsa, & homemade guacamole with a side of sauteed zukes and onions. 

3) And almost the best news of all: the COOP IS DONE! Woohoo! Tall D finished it off completely late afternoon, including the laying boxes, ladder, and all. It was pretty entertaining watching a 6'5" guy chase two chickens around our large backyard so he could get them in the coop....but I have to admit it was cute when he presented me with the "finished coop: chickens included!" The ladies seemed pretty content clucking around checking out their new digs. They hopped up in the bush in there, pecked at the dirt, and eventually with our help they got up into the house part and explored their new beds. (Although at 11pm, we did have to go back out there and put them in their boxes...hopefully they'll get it on their own tonight....) It seriously looks great though and it's nice to have it done!! Now I can get started on all the other backyard projects I've had in mind :)

4) Lastly Tall D and I watched a great movie before he headed back to his apartment for the night. It's called The Way and is the story of a man who's son dies on the Camino de Santiago. He ends up continuing on to complete his son's journey. If you're into personal journeys, beautiful scenery, and some good chuckles, it's definitely worth checking out. 

Hope y'all had a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pursuing Happiness: Garden Growth, Dog Packs, & Food for Thought

Yesterday had the best of intentions and I've been in a great space the last few days....but then I had a disappointing afternoon as two of the U Picks I tried to visit for blueberries for jam making and freezing were both closed and I received a postcard in the mail stating that I wasn't considered for one of the three jobs I've applied for recently--this job being the one I had the most faith in. As much as I know job rejections are standard in a heavily educated population like Portland, it still was a slight ego blow and worry inducing, especially since I'd worked closely with one of the supervisors before...and the whole thing just left me majorly assessing my financial situation. (I have a decent amount of savings...I just don't want to blow through it all for living expenses.) To be honest there are a lot of "fun" things I'd hoped to budget for in the next two months, but until I have a housemate or job lined up, I don't feel enough freedom to pursue completing those dreams. Luckily Tall D is being a great support in terms of us maintaining a friendship and for the third time in the last week, he showed up over here and hung around until he could tell I was in a better place. During which, we ran to both Costcos to look at TVs and he cut me the split-payment-deal so that we both won out in the end... and then he came over to get it all set up.

....but beyond his support, really two things brought me a great deal of happiness yesterday:

Watering the Garden and seeing it really starting to produce:
Garlic heads

Kolarobi in the middle, carrots on the left, strawberries on the right. The plastic mesh is my make-shift way to keep the chickens out so starts/seeds had a chance! Blackberries and mint in the background, and cilantro & green onions to the right.

Lil' tomatoes are just starting to come on....and even the pepper plants are blooming.

Added rows of string and tightened the rows already there to help the snow peas and green beans fare better in their attempt to climb up. 
Artichoke plant is large and in charge....and for the second year has two artichokes on it!
U-Picks might not be open, but the last two nights allowed me to pick black and blueberries from the yard. Rinsed and put up to freeze.

And in my initial disappointment, I hauled five loads of dirt back to the coop area for fill-in. (Somehow when the guys hauled the dirt out, we'd forgotten that it'd all have to come back in.....) Note: There's a reason wheelbarrows started being made more cheaply, these old metal ones are HEAVY!! Coop is progressing!

Reason #2: Anna's Hiking Pack Arrived!
Tall D ordered her a pack so she can carry her own food & water when they do longer hikes...and she seriously LOVED it. She ran around the house with that huge smile...and then was completely disappointed when the pack came off and she wasn't taken on a hike at 10pm! :)

AND One More Thing For Good Measure: Per usual Flower Patch Farmgirl also had some great posts that struck home with me yesterday, but really this guest writing stuck out to me the most and also got me thinking about needing to just TRUST and follow in God's direction for the next year....something I haven't been too great at doing in the last few years. Regardless of finances, regardless of Tall D's and my mess, regardless of all the minuscule details....the Big Man has never failed to provide and I need to remember that He won't fail me (or Tall D or you dear reader or any of us) now...especially if we remember to trust in and truly follow Him. I honestly need to stop putting my hope in anyone but Him.

Ironically to go along with all the above thoughts, today's email Bible verse from KLove is "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." --Psalm 37:4

Here's hoping that TODAY, this Wednesday is a better one than yesterday for all of us!

Home Decor Changes

Hi all!

As mentioned, rearranging, reorganizing, and redecorating the house has been one of my primary coping mechanisms in the midst of all the separation madness that has been happening. Many of the changes are some I'd been contemplating for a while, but others are newer ideas or Pinterest inspired. There are still a few changes to come, although as much as I love my lil' rental, I'm realizing more and more that financially I absolutely need to get a housemate within the next few months....otherwise all the changes will have been for naught if I have to move up out of this place!

But without further ado: My "New" AKA Personalized Digs....

Living Room--returned to original furniture lay-out which I love so much better. Carpets were cleaned by Z and I washed the drapes. I'm still hoping that Tall D and I can create faux built-ins on either side of the fireplace that mimic some like these.

(Leather chair & area rug ($50): Target, couch: West Elm (LA), coffee table: carved in Philippines (family heirloom), Ikea chair & stool via Salvation Army, globe light: Pottery Barn kids ($12), long drapes: Ikea)

Entry--changed immensely as mirror and canvas were moved to these new locations. The zebra rug is new and I love it! I still need to refurb a larger bench my dad made to take the place of the leather one...but I really do love this new use of space.

(Zebra rug: Ross (recent $12), Leather bench: Target (LA), Large mirror & canvas artwork: Ikea (LA), keychain holder: handmade by brother's kids)

Dining nook--the picture and awesome indoor/outdoor rug under the table are new additions. I had been eyeballing the rug at Target for a few weeks when I randomly came across it brand new at Goodwill--score!  The rug might still get relocated however since it constantly bunches under the table. 

(Pub table: Walmart (LA), Large canvas art & cream drapes: Ross (recent $50), Target area rug via Goodwill (recent $29))

Small "master" bath--cupboards got purged and reorganized. The folding shower door was removed and our old shower curtain with a new liner put in its place. Artwork got moved around...and the plant actually got watered. 

(Plant: gifted, Shower curtain: reused from past residence, Art work: gifted Hallmark)

Master bedroom--clothes were purged and closet reorganized. New picture from Target although I might create something different like this to go above the bed. Also scored the baskets on clearance at JoAnne's and they fit PER-FECTLY in the nightstands. Oh and pretty shams were added...just because I now can! :)

(Bed: Pottery Barn w/ coupon!, Duvet cover: West Elm clearance, Nightstands: Bimart ($20!!), Baskets: Joanne's ($7), Picture: Target ($9), Lamps: Goodwill)

"Den"--this is the area off the kitchen and where the biggest changes occurred. I spray-painted the faux brick behind the gas stove black and then Z helped me tape for the thick horizontal stripes and he cleaned the carpets. Tall D fixed our old wooden futon and I put the taupe slipcover back on it. The jute rug was a steal ($40 at Lowe's for 8'X10'!), the mirror above the futon was a steal ($20 Ross clearance), and the inspiration board (below-Pier 1 $50) was just too good to pass up. Reused old drapes and hung them with a basic $5 curtain rod. Today Tall D and I figured out a TV situation (we bought a new larger sale one for him and split the cost of it...then I got our original TV) and he set it up with my old DVD/VCR device I'd pulled out of storage and we created a Netflix account for me. I seriously LOVE this room---and every time I look at makes me smile inside a bit. 

(old shelf: dad-made, Futon: hand-me-down, TV stand: Craigslist, Ottoman/table: Target, Wall photos: gifted originals, Mirror: Ross, Area rug: Lowe's)

Love this sign! "Eat a Cupcake" :)

My other BIG home purchase is pictured above. One of the things I realized last summer when Tall D and I originally talked about getting divorced, was that I'd really always been bummed that we didn't ever get "china" together. I'm not the type of gal that wants fancy china, but rather I wanted dishes that represented us. A year later I still hadn't been able to convince him to get dishes for us and I also hadn't found any dishes that really excited me.....until two weeks ago when I found both the above patterns at Pier 1. Since they're a big investment, I hemmed and hawed until breaking down and finally marching back into the store and gleefully walking out with 10 dinner plates, 10 dessert plates, 10 bowls, and 2 mugs of the blue pattern....and 10 mid-size plates with the birds on them. heart swoons every time I look at them....and ironically regardless of how Tall D and I turn out...he actually likes them too!

Pinterest inspired fix: This was a lamp shade that was white with a lot of dust and a stain....until I saw this fabulous idea on Pinterest and wrapped natural jute around and around the shade until it was covered....and now it looks pretty darn awesome if I can say so!

The guest bedroom is back to its original status....although it could probably use a head board of some sort. My secret hall closet got half-way organized---all my files were purged, items separated, etc. The guest bathroom is back up to par and then I just have one ginormous empty bedroom....that eventually will be filled with a housemate.

All creates a definite mix of items but hopefully it includes a relaxing vibe that makes people want to stay a while. Just to get those few projects completed....and then it's time to REALLY tackle the yard! :)

What's going on in your homes these days? Any new Pinterest inspiration on your ends?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Recent Highlight Updates

I'd hoped to write so many individual posts in the weeks that have passed but as usual, sometimes when I'm struggling it's easier to just be quiet and process. The last few weeks have brought many additional changes, much legit honesty, and moments of having to take a hard look at past actions while contemplating current desires (which is still happening....). For a few weeks I jumped from various coping mechanisms, some of which I'll talk about in the following bullets. So what's the highlight reel? What has been going on? Well a little bit of the following:

Beach Club Book Trip--was an awesome time with five other fabulous ladies. My cousin A and I showed up about mid-day on Saturday to my gal N's beach house. N and her SIL S were already there from the night before and our two other gals (E&E) joined us at dinner time at the local pub. We were supposed to have rainy weather so we all LOVED the fact that it was an absolutely beautiful two days on the coast. Many walks along the beach, much vino, delish cookies straight from the oven, an evening fire on the beach, and some great conversations---I'm so thankful for every one of those gals. (This last month's book was The Girl Who Fell From the Sky---interesting read. Now we're reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed about the PCT--enjoying it. And I'm also stoked cause one of my coworkers is going to join BC also!)

Overnight Backpacking Trip--Tall D and I went on a 24 hour, 14 mile, 4000 ft total incline overnight trip in the Ruckle & Eagle creek areas of the Gorge. It was the first major hike we've been on this season and the first six miles included the total amount of incline--whew! But the break from our chaotic lives, surrounding ourselves in nature, enjoying the dogs and views, and much sweating that occurred was desperately needed for both of us. We had amazing vistas, great weather, and we found the perfect little shelter area to shield our tent from the wind in the night. Wildflowers were out in abundance, the birds were hollering, and on the hike down we passed waterfalls and crossed creeks. This was the first use of my new Osprey pack and it was absolutely amazing--definitely glad I sucked it up and made that purchase. I'm also continually impressed with Tall D's UV water purification wand---its such an easy device for clean water. I'm mentally making lists of things I'll need for my own outdoor gear supplies. I was pretty impressed with how well I did with all the heights as I sometimes struggle with that but maybe it was because in the scheme of everything else in life, heights seemed the least of my problems---haha! By the end of Day 2, my feet were shot as I was hiking in my old Vibrams, and we realized that the only two things that we separately lost on the trail were the dogs leashes--doh! But I have to say that Tall D was incredibly supportive the whole trip....and it was a great time together. I'm already itching for the next excursion....

House Happenings--My primary coping mechanism for the last several weeks has been cleaning, purging, and redoing the decor slightly in my house. Z cleaned a few of the carpets, assisted in rehanging artwork, and helped me with a night of painting (thick horizontal stripes and black on the faux bricks surrounding the gas stove in the den). Most of the stuff in the house has been separated now so I've been working on organizing and making the house my own. I purchased quite a few new items (art pieces, area rugs, dishes, etc) and have scoped out some new ideas. Tall D has helped me hang numerous items, fixed the futon, is doing a great job progressing on my coop, and has agreed to get roped into a few more Pinterest-to-real-life projects---bahaha! I'll post a few pictures of the house interior later and I'm excited to finish it up so I/we can get cracking on the backyard!! Also Z will not be moving in after all...I have apprehensions about living by myself this summer (mainly finances but some safety) but in some regards it might be the best thing for me....or I'll post for a housemate at some point. :)

Motherly Support--I broke down and asked my mother to come up for moral support after two days of life changing, rash, but much needed decisions and a bad night of too much vino (which has been a cure for that particular coping mechanism). Mom arrived on a Monday and stayed until Friday...and I have to say, it was great to have her here. I was honest with her about the current mess of life, we had some enjoyable times, she filled me up with our family value of unconditional love, bought me some flowers, and then she headed for home. We spent an incredible Tuesday being tourists downtown visiting one of my favorite little breakfast joints and then going to the Portland Art Museum. Mom mentioned an interest, I'd always wanted to go, and we both loved seeing the combination of historical art exhibits. We spent 4th of July going back to my roots, joining Z and his buddy for an impromptu BBQ, dirt track car races at the small town speedway, and ending with a fireworks display. Mom's flexibility and support arrived at the right time and she was wonderful--able to allow me to cry, chat, or just be as needed while also fueling my thoughts and desires for the future. 

Throw in about two days of uncontrollable crying in there, great daily support from Tall D and via long-distance text my best gal D, a trip to a new church, the tiniest and most glorious day for a wedding I've been to on the Oregon Coast, some online teaching and working from home, a few job applications, a family BBQ yesterday, major thoughts on life goals and travel plans, and a lot of hope, fear, sadness, confusion, loss, loneliness, honesty, compassion, anger, and faith.....and you've got the rest of the last week in a nut shell! I'm making mental lists of things to tackle this summer and hoping that some other great things will pan out as well. The second night I'd gone for a run, finally weeded the raised beds, made dinner, and took care of a few things around the house, I thought I might actually have snapped out of my funk. I'm sure the summer will continue to be a sort of emotional roller coaster as I both try to reacquaint and yet get out of myself....And I'll be back soon with more updates and pictures...continuing on this renewed Journey Authentically....

Hope each of you has been doing fabulously---cheers to you and yours!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Welcome to the New Site!

Hello folks and welcome to the new site!

Why a new blog? Well, for several reasons. A new blog for a new chapter in life. A new blog to mark the start of another five years of writing, sharing, and hopefully restoring. A new blog to redefine oneself and to "journey toward authenticity." And quite frankly, a new blog because after five years of blogging at Simply Authentic...I'd run out of free picture space! :)

Per usual, life has gotten in the way in good and bad ways in the last few weeks and I'll be back in the next few days to share a few updates on current life circumstances and happenings. There have been many things that I've been meaning to share, of course!

For now, know that I'm looking forward to this next chapter of blogging and to continue to share life with all of you. Here's hoping each one of you who stumbles or follows here has a great week ahead of you!