Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wreaths: Not Just for Christmas

This is officially the easiest wreath to make ever! I have to thank my good friend Connie for the inspiration. She made an adorable Army themed wreath with ribbon so I thought "Gosh, I could do that!" I decided to go with Aggie (Gig 'em!!) and football themed ribbon since football season is upon us!
As with everything I make, it's NOT perfect, but I'm okay with that. It makes my front door looks so much more welcoming!
Here's how I made mine:

Supplies:

-3 different types of ribbon...at least two of which are a bit thicker and are wired
-A plain wreath...mine was on sale
-Hot glue gun & scissors

Procedure:


STEP 1: Glue the end of the thickest ribbon to the back of the wreath and then start twisting and glueing along the front of the wreath. It doesn't have to be perfect! Once you get all the way around back to where you started just cut the ribbon and glue the other end to the back of the wreath.

STEP 2: Repeat STEP 1 with the other thick ribbon, filling in spots the first ribbon didn't cover.

STEP 3: Take the thin, non-wired ribbon and glue the end to the back of the ribbon. Then just loosely wrap it around the wreath, gluing to the back in certain spots as you go. Once you get all the way around cut the ribbon and glue to the back.

STEP 4: Make a couple bows (I suck at bows so please make yours prettier than mine!) and hot glue them to the front of the wreath.

Voila! That's it! So easy, right?!?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Imperfect DIY Topiary

I am loving topiaries these days! I've been seeing them everywhere lately...blogs, catalogs, stores, and more. I decided a topiary would be the perfect centerpiece for my mantel that needed a serious re-vamp so I went about making one. Yes, I made one. Wanna see?!?! Okay here ya go:Sorry about the blurry pic...I was impatient! Oh and SO WHAT if the stick is leaning a little bit. Get over it! ;-) And it took about 3 times as many fake flowers as I originally anticipated so there is definitely a bald spot at the bottom for the time being (a.k.a. until I get unlazy). I CAN'T BE PERFECT PEOPLE!

So basically to make it I just followed this tutorial on a blog that I love. However I'm still going to type out how I did it because I did change a few things.

1. Spray painted a clay pot with a couple coats of black paint, let dry, and sponged on the white circles.

2. Bought a dowel rod, cut it down to the height I wanted for my topiary, and spray painted dark brown. Then doggie decided to help me with the "weathered" look and proceeded to steal it off the table as it was drying and put some nice teeth marks in it. At first I was peeved about this but then I realized the teeth marks actually made it look more like a real stick! The jokes on me I guess!

3. Bought a styrofoam ball and 4 bunches of fake yellow flowers (they were on sale 50% off...thank goodness because this could get pricey). Like I said, this required way more flowers than I originally anticipated so beware! Pulled all the flower buds off the stems.

4. Hot glued flower buds around the strofoam ball, bunched tightly so you can't see any styrofoam, although I will say my foam ball was green and so were the centers of my flowers so it really didn't look that bad if there were tiny bits of foam showing...it just looked like a flower center...but I digress.

5. Bought styrofoam and cut it to fit in the bottom of the clay pot. Stuck the dowel into the flower ball and into the clay pot styrofoam. Hot glue into place for the most stability.

6. Bought a bag of moss and hot glued moss all over the top of the clay pot to cover the styrofoam base.

7. Voila! That's it. I am probably going to add a decorative ribbon to the dowel eventually to add a little more pizazz.

And to wrap it up, here's my new re-vamped mantel. I forgot to take a before picture but trust me, this is MUCH improved and totally different.It still needs more but for now I'm loving it! I plan on purchasing some fake flower to put in the green vase to add some height soon. I love the green with the black and white, though. Here's another view:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Garage Sale Shopping 101

I've been inspired by a lot of DIY trash to treasure makeovers lately in the blogs that I read, so I decided to go garage sale shopping on Saturday. I've never really shopped garage sales before so this is a new concept for me, but I think I'm hooked now! It's so fun seeing the potential in other people's trash!

I know I'm still a newbie to this but I learned a lot just in one day. Here are my tips for garage sale shopping:

1. Use Craigslist to find garage sales. There is a "garage sale" section of Craigslist just for people to post their upcoming sales. It's awesome! I got on Craigslist on Friday night and printed out the listings of the sales that peaked my interest (basically all of them). Then I organized all the listings by their locations so that sales in similar parts of town were together.

2. Gather your supplies. I put all my organized listings in a folder. Also it's important to have a pen (to take notes, if needed) and cash. It's a good idea to have small bills and larger bills since a lot of garage sales can't make change. I used my GPS to find garage sales but if you dont have one you can just plug all the addresses into Mapquest and print out directions the night before.

3. Start early! Most garage sales start at 8am so leave your house at 7:45am or so. I got a later start yesterday (8:30) because my friend needed a ride to the airport so I missed out on a lot of the popular items like furniture. At one of the first sales I went to I actually saw a couple loading a BEAUTIFUL shelving unit into their car as I pulled up. I was so bummed!!

4. Have an idea of what you're looking for. For me, I was looking for home decor and furniture so I was able to zone in on those items. Some sales that I went to mostly just had clothing and such so I was able to walk away in less than a minute without wasting time.

5. Don't get discouraged. As I said above, I got bummed in the beginning because I didn't find anything I liked at the first 4 garage sales. But I'm so glad I kept going because I ended up finding some great stuff!

6. Negotiate! One garage sale I went to I asked how much something was and the lady said "$3" and I said "Okay, well I'll buy it if you can give it to me for $2." And she agreed. These people just want to get rid of this stuff so they are DESPERATE to sell! Granted, I'm not all about robbing these people of their stuff but if I think their price is a little high then I'm going to negotiate!

7. Look beyond the outer appearance of the items and look for potential! I'm totally guilty of being an outward appearance kind of girl. If something doesn't look nice, I won't buy it. I had to change that mind set as I was garage sale shopping though because so many things have great potential with just a coat of spray paint or a good scrub down.

Ok so you wanna see my purchases? I probably went to 8 different garage sales, plus I went to two different Goodwill stores and I was done shopping by 11:30am. Here is my bounty:I spent a total of $13 on all this stuff! Amazing!

First off, the teapots: I started off finding the one with the pears on it at Goodwill and I thought it was so cute and would be great as kitchen decor. I figured I could spray paint it to match my decor. But then, at the next 3 garage sales I found the other 3 teapots and I just couldn't resist buying them either! I guess I started a teapot collection! Ha! I think I'm going to display the teapots on top of my cabinets in the kitchen but my new dilemma is whether or not to spray paint them. The one in the front right is just too beautiful to spray paint so I'm thinking I may leave them as is. I'm kind of loving them!

Next up, the Christmas angel candleholders. How adorable are these?!?I actually had to dig these out of the bottom of a box but I'm so glad I did. They are REAL SILVER candlesticks and I'm pretty sure they were never even taken out of the box because the stickers were still on the bottoms and they look new (minus a little tarnish). I paid $1 for these beauties....ONE DOLLAR! O. M. G. What a steal! I can't wait for Christmas season to get here so I can display them!

Finally, these little green glass urns (I guess you would call them urns...not sure?).So cute! I think I have an affinity for colored glass because I was so drawn to these. Plus, they are GREEN which is a color I am loving right now! For now, I have them displayed on the mantle and I love them there.

So there you have it, folks! $13 worth of garage sale finds. Have I convinced you to go garage sale shopping yet?!? Can't wait to go again!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What NOT to Say to a Military Spouse

I've seen this list many times before but it still rings just as true as it did the first time I read it, if not more so now that I have a deployed spouse. I figured it can't hurt to educate my loyal blog readers (the very few that there are...ha!) on what not to say to military spouses.

Things NOT to Say to a Military Spouse or Girlfriend:


1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?"
(This one ranks in at number one on the "duh" list. Of course we're afraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds ---but thanks brilliant, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they're scared of dying.)

2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."
(This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here's why: it's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.)
Ashley's Notes: This one surprised me at how much it annoys me. I didn't think I could do it either BUT I AM. Just like you would if you were in this situation.

3. "At least he's not in Iraq."
(This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.)

4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?"
(Don't you watch the news? No! They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.)

5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"
(Short answer: Try to keep my sanity. Maybe there's a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves, but I have yet to meet her. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don't get bored, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.)
Ashley's Notes: Amen to the wine! About 2 months in to this deployment I came to the realization that wine helps A LOT. :)

6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"
(This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.)

7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."
(Sure, we do learn coping skills and its true the more deployments you've gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets "easy" and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.)

8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through."
(This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband's three week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 12-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a ****** ford taurus with mercedes convertible.)
Ashley's Notes: THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE PET PEEVE. I sometimes want to strangle people who act like their husband/boyfriend/whatever leaving for a week is THE END OF THE WORLD. Do you KNOW what I would give to only have my husband gone for a week?!? Don't come crying to me because I might stick a pencil in your eyeball.

9. "Wow you must miss him?"
(This one also gets antoher big "duh". Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they're now divorced.)

10. "Where is he exactly? Where is that?"
(I don't expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Province on a map, but they should know by now that it's in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada al Sadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Know that Iran is a major threat to our country and that it is located between Afghanistan and Iraq. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for seven years and at war in Iraq for five years. These basic facts are not secrets, they're on the news every night and in the papers every day ---and on maps everywhere.)

11. "Well, he signed up for it, so it's his own fault whatever happens over there."
(Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn't sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that "You're welcome." He's still fighting for your freedom.)

12. "Don't you miss sex! I couldn't do it!"
(hmmm, no i don't miss sex. i'm a robot. seriously...military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most relationships probably couldn't withstand 12 months of sex deprivation.)

13. "Well in my opinion....."
(Stop right there. Yo, I didn't ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a bar when I'm out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our ***** off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President, esp. while we're trying to heat up our lean cuisines in the crappy office microwaves.)

last but not least....

14. "OH, that's horrible...I'm so sorry!"
(He's doing his job and he's a badass. Don't be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our soldiers fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad.)


If you want to say anything, say thank you. After all, we are sexually deprived for your freedom.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pointlessly Pondering Paint Colors

I've found myself pondering paint colors a lot lately. This is a dumb thing for me to ponder. Why? Because we are not allowed to paint our walls in our current house because we do not own it.

Renting is really the best option for us right now due to frequent Army moves and such but sometimes (okay...a lot) the desire to own a house of our own is overwhelming. But alas, owning a home is not in our near future so I have to cope.

All this to say, sometimes I like to pretend like we do own the home that we live in and I envision what I would do to this house if it was mine to do with as I pleased. Priority # 1 would be paint the walls. We're actually lucky that most of the rooms in this house were painted by the owner so at least they aren't boring white, but I would still change a lot about them if I had my way.

I'm totally feeling apple green walls lately. Like this:
Swoooon! I love the contrast of yellow accents with apple green walls. Delicious!

Oh and this soothing robins egg blue color for our bedroom.
I feel more relaxed just looking at it!

Finally, I'm so feeling the subdued modernistic look of this slate gray wall and neutral accessories.Oh. Oh my. Love. So beautiful!

Ok. Now that I'm done day dreaming and torturing myself, I shall go to bed in my awful, mauvey-pink, very 90's colored bedroom. Boo.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bought with the Best of Intentions

So I MIGHT have made an impulse purchase today. You see, the past couple days I've had the itch to make a valance to go over the kitchen window. I don't know why the urge hit me so suddenly, given that I've been living without a window treatment on the kitchen window for a year and half now but....it just did okay?!?

So as I began thinking about valances/window treatments I realized that I
needed a sewing machine to make them.
Don't even give me that crap about how there are no-sew options for window treatments out there...I'm trying to justify a purchase here!!

As I was saying, I realized I needed a sewing machine to not only make the valance but also to make things like curtains, pillows, our future offspring's clothing, etc. The possibilities are endless! I may not be an expert sewer but I took a Home Ec class in junior high and I can follow directions...that's good enough right?!


I talked to my mom about my need for a sewing machine but she told me I didn't need one because I could borrow hers that she hardly ever uses. But she lives 3 hours away from me so I ignored her advice. Sorry, Mom!

Then things just downright started to fall into place. WalMart.com had a l
arge selection of sewing machines, one of which is a Project Runway special edition sewing machine....!!! I effing love Project Runway! Not to mention, it was affordable ($150...but only $125 once I used my Walmart gift card) and got great ratings...clearly, that had to be my sewing machine!

So I bought it. I can feel you rolling your eyes and judging me right now so
STOP IT. It's an investment, people! You will eat your words when you see my beautiful finished valance and future offspring's adorable homemade clothing!

Here she is:
It arrives in the mail in a few days! ***squeal***

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Favorite Refreshing Summer Drink (non-alcoholic)

As I was reading my latest issue of Cooking Light there was an article on sprucing up basic iced tea. The ideas were all interesting and I'm sure delicious but I'll stick with my go-to Summer iced tea beverage: Raspberry Lemonade Iced Tea.

Now pay attention because this is complicated! Start by making raspberry lemonade with fresh lemons and raspberries and brew fresh iced tea....OR if you're lazy like me you use this:
That's Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade, Lipton Cold Brew Iced Tea, and a glass with ice.

Now that we have the ingredients together, let's begin. Start by filling the glass half full of raspberry lemonade.Next, fill the glass up the rest of the way with iced tea.Stick a straw in it and enjoy. Oh and OF COURSE don't forget to garnish with a lemon slice!! No drink would be complete without a lemon garnish.

Can you sense the sarcasm? I was just trying to make you feel guilty if you don't garnish with lemon (a la Martha Stewart), but really who has time for that unless their posting pictures of it on a public blog?!?

Well, there you have it. I know it may seem daunting but it will be worth it! Now please excuse me while I go enjoy my summer drink.....ahhhhh refreshing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Turning Over a New...Sponge?

Alright look, I'm not the best person in the world when it comes to keeping house. It's not that I don't like a clean house, it's just that I'm really good at finding other things to do besides cleaning. Another problem I have is that I tend to give excuses for being lazy on certain days (I had a hard day at work or I'm not feeling well) and then things start to pile up on me. By the time I finally get "in the mood" to clean the simplest tasks are way worse because I've let it get out of hand.

You know how I mentioned in my post this morning that I needed to tackle a pile of dirty dishes today? Well...
Before...gasp!
...I wasn't exaggerating. A whole lot of dishes that had piled up over the past couple days and a whole lot of laziness. Look I'm putting myself out there by posting this so don't hold it against me!

The point of all this is to say, I'm going to make a conscious effort to maintain housework, even during the week. My starting goal is just to spend 15 minutes before I go to bed each evening to either do dishes, sweep/mop the floors, clean the toilets, vacuum the rugs, WHATEVER needs doing. We'll see how it goes but I promise to give it my best effort!

And just to redeem myself, I must post a picture of the "after" of my kitchen so that you don't think I'm a total slob.
After...ahhh so much better!

Just Finished Reading...

Reading has always been a passion of mine. Unfortunately, I'm also a very slow reader which frequently annoys me because I have a couple bookshelves FULL of books to read but I tend to get through them very slowly. And usually by the time I've finished one book I've already added at least one or two more to my to-read list.

Regardless, I do try to read at least a little bit every day, usually just before bed. So I'm going to use this blog as a way to write a "review" of sorts about the books that I read. The first review is going to be on the book that I just finished this morning: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.

I really enjoyed this book. In fact, it might be my favorite of the Philippa Gregory books that I've read so far, which include The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool. I love the way Gregory mixes accurate historical events with fictional embellishments to make a truly fascinating story.

Plus, the era of King Henry VIII and beyond is just fascinating to me. His life was truly like a soap opera and sometimes it's hard for me to believe that those events actually happened. I mean, what kind of man lives his life with SIX wives who he either beheads or exiles whenever he is tired of them.

So The Boleyn Inheritance follows his marriages to Anne of Cleves (the 4th wife) and Katherine Howard (the 5th). It is written through the perspective of Anne, Katherine, and Jane Boleyn (the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn). I don't want to give too much away so I'll just leave it at the fact that it's EXTREMELY interesting!

If you're going to read The Boleyn Inheritance I definitely recommend you first read The Other Boleyn Girl since the book often refers to events that happened during the marriage of Henry to Anne.

My rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Today is a REALLY Good Day!

Why is today a really good day, you ask? Well, I really like lists so I will lay it out below:

1. It's a Saturday! Saturdays are good for obvious reasons...

No work (although I do plan on going into work for a few hours later today to get caught up...but still it's just the fact that I don't HAVE to work if I don't want to).

You can sleep in. I slept in until 8:50am and it was glorious. I would have probably slept later except I woke up to Libby furiously licking my arm. That's her gentle way of saying "Mom, wake up! I'm bored." It is actually not a bad way to wake up...much preferred to barking, whining, and/or depositing bodily fluids on the floor.

You can be as lazy or as productive as you want! At the moment I am choosing lazy (minus the fact that I'm updating the blog). Here is a view of what I am doing this morning:

It's really quite wonderful. Sitting in my chaise lounge with a book (which I'm almost finished with...review to come in a future post), my computer with all my favorite websites pulled up (gmail, facebook, blogger, etc.), the remote controls to the TV, and my COFFEE (a must-have). Ahhh...bliss.

Although I'm currently choosing lazy, I do have some big plans for productivity today. Like I mentioned above, I am going into work for a bit, I have to tackle the pile of dirty dishes that I let get a bit out of control this week, I'm going to go the animal shelter and help walk the dogs for an hour or two (my new weekend tradition), I'm going to stop by Old Navy and do a little shopping since they are running a special military discount for this weekend only, and hopefully I'll get around to applying the polyurethane coats on the new coffee table and side tables.

2. Now that I got off on a tangent, reason # 2 why today is a really good day is that it's the FIRST DAY OF AUGUST!!! Ok I realize not everyone will be so excited that today is the first day of August but I have many reasons to LOVE the month of August this year.

The most exciting reason being, my husband comes home for R&R this month!!!! ::::squeal::::: R&R stands for Rest & Relaxation which is period of 15 days in which the deployed soldier gets to come home for a "break" from the deployment. It will have been 7.5 months since we've seen each other when he comes home...aka TOO LONG. I can't wait!!!

August is our anniversary month! We will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary this month AND my husband will conveniently be home on his R&R for our anniversary. :::squeal again:::

We are going to Cancun! We booked a trip to go to Cancun and stay at the Sun Palace for 4 nights during his R&R. It's adults only, all-inclusive resort and we are PSYCHED about it. We just really need that time to get away and reconnect (and drinking margaritas on the beach can't hurt either).

So as you can see, I have lots of reasons to think that today is a GREAT day. I hope today is great for all of you too.