Thursday, February 26, 2015


 Here are some things we've done recently while we haven't been updating this blog. Pictures and stories.

We went to Ocala at the end of January. Carson presented a paper at a conference in Gainesville and that's really close to Ocala so we made a weekend of it. We watched a lot of the Food Network and HGTV, as usual. We went to Redbox and picked some stellar movies (aka awful), Morgan made meals in the crockpot, Carson and Caleb went to a basketball game, and we all went to lunch at a tasty place called Mojos after church on Sunday, where I had fish tacos for the first time and loved them. It was a restful and relaxing weekend, in part because Morgan is pregnant and was in her first trimester at the time. It was still great being with friends (who are actually family!) and we enjoyed our time (and Carson's paper presentation went well!).

I didn't stand on my tip-toes for this, and I really should have. 

It was sunny on our way back up to Tallahassee, so we sat in the sunshine at a rest stop.

Fun Mail
One day several weeks ago we had a "fun mail" day, which involved getting zero credit card offers or random sale papers in the mail. We got: a funny little decal for our car, Stella (thanks, Dad), a monogrammed headband and sweatshirt (which I wouldn't actually wear together - but thanks, Mom!) and our Amazon FireTV Stick, which we bought with a Christmas gift card. It is AMAZING. 

Camping In
The weekend that we stained the rocking chair, Carson made a tent in the living room. We sat in it while we watched a movie and then went to sleep in our own bed because it wasn't actually that comfy.

Just Random
I had a pen and Carson's leg was just sitting there, so I started with a smiley face and ended up drawing a... horrible cow. I can't draw well anyway, but for the record, it's usually better than this.

New Wreath
I got together with a friend from work and we made wreaths. Here's mine! It's springy/summery but I didn't really care.

Carson in High School
A friend of Carson's from high school texted this to him recently. This picture was taken on a trip his group of friends took after high school graduation. That thing in the background is a (apparently famous?) drive-through tree in California! Also noteworthy: it's been ten years since Carson graduated from high school.

Space Shuttle
Dad called me one night because the space shuttle (it wasn't actually that  but I can't remember what it was) was going up into space and was launching from near me. He got everyone at his work to go out and look it and got Carson and I to go to our street and do the same. And we saw it at the same time!

 You can't see it in this picture unless you know what you're looking for and have very good eyes. So here's a picture of the end of our street!

Two Stories:
The ticketing agent at the airport on my way to DC in January checked my ID as I handed over my bags. She started to hand it back, then rethought and checked again, something I'm used to, as I know I look younger than I am (if you tell me that one day I'll be thankful, save it - I've heard it before and don't need to hear it again though I know your intentions are kind). She said however that she was making sure I was OLD ENOUGH to fly alone. I'm not sure what the age is, but I'm almost 26, so the answer is yes, I am old enough. But thanks.

Carson hates cutting his hair, but also hates when it's longish and obvious that he has bedhead. He also doesn't like spending money on haircuts (a trait both of us sadly share). If he doesn't wet his hair in the morning it will at times look like a crazy party, which sometimes I notice and sometimes I don't mention because I assumed he noticed. So we were in the car halfway to church when Carson looks at his hair in the mirror and exclaims, "Why didn't you tell me I look like Bert from Sesame Street?" so I turned and looked, and he definitely did. I'm alone writing this and cracking up at the memory. I asked him why he didn't do anything back at the house and he told me "You are supposed to check for these things! I don't have time to look in a mirror!" which I'm taking to heart in the future. So now sometimes he'll be dressed in the morning and I'll say "You look sort of like Bert" and he will thank me and take a shower. Marriage is weird.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

We had a quiet Valentine's Day this year. 
Planning hasn't been our greatest strength lately, for some reason (are we perhaps getting more laid back? Doubtful.). This year, we planned as much as buying orange juice and bacon to have for our Valentine's breakfast, but that was 100% of the planned-ahead material. 

Carson gave me flowers. Tulips, which came in a pot which I was really excited about, but they've already passed on and it hasn't been that long, so apparently love isn't everything when it comes to taking care of plants. 

He also made breakfast, complete with heart-shaped biscuits and extra crispy bacon for both of us, and runny eggs for me and an omelet for him. He's learned my food likes and hates, of which there are many, so basically the celebration could have stopped here.

We didn't really exchange gifts because we wanted to get Netflix so we let that be our gift to each other (best idea I've ever had). I did get him a big Reeses peanut butter heart and a little stuffed monkey with big eyes attached to some conversation hearts. I hadn't really thought about wrapping them so I found the most pink and red Christmas bag I had (it already had Carson's name on it - a plus!) and put them inside. He gave me the tulips (my favorite flower. Or have I said that a million times already?) and a king size Payday bar. One thing I do like about Valentine's Day is that you get/give stuff but it doesn't have to be expensive or super well thought out (we both bought these things on Friday night, pretending to have an "errand" to run randomly like the other person didn't know).

For Valentine's Day, we stayed in our PJs and watched Netflix. Appropriate since that was our gift. I introduced Carson to Gilmore Girls which he LOVED (loves, we have awhile to go before finishing all 7 seasons). We thought about going out earlier in the day to lunch but decided to stick with the laziness thing and just hung out on the couch.
That evening, we dragged ourselves off the couch and got ready to see a movie. We took pictures to prove it.

We'd planned on seeing The Imitation Game (I only tell you because I know you're going to wonder if we were possibly going to be those people who went to see 50 Shades of Grey, but we were not. You probably didn't think so anyway.), but when we got to the theater, which was PACKED, it was sold out. And all the other movies were sold out too. So we walked around the mall the movie theater was in for like ten minutes, then stopped at Wendys for Frosty's and went home. 
And it was a great day. Getting dressed up and going somewhere was really just a guilt thing anyway. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna... soup? It seemed worth a shot, somehow, and I'm so glad. I'm not really a soup person, but we both loved this and I bet you would too! It's much easier to make than actual lasagna and doesn't require you to turn on an oven. This was a pretty quick weeknight dinner that I was able to leave simmering while I finished up the laundry. I'd highly recommend!

Lasagna Soup
Adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste.

You'll Need:
(for the soup itself)
16oz sausage. Italian sausage was recommended, but I used whatever it was that we had in the freezer and added a bunch of spices and it was great. Ground beef would definitely work too
1/2 onion, chopped
2 crushed cloves garlic (I used minced garlic)
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided (I added more because I love parsley)
3 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth 
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups marinara sauce (I used jarred)
2 bay leaves
black pepper
fresh spinach, chopped (as much as you'd like)
6 oz broken lasagna noodles (guessed on this measurement)

(for the topping - I eyeballed all of these measurements)

6 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Brown sausage in a big soup pot on the stove on medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for two minutes. Add everything else. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile mix together ingredients for the topping. 
When you're ready to serve, just top each bowl with the cheese mixture. 

This made for great leftovers and gave us six really decent sized servings.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Staining a Rocking Chair

So when we refinished the dresser in the living room, we decided that we could probably tackle a more difficult project, so we decided to refinish our rocking chair, no problem.

If you've actually done something like this before, you probably know the truth.

Now,  this thing has never been my favorite. 
Carson spotted it at a thrift store without me and so it came to live with us. I didn't like the color of the finish, or the fact that the finish was flaking off. People in our community group in Ohio LOVED it and tried to be the person who got to sit in it, but I'm just not a fan. 
Changing the color though? Okay, maybe I'd like it then. I didn't really want to paint it because I felt like it would be too much with the painted dresser and a painted chair in the same room (but as we did this, I definitely wished we'd gone that route because it would have been way easier).


 We began by sanding, which did nothing at all, except on the spots where the finish was already flaking off. So we bought a can of Citristrip stripper, which worked in some areas and not at all in others. 

We scraped for a long time, and it wasn't very successful, which is when we realized that maybe we were not attached to the chair and that maybe we could just leave it on the curb. 

Also the stripper was very sticky and hard to get off our hands (and burned mine a little), so I sacrificed an old pair of gloves to the cause and used those when I was working, which was a good choice (rubber gloves would have been better). 

At the end of a weekend, we did not have a pretty stained chair as we anticipated. We had a sticky chair that still had most of its finish. 

You know how in home remodeling shows there's a super dramatic thing that happens? This was ours. Or so it felt.

So we got frustrated and left it for the next weekend (after trying lots of things to get the sticky residue of the stripper behind and discovering that paint thinner was the winner, along with soap and a lot of scrubbing).

We still weren't sure if we were going to give up altogether. As I said before, I wasn't the rocking chair's biggest fan, so I was in the GET RID OF IT camp.

The next weekend, we bought an orbital sander. It was wonderful and it's what we should have used from day one. Getting around those curved edges was still difficult, but it would have been impossible without the power tool. Amazing.

Then we stained. We brushed on a coat of a Minwax Dark Walnut stain that had poly in it too. It said to let it dry for 6 hours, which would have been 10pm. Rather than miss a spot in the dark, we waited until Sunday morning before church to do the second coat. 

And finally it was indeed Dark Walnut. Finished. Finally. 

Next time (assuming this didn't kill our desire too ever DIY something big again), we will go right to the orbital sander, and then stain. We will also do our best to avoid needing to sand down anything with that many little edges again. Yikes. 

Whew. Finished. Now that we have that sander though, I've been side-eyeing other pieces of furniture in this place. Don't be surprised to see another remodel. Or perhaps don't be surprised if you don't see one. We're still getting over this one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Past Valentines

Valentine's Day is a holiday I've always enjoyed. I love special occasions and fun silly holidays. Growing up, we'd always get a stuffed animal and a little heart-shaped box of chocolates with mystery fillings, which I now like more for the nostalgia than the actual taste (the orange ones are always a mistake). So while my expectation is that the day is acknowledged in some way, it's not necessary to go to a fancy restaurant and get expensive jewelry or to get chocolate (that reminds me - fun fact: I HATE chocolate covered fruit of any kind). 

So I thought it would be fun to take a look back at things we've done in the past. 

We'll start with the year before Carson, 2009 (Carson asked me out in March 2009, so I knew him but had zero idea that he was interested in me). Nick, Skyler, Molly, Erica and I went to Olive Garden for dinner (our other roommate Amanda was working and their roommates thought Valentine's Day was lame) and we girls exchanged gifts.  

We took pictures in this mirror every time we went to Olive Garden.

We also played a bit of a prank that year; we had a huge piece of plywood lying around our apartment, so we made it into a huge Valentine's card, waited until the guys who lived in the apartment above ours were gone (we'd stolen their key) and left it inside. 

 We drew Valentine's names like Secret Santa but we had a goofy name for it (Secret Cupid maybe?), and we got each other silly gifts. One of mine was a grow-your-own boyfriend from Molly that we put in water in a bucket where it sat for the entire semester. 

Oh yes, and we made a cupcake cake and sat down eating it with forks while watching a movie. This is why college was great. 

In 2010, we were engaged, but I was in South Carolina while Carson was in Washington.  Jillian got married that day, so I was preoccupied with enjoying her big day! Carson sent flowers to South Carolina but we didn't exchange gifts or go to dinner or anything that year.

2011 was the first year Carson and I did something for Valentine's Day. He planned the entire day. We went to breakfast at a diner, played indoor black-light miniature golf and went to a pottery painting place to make plates. He gave me a heart necklace with white sapphires and I gave him ??? I don't know. I'm not a really good gift giver but I'm guessing I did buy candy. That's the way to his heart.

In 2012, Erica, Molly and I got together and made fleece blankets as gifts for our husbands (at the time, Zack was Erica's boyfriend but now they're married so whatever). Carson worked all day so he set up a scavenger hunt with clues all over our apartment and each one had a small gift. When he got home, I gave him his blanket and then we had Jimmy Johns for dinner and went to see the movie "Dear John".

In 2013, Carson was going to be going to a conference on Valentine's Day, so we went to a pre-Valentine's dinner at Ruby Tuesday (with a coupon!) and then to dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. I can't remember what he gave me, but I gave Carson a picture I painted and something else I can't remember either.
(every time I see this picture of us, it confuses me because it looks like a baby announcement but of course it isn't)

On actual Valentine's Day, I took Carson to the airport (but made him take a picture first). Carson had flowers delivered to me and I went out that night with a coworker. 

In 2014, we decided to stay at home. If I remember correctly, I worked most of the day so it was the best option because I was hungry immediately. We cooked dinner while dressed up and Carson wore his tie with the most red in it. 

He gave me a grater and an apple corer, which I'd told him I'd been meaning to buy. It was incredibly thoughtful, if not romantic. I gave him candy and I can't remember what else. 

Our plan this year so far is to make a big breakfast. I'm not sure if that's what we'll do for dinner or for actual breakfast, but since we've yet to plan anything else and neither of us are worked up about the lack of plan, you can count on it being a low-key day.
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