February 28, 2013

February Pinterest Projects

Here's the my roll  up of February Pinterest Projects, or at least the ones I remembered to document:

Long Distance Hug Valentines
I thought these were super cute and simple and best of all, I actually got them mailed in time to both sets of Finn's grandparents. We traced Finn's little hands and then cut ribbon the length of his arms.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Side Dish
I pinned this because it looked delicious, but when it came to making it, I actually just winged it and threw in whatever I thought would be good which ended up being the roasted brussels sprouts, a cut up and roasted sweet potato, soy beans, feta cheese, craisins, pecans and and avocado all lightly tossed in balsamic vinegar dressing.

Pretzel Buttons
Mmmm. Who doesn't love a salty and sweet combination. The ones shown were made for Valentine's day, but I actually made these a couple days ago so just used regular M&M colors which may or may not have been left over Halloween candy that's been sitting in our garage (because if it sits in the pantry, I will eat it all. Fact.)

Strawberry Basil Sangria
This is one of those dangerous drinks that is so good, you'll find that you've finished off half a pitched in no time. And by half I mean whole.

I made this sangria when we had friends over for dinner, which was another Pinterest Recipe, Chicken Chimichangas. I didn't take a picture of them, but they were pretty delicious.

That's about if for things that I got directly off Pinterest. I did make a few other recipes that I didn't take pictures of, but here are a few other things I made:

Almond Butter
I copied my friend Brandy on this one and followed her tutorial which is pretty much the following - buy almonds, blend them. You're done.

It tastes great with apples, but for some reason both Miles and I keep expecting it to taste like peanut butter. This is a much healthier alternative though and when I made another batch of the No Bake Energy Bites I made last month and used half almond butter, half peanut butter. I think I'll make this more often, especially when I attempt to go Paleo for a month.

Gender Reveal Cake
This wasn't actually a gender reveal cake as my friends had already learned a couple days before that they were having a boy. But, because I was going to see them a few days after they learned the gender, and because I love cake, I decided to make one for the heck of it. The pennant says "Baby Boy" but if it were to be used as a gender reveal cake it could have said something else like "Boy or Girl?"

Furniture Redo
Diane was my biggest furniture project this month, but the set she came with included a nightstand and a tall dresser. I didn't do anything special to these - just painted them a grey color that came out more light blue looking that I thought it would and I replaced the hardware. I'm sort of meh about how they turned out. They are in our guest room now, but will eventually be the furniture Finn uses when he transitions out of his crib (which isn't anytime soon - the boy can rack out in there, so I'm not messing with it, we've got a good thing going).

I had intended to share the quilt I'm working on for Finn, but the month got away from me before I finished it. Maybe next month. Anyone have any good projects from the month that I can copy?

January Pinterest Projects


February 25, 2013

Diane the Distressed Diva

I could have waited to share this with the round up of the rest of my Pinterest projects for the month, but I think it deserves its own post and quite frankly, I took too many pictures and made too many collages not to dedicate one post to this particular project.

A little background first - I have never liked the TV stand we own. I had the same problem Brooke did, where we didn't need a new one, but I just hated how it looked. We bought it from Target when I was living on my own in South Carolina for a course and Miles was on deployment numero dos. I knew one day I'd redo the guest room furniture we owned (which we inherited free from Miles' parents - score!), but figured I would only re-paint it and still use it as bedroom furniture. We had three pieces - a tall dresser and a nightstand, that I'll share later with the other projects from the month, and a long dresser with a mirror attached to it. One night while Miles was away, and I was up until midnight working on whatever random thing I do while he is gone instead of going to bed at a reasonable time, I decided that the long dresser could become our new TV stand. So I listed our old one on Craigslist and decided that if it sold, I would be justified in turning the dresser into a TV stand. Well as luck would have it, this puppy sold two hours later.

I was so happy someone wanted this that I didn't really think through how I would get it in my car considering 
Miles wasn't home. But somehow I not only lifted the TV to the ground, and it's a 57 inch screen mind you, 
but I also moved the stand into the back of my car. I'm pretty much the strongest woman alive.
A friend watched Finn while I happily met up with the buyer and dropped off the TV stand (in a public place
and I had another friend come with me as well as Roscoe - because people can be creeps).

So then began the project of redoing the dresser, we'll call her Diane the dud:

Diane had a lot going for her - she's made of solid wood, has lots of space, and no major structural issues.  But she just wasn't too purdy.

I took Finn to Lowe's to pick out a color and some supplies as well as new hardware. I really love all the different hardware options available at Hobby Lobby, but about 90% of their inventory is for knobs, not pulls, and I didn't want to fill in all the pull holes and re-drill new holes (like I did for Gray Gertrude), so I ended up finding hardware at Lowe's that I liked. I got all my supplies there simply because Lowe's has a military discount and I think it's important to support businesses who support the troops.

These are the three main products I used and was very happy with each of them:

I wanted a distressed look, but was very tentative to start because what if I distressed it and hated it and wasted all that time painting and would need to sand it all off and start over, and did I mention I started this about a week before Miles was to return home even though he had been gone an entire month? So anyway, I decided to just give it a shot and used all of Finn's nap and bedtimes to work on it. The entire process went like this: take off old hardware, disassemble mirror, ask nice friends to help you move heavy ass furniture into garage, clean dresser, paint, let dry, paint again, let dry, sand, distress, wipe down, rub stain on, wipe stain off, let dry, apply polycrylic, let dry, apply polycrylic again, let dry, ask same nice friends to help you move furniture back inside, install new hardware, line drawers, assemble drawers, take obscene amount of pictures, share on blog.

Overall it took me about five days from start to finish ensuring that there was lots of time for it to dry in between steps. Here are a few pictures to illustrate said steps showing the initial paint, the distressing (done with sandpaper and 'ding'ing up the wood with a hammer, and staining the piece which just involved wiping the stain on, and immediately off, with a cloth. I used regular wood stain.

I decided that I wanted to keep the doors on, but when you open the doors there are three drawers inside and I'd need to remove two of those to make room for the DirectTV and PlayStation consoles. That was done through the following steps shown below: remove old drawers, remove drawer tracks, get plywood cut to fit, paint plywood, drill holes where drawer tracks used to line up, screw in plywood to existing holes, cut out two holes in back of furniture for cords and cables,  laugh at silly dog who is looking through the other end of the newly cut out hole, give media its new home.

We do not own a jigsaw or another of the sort - so I had to cut the hole out for the cables
 in a somewhat ghetto fashion with the drill, but it worked and it's not like you see it anyway.

Ok, now to the really fun stuff - the before and after pictures, or as I like to call it, Diane the Dud transforms into Diane the Distressed Diva!

Also, I forgot to mention that we had a cheapie bookshelf (also a Target purchase from when we moved in to our first apartment) and it housed all of the DVDs we never watch own. Every. Single. Day, Finn would terrorize the shelf and pull the DVDs down. It drove me nuts. But now they are tucked away neatly in the drawers. He still gets into them on occasion, but it's not as often.

I don't have one particular link or tutorial I followed, but this one gave me the idea for the color (I used Valspar Cafe Blue), other than that I kind of just winged it based off things I've read in the past and tips I've picked up along the way. I had some supplies on hand already that I needed for Diane - the stain and polycrylic finish, but I still needed to buy a few things such as the paint (which was a paint and primer in one), some drop cloths, paint brushes, plywood, and the hardware which was the most expensive. After subtracting the money I got for the old TV stand, the total cost of Diane's makeover was $78.04.  Not too shabby.


February 23, 2013

How Precious Life Is

My friend Katie shared this song with me a few weeks ago. She said she thinks of me every time she listens to it and of course it brought me to tears when she played it for me. I promptly bought the album myself and wanted to share. Click here to listen to it.

Before I quit Facebook for Lent, I looked up the singer. I sent him a message and told him how beautiful the song was and told him about Cale. I also said that if he wrote it because of personal experience, I was so very sorry, but grateful none-the-less to have heard his song. He wrote back and was very kind, offering his sympathy over the loss of Cale. He told me that he wrote the song for a good friend who went through something similar with his son and he didn't know how to help, but wanted to do something. I think it's an incredibly kind gesture and I suspect meant an enormous amount to his friend.

How Precious Life Is (Andy Gullahorn):

We moved the desk out of the office
Took down the college picture frames
Painted all the walls yellow
Because it goes with anything
Put those guards on all the outlets
Found a safer car to buy
Did it all for your protection
And your mama’s piece of mind

I couldn't see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

I saw you in that picture
When they said you were a boy
Though I swore I had no preference
Those words filled my heart with joy
My mind raced ahead a decade
It had us camping near a fire
Where you’d tell me all your troubles
And I’d make everything alright

I couldn't see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

God willing if we have another child
I’ll see it for the miracle it is
I’ll be hanging on to every blessed breath
‘cause I can’t forget
How precious life is

I thought I knew what pain was
But I really had no clue
Until the hope was disappearing
And there was nothing we could do
I was too tired to shout in anger
Too scared to run and hide
I just stared there at your mother
And thanked God she was alive

I couldn't see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

For more information on the artist or this particular album you can click here. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

February 20, 2013

Two Years Ago Today

I was working on my West Point scrapbook, something that's been in the works since I graduated, and I had just finished up the Spring Break page from my junior year. I was really happy with how the page came out - a nice collection of pictures from my time in the Dominican Republic with Miles and his family. I wrote 'Spring Break' across the page in cute lettering that took me awhile to cut out. I laughed and shook my head at the picture of Daren pouring two beers into a margarita glass.

I was five months pregnant with Finley and home with just Roscoe as Miles was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. It was night and I was up in our office on the phone with my sister, Kate. Later in the conversation she said our mom was calling her on the other line and told me to hold on a second while she answered it. She came back and said "can I call you back?" There was something in her voice that made me think she was upset - so I asked if she was ok and she quickly said "yeah, I just gotta go" and promptly hung up. It wasn't much longer until my phone rang. But this time it was Miles. He just said "hun" and I, happy to hear his voice, said "hi babe, how are you?" there was a brief pause before he said "I'm umm, I'm coming home." I knew something was wrong. I stood as my chest tightened up and I held my breath while spitting out the words "are you ok?" He sounded choked up. My mind immediately flashed a picture of him hooked up to a ventilator, calling from a hospital bed. I don't know why I pictured that when I knew he could talk, but that's what I saw. I thought that's why his speaking was fragmented. But he said he was ok. He said, "I'm fine. But, umm, Daren was killed today."

The next thing I know I was on the floor. It wasn't like I fell over, though I guess I kind of did. I just couldn't stand anymore. I was on my knees sobbing, not wanting to hear what he was saying. All I could say over and over was "I'm so sorry." Miles then said he needed his parents phone number. He didn't have it memorized and didn't know if they knew yet. He thought he would have to tell them. My hands were shaking as I pulled my phone away to look up their numbers. I said it would be the hardest call he had to make and told him how much I loved him. He asked if I would be ok and I told him I would call a friend to come over. Then we hung up and I sat upstairs and sobbed. Roscoe came over and sat down by me. He wouldn't leave my side the rest of the night.

Miles did call his parents, but they had already been notified by a Casualty Assistance Officer. I'm thankful he didn't have to be the one to tell them. But when the CAO arrived at their door and told them their son had been killed in Afghanistan, they had to ask "which one?" The thought of that breaks my heart. To wonder what it was like for them to open the door and see the CAO and the Chaplain. Unexpected knocks on the door make my heart sink every time Miles is deployed. His father was in the military himself, he knows what those two individuals knock on your door for. As it turned out, Miles' dad wanted to ensure that didn't happen to me. They offered to send someone to my house to let me know about Daren and he immediately said "don't you dare - she will think it was Miles." I'm forever thankful he prevented that from happening.  Miles' parents had to call their youngest, Carmen, and their eldest, Jared and tell them their brother had been killed by an IED. They called my parents and told them what had happened and asked if my parents had any numbers for my friends in Georgia so they could have someone come to the house when I found out. They didn't know if Miles knew and had to assume he didn't and they would need to get word to me (without me thinking it was Miles who had been killed). My mom had called Kate not knowing I was on the other line with her. She told her to get off the phone with me, but to not say anything yet, as they didn't want me to be alone.

My friend Rhiannon came over and just sat with me. I am not even sure how long - I think a few hours. She wanted to see pictures of Daren and hear stories about him. She was with me when I got through to Miles' parents and talked to them. Just as before, the only thing I could think to say was "I'm so sorry."

I flew out two days later to meet Miles at Dover Air Force Base where he would escort his little brother home.

February 20, 2011 is so vivid to me. Even writing this out takes me back and makes me cry. We weren't sure what we wanted to do today to mark the occasion of his passing. Daren's birthday is coming up on March 4th. We want that day to be more of a celebration, especially as Finley gets older. So today we somberly remember Daren. We will laugh at his goofiness and cry at all we've lost, and on Saturday we will be participate in the Hero WOD CrossFit created for him through the efforts of his brother Jared. It will probably make me puke or pass out (maybe both), but I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to being able to do something small, for someone who did so much.

About a week ago Finley was playing with Miles' old cell phone while I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day. "Halo, halo" "bye-bye" and on and on he goes, while "talking" on the phone.

Then he pushed some buttons and I realized that not only has he turned it on, he's making a call. The phone isn't connected to a network, but when I pick it up, this is what I see. Finley had called his Uncle Daren.

It made me laugh. It made me cry. I held the phone to my ear before hanging up, wishing I could hear Daren's voice on the other end.


February 18, 2013

Arts, Crafts, and other Nostalgia

During my last trip out to Arizona (where my parents live) I brought back some tupperware full of many childhood artifacts my mom had saved. Lots, and I mean LOTS, of things were promptly thrown out that my mom, bless her heart, probably didn't have the heart to do. Like a "scrapbook" of mementos I held to - such as a salt packet and straw wrapper from the Hard Rock Cafe I went to in San Diego. Or my 4th grade ice skating binder which was filled with newspaper articles and clippings related to Nancy Kerrigan or the '94 Winter Olympics. I wanted to be an ice skater when I grew up. We didn't even get an indoor ice rink until I was in middle school and by then it was too late . . . my Olympic dreams would never come to fruition. So sad.

But my mom did hang on to some stuff that I will keep, and that gave me a good laugh as I went through it. It reminded me of some of the cute things we have from Miles' childhood and I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

Just to highlight how obsessed I was with ice skating, here is the "About the Author" section of the book I wrote in third grade titled Learning on Ice. In it, my family moved to Colorado Springs and I took ice skating lessons (from Nancy Kerrigan, of course) and within three days I was able to do a triple axel. I'm a quick learner, what can I say?

My mom also saved some of my ribbons from summer swim team which makes me wonder just how many lanes that pool had. I'm guessing 13. Ironically I was in the advanced swimming class my freshman year at West Point.

And this cute note my mom wrote me when I was upset about not making the National Junior Honor Society one semester in 7th grade.

Five year old Caroline. We have a nearly identical picture of my mom about the same age with a similar outfit  and ribbon.

Now on to Miles. I saved a few of the writing assignments his mom gave us from when he would get in trouble (think Bart Simpson in the beginning credits of the Simpsons). I think I may bring this back. His first one would be something along the lines of, "I will volunteer to change more poopy diapers."

Not sure what year this was drawn, but Miles' portrayal of a Dragon going to the dentist.

This self portrait could not be more adorable. I especially love the wallpaper he chose for the background.

Cute note from Miles' dad. I like that he had to remind Miles that smart kids don't call things stupid.

 And last, but not least, adorable little Miles.


February 14, 2013


No captions necessary. These pictures speak for themselves. My, what a difference a year makes. I love this skinny little hunk. Happy Valentines Day!


February 13, 2013

Since My Last Post . . .

. . . Miles has come back home after a long month away! We are all so happy that Dadda is back. He was out at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California. Don't let the location fool you - this isn't the nice beachy part of Cali, but rather the barren, middle of nowhere, desert.

. . .  I volunteered at this really adorable event yesterday - Senior Sweetheart Bingo. The Bingo center on Fort Hood bused in senior citizens from homes and retirement communities in the surrounding area and brought them on post for a fun morning of Bingo! I walked in to a room FULL of old people eager to win prizes and enter raffles  Lots of air tanks, walkers, and canes - oh, it was so cute. The King and Queen of the event were 92 and 93 respectively.

I suppose that this event could count as #15 on my list of things to knock out before I'm 30. I appreciate all the suggestions I've received thus far - still need to finish the list, but I'll get there.

. . . found a plastic orange in my purse, books in with the dirty clothes, and a remote control next to the toothpaste. Toddlers are funny.

. . . I deactivated my Facebook account for Lent. This act is in keeping with my New Years Resolutions, and who knows - maybe I'll stay away longer than 40 days.

 . . .  and lastly, since my last post, I read an article that I wanted to share. You know how you hear about something and want to share it because it's that good/powerful/crazy/whatever, and so you share it along with everyone else who wanted to do the same? Like when those Bumbo seats got recalled and everyone and their dog wanted to share that they got recalled because they wanted people to know that they know it was recalled because only the best parents in the world know that stuff! (Side note - I used my Bumbo last night when a friend was visiting with her two daughters. I still plan to use it - just responsibly, like all things). Anyway, that's how I feel about this article.  A few friends have already shared it on their blog, but it's worth sharing again because anything that talks about stillbirth and grief and loss and any number of these beautifully tragic things that happen (far too often might I add), is worth sharing again and again and again until we are all better at handling each others heartache and grief. So, please go read it here.


February 5, 2013

30 Before 30

I turned 29 today. The last year in my twenties - oh my. Miles is still gone (I swear he's not deployed, but sometimes it really feels like it!) So it was just Finn McMissile and myself, and Roscoe too of course. We had a nice morning - Finn slept in until 8:30 (standard for him - I'm so lucky) and took an almost FOUR HOUR nap this afternoon. The kid sleeps like a champion. He was also just really, really cute today. I know he always is, but today was just a good baby day. No fighting over what to eat, no unnecessary fussiness - he was just cute and happy and talkative and really fun to be around. One of those days were you just think how awesome kids are and thank your lucky stars to have one. The three of us (mom, dog, baby) went for a run this afternoon when it was a gorgeous 74 degrees out, Miles and his parents both sent beautiful arrangement's of flowers, I got to talk to everyone in my family and FaceTime with my sister. And I went out to dinner with some really sweet friends and just had a really lovely day. So thank you all for the birthday love - it sure means a lot.

Notice the scarf, Megan? :)

For the last few weeks I've been thinking of a little list of things I'd like to do before I'm the big 3-0. No real rhyme or reason for these, but just using the last year of my youth this next year as motivation for accomplishing them. The problem is, I haven't been able to think of 30 things. So, I'm welcoming suggestions. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Travel to a state I have never been to (Completed August '13)
2. Complete a triathlon (Completed 27 May 13)
3. Attend a yoga class
4. Watch a foreign film (Completed Feb '14)
5. Update Family Tree (Completed/Ongoing)
6. Use my china. Twice. (Completed - Thanksgiving and Christmas '13)
7. Read 30 books (Almost)
8. Stick to a Paleo diet for one month. (Completed April '13)
9. Do a cleanse of some sort (Completed Feb '14)
10. Get pregnant (Completed April '13)
11. Get nice family pictures taken (Completed - December '13)
12. Give blood and/or platelets (Completed April '13)

Edited to add more to the list based of some great suggestions people had. I'll continue to update this and hope to blog about some of these as they get accomplished.

13. See a baby be born (Completed 21 Aug 13)
14. Sleep out under the stars
15. Volunteer at a local charity of some sort (Completed 12 Feb 13)
17. Get together with BLM/blog friends (Completed Feb/March '13 and June '13)
18. Finish a scrapbook (Works in progress)
19. Meal Plan and stick to it for two weeks
20. Meet and befriend a new friend (Completed and Ongoing)
21. Find, and consistently attend, a playgroup for Finn (Ongoing)
22. Pay it forward (buy someone coffee, leave money at a gas pump, etc - something of the sort) (Completed various dates)
23. Take a cooking/baking class of some sort
24. See the bats in Austin (Completed 20 April 13)
25. Kayak and/or paddle board (Completed 20 April 13)
26. Update my will (Completed and Ongoing)
27. Ride in a convertible (Completed 30 November 13)
28. Write myself a letter to read in a decade 
29. Throw a theme party for no particular reason (Completed 18 April 13)
30. Start a veggie/food garden (Started March '13)