Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Tonight, we had a grand total of 3 trick-or-treaters.  I am highly disappointed that we had even fewer than our whopping 5 last year.  I mean, we even had jack-o-lanterns this year!  Coming from a childhood neighborhood where hundreds of kids would ring our doorbell, this low turn-out is a bit of a shock.

Not to worry, though, we made up for the lack of Halloween celebrations today with a party yesterday.  And, what party would be complete without...Mickey & Minnie Mouse??

Yes, our costumes were my idea, but for the skeptics out there, Justin really embraced his new identity.

Our party was co-hosted by our dear friends Glenn and Jenny, or should I say Waldo and Wenda.

We had two types of chili on the stove, and a spread of hearty bread, chips, and snack mix (in fear that the comma has not done its job properly, I'll insert that only the bread was hearty).  Butter was served from a small bowl sunk in a mini pumpkin.  Justin's gargoyle candleholder (a gift from his high school English teacher) finally matched our decor.

We also served spiced apple cider (warmed in the crock pot), and an orange sherbert punch (my mom's recipe with the addition of gummy centipedes).

I found this cute idea on Pinterest to make mini caramel apples after scooping small balls from each apple.

Pinned Image
Unfortunately, our caramel didn't stick quite as well as those pictured.  Jenny and I have already researched (after it was too late for this batch) and discovered that caramel doesn't like to stick to the wet apple.  Others have recommended online the initial dipping in candy coating, followed by the caramel (with refrigeration in between).  Next year, we anticipate better results.  For this year, at least, they weren't pretty, but they still tasted pretty good!

Our mini pumpkin pies (recipe/idea here, also found on Pinterest) turned out much better!

All in all, it was a successful party.  It was our first party hosted at the house, and while we decided that the room arrangements aren't ideal for parties, they're still worth having.  And, with a dishwasher, it's easy!

I'll leave you with our pumpkins from this year.  I carved mine first using a template from our pumpkin carving kit.

After I had finished, Justin decided that his would be symbolic and religious.  He spent a great deal of time researching ideas and creating his design.  It is in honor of All Saint's Day (tomorrow, the first), which is the origin of this whole Halloween (originally, All Hallow's Eve) thing anyway.  It depicts an altar and the phrase "Ora Pro Nobis" (Pray for Us) under the altar, representative of the relics of saints which are found under (or within) many altars in Catholic churches.

Of course, in retrospect, I'm feeling silly about my simple Halloween carving.  I've taken to calling it the "Holy Ghost" design instead!

Happy Hallow's Eve!  :)

As a side note, I was reminiscing about last year and remembering sitting on Halloween, waiting for trick-or-treaters, freezing (because our new furnace had yet to be installed) and writing wedding thank-you notes.  I was wearing gloves, so that should explain the messy writing on any notes you received :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Coziness & humor

One of the downsides of having a mostly "finished" house is that I don't have as much exciting material for the blog.  Because, honestly, what could top ripping down a wall?  Certainly not our movie night.  But what demolition doesn't have is coziness and relaxation, and that "pro" of being finished with renovation certainly overwhelms the "cons" of boring blogs, at least from my perspective ;)

So, tonight, after picking up some finishing touches for our Halloween costumes, I texted Justin to find out if he'd like a Red Box movie.  He did, so I headed to a local supermarket.  Via text, we selected a film (Everything Must Go with Will Farrell), and then had the following conversation:

Me: "Ok, got it.  Would you like any food or drink?"
Justin: "Sure.  What do they have?"
Me: "Hon.  It's a grocery store."

Perhaps having it written out it's not quite as funny, but it certainly made me chuckle :)  Now, we're off to watch our movie and enjoy our snacks (7 UP and kettle corn popcorn for me; a ribeye steak for Justin).  Yes, a ribeye steak.  That's what happens when the whole grocery store is a possibility!

Happy Friday :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumn in Ithaca

This post (titled "Autumn in Ithaca") comes to you with a subtitle: The "oh yeah I have a blog" post.

When I last wrote, we were headed out of town to celebrate our anniversary.  While I would love to say that my delay in posting was due to an extended vacation, that wasn't exactly the case.  But, the weekend away was absolutely wonderful!  How could it not be, with this handsome husband (who had a rose-per-month delivered to our hotel room!)

We were in Wellsboro, PA.  Sunday (which happened to be one of the only sunny days in all of October) was perfect for a bike ride at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  Yes, we did set a dangerous precedent by going to the Grand Canyon for our honeymoon and the PA Grand Canyon for our first anniversary.  We're seeking suggestions of other holes-in-the-ground to visit in upcoming years.

Here's Justin biking (you should be impressed by my photography skills, because I also was biking while taking this picture.  It gave a whole new meaning to point and shoot).

We came home and celebrated with wedding cake (which was still delicious a year later, thanks to my mom and her excellent following of the "how to freeze a wedding cake" Google directions).

But now back to home improvement.  Another recent post showed my very nice (but very unseasonable) nativity from my grandparents.  Since that time, I've embraced the fall decorating and replaced the nativity with a pumpkin and a basket of apples:

You may also notice the addition of my apron hook (a Christmas gift from Justin, commemorating the quails we saw in Arizona last year - we found them to be hilarious, and they became the official mascot of our honeymoon).  I made the apron (with fabric purchased more than a year before we painted, but with the intention of having it coordinate the new kitchen), and I just hung up some small scissors for herb and flower picking.

You may have also noticed the new window shade.  Similar to our front door window, it's a two-sided fabric piece that can be rolled up (and buttoned) during the day, and undone at night.  This fabric is particularly special to me because it belonged to my great grandmother.  She was living until my junior-high years, and we had an excellent relationship (centered around our love of sewing).  I remember sending her letters with snippets of fabric from my latest projects, and she'd always write back saying, "Em, that will be just beautiful."  Anyway, when she passed away, all of her sewing things went to my mom.  When my mom was looking through her stash a few weeks ago, she found this fabric again.  We both couldn't believe how perfectly it matches the new kitchen!  It looks as though we chose the paint to match the design!  It's so special that my mom decided to give it to me, and so special that it was Granny Long's.  I'll never know what she bought this fabric to make, but I know she'd be really happy to know this is how it was used.

In other kitchen decorating news, we put the bookshelf back beside the table.  It stores our board games (theoretically so that we'll play them more often, although that has yet to pan out), and I've had lots of fun decorating the top:

Excuse the mis-matched candles; sooner (or later) I'll get some that are all the same shade of white!

One other fall touch, thanks to my mom.  Does she know the way to her daughter's glass-storage-loving heart, or what?

In addition to the fall decorating, I've got some fall cooking going on - mainly in the form of apples, apples, apples!  I went apple picking with friends on Saturday, and still have a huge basket of apples, even after making 4 pies (2 in the freezer, 1 for our neighbors, and 1 to enjoy!)  Applesauce canning is on my agenda soon!

As you can see, there have been plenty of fun things keeping me busy (including several that I'm saving for future blog posts!)  As the weather cools down, it has been fun to make our house cozy.  At Justin's suggestion, I'm including a picture of last year this time (technically, this was from last December since I see the Advent wreath) as a reminder of just how far we've come.

Looking a little better, wouldn't you agree?  I promise I won't leave you hanging for several weeks again (after all, we have some exciting things to share, including new furniture and excellent Halloween costumes up our sleeves!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Could it be?

Could it be that it's already been a whole year since the best day of my entire life?  And, yet, how could it be that it's been only a year that I've been living my dreams with this handsome groom by my side?

Back to your regularly scheduled home blogging next week....for this weekend, we're celebrating life and love :)

P.S. Photo credit to the incredible Liz & Ryan!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"I think I even got it on the dog"

Just to be clear, up front:

Objectives met by this blog post:
- Returning "from the dead" and posting something...anything on the ol' blog
- Re-iterating how awesome our kitchen floors truly are
- Memorializing a hilarious night, because let's be honest, this blog is really my scrapbook

Objectives NOT met by this blog post:
- Sharing things that are meaningful, cool to look at, and/or relate to making our house better

And now, the blog post:

Tonight is supposed to be our first frost up here in Ithaca.  True to our loyalties, Justin harvested all of the edible plants (all the remaining peppers in the garden, plus large amounts of mint & basil), and I harvested the pretty plants.  I stuck my zinnias in a vase, and Justin settled in for preserving mint and basil in extra ice cube trays.  He blended the herbs (not together) with some water in the blender, and then froze them in the trays, so that we can pop them out for mint tea, tomato basil soup, etc.

Everything was going very well.  I was upstairs, brushing my teeth, when I heard a bang and an "oh no."  I yelled down to check on what happened, and Justin said that he had dropped a tray.  He rattled off a litany of things that were now covered in green sludge, capping it off with "I think I even got it on the dog."  And with that statement, I totally lost it in laughter.  Even typing it again, I am laughing out loud.

I came downstairs and, true to form, wanted to photograph everything before actually helping to clean up.  The picture process took 5 minutes or more because I was laughing too hard to hold still.  Excuse the blurriness of the pictures, they were from my cell phone, and I was still shaking a bit.

In the process of trying to get a close-up of the damage, I ended up accidentally sitting in the mess and getting it all over my pants (I told you, these floors are really good at hiding messes).  And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed.

Everything is cleaned up now, and we're only short a few herb cubes.  But we're both still laughing...and I thought that was something worth sharing!!  Justin shared it (more concisely) on his facebook: Preserving Basil and Mint tonight...via freezing them in herb ice cubes. The process was working very well until I splashed a mint slurry on our carpet, fridge, cabinets, and dog, all of which are white. Also got my slippers, shorts, shirt, socks, and even my wife when she fell down in it from laughing. What a night.

Can you tell we're adjusting to a new "post-renovation" lifestyle?  There's still plenty of little projects to keep us busy, but we're getting used to our "new normal"....and loving it!

P.S. We didn't get a dog, we're dog-sitting Justin's family's dog Buddy for the week.  If dogs could talk, he'd probably be begging to go home...where they don't spill mint sludge on his fur!