If You Could Read My Mind

Friday, December 28, 2012

One of my 2012 goals/resolutions was to read more.  I specifically was trying to target at least one book per month.  I actually met that quota (woo hoo!) although that's largely due to the fact that apparently, I enjoy reading books written for a demographic that is 10-20 years younger than me.  I'm so cool and smart.  My list of what I've read this year is below.  Except it might be missing a few entries because it seems like I've read a few more than this, but if I did, I didn't record them in my Goodreads.  Oh well.  You'll get the gist of it.

I started the year off with books 2 and 3 the Hunger Games trilogy, and I actually read the first two twice after I finished the series the first time. 

The Night Circus was recommended by my bff.  I wanted to like it so much (the cover art alone is just so great!), but it didn't satisfy me.  I liked the idea of the book, but the actual execution and plot line just fell flat for me.  I get why it's written the way it is and why you don't know what's going on the whole time (it's like you're in the duel with Celia and Marco!  You're just as in the dark as they are!), but overall, not my fave. 

Then came Shanghai Girls.  I have no idea what prompted me to buy this, but I did.  If you like historical fiction, this was pretty good, but not one I'd say anyone has GOT to run out and read. 

Devil in the White City... I mean, what a GREAT book.  I knew basically nothing about the Chicago World's Fair prior to reading this, nor did I know anything at all about the serial killing spree that occurred during the same period.  This is so well-written and researched.  I can't imagine how many years the author spent pulling data together to create such a well-crafted book.  Looking forward to reading his book about Nazi Germany (which is a sentence I never thought I'd write).


Then came the Luxe series!  These were really light, easy reads (like, even easier than The Hunger Games books - these are definitely for the YA set).  Truth be told, I could have stopped reading after the first one, but I didn't have anything else in my reading queue yet and I had a mild curiosity about how the stories would end.  Because of the cover art, these are exceedingly embarrassing to take to the gym or to leave out on the coffee table when you have guests.  They totally look like period romance novels.  However, if you want to plow through a series in less than a month so you can feel good about yourself, this would be an ideal choice.

I read this book based on the recommendation of two friends.  It's cute and heartwarming, but if you're a skeptic and/or not a devout Christian, there are some easy plot holes to identify that will probably bother you. 

This is probably my favorite book from 2012.  Also recommended by my bff (she totally redeemed herself from The Night Circus rec), I couldn't put this down once I started. I knew a plot twist had to be coming based on how the story was playing out and the number of pages left in it, but I did NOT foresee the twist that it took.  LOVED it.  I went back and re-read the first part once I finished just to make sure I didn't miss anything.  If there's one book on this list you should read, it's this one!

And now, for my "currently reading but not yet finished" list:

Yeah, the puppy book isn't exactly compelling reading for the general public, but if you're parenting a new pup, this seems really good so far!  L and I have big plans to implement some of the exercises this weekend.  I'll finish this book and Mindy Kaling's before 2013 arrive.  Hornet's Nest will continue to be put on the back burner.

Atomic Dog

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meet our new pal, Heisman!  Heisman is 4 months old, weighing in at 6 pounds and measuring 11 inches high (floor to top of head) and 23 inches long (tip of the nose to the tip of his tail).  This was our initial meeting yesterday at the adoption meet and greet event:

Obviously, we had to have him once we met him.  So we made it official, bought him a little collar and a chew toy, and headed home.  Apparently car rides home from Maryland are pretty exhausting.

We did a big run to Petsmart when we got home.  Heisman isn't leash trained yet and riding in the basket was scary for him, so I did most of the shopping while L held him and walked around the store making friends.  Apparently that was also exhausting for the young Heisman, because he was fast asleep after about 20 minutes of being in the store.  Napping is becoming a common theme for our young pup.

This is a better pic of him from the front:

Things Heisman LOVES:
Playing fetch with his stuffed animal turtle
His special teething puppy Nylabone
Following me and L all over the house

Things Heisman HATES:
His collar
Jumping off the sofas
Walking outside onto the balcony

To be fair, the last two items aren't so much things he hates as they are things he's afraid of.  He built up courage to jump off the sofas last night, but by this morning, he had lost it.  There was a good two minutes this morning where he just ran back and forth on the love seat in a frustrated mess because he was too afraid to jump off.  I'm sure we'll build back up to leaping soon.

Heisman isn't officially crate trained, but I'm so proud of him because aside from a little whimpering last night when we first put him in his crate for bedtime, he did so well!  At first we had the crate in the living room, but I think he must have been scared by himself, so we moved it into the bedroom.  He did better in there; minimal crying and barking.  I woke up at 6:30 this morning and heard him playing quietly (with his hind feet and tail, obviously - those are the clearly the MOST fun), so Heisman and I got up for a bathroom break.  After that, we spent the next 3 hours snoozing on the couch since neither of us was really ready to wake up for the day.

We're currently working on reinforcing the paper-training he came with.  He was GREAT yesterday, although today we had the first accident (and of course it was on the Christmas tree skirt - thank goodness for Nature's Miracle).  But he's rectified himself since then.

We had a full morning of playing fetch with his little stuffed turtle and chewing on bones and exploring, so the little guy was sacked out next to me on the couch as I started writing this.  However, it's now hours later and since then, we took our first walk ever on a leash (we had to practice in the hall first... still a ways to go before on this) and we went to the park.  Kind of overwhelming for a little guy - it's a whole new world for him today - new family, no mom, no foster family, new house - so we didn't do a whole lot.  Mostly just practicing trailing the leash through grass and some light sniffing.  We attempted to meet some friends at Petsmart to take a picture with Santa, but sadly for us, Santa was gone for the day.  Heisman did get to meet his first official dog friend, Teddy, though, and overall, it went well.  He's still very shy and overwhelmed by crowds of people, so he likes to be held in situations like that.

Hooray for our new little Heisman trophy pup!  He's a hit with us so far.  :)

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy merry early Christmas!  It seems like it took forever, but we did get the new digs decorated for Christmas.  We've had everything up (for the most part) for at least a week and a half, but somehow it feels like we were late in the game getting it all finished.  Maybe that's just what happens when Thanksgiving is early?  Who knows.  Anyway, here's our tree:

You can kind of see in the background that we have garlands hanging from the windows.  Also, there isn't a second tree back there; that's just the reflection of the lights from the tree in the windows.

Sadly, we don't have a fireplace in the condo.  My family has always had fireplaces by which to hang stockings.  What does one do with stockings if you don't have a fireplace???

Obviously the answer is to hang them from the top of the hutch. I don't love what we have going on on top of the hutch, but whatevs.  For now, it works.  Also,  I didn't realize til this moment how ugly the random kitchen chair is just hanging out in the pic.  Oh well.  Just use your imagination and pretend it isn't there.

So that's it for now.  I don't think this is 100% finalized, as I would love to remedy the decor on the top of the hutch and spruce up the garlands a bit more, but it's a work in progress and it's fine for now.  I will say that posting these has made me realize that I'm missing a couple of items and I am 100% clueless as to where they might be.  One is a fabulous Christmas tree-scented candle and one is a super cute Christmas platter that I usually display on a stand.  I'm also realizing I have neglected to pull out our nativity set.  At least I know where that one is!!!  I'll work on locating the others and finding spots to put everything.  And once I do that, I will do my best to post more pics.

At least my Christmas shopping is 99% done!  Just gotta iron out the details of my mom's gift and then I am DONE.  And I've even mailed all the items that needed to be mailed!  If you get a gift from me in the mail, open it when you receive it.  Just a friendly little tip.  L's gift is super random this year but I'm excited about it.  Fingers are crossed that he likes it!  (I think he will.)

The best part about this week is that we have less than two weeks til we are back in Texas to celebrate Christmas with the families. :)  I'm super excited!  Hope everyone else has great things planned for the coming weeks!

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Monday, November 26, 2012

I had to take a pause in the house tour for multiple reasons.  First and foremost, we went home to Texas for Thanksgiving, which interfered with issue #2, which is that I haven't gotten the last room picture perfect and ready for a photo shoot.  I promise to return to this soon, hopefully later this week.

Finally, even in light of the first two road blocks, I'd intended to post something witty and funny tonight in place of more house tours, but L received some very sad news today and I'm in too much of a funk about it to be funny or witty.  It seems that L's mentor and former boss was diagnosed with a cancer, and unfortunately, it's a really bad kind and the prognosis is not good.  This is a man who is very good, very smart, very kind, and has had a profound impact on L's life, and by proxy, mine.  We are both heartbroken for him, his wife, and his two children.  And, selfishly, we are disappointed that the relationship L has with this great man is likely going to be cut entirely too short.

So instead of being funny and witty and whatever I would normally be, instead I ask that everyone just say a short prayer for a man in Virginia with an advancing disease.  Please pray for him and for his family; pray for them to have time together.  Please pray that God gives him strength, hope, courage, determination, peace, and acceptance so that his time is well spent with his family and loved ones.

I can't imagine what it's like to face your own mortality.  As this man walks into this arena, I can't imagine all the things he must feel desperate to do, accomplish, and resolve in the coming months.  I am so terrified of the day when I can't call and talk to my mom and dad.  Losing parents is just part of life, but at least I know I've had my parents for 32 years.  You shouldn't lose them before you get to high school or middle school.  The older I get, the more I continue to really, truly enjoy spending time with my dad and I wish the same for everyone, particularly this family for whom L and I are praying so hard tonight. It just isn't fair for them to go through this, but I realize that no one ever guaranteed fairness in life.

And so, to close, I say please call your parents tonight, or, better yet, go spend time with them.  And please, as you pray tonight, pray for this family.  Thank you.

Stay, Stay, Stay, Stay for a While

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Continuing on the tour of our abode, our next stop will be the guest bedroom.  To get to the guest room, there's a door off to the left of the living room that leads to a hallway; off of that hallway is where our guest bedroom is located.  The guest room actually came together first and probably the fastest. 

Here it is, pre-move:

Oddly, I don't recall noticing the weird corners before we moved in. This room perplexes me a little in that way - I don't get why the builders didn't just make those two walls nice and straight, because I know they could have along the left wall - on the other side of that wall is just the hallway and the closet (for some reason, the enormous closet does not open directly into the guest room. Oh well.  Worse plans have been constructed.)

Despite the fact that I previously said this room was one the first to really come together, it was used as a dumping ground and staging area for the rest of the house for most of the first week.  This was largely due to the fact that we didn't have bed rails for the bed.  So, we lived like this for a while.

The shocking thing about this room is that L and I agreed very early on that we both liked this bedding.  I love that it has so much color to it and that it's a big departure from what I had  previously.  We're currently re-using the same accent pillows that I had with the old bedding.  I'm not sold on the combo, but it works for now.  The one thing I don't love about the whole thing is that the duvet looks so flat.  I want it to be fluffier.  And maybe not quite so long, but whatever.  It's fine.  Projects for this room will include installing curtains (once I figure out what kind of fabric I want to use), hanging floating shelves on the wall where that mirror is currently leaning in the picture above, finding some kind of artwork to hang over the bed, and hanging the mirror elsewhere in the room (likely wall above where the suitcase stand is currently located in the second "complete" picture).

A quick shot of the closet:

It's larger than it looks - it's much wider than what you see here (WHICH. I. LOVE.).  This closet is now my accessories closet, my holiday decorations closet, and sort of a catch-all for random stuff at the moment. 

Around the corner from the guest room and the guest closet is the second bathroom.  It should be noted that this bathroom is larger than the bathroom at our old house.  And I don't know why we would ever need to both be in that bathroom at the same time, but if we needed to, we could stand next to each other and both see ourselves in the mirror.  Both the mirror and counter space are sooooo much larger than what we had at the old house.

Some finished shots of the bathroom:

And finally, a shot of the gallery wall in the hallway:

All I can say about gallery walls is this: thank goodness for 3M Command Strips.  It's not the most creative layout, but with the limited amount of space, it seemed like it made the most sense. 

The picture above is taken from the doorway to the bathroom.  To the left, you can see the closet door.  You can also see into the guest room through the open doorway.  The only thing I didn't include a picture of from this side of the house is the laundry closet, which is directly across the hallway from the door to the guest bedroom. 

So that's the guest quarters!  If you want to come visit, just let us know - we've got space and love to host.

One more post and then we'll call this tour done. 

Dare You to Move

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Next stop on the tour d'new house: L's and my bedroom.  Here 'tis before we moved in:

Woo hoo!  Nice, empty, non-descript square of a room.  Here's what it looks like now with furniture in it:

 What you can't see in any of these pictures is that the curtains are about 6" too short.  Awesome.  Obviously this is a recurring theme.  Apparently what you CAN see in these pics is ugly power strips.

And now some shots of the bathroom:

Those are both pre-move in.  Nothing has changed since we moved except now there are white towels hanging on the towel bars, white bath mats in front of both sinks and the shower/tub, and more stuff on the counter (like soap dispensers, tooth brushes, etc.).  The bathroom definitely needs some items of interest (at the very least, artwork for the walls) and possibly a new color on the walls.  I think the bathroom is probably the very last room on our list of projects, mostly because we're both so excited to have so much space that's JUST IN ONE BATHROOM!!  Plus, look at that tub.  I never took one bath during the entire three years that we lived in our last house because the tub just creeped me out because it was so old.  I've taken quite a few bubble baths in the new place.  (If anyone has any recs for great bubble bath, please share with me.)  Our last bathroom was the tiniest thing ever, and if you know me or ever came to any of my Austin apartments, you probably know that I've never been interested in tiny bathrooms.  I prefer space to primp and get ready for the day!

So that just about sums up the master suite.  More rooms to come soon!

Movin' On Up

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We've been in the new place for just under two months, so I figured it's about time for a picture update.  I thought about waiting until we have everything the way we REALLY want it, but then, if I held off for that, there would probably never be any pictures.  There's a lot of things I/we would like to do that will require saving up for.  So, consider this round the "in between" phase and just know that eventually, there will probably be another round of pics once we've made upgrades and changes to each room.  Also, I think I'll try and do this room by room over a series of posts, because otherwise it would be way too long. I'll also work through the rooms in the order in which you would see them as you walk through our home.

That means that first up is the kitchen/dining/living room.  Essentially, this is all one big room.  This is what it looked like before we moved in:

This is the view from the front door.  The perspective isn't great, but beyond the island is a dining area that isn't defined AT ALL in this pic because there's no light fixture.  Beyond the dining area is the living room.

Similar point of view NOW:

The room definitely looks longer now that we have furniture all moved in.  Everything fits nicely!  Definitely a relief.

A view of the kitchen, pre-move:

Better view of the kitchen.  So much storage compared to our old house!!  To the left of the refrigerator is the pantry - you can see the door handle here.

 A shot of what things looked like on moving day right:

This picture is deceiving, as it gives the illusion that the only boxes on the island are the ones you can see from this view.  Rest assured that there was another row of boxes behind what you see here.

And lastly, a view of the island and front door from the dining area/pantry, pre-move:

Similar shot, now:

A few shots of the dining area now (sorry, no pre-move pics of this space):

And a view of the living room, taken on moving day right after the movers left: 

We were a little nervous how things would fit in the space.  Luckily, we were able to part ways with a lot of stuff at our yard sale (a whole other post) and it all worked out.

Some current shots:

So what will change?  First and foremost, we want to get a new sectional sofa.  We actually found one that we both agree we REALLY like, which may come as a shock, given what I last wrote on the subject.  That will probably be one of the first things we pull the trigger on.

We also plan to invest in a new dining table and chairs.  What I think we will probably do is get the table and chairs from Crate and Barrel that coordinate with our hutch.  Still not sold on the chair situation (I don't want to be overly matchy), but we have a little time to figure that out.

We also want to get rid of the current coffee table.  Prior to moving, we had a yard sale and we sold the one we were using inside at the last house.  Now we are using the one that L had prior to us getting married.  It fits this living space better than the other one we had (that one was bigger), but this one is just not fabulous. 

I also want to paint the walls in here at some point and hang curtains.  Paint is daunting because it's a really big space to paint, so it'll have to be a color we really like.  This will most likely happen post-furniture purchasing.  The curtains are tough because the windows are so tall.  L's suggestions so far have been to just hang curtains at the top of the main windows so that natural light still comes in through the top windows or to get two curtain rods and hang a short set over the top set of windows and a long set over the long windows.  I know, I know - you're thinking what the rest of the world is thinking: WHY hasn't this man started his own design business yet??  Anyway, this will probably result in custom curtains of some sort because I really dislike the fabrics that are available in off the shelf options, but it's hard to pick fabrics when you're living with furniture you know you are getting rid of sooner than later.  However, plantation shutters are also a possibility.  We need to weigh costs at some point. 

Other items to tackle: finding something for the wall behind the sofa, upgrading the TV to one that can be wall-mounted, getting a new entertainment center console, and finding a light fixture to put over the dining room table.  We've looked a bit at light fixtures and we actually have found one we both like, but I kind of want to buy the new table before committing to a light fixture. 

So that's the kitchen/dining/living room of our new place!  Check back later this week for more pics of other rooms.
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