Monday, October 29, 2012

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand

I haven't blogged in over 3 months. But, while I haven't blogged in over 3 months, I also haven't really done any decorating projects, exercised, or even cleaned my house for that matter. Teaching is hard. Being a new teacher is hard. Teaching, grading, lesson planning, eating, sleeping, and watching some TV (because I don't have the energy to do anything else) has been my life since August.

I've decided, though, to take back some of my old life. I know that this first year teaching is going to be hard with long hours and lots of stress, but I have to leave a little room in there for myself too. There's a story I heard recently that I've really taken to heart:
A teacher places a glass jar on her table and faces her students. “This is your life,” she says. “It is yours to fill with whatever you wish.”
The teacher takes a bag of rocks and carefully places them one by one in the jar until it is full. “These rocks are the big important things in your life that you will be the most proud of at the end of your days.”
The teacher then scoops out several handfuls of pebbles from a second bag and lets them fall into the jar, shaking the jar slightly so the pebbles fall into and fill the space between the rocks. “These are the secondary things in your life that gives it meaning, but perhaps are not ‘your life’s work’.
The teacher then takes a third bag containing sand and pours it into the jar, filling the space between the pebbles. “Finally, the sand is the little stuff that fills our days, like watching TV or playing games.”
The teacher looks out over her students and asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”
With this story in mind, I've decided to prioritize my own life . . .

  • Teaching. duh. It pays the bills and is what I've always wanted to do. Plus, I kinda like it : )
  • Family. We're not starting a family, I just need to be more attentive to my family.
  • Friends. I need to be better about seeing and talking to them.
  •  Health. I need to start eating healthier and working out.
  • Decorating. I have not done any home decorating in months and that's just plain sad. Granted, I won't be able to do as much decorating as before because time (and money) is more scarce, but it does make me happy so I need to start doing more of it. Next post, some of the ideas that have been floating around my head . . . 
  • Reading. I read all of the time for work, but I miss reading for me.
  • Cleaning. Yes, cleaning is a "pebble" for me. I'm one of those people that needs a clean, and organized, space.
  • TV, Facebook, Pinterest, and, yes, this blog. I'm going to try my darndest to keep up and share my projects and life with you but it can't be a top priority. Especially with how lengthy my posts get ; )

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good news, bad news . . .

Let's be honest, the last month or so I've been an MIA blogger. Honestly, I just don't have the time, or the energy. This teaching job I have for the summer not only has a strange schedule but has also been completely exhausting. Plus, on the days that I do have off there's a list of things I need to do, like . . . starting to build my curriculum for the REAL teaching position I've landed for this upcoming school year!! Yes, I'm happy to announce that I've achieved the biggest goal I set for myself in 2012! I'm very very excited, however, I have a lot of work ahead of me planning a year's worth of lessons, researching, reading, etc.! (Any tips from veteran teachers out there?)

(my first classroom!)
 Anyway, this recent development has forced me to make some choices in how to use my free time (and this is where the bad news comes in) . . . You see, I can either spend my free time (1) writing and blogging about our lives and my home projects, or I can spend my time (2) putting together a kick-butt school year for my future students. While I love love love sharing our lives and my home projects with all of you on this blog, I think I need to focus more of my efforts on making kick-butt lesson plans. Educating our future and all, right?

So, that's why I've decided to take a hiatus from blogging for this summer, or at least until I get a better handle on my schedule and work load. I'm a little bummed by this decision, because I have a whole list of draft posts that I had planned on sharing at some point, but I just haven't been able to find the time and energy to actually finish them up. I'm not leaving blogging for forever, just for a little bit. While I know I could've just stopped blogging for the summer and left it at that, I did want to let you all know about my good news (yay!!) and also give you an update on our Washington life right now. And, right now, our life is busy. ; ) I hope you all understand!

If you want to stay up-to-date with our regular lives until I resume blogging you can follow me on Instagram (kristinhroberts), Pinterest, and Twitter (I promise to start tweeting more!!). I'd love to keep hearing from everyone and can't wait until I have the time to jump back on the blog and share all of the fun places and things we do!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Washington Wednesday: Gravelly Point

Ok, so this "Washington Wednesday" is a day late and promises to be short . . . A few weeks ago, Chris and I decided to celebrate our 3-year anniversary with a "date day" on one Saturday. See, I will not have a free weekend until September because of my summer teaching schedule so we decided to use one of my last weekends free to celebrate our anniversary, enjoy the nice weather, and do something new in DC. To us, that meant a picnic out at Gravelly Point.

Gravelly Point is a park in Arlington, Virginia along the Potomac River, just north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It's a pretty big park, with enough space for sports games, family get-togethers, etc. And, not only is the park picturesquely located along the river across from DC, but it's also an awesome place to view airplanes taking-off and landing at the airport. Plus, the Mount Vernon Trail goes right through it! Sounds pretty nice, right?

Unfortunately, in the almost 4 years that we've lived here, we've never stopped to actually enjoy Gravelly Point. We literally lived less than 3 miles from it for 2 years, we would run through it on the trail, and Chris would even drive by it every day on his way to and from work, but we never actually stopped to hang out there. That is, until our anniversary picnic a few weeks ago where we bought some cheese, crackers, fruit, and a bottle of wine (not sure if that's legal??...), parked ourselves under a tree, and relaxed while watching the planes . . . 

(for better plane pictures, check out our friend, Shea, at It's a Guy Thing who is a MUCH better photographer and has a cute little boy to boot!)

It also helps that we finished the day off with some good food and Boulevard beer at Rustico, a great restaurant in Alexandria. (For those of you that are unaware - and it's a-ok if you were - Boulevard beer is a local KC beer that just started being served at select restaurants here in DC. To say that Chris was excited for this beer is an understatement . . .)

Even though it wasn't some lavish anniversary dinner or night out on the town, it perfectly suited us and was a great and relaxing day. Chris, can we go back and do it again?

Friday, June 15, 2012


  1. Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
  2. Too sacred to be uttered.
 As you've probably heard, I've been going through a training program for my teaching job this summer. A couple of weeks ago the word "ineffable" was brought up during a training discussion and, while I don't remember the context of the discussion, the word immediately resonated with me . . .

"Too great to be expressed in words."

. . . see, yesterday marked one year since our friend Jeremy was killed in action in Afghanistan. For the past year I've really struggled in expressing my thoughts and feelings on his sacrifice. While I certainly did not know Jeremy as well as Chris did (they'd known each other since high school) and Jeremy was not the first loss I've ever dealt with, his death has truly had a profound impact on me, one that I haven't been able to explain, and may not ever be able to. Not only have my thoughts wandered through the questions of life and death, but I've also pondered the true sacrifice of our military and their families, the direction of my own life, my views on religion, what it means to live life to its fullest, and, most importantly, love.

I always admired Jeremy and Colleen's love for one another. From the first moment I met Colleen, I knew they had something truly truly special. I didn't even have to meet Jeremy, who was deployed at the time, to see their love for one another; I saw it in the way Colleen talked about him, the perpetual smile she had on her face. Now that Jeremy is gone, I still see their love through their amazing little boy and Colleen's words of immense wisdom and inspiration in her updates on life now without him. Love like that is a remarkable thing and one to which we should all hold tightly if we are lucky enough to have it. Love like that is something we can all learn from; I know I have.

Love is ineffable. Jeremy's sacrifice is ineffable. The gratitude I feel towards him, his entire family, and our entire military for providing me with the freedom to live and love, is ineffable.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Office Edition

So, I don't know if I've ever shown you our office? Nope, I just checked all of my old posts and while I've mentioned the office (in regards to the water leak we discovered after the hurricane last fall), I've never shown you the office. Probably Mostly because it was embarrassing. I am a neat freak and the office was anything but neat. It was more like a graveyard for crap (pardon my language). Our office was so bad that I actually would avoid using it. I would even use our archaic laptop to do work instead of our nice desktop, that I purchased, because I didn't want to go in the office.

Well, as I mentioned last week, I've been training for my summer teaching position and a majority of the training up until last week had been at home. The training required me to be at a computer watching videos, taking quizzes, participating in conference calls, reading materials, etc. a.k.a., I was actually going to have to use our office . . . which meant I was going to have to straighten that sucker up. (I'm one of those people that cannot work in an untidy room. I will seriously clean before I study/work.)

So, I spent a good two days clearing out the room, scrubbing it down, and putting things back in place. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw this photo a few weeks back:

This was taken mid-clean, after I had taken everything out of the office and piled it all in the hallway. It was a dusty mess of books and random other stuff, like the cat drinking fountain box and a burgundy-colored crocodile-print briefcase . . . again, random stuff.

But, now it's time for the big reveal . . . and don't worry, I'm sharing the "before" and "after" shots so you can see how horrendous it looked before and how extreme of a makeover/cleaning job I did!

As you can see, not only did I remove the ladder and get a chair, but I organized our filing and the contents of all those boxes and bags.

Quick note on the chair. I have wanted an Ikea Poang chair for a few years now, but I could never muster up the courage to spend $100+ on the one I wanted. Now, if you've never sat in one, you need to find one and plunk your butt down because you'll understand why I've wanted one - they are coooooommfy. A few weeks ago though, I just happened to be searching craigslist for random stuff (like a retro metal bar cart) and realized that I should search for a Poang chair . . . A couple of days later I nabbed this beauty for $30! If you were to buy this chair straight from Ikea, it'd be about $150. Bar-gain!! And, it's in great condition! Anyway, back to our office makeover . . .

Then I had to tackle the bookshelves . . .

. . . oh, the books! Now they are finally all back in order on the shelves (by "type," author, chronology, etc.), the shelves are dusted, and the random piles of stuff have been contained (notice I didn't say removed!)!

Lastly, I conquered our desk, which pretty much meant organizing the piles of stuff on it. Easy stuff compared to the bookshelves.

Oh, and if you notice something different in the "after" shot, it's probably our diplomas that I finally hung up (because what office is complete without the diplomas?) and the teal-painted herringbone cork boards I made (thank you, Pinterest)! Here's a closer view of the cork boards if you're curious . . .

 They were super easy to make. I just bought four cork tiles from Target (the same ones I bought for my cork travel map that cost about $9), measured and taped off the herringbone design with painter's tape, took the tiles outside, and gave them a good three-ish coats of spray paint. I think this was one of the best projects I've done in a while - cheap, easy, and completely customizable. My mom mentioned that these tiles might be good for the side of a stainless refrigerator to hang invites or notes, that way you don't have to hang stuff on the front and potentially scratch the surface. Genius! Plus, you can do whatever design and color you want.

Also, if you noticed and like my uber-cute desktop background with the fun chevron pattern in the first photo, you should check out Atomicdust's blog (my sister, Danielle, works for them). Every month their designers take a break from client work to craft some seriously awesome desktops to download for FREE for your computer, iPad, and smartphones. LOVE them!

Anyway, that's our extreme makeover: office edition! It didn't require any painting or big furniture purchases, just some TLC, and a few days off work! Maybe someday we'll add a rug or a footstool for my Poang chair, but for now it's back to work in my clean and functional office . . .

Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 Years!

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet (as much as I can at least), but I just want to give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Chris! Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary, and while we didn't do anything "special," he still happened to remind me of just how lucky I am to have nabbed him.

See, for the last four days I've been training for my new job and by yesterday evening I was absolutely exhausted. We went to dinner after my training day was over and I know that I was the worst date ever. Not only was I a hot mess with a wrinkled dress, stretched out sweater, blistered feet, and generally just sweaty, but I'm sure I was also the worst conversationalist. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I just mumbled how tired I was over and over again. But, Chris was his usual amazing-self anyway. He actually talked to me about his work day (usually it's just me blabbering away), he carried my heavy bag of books, and then made me homemade brownies and watched So You Think You Can Dance with me when we got home. Definitely not the most glamorous anniversary, and not even remotely close to an exciting day, but Chris didn't care and neither did I.

I actually loved the ordinary-ness of our anniversary because it's really all of the little things that Chris does that makes me feel special and loved, not fancy dinners or presents (although those are still nice sometimes!). Yesterday, Chris took care of me, his zombified-wife, just like he always does and reminded me yet again of what an amazing guy I've decided to spend the rest of my life with!

Now don't worry, we're going to do some fun stuff this weekend to celebrate our anniversary, but no matter what we do this weekend, even if we get rained out of our plans and spend the weekend on the couch, it'll be perfect enough for me!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday!

On this day 6 years ago, our "kids" were born! I know that I've written about them before, a lot of the times they just sneak into my posts (and they are definitely a focal point to my Instagram use if you follow me), but let me formally introduce you to our kids, aka, our cats, Luna (left) and Teddy (right)!

 They are six years old (obvi), brother and sister, spoiled rotten, cuddly, annoying, and, well, true members of our little family. Last year on their birthday, I wrote about their actual "birth" day and their momma, Yuki, so this year I wanted to write something different about these two crazy cats in honor of this momentous day in their little lives. As many of you pet owners out there know, pets truly have a personality of their own, and Teddy and Luna are certainly not lacking when it comes to the personality-department! So, in honor of their 6th birthday, here's 6 little tidbits about our "kids" . . .

1. They are chatty. Their momma, Yuki, was some kind of Siamese mix and while neither Teddy nor Luna resemble anything close to a Siamese, they definitely got the chatty-gene passed down to them. Of course, when they're "talking" to us we oftentimes talk right back. Yes, we are those weird cat people.

2. Teddy is big. Not only is he a fat cat at a whopping 18 lbs (don't worry, we have him on a diet!), but he's also long and tall. Taller than a lot of small dogs. As long as Chris' legs when he stretches out. He's a BIG boy. And because he's a BIG boy, he's slow and really easy to take pictures of :)

3. Luna is particular. In people-terms, we sometimes call that OCD. Luna is very particular about when and how she cuddles, when and how you pet her, and don't even think about picking her up. She will literally "yell" at you if you do something that displeases her, like touch her. And don't even try to take pictures of her!

4. Teddy's the ultimate lounger. Teddy would never just simply lay on something and take a cat nap, he lounges. Whether it's a pile of clothes, some books, or the bottom ledge of our coffee table, he's always leaning or literally resting his head on something. Sometimes, I'm secretly jealous of how comfortable he looks and wonder if I too should lay on a pile of books or dirty clothes . . .

5. Luna has recently become a little circus freak. That girl's got some leaping action going on. Instead of running down our steps to get into the basement, she'll just jump from the highest step that she can. One day, she jumped from the shelf in my closet, through the 6 inch gap in my closet doors, and landed on our bed, easily 4 feet away. Crazy. Also, she's crazy good at playing fetch, but since she's pretty particular, we only play fetch on her terms.

6. Usually you hear that cats are independent; ours are not. Teddy and Luna have serious attachment issues. Luna frequently follows me from room to room (talking to me along the way), while Teddy makes the most awful yowling noises when he's in a room by himself and is "looking" for you (we literally have to call to him so that he can "find" us). They're kinda pathetic in that way, I know, but gosh do we love them!

So, there's six tidbits about our crazy 6-year-old kids. I can't believe we've had these two crazy kids cats in our lives for six years already, but then again, I can't really imagine our lives without them. Happy Birthday, Teddy and Luna!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

THANK YOU Hand-Me-Down Dresser Gods

Back in April, I pleaded with the hand-me-down dresser gods for, well, a hand-me-down dresser! One that would be inexpensive and I could pretty-up and to put in our guest room. I definitely could've gone to Ikea or Target and bought a semi-inexpensive dresser for the room, but I wanted to get something that had a little more character, was even cheaper, and one I wouldn't feel bad about painting (especially if it didn't turn out well).

Well, the hand-me-down god of Craigslist answered my pleas and I scored this 9-drawer beauty for a cool $100.

For some reason I only took one "before" shot. With my phone...
Ok, so the $100 was a little more than I wanted to spend, but the dresser was perfect for what I was looking for and, honestly, I was already getting impatient with my search.

Of course I didn't want to keep the dresser as-is. While I'm sure it looked really nice back in the day, it definitely needed some TLC for my taste in the form of a fresh coat of paint and some new, updated (and matching) pulls. Now, I'm not going to give you a how-to on how to paint furniture because 1) this is the first real piece of furniture I've painted so I'm definitely no guru by any means, and 2) there are other great how-to's online by much more experienced DIYers like Young House Love and Centsational Girl that I would definitely recommend consulting over me (I pretty much followed their steps anyway)! But, I will tell you what I did. I painted the dresser Behr's Powdered Snow and added some 4-inch oil-rubbed bronze (even though they look black) cup pull handles. And, let me tell you, 4-inch pulls are hard to find! I ended up having to order ours online because there was a very limited selection of 4-inch pulls at our local hardware stores (I guess 4-inch pulls are a rarity?), and I definitely did not want to drill new holes and fill in the old ones (that's waaaay too much work for me!).

Anyway, instead of a how-to on painting furniture, I figured I'd show you some pictures of how this little hand-me-down dresser really helped (begin to) complete our guest bedroom. Here's a view of the room opposite the dresser . . .

. . . and here's the dresser!

Now, to "complete, complete" the room all I have to do is find a large mirror to go over the dresser, accessorize the space a little better, and the guest room will be pretty much done! I know it's been a long process to read about since we painted the chevrons on the wall waaaaay back in August, but thank you for being patient readers (and some of you, visitors) and know that it's almost done! (and we can move on to do projects and write about other areas of our house! Yay!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tourist Tuesday: The OTHER Air and Space Museum

I need to start by saying this to anyone and everyone that ever plans to visit DC - there are more than one Smithsonian museums you can visit. Shocker, I know. You can't imagine how many tourists I hear saying that they are "going to the Smithsonian," as if there was only one to visit. If you don't want to stand out as a tourist around these parts, make sure you know which Smithsonian you are going to visit. The more you know about DC, the better you will fare against all of us locals, that's all. :)

So, last week I mentioned that when my parents were in town we took them to the other Air and Space Museum. Not only are there more than one Smithsonian museum, but there are actually two Smithsonian Air and Space museums. If you're not from the DC area you probably had no idea that there are two Air and Space Museums (you may not have even known that there was one . . .) but it is definitely worth knowing that there are two.

The first one is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. It's the one made "famous" by a certain Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian movie starring Ben Stiller, or just famous because it's probably one of the more notable Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. This museum is located directly on the National Mall and is literally filled to the brim with air and space artifacts - from space suits to the Spirit of St. Louis plane. It's really a cool museum if you've never been there, but if you are like Chris and I and my parents, you've been there plenty of times and wanted needed to check out something new.

So, we decided to visit the other Air and Space Museum - the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. This museum is actually 45 minutes to an hour away from DC and the National Mall, and is unfortunately not metro-accessible, but if you have a car when you are visiting DC and have someone in your party who is even remotely interested in air and space flight I highly suggest you visit it. It's very cool.

The museum is actually three huge hangers - one for aircraft, one for spacecraft, and one for restoration - filled with planes, space modules, etc. When you walk in your eyes are literally flooded with aircraft, it's almost like you are blinded by planes and it's hard to even decipher what is what. See what I mean?

Of all of the planes, there were a few that definitely caught my eye. Like the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bombs in Japan.

Or the famous Concorde, the Air France plane you see behind that Boeing 707.

Then, we walked by the Restoration Hanger. I mean, how cool would it be to get to clean up and re-build these old planes? That is, if you had any mechanical experience and knew what you were doing . . . It looks cool though, right?!

Finally, we made our way to the Space Hanger. The hanger that I could not wait to get in to because of this beast. . .

Yes, it's the Discovery Space Shuttle!! How cool is that?! Seriously, this thing has been IN space.

Ok, so I might have gotten a little over-excited about the Discovery shuttle. Remember though, I'm a huge dork.

Other than that, there is a LOT of other things to see . . .

Charles Lindbergh paraphernalia.
Fabric from the Hindenburg.
A "gondola" (bottom of a blimp)
Itt's a car, it's a plane, it's a car/place!
I think we spent a couple of hours in there and never got bored. It did help that we went up in the Observation Tower that looks out over Dulles Airport and the surrounding northern Virginia area, and of course we stopped for a snack of a McFlurry and fries in the on-site McDonald's. MM mmmm fries!

A view of two of the exhibit hangers and northern VA from the Observation Tower
 And, in case you want to add a few more hours to your visit there, I suggest you check out what is showing at the museum's Airbus IMAX theater (a REAL IMAX theater). Chris and I have seen Inception and Star Trek at it, and it was ah-mazing!!

Lastly, if you plan on making the trip out there, remember to bring $15 for parking because while all of the Smithsonian museums are free to enter you do need to pay for parking at Udvar-Hazy. BUT, parking is free after 4pm and the museum closes at 5:30pm, and that might just leave you enough time to hit the hot spots! Also, the museum does provide tours if you like that kind of thing, or you can just be like us and wander around reading the plaques.

We've been to so many museums out here, and multiple times at that, so it was nice to see something not only new, but also really awesome! Everyone should have this museum on their DC to-see list, I know we'll be visiting it again!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Run for the Fallen on Memorial Day

I went three weeks without posting anything and now you get two posts in one day, what a treat, right?!

I'll keep this relatively short, but I'm a member of the Wear Blue Run to Remember running community that I wrote about back when we ran the DC Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in March. When we ran the half marathon, I wore one of the Wear Blue Run to Remember shirts in memory of our friend Jeremy and now I have another opportunity to run in his memory and in remembrance of all of the other men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

The Wear Blue Run to Remember community is encouraging people across the nation to join in their special Memorial Day event where everyone will pledge to run or walk miles that day in honor of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terror. I received a reminder email about the event and thought I would share its moving words with all of you:

"Thank you for joining wear blue: run to remember for our special Memorial Day event, wear blue Runs for the Fallen. We, along with runners across the nation and in countries overseas, will log miles in honor of each of our Service Members who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice in the Global War on Terror. wear blue is honored to have you a part of this active community that runs to honor the Service and Sacrifice of the American Military. Together, we ensure that no life given in Service to our Nation will ever be forgotten.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” President James A. Garfield - Speech at Arlington Cemetery, Decoration Day (30 May 1868)

Memorial Day weekend brings to mind family barbecues, swimming pools, children playing in the sun. It is a weekend to spend with family and friends celebrating the beginning of the summer season.
But Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is different. It is the one day a year we come together to honor the Heroes, the men and women in the Armed Forces, who gave their all for the United States of America. It is a day to pause and remember the gravity of the gift and sacrifice these men and women made. It is not about politics, or religion. It is about solidarity.

Thank you for joining us as we honor and celebrate each of the lives of the 6,465 American Service Members who have died in the Global War on Terror.

With Memorial Day one week away, we encourage you to invite your friends and family to join us and pledge their miles in their own communities across the nation. We currently have 3,998 miles pledged; 6,465 men and women have given their lives in the Global War on Terror. Together, we can ensure that each of these heroes will be honored this Memorial Day.

Run with us. Remember with us. Whether it’s one mile or 50 miles, thank you for pledging your miles. Continue to pledge to never forget the Heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Join a nationwide movement and run to honor the Service and Sacrifice of the American Military."
While you're planning your barbeques and trips for this weekend, consider adding in some time for a short walk or run in memory of our military. You can pledge the miles you plan on running or walking here at their website. I have already pledged my miles, and encourage you to as well! 

In the meantime, have a great three-day weekend and stay hydrated if you're going to have the 90+ degree weather like we will!

Courtesy of Joint Base Lewis McChord, via Flickr

What We've Been Up To

Has it really been over 3 weeks since my last post? So much for my goal of posting at least once a week, sorry! You might have been wondering what we've been up to since the first of May, and if not, well, I'm going to tell you anyway : )
  • We finished up our spring semesters. Granted, I only took one class, and it was suuuuper easy, but still, class is class.
  • My pleas to the Hand-Me-Down Dresser Gods were answered and I scored not only a really awesome dresser for our guest room, but I also scored an awesome, I mean AWESOME, old sewing cabinet for a sweet $30.

The cabinet will go perfectly with my brand-spanking new sewing machine, courtesy of Chris for my birthday.
  • I finally wrapped up my beloved job (note the sarcasm) . . .
  • We celebrated Chris' birthday - I made him a fancy black forest cake and "surprised" him with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Pasta Maker attachment for his present. (Let's just say he was "surprised" a few days before his birthday when he saw the box sitting on our porch from our mailman when he got home from work before me!)

  • We then celebrated my birthday (Chris is only 3 days older than me.) with a rainy day in Rehoboth, complete with a birthday mimosa at a sketchy diner, catching a showing of The Five-Year Engagement, and treating myself to a very fancy - at least by my terms - new wallet (thank you beach-outlet malls!).

  • One of our friends, Katie, did a blog post about our Vertical Garden on her blog, Handy Housemom. You should definitely check out her blog, she posts a lot of fun projects and even great retail deals!

So, that's what we've been doing over the last 3 weeks.  It's amazing how much you can do in just a few short weeks, and it's amazing how refreshing a little beach trip and a family visit can be! Now that things have slowed down, it'll be back to my regularly-ish scheduled blogging. : )

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vertical Gardening

 One of our #1 requirements when we were house-hunting was to have some kind of a backyard, or whatever kind of a backyard we could get in the city. We knew it was a long-shot in finding a place with enough green space to warrant a real lawnmower, but Chris really just wanted a back "yard" to plant some herbs, relax on our adirondack chairs, and grill. That's really it. We eventually ended up putting a contract down on a short sale house that had absolutely no backyard. Imagine that. But, thankthegoodness we got tired of waiting on that short sale and fell in love with our current house, because it has a nice little backyard patio! No grass, but areas to plant some things, to sit in our chairs, and grill!

Last year, we worked on converting some of the greenery on the patio from bushes and flowers into a little herb garden of rosemary, chives, sage, parsley, dill, and oregano. It was our first time "gardening" and we definitely learned a lot. For example, did you know that dill grows out of control? Oops.

So, this year we decided to be a little more methodical in approaching our little herb garden, aka, not planting everything in the ground and giving them free reign to grow! I had been inspired by others' garden projects that I found on blogs and Pinterest and thought that something similar would be perfect for our little "yard"!

I figured that making some kind of vertical garden to hang on the brick wall at the back of our patio would not only hide the ugly, and boring, brick, but it would also make our herb plants inaccessible to the little herd of alley cats we got going on in our neighborhood. As you can guess, it wasn't hard to convince Chris to do a projects that required measurements and using tools either!

First, let me say that you can obviously literally do a vertical garden however you want, just look at those ideas that I found. They can be hung, stood, or leaned on a wall. It can be made of clay pots, mason jars, and even gutters. It'd be perfect for people who want a little planter garden in their huge yard, and even better for those of you with tiny apartment balconies. It's really what works best for you.

What we decided to do was hang ours on the brick wall at the back of our patio. We used clay pots we bought last year, some pine boards we picked up from Home Depot, "L" brackets to hold it all together, a little paint to make it pretty, and some thick rope to hang over the ledge of the brick wall, and voila!

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 As you can guess, this project was really pretty simple, especially since it was completely customizable. Chris, being the "builder" of our relationship, drew out the plans, gathered the materials, and put it all together based on what we thought would work best for our yard (aka, cover up the brick wall). All he had to do was cut the pine board into the right lengths and screw it all together. He used the "L" brackets to reinforce the shelves to the back so that it could support the clay pots and plants. The shelves may not be that pretty from the inside, because of all of the brackets and whatnot, but the paint and plants cover them up just fine and at least it won't fall apart!


Chris also used some thick rope to hang it over the top of the brick wall. We figured this way it'd be easier to take down to store next fall.


If you want to build a vertical garden just like ours, Chris gave me some pretty detailed notes to share: Vertical Garden Assembly Instructions. The notes might even be too detailed, but that's Chris for ya!  ; )

 Oh, and if you are curious about what I did to contribute to this project, besides being inspired by Pinterest, I painted the darn thing! Behr's California Poppy to be exact. It's not the best paint job in the world, but I only used half the quart I bought for it so at least I can touch it up year to year.

And, you might think that I created the cute little plant labels on the shelves, but I didn't, Chris totally did. It was his "idea," so I gave him the supplies (white spray paint and a blue acrylic paint pen) and he went to town with some scrap wood. He even made little label stakes for our herbs in the ground.


Our back "yard" patio definitely looks complete now that we have something fun hanging up on that brick wall. And, in case you are in awe of our awesome Adirondack chairs, Chris definitely built those, from scratch, for us when we first moved out here to DC! (Oh, and those cute yellow and white pillows were from KMart. I'm super proud I found them!)


So, that's our vertical garden. Super simple, but perfect for a second try at our herb garden, even if we don't have a "yard" to plant anything in!

Oh, oh! And, look at these bad boys . . .


Do you see them in that little cluster in the center of the photo? Baby strawberries!! Cross your fingers that our alley cat friends (I'm talking to you Clipper/Homie Half Ear/Socks) don't snack on them before we can!

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