final touch.

Alright, after I blogged Miles I went ahead and finished up my round table. Here is the finished product:

Originally unfinished light wood. I stained the legs and painted the top white. Then I taped the lines (the bottom red looks a little rough because I actually ran out of tape) and painted the side "cloud burst" blue and "cranberry zing" red. I know it looks a little patriotic, but I want to find a spot for it in our bedroom because we have a couple cranberry red accents (a pillow and flowers in a vase) that add a nice punch.

I'll do a final-final touch to this and the TV table with a clear spray finish in the next week or so.

miles + water.

I haven't done any DIY today so here's a video I took this evening of Miles trying to figure out how to drink out of the sink. He never quite mastered the technique.

haha I love the random shot it decided to use as the starter image. Miles looks craaaazy!


project: home.

Love it! I want another matching lamp for the other side of the room.
The bedroom is finished! Sunday night we slept on the couch because the paint fumes were still pretty strong. Yesterday after I got home from work and while Nate was still in class, I moved the furniture back in, positioning the bed in the middle of the wall instead of in the corner. We love it!

Our wedding "guestbook" hangs on the wall.
I used to hate Nate's beat up dresser from college,
but it looks kind of cute here. :)
I would never have guessed I'd be painting and decorating and doing DIY projects. I have never been very good at it but I guess when you read enough Real Simple magazines and see enough cute ideas on blogs, it makes you a little more courageous. I made a quick trip to Michael's and picked up some floral pieces: blue to match and red to compliment.

Before and After
Nate's night stand is nothing more than a TV stand I got in college, and it didn't really match the floors or headboard. So for less than $10, I picked up a small can of wood stain at Michael's and a plain unfinished TV try turned into a cute Early American stained side table.

I've also been painting a round side table, but I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it. The top wouldn't stain well because it was just particle board, so I painted the top white and the legs are the Early American stain. I might use the Cloud Burst blue to paint a stripe on it, but there's really no place in our bedroom for it.

Once you get started, these little projects are actually really simple. And there are tons of places online that offer inspiration and instruction.

When I was at Michael's, I also picked up a spray can of chalkboard paint. Apparently I was so excited that I didn't notice it wasn't black. (I looked at the picture, okay? It's black!) I thought the lid was just green for fun. This is totally something that happens to me all the time. I don't know why.

So I was a little disappointed when I started painting some glass from picture frames and it was green. I hoped it would change colors to black but alas it did not. Oh well. I would buy black paint next time. Not yet sure what I'd do with it next time ... more frames? Kitchen back splash? (Hmm ... intriguing!) Wait and see!


new hue.

I knocked out painting our bedroom today. After finding a sample I liked yesterday, we stopped by Home Depot after church and bought a gallon of it. If you are looking for an incredible paint color, I highly recommend Behr's "Cloud Burst." It transformed our room and now it feels so relaxing in there. It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a room.

Okay ... can anyone with a Camebak vouch for me that it's good at other times besides biking? Nate makes fun of me for using it when I'm doing strenuous housework. Multi-tasking! It was hot in there! At least I was well hydrated.

Behr "Cloud Burst." It only took about half a gallon to do the entire room. And the color turned out great.

Making progress! So much better than the yellow and it compliments the bedding really well. We moved out all of the furniture, so I pulled the drawers out of the dressers to make it easier to move. When I pulled out the last drawer halfway, I saw something big and black move suddenly in the shadows.

Nate was napping on the bed and I didn't scream. I just started jumping up and down and maybe breathing a little faster than normal. He shot up and I told him something was in there. I armed him with a flip-flop, and when he pulled the drawer out slowly, we found a GIGANTIC black spider on the back of it. (It wasn't a brown recluse, we looked at lots of pictures.)

Nate smashed it. My hero. … And we are seriously going to take steps to make sure nothing besides me, Nate, and Miles is a permanent resident in this house.

Finished! It looks the best in sunlight but by the time I finished 5 hours after I started, it was dark outside. We'll move the furniture back in tomorrow when the paint is dry. It's a good thing it's supposed to get down to 62 tonight ... we can sleep with the windows open so we don't get high.

The great thing was that painting is on the activity list for the City Challenge. So I was able to log 300 minutes of exercise today! Awesome! Now everyone at LW should go paint something. :)

Today was the launch of the Immanuel College community group and it was awesome. Nate led and we had breakfast set up including Starbucks coffee and some Starbucks pastries (which may or may not have been expired).

What a great weekend.


round 2.

I made another trip to Home Depot today, but this time I took a pillowcase. They have this little machine that looks at your sample and matches a paint color. It was pretty incredible. So I brought home a sample and a coordinating accent sample. It's always so hard to imagine what a room will look like when it's painted more than just a little square on the wall. I am ready to get rid of yellow!

I'm trying to match the shades and our bedding. Not exactly, but I definitely don't want it to clash. The shades color is called "smoke" even though it really doesn't look like gray at all. It looks more like eucalyptus, which is the color in our bedding.

The paint color is called Cloud Burst. I would have bet anyone that the other sample they gave me is white, but it's called Lime Light and sure enough, after I painted it onto the sample card, it dried matching exactly. It's a very light blue, almost the high end of the spectrum of cloud burst. It might be too light to do an accent wall. It might be nice to paint the inside of the closet Lime Light.

We have a very tiny kitchen. What paint color would be more fun than peachy sand?
The next thing I want to do after painting the bedroom is the kitchen! I have no idea what color to paint it, especially since we already have two rooms (bedroom, bathroom) shades of blue. The study is dark gray and green, and the front room/dining area is this taupe color that actually looks slightly light green at night. I could do something extreme in the kitchen, except for red.

Needs paint. Also, what a waste of all! I need some ideas for utilizing this space (preferably for storage).
All I know is that right now it is kind of peachy brown and I don't like it. The linoleum is muted tones of brown/tan but it shouldn't be too hard to coordinate with that. Light color? Dark color? I probably would have chosen green if we hadn't already used it in the second bedroom. The cabinets could be painted ... they are so light though it might look good to do a dark color. But then I'm always afraid I'll feel trapped in a box. I could always go back to white ... or a very light off-white color (like Lime Light! haha). Picking is the hardest part of painting.

Little counter space. There really is only room to paint over the window and the back splash.
I'd be all for doing an accent color on this wall. Not sure if I want to paint the cabinets.
Anyway, it only took two years and two months, but I finally got a library card! The second-closest library to us is on Edmondson Pike and it's such a nice library. The whole east wall is windows lined with chairs and tables and sofas. It's a great quiet space to get creative. I check out Jodi Picoult's book, House Rules. It's about an autistic kid. I'm only two chapters in and it's very long so I'm not sure if it's good. I've had a big problem lately with starting a lot of books but not finishing them.

The City Challenge started on Friday and the competition is fierce. The only bad thing is that the points are based on an honor system. You put in how long you exercised, but there's no way to prove you're not lying. Of course you would assume a company like LW would be pretty trustworthy. We are currently in second. But guess what company is in first ... a law firm. Lawyers! You can come to your own conclusions about that.

Nate has been setting me up with whatever he thinks will help me tap into my creative side because I talk so much about wanting to write a book. I feel like it's so close, closer than ever before. I have lots of ideas for nonfiction/study-type books. I think there's fiction in me, but it will take a lot of planning and outlining. I'm good at writing a really great descriptive paragraph, but then I don't know where to go with it. Anyway, I anticipate cranking something creative out in the next 4-6 months. Or at least have a really promising start. We'll see. :)



I got home from work and felt an urge to cook -- a strange urge; I haven't been in the mood to cook in awhile. So I knocked out three things: 1. banana crumb muffins; 2. orange curried chicken; and 3. turkey lunch wraps.

Every time we don't have bananas, I think they sound really good. But when I buy a bunch, I eat two before I get tired of them and the rest get brown. The last time I tried to make banana bread, I ruined it when the middle wouldn't cook and the edges were burned. So this time I decided to make muffins (easier to cook thoroughly). My dad and Karen got me a KitchenAid mixer for our wedding so it makes baking 100 times easier.

While the muffins were cooking, I made dinner: orange curried chicken. It is one of our favorites. I love it because it only uses 5 ingredients: chicken, water, salt, curry powder, and orange marmalade. Except I use apricot preserves from Aldi because they are less than half the price of marmalade and taste exactly the same in this recipe. I also like the curry powder because when I mix it in, it looks like glitter. :)

The chicken cooked for 45 minutes, so I duplicated what I bought in the cafe today for lunch. I spread Ranch dressing on a flour tortilla, added deli turkey, Muenster cheese, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes and made a wrap. I covered it in plastic wrap and made seven more.

Nate will eat two of these for lunch so I made up lunches for the next four days. (I should really have done this Sunday night.) Also in the brown sack is baby carrots, a cheese stick, fruit snacks, and some homemade trail mix (pretzels, mixed nuts, raisins, chocolate and butterscotch chips). This way Nate doesn't have to run to Chipotle during work breaks or to Chick-fil-A in between his seminary classes.

The finished muffins! The recipe made 10, and I added chocolate chips to 4 of them. I had one for dessert ... very good. Now I'm all cooked out for awhile. Nate is having two friends over for dinner tomorrow so I'm just throwing some pork in the slow cooker for pulled pork sandwiches.

We got Nate's car working. We had to get it towed to the Honda dealership and it cost way more than we would have liked but unfortunately my DIY attempt was futile. Nate said it runs like new now though so hopefully that will be the last thing we have to fix for awhile.

Happy Wednesday,


city challenge.

Saturday marks the start of an 8-week program called the U.S. City Challenge. It's sponsored by Chick-fil-A and 544 people at LW have signed up to participate!

Last week I had a pre-challenge assessment. They tested my cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, body composition, and body age.

My cardiovascular fitness was tested by measuring maximum oxygen consumption. I scored a 40 (moderate range, 75th percentile for my age). I need at least a 42 to move into the "good" range. I'll be doing cardio workouts and walking stairs to improve my oxygen consumption.

My strength was measured by doing modified push-ups. (They wouldn't let me do normal ones.) I did 25 from my knees. I probably could have done more but I was getting a little tired and losing form so I just stopped. My goal is to be able to do 50! I think that might boost me into the "excellent" range. I will work on these every day.

the dreaded sit and reach
My flexibility … I just want to say up front that I have failed stretch tests in P.E. since I was in grade school. I have really long legs and just am not very flexible. I could reach 12.5 inches which measured in the "poor" range. Shoot. I am going to work really hard on stretching in hopes to be able to hit 16 inches. I even measured out a little sit and reach spot in my office. I line my feet up on the tape, and when I am able to sit and reach to the file cabinet, I will have met my goal. Right now I am not even close.

They used a three-site skinfold to measure body fat (tricep, thigh, and suprailiac—right above the hip bone). They said I had low body fat; I am not that excited about trying to improve that but optimal is at least 18%. I wonder how you can gain fat in a healthy way.

progress tracking
Finally they told me my body age is 20! I'm 23, so that was a nice surprise. The goal they gave me was to have the body of an 18 year old when this is all said and done. The nice thing is that I know what I will be tested on so I know it's important to improve flexibility and push-ups most of all and work on cardio to get my cardiovascular up. I made a little chart in my office to help me remember to do little exercises every day and to track my progress.

The City Challenge is also a team competition. We are competing as divisions inside of LW, and then as a company we are competing against several other companies in Nashville. It's exciting to know hundreds of my coworkers are doing it too, and I really haven't been exercising much lately so this should help me get back on track.

I will pump you up.


shop around.

So far budgeting has been the hardest thing for us to sit down and do. I was a very meticulous budgeter before I got married. It's our goal this week to sit down and punch out a budget with short-term and long-term goals so we can start September on the right track. I've discovered mint.com which will be a great resource (and they have an Android app so I can track our finances on my phone).

The worst part of the budget for me is groceries. Things like insurance payments and utilities are pretty predictable. We know how much income we'll have. And saying something like "We'll spend $200 on groceries this month" isn't hard; sticking to that is hard. When I lived alone (and ate cereal for most meals) I could easily get by on $60-$80/month. Lord help us if we have sons because we eat a lot more now. I'm buying meat and Nate will not sit by and let me munch on popcorn for dinner.

Another part of budgeting for food that's hard is that I don't want to send Nate to work with peanut butter and jelly for lunch. I also don't want to send him with nothing because lunch at Chipotle is at least $8. (Do you know how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you could make for $8?) I feel like I have sort of a grip on dinners (meat + veggies + side) but we have been slacking on breakfast and lunch which has meant eating out too much.

The other day I used my free birthday lunch at work (even though my birthday is in February) and got a turkey wrap, Sun Chips, diet soda, and candy bar. If I had chosen fruit instead of the candy bar, it would be the ideal lunch. (I'm trying to cut back on diet soda but after a hard morning at work it just makes everything better.) So I'm thinking, Why couldn't I have the things to make a wrap, baggie of chips, apple/banana/orange, and maybe a mini size candy bar for lunch every day? I could make that at home for less than it costs to buy at the cafe. I used to make rice and bean burritos and freeze them and they'd thaw by lunchtime and be very filling. For Nate we'll add chicken and get it as close to a Chipotle burrito as possible, but frozen is the way to go because I don't usually feel like preparing a meal after dinner and things tend to go bad in our fridge rather regularly.

We have a Sam's Club card and that sparked my idea of buying bulk. (We haven't yet considered where we will store it. First things first.) We are really big on snacks around here, especially with Nate being in class all day twice a week. Snacks are great. So I made a list of possible things available at Sam's Club for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. I almost went to Sam's Club today, but it got me thinking ... What does this cost at Aldi and Kroger? I know buying bulk always sounds best but I've heard it's not always best. So I was a nerd and went to Aldi and Kroger to pick up a few things and do a little research.
Of course Aldi doesn't carry name brand and you occasionally would sacrifice quality for price, but Aldi does have some surprisingly great deals. Some of the items are very comparable, taste included. You can buy 2 lbs. of red grapes at Aldi for $1.98. Just 1 lb. at Kroger costs $2.59. Aldi has great produce. Baby carrots at Aldi are 99 cents for 2 lbs. If you bought 2 lbs. at Sam's Club, it would cost you $2.66.

Kroger generally comes up with the highest prices, especially for produce. I even used the cheapest prices I could find, store brands. 32 cans of diet Coke at Kroger cost $13.44. The same 32 cans at Sam's Club cost $9.92. A lot of the differences in prices are just cents, but when you're budgeting, everything adds up.

Nate relieved me today when he said, "I don't mind the occasional hot pocket or Healthy Choice frozen meal. You don't have to make everything from scratch." "Thank you!" I want to feed Nate healthy food, so all this time I felt like cutting corners would make me a bad wife.

What are your tips for saving money on meals? What do you eat for lunch? How often do you eat out? If you don't have kids, how much do you spend on food each month? How often do you go to the store? Help a girl out! Leave a comment. :-)



This afternoon when I took Nate to work, we went a little early and plugged the re-soldered main relay back into his car. It didn't work.

Dang it. We went inside defeated and Googled around to find there are three or four possibilities of what could be wrong. Fortunately none of them seem major; unfortunately they don't seem like something we could do ourselves. So we are trying to figure out where we should take his car and when. The only days Nate isn't working is when he has class all day. And we'll have to get it towed out of the Starbucks parking lot. This will be an interesting week. I know Nate likes his car, but I am getting close to being totally ready to move on. :)

In other news, I did another 10-minute craft project. I had this old white clock. (Well, yellowish clock. It was white years ago when my mom bought it. I'm betting it dates back to grade school.) We needed a clock in the study and this one didn't exactly go with the decor.

So I pulled out our samples and did a little touching up. Gray frame, gray minute and hour hand, and green second hand. I took off the plastic cover because it was pretty scratched up. I like the white background alright because it compliments the trim, but I think it would be fun to do my own back.



soldering the main relay
Nate's car is still living in the Starbucks parking lot because it won't start, but yesterday when I went to pick him up from work I brought my laptop and a tool kit and we worked at getting the main relay out. You have to lay on your back beneath the steering wheel and use a ratchet to get off the cruise control box. Then the main relay is crammed way up in there.

We finally got it out and brought it home. It wasn't super obvious if there were any cracked soldering joints but there were a couple that seemed suspicious. I soldered most of them just to be safe.

Tonight we will return to his car to try to reinstall it. Hopefully the fix works. There's a chance I might have blown a fuse while taking the relay out. But I know we are saving a lot of money by not taking it to a mechanic. We would have had to pay for the parts plus who knows how much for the labor. When we do it ourselves, the labor is free.

Worse case scenario, we spend $100 on a new relay. Best case scenario, we plug it back in and his car starts right up. We're hoping for the best.

Amos Jordan Riordan
We got word last night that our best friends Evan and Jenn had their baby! He was due almost a week ago, but Amos Jordan Riordan finally entered the world at 9 lbs, 11 oz.

Hopefully we can meet him when we go back to Kansas over Christmas. I was hoping he would be born last Friday, my half birthday. But I told Nate that Amos's birthday is 8-18-11 and mine is 2-12-88. So we got the month + 10 days and double-digit years going on. OK, maybe that's a stretch trying to find something in common. Maybe they will call him AJ and then we'll have the same initials. :) We love him already.


solder success.

Yesterday the soldering iron we ordered arrived in the mail. It was a $15 Weller from Amazon.com. A little starter kit that comes with wire and some extra tips and an iron and stand. Nothing fancy.

A few days ago Miles knocked over our wireless router and somehow busted the spot where you plug in the power cord. Unless held in a very specific position, the router lost power and thus Internet connection. I Googled how to take apart a 2wire router and once I did that, it was obvious where the problem was. The plug piece was cracked and the metal connection at the back was broken.

I'm an amateur with a soldering iron, but I've seen my dad use it enough on little circuit boards to know the jist of how to use it. We could have just ordered a new router, but they are $100 and I'm a cheapo. So tonight, I got to work.

It works! I was pretty proud of myself for fixing it on the first try. I think I might have burned the end of my left index finger, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Yesterday Nate's car wouldn't start and it has happened many times. I found out (thanks, Google) that it is a very common problem with Honda Accords and most likely it is a problem with the main relay connection (a broken solder joint). So hopefully we can get his car home from Starbucks tomorrow to work on it. I wish I knew how many hundreds of dollars a mechanic would try to get out of us to fix it because I would feel even better when I fix it for free (well, the cost of the soldering iron ... negligible).

I'm a little more nervous about the car because if I screw it up it's a bigger problem than a router, but I'm pretty sure I can do it. All I have to do is follow this step-by-step guide ... with pictures. The Internet is amazing.

Bring it on, life,



Our study is now my retreat. Our clean, uncluttered room where I can sit and forget about the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the dryer. I know I will love it here. Plus it keeps me away from the TV which is awesome.

I got home today and got an idea. I have a small old bulletin board that my mom bought for me when I was probably still in elementary school. Some of the cork was chipping off and at some point I had used a marker to doodle a small flower in the corner.

I went to the attic and brought down our two paint samples: dark gray and green, and I gave that bulletin board a face lift. Repurposed it for contemporary style. It was a quick and easy transformation. You can get paint samples for $3-4 each at your blue or orange and if you already have a bulletin board and a foam brush (pack of 50 at craft store for a few dollars) this is easily a less than $10 project.

The paint isn't dry yet, or I'd tack some things up on there. It would even be cool to use some gray paint and paint something on it ... like a picture or some words or something. Lots of possibilities.

Nate started classes today. For the next few months, I will probably be in bed by the time he gets home from his Monday classes. He takes another class on Friday and the rest of the week he is working full time and reading/studying. I think having extended period times alone again will take some getting used to. It will give me a chance to get things in order around the house (budget! we've kind of been avoiding it) and to read and study and write ... things that were low on the priority list the last year or so.

Happy Monday!


Yesterday afternoon/evening Nate and I worked really hard to get the study finished. On Saturday I finished the second coat on the ceiling, and Nate painstakingly finished the edge last night. We moved in our desks and bookcases. Nate has a swing chair he wants to hang in one corner and we will someday replace those blinds with shades or something Miles-proof.

Nate's desk

My desk

Books! Lots of books.

Throughout the week we will get things up on the walls and adapt the space to be just what we want. We threw away a lot of papers and things we didn't need, and it felt great! We are slowly decluttering. A lot went to the attic. We wrapped the twin mattress in plastic and moved it and the box springs to the attic. Our attic is getting pretty full. Some day when it cools down this fall we will have to go through all that stuff too. There is a local charity that picks up donations if you call them and leave them on your front porch. Very convenient.

Nate starts classes this morning … 8:30-11:30 a.m., 12:30-3:30 p.m., and 6-9 p.m. A very full day. But now he has a place to study. And I have a place to create too. Nate says I should write a book called Biblical Theology for Preteens. I like the idea, but I told him I can't call it that because no preteen would pick it up. :)

I really liked how the paint turned out! I told Nate that the colors make me think of the gospel coalition. I was pretty nervous at first, especially about painting the ceiling. The photos don't really do it justice and don't display the colors very accurately. Jeff suggested we paint the bookshelves all white. I like that idea, especially since our bookshelves are all different colors! I'll have to look into the best way to paint them. These are nothing more than $30 assemble-yourself projects from Target.

Look out, world. We just ordered a soldering iron. Miles knocked our router off the window sill (probably not a smart place to put it but the only other option was behind the couch) and the part where you plug the power cord in is cracked and the Internet stopped working. I found a YouTube video on my phone about how to take apart this particular router, and then I did it. It was really easy to find the problem. There are these two little metals pieces that are cracked and if I force them together, the power works. And because a soldering iron ($16) is cheaper than getting another router from AT&T ($100) we are fixing it! I am also going to use the soldering iron to fix a connection on Nate's car that sometimes causes his car not to start when it's hot outside.

Why pay when you can do it yourself?

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