Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby Love

My dear friends from college, Erica and Keith, had their first baby on August 8. I am so excited to be an aunt for the first time! Sweet baby Clara is the first born of all our friends and just has me overwhelmed with excitement. I had told Erica at the beginning of the summer that if Clara came around her due date (she came one day after--way to go girl!) that I would try to make a trip up to see her before the school year started and weekend trips to destinations six hours away become much harder.
So this past Thursday I headed to Indiana, Pa to visit the whole family. Boy was it beautiful. Rolling hills and farmland everywhere you looked. And as luck would have it, even the leaves were showing a hint of color-change due to the fall-like temps! Ahh, I was fulfilled.
I stepped in the front door of Keith and Erica's apartment and quickly realized I was getting a crash course in parenting 101. As most parents of newborn babies would be, I think they were thankful for the extra set of hands and allowed me to be put right to 'work.' Changing diapers, rocking to sleep, tending to fussiness, etc. It didn't take long for me to acknowledge that this stage of life is a lot more overwhelming than I gave it credit for. Let me tell you, Keith and Erica are all-star parents. Clara is one lucky girl.
Erica also took me to the house they're building on Keith's family's dairy farm. It is gorgeous! And the views, breathtaking. She then showed me around their vegetable garden and took me to the barn. The second we stepped in to the cows' sanctuary Erica noticed we were witnessing a live birth. You can bet I high-tailed it outta there the moment I laid eyes on what appeared to be the cow's water sack. Absolutely disgusting. Needless to say I came off as quite the city girl to Keith's entire family, who equate cow labor with just another day on the farm. Not my life.

I am so thankful I was able to make it up to Pennsylvania for a couple days. Erica, Keith, and Clara, thanks for a wonderful visit!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Attack of the Killer Bees

I have a terrible fear of being stung by things. I can remember when I was a kid I was playing in our backyard under the crabapple tree and a bee landed on my face and stung me. When we were visiting some family friends in New Jersey, I dove in the ocean and was stung by a jellyfish. On my face. Again. They always go for gold.
Fast forward to a week or so ago. Brianna and I live on the second floor of our apartment, and lately as we have been walking up the steps we have noticed wasps start to swarm around us. We usually just walk past them and they fly back to wherever they come from. We leave them alone - they leave us alone.
And then it happened. We were walking up to our door, and as usual they started swarming. But this time is was different. They were aggressive - diving towards us left and right. I start yelling and sort of pushing Brianna into our apartment - because I was terrified. I might even have screamed. I don't remember because the fear that was clutching my heart overpowered all other mental processes. Then one of the little buggers stung me. On my exposed toe. Because heaven forbid they just sting me on my leg. They gotta hit you where it irritates you the most.
As I rushed into the apartment the look on my face must have been priceless, because Brianna just starts laughing at me. I'm hootin' and hollerin' like I've been stabbed or something dreadful - so I guess her laughing was warranted. But it freakin' hurt. I knew at that point that war had been declared. The only problem was that we had no ammo for fightin' em off. And to top it all off, we were heading back out in about thirty minutes. So our plan was to run and hope for the best. I decided that I would wear my deck shoes so as to give the wasps less surface area to sting. Genius - I know.
We open the door, and she goes first. I know it's the husband's job to be strong in tough situations, but I was terrified - so get over it. She gets down the steps no problem. So I go second. As I get to the bottom of the steps though, they had one lone soldier waiting for me. He got me - and guess where. The face. I hope they die after they sting you.
Anyway, I would have put something on it but that would require going back up the stairs. So obviously I just dealt with it. Brianna picked up some Raid on her shopping trip and took care of some of them, but when she was looking for where they were she found a surprise. We had 18 - yeah 18 - nests up under the railings and landing. Their own little army. The maintenance people came and took care of them the next week, but I have attached some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Needless to say, my wife thinks I'm a wimp for all this because they never even got close to her. She's probably right. But at least she got a good laugh out of it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Longaberger Turned Jewelry

You may be familiar with the Longaberger Basket enterprise. Since I was a kid my mom has been going to multiple basket parties a year, multiplying her collection of beautiful, hand-crafted items. Much like these shindigs my mom and her friends have enjoyed participating in for years, I had my own at-home party last night. Jewelry instead of baskets adorned my quaint apartment, and you could find a handful of women lusting after the fabulous pieces offered from Stella & Dot. This company gives women a wide variety of quality-made jewelry ranging from classic to funky to vintage. Simple to decorative. Everyday to fancy. Go check it out and see how you can update your look this fall! And, if you order in the next few days you help me earn some free jewelry and significant discounts. When you order online go to 'find a hostess' and enter my name. You might also consider having a Stella & Dot party of your own. And if you do, I highly recommend Tyler Florence's berry trifle. Yum yum yum!

DIY: Not Our Strongest Suit

In an effort to prevent receipts from piling up and money from dwindling down as we consider what to put in our new condo, I thought DIY projects were the perfect way to go. Take old furniture and give it a little facelift with some new paint, hardware, maybe a bit of embellishment here and there. Must be easy enough. As an avid HGTV viewer, I'll tell you that refinishing is the name of the game on that network. It looks so quick and easy, and produces some stunning results--it can't really be due to editing, right? Wrong. Just like trashy reality TV, what you see isn't...reality. Oh how I wish now more than ever, my naive soul wasn't spoiled by TV editing.

My first brilliant idea was to refinish my childhood bedroom furniture. In the beginning of August I took a trip up to my parents' house for a bridal shower, which was the perfect time to start the 'minor' project. I figured it'd be a breeze since my mom has an electric sander. And although that was more pleasant than sanding by hand; unfortunately, it did not make the whole experience more pleasant. Priming was one of the worst experiences of my life. The thickness of the stuff combined with the terrible humidity outside was killing my chances of anything close to an even coat. I should have plucked a random second-grader off the streets to do the job. Believe me, it would have looked a lot better. Ugh, it was terrible. After priming a dresser, I wondered who would win the next battle--me or the desk. I ended up going forth with priming that, which was even worse than the dresser. Rounded legs were a killer. I didn't think it could get any worse.
Even though I'm 25, luckily my mother still has pity on me. The dear woman offered (yeah, we'll go with that) to paint the dresser white when we got back to Virginia. She was coming with me for little vacay. I know there is a God because he saved me from the torture of painting. Mom, you're the best. And look what a fabulous job you did!

Our second DIY was to replace the drawer pulls on a recently purchased dresser from craigslist. The blackened brass dangly handles just weren't our style. After searching high and low for pulls that would cover the existing holes, and anticipating spending $72 for some at Lowe's, I landed on some from Target ultra cheap at $20. If you don't know already, most places selling knobs and pulls only have sizes for cabinets. That's rather unfortunate when looking for dresser hardware. Doesn't quite match up. So, we were going to have to drill a new set of holes on this dresser. Something that seemed so easy, ended up quite taxing on Jeremiah's emotional stability and our marriage altogether. We'll leave it at that. We've recovered from the experience, and have a nicer looking dresser to show for it.

My last project, was a DIY toy chest cushion. Oh good night. I got a sewing machine for Christmas and let's just say sewing is still not my forte. Not sure what it is, but I can't sew a straight line to save me. Probably my impatience, as I slam down the presser-foot to speed things up a bit. Are you surprised? I was really apprehensive about this project, and was actually hoping my mom would feel inspired to do it for me while she was here. Mom, are you laughing right now at how pathetic I am? Well, she was off with no word of the cushion except for showing me where in the Martha Stewart Sewing Encyclopedia it gave instructions. It looked impossible. I figured I'd never do it. But believe it or not, I did! It was quite difficult, and I think Martha needs to address a few issues she missed while directing the not-so-everyday sewer. For instance, why didn't things match up when I pinned them together? And how the heck do you properly sew around corners when you have a big wad of fabric? From far away, this cushion looks quite alright. Up close, no dice. A shotty job leaves the seams misaligned at best. Oh well, it's done. It doesn't match the chest you say? You're right. That's supposed to get refinished with white paint, but as you know by now, I'm not sure I can handle that quite yet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Beard Has Been Cut

Yes. You did in fact read correctly. I shaved my beard. And before Cam thinks to himself, "Brianna is admitting to shaving her beard?" let me reveal that this is my (Jeremiah's) first blog post ever. That's right - got rid of the facial hair and writing in this blog. What is this world coming to?

Here is what my beard had become through four solid months of growth. Glory reigned down upon us.

The second picture is dedicated to my brother who often sports the Charles Dickens - era muttonchops. Although my chin wasn't clean-shaven, the chops are visible. And quite handsome.

The third picture is one chop as opposed to two. Hideous - yes. But certainly worth capturing for all to see.

And the final picture is me with my haircut and beard trimmed. My face looks skinnier. Probably because I shaved 3 inches of growth off of it. Because I'm not skinnier. I thought about donating my hair to locks 4 love. But perhaps some hair even they would turn away.