Friday, June 28, 2013

Afghan Rescue

Contrary to what the post title suggests, this is not a post about rescuing people of Afghanistan.

Pair some rimmed glasses with that scarf and you've got a Hipster Afghan!

or about rescuing these dogs that are the perfect combination of a broom and a mop.

The afghans to which I refer are this type.

They remind me of hippies and grandmas.
And I have a very weird obsession with them right now.
(With the afghans, not the hippies and grandmas because that's weird even for me.)

I started rescuing them from Thrift Stores about 6 months ago.
I didn't consciously set out to find them, but when I happened across one I had this undeniable compulsion to buy it.
And then it was an unstoppable force.
 I think it all started when I stumbled across this Bohemian vintage style wedding photo from the 

I'm still working on turning one of my daughters into a hippie so that one day I can plan a Bohemian wedding complete with a pile of afghans and a campfire.

The afghans I have found have been $5-$10 and in really excellent and non-smelly condition.
It's hard to comprehend how someone could spend hours and hours crocheting a beautiful blanket and then it ends up at a Thrift Store being sold for a fraction of its worth.
Not to mention the cost of the yarn.

If you're one of these afghan crocheting folks, please know that I appreciate you and your efforts and will cherish your pieces of useable art forever!

Here are some I have rescued/collected so far 
(please forgive the horrible photo quality - I have no excuse and really hope I was drunk at the time I took them because oh-my-gosh these are terrible.)

This green, navy and white one is my most recent find.
Each of the white circle-looking things (technical term) is a flower - so cute!
And it was only $5.
It reminds of a sweet little grandma which is why I threw it over a rocking chair at the lake house.

This one in shades of brown, tan, rose, pink and peach was also a Thrift Store find.
The color combo makes me oh-so-happy!
Again, I am using it at the lake house for now.

Not to be a broken record but I do have one more at the lake house that is the first one I actually purchased.
Again with the broken record thing - it was a thrift store find for $10.
I fell in love with it because it's so colorful and happy and rainbowy.

My final show and tell afghan is this one:

It's the only one I did not purchase and it's here at my house.
It is the most special and my husband's favorite.

That's because it was made by his grandma whom he was very close to.
He spent many summers with her and, one summer when he was a bit bored, she taught him how to crochet.

Anyone who has met my husband, who is a rather muscular beefcake kind of guy, may find the idea of him crocheting really funny.

I agree entirely.
But I appreciate the hell out of his work and craftsmanship!

He has an afghan project started that has been unfinished since before we were married almost 17 years ago.
It's one of those projects that is much easier to work on in the winter since it rests on your lap while you work.
But there always seems to be so much going on that crocheting an afghan doesn't really get put very high on the priority list.

But, I'm thinking I may have to encourage him to finish it.
Not only would he have the personal satisfaction of finishing a project but it would be a perfect Christmas gift for his wife!

À la vie et à l'amour

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Maybe I'll Stay on This Planet A Little Longer...

Sometimes I find myself so frustrated and disenchanted with our human species that I often tell my family,

"As soon as humans can live on other planets I am catching the first spaceship outta' here!"

In our home we practice acceptance, tolerance and kindness.
Across the board.
No exceptions.

We do not judge based on skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual preferences.
We judge based on quality of character.

(And sometimes I might judge you based on your decor choice but it's certainly not a deal killer!)

So when I heard this news I decided that maybe I could stand to stay on this planet a little bit longer.

Also, thank you to one of my favorite comedic bloggers and fellow Texans, Jenny Lawson, for sharing this video from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
(Macklemore is the rapper who became my new best friend when he released the Thrift Shop song!)

Now I'm sharing it with all of you because you deserve this bit of specialness.

Feel the love, people!

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Neighbors

Long ago my husband and I decided it's in our best interest not to become too friendly with our neighbors.

Maybe it was because our previous neighbor, Jim, liked to walk down the alley behind our houses with his scotch and cigar and into our garage to stink it up with his cigar smoke that smells like burnt poop and chit chat with my husband while he was trying to work out after our kids would finally be in bed asleep and he had a brief moment of peace.


Or maybe it was because of the time when Jim's wife, who we referred to as 'Mrs. Robinson', was really drunk and barefoot and mowing her lawn and her mower broke down so my husband, who happened to be outside mowing our yard, kindly offered to finish mowing hers.

She thanked him by (slurringly) inviting him inside her house to see the furniture she was selling since they were moving.

It sounds harmless except that her husband wasn't home and she was wearing a snug-fitting tank top with no bra.

My husband was not flattered.
She was at least 20 years older than him and shoe leathery-looking because she laid out in her swimsuit on her driveway suntanning and drinking her husband's scotch all the time.

I think I have a pair of shoes made out of you.

In order to avoid Mrs Robinson, our yard went un-mowed for the next couple of weeks until the moving truck arrived and hauled them off along with all of their stinky, scotchy, adulterous furniture.

We also moved shortly after they did and, even after 7 years at our current home, we still feel it's best to limit our interaction with our neighbors to a polite wave or a "Howareya?" and then go inside and allow our imaginations to construct the details about the details of their lives while we observe them safely through our windows.
And we've decided that one of our neighbors is probably a drug dealer.

Here is some evidence as to how we came about this conclusion:

1) Different people come and go all the time and at all times of the day.  The cars are not very fancy so it's obviously cheap drugs he's selling.

2)  They have frequent garage sales and often sell fancy baby toys.  I'm pretty sure they had an in-home day care at one point which was probably a ruse and how they smuggled drugs to buyers.  You pick up your baby and your drugs at the same time.  Easy.

3) They have a Great Dane. Their kids play with it in the front yard sometimes but I'm pretty sure it's their getaway ride in case the police come knocking.  That thing is the size of a horse! 


But the main reason is this...
His name is Hari (pronounced 'Hah - ree' , not 'Hair - ee').
When we met him he said specifically, "as in Hah - ree Potter."
Very clever, Hah-ree, but the reference to marijuana did not go unnoticed.
(POTter is not his real last name so obviously it was a secret code for trying to offer us drugs.)

Despite the numerous clues about his sketchy profession, we have always been surface friendly and have waved when we see him or his wife when we all happen to be in our front yards at the same time.

But recently things took an odd turn...

My daughter and I had been out running errands and upon arriving home we pulled to our front curb rather than parking in the driveway at the back.

Upon exiting the car I heard someone exclaim, "Hello, how are you?"

Completely caught off guard, I turned to see who had spoken and realizing it was Hah-ree I quickly replied, "Oh, hi, I'm good, thanks.  How about you?"

To which he replied, "Good.  I don't think I ever see you without sunglasses on."

Um, what?  All of a sudden I'm thinking, 'That's really odd to comment about my sunglasses.  Oh, my gosh! He thinks I always wear sunglasses because my eyes are bloodshot or my pupils are dilated because he thinks I do drugs and he's trying to feel out the situation to see if he should try selling me drugs again like he did when he introduced himself as 'Mr. POTter'!'

And since I'm such a quick thinker, I immediately launch into this explanation:

"Well, I have this really odd fear that I'm going to get squint wrinkles if I don't wear sunglasses.  It's when you squint and the sun tans your face and all around your eyes but when you go indoors and your face relaxes then you see all these white lines inside the squint wrinkles that AREN'T tanned while the skin all around them IS tan and it looks really weird.  So I always wear sunglasses."

Smiling and feeling very proud of my completely intelligent and logical response I wait for 'Hah-ree, the POTter' to say something.

"Um...ok....well, it was nice to see you." He says apprehensively as he quickly scampers into his house.

I walk inside my own house and say to my husband,
"If Hah-ree Potter IS actually a drug dealer we no longer have to worry about him trying to sell us any."

"Why is that?" my husband asks.

"I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm already stocked up in that department."

À la vie et à l'amour

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lake House Tour: Pine Cabin Before and After

As I have mentioned before, my husband and I own a vacation home rental business on Texas' beautiful 
Lake Whitney.

While we own a couple of the homes we rent out, most are owned by others and we manage the maintenance and renting of them for vacationers.

We recently began renting one of our homeowners homes from him so that we could continue renting it out for vacation purposes.

Since it's a rental we are limited to mainly cosmetic changes to make it our own.
I posted a little about our updating progress on that home here and here.

In addition to that limitation we also have to keep in mind that the home will undergo constant wear and tear by guests who spray soda on the ceilings and explode food in the microwave and then let it dry in there, children who touch doorknobs and everything else with sticky candy fingers and drunk people who can't remember if the lovely wool plaid blanket was already here or if they suddenly grew some taste and brought that from home.

It happens.

We also used a lot of the existing furnishings because we were lucky enough to have the homeowner rent it to us fully furnished (since he had already been renting it out through us as a vacation rental.)  

It's a really large home and having to buy all new furniture would have been very costly.
 I also like using what I already have as much as possible because it's environmentally efficient, too!

So, keep in mind...

This is NOT Thom Filicia's lakehouse!

Our lake house is located in a country town smaller than my daughter's high school where many of residents no longer possess all of their own teeth.

It's a simple country lake house with simple country lake house decor.
With some cool vintage items tossed in along with way too much Ikea to make it a bit more fresh and modern.

But, it's a lot of fun to hang out here with the fam and play Scrabble, and tetherball and drink wine and practice twerking at the end of a long day of working at the other lake houses!

Sean T and me at Pine Cabin

Scrabble and wine (and some duck face)
Early morning tetherball

Without further delay, I give you the BEFORE and AFTER photos of our new lake house, 
the Pine Cabin.

We didn't change any of the front yet but I might add some native, drought and deer resistant plants and a small bistro set to the tiny porch that is to left of the front door.

Kitchen BEFORE
Kitchen AFTER - Amazing, right?  Yeah, so, nothing really changed because you can't do much in here if you can't paint the bananas out of those wood cabinets.  So, naturally, I just added a couple of rag rugs.
Living Room BEFORE - That's a lot of blue and beige!
Living Room AFTER - I really wanted most of the seating and accent tables to be easily moved so that large families staying here could put them where they would be most convenient to whatever activity they were enjoying.

Living Room AFTER - Still on the look out for a pair of matching chairs for this room and some artwork
Bathroom BEFORE (and a great photo of my mom looking horror struck!) - Post about this room with details here
Bathroom AFTER
Bedroom 1 BEFORE
Bedroom 1 AFTER
Bedroom 2 BEFORE
Bedroom 2 AFTER - Obviously another side table is needed and better lamps
Bedroom 3 BEFORE
Bedroom 3 AFTER - Still have some plans for this room including a shelf and some artwork above the bed
Bedroom 4 BEFORE (and a shameless yet unintentional plug for our business)
Bedroom 4 AFTER - My FAVORITE room in the house!
Bedroom 5 BEFORE
Bedroom 5 AFTER - It's hard to tell form this photo how cute this room is but when it's finished I'll try to get some better angles!
2nd Living Room BEFORE

2nd Living Room AFTER

2nd Living Room AFTER
2nd Living Room AFTER
2nd Living Room AFTER - Yeah, this is a big, L-shaped room so you needed to see all the different angles to really get a feel for it.
Dining Room - No changes here but I may add a rug and/or some artwork down the road
Deck Overlooking Backyard - We only added the patio umbrella but I would love to add some potted plants that require no care whatsoever - do those exist???
The Backyard - We added Adirondack chairs around the fire pit and recently added a cushioned hammock, tetherball and horseshoes.  It's like a backyard bonanza for old people!

Even though this isn't necessarily intended to be a post about using what you have or working with a rental home, I still hope this post will help inspire readers who are either renters themselves or who have less than ideal furnishings to explore ideas on how to brighten and freshen what you already have without spending a fortune.

À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, June 21, 2013

What's Cookin': 3 Cheese Jalapeno Poppers

Also affectionately known by my husband as 'butt burners'.

(I'll just let you figure that out on your own because there are some things that are simply too tacky to speak about in mixed company.)

I have tried making jalapeno poppers several different ways and this version is decidedly my fave.

But I must warn you...

although these are simple to make, there are numerous side effects which may include:

-a moderate to severe level of unbelievably torturous burning sensations on your eyeballs, skin, mucous membranes, and possibly even your internal organs depending on what you may have touched after cleaning the jalapenos, 

-extreme choking which may or may not result in vomiting on your kitchen rug, sink or a passing dog or child,

-massive mucous production and expulsion due to gut wrenching repeated sneezing,

-watery eyes for which I suggest running a hose from your face to a kiddie pool in your backyard so that your kids can at least have some fun symbolically swimming in a pool of your tears while you make dinner

-bladder leakage (for those of you who have had multiple children and did not empty your bladder prior to cleaning the jalapenos and the aforementioned sneezing and vomiting became an issue)

-college level drunkenness if you are using Chardonnay to help diminish the extreme choking from inhaling the nuclear jalapeno essence or to cool the blisters that have formed on your lips because you stopped to put on Chapstick and didn't realize that all you did was smear jalapeno juice all over your lips 

(after the first 2 glasses, though, you'll be too drunk to notice it anyway!)

You should also play Alicia Keys' song, Girl On Fire, while you make these for real cinematic effect.

Here's the recipe...

12-15 LARGE jalapeno peppers, tops cut off, sliced in half, and completely seeded
8 oz package of cream cheese
1 pound (package) of bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl mix the 3 cheeses together.
Using a knife or spreader fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture.

Cut slab of bacon strips in half down the middle.

Wrap each cheese-filled jalapeno half with a half slice of bacon then lay on parchment lined baking sheet.

When all jalapaeno halves are wrapped in bacon like spicy little green devil babies, put your pan in the oven and bake those suckers for about 40 minutes.

Then turn your oven to broil and broil them for about 3 minutes until the bacon is crispy and the cheese is all bubbly and toasty.

If you can stand it, it's best to let them cool a little before eating.
If not, grab more Chardonnay and get after it!

Have a super spicy weekend!

À la vie et à l'amour