Monday, January 31, 2011

Insomnia Sucks

...but otherwise it's been a wonderful few days.

On Thursday, Chuk did notice and appreciate all the hard work I did deep cleaning. We also booked a cruise to Alaska for May. I can't even describe how excited I am. It's a dream come true.

On Friday, we took advantage of Restaurant Week Alexandria and went out to dinner. Three courses for two for only $35! The food was delicious and the company was even better. ;-) Friday is our regular date night, but we made it extra special because we were celebrating Chuk submitting his application to grad school. I am so proud of him.

On Saturday, Chuk made me breakfast, I had one of the most amazing naps of my life, and then we went to see the movie True Grit. We had planned to go to the movie on Friday, but I was too tired after dinner. Plan B was better anyway because we got to stretch date "night" to two nights. Anyway, True Grit was quite good, and that's coming from someone who doesn't like Westerns or Cohen brothers movies. The story was interesting and had a feminist plot I wasn't expecting.

On Sunday, we spent a lot of time lazing about. I cut Chuk's hair, then we went to my favorite store, Costco, and the organic food market.

Last night I couldn't sleep a wink. (See title of this post.) None of my usual sleep remedies worked, but I've realized what my problem was. I had a diet coke yesterday afternoon. That's all it takes for me folks, one diet coke and I'm up all night. Sometimes I'm glad I'm sensitive to caffeine (because it works well when I need it to) but right now, I'm not very happy about it.

I'll just keep thinking about Alaska and get back to my happy place. Glaciers and whales and fjords, oh my!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Big Clean

Do you ever look around your home and realize, Man, this place is a mess? It kind of sneaks up on you, gradually getting messier and messier until you realize drastic measures need to be taken.

Chuk was sick last week; I've been fatigued lately (I think my body is trying to avoid his cold); we've been undertaking a lot of cooking experiments; I'm in the middle of a big home project; our power has been flickering, etc. It adds up and then suddenly you can't keep pace with the dishes and the folding and vacuuming haven't been done for longer than you'd care to admit.

Today it ends. I got up early, turned up the music, and I'm getting to work. This place is going to be spic and span by the time Chuk gets home. Won't he be surprised?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Date Night


Simple date night of French pastries (chocolate mousse for me and pistachio for Chuk) and Belgian hot chocolate served in cafe au lait bowls followed by Wii bowling at home. Just what the doctor ordered after a week of sickness and a flat tire. TGIF.

*Camera phone photos.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Shelves

When we moved into our current apartment, I thought we'd only be here for a year. Next month it will be three years since we moved in and we have no plans of moving for at least the next year or two.

There was a lot I was willing to put up with in this apartment because it was just supposed to be temporary. Now that I'm finally acknowledging this is it indefinitely, I'm making some changes to make it more livable for me. I added shelves and changed up the look of my ceiling fan, but what got on my nerves the most was my thermostat and front door buzzer.

The issue was resolved by installing two narrow shelves and using pictures to conceal the eyesores. (I took this picture during the holidays and I'm too lazy to take another one, so that's why there's a tree statuette and a bell on the shelves. They're not still there.)

I'm not crazy about all the pictures we currently have displayed, but I was using what we already had framed around the apartment. Eventually, I'd like all the pictures to be original art of places we've been, but we'll have to do some more traveling to make that happen. In the meantime, this is so much better than it was, so I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Clean a Dishwasher

I noticed my dishwasher wasn't doing a very good job getting my dishes clean anymore. When I'd empty it, there'd still be particles of food on the plates and flatware. It was starting to get scary because I have never lived without a dishwasher. Fortunately, getting it back in tip top shape was very easy.

When the dishwasher was empty, I simply poured one cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the machine and loaded a measuring cup with another cup of white vinegar in the top rack. (It's hard to see in the picture, but basically just fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the dishwasher right side up.) I ran the dishwasher like this and now my dishes are coming out all sparkly again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Then and Now

This week three years ago, I was a single girl traveling alone through the Moroccan desert.

And today I was in Shenandoah National Park with my husband looking at the snow melt.

Life changes pretty quickly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Updating My Ceiling Fan

We rent our apartment, so we're pretty limited in what we can do to customize it to our tastes. Take, for instance, our ceiling fan in the dining room. It is totally not my taste, very traditional and a little country.

Additionally, we finally found affordable dimmable CFLs but the light was horrible, not what I wanted for romantic dinners à deux.

My preference would have been to change out the entire fixture and put in a mid-century modern one, but that wasn't going to work for my budget or my landlord. Instead I had to settle for updating it.

I removed the fan blades and light covers. (I had already removed one light cover in the picture above before I remembered to take a picture for the ol' blog.) I scrubbed the grimy fan blades, but they were permanently stained. I spray painted them white and they looked like new. It only took one coat and even Chuk noticed what a difference it made, and he's not the most observant person in the world.

Then I went to the hardware store and bought come new light covers. They had some beautiful hand blown glass ones, but I chose the colored glass because 1) I wanted to bring some of the yellow I have in the rest of the room over to this side of the room, and 2) the colored glass casts a romantic amber colored light (similar to candle light) rather than making the harsh operating room light we had before.

Although this was a compromise project for me, I'm a lot happier with the fan than I was before and the total came to less than $20.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Relationship in Reality

One of my Facebook friends, an acquaintance I know from junior high and high school, recently posted the following as his status:

“Last night I found the receipt for the engagement ring I gave to my ex-fiance√®. Getting engaged was, to this point, the single most horrendously stupid thing I've ever done in my life. Walking away from it was probably the best and wisest thing I've ever done.”

It got me thinking about my own relationship. My first thought when I read it was, “Getting engaged was the single best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”

This relationship has had its ups and downs, but overall it has been everything I have needed. It has been the greatest catalyst for change and self-improvement in my life. People talk about commitment as prison or a ball and chain, but that fails to capture the whole picture. Monogamy is like having your conscience come to life, Jiminy Cricket-style. I have found my character has improved because don’t want to justify acting on my bad impulses to my partner, a person I admire and respect.

More importantly, and I realize exactly how cheesy this sounds, it has multiplied the joy in my life and divided the sorrow. Whenever anything good happens to me, my reflex is to tell Chuk; his excitement amplifies my own happiness. Whenever anything good happens to him, I am as delighted or more than he is, often because I have a pride in him that he is too modest to have in himself. And when something bad happens I have a partner to support me and shoulder half of the burden of sadness.

Most of the time, life together isn’t at either of these extremes. Most of the time there is only the banality of everyday life, but life as a single person can be monotonous too.

A snapshot of my evening: Chuk made the weirdest dinner I have ever eaten in my life. We had a baked potato, served with cooked spinach on the side and burnt walnuts that he had sprinkled sugar on. I lied and told him it was good. Later, when I got out of the shower, I asked him to wax my upper lip for me, which he did without judgment. (I think he likes looking at the wax strip with all the little hairs afterward.)

When I imagined marriage, I certainly didn’t envision sparing feelings about bizarre-o dinners or having the guy I make-out with know about my issues with facial hair, but there you have it. Monogamy is about selflessness, overcoming vanity, moments of intense highs and lows, and lots of other things that don’t fit cleverly on a tee-shirt, but it’s still the best thing in my life.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another Round of Donations

My mom sent me home from Thanksgiving with some of my old yearbooks. There wasn't room for them in our bookshelves, so we purged again. Five books in, twenty-two books out. It's a good ratio.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Public Service Announcement

There's a site called - a new online USA phone book with personal information: everything from pics you've posted online, your approximate credit score, home value, income, age, etc. Remove yourself by searching for yourself on their site, copying the URL of your page(s), then go to the bottom of the page and click on Privacy button to remove yourself.

There were two pages about me that had a shocking amount of information considering I didn't think there was very much about me on the Internet. It's worth a quick browse, especially if you're job hunting or are afraid of stalkers.

Holiday Decorations

Now that the holidays have passed and we no longer need them for decoration, Chuk and I decided to start eating our "gingerbread" houses. (We threw another Gingerbread House Party this year.) It makes me feel like I'm Godzilla. It's awesome.

In other news, my tree is still up. Does that make me lazy (busy?) or just full of Christmas cheer?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bathroom Storage and Dispaly

My mom and her husband have been renovating their home for over a year now. Chuk and I went to visit them for Thanksgiving and it was the first time we'd seen many of the changes.

The guest bedroom's en suite bathroom has almost no storage space and my mom came up with a solution that I thought was so clever. She used a large hurricane (and we all have these sitting around, don't we?) and filled it with toilet paper and a smaller lidded glass jar that she filled with soap. All the soaps in the jar are free hotel soar that she took out of their wrapping.

I wish I had taken a picture of the whole bathroom, so you could see how chic and spa-like this looks in the whole room, but you'll just have to take my word for it. It's a great idea that is both functional in a small space and decorative.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Patching Clothes

My favorite jeans are wearing out. There aren’t any holes yet, but they’re threadbare in a couple of spots. I thought about going out and buying new jeans but then decided take the more financially and environmentally friendly route and repair them.

I bought a patch kit at Target and simply ironed them on to the spots that were worn out. It’s such a simple thing, but I’ve never patched any of my clothes before. (I have sewn up little tears though!) I wonder if this is one of those frugal life skills that are being forgotten as time becomes more scares and belongings become more disposable.

Now, to be completely honest, I haven’t been thrilled with how well these particular patches have held up. After washing them and drying them in a dryer, the patches have begun to peel off. The patches’ packaging warned that this could happen, but only mentioned rounding off the corners to prevent peeling. It didn’t mention anything about not putting patched clothing in the dryer, but I suspect this is what is causing the problem.

I only used one of the two patches that came in the pack (I simply cut one in half to make two patches) so I’m going to try and patch them again and this time I’ll let them air dry after every washing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do you patch your clothes? If so, do you use iron-on or sew-on patches?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

It was not my intention to take a two month break from blogging. However, the hiatus is up and I'll be back with more regular posts in the new year.

I've missed you all. Thanks for sticking around.