Friday, August 28, 2015

Home Tour: 7 Months In

Happy Friday everyone!

Brendan and I cannot believe that we have been homeowners for seven months today. Here is a little tour of our home, 7 months in. A lot has changed since our 3 week home tour. I'll also be talking about how we found some of our decor and furniture. 

The front of the house looks exactly the same as the day we bought it. We aspire to have a flowerbed in front of the front window and some trees in the front yard by the end of the fall.

The entryway has my secretary from graduate school and a new bench. The bench is from and we paid one of my mom's friends recover the cushion for us. The entryway also features art by Brendan's dad (left...we have a LOT of his artwork in our house, and I'm more than obsessed) and our friend Michael Hubbard (right...everyone that comes over wants to photograph this painting). 

To the left of the entryway is the dining room. This room is the most recently decorated and only contained empty boxes up until a few weeks ago. We are still planning to add artwork to this room by Brendan's dad. We have used RugsUSA for ordering the majority of our rugs, and we really like the company and the prices. We bought this set at Haverty's, and it was just what we were looking for: beautiful, simple, and functional. I LOVE finally having a place to display the beautiful silver and Waterford crystal candlesticks that we received as wedding presents.

Under the arch in this photo (right) , we have our office, guest room, and second bathroom.

PS--We still have Dagan's art and Amanda's vase here (are we lucky to have such talented friends and family or what?)

The guest room quilt is by Brendan's grandmother (I don't know how she does it, but I know where you can buy one if you are interested ;) The room is decorated with antiques and knick knacks from our travels. 

One of our friends, Wendy, lovingly dubbed this bathroom "the bird bath," and I like it! 

Our office finally got some attention at the end of the summer. Brendan is still finishing his bulletin board. Notice the mini fridge that we lived out of for two weeks while our real fridge was being delivered. Now, this fridge is our "beer fridge." We bought the table the fridge is on from an antique store. The rug is Brendan's from forever ago. 

Recognize my desk? It used to be our kitchen table at the old apartment. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to find some organization solutions, and I purchased my printer table from an antique store.

To the right of these rooms is our kitchen

You can see the laundry room towards the back of the kitchen. It is nothing special, but we do enter and exit here since it is connected to the garage (I didn't take a new picture of that because our garage looks the same. Seemingly, we are the ONLY family on the block that can fit two cars into our garage. These are the perks of NOT having a truck).

The red bar stools are from We are super happy with them; they match everything in our red kitchen, and they are the perfect height to pull up to our breakfast table if we need more chairs.

Breakfast area. The table runner was my second anniversary present from Brendan. The valance curtains come from Saffon Marigold (online). Our friends Jill and Ryan gave us the table and we cherish it (not just because it looks nice, but also because it reminds us of many good times). 

The kitchen looks onto the living area, and we spend most of our time in this room. The sofa table is from an antique store (we hope to one day refinish it). The curtains are also new since the last home tour post and were purchased at Target. I just love hanging out in here. It is so cozy. BIG kudos to Brendan for figuring out furniture arrangement solutions to make this room feel cozy (it has a pretty odd shape, so it wasn't easy). 

Across from the living room is our room. I LOVE our bedroom. The colors are so calming. Grandma Nancy's wedding quilt is the star of the show in here. I planned all of the colors around it. 

The rug is from World Market. 

The oversized chair also comes from Haverty's (you have to love one stop shopping). My dresser/mirror, Brendan's dresser, and the nightstands are all from (great experience with the company, and they saved us hundreds of dollars). We wanted furniture that matched the cabinets in our bathroom, and again we were looking for beautiful but also simple.

Our bathroom is still one of my favorite things about the house. 

We use our jetted tub a lot, and we love it. It's an awesome way to unwind after a long day!

This should be your one takeaway from today's blogpost: Go out and buy a fluffy rug for your closet. Your feet will thank you! This one is from Homegoods. We are still working on true organization in here! 

And oh yeah, the back patio! 
The Rug is from Pier One and the lights are from Target. 

We are making slow but sure progress in our backyard space. Brendan loves the double hammock that was his second anniversary gift from me (see how we did the cotton theme?) and check out our basil! 

Still, we have a long way to go out here, but Rome wasn't built in a day people! 

Okay, there's our home tour! As you can tell, we spent a lot of time, money, and energy making our place just perfect, but I'm pretty sure we couldn't be happier with it. 

Happy weekend everyone! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Promotions All Around

Happy first day of the Fall semester to us!

We were up bright and early this morning (6:00am) for our first day back in the classroom. I was excited to see all my new students for the first time, and I have a really good feeling about my groups.

Here is me AFTER a long day of teaching. My calves, feet, and voice are absolutely aching right now. Teaching is a very physical job, and I am definitely out of practice! I didn't get a picture of Brendan before he changed into his gym clothes (much to his distress, I'm sure).

So here's our news that I can finally tell you because it's official: I have been promoted to the Assistant Professor level, and Brendan has been promoted to Chair of Creative and Technical Writing. We will both continue with our same responsibilities (just with new titles).

I am off to barre class, but I just wanted to check in, say hi, and wish all teachers, students, and parents a happy first day back. We hope everyone has an outstanding school year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Four Years in Midland!

Whoa, can it really be?

Yep, four years ago today we arrived in Midland with our U-haul! We had a job and a half, a cute little apartment, and we had been dating less than a year.

Today, we have two full time jobs, a home we own, and we have been happily married for a couple of years. 

Four years really does change a lot!

In my three years in Midland post, I wrote that I thought I would bawl when we moved out of our apartment. But it turns out, I didn't. At all. I think that is because we continued to have access to the apartment for an entire month after we moved. Our move was so slow that I never truly felt like I was saying goodbye until I was already well "at home" in our house. Plus, I realized life in our home felt a lot more cozy than life in our apartment ever did (I hope I never have to share walls again). After 3.5 years of apartment living, the house was a change that we were definitely ready for, and one that has made a big difference in how much we (and Lola and Zoe) enjoy living in Midland.

Our careers here are also more satisfying than we ever could have imagined they would be when we arrived four years ago. The college takes GREAT care of us, and I feel lucky everyday that I get to work there. We've even been given more responsibilities (more on that later) and have been able to have opportunities that I never thought we would have this early in our careers.

Every year we stay here, I find more hobbies, more ways to get involved with the community, and more friends. Of course, we have to say goodbye too, as some friends move away, but we never anticipated having as large of a community here as we do. And gosh, honestly I could go on and on about the people we have met here. I really feel like I have a lot of loyal friends that care about me very much, and of course, they mean a lot to me too!

Though we never predicted it, Midland has become home (I've now lived here longer than I lived in NYC or Lake Charles), and I'm really excited to see what our next year here has in store for us.

Thanks for a great four years, Midland!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Last Weekend of Summer

Greetings from our back to work week!

Our last weekend of summer included all my favorite things! Going to the farmer's market on Saturday, and then hosting our first "formal" dinner at the new table (yes, place cards were made).

Everything white watermelon (we bought a HUGE one at the farmer's market), including these white watermelon, mint, grilled zucchini, and feta cheese appetizers Brendan made for our fancy dinner and a cocktail with white watermelon!

Summer Mummers (a fundraiser put on by the Midland Community Theater where audience members throw popcorn everywhere. This was our second time going; the first was in 2012!)

And finally, not pictured, dinner and playing Skip Bo with our friends...I brought over S'mores pizza from Papa Murphys, and all I can say is that I wish I had not discovered this (because it was amazing). I still managed to lose another pound though, thanks to my dedicated barre class efforts!

So Monday, when we went back to work at 8:00am, I wasn't feeling half bad. After all, my mind was full of wonderful memories from Summer 2015, and our last weekend was summer spectacular!

Summer 2015, you treated us so, so good. Thank you for being awesome!

We'll see you in just 270 days! And until then, let the teaching commence! But first, I must lead a meeting tonight. Wish me luck!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summertime Fitness (Including 2 Week Emergency Shred Review)

Happy Sunday funday everyone!

Now that it is our official last day of summer vacation, I thought it would be interesting to do a blog post on staying fit in summer. When your routine is totally off, and you are traveling, it can be incredibly hard to stay in shape. If your vacation happens to last 100 days, like mine, it can be almost impossible (I know, go grab your tiny violins). Here is a look at everything I did since the first official day of summer vacation, on May 9th, to stay in shape.

May was an awesome month for me. I was combining yoga classes with barre classes and working out nearly every single day. The first week of summer, I went to yoga 3 times and barre class 3 times. I had been working out very consistently since the third week of April, so I started to see payoff and was really motivated. These two classes are both expensive, but they go great together to improve strength and flexibility, and they also force you to use your mind in new ways. I wasn't worrying about cardio, and I still lost weight. I think this proves that the exercise you most enjoy is always going to be the most effective, no matter what you hear to the contrary! The second week, I went to yoga once and barre 4 times. The day of my last barre class, I went to Austin for my cousin's bachelorette weekend. I was in Austin for 8 days before leaving for Seattle for the cruise. I managed to squeeze in 2 barre classes, but that was it. We left for the cruise on May 30th.

While on the cruise, I managed to stay very active. I used the ship's gym 3 times and took classes in total body conditioning, yoga, and spinning (my first time, and all I can say is OUCH--I don't think spinning is the activity for me!). We also did a 4 mile hike and a tandem kayak trip as excursions. Despite eating delicious dinners every night, I felt like staying active balanced things out. In Seattle, we walked a lot, which was great for staying healthy. Still, when we returned home on June 11th, I was ready for something that would force me to stay committed. I googled "2 week fitness program" and Muscle and Fitness had a 2 week emergency shred program that came up. The program had 6 resistance and 6 cardio workouts, and it used interval training in each. I quickly convinced Brendan to do it with me, so I'd have some extra motivation. All I can say was this program left us so, so sore at first (like, hurts to move/sit/walk sore), and getting the cardio right on a treadmill (which we had to use since outside temperatures were already flaming) could be difficult to navigate, since the intervals change so quickly. Brendan also got very discouraged by how hard it was to keep form in weight lifting while doing 8 intervals in a row with only 10 second breaks in between each set. My solution to this was to use a little bit lighter weights, since it was a "marathon, not a sprint" type situation. I do not think either of us ever wish to do a mountain climber again! At the same time we were doing this, I took yoga class 4 times, so in the 16 days we were home, I completed 16 workouts, which was just crazy! I took before and after photos, hoping to see a big difference, but they looked honestly identical. Still, I felt change in how I felt, my strength, and how my clothes fit. While Brendan said he would never do the shred again, I think I would! We left for Austin on June 28th and left for Costa Rica on the 30th.

I wasn't using a gym or going to any classes while in Costa Rica, but we did stay pretty active. 6 days of our trip were days we spent hiking. We also did a kayak trip and a white water rafting trip. We spent another few days walking beaches and swimming. For the most part, we were active almost every day. We returned from Costa Rica on the 19th, but we had another 8 days in Austin and Houston. During these days, we were not active at all, and we also ate a LOT. The day after we got home, I weighed myself, and I was up 5 pounds from my pre-vacation weight. It was no big deal, but I did hope cooking all our meals again would did, but in one week, I'd only lost half a pound, and it was a new month, so I knew it was time to get back to working out.

I bought another unlimited month at my barre studio, and began taking classes 6 times a week. After 2 weeks of this, I still have 4 pounds of vacation weight to lose, but what I'm far more proud of is the fact that I worked out 54 times in 100 days. Staying active makes me feel healthy and good, and it can be a big challenge for me when things are "out of whack," so I consider this summer a big victory!

How do you stay in shape while vacationing? We're off to enjoy our LAST day of summer!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Giveaway Winners

Congrats to the winners of the wine club giveaway:

Number 5--Steve
Number 7--Kristen
Number 1--Amanda
Number 6--Corley

Thanks to everyone that entered!
Winners, look for your email code soon!

A Special Visitor

Hello Everyone! I hope your weekend and Monday were as good as ours.

On Friday night, Brendan and I cooked dinner (pasta with farmer's market tomatoes and our backyard basil) and enjoyed a low key night at home. We also got a call from my mom that she unexpectedly had Monday and Tuesday off of work and would be free for a visit. She wanted to visit her siblings in nearby San Angelo on Saturday, so her plan was to arrive here on Sunday afternoon and leave Tuesday morning. We said that sounded great!

On Saturday, we got up early for the farmer's market. We found everything that we could have wanted: tomatoes, two kinds of melons, onions, hot/bell/sweet peppers, lemon and regular cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, egg plant, homemade goat cheese (regular and pineapple/habanero), garlic, and yellow and zucchini squash. This is the best time of year for our market, and it makes me so happy! After shopping, we picked up breakfast to go at El Burrito, which we had never tried before. We liked the tacos, and we will definitely be back to try different breakfast offerings here in the future. After that, I attended a relaxation and stretching class (after five barre classes last week, I needed something at a relaxing pace). Then, we tackled the rest of our grocery shopping at HEB, made another delicious dinner (corn on the cob, potatoes with rosemary, and a market tomato/cucumber salad), and attended our friend's 30th birthday party. We watched Logan's Run at the party, which was new to me, but a very interesting dystopia movie from the 1970s.

On Sunday, we cleaned up the house to get ready for mom's arrival. She got here around 3:00pm, and I was so excited to give her a tour of our new and improved home (she visited the weekend after we moved in and had not seen the house since). We visited and then made quesadillas for dinner. At 9:00pm, when it was finally under 100 degrees (it has been horrifically and historically hot here), we ventured out to Target to take advantage of tax free weekend. I wanted some new teaching clothes, and my mom was sweet and bought one of my dresses for me. That night, we played Yahtzee, drank wine, and sat outside and visited.

The one picture I took of mom's visit! 

On Monday, I was up early for an 8:30am barre class. By the time I returned home, sweet Brendan was making us all breakfast tacos, which were awesome. Mom bought us movie tickets to go see a matinee of The Gift, which was super creepy. The movie wasn't as awesome as Gone Girl, but it was still really fun (in an anxiety provoking thriller way). After we got home, the rug Brendan and I ordered for the dining room finally arrived. We spent at least an hour arranging the room (after we realized the chandelier placement looked off, we had to turn the table and move all the furniture). The dining room looks AWESOME now, but I am going to wait until Brendan's parents have time to mail us his dad's art to hang, and then I want to share an entire house tour post with photos of our progress. Getting the dining room finished feels like a big deal because finally our house has no empty rooms. I LOVE the look of our house. It is everything that I hoped it would be! After we arranged the dining room, mom took us to dinner at La Bodega, one of my favorite places. After dinner, we finished our last three rounds of Yahtzee, and then at about 1:00am, we all sat outside for an hour watching the meteor shower.

We had a wonderful couple of days with my mom, and I was sad to see her go this morning after breakfast, but I'm looking forward to enjoying our last week of summer before work starts on Monday.

Don't forget, my drawing for 4 winners to win 3 bottles each of Club W wine is tonight...make sure to leave a comment on last Tuesday's post if you want to enter.

Have a great day everyone!

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