Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Past Few Days

Hi!  I wanted to let you know that I have been in communication with the Mister and his traveling is going just fine thus far!  Although he is not to his final destination, he is close, and the base where they have stopped has Wi-Fi, allowing us to enjoy some intermittent Facebook messaging over the past couple of days.  I am beyond ready for him to get to the base where he will be staying semi-permanently because we will be able to Skype once he is there.

We are learning how to deal with the time difference, which is pretty substantial; while I was eating dinner tonight he was leaving to get breakfast. During the walk I took with the dogs around lunchtime today, I was considering how strange it was that, while I was out in the daylight, if he walked outside he'd see the moon.  Today is yesterday there now, and it is funny how it affects our conversations.

Although Facebook messaging is not my preferred means of communication, I will take whatever I can get right now.  We have discovered the the emojis on Facebook are SO much more entertaining than the ones on our iPhones.  There are two dog emojis that look like Hank and Luellen, and some of our conversations are admittedly just finding the funniest ones we can and sending them back and forth to each other.  It's nice to know that we can continue our normal silly antics (and our bizarre obsession with our dogs) even in the current circumstances.

Ever since the Mister left (I can't believe it was only Friday, feels like it's been at least two weeks), I have had a hard time sleeping for long periods of time during the night.  I fall asleep easily but find myself waking up every hour or two, hearing every time the heat kicks on or a dog moves.  I am not sure what the exact cause is, probably nerves, but it is starting to become irritating, especially since the dogs never fail to frantically wake me up around 6:45 a.m.  This morning, I woke up with them and gave them their breakfast, and then went and crashed on the couch, hoping they'd follow my lead once their bellies were full.  Thankfully, they did.  And we slept in this ridiculous position for over an hour:

It was actually really cozy and warm, although a little crowded, and it was definitely the best sleep I've had in days.  After waking up and realizing how odd we looked squeezed on the couch, I was happy to find my iPhone beside me so I could document the moment.

In other news, I also wanted to share some photos from my little sister's high school dance team senior night on Monday.  After watching her participate on the dance teams at her middle school and high school since she was in seventh grade, it was sentimental to watch her dance at her last ever home basketball game.  It will undoubtedly be strange this fall to not spend a couple Friday nights on cold bleachers watching her dance at our hometown football stadium.  She was captain of her team this year, and she did an unbelievable job.  And it was a "proud mom moment" watching her and all the girls she's been dancing with since she was 11 years old perform one last dance together.

Sorry for the blurriness, I was far away!  There she is on the right with her boyfriend.  He had a baseball game that night, hence the eye black.

Here's another with my dad photobombing.  He's in his fire department uniform because he met us at the game from work.

And last but definitely not least, we found this awesome picture of my dad from his high school football days downstairs.  Other than the hair color, I don't think he looks that different!

Well folks, that's all I've got for tonight.  I promise I will post about more than my boring day-to-day life soon, I've just been a little distracted these past couple of weeks.  Hope everyone is doing well and had a fantastic hump day!  Chris just told me he was going to try to call me his "tonight" (which is my tomorrow morning), so I have to go to sleep now so it will be morning sooner!  : ) Goodnight!

Monday, February 24, 2014

"You must go, and I must bide."

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-e.e. cummings

The Mister left three days ago, and I am missing him like crazy already.  For the next few days, no news is the best news.  We were able to Facebook message for a little while the night before last while he was on a pit stop on his journey, and that was reassuring, as even just him flying from place to place without being able to check in makes me nervous.  Now we just have to wait for him to arrive and get settled on the base he will be staying for us to be able to have some sort of communication again (which may take a week or so).  I am worried sick, but so very proud he is mine.  I am having a hard time focusing on anything else, so I apologize if my blog posts are a little sparse until I hear from him.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and that you have a lovely Monday!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Quick Update

Wow, sorry it's been so many days since my last post.  With the Mister leaving in just a few days, I've been focusing more on spending time with him than blogging about spending time with him : ).  This past weekend was his last one here for a while, so it was especially nice that it was President's Day yesterday, making the weekend a little longer.

All together, it was a pretty awesome weekend.  We went out for a fancy, schmancy dinner in Pinehurst on Friday night for Valentine's Day.  It was so nice to get all dressed up, listen to live piano music, and eat way too much dessert.  On Saturday, we went to the Longhorn in Southern Pines for a delicious free meal (thank you to our friend Molly for the gift card!) and a movie.  We saw Monuments Men.  I'm pretty sure it was a really good movie, but we went to a 9:45 showing and it was freezing in the theater, so I'm going to have to rent in once it comes out on DVD to be able to enjoy it in the warmth of my own living room while I'm wide awake.  The Mister loved it though!  He's into that historical fiction genre.

We headed to my parents' house in Burlington on Sunday afternoon for a little going away dinner for Chris with my extended family.  It was a laid back good time with Philly chicken and cheese sandwiches, the Olympics on TV, a little fire on the back patio, and nice cigars for all the guys.  Chris and I spent the night in Burlington and did a few last minute errands yesterday, including a stop at BJ's Wholesale Club where we spent too much money but got Chris pretty much everything he'll need (toiletries, batteries, laundry detergent, etc.) to get through at least his first few months of deployment.  After that, we had lunch with my dad and then drove home.   Last night, we watched the episode of Black Sails (I still can't decide if I like that show) we missed on Saturday night and the Downton Abbey Season 4 finale (we bought the Season 4 DVDs this weekend so Chris could finish the season before he leaves).

Chris is back at work today and I'm trying to get some cleaning done around the house I've been neglecting for the sake of hanging out with him.  When we're together, it's easy to focus on having fun and not worry about the year to come.  But when I'm by myself and am making mental lists of all the logistical tasks we need to get done before he leaves and of everything that I'll have to do without him in the coming year, I sometimes become a little overwhelmed and find it hard to get anything done.  I mostly just end up staring at a wall or my Facebook newsfeed on my iPhone until I snap myself back into reality.  We still have a couple days left to get things in order, and I'm sure we'll get everything ironed out - like when in March we planted seeds in the flower bed last year, what kind of stain he wants me to use on the fence in the backyard, and what date I'm supposed to pay the mortgage next month.  And I'm trying to keep in mind that we will have communication of some sort, so it's not like he's dropping off the face of the earth for a year and I'll be handling everything alone, not to mention that we have a fantastic support system in both our families and our friends.  Another upside is that focusing on these kinds of "organizational" things drowns out worries about his safety and how much I'm going to miss him (especially now that his deployment may be a year instead of nine months).  All in all, I of course wouldn't trade our life for any other, and I can't wait to look back on this time with a sense of accomplishment.  Neither of us are the "sappy" type, so we see this more as an experience from which we will come away with some awesome stories than something to be "mushy" and upset about.  We're sad about not being together, but I think we both make a conscious effort not to focus on the negative side of anything.

Chris will be leaving at the end of the week, and I promise after that I'll do better about blogging!  

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SNOW CREAM and a Weekend Recap

We are having another mini blizzard here today.  I'm much more fond of this snow storm than the last one since the Mister is here to enjoy it with me instead of being stuck somewhere in Alabama because of it.  While we were lounging around in our pajamas this afternoon (because that's what you do on snow days) the Mister told me he had never had snow cream, so I decided to immediately rectify that situation.  My mom always made snow cream during "good" snows like this one when I was younger, and it's a yummy tradition I wanted to share with Chris.  I sent him outside with our biggest bowl to gather the cleanest snow he could find (he went with the top few inches off the grill on the back deck).  While he was collecting snow, I perused the internet for snow cream recipes that could be made with what we had on hand in the kitchen, since there was no way we were making it to the grocery store in this weather.

After finding a few recipe variations, I kind of winged it with these four ingredients:

5 cups of snow, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of skim milk (half-and-half or condensed milk would have been better, but I didn't have either), 1/2 tsp vanilla

I poured the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and stirred until the sugar was completely dissolved (three or four minutes).

Then, I added the snow one cup at a time, stirring a little after each cup.

Since the snow was melting quickly and becoming runny, I probably should have covered the mixture and stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes at this point to make the consistency a little more "ice creamy."  But we were too excited to wait and had our snow cream more as snow slushies.

I served our winter weather treats in lowball glasses, garnished with a scoop of fresh snow and a Chips Ahoy cookie.  I prefer to top mine with a little Hershey's chocolate syrup, but, alas, we had none of that in the refrigerator either.

Snow cream is awesome because it tastes almost just like homemade vanilla ice cream, but requires significantly less effort to prepare.  After our dessert, we leashed up the dogs and headed out into the weather to get some exercise.  

Chris discovered that the plastic tray from the bottom of a broken dog crate made an okay sled (even though it filled with snow every time he went down the hill).  We tried to go for a walk, but it had just started sleeting pretty hard, so we turned back home after just a few minutes.  Luellen was especially ready to get home - she hates this cold white stuff.

And that's about all we've done today, other than sit around and watch movies.  Usually all this unproductive downtime would drive me crazy, but I'm very thankful for this time just to be together with Chris's deployment date looming about a week away.

In other news, we traveled down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to visit Chris's family this past weekend.  Because Chris had to work a few hours on Friday and we had to stop in Burlington for my dad to help with a little brake pad maintenance on the truck, we didn't make it down to his parents house until almost 9 pm.  Chris's parents, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend were all there and had kindly waited on us to eat dinner.  We didn't do much that night other than watch the Olympic opening ceremony and catch up.

On Saturday, we watched more Olympics, went to Spartanburg's famous Wade's Restaurant for lunch (it was my first time and I had a mean vegetable plate - green beans, mac and cheese, sweet potato souffle, and creamed corn!), and then we all traveled down to Chris's old stomping ground in Greenville that evening. 

Pardon the selfie, but here I am in the t-shirt Christopher bought me to celebrate my first trip to Wade's.   He bought one too, and I'm sure we will "accidentally" match in them many times to come in the future (yep, we're that couple... ew). 

Chris's parents took us out for dinner in downtown Greenville at Soby's, one of Chris's favorite restaurants that I had also never tried.  I ordered the pork tenderloin and he had a featured mussels entree; let's just say both of our plates were almost sparkling clean when the waiter took them.  After dinner, his parents headed home while us young folks wandered the streets downtown.  It was Chris and my first time in dowtown Greenville together, and since he is a Furman alum and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend are attending Furman now, they knew their way around.  We stopped at Starbucks and visited the the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park, then headed on back to the car - it was too cold for a lot of wandering.

Chris's brother snapped these photos for us at Falls Park.

On Sunday morning, we all went to Chris's home church in Spartanburg and had a yummy lunch together at his parents' house.  After lunch, Chris and I packed up and drove to Salisbury to see his grandparents on the way back to Sanford.  We had BBQ, hushpuppies, baked beans, and red velvet cake with them (I think I gained five pounds this weekend).  After a couple hours visiting there, we loaded up the doggies and headed on home.  It was a lovely weekend full of family and fellowship, which is always important and enjoyable but even more so than usual for Chris since he is leaving soon.

Here are a few more photos from our drive home:

Luellen sleeping on top of Hank in the back seat because that's normal

Cheesin' and drivin'

The South Carolina peach!

Man, Miss Lulu has this selfie thing down.

Sleeping standing up... I wish I could say this is unusual for her, but it's not.  She's a weirdo.

On Monday, my new glasses came in the mail!  I broke my glasses last year and have been wearing just contacts forever, so I was relieved when they finally arrived.  They're from Bonlook, which I would definitely recommend.  All their glasses are fashionable and only $99, plus mine arrived in no time after I ordered them!  There was one slight hiccup in that they needed to verify my prescription due to some North Carolina laws, but all I had to do was email an iPhone photo of the sheet my eye doctor gave me to their support team, and they got the ball rolling on my order.

The jury is still out on how I feel about the frames, they stick out a little more from the sides of my face than I expected, but they'll probably grow on me.  Anything beats having to wear contacts all the time.

One more thing!  Eric Church's new album, "The Outsiders," was released yesterday.  Almost nothing makes me happier than when I can get my hands and ears on new music from one of my favorite artists.  Be expecting a whole post dedicated to this CD because I just can't help myself.

Whew, sorry for the longest post ever!  I had a lot to recap!  I hope everyone affected by this snow storm is staying safe and warm.  Chris and I both have the day off work again tomorrow so we will be hanging around the house some more, hopefully with power!  Happy hump day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

30 Things Big Sisters Really Do For Little Sisters

I'm starting to dislike these lists many people are posting on Facebook and sharing on Twitter from blogs.  At first they were pretty funny, then they were a little funny, now I feel like my entire Facebook homepage is "22 reasons this..." and "13 signs you're a..."  In some cases, it seems like people are just writing them to try to get some easy "shares" and "hits" for their blogs.  Quite a few I've read seem like they didn't have a lot of thought put into them and were kinda half-assed.  No offense to anyone who is a professional social media list maker, it's just that, like anything else in the social media world (e.g. taking pictures of your food, posting an overused meme, etc.), the lists are getting old.

With all that said, I felt like I needed to write this list when I came across one on Facebook today about "Things Every Big Sister Does for Her Little Sister."  That particular list was mostly about sharing clothes and buying alcohol, which may be the majority of some sisters' relationships, but I think there's a lot more to the big sister little sister bond.  Also, my sister told me the other day she expected a post about her since I had dedicated two whole posts to my dogs. 

So, without further ado, 30 things big sisters do for their little sisters:

(FYI - This list may ring more true for sisters with at least three or four years difference in age.)

1)  When the little sister is born, insisting on holding her and carrying her around so much that it makes your parents nervous.  This constant need for having contact with the baby is driven by the fact that it is like your Baby Born doll has come to life, which is pretty freaking awesome but also a little terrifying (in an exciting way).

2)  Happily helping with diaper changing for the same basic Baby Born reason listed above.  However, this only applies to #1 diapers.  Poo poo diapers someone, anyone, else could change.

3)  Developing the ability to sleep through the wonderful sound of baby sister crying because you have no other choice.

4)  After diapers, helping with potty training incidents, which provides black mail for the rest of both of your lives.

5)  Pinning little sister against the bathroom counter and fixing her hair when Mom is busy and someone has to keep the child from going out in public looking like that.

6)  On the same note, frequently dressing little sister because, since she is the youngest child, your parents are okay with her going out to dinner in princess dresses and Halloween costumes in mid-July.  Big sister, however, is not okay with that and, over the years, saves the family tons of embarrassment due to little sister's fashion choices.

7)  Happily playing school with little sister for hours thinking you are the kindest, best pretend teacher in all the world (which was probably no fun for little sister since she always had to be the student and do "pretend" work).

8)  When you were a preteen, babysitting little sister for free because you think it makes you seem older and more mature.  In hindsight, you realize you were duped and saved your parents thousands of dollars in babysitting fees.

9)  Remembering that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery when she uses that phrase that's "yours" or says your favorite singer is her favorite too.

10)  Having her favorite and least favorite foods, colors, etc., memorized, giving you the ability to always speak for her when your parents or other people ask questions about what she wants for dinner, what clothes to buy her, or what she wants for her birthday.

11)  Always giving into what she wants to do because you know if you don't she'll whine and make you miserable until you do.

12)  Doing her make-up for dance recitals and middle school dances, teaching her how to wield the mighty eye liner and mascara - which makes it weird when she eventually gets better at it than you and does your make up for your bridal portraits and rehearsal dinner.

13)  Showing her which of your big brother's buttons to push to make him the most angry when he's being annoying, but also the right way to talk him into taking your side on things when Mom and Dad ask for his opinion.

14)  Teaching little sister how to ask Dad to do or have things you know Mom would say "No" about, while using the right amount of "Daddy pleeeeeases" and the perfect cute tone of voice.

15)  Also teaching little sister not to take Mom for granted because it's easy not to see all the things Mom does to keep your family's lives together, but you are so much older and wiser you can impart this knowledge to little sister so she doesn't act like too much of a brat.

16) Going through puberty first in the most awkward way possible because you didn't have a sister to watch endure the painful process before you.  Because of this, little sister knows exactly what's coming and how not to act, making puberty seem like a breeze for her.

17)  In the same way, being the first daughter to have tampons, bras, and thongs, so when little sister has these womanly things in her possession, it is much less disconcerting for Dad.

18) Never probing like Mom and Dad do, but having the ability to lead little sister in conversation to whatever topic about her life you are curious about.  Then being there to talk to her about it and give her awesome, wise, big sister advice in an understanding way because you remember going through the exact same thing at her age, yet it wasn't a thousand years ago like it was for Mom and Dad. 

19)  Always being willing to pour her a glass of tea or make her a grilled cheese, even when's totally old enough to do it herself, because a part of you will always remember that she was once little and cute and that you are partially responsible for her survival.

20)  For the same reason, always giving her the last Diet Coke in the fridge or Nutrigrain bar in the cupboard, even when she wants you to take it.

21)  Letting her have your clothes and things you're tired of, thus making her way ahead of the trends.

22)  Telling her what clothes are cool at your college, which also makes her way ahead of the trends. Flashback - "I know Wallabees look weird but I promise everyone will be wearing them in a year or two."

23)  Giving her advice about what teachers/classes to take in the right order to have the best GPA and in which classes she can and can't slack off because you've already been through high school and have made all the mistakes for her.  This good advice ends in her having a significantly higher GPA than you did when she graduates, but you are okay with your parents holding this over your head since you know you are pretty much responsible for her success.

24)  Giving her similar advice about college, except now including advice on sorority rush, which kinds of boys to avoid, and what to wear when tailgating.

25)  Getting married first so she can see what parts of the preparations really matter, be your maid of honor, and learn from your mistakes in the planning process (just like puberty, high school, and college).  Then when she gets married you can return the favor and be her MOH.  So much easier than having to choose between friends!

26)  Giving her another big brother when you get married to watch her back and intimidate guys (as if they need more intimidating than your dad, brothers, uncles, and boy cousins provide).

27)  Always being a built-in best friend.

28)  Teaching her it is better to laugh at yourself than worry about whether someone is laughing at you - which means making sure she knows you will always be there to play "Don't Step in the Lava" with the living room pillows or make complete fools of yourselves in Target, no matter how old.

29)  Being unbelievably pleased and excited when she gains admission into and chooses to attend your alma mater.

30)  Being a little jealous when she turns out hotter and cooler than you ever were, but not really jealous because you are so darn proud of your protege.

To my parents, brother, and little sister - all of this is said in good fun. : ) Caroline, I'm expecting a rebuttal "Things Little Sisters do for Big Sisters."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things...

A couple things to mention before I begin this post:

1)  In regard to my previous post, my husband does know how to spell the word "mechanical."  Somehow, I did not even realize he had misspelled the word when I posted the screenshot of our text conversation.  But, of course, it was the first thing he noticed when he read my last post.  Sorry, sweetie!

2)  I realized this week that there was a setting I needed to change to allow anyone to be able to comment on my Hart & McKee posts.  So if you had tried to leave a comment but could not because you didn't have a Google account, that should be resolved now.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way... The Mister is HOME!  He arrived early, early in the morning on Friday.  Of course, I had to work every day this weekend.  But two good friends came up from Georgia and South Carolina to see the Mister before he deploys in late February, and I think the three of them had a great time.  I wish I could have had more time to spend with them, but we did all four get to hang out for a little bit on Saturday night.  It's always a wonderful treat to spend quality time, however short, with old friends.

The Mister knew I was bummed about not being home this weekend since we had company and he had just gotten back after three longs weeks away, so he surprised me with this clock he knew I'd been wanting for the kitchen from Cracker Barrel:

How thoughtful is he?  I'm the luckiest.

Thankfully, both of us had the day off to hang out yesterday.  We were able to go to the gym together, have dinner out, and watch the episode of Downton Abbey we missed on Sunday night.

The Mister being home, friends visiting, and my new mint green clock are definitely some of my favorite things right now.  Here are a few more favorites from around our home:

Since Chris is an artillery officer, cannons seem to be a common theme in our decorating.  This particular cannon that hangs in our hallway may be my favorite because Chris and I found it on a random thrift store adventure while we were driving from Raleigh to Fayetteville one day.  (Pardon the reflection of the map that hangs across the hall in the glass - there was no good angle to take the photo where there wasn't a glare or a reflection.)

I adore this print that hangs in our guest bathroom.  Not because it is anything especially beautiful or expensive (I think it was $19.99 at Marshall's) but because it has lived with me in my sorority house at NC State, two different houses after graduation, and now in this house I share with my husband.  I don't think I'll ever be able to do away with it as it has so much sentimental value.

Purchased during our honeymoon, this handmade patchouli scented soap in our guest bathroom makes me so very happy.  We bought it at Down Creek Gallery, one of the coolest spots on Ocracoke Island for buying art work, candles, and classy souvenirs to remember a trip on the Outer Banks or to bring a piece of your trip back to those you love at home.  Not only does this pretty little bar of soap remind me of our honeymoon, but I also love the scent of patchouli.  It is unbelievably comforting.  When we run out I guess we'll just HAVE to make a trip back to Down Creek to get more.  It's always nice to have an excuse to go back to the beach.

A conversation with a friend who is looking into purchasing a new washer and dryer got me thinking about how much I really love my Maytag washer and dryer.  Chris still jokes about how excited I was when the Lowes truck pulled up with them on move-in day.  They are so sleek and easy to use, with the ability to "hand wash" and gently dry all of the blouses and dresses I really should take to the dry cleaner instead.  They can also powerfully clean Chris's uniforms after he has been in the field for a week and handle the super thick quilt-y comforters we use on our bed and the guest room bed.  I know it is strange for a girl to have such a love affair with her appliances, but I do.  When they are done with a cycle, they even sing me a nice little tune instead of making an alarming, ridiculously loud "beep."  I may be a little too into this homemaker lifestyle.  Judge me.

While we're on the topic of washing clothes, I should also tell you about how much I love Method laundry products.  They are awesome.  Big name detergent and softener scents can be so overpowering, but these Method products make your clothes smell clean in a way that smells like they were dried outside on a clothes line in spring, not like they were soaked in chemicals for an hour.  In addition to being naturally derived, Method detergents and softeners are super concentrated, with a small, easy-to-use bottle.  And refill bags are available, so you can hold onto your first bottle with a pump and save money by buying refills.  The softener makes my sheets and towels just as soft as Downy ever did, but I get the piece of mind of knowing there are fewer chemicals involved and the scent is so preferable to other options.

I don't particularly like this runner from Target we have in the hallway.  Although the color is nice, it is a pain in the butt to keep it straight and it is not very high quality - it picks super easily and we've already had to cut a lot of loose strings off of it since we bought it in September.  All of that said, I love this rug because my Hank adores it.  It is one of his most favorite places in the house (after on our bed eating pillows and under our bed eating pillows).  When we're sitting watching TV in the living room, Hank stretches out on his "comfort rug" behind us.  And when I'm scooping the dogs' food in the morning and in the evening, while Luellen is sitting nicely at my feet and waiting patiently for her food, Hanky walks around the corner and lays down on his rug, sometimes poking his head around the wall into the kitchen.  I bring him his food as if he is the King of England, and he eats it, laying down, on his rug.  It probably makes me a bad dog owner that I don't make him sit and stay for his food as I do Lulu and that I allow him to lay down and eat, which probably isn't healthy for his digestive system.  But his feeding time ritual is so precious.  Luellen scarfs down her food in roughly two minutes; Hank usually relaxes and savors on his rug, taking 10-15 minutes to eat his Purina kibble by kibble.  Although it can be annoying when I'm late for work, it's darling.  I love my Hank and he loves his rug.

I've been dying to paint my guest bathroom an oatmeal color like this Eddie Bauer Satin Interior Oatmeal shade.  Tan with a little purple, I've been infatuated with this color for over a year now.  And all the walls in our house are still "contractor white."  Although it won't be long before we have to make a military move, I really want to add some personality to a few walls.  What do you think about oatmeal for a bathroom?

Okay, folks - I have to go change into my gym clothes so I can meet Chris to work out at his favorite gym on base.  It's leg day, and I love me some leg day.