Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garden Update

So I realized I haven't posted an update on the garden since we planted it back in April. Remember that it looked like this?


Well, what a difference a few weeks can make. Now it looks something like this:


(I'm not sure which is growing faster, the plants or the dog.) Anyway, as you can see, the tomato plants are totally taking over. What you can't see though, in the back, is the squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers that are all thriving. We also had a ton of cilantro. It was great while it lasted but doesn't really like the warm weather. We made some amazing cilantro dip and black bean salad while it was around though. We've also got a TON of basil. I just made a big batch of pesto tonight that we ate with pasta. YUM.

Anddd, we had salad with cucumbers and grape tomatoes fresh out of our garden. We're about to have more grape tomatoes than we could ever know what to do with. And that's not even taking the regular sized tomatoes into account, which will start getting red and ripe any day now.

Yummy grape tomatoes, in various stages of ripeness:


Bell pepper just about ready to be picked (don't you like how I took these pics right after we watered the garden, so everything looks all fresh and dewey?):


And jalapenos:


Squash (some of our squash unfortunately had root rot, but there's still plenty):


Still-green regular tomatoes:


Something that shouldn't be in our garden though? This thing:


We found out that it's a tomato hornworm (see its little red horn?). We found three of these on our tomato plants when we got home from the beach last weekend. Evidently, they can pretty much pulverize tomato plants in a short span of time. Luckily though, all you have to do is keep an eye out for them (they're kind of hard to miss with those white dots) and just kill them or remove them from your plants. Crisis averted.

P.S. Those white things on its back? I thought maybe they were babies. Nope. They're parasites. Little parasites that will turn into moths and eventually eat away at the hornworm. Ewwwwww. GROSS.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday

Before you buy anything online, don't forget to check out RetailMeNot.com. It's a site that compiles coupon codes and promo codes for almost every retail site out there. When you get to a checkout page online that says "Have a coupon code? Enter it here" and you think "Man, I wish I had a coupon", Retail Me Not can usually help. It might just be 10% off or free shipping, but it makes you feel good about your purchase because you saved a little bit of money.

Using Retail Me Not, I've saved money on everything from bridal shower invitations to picture prints to custom postage stamps. If you can't find what you're looking for on Retail Me Not, you can sometimes find coupon codes on other sites through a regular Google search.

One bummer about Retail Me Not -- it seems that more and more companies are catching on and requesting that codes for their site be taken down, i.e. Target and J Crew. But even then, Target for example provides their widely advertised "featured discounts" so you might still find something useful.

Happy online shopping!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer '09 Mixed CD

1. I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
2. Big Green Tractor - Jason Aldean
3. Waking Up in Vegas - Katy Perry
4. Thinking of You - Katy Perry
5. Out Last Night - Kenny Chesney
6. I Run to You - Lady Antebellum
7. Winter Song - Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson (from So You Think You Can Dance auditions)
8. Crazier - Taylor Swift
9. Best Days of Your Life - Kellie Pickler
10. Don't Think I Can't Love You - Jake Owen
11. Then - Brad Paisley
12. Falling Slowly - The Frames

P.S. - #1 is the best for dancing to, #2 is the best for singing to

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taylor Swift

This past Friday, my sister and I took our cousin Katie to the Taylor Swift concert in Greensboro. It was her very first concert and to say that she was excited is an understatement. I have to admit though, taking Katie was just an excuse for Erin and I because we really wanted to go ourselves. 

One of the best parts of the night was seeing it through the eyes of a child. Katie's excitement was contagious and she said the cutest things like "Are we going in there?!" (as we pulled up to the coliseum) and "I've never seen this many people in my life!!" Here's a shot of Katie in the car, sporting the Taylor shirt I gave her for Christmas:


And her in front of Taylor's tour bus:


The opening act of the show was Kellie Pickler. Since she's from NC, this was the hometown leg of the tour for her. She told the audience that the last time she was in the coliseum was when she was auditioning for American Idol, so it was really special for her to be back. I've always loved her song I Wonder, written about her relationship with her mother. She got emotional at the end and said "I don't usually do that, I think it's because I'm back home with my people!" It was very sweet. Here's a clip:

video

I've loved Taylor Swift (or Tay Tay as we like to refer to her) from the get-go. I think she's cute and spunky and a good role model for young girls and I respect her for the fact that she plays multiple instruments and writes most of her own music. And now she's headlining her own tour, all at the age of 19.

I was skeptical about the concert, thinking 'are we going to be the only people there above the age of 14?' Well, I have to say, she puts on one heck of a show. I've been to a lot of concerts in my lifetime, and I truly think this might have been the best one I've ever been to. Every second of the show was entertaining. Even during her many wardrobe changes, she showed funny video clips and interviews setting up the next song. She talked to the audience a lot, had incredible energy and sang for well over two hours. We definitely left there feeling like we got our money's worth. Here are some pics.

Her opening marching band act -- You Belong with Me:


Sparkly guitar:


After a wardrobe change, she randomly showed up in the crowd and sang a few songs at the back of the coliseum:



Playing the piano:


My favorite part of the concert? When she came out in a Tyler Hansbrough jersey:



And she definitely went out with a bang. Here's a video of the finale -- Should've Said No:

video

Here's one last shot of Katie with the souvenir she bought -- a CD signed by Taylor:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Super Sweet Wedding Invite

If you know me, you know I love everything wedding. So of course I was in love when I saw this ultra-unique wedding invitation, designed by the groom, Matt Dorfman. (I'm having trouble posting the image so you'll just have to click on the link.) It's getting a lot of buzz, so I thought it was worth sharing myself.

Isn't it fun? I think I love the last line the most.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday

I'm starting a new series today called Tightwad Tuesdays. It will give a little insight each week into the ways we're tightening our belt around here in an effort to A.) pay off some of our debt and B.) save for some of the things we're lusting for.

This week: Lowe's coupons.

Back in the early Spring when we were doing lots of work to our yard and porch and building a patio, we were going to Lowe's or Home Depot what seemed like every other day. I knew we had a lot of big ticket items to buy and I hate paying full price for anything, so I started researching how I could get my hands on some Lowe's or HD coupons. I saw a suggestion online to buy them on eBay. There were TONS of listings for the coupons, and after losing a few bidding wars, I snagged a set of ten Lowe's 10% off coupons for $9.

When Lee found out, he flipped. You paid money for COUPONS?!! My response: yes I did, we'll save a lot of money and if we don't it won't be the first $9 we've ever wasted. 

The good thing about the coupons? Both Lowe's and Home Depot accept competitor's coupons so we could use our Lowe's coupons at HD with no problems. 

After buying patio stones and materials, patio furniture, a grill, porch furniture, front porch rockers, a pen for Sugar, an invisible fence for Sugar, and miscellaneous garden supplies, grass seed, etc, here's the money we saved with 9 out of 10 of the 10% off coupons (I can't seem to find that damn 10th receipt):

$24
$32
$25
$9
$51
$61
$34 
$41 
$25 

For an approximate savings total of $302. Not bad for $9 worth of coupons right? 

What this really tells me though is that we need to stay away from Lowe's and Home Depot for a while. Or buy stock in them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wild America in Our Backyard

We live on a cul-de-sac. 

In a neighborhood. 

In the suburbs. 

But the wildlife in our backyard don't know it. Seriously, it's like a jungle out there.

Lee didn't want to live in a neighborhood. If he could have his way he'd be as far out in the boonies as possible on 10 acres of land with nothing but trees and critters to keep him company. Needless to say, 10 acres of land in the Triangle area was not in our price range, so  we ended up in neighborhood. One of the reasons we picked our house though was the large (for this area) and private backyard that backs up to a wooded area. 

One day we came to visit the house while it was still being finished and a deer came wandering through the backyard. I think that finally sold Lee on the house, because it made him feel right at home.

Soon after we moved in, we discovered the fox. He hung out in the woods behind our house and was Lee's little pet - he was pretty obsessed with him. Here's what he looked like when we first moved in:



We hadn't seen him in a while but he has turned up again recently. Now that we have Sugar though Lee has turned all protective Papa Bear and was NOT happy when the fox came into the yard late one night and started barking at Sugar. He's probably doubled in size since this pic and is definitely NOT welcome in our yard anymore. 

You'd think that Sugar would scare animals away from our yard, but she seems to attract them. Or maybe it's just the fact that she goes nuts when she sees something in the yard so we take notice of it more than we used to. In the past two weeks, in addition to the fox, we've encountered this turtle (you would've thought it was a grizzly bear from the way Sugar was freaking out):


And multiple rabbits. And this deer:


Notice Sugar in the right corner and the deer towards the left, paying the dog absolutely no mind. Sugar didn't bark at the deer though, she was just very interested in it - I think she's smart enough not to bark at things bigger than her. That's probably a good rule of thumb in life.

So there you have it, our very own version of Marty Stouffer's Wild America.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chrissy & Mike's Wedding Weekend

Chrissy and Mike got married two weeks ago, and I think I'm just now catching up and recovering from the fun-filled weekend.

The weekend started with Chrissy's bridesmaids luncheon on Friday at 411 West Italian restaurant on Franklin Street. Everything was lovely and the food was delish. As our bridesmaids gift, Chrissy gave us all personalized "from the library of" stamps and a classic book to go along with it. Here's a pic of all the girls with our gifts:


And one of just the bride and I:


After the luncheon I checked into our room at the Franklin Hotel, where Lee and I were staying for Friday night. The hotel was super nice, new and modern, and I was seriously design-inspired. But more on that in another post. 

After a quick rest and change, it was time for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner was at the Carolina Brewery. The food was yum-o and mad props to Sara for putting together a great photo slideshow for Chrissy and Mike. One of the best parts of the dinner was the groom's cake. It was a replica of Mike's prized Land Rover, and looked like something straight out of Ace of Cakes. One interesting tidbit: the wheels were made out of Krispy Kreme mini-kruellers covered in black fondant - very inventive!


After a few drinks at the bar at the Franklin, we turned in to get some rest for the big day. 

The wedding was at noon on Saturday, so we got an early start at Caju salon in Chapel Hill. Our transportation for the day was a Carolina Livery bus -- SUCH a great idea for getting everyone (bridal party and out-of-town family) where they needed to be. 

The ceremony was at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, followed by a reception at the Carolina Inn in the Old Well ball room. The weather couldn't have been better...a perfect Carolina May day. I didn't get many pictures of the cocktail hour, etc as I was busy performing bridesmaids duties, but I tried to make up for it once the reception started. Here's Chrissy and Mike's first dance:


You know I'm a sucker for the details, so here's a good detail shot:


Chrissy and Mike are big wine enthusiasts, so they went for a wine theme, from the wine-colored bridesmaids dresses and color scheme to the escort and place cards. The escort cards doubled as favors and were split bottles of wine from one of their favorite vineyards. The place card holders were wine corks. I love love LOVE the way they all turned out.

The flowers were beautiful as well - roses, hydrangea, peonies, and hypericum berries in white, pinks and burgundy. There's nothing like big, beautiful peonies to make a bouquet or centerpiece. Here's a shot of my bouquet:


The reception was wonderful -- the food was great, the bar was great :-), and I think everyone had a great time. Here's one last shot of the bride and I:


Congrats Chrissy and Mike! Thanks for letting me be a part of your big day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Universe, I Need Your Help

I want to go on a trip. I mean I REALLY REALLY want to go on a trip. And I don't mean a trip to New York or California or even the Caribbean or Mexico (although all of those would be nice). I mean I want to go on a FABULOUS trip. Like the kind where you tell people where you're going and they go "Ohhhhhhh" and are silently thinking, "Man, she is so worldly and cultured and lucky. I sure am jealous."

The only time I have ever been out of the country is on our honeymoon to Mexico. This, my friends, I feel is the single greatest failure of my life thus far. Not the trip to Mexico, it was amazing. It was heaven on earth. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Lee and I get a little giddy when we use the travel shampoo we have leftover from Excellence resort. We take a big whiff and long to be back on the beach with Miguel saying "Would you like another margarita, senor?" Ahhhhh...

But back to my point. My lack of international travel is somewhat depressing to me. I've ALWAYS wanted to go to Europe and came this close in high school. And then 9/11 happened and our country declared war and our school system wasn't about to let a group of 17 & 18 year olds fly half way around the world in the midst of all that chaos. So no Europe for me yet.

I still want to do a London/Paris trip one day and do all of the classic touristy things, but for now I'm thinking Greece...or Italy...or New Zealand...or Australia. Lee loves to travel as much as I do, and Australia is his top pick, but as the practical half of our duo, he's a very tough sell. What I'm trying to convince him is that yes, there are other things we could (and probably should) spend money on. Like paying down debt. Or finishing furnishing our home. Or saving for (gasp!) a baby. But there will ALWAYS be other things we could spend our money on. And those things will be waiting for us when we get back home. If we don't do this now, WE WILL NEVER DO IT.

Oprah told me that if you want something you have to visualize it and say it out loud and believe that it will happen. And you know what Oprah says is true. So, universe, I just thought that I'd put this wish out there and let you do your thing. I'll even pretend to believe in The Secret if it will help get me on a plane faster. I'm married to the most practical person on earth, so I need your help BIG TIME. Please and thank you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a great Memorial Day weekend down in Beaufort. On Saturday we went to our normal hangout -- Shell Island. It's close to the house and we normally have the island pretty much to ourselves. 

On Sunday we decided to go to Shackelford Island and grill hotdogs. The ride getting there is a little rough and there's usually a lot more people. Memorial Day Sunday was no exception -- it was PACKED. We found a "parking spot" and anchored just fine, but other boats kept trying to squeeze in near us and there were several almost-collisions. We had to keep Sugar on the leash the whole time, which she did NOT appreciate. We had a good time on Shack, but we all agreed that we'd stick to Shell Island next time.

I took a million pictures, mostly of Sugar, Brett or Sugar and Brett together. I guess they're just the most photogenic, or at least the most active. Here goes:


We saw lots of the Shackelford Banks ponies. Brett and Leah were able to get pretty close for a pic:


This is probably one of my all time favorite pictures:


Back at the house, Lee was sitting down to rest. Brett promptly went and got his bucket, so he could have a stool to recline like Lee. So cute.


Lee and Sugar headed out on the boat. 


And cruisin' back in:


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