Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's a...

BOY! We found out the sex of the baby during my 20 week ultrasound last week, and let me tell you that we were both shocked. When the little penis appeared on the ultrasound tech's screen, we both did a double-take. Hubby had wanted a girl...friends and random others told me that the signs (terrible morning sickness, weight gain in my chest, etc.) indicated a girl was on the way. So, I was convinced they were probably right. Even though Hubby had wanted a girl, he said that he adjusted to the idea of having a boy rather quickly. Me...not so much. All that I could think about on the extra long, Thanksgiving-eve drive to my parents' house was, "What am I going to do with a boy?" I am a girl (obviously), so I have a little insight into what to do with one of those, but my niece is a girl (again, obviously) and I have two sisters and I wasn't around boys while I was growing up. So again..."What am I going to do with a boy?" reverberated through my thoughts. My family, who, with the exception of my dad who has been surrounded by sisters, daughters, and female pets all of his life, wanted a girl. Needless to say, they were beyond shocked when we told them. I think they were disappointed. But alas, the important part was that our boy has a healthy heart, bowels, lungs, spine, brain, and extremities. Whew...a sigh of relief.

After a lovely Thanksgiving Day filled with turkey and other gluten-free goodies (everyone LOVED my gluten-free stuffing), we lurched into an awkward day-after-Thanksgiving ritual. The ritual of purchasing an ornament on the day after from local crafters isn't the awkward part, but interacting with my sis and mom (between whom the the tension was thicker than GaGa's eyelashes) definitely was. I was honestly a bit relieved that we had to leave early to welcome our new renters (another story for another time).

So, after one more breakdown last night, my uber-supportive Hubby (who also made me gluten free cc cookies and sang to me for my b-day last night) made me sit down and start looking at boy nursery ideas. He knows that I need something tangible to reduce my anxiety. The result was, as predicted, a relaxing reduction in anxiety, and I found lots of cool, non-blue, non-teddy bear, non-baseball bat themed rooms for CHEAP posted by women who want to have children without literally buying in to the consumerism and commercialism that comes with that dangerous four-lettered word: BABY. Here are some of my favorite designs

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baby Donahue

So, the other really big news...I'm pregnant!

Return of the blogging

It's been a hundred years since I have last written a blog post. Life has been busy. We moved out of A's house and are still working on getting the Sparks house rented or sold. Most importantly, we FINALLY moved in to our new old home. Note that I didn't say that our new old home is finished. The reality is that it is still very much a construction zone. Hubby couldn't resist not sleeping here despite the dust, bare unpainted walls, mud for a backyard, drafty windows, etc. So, here we are! The truth is that our house is beautiful, and I am amazed that all of my thrift shopping and the family painting efforts have culminated in an (almost) Dwell-worthy home.

The TO DO list:
Paint all trim
Paint ceiling touch ups
Srape paint from all windows
Repaint all windows
Paint exterior of house
Obtain and install storm windows
Acquire random pieces of furniture
Sand and polyeurethane stairs
Grade yard and install concrete patio
Install fence
Get remainder of household goods that government has skillfully "misplaced"
Throw housewarming party :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

More paint please

Hold on to your seats...this will shock you....we spent this weekend...wait for it...PAINTING!!! Yeh, not a big surprise. We were delighted that my friend S donated more hours of her time than she had planned to cover my office closet doors with a second coat of paint. And, even though Matt's college buddies bailed (one, who shall remain nameless, even said that he couldn't help because the new Harry Potter movie was being released...really? that's all you could come up with?), one drove out to help on Sunday. They say that during a crisis, you find out who your real friends are. I think that during a major house renovation and a call for painting, your true friends shine through. Thanks S and R!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

One is Silver and the Other Gold

New friends lent a hand today as Matt and I were struggling to move a piece of the sectional that we bought from the Re-Store through our front door. Without missing a beat, our soon-to-be neighbors provided tools to remove the front door, moved the difficult piece that I was trying to navigate, and volunteered to assist hubby the remaining 3 trips to pick up the other pieces. Thank you new friends!

Old friends gathered to celebrate the wedding of my dear childhood and college friend (the groom). The setting was a lovely, family-run vineyward in the middle of nowhere mountains of Western Virgnia. Hubby got a chance to see three of his closest college buddies, and in addition to chatting with them and their wives/signficant others, I was able to catch up with an old high school (and college) beau. Even though the college buddies don't see each other regularly, and I haven't really talked to the groom in a few years, those old ties bind. Hubby and his buddies fall right back into their silly antics and recollections from the "good old days." How many times is the "hot wings" story funny? Apparently every time that it is told!

I think that old friendships become new again as we share new experiences. I'm reminded of my old Campfire Girls Days and the song, "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold."

Monday, June 27, 2011

3 days...1 week tops.

Three week...tops. Famous last words of our flooring guy. do these people manage to make a living...oh wait...that's right, residents like us don't know how/have time to install hardwood floors and are therefore at your mercy. So, needless to sat, we've passed the three day mark. We've passed the one week mark. They were installing floors today...let's hope that it lasts.

My dearth in postings is due to the fact that every waking moment that hasn't been spent working or moving has been spent painting. I inherited by dad's nose and my mom's eyes, but neither of them passed their painting gene to me. I suck, and I'm okay with that. They, on the other hand, don't suck at painting. In fact, they're quite good. Mom can cut in (that's painting talk for painting the top of the wall without getting one drop of it on the ceiling) with the best of them. This weekend, my parents came to visit and painted. Mom on the ladder. Dad holding the bottom. Hubby and I were listening to them quietly bicker while we painted the need-no-painting-skill door frames a room away. Going through this renovation has made me appreciate my parents' ability to stay together throughout all that they have done. Renovating is a stressor. It is a constant stress on the indivdiuals and on the couple. Hubby and I have a pretty darn good marriage, and this renovation has pushed us to our share of squabbles, meltdowns (okay, that one is mostly me), and financial freak outs (that one is mostly hubby). What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, our relationship muscle is going to be ready for Olympic weight lifting by the end of this project...whenever that may be.

Everything has been running behind/taking longer/requiring more permits, etc. We are out of the leaking he#$-hole formerly known as our apartment. Our lease was up July 1, and we thought FOR SURE that we'd be in the house by then...silly novices. Our realtor (God bless her soul) allowed us to move into her house while she is honeymooning and is now living with her husband. She is amazing, and her house totally rocks. Needless to say, my tolerance for inconsistent contractors just increased. As long as A doesn't sell her house, I'm content to stay. Actually, if we should happen to sell the house that we haven't gotten to live in yet and anyone has an extra $200K lying around and wants to throw it my way, I'll gladly purchase A's beautiful old home with all of its quirks and creaky floors. I've grown fond of mowing the lawn, watering the plants, and sitting on the porch. I love walking to the gym and the park. Hubby gets upset because he wants me to like our house as much as I like this one. We'll get there...someday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Behind schedule

So, last weekend was first our move-in weekend, then our painting-marathon weekend, but in reality it was our scrape-and paint-exterior-windows-in-the-100-degree heat weekend. Ugh. Needless to say, for more reasons that I care to think about, the house is behind schedule.

The good news:
1. We have drywall
2. The in-laws have a lovely planter for us for our front step
3. We bought a brand new sectional at the Re-Store for cheap (of course)

The bad news:
1. I pulled a quad muscle playing kickball which (un)fortunately won't affect my ability to paint
2. The city can't seem to figure out what they want us to do about our drainage situation
3. We are still behind schedule and can't do a thing about it

Monday, April 25, 2011

Door #1

Hubby's been a little anxious lately. He's been itching to DO something at the house. So, when the weather finally stabilized, we went to the house and did what our limited home improvement skills allowed. First, Matt cut down an invasive plant/tree. All went well until the last part of the stump crashed into my upper thigh. I have a nice baseball sized bruise, and I need to find a good story to accompany it :) Then, we started the nasty P word...painting. We painted one door and trim before the thunderstorm hit. Door #1 looks great and is a symbolic step ahead.

Today is our three year anniversary! Hard to imagine that we were in SF three years ago saying "I do " on the steps of the court house. Last year, we were in Paris for our anniversary. We stayed here. We didn't celebrate our love in an international location this year, but we did indulge in a lunch at Volt on Friday. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend in town

Living local. Highlights:
1. Scored Italian marble at remnant prices for vanities
2. Saw our contractor's beautiful wine racks at a local coffee shop...The Main Cup From there, Matt dropped me at the tea shop where I worked for the afternoon and evening. I met lots of people during the Egg-Stravagana themed First Saturday. People from Emmitsburg, Winchester, DC, Rockville, England, and plenty of locals enjoyed shopping for delicious teas and tea-wares.

After a brief but solid night's sleep, I scrubbed the apartment and then we went to brunch at Firestones with some new friends. The food was decent but not stellar and not worth the price. Then, on to Westminster to the Tractor Supply Store...leave it to me to find cute, european boots at Tractor Supply :) Sadly, I left them behind. But, we had a lovely visit with the in-laws who were in both good health and good spirits. Now, shrimp stir-fry with the new spices that M's dad couldn't wait to give him.

Day #3 of Paleo eating has been good, although beyond feeling more balanced for a few hours during the first day, I haven't noticed any other benefits...I'm trying to be patient.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Sometimes when I am overwhelmed by work tasks, practice tasks, finacial issues, home construction issues, etc., I step back and realize just how lucky I am.
I live in the town I love.
I have a job that I like and great co-workers.
I work in a tea shop (can you believe it!??)

Life is good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nature: A Feel Good Elixr

Spring insn't officially here, but I definitely felt and saw signs of her approach this weekend. Hubby and I went for a wonderful hike in Harper's Ferry on the Maryland Heights Trail This was our first hike in the area, so we parked outside of Harper's Ferry, asked crunchy hikers to point us in the right direction, walked half a mile to the historic Harper's Ferry (that always feels eerily empty to me even when it is overflowing with tourists), and headed out over the old railroad bridge. The steps leading down from the bridge to the canal path were open-grate, which was mildly disconcerting given the swift running water, nearly ready to overrun its banks. In fact, the river was lapping around the final step. The trek up the riverbank was steep and reminded me that my hiking legs had not had a good workout in quite some time. Nevertheless, it felt wonderful to be active in the fresh air!

Sunday was a local hike day. We visited three open houses...Hubby even obliged me and went in. We also strolled Baker Park and discovered Great Stuff by Paul. Usually when a shop has "great" or "best" in the title, I can almost discount its greatness or bestness; however, this was different. They truly had great stuff. I found candle holders made from old sugar molds, and Hubby found a factory cart that would make a cool coffee table. Given that we don't actually have a house yet, we decided to refrain from purchasing the items. The house is coming along, though. The plumber was working on Sunday when we stopped by. Hubby and I had a small tiff over the master bath shower, but we just have different styles of doing things. Hubby likes to make a decision NOW. I could spend the next six years researching the issue. We compromised. I researched for a few hours and we had a decision.

I'm feeling good after spending time in nature. I feel more like myself. Maybe it is getting back in touch with Pennsylvania roots where every free moment was spent outside or maybe it is reconnecting with nature in a way that is inherent in us all. Either way, I'm ready for more!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Small Town Living

Friday we had dinner with our soon-to-be neighbors. I feel that having good neighbors makes a huge difference in domestic enjoyment, and I'm glad to have good neighbors. Our dinner conversation revealed that we are indeed living in a small town. They knew people who we knew...interesting.

Matt and I went for a walk in Reston Saturday morning. We always have good talks while we walk, and this time was no exception. We walked around Lake Ann through my favorite community, Waterview Cluster. These are a group of townhomes on or near the lake, designed in the mid 1960s. They are filled with windows and light. So beautiful. I definitely had house and neighborhood envy, making me second-guess our choice for Frederick. That was all for naught, because after volunteering at the tea shop downtown, walking though Baker Park, and standing at the bottom of the tower as the bells chimed, I was happy to be in Frederick.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Half Full

I knew I probably shouldn't have eaten almond butter, but I missed it. So, I did. And I paid...with stomach pains all weekend. Nevertheless, the stomach issue didn't stop me from volunteering at the local tea shop...Voila I loved it! It was a bit overwhelming...260 teas, and I haven't used a cash register since my pizza shop days! Then, hubby and I drove to Catonsville for a lovely, delicious dinner with a co-worker and her husband.

Sunday, I really wasn't feeling well, so I was confined to our tiny apartment. Matt painted at the house while I franticaly researched paint colors. Behr paint was 25% off...what a deal...but I had been dragging my feet making a decision (those of you who know me know my inherent and genetic difficulty with decisions) about the colors for the house because it was just too overwhelming. The deal was for three days...Saturday through Monday, so being the thrifty shopper that I am, I had to act. My pain prevented painting and fun activities like hiking, but on the upside I was forced to choose colors. I am a simple gal, and if it were up to me, I'd love to live in all white, but hubby is a bit more traditional. So, after many, many, many visits to paint websites, design websites (thank you apartment therapy, decorpad, and many blogs), I decided on....drumroll please...Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray for the main areas of the house

And Decorator's White for the Master and my office

We went to Home Depot last night to pick up our paint. I waited nervously as our paint mixologist (very PC) prompted the computerized paint system to deposit red, yellow, and brown into our white paint cans. After the stirring/shaking machine did its thing, the paint mixologist, reached in to the can and placed a dab of the Edgecomb Gray on the was love at first sight. I was so pleased and had no hint of painter's remorse...let's just hope that it looks that good on the walls :)

I felt like crap this half empty. Feeling like crap forced me to stay home and make paint choices for our half full.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Work Pros and Cons

Cons: I just found out that I have to be on-site an extra day each week.
Pros: I am part of a mobile team, and I just returned from my first mission. See photo.

Who is Family?

The easy definition of family will likely involve blood in the same house...daily interactions, etc. However, I've learned that Family is much bigger than that. In Europe, my co-workers (some of them) became family. We shared meals, we cried, we laughed, we traveled, we connected. But, I had assumed that this was due to all of us being geographically separated from the traditional family structures.

I was reminded of the expanded definition of family this past weekend. We had lunch with a wonderful family. We've known them for about 4 years; however, we've only spent a day with them here and there throughout the years. Yet somehow, sitting around the table sharing our traditional brunch with them, they are family. Another coworker who I met 5 years ago is now my sister. She truly is.

Family has little to do with geography and everything to do with connection. One of the reasons that I moved back to the states was to be closer to my Webster-defined family, but that didn't strengthen the connection. In fact, I feel less connected, because despite the change in proximity, there has been little change in perceived connection. Letting go of the expectations placed on traditional family is difficult, and I'm continuing to work on that. Europeans embrace (both literally and figuratively) the concept of traditional and non-traditional family. So, here's a hug for all of my "family" out there :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simple Food

I've been reading more about the Paleo way of life. The premise is that, if our caveman ancestors didn't eat it, we shouldn't either. I don't know if I buy that, but I do think that the simple eating strategy that the Paleo-proponents espouse is worth chewing on:

1. Eat whole foods. Eat vegetables. Green, orange, red, purple. Lots of them.

2. Eat fat. Research shows that fat doesn't make you fat, that saturated fat doesn't increase cholesterol, dietary cholesterol doesn't increase cholesterol. Saturated fats (such as those in butter and coconut oil) assist with vitamin absoprtion, and the lauric acid in coconut oil facilitates weight losss.

3. Skip grains. Grains cause inflammation in the body. This can manifest as celiac, diabetes, weight gain, irritable bowel, MS, autoimmune issues, infertility, and the list goes on...

I won't even get into the brainwashing that has taken place to keep us believing that statins are the answer or that this drug cures us. For more on that, read Overdosed America .

As I read blogs on the topic, I'm amazed by the people who say that they "don't have time for this lifestyle." When did we think that instant oatmeal from a packet, breakfast "cookies," and fake foods were the norm. This is your life. This is your health. You choose how to spend your time, but please don't expect me to pay for your medical bills for preventable diseases. But, I digress. Back to food. I've tried a few new recipes with success:

1. Costco sells organic chicken (breasts and thighs). The thighs are meh on their own, but when marinated in healthy oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, they are marvelous.

2. Creamy Tomato Soup

3. Costco also sells frozen, wild Alaskan salmon that is scrumptious!

4. Roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar

5. Egg cupcakes

With my best Julia Child voice..."Bon apetit!"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sick and Tired

I pride myself on being a healthy gal. I read health books and blogs with great appetite. I enjoy moderate exercise and yoga. I get decent sleep. I am healthy. So, when I needed to have outpatient surgery suddenly, my body and mind were completely unprepared and unhappy. I have a theory that going to a hospital makes you feel (physically and psychologically) sicker. Walking in to a hospital sends the system into an automatic immunosuppressed state. The nursing staff was great, and the nurse who took my vitals said, "It doesn't get any better than that." Yeh, me!

I didn't want to test my hospital theory, but nature had a different idea. I had the outpatient procedure in early January. It went fine, other than being delayed by a few hours, causing me to sit in a gown with an IV under hospital-grade blankets watching bad tv for longer than was comfortable. Two days later, I felt a scratchy throat and got the sniffles. I marched to the kitchen (a whole two steps away from the living room) and promptly ingested Vitamin C and Zinc, used the Netti pot, and sipped herbal tea, thinking I would nip it in the bud. Wrong. The next day I was stuffy, achy, and sneezy. Due to all of our belongings being in storage, I didn't have access to my usual arsenal of herbs and remedies. So, when I couldn't breathe out of my left nostril, I caved and got drugs from Target. After two days of no improvement, I called the pharmacist and asked what else I could take. She recommended the stronger version of the OTC meds I was taking (the ones that I couldn't buy before because the pharmacy wasn't open and due to too many deliquents getting high, you have to request it from the pharmacist along with your license, blood sample, and first-born child). So, I trekked back to the pharmacy and got the high-test drugs and noticed a bit of an improvement. I could breathe out of my nose but still could not sleep. Now, 8 days later, I am a little less stuffy but still can't sleep and now I have no voice. Really? Is this the usual course and duration that the average, slightly unhealthy immunosuppresed person endures?
Signed: Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired