Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Memphis

This year, Tim & I went to Memphis (where my grandparents live) to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Tim worked 1/2 a day on Wednesday and we drove up in time to meet Moms, Pops, my mom, Allen and Ryan for dinner.

Dinner on Wednesday night at Humdingers
Happy to see my brother!  Missing Rhetter :(
My aunt and uncle, Kay and Mike and my cousin Megan and her husband Blake also came in town.
Megan & I - cousins!
I do have to brag on Megan a bit here - she just graduated from Alabama (I love her anyway) and was on the gymnastics team.  They won the national championship last year and she recently got her national championship ring.

It's huge!  So pretty!
Thow in an SEC ring to boot...

Our wonderful hosts - my grandparents, Moms & Pops

Blake & Megan - newlyweds!

Mom & Allen

Me & the hubby
Thursday morning, the girls (minus me) spent THREE HOURS at Walgreens and CVS doing couponing deals.  Megan coupons a lot - she is one of those people who can plan it out so she actually walks out of the store with more extra care bucks than she walked in with (i.e. she makes money and takes home a ton of stuff).  The women in our family (myself included) are BARGAIN shoppers.  They love a good deal!  I was already planning on Black Friday shopping and didn't need many tolietry type items so I took a rain check.  I went on a run through my grandparents area that morning - the weather was pretty blah, but they live on a golf course, so I ran the cart path which was at least pretty smooth.  I ended up getting a little bit turned around on the golf course though and ran longer than I planned - although it was my longest run to date!  Only about 1/2 a mile short of the 10 mile goal I have for the race in January!  My knee has been hurting since then though  :(  At least I didn't feel bad on splurging on some yummy Thanksgiving food!

We had green bean casserole, dressing, squash casserole, mashed potatoes, strawberry salad, green salad, rolls, ham, turkey AND pork tenderloin.

Yum!  And really good leftover!

We took a breather in the afternoon to watch some football - luckily both the Longhorns and the Cowboys pulled out a victories with last minute field goalsover A&M and the Dolphins.
Football time

Hook 'em!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom & I

Allen & Mom
Blake, Mike, Megan and Kay
Then, of course - the main event in our family is the dessert!  Everyone brought something - Mom's puppy chow and chocolate chocolate chip cake, Moms' crockpot candy, Megan's oreo balls, Kay's derby pie and pecan pie and my pumpkin pie cheesecake swirl (we needed at least ONE thing that didn't have chocolate?!).  I'll post the recipe later this week.

We also played a few rounds of cards during the week - I must add, the only game we finished all the way I was the winner (of course, do you think I'd bother to tell you about it if I'd lost?!)  We like to play Shanghai - and I caught everyone on the last hand to come back from behind!

We also always go Black Friday shopping - I just like the thrill of the chase, even if I'm not hunting anything big (which I wasn't really this year).  The whole opening stores at midnight REALLY through us for a loop this year - its hard to decide whether to stay up or go to bed and go early?  We ended up deciding to go at midnight and somehow convinced Tim and Ryan to go with us...

They're only smiling now...
THEY HATED IT!  I can't say I blame them this year - we went to Macy's and really didn't find ANY good deals.  It was incredibly crowded, our coupons wouldn't work on any of our purchases and it just wasn't all that fun!  We went home pretty quickly, got some sleep and went back out at 8 that morning (sans Tim and Ryan).  We went to Dillards (good deals on purses - I got a Lodis wallet for $10!) and Loft and hit up a few other stores in the mall.

That afternoon, we caught up a bit on sleep and Tim made chili for the whole family for dinner that night.  I must say - Tim makes a mean chili. 

Last dinner together
Tim & I drove back yesterday to catch the Auburn/Alabama game...tough game, but its still great to be an Auburn Tiger! 

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

A weekend of Pinspiration - Part 2 - Menu Board

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday - we're just getting back from Memphis with my mom's side of the family - great weekend of food, family and fun!  Pics to come soon!

But first, back to my weekend of Pinspiration - I've been dying to come up with a solution for my weekly menu planning.  If you know me even slightly, you know I'm pretty obsessed with spreadsheets.  Usually, I try and make a menu plan every Sunday - I do this out of sheer necessity (so don't be too impressed) because I'm not creative enough to come up with something on the spur of the moment with ingredients I have - if I haven't planned ahead, it probably means we're having a Moe's night  :)  This has also been pretty essential in getting healthy - I find that if I plan in advance, its much easier to eat healthy dinners.  So, normally, my spreadsheet would be fine.  The problem was that we buy a lot of stuff frozen so we can buy in bulk and I'd forget that morning to set out food to defrost.  Sometimes, a meal also requires that we grill extra items on one night so I have it for later.  Well, all that planning goes out the window unless I remember to do the prep.  So, a menu board it was!  And I decided I needed a giant board right by the door to my garage, so there really would be no way to forget.  I was loosely inspired by several Pinterest pins (including the one hyperlinked below), but really Lisa and I came up with this one all on our own!

Chalkboard menu planner
So, Friday morning, bright and early, we headed to Lowe's (our first of 4 trips) and Hobby Lobby to get supplies.

We started with one of the unfinished frames from Hobby Lobby - they were 50% off and this one ended up being about $40.  We thought about trying to use trim pieces from the hardware store, but couldn't figure out how to make it flush (since a frame already has routed edges to drop in a piece of glass), so I decided this frame was worth the extra expense.  We ended up picking the frame we liked the best and didn't worry about the color - spray paint is cheap! 

Step 1:  Spray paint unfinished frame with white spray paint

Finished frame
We also bought a sheet of plywood from Lowe's and had them cut it to fit exactly into our frame.  The whole sheet was about $10 and we used less than 1/2 - we saved a few smaller pieces and gave one larger piece we couldn't fit in the car to a stranger  :) 

To create our chalkboard, we first tried chalkboard spraypaint that we found at Hobby Lobby - total fail, I wouldn't recommend.  Granted, I probably didn't give it a fair shot - after about a 1/2 a coat, I waived the white flag - it was getting drip spots, the coverage was very uneven (didn't cover the grain of the wood) and it looked like it was going to need a TON of paint.  I think this may have been created for use on a slightly smaller projects - not 40x30 pieces of plywood!  Either that, or perhaps its user error.

So next, we turned to chalkboard paint that we applied with a roller.

Step 2:  Paint plywood with chalkboard paint

See the difference?  We did end up doing a 2nd coat of the paint as well, just in case.
Lastly, we had to figure out a way to attach the plywood to the frame.  We wanted to make sure the plywood was held very tightly in place so it wouldn't wiggle when I tried to write on it.  The plywood wasn't quite as thick as the opening for the frame, so we had to get creative.  We ended up buying these metal thingys (which is the technical term - I checked) and screwed them to the frame so it would hold it.  Lisa slightly bent them so they would have more pressure on the plywood.  Apparently she was a little too strong for her own good - she ended up breaking the metal once, so take caution!
Step 3:  Attach plywood to frame with metal fasteners

Close up shot of our hardware
Then - our menu board was ready to hang!  We used picture hanging wire on the back and screwed two screws into the wall.  We added some chipboard letters we painted black to spell out "Menu" and....Ta-Dah!

One stipulation I had was that I did NOT want to use regular chalk to write on the board - I hate how dusty it gets and I knew I wouldn't want to deal with that.  Lisa recommended these:

Crayola Dry Erase Crayons
They write just like crayons and they do erase off my chalkboard as long as you use a little water.  I'm also thinking about getting a chalkboard marker, but we'll see.  Tim and I used our board for the first time last week (even though it was a short week b/c of Thanksgiving break and meals were basically just a hodge podge) - it was a great reminder to me that I needed to make the pumpkin pie cheesecake swirl dessert I brought to our family meal. 

I'm looking forward to meal planning today just so I can write it on my board!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A weekend of Pinspiration - Part 1 - Painted Curtains

When Lisa comes into town, I can always count on her to do a little home improvement with me.  Last year, she helped me tackle several projects in my living room to make it look a little bit more completed including adding shelving/accesories and a picture wall.

Picture Wall - Lisa's '10 visit

Floating shelves & accessories - Lisa's '10 visit

This time when she came, I was prepared with a handy list of inspiration from my favorite website, Pinterest.  One of the projects I really wanted to tackle included the following:

Painted curtains

I saw these curtains and couldn't believe when I clicked on the link that she had actually PAINTED them.  In her blog, she uses some cheaper Ikea curtains, but I actually got some velvet white drapes from Lowe's (would have been even cheaper if I had found some good drop cloth - I've seen some great curtains made out of drop cloth) but I wanted them to be a little thicker and make sure they blocked most of the light.  After a few quick measurements, we decided we wanted 10" stripes, knowing that the bottom stripe would be about an 1" or 2" wider (which was okay with me).  We moved the dining room furniture, laid out a drop cloth, and started measuring!

Blank canvas!
I didn't feel like marking any measurements on the curtains because I was lazy wasn't sure how it was going to come off.  So instead, we marked 10" with a tiny piece of tape on each side and in the middle, then laid one long strip across so it lined up with all three.   

Marking our tape pieces
Taping was the only challenging part of this project - we had to keep remembering which part would be painted and make sure that the tape was on the OUTSIDE of that line.  Then, when you measure the next one, make sure you measure from your true line (which is sometimes the top of the tape and sometimes the bottom of the tape depending on whether its a painted stripe or not).  We ended up putting a smaller piece of tape to remind us which stripes we did NOT have to paint - see how they look smaller because the tape is on the inside of each line. 

From there, we just rolled on my wall color with a normal paint roller - be warned, this soaks up a LOT of paint.  We only bought one quart and definitely had to squeeze out the last few stripes, even though there were only about 8 stripes total.  I probably would have bought a gallon next time to be safe.  Plus, I don't think it would hurt to do 2 coats, but more on that later.

Remove the tape while still wet - no bleeding!
While we were at it, we bought some oil rubbed bronze spray paint and spray painted my curtain hardware.  Look how pretty it looks...

Coolest spray paint ever...I see why people are obsessed
And now, the finished product...

Not too shabby!  Word to the wise on this one though - I didn't read all the way through the blogger's post.  When the paint started to dry, there were some spots that soaked in a little more than other and Lisa & I went back and touched them up.  Those touch-ups didn't dry uniformly with the rolled on paint, so I'd caution against doing this - probably just roll on a second coat.  A few people have asked if they're "crunchy" - and since these are velvet, they weren't exactly the blowing in the wind to begin with.  If these are going in a high traffic area or you have kids that might play with them, you might be disappointed, but for my purposes I thought they're just fine.  The dark color actually looks a little like suede in person.
Hope you're moved to tackle some Pinterest projects soon...stay tuned for the other 2 projects we tackled this weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weekend in Collage

A little over a week ago, Lisa made her annual trip to Birmingham to visit!  Once a year, we send our husbands to Nebraska for their hunting trip and we have a girls weekend!  No men, no kids, no agenda, and usually no getting out of our pajamas  :)  I am working on a full recap of all of the home improvement projects we completed, but for now - I thought I'd give you a brief summary of the weekend in picture collage. 

How we spent our time:

We also were able to have some great catch-up talks, order pizza (not once...but twice), and watch a girly movie.  A wonderful Thanksgiving week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vulcan 10-K

Some of you may know that a little over a year ago (Sept 25, 2010 to be exact - I only remember b/c its my dad's birthday!) I decided to get into a healthier lifestyle.  I have thought about blogging about it for a while now, but haven't had the nerve b/c I didn't want to sound too preachy or like I had it all figured out (I've already taken too much grief for my "motivational" pins on Pinterest!).  Stay tuned to see if I decide to share. 

So, as part of this "get healthy journey" I started running.  Last September, I couldn't run a lick.  I did my first workout which was the Couch to 5k program, as described here.  My first workout, I did 30 minutes on the treadmill, with only 8 of those minutes being at an actual jog (and at a very slow pace, might I add).  I only share my running history to give you a little perspective - a few weeks ago, I ran in my second ever race - I ran a 10-K! 

Now, prepare your gag reflex here - I actually enjoyed it.  Now, I CANNOT say this is the case for 99% of my runs - I like the results and I like the way I feel after, but I never thought I'd be one of those people who just enjoyed the run itself (and in the spirit of honesty...I'm not sure I've enjoyed a run since this run).  But, there was something about all of the people, working towards a common goal, enjoying the weather, etc.  I also liked this one much better than the 5-k - something about the distance was right.

I mentioned in a previous post that Emily Ann was trying to talk me into running the Vulcan 10-K - I decided last minute that I'd suck it up (even after my massive b-day dinner at Sumo).  I did have to do a double take when I picked up my race bib and it said my age was 28 - you have to put in your birthday and they calculate your age on race day.  Guess I'd forgotten I'd have one more b-day before race day!  :)
Vulcan Run - 2011

WAY too early - and it was really cold!

The route started and ended downtown and was pretty flat
Emily Ann and I ran together the first four miles of the race - her knee was bothering her a bit and we separated for the last 2.2 miles, but having her with me was great so I knew how to pace myself.  She has a Nike plus watch that tracks your pace while you run and that really helps - I tend to run too fast and then get winded early.  We still ended up finishing pretty close together - and they even had frozen yogurt from Yogurt Mountain at the end of the race - yogurt at 9:30 in the morning?  Don't mind if I do!

We did it!
Being new to the race world, I didn't realize they'd post your time on the Internet for all the world to see.  I might have run a little faster if I'd have known that  :)  All in all - not as fast as I was planning, but the important thing is that I did it!

So, I've sort of gotten the bug - there's a 10 mile race in January that I'm thinking about doing.  I know most people say to do a half marathon next, but 1.  That seems like a big leap to me and 2.  The timing is not as good - (mid Jan - March are really busy at work).  Again, putting my thoughts out there to have some blog accountability!  We'll see!