Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hallway Redo!

Today I'm very excited to be finally sharing a home decorating project!! 

We've decorated a large portion of our house since we've moved in, including painting, hanging decorations, etc. It's really done a lot to make it homey and updated! We never quite got to the hallways, however. They seemed to be outdated, crummy walkways leading to the other nicely decorated areas of the house, but were definitely not places that offered anything pleasing to the eye. I really usually tried to walk quickly through them so I wouldn't notice the beaten down old wood trim or the bland egg-shell walls.

Well, the past two weeks in between work, school, and a lot of yard work, we've finally been able to get the halls decorated! And the great news is, since we used a lot of materials we already had, we spent less than $75 total. That's pretty great if you ask me. I love to reuse and recycle when I can (but not in a green-freak, hippie kind of way).

So here is a before of the up and down halls...see what I mean by old and boring? Whoever lived here before us abused the trim in this house big time. It's all tore up!

This is midway through the project. The red wall and dark trim together made the hallway look very short and dark. But we fixed that up by painting the baseboards and trim too.

And here's an after!

We used leftover paint from other projects for the walls, frames that I had bought for next to nothing at Michael's at one of their Christmas-time sales, and painted the trim instead of replacing it. And the little round chalkboard in the picture is actually a wood slice left over from our wedding that we painted with chalkboard paint.

The only thing we really invested in was new hand rails, since the ones we had before were so sad. We could have just redone the ones we had, but there were chips in them and so we decided to splurge on some fancier ones. We did re-use the hardware though, and just repainted it.

A great technique for anyone trying to paint things along their carpet...get packing tape and tape it along the floor with just a little bit climbing up onto the baseboard/wall. Then take a butter knife or something similar and push that little edge of the tape between the baseboard and the carpet. There were still spots we had to touch up, but we hardly got any paint on the carpet this way and that's what matters, right? 

The only thing left to do is to stain each of the doors and replace their hardware, which we'll do a little at a time. We're going to do a java/espresso stain and brushed nickel hardware. We might try painting the hardware first, but if it doesn't work we'll have to replace it! When they're finished, they'll look something like this:

So, for less than $75, I'd say this project adds another dimension to our humble home. I just love it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ants on the Floor, Food on the Table

I'd like to warn you ahead of time, this post contains complaining as well as *gasp* references to God! Oh boy, I've gone too far this time. 

Now that spring is here, we've been graced with the presence of colonies of ants in our flower beds and now in our kitchen. They've slowly grown in number despite cleaning ferociously, keeping food and dishes put away, and spraying them to death with kitchen cleaner every time I see a group of them conversing on my cabinet face. It's so bad that I can't even do the dishes or use the counter next to it to cook without getting them on me or God forbid in the food! We've seen them on the cabinets, the counter, in the sink, and even in the dishwasher! It's really been driving me up a wall, since I'm type A with cleanliness and just really don't like being crawled on in general. We've laid down traps and sprayed outside, so we'll find out soon if they were just stopping through or going to be the most annoying permanent house guests ever.

Ok, rant over, I promise. Who knew a few millemeter long critter could cause such a ruckus!

Before I continue, I'll just say that anyone who knows me knows that I'm a Christian. Even though I don't go to church, I do read and watch Joyce Meyer's podcasts (I really recommend her books and broadcasts! She really knows how to tie the Bible into everyday life in an entertaining but complete way. You can find out more about her here). Conveniently enough, one of the topics I've listened about in the past week is COMPLAINING. Me, a complainer? No way!

Ok ok, I shouldn't lie either. That's probably worse than complaining if I had to guess.

So I heard the messages about how to be happy with where you are in life, and how to not complain and give the devil a foothold in your life by holding on to negativity and letting little things get under your skin. Well, with those ants they weren't under my skin but were certainly on it!

And while they were on my skin, graduate school was definitely getting under my skin, and it felt like maybe setting up permanent residence there! The schoolwork and classes can be disorganized at times, things come up that change the schedule around (which, for anyone who knows me, drives me BONKERS), and then we're told we have to pay even more than we had thought! The reason? The university changed the amount of credit hours we need to graduate the program, so we could either give them money for more credit hours without getting anything back, or we could pay the same amount to take more courses and have an even heavier workload. All they want is more money! It has nothing to do with my education!!! It's such a horrible trap, that I really wish I hadn't even gone to college some days just so I could say I didn't get sucked into their overpriced, overvalued educational machine. But alas, with 17 years down and only one to go, it's a little late for all that.

So I can't decide which is worse between the ants and the school situation, and then I hear Joyce talk about how life just isn't easy. How there are challenges every day, and how if we set out to do something the devil will surely step out to try to hinder us before we get more than a few steps. He tries to make the blessings seem small and the annoyances/problems seem like Goliaths. And the only way to fight him is to recognize our blessings and what's positive in our lives, and build it up so tall that there's no way the devil could match it.

Here it goes....

Graduate School may be tough, and it may at times be frustrating. It may seem like the school and some teachers could care less about us. But the positive is that in just one year I will be able to be free from the educational system, and go out and help people become better communicators and lead more quality lives! And be able to show them that yes, someone does care about them, even if it's only while they're my patient.  Not to mention then having a good income, and being able to go to a LOT of different types of facilities! Trudging through the unpleasant parts will really make it something special once I get to the other side.

And the ants? Well...a morbid positive, but they will all be dead soon (hopefully), and while they may be on the floor we still have food at the table, and all the other basics that we need to get by and be comfortable. And I'm thankful for that.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25-27

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes the Husband is...Right?!

This weekend I learned a valuable lesson: sometimes it really is the best idea to listen to your husband tell you "no". Yes honey, I did just say that. No need to reread it.

Enter the dog in question, Milo. Or, Mort. I guess his name was Mort, according to his owner. She had found him in the snow in December, and was unable to give him the proper care since she was working so many jobs and going back to school. And, as we soon found out, for a lot of other reasons. She was going to give him to a shelter, but we said that if the dogs got along we would take him and give him a good home.

Sometimes I think we are too nice for our own good.

Mort is a 6 month old puppy. Adorable beagle corgi mix, just a little guy. When him and Bandit got together, they played for hours! We thought it was love at first sight.  So we took him home. The next 24 hours were, well...PURE TORTURE.

He did not slow down one second the entire time he was here. Either running, yipp-yapping, tusseling, or all of the above...he didn't get that after playing for 5 hours it was time to take it easy. When we tried to force him to sit calmly with us, he was panting and struggling so much that we could not even focus on a tv show. When we put him in his cage he tried to bite and dig and yapp his way out, and when we put him in a puppy play pen 3 feet tall HE JUMPED RIGHT OVER IT and took off sprinting. Not to mention pooping in the house...we had our hands full, that's for sure. But we thought we would wait it out a day or two to see if he could calm down.

But then the cat came down to check things out.

One second everything is fine. Louie is coming up to check out the new pup. And the next second, the dog is lunging for Louie's face making a horrible sound, and Louie, confused, is trying to get out of there as fast as he can. If we hadn't been right there, Louie's face would've been bitten off and we would've had two dead animals on our hands. The whole rest of the night, Mort had vicious eyes only for Louie (and Reese too when she appeared).

By the end of the day I was literally hiding in our bedroom with the cats trying not to have an anxiety attack. We had no choice at that point but to call the girl and give the dog back. I felt horrible knowing we couldn't be of more help, and felt even worse that the mister had told me it was a dumb idea from the very get go and I ignored him. So, here it is....

My husband was right. 100% right. For now, we are a one dog house. And here it is, on the internet. For all to see. Sigh. At least the house is quiet again, for now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Fever!

Wow! I have done a really bad job at giving you guys things to read...but I'm back! So much to talk about, I don't know where to start.

I guess I'll start with the biggest thing going on right now...spring fever! We had a few days of warm weather and sunshine, and boy did that get us excited! We had some friends and family out this weekend to help us build our very first flower beds. This poor, empty house is becoming full and pleasant, inside and out! It's come a long way already. We only have the beds right now (still too many cold risks to plant just yet) but I'll post again when we finally get some plants in here.

Here's one of the flower beds we did. I call this one the Ashley and Jill flowerbed, since we did it with no man help whatsoever (except for "that's not a perfect circle" comments...!). Makes the tree look much nicer than before, when it was taken over by some crazy unruly weeds. Oh and Pardon the sad winter grass, it won't be that way much longer.

 We're going to fill the bed probably with yellow lilies, or some other easy to plant seasonal flowers. Or tulips! If you can't tell, I'm a truly indecisive person.

Besides the new flowerbeds all around the house we now have a new front door too!! Boy does this really spruce up the entire house, inside and out! It lets in a lot more light and is really inviting without being over the top. I would highly recommend Window World for doors and windows, they have been wonderful with us through this whole process.


And the last best thing about spring fever is...getting outside! I have my 5k route all set up and am ready to roll. I may be moving slow, but at least I'm moving more than the people still on the couch! It's a lot easier to be motivated to work out when it's not 10 degrees and sleeting all week. Not to mention, Bandit makes a great walking buddy! Now that he is healed we can increase our walking distance together. It'll be great.

Yes, he is wearing a hoodie. He's cool like that.

I promise I'll post more exciting stuff. I think now that I'm out of that deep winter funk I'll have no problem sharing all the exciting things going on in our lives with y'all!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A New Brand of Feminism?

Every time I think of feminists, I picture women angrily throwing their bras out the window and campaigning for their right to be miserable in a cubicle all day long just like men. Really, as a woman I find it utterly ridiculous. No real, down to earth woman wants to be a man-hating, childless, loose-legged business woman her whole life. 

Ok, maybe some of them do, but not me. No way!

And, to make matters worse, we're being blasted by society from all sides that being super thin is very important to be beautiful and attractive. Yet the level of thin, flawless skin, and beautiful bright eyes and white teeth is not achievable when half of it is Photoshopped! Would you say the girl above is attractive?! I think not, I think she needs to eat something fattening. Yet that is what we are being told that we need to be in order to be relevant.

Anyone who knows me will say I'm a major dork. I take that as a loving compliment compared to what I could be called. I love to love, to laugh (a lot of the time at myself), to be done up some days and in sweats the next, to go out and conquer the world and then just sit at home in pjs and curl up with a good book and some ice cream.

And, until more recently, I thought I was alone.

There was no representation of women like me in the music industry, hollywood, or politics, no magazines featuring real, down to earth women and their real lives. But now I've noticed a big push for that sense of authenticity, almost like society has become so fake and so shallow that now they want the exact opposite. And I love it!

The role models I see that are authentic include Jennifer Lawrence, Miranda Lambert, and Sarah Palin, to name a few of the top ones. Jennifer is goofy, dorky, loves food, loves her body, and has a genuine laugh that shoots her to the top of the awesome women list. Miranda Lambert is proud of her body and isn't afraid to be her wild and crazy self on stage or in interviews. And Sarah Palin is unlike the current female politicians, who would faint at the idea of hunting a bear or going fishing.

And what makes these women even more awesome is the fact that they don't need to pretend to hate men in order to be strong and beautiful. Jennifer is engaged and Miranda and Sarah are happily married, and stand by their men unashamedly while still being their own unique selves. In fact, I'm sure anyone who has to take care of a husband or kids knows that they are much more strong than someone strutting around in a business suit and heels!

“I don’t care about being stick-thin. I don’t want stuff to jiggle. Really skinny actresses make me hungry—I see them and think, Honey, you need to eat! I feel my best when I’m a toned, not flabby, size 8. Women come up to me and say, ‘You’re beautiful and confident, and that makes me feel I can be, too.’”

On top of these fantastic women setting a great example for younger women all over the country, there are add campaigns popping up about being a "real" woman. Here are some of the more recent ones:

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" ads feature women with every different body, skin, and hair type.

American Eagle has a new campaign out stating that they won't airbrush or photoshop their female underwear models anymore.

 And some magazine covers have featured women with un-retouched faces, cellulite,  greys in their hair, and all the other things that the media normally tells women they can't have.

This is definitely the beginning of a new era for women, where they can be strong, beautiful, real, happy, work all day or stay at home, be classy or be a dork, and don't have to be a man-hater. Granted I know there will be (and are everyday) attacks on these women trying to put them back into line, but I think it's to the point where whoever thought they were in control of our image is slowly losing it, one real woman at a time.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Low Carb Options When Dining Out

Even though we've been trying to save money by shopping once per month and cooking at home as often as possible, we like to take a break on the weekend and just eat out one of the days. It was easy before I started trying to cut out carbs and sugars, but now it's challenging to figure out what our options are at the places we go to the most.

So I thought for my use and yours as well I would put together a list of some common fast food places and their low carb options. If you're looking for low-fat, I don't do that here so you'll be pretty disappointed. Don't take it personally :P

-Grilled Chicken Sandwich, no bun: 7g carbs
-Grilled Chicken Club, no bun: 4g carbs
-Any of the Burgers without the bun: around 3g carbs
-Spicy Caesar Salad, no croutons, trade the spicy chicken for grilled: 10g carbs
-Cobb Salad, with grilled chicken, no croutons, and choose between either caesar or ranch dressing (the other vinaigrette dressings have upwards of 15g of carbs per packet! yikes) 14g carbs
-Small Cup of Chili: 14g carbs

-Chargrilled chicken sandwich (all the fixings/sauce, no bun): 6g carbs
-Regular chicken sandwich (no bun): 14g carbs
-Grilled Chicken Salads: around 15g carbs (watch out for the vinagerettes, they run around 20g per packet!)

-A salad bowl with any kind of meat, cheese, and dressing (leave out the rice here, but add whatever veggies you want!): 15g carbs (and you can order double meat...around 70g protein! woo)

Penn Station:
(This is really only an option if you're already having a good day and have some carbs to spare, otherwise I would stay away from this one. Unless you ask for literally just meat, cheese, and veggies, no bread, but then it's not a sandwich. )

-8 inch cheesesteak, mayo, meat, cheese, half the bread: 28g carbs

KFC, Popeye's, and Lee's Chicken:
-This one is pretty obvious...get grilled chicken, or tear the skin off the regular chicken and give it to a hungry husband! Without the breading, the fried chicken comes in at 2g carbs per breast, and the grilled chicken is obviously 0g

Skyline or Goldstar Chili: 
-Coney/CHili bowl: 8g carbs

Pizza Places (Larosas, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Richard's, etc):
-There are really no good options here with pizza...half of pizza is bread, and that's sadly just how it is. Not to mention their sauces are loaded with sugar! The only good option at these places are the:
-bone in chicken wings: around 2g carbs per wing IF they have sauce. Plain or with a dry rub they come in at 1g

Buffalo Wild Wings:
-traditional (bone in) wings: 2g carbs w/sauce, 1g carb w/rub

Frisch's Big Boy:
-Sandwiches without the bun will run at around 5g carbs (burgers and grilled chicken)
-crispy white fish: 6g carbs

Breakfast Places of any Kind:
-This one's pretty easy as well...avoid hashbrowns, biscuits, gravies, pancakes, waffles, etc, and go for eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, etc

Most Sit Down Restaurants: 
-No specific counts for this one as there are so many choices, but opt for non-breaded steak, chicken, fish, pork, or shrimp, and choose sides such as fresh veggies or a side salad instead of fries or pastas.

Well, I'd say that's plenty of choices for eating out and still trying to stick to low carb/low sugar options. See, eating low carb can be tasty, right? right?

I miss cake already.

Anyway....if you have any restaurants that have good low carb options that I missed, please feel free to let me know!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sick Days Suck

I'm sure you've all had a time where you've had to take sick days from work or school, and when you returned people say "Oh you should be caught up on everything, you got a sick day!"

Do people realize that when you're really sick, it's hard to do anything?! Seriously, it took me ten minutes this morning just to get dressed. And I only have a fever and upset tummy...I can't imagine what it's like for people who have it worse.

So, to take my mind off of the aches and being hot and freezing at the same time, I thought it'd be neat to figure out what the heck a fever is anyway and why it does what it does. Maybe, if I make it scientific, it'll be less terrible? It's worth a shot at least.

Ok so...

What causes a fever? It looks like fevers are caused by a little thing called a pyrogen, which in various ways tells your hypothalamus in the brain that your internal body temperature needs to be higher. Kind of like increasing the thermostat and then having the heat kick on. The hypothalamus then sends signals out to the body telling it to do anything possible to increase internal temperature, including increasing muscle tone and shivering. Your blood vessels may also constrict to prevent heat loss, which is why you often get headaches with the fever.

What does fever do anyway? From what I've been reading (and I'm sure my nursing friends could correct or affirm this), the body's immune system functions much better at an increased body temperature, thus getting rid of infections much more efficiently. The higher temperatures supposedly allow different anti-bodies to be released more quickly and can also kill infections that have picky temperature preferences.

Why is my stomach upset? This one was pretty easy to understand. When we're sick, our stomachs get upset because they are trying to get rid of anything we ate or drank that may have been the cause of our fever in the first place (think food poisoning here). You also have a tendency to only be able to process bland, simple carbs such as rice, toast, and crackers because the body is not able to focus on digesting more complex proteins and fats since it's resources are tied up elsewhere defending the body.

Why do I ache? This is one I really wanted to learn the answer to, as it is possibly more annoying than the hot/cold feeling or the stomach upset. Whenever I get sick, my weakest points hurt the most: my back, hips, and knees. It drives me crazy! I'm not 100% positive on the information I've found on this one, but here's what I found: when our immune response is activated, we use a chemical called a cytokine to "coordinate the army" so to speak. They do several jobs when fighting infection, but one of them is to cause us to produce an enzyme. The enzyme produces chemicals called prostaglandins, which do many things including increasing inflammation and causing the spinal nerves to become more sensitive. This increased inflammation and increased pain sensitivity causes aching joints, making what might normally be mild pain/discomfort in areas of the body that are already weak feel much, much worse. So that explains why my lower back, hips, and knees always hurt the most, since I have a lot of problems with them. 

Well, I'm more informed but no less I guess I'll just continue eating my toast, drinking sprite, taking NSAIDs, and trying not to move.

Good thing I have a textbook from graduate school nearby that needs to be read (NOT).