July 24, 2014

Stuff and Things 7/24

I started watching The Vampire Diaries.  It's so bad it's….bad.  I just can't get into it, but I keep watching because I need to have some kind of background noise on while I paint and sort and redecorate.  I feel bad for Scott…while we were working on things over the weekend, we made it through 10 or so episodes.  He'd stop every so often, watch the screen, and ask, "What is….oh, never mind" and go back to work.

Along the same lines:  What show should I be watching?  Please help.  I'm bored.

Months ago, when our friend Rachel was staying with us in Missouri, she introduced me to this popcorn.  Since then, I've gone through at least 1 bag a week.  It doesn't help that we don't have a microwave, so I can't even make all the regular popcorn that's hanging out in the cupboard.  I just keep buying bag after bag of pre-popped popcorn.

Hey, Popcorn Indiana, if you'd like someone to test and/or sell your products, please let me know.

Progress is being made in the unicorn room.  Here's what it looked like when we moved in…

One closet, two doors.

What nightmares are made of… (Sorry, that was mean)

Answer:  All hand-painted
Question:  Wha…?

I mean, at least it won't look any worse.

Nope, no "after pictures" yet.  Still chugging away…

I found a nail salon.  For weeks, I've looked up reviews for pedicures around the area and the only place I could find with good reviews was $50 for a pedicure.  That's kind of a lot.  Well, not kind of.  It IS a lot.  And I didn't want to pay $25-35 for a bad experience.  I had one of those bad experiences back in May-ish in St. Robert (Spa Nails…I got a gift certificate for the place at school and it was *quite* ghettoish and they weren't gentle on the feet.)
When we were eating at Pho and Grill on Saturday night, I noticed a nail place right next door.

Envy Nails and Spa on the left, Pho and Grill on the right.  

I'm a sucker for convenience and, for me, knowing how to get to the place is half the battle.  Plus it said Walk-ins Welcome.  I also hate making appointments, so I randomly showed up at 1pm on Tuesday.  I got right in!  It was clean, they had a huge selection of all the great nail polish brands, and it was surprisingly crowded for the time of day.

$25 for a basic pedicure and I added the callous removing option because, well, I needed it.  So $30 plus tip and I was there for over an hour and they were working on me the whole time.  I didn't have to sit around and wait at all.  I'm pretty thrilled that I found a nail place, even though I only go a couple of times a year. Envy Nails and Spa.  I recommend it.

July 23, 2014

Are you sick of Pinterest yet?

I'm really appalled at a lot of the stuff I find on Pinterest these days.  Just this morning, there was a "bubblegum slushy", s'mores every which way, and more diet ideas than you can shake a stick at.  Yesterday at the gym, someone said they'd seen this idea "on Pinterest" that was just genius.  I mean, "incredible!".  It was (are you ready for this?), mixing chocolate and marshmallow together and dipping your graham crackers into it.  It would eliminate so much mess, she said.  "Like…a…dip?", someone asked.  "YES! Like a dip!"  They all thought that was just the best thing ever.

These are the same people who thought I was the instructor after I told them I wasn't.

So, what we've all feared has finally happened:  the general population has found Pinterest and now everyday conversations will never be the same.  It only took 4-ish years.

Lately I've been using Pinterest to find decorating ideas.

An antiqued pantry door?

Teaching ideas.

That's not my classroom, but I plan on something similar.

And amusing things.
What not to do if you're a teacher

Maybe someday, I'll be lucky and stumble across that OMG-AMAZING dip recipe that those ladies were talking about.

July 22, 2014

A 5K, North Cheyenne Canon Park, and Pho and Grille

Last Friday, a friend and I decided to run the Firecracker 5K on Ft. Carson.  She enjoys running more than I do, but hasn't done much of it here yet.  I think the altitude got the better of us both.  I felt SO out of shape.  I usually rely on whatever cardio ability I've naturally retained to get me through 5Ks and such (7 minute mile in high school, #neverforget).  My first 5K was 32:00 minutes, my first 10K was 55:27, and this 5K was 33:18.  Not my proudest moment but considering that I: didn't train, had never run in Colorado before, and had never run in this pair of sneakers before, it wasn't too bad.  I came away feeling like the world's most unprepared person.  But, in my defense, it was a trail run and there were HILLS.  As if the elevation weren't enough, they added gravel hills.  It was terrible.

And my shirt was too big.  Pitfalls of signing up late. 

Moving on…

As my friend and I were running, we talked about the fact that "this is it till Monday when it comes to working out, so if it hurts tomorrow, that's okay". I wasn't expecting Scott to be home on Saturday and was planning on having a lazy day.  Instead, he came home Friday night and wanted to "do" something on Saturday and we ended up going hiking.

My poor feet.

We went to North Cheyenne Canon Park, which is right in the middle of Colorado Springs.  It's right near the Broadmoor Hotel and has several trails to offer.  I went into the Starsmore Discovery Center (which reminded me of the Eagle River Nature Center, for any Alaska readers out there) and asked the ladies at the desk what a good hike would be.  We had two dogs and weren't prepared for anything strenuous.  They gave me a map and suggested the Lower Columbine Trail.  It led to the Middle and Upper Columbine Trails, so it progressively got harder and took you 4 miles to Helen Hunt Falls. We did not make it all 4 miles because it was kind of a tough trail and we, going along with my unprepared theme, were not planning on such a hike.  We went the entire Lower trail, and did 3 switchbacks of the middle trail.  We were huffing and puffing and Jett was truly pulling me along.

My little sled dog. 

If you point at something and tell Jett to look, he will instead look at you.  This includes food, quail, and cameras.

Scout had had enough of us holding him back at this point.

After we went back to the truck for water and dog treats, we walked up to the reservoir and had a nice view, but there wasn't much to see up there.

Co Springs' water supply

The Broadmoor Hotel

We went back to the truck (slowly and painfully in my case…Jett just walks too fast) and headed off in search of a place to eat.  There is a TON of shopping and dining options on Powers Blvd.  It's where all my favorite stores are, plus Panera (ate there on Thursday), Super Target, Whole Foods, etc.  They even have a farmers' market on Thursdays.  It's on the opposite end of town, but the highway cuts right across to where our house is, so we can go in the back way and avoid all the I-25 traffic.

As we were driving through the parking lots, we saw Pho and Grille.  Scott had been wanting pho last week and we couldn't find a place near us.  Pho is Vietamese noodle soup and we really came to love it while we lived in Alaska.  Anchorage, being incredibly diverse, had just about every kind of cuisine you could imagine (except Panera, of course) and I don't remember if we ever found pho in the midwest.  I'm guessing not in Waynesville anyway.

After the 5K and that ridiculous hike, I wanted something more substantial than soup, so I had the Grilled Chicken Bowl.  We had shrimp spring rolls and Scott had a Thai iced tea (I took a sip or two…even my sweet tooth can't handle those things.)

This was, without a doubt, the best thing I'd eaten so far in Colorado.  I can't say it any more clearly.  If you want to make me happy, give me a big bowl of Asian noodles.  I don't even understand how it is possible to cook chicken so perfectly.  Plus, there was cucumber, carrots, bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, cilantro, peanuts, and a sweet and sour dressing over the whole thing.  I added some soy sauce and chili paste.  I ate as much as I could, but ended up taking half of it home. Scott said the pho was some of the best he'd ever had.

If you are in the mood for Thai/Asian/Vietnamese food in Colorado Springs, go to Pho and Grille.  It's right next to an I-max theater, along a street of outdoor shops.  We can already tell that this is going to be our go-to location for dinner and movie nights.  It was absolutely fantastic.

And then we went to Coldstone Creamery, which was right next door.

  • If you are going to hike in North Cheyenne Canon, take a backpack with water and snacks.
  • You do not have to pay to park or hike.  It's all free!
  • If you are going to eat Asian food in Colorado Springs, go to Pho and Grille.

July 21, 2014

Decorating on a budget: $147 later

I come from a long line of bargain shoppers.  I was brought up to believe that there is a big difference between buying something cheap and buying something cheaply made.  Cheap means having good luck and "right time, right place".  It usually refers to outlet shopping, which I've done a lot of in my day.  Cheaply made means…fake wood furniture from Target (that I think is so, so pretty but Scott won't let me buy because it's "not real" wood or whatever). Or clothes from Old Navy.  I swear that some of the clothes I have from there hold up like champs, whereas others are garbage after one wash.

I love stores like Homegoods, Marshall's, T.J. Maxx, etc, because they have great goods and brand names for lower prices.  I have some issues when it comes to paying full price, so I rarely shop at more expensive chains (like Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma) because I really don't think a lot of that stuff is worth it.  Also, I get quite a high from finding a bargain.

While I could probably go into a little bit of credit card debt over decorating this place and my husband would be none the wiser, I won't let myself.  You see, I thought ahead:  my in-laws gave us money for Christmas and I've been hoarding it away with the idea of "the new house" since December.  I wasn't going to waste it on stuff for a rental that may or may not work when we finally settled in our own home (I'm not crazy; I knew we were moving in the spring.)

So I had a list of things I wanted and needed and there's still more to get, but here's what I got at Homegoods and Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I don't have the receipts, but here's approximately what $147 got me.

Rug for the kitchen (top): $20
Rug for the guest bathroom (bottom): $20
Shower curtain rod for the guest bathroom: $15
Storage basket: about $8

Shower curtain: $15
Shower curtain liner: $5
Dog toy: $5
Shower curtain hooks: $6
Stemless wine glasses: $10

Basket: about $6
Vintage-looking hat boxes for the guest room: $8-10 each.  They were originally FIFTY DOLLARS EACH.  Who in their right mind would pay that much for decorative cardboard? 

Treat jar: $10

It came out to about $31 at Jo-Ann Fabrics and $116 at Homegoods.  I actually steered myself away from the clothes in the Marshall's portion, telling myself that would be a separate trip.  You can see that my splurge was probably the rugs, but I like having different rugs to choose from and I needed something without rubber on the back for the hardwood floor.  Plus, I liked the patterns.  

I also took a spin through Kirkland's because they do a great military discount and we're in the market for wall art, but I didn't see anything I just had to have.

Where do you like to shop for "home goods"?

July 18, 2014

To blog or not to blog

Being a blogger is tricky.  I have these real relationships with real people and I'd just love to pull you all aside and have coffee with you, you know?  Because there's some things we just don't want to talk about on the internet.  No one wants to be the blogger who shares and bares it all.  No one wants to be a vague-blogger either.  So where do we draw the line?

The answer is that no one really knows.  There's no magic formula about what we should and should not blog about. Some bloggers claim there is, but they're just in it for page views I think.   I don't make any money from this humble space, so I figure I can talk about whatever I want.  No limitations, right?  But, then again, I haven't figured out where my limits begin and end.  That's why it's tricky.  

We all have things we'd love to discuss with these good friends we've made through the interwebs, but it's hard to do when you don't know who's reading.  We all would, I'm sure, love to talk about personal troubles and triumphs with blog friends (talk about "troubles"it just took me 3 tries to spell "triumphs" correctly).  Sometimes we only hint at the things that are really going on in our lives because we don't want to come across as too high-maintenance.  However, sometimes we come across as boring or bland if readers can tell that we're not putting enough out there.

Like I said, it's a fine line.   There's nothing I would love more than to truly let everyone I choose in on everything in my world.  That's what friends are for, right?  More often than not, just like with real-life friends, we censor what we say because we don't want to make it all about us…am I right?

If we were to have coffee…

I'd tell you about my new skincare regimen.  How it finally seems like my skin is beginning to clear up after a miserable year.  How I'm not ready to go into details yet though because I'm afraid I'll jinx it.

I'd tell you how the army is causing Scott to be at work for 15 to 24 hours a day and we're not used to that and it's a hard transition for him, for me, and for the poor dogs.  

I'd tell you that it's hard to live in a new place again and how I don't really have a support system here.  But I'd throw in that I'm SO grateful to have a couple of friends already.  The support system, I know, comes with time.  

I'd tell you that I went to the Air Force Academy to a doctor this week and I'm not sure how I feel about her.  But my options are limited because my insurance is through the military.  You can't just pick and choose where you go.  I'd add that "maybe this is a good reason to get out" of the army.  Choosing medical care is a privilege in this country, but ironically it's denied to military families.  

I'd also probably ask if you've watched anything good on t.v. lately. Maybe you thought last week's True Blood was surprisingly climactic too.

Then maybe we'd move onto more intelligent conversation, like books or something.  Or maybe not.

And then I'd ask if you wanted to go to Homegoods and buy baskets and shower curtains because that's what a fun afternoon looks like to me.

Where do you draw your own blogging line at?  Do you feel comfortable sharing everything you'd tell a friend over coffee?