We’re Officially Adults

I’ve been less than present online this past month, at least in the blogosphere. For that, I apologize. I have a good excuse.

Adam and I BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE!!!! We’re super excited, a bit overwhelmed and very much still pinching ourselves to make sure this isn’t a dream. It all happened quite quickly, but we are extremely blessed with how perfectly everything fell into place.

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Home Sweet Home

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If you guessed that I would begin sharing our buying/moving stories and remodeling/painting/home projects here, you’d be right. Meggie’s Life will most certainly become the outlet for sharing all of our newlywed first-time home-buyer stories and lessons. Hope you’re ready!

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Thrift Store Makeovers

It was a happy accident, really.

We innocently bought a $10 gold framed oval mirror at Top Drawer, my favorite thrift store in Austin, about a month ago. I had every intention to repaint it gray/silver and put it in our bedroom, because we seriously needed a mirror in there. Weeks went by and it sat in the entry of our apartment untouched.

Mirror Before

Then I had an idea, paint it white since all the frames throughout our apartment are white – that way it would be easy to place in any room. Off we went to Treehouse, our favorite hardware store in Austin, to buy some paint. Once we got there, I was instantly drawn to the bold, bright colors rather than the 25 shades of white. That’s when I decided to buy yellow paint which appeared to be an exact match to the pillows on our bed. Our walls needed a pop of color, plus it’s only paint – if we hate it we can repaint it, right?

After I grabbed the paint sample I wanted, I was then drawn to a chartreuse color I adored. I insisted that we get a small batch of it, maybe I good do some detailing with it around the mirror. Off we went to checkout and get our paint mixed. As our paint was getting mixed, I thumbed through the mistints that you could purchase for $10/gallon. I squealed when I saw the “Eggshell” shade and insisted we buy it, even though we live in an apartment with no walls to paint. I’d eventually have a need for it right?

After we checked out, I convinced Adam to make a stop at Top Drawer just to see what they had – besides their world famous Trannequins. We walked in and it didn’t appear like that had any new pieces since our last visit, then I got closer to the register and saw a sewing chair, with perfect bones, for $12! SOLD!

chair before

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it, which would include the eggshell mistint paint. We loaded the chair into our car and headed to JoAnn to buy fabric. Originally, I wanted to use a chevron print for the chair, but they didn’t have any. I was cluelessly roaming the aisles when I came upon a coral orange print and had to have it. Plus it was deeply discounted. SCORE!

We got home and laid paper on our back deck and got ready to give these finds makeovers. We took the cushions off the chair and removed the glass from the mirror before Adam insisted we sand them, twice, before we began painting. So while he was sanding, I started working on the cushions. Taking off 2 layers of fabric to get to the original:

Original Fabric

and then finding that we have something in common. We’re both from Arkansas!

cushion

It took a good hour of pulling nails and staples to get the fabric off before I could begin covering with the new fabric. I used the old pieces of fabric as a pattern to cut out the new fabric. Then I lined the fabric on the chair and made sure I liked the placement of the pattern before stapling. I started by putting a staple in the center on the bottom and then a staple on either side of the center staple. Then I put a staple in the center of the top, pulling the fabric taught as I went, before doing a staple on either side. I repeated this process until all sides were completed. My staples were a little longer than I needed, so I had to hammer then to make them smooth. After this, it was time to work on the corners. It took creative folding, stapling, and fabric tension, to get smooth corners like I want. Plus a hammered fingernail. Which, by the way, HOLY OUCH!

Finally, the fabric was stretched over the old cushions and the furniture as sanded and ready to be primed. We took our time priming 2 light layers on the chair and mirror then let it get good and dry for a few hours before applying our first coats of color. The mirror took much more paint than the chair, but after a day and a half of painting, drying, painting and drying, it was finally done.

The chair took a bit more time. Remember that chartreuse paint I bought? Adam suggested that we use it to make the insets on the chair “pop”. This involved taking painters tape and applying it around the narrow insets to protect the main paint, then liberally applying the chartreuse to a brush and slathering it into the insets – being careful not to get any on the main color. As an added precaution, after liberally applying an inset with the paint, I took a dry paper towel and wiped away any excess paint to prevent pooling under the tape. After a hour or so of this process the insets were completed and we just had a few touchup spots of the main color that needed to be painted. Once it was completely dry (which was the longest period of time in my life) we attached the cushions!

Gah!! I loved how it turned out. Here’s a closeup of the inset detailing:

 Here’s another before and after picture:

And here’s how they looked once we put them in our bedroom.

I love how everything turned out and how cheery it made the room feel!

Austin City Limits | tUnE-yArDs

Last Wednesday, Adam called to tell me we won the lottery. No, not that lottery. We won the lottery to attend a taping of Austin City Limits! To be honest, I had never heard of the artist we were going to see, but a quick Spotify listen proved intriguing.

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Tonight was the concert. In short it was amazing. In fact, Adam and I walked right across the street to Austin Java afterwards so I could write this blog.

The program we received before the show stated that tUnE-yArDs (made up of singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, a bass player, and a 2-person saxophone section) is “somewhere between Aretha and Yoko.”

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And? She plays the ukulele. Sold.

Every vocal sound that you hear is made on stage by Merrill. And I mean every.

Watching her layer vocals, scats, hums, and screams left me in awe of her artistry. Then, just when your fingers start getting into the vocals, she adds in a drum beat, loops it, and your toes start tapping. Then the sax section adds in some jazz runs and I’m practically giving myself whiplash.

The ukulele was unlike any I’d ever heard before. It was pure rock jams and oftentimes I even forgot it was a ukulele.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a concert with so much sensory overload at once. The environment of the ACL studio only added to the atmosphere and I loved every minute.

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I’m pretty sure I’ll be listening to her all day tomorrow.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a couple of YouTube videos from some of her older live performances.

Mölkky

Several years ago, I visited Finland with my mother and sister. We had a wonderful time staying with a past exchange student’s mother in the quaint countryside, eating traditional home-cooked meals, braving windy days, and strolling cobblestone streets.

In our downtime, we were introduced to a traditional Finnish game called Mölkky (or, as I like to call it, The Finnish Log Game). The game is simple to play and we quickly became addicted to playing it every night of our stay. Towards the end of our trip, I made it my mission to purchase a version of it to bring back to the states. This game has followed me to every picnic, team outing, beach vacation, retreat, and BBQ I have attended in the last 3 years. It brings out the competitive streak in my most mild-mannered of friends and sometimes leaves us scratching our heads as to how a stick of wood can bounce around a pin mere centimeters away.

This weekend I took my Finnish Log Game to a women’s retreat with the church Adam and I have been attending in Austin, and once again I found lots of people enjoying the game and wanting to play many times over. It reminded me to bring it out hibernation when I’m at home, because I love playing it so much.

As with many games, I’m sure the rules I learned to play by are quite different that the original rules, but who cares when you’re having fun?

And yes, I’m aware that video was filmed in France – not Finland – but it was the most fun representation I could find 🙂

Mayfield = Heaven

This past weekend, Adam and I stumbled upon the Mayfield Park and Preserve in Austin. It’s quite possible it’s Austin’s best kept secret..but now I’m letting the cat out of the bag.

This place is incredible. From its perfectly maintained gardens, to its free-roaming peacocks, to its hiking trails along and across streams; it’s officially my new favorite place in Austin.

After the torrential downpour Austin experienced Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, Adam and I decided that later this week would be the perfect time to re-visit Mayfield and hike the trails. Camera in tow.

Wow. I just thought the garden area of the park was gorgeous. But these trails? Some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. It was a total escape and you truly felt like you weren’t in the middle of a large city.

Texas Bluebonnets were in perfect harmony next to the rugged cacti that could be found throughout the park.

And, if you’re patient enough (or, like us, time it just right) you might just catch the peacock showing their full colors.

I’m certain that we will become regular visitors of this hidden Austin gem.

Shake your tail feathers.

Glorious Junk

One of the nice things about living in Austin is the individuality that you find. Whether it be walking down the street, taking in Christmas lights or just exploring new neighborhoods while aimlessly driving. You really never know what to expect.

This weekend my friend Sarah visited us from Arkansas and we took the opportunity to visit The Cathedral of Junk. A guy started the project back 1988 in his backyard as a way to have fun and build his version of a clubhouse. Since then, it’s become a 3 story tall structure made entirely of junkyard finds and it’s still in his backyard.

He estimates that it contains over 60 tons of junk. Yep, 60 TONS – most of which people brought to him.

Full of lawnmower wheels, car bumpers, kitchen utensils, ladders, cables, bottles, circuit boards, bicycle parts, old AOL installation CD-ROMs, and anything else you could possibly imagine it’s quite impressive and beautiful – in that weirdly awesome Austin way.

It’s a true Austin treasure and one that I’m certain we’ll be visiting again – especially when we have visitors.

Vinyasa YoMG

I’ve never understood how yoga could be a workout – I’ve tried a couple of at home DVDs and got bored within 5 minutes, maybe 10, because the pace was so slow and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of the stretches. I’ve often called it a “pansy” workout – stretching for an hour? How does that qualify as legit exercise?

Never. Again.

Last night, Adam and I took our first ever Yoga class at Black Swan Yoga. Since we were both newbies to Yoga, we opted to take the Vinyasa class as it was one of 2 classes recommended for beginners – the other was Hatha. I’m not gonna lie and say I wasn’t nervous, I was, but more than that I was less than optimistic that yoga would be a workout equivalent to my Jazzercise or Adam’s cycling. I wasn’t expecting to sweat, I wasn’t expecting to be sore. In fact, it’s safe to say I didn’t really have a lot of positive expectations going into the class.

We arrived about 20 minutes before class began, took off our shoes, and staked out a place in the back corner of the L shaped studio. Adam confirms with the teacher that this class will be good for beginners and we wait. We watch as people begin to stroll in and before we know it the class is full and there’s less than 6 inches between the mats. I hope we don’t lose our balance and fall over.

I was expecting an instructor front and center going through the poses with us, but instead she vocalized the commands as she walked around the room while her partner helped to correct technique and posture as we went through the poses. Adam and I relied on those around us to figure out what pose to do next. As the class progressed, the sweatier I got. There were also a few un-zen like moments where I mouthed to Adam very unloving statements, because HOLY HELL I WAS HOT and this wasn’t even labeled as a “sweaty” or “hot” class. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much in my life. I’m talking dripping off my nose, pooling on my back, and hands slipping on my mat.

Once the class finished, THANK GOD, we gathered our stuff and headed to the car. The first thing Adam said to me was “that was harder than a 4-hour bike ride”. I’ve never done a 4-hour bike ride, so I can’t attest to the validity of that statement; however, I can say that it was without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Who’d have thought stretching could work you that hard? My muscles didn’t seem that much looser after class like I expected them to feel and my shins hurt like whoa, but I did feel pretty relaxed and like I could go to bed immediately.

This morning I woke up and didn’t really feel all that sore. In fact, I didn’t feel sore at all. Well, until an hour ago when I got up from my desk to grab a fresh glass of water.

My shoulders are sore.

My neck is sore.

My biceps and triceps are sore.

My thighs are sore.

I’m sorry for every thought I ever had about yoga being wimpy, it’s far from it. And this morning? I kinda want to try another class.

This is what happens when you sing lustily…

I grew up in the Methodist church and have a ritual I follow before almost every service I attend. I sit in the pew and immediately reach for the hymnal.

One of the first pages of the United Methodist Hymnal is John Wesley’s Directions for Singing. Though written in the 18th century, they still provide great guidance to Methodist congregations everywhere, as well as a bit of humor relief. In fact, I remember several years ago a lay leader poking fun at a few of them when the  preacher was away on vacation.

Allow me to break these rules down for you.

I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here (So even if the projector screen reads “Hark the Herald Angles Sing”, that’s what we sing? AWESOME!!! Is it almost Christmas?), without altering or mending them at all (This includes all unwritten runs that American Idol contestants add); and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can (Unless you think your way sounds better).

III. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you (Does laryngitis count as a weakness or weariness? What about those that are tone deaf?). If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

(Essentially, sing out strong…)

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony (This needs to be explained to the child that always hogs the mic when the children sing. Admit it, you know there’s one in every church); but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in time (ahem). Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

In reality, the majority of John Wesley’s directions have very good points that are still applicable 3 centuries later, but there’s a reason I’m sharing these rules with you…

Adam and I have spent the last few months attending a church we have grown to love. It’s accepting, friendly, genuine, and thought-provoking. Plus, it helps that it feels like a small town church, which made it even more appealing to both of us rural Arkansans. We love the community outreach and mission work it does, though we have yet to get involved and we’ve found a Sunday School class that we truly enjoy. I’m actually surprised that we felt so at home at the first church we “auditioned”, but I’m also very thankful.

Every week we’ve meet new people and feel more accepted than the last. This past Sunday, proved this more than ever before…

You see, Adam and I were sitting behind this sweet elderly couple whose husband sang in the church choir. Before the pastor began his sermon, all those in the choir and serving in worship came and sat with the rest of the congregation – which meant that when it was time to sing the final hymn, Adam was singing directly behind a choir member.

The final hymn that Sunday was “Standing on the Promises”. It’s a classic hymn, best known for its chorus – which I warned Adam to control himself during prior to the song even beginning. Let’s just say that he sang lustily and with good courage.

And nowhere near half dead. 

We’ll also say that he had a head-bop going on in the middle of the chorus…

After the service ended, the couple in front of us turned and invited him to join the choir.

Full disclosure? They asked me to join as well, until I told them about my voice teacher going MIA after one lesson in middle school. True story. Hand to God. Ask my mom.

So, I got off the hook fairly quickly.

Adam was polite, told them he’d consider joining and confirmed that he could sing bass.

Too bad they didn’t ask how well he could sing bass.

We left the sanctuary and laughed about it in the car on the way to lunch with our Sunday School class; and haven’t thought much about it since.

Today, we received an email from the Music Ministries Director. In it, she tells us that she was sorry she didn’t get to meet us after church and hoped we are enjoying our worship and fellowship at the church. Then she tells us that she “watched Adam, as he very energetically sang the bass part in the final hymn” and extended a personal invitation for him to join the choir. She also said she spoke with the sweet couple it front of us who confirmed that Adam had indeed sung.

Truth is, Adam does sing, but it’s not often he’s in tune. He also isn’t the best at keeping time – a clear violation of directive number 6 above. I’m sure that the choir would accept Adam with open arms and I’m sure they’d never tell him he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket to his face. But secretly, I believe that they would regret extending an invitation to him.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I’ve always loved cooking, but leftovers? Not so much. I mean, I can enjoy them for lunch the next day, maybe dinner too, but typically after one additional meal I’m totally over it and want something different.

Now that we’re married, and basking in newlywed bliss, it’s been wonderful to fix a recipe and know that it won’t go bad before I tire of eating it – because there’s 2 people to eat the leftovers!

Last week, as we began to decorate our little abode for Christmas I decided to get in the kitchen and cook a meal. It had started getting chilly outside and I wasn’t really in the mood for soup or chili. Thankfully, Pinterest came to the rescue with Lemon Roasted Chicken and Hasselback Potatoes.

The chicken was phenomenal. Both Adam and I devoured it. Adam even requested that it be a regular meal in my arsenal – I’m good with that!

We both thought the recipe could easily be adapted for chicken breasts, though I cooked it as directed using chicken thighs. In fact, we’ll probably try it with chicken breasts next time. Mmm…next time, my mouth is already watering just thinking about it.

Added bonus: the chicken was just as delicious reheated the next night for dinner!

Now, I’m not gonna lie and tell you the potatoes tasted as good as they looked coming out of the oven. I mean, they were good, but the flavors didn’t blend throughout and sometimes you were stuck eating plain roasted potatoes with no seasoning.Plus, they were a pain to slice and season thoroughly  – which probably explains why the flavors didn’t blend.

Next time, I think I’ll use the same seasonings but toss them with potato wedges or slices instead of the fanned whole potatoes.

Lemon Chicken

from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lbs. of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • Thinly sliced lemons, for garnished

Directions:

  1. Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large zipper-lock plastic bag.  Seal the bag and shake well to blend.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more.  Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin-side up, reserving the leftover marinade.
  5. Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.
  6. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the skins are crispy and well-browned.
  7. Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish.
  8. Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Hasselback Potatoes

from Chicho’s Kitchen

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed (leave skin on)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped chives for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220ºC).
  2. Slice each potato crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting to within 1/4 inch of the bottom. Be careful not to slice all the way through. The potato will fan out a bit as it bakes.
  3. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, smoked paprika and parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
  4. Lay the potatoes on a baking sheet.
  5. Carefully insert pinches of this mixture in between the slits of the potatoes.
  6. Rub the outsides of the potatoes with residual oil.
  7. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. The inside should be cooked through and the outside of the potato should be a bit crispy.
  8. Garnish with additional parmesan and chives!

Holiday Gift Guide

It’s time again for my annual Holiday Gift Guide! In an effort to minimize confusion for anyone buying me gifts, here’s just a few hints of what I’d love to receive under my Christmas tree this year.

These are a few of my favorite things for 2011…


1. Ceramic Pig Speaker from West Elm ($49), 2. Orysia shoe in Natural Fabric from Nine West ($89), 3. Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney from Amazon ($23.10), 4.  Small Square Farmer’s Market Basket from Anthropologie ($14), 5. Vintage Station Wagon and Christmas Tree Flour Sack Tea Towel from Etsy ($8), 6. Blu Bijoux Silver Pyramid Stud Earrings from Max&Chloe ($28), 7. Women’s SmartWool Frilly Knee Highs from Sahalie ($23.95)

Noses are Deceiving

Now that [almost] all of the boxes are unpacked and I’m slowly able to start accessorizing rooms, I’m feeling more settled. Adam’s old “grandma chic” bachelor pad apartment is starting to feel like the home in which we’ll start our life together.

Every day this week I’ve made a concerted effort to make a visible dent in a random room as far as organization goes. I’ve stored books and papers from my old cubicle in my old dresser we refinished, hung pictures, replaced lamp shades, put away our china, and pulled out my Scentsy.

Y’all have one of these, right? I’m obsessed with mine. I love letting the scents permeate my apartment and now that I’m working from home all day you better believe I have it on all day every day.

Back in September, on a rare trip to Wal-Mart, I bought some wax cubes by Better Homes & Garden. I wanted to have seasonal fragrances like Apple Strudel, Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Gingerbread. Tuesday, was my first day to use my Scentsy warmer since moving and I chose to put in a Gingerbread cube. I put it in mid-morning and had forgotten about it until Adam came home from work that evening.

He walks straight to the kitchen looking for a freshly baked batch of cookies. I felt horrible that the Scentsy led him astray so that night, we worked late cleaning the counters and putting away the remaining wedding gifts and serving pieces I already owned. Essentially, we made the kitchen usable.

And yesterday? Because I wanted an excuse to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Adam got his cookies. Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip.

This time, the scent he smelled as he walked through the door is edible! Given the fact that he ate almost an entire dozen by himself in one hour, I’d say he thought they were scrumptious!

Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/4  cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla until all ingredients are blended.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating well as you go.
  6. Stir in chocolate.
  7. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Yield: 5 dozen

Honey, I’m home…

With moving and marriage also came a bit of a change to my work environment. I switched from corporate cube monkey to secluded homebased associate. I’m not complaining, I got to keep my job and I can work in my PJs whenever I want. 🙂

Here’s the thing, though, I’m not exactly the homebody type. I like to be social during work. I like knowing there’s someone I can yell pointless facts to over the cube wall. At home, that person for the better part of 8 hours everyday doesn’t exist. Unless you count the voices in my head.

Friday, in an effort to entertain myself and have a productive lunch break from work, I unpacked boxes. Progress feels good. Really good. Plus, I needed to know what we don’t have – decor wise – so that we could have a successful flea market/vintage shopping trip last weekend.

Then, as I was walking back to my desk to respond to emails and get back in the work groove I had an idea:

That’s right. A floor to ceiling “wall” of boxes built by me to greet Adam when he arrives home from work. I placed it strategically in the front door so he can open the door without actually knocking down the boxes.

I’m a genius.

And the funniest person I know.