Remember when I made a commitment to read a book a week this fall? Well, I have a qualifying question for you. Do audio books count as reading?  I had the opportunity to do large amounts of yard work this past weekend and I see much more yard work in my future and instead of listening to music or the buzz of a mosquito in my ear, I decided to try listening to an audio book.

Now, I have tried listening to audio books in the past, and I just couldn’t get into them. I found my mind wandering, requiring me to skip back many times to catch what the reader was saying. Or, I couldn’t stand the voice of the person reading the book. So, I gave up on audio books. But, with my new adventures in the outside world in front of me, I decided to give audio books another chance. Since I didn’t want to rent one from the library, transfer it to my computer, and then transfer it to my ipod, I decided to just go through itunes. I knew that I had to preview the voice before I even considered downloading the book. And do you know what I discovered about my listening preferences? I really enjoy a reader with an English accent over a boring old American.

After listening to about a dozen previews, I choose my book (I’ll fill you in on the details of the book in a later post), downloaded it, and headed out to the yard. And let me tell you, I have not been disappointed. I am actually looking forward to the next opportunity to listen to it! But, I do have to say, by listening to someone else read the book, I feel my role in the story is very inactive. The person reading the book has decided the pronunciation and tone of everything in the book. So instead of me trying to figure out “how exactly do you say that girl’s name?” or “was he really that mad?”, I just have to sit back and listen to someone else’s answer to those questions. In fact, those questions never even come up because I assume that the reader is correct in their inflections and tone.  Although there is still some imagination, I miss the entire imagination package that comes along with reading a book.

But, I want to know what you think. Does listening to an audio book count as reading? I have added a poll to the bottom of this post, so you can just quickly answer the question anonymously. What is your experience with audio books?

We are now less than a week away from the official start of my favorite time of year, Autumn. Now that I live in Florida, I don’t really get to experience fall, but I still pretend that it’s fall. I decorate the house and hope that maybe, just maybe, it cools down enough to open the windows.

So, in honor of my favorite season, I have decided to make a list of things I want to do in the next couple of weeks. These are all the activities/events/tasks I could think of at the moment, but I might add to the list.  And if you have any ideas of items I can add to the list, let me have ’em!

Make some major progress on the yard  ::   Read a book a week  ::  Reread all Harry Potter books before the movie comes out in November  ::  Go see Harry Potter 7 – Part 1  :: Make handmade Christmas gifts  ::  Put up fall decorations ::  Go on a weekend trip  ::  Plant a vegetable garden ::  Harvest and use the vegetables from the garden  ::  Go to IKEA  ::  Go to the Space Coast Art Festival in Cocoa Beach  ::  Find somewhere to pick pumpkins  ::  Carve pumpkins :: Take Sewing Lessons

I’ll keep you updated on my progress and the details of each task as they are completed! Happy Fall!

On Labor Day weekend, Matt and I traveled back home to Louisville, Kentucky for my older brother Tony’s wedding to the ever-wonderful Anastasia.  Weddings are always so much fun and we love seeing all the family and friends that come into town to celebrate a new family.

Wedding day started off bright and early with hair appointments!

Her dress was absolutely beautiful!

My sisters, Claire and Natalie, showing off the flower girl flower bundles.

Here are Anastasia’s shoes. Now, this is a good story. So, their wedding happened to be on the same day as the big UofL/UK football game and oddly enough, most of her family members are big Kentucky fans and our family roots for Louisville. She had shoes dyed blue for her “something blue”, but since UK’s colors are blue and white and she is a big UofL fan, she had one of her friends draw this on the bottom of the shoes to show a little Cardinal pride.

Mona getting all dolled up!

Now, we depart from my pictures and into some photos that I borrowed from Facebook. Since I was in the wedding, I didn’t have a chance to take any pictures during the wedding or the reception.

The wedding ceremony was at Our Lady of Lourdes in Louisville.

Here’s the entire wedding party. It was a big group!

Now, for those of you who don’t know, I have two sisters and four brothers ranging in age from 26 to 6. And we were all in the wedding. My poor mother.

But, it turned out to be a beautiful day. The weather was perfect and everything fell into place.

The reception was at the Starks building in downtown Louisville on the atrium floor. It was a courtyard converted into an indoor room, so we were surrounded by buildings and the ceiling was glass which meant lots of natural light.

The awkward sweet tradition of tangling arms while drinking champagne.

To satisfy the family members who gave up their tickets to the game, Tony and Anastasia had the game on in the corner. Unfortunately, the Cards lost the game. But, hey, at least we scored!

It was a beautiful day and we are so blessed to have Anastasia as a sister! Congrats Tony and Anastasia!

Wedding and Reception photos taken from here and here.

When we bought our house a year ago, we looked forward to a few things that we had to do without in apartment living. Among these dreams were garages and backyards. And now that we have a pretty good size backyard, we are ready to plant some veggies! Unfortunately, our close proximity to the ocean results in sand for dirt.

This means only one thing, raised vegetable boxes! So, a few weeks ago, we found a plan for a raised box that we liked and Matt skipped off to the store to buy the materials. We chose cedar as the plan suggests because it is supposed to be the most rot/pest resistant. We made our box 4′ x 8′.

Next was getting the veggies and dirt. We were both a little overwhelmed choosing dirt and what plants to buy.

The next morning, we carried the raised box from the garage to its new home in the backyard. Here it is (upside down):

Matt dug the post holes.

And I waited. Did you know that we have this really funky tree in our yard? It’s called a Ponytail Palm.

It’s one of our favorite trees on our property.

Anywho, once the post holes were dug and we had turned the box over and situated it, we covered the bottom with this wire mesh. The plan website suggested we use this to keep moles, groundhogs, and other critters from crawling up and into the box.

And then the dirt. Ooohh, the dirt. I think we used approximately 27 cubic feet of dirt for this box.

Next, the veggies and herbs. I chose green bell peppers, tomatoes (juliet and Mr. Stripey), strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, mint, basil, and rosemary.

Here are some post planting and watering pictures.

I’m a little worried about the broccoli and cauliflower. Apparently, now is the time to plant these buggers, but it’s still sooo hot here if Central Florida. They look a little wimpy during the day.

We’re also going to try to plant some sweet potatoes and pineapple, but we have to get these going from fruit at the store, so it will be a few weeks before we can plant them. I just hope this works!

I am on a never-ending search for cheap, homemade art. While I love the look of real art from real artists, I don’t love the high price tag that accompanies their pieces. So, when I stumbled on this tutorial from Emily at Jones Design Company, I knew I had to give it a shot.

I gathered my materials and followed her instruction. And I hated the results. Her picture looks so cute and put together. Mine looked bubbly and like my six year old brother made it.

So, I decided to take this idea and change it up a little bit. The main problem I had with her design was that I couldn’t get the glue all the way under the middle of the artwork without completely messing up my puzzle of pages. I thought it would be so much easier to glue down one piece at a time. Here’s what I did.

**Please excuse the photos in this post. We have an ancient camera and I have to do my crafts at night because I work and I have to feed my husband. Bad camera + poor lighting = horrible pictures and lots of shadows.**

I gathered materials. A book, some Mod Podge (Matte), a cheap-o paint brush, and a blank canvas (I used 11×14). You can purchase all of these things from your local Wal-Mart if your local craft store is far away and you just can’t bring yourself to drive over an hour round trip. *Sigh*

I choose To Kill a Mockingbird because it is one of my favorite books of all time. Now comes the hard part. You have to rip the pages out of the book and tear them to pieces.

I love books. I felt like I was committing a sin destroying this book. But, I bought a new one so I wouldn’t destroy my old, high school required reading copy. Ideally, I would have gone to the thrift store and bought a really cheap one, but I just wasn’t up to it.

This was a small paperback and I got about 3-4 pieces out of each page.

Pour the Mod Podge into a smaller container and start applying it to the canvas. I just focused on one piece at a time. I would put a little Mod Podge on the canvas, stick on a page piece, and then paint the Mod Podge over it.

Make sure all of the edges are covered, flat, and not bubbly.

I started out sparse all across the canvas, giving each section time to dry.

Here’s what it looked like when it was done.

I wanted these to be more white than book page colored and I didn’t want to focus to be the pages. I just wanted them to be part of the artwork, so I spray painted them white. They looked cool without the paint, so they could most certainly remain as is.

Since my plan is to put these into the dining room, I chose some images that would be appropriate and printed them on a clear, full page label.

The I cut them out and stuck them in the middle of the canvases. Just to make things stick correctly, I Mod Podged right over top of these also. Here’s how they came out:

I really like the way they turned out and I have more plans for these to share with you. So, stay tuned!

In honor of the Friday before I dive into my jungle of a yard, I thought I would share a few of my favorite blogs with you. I use Google Reader to keep track of all the blogs I follow, so here are a few from my long list of subscriptions:

The Pioneer Woman

My momma introduced me to this blog and I have never looked back! Ree is a fantastic blogger and has some really fabulous pictures and recipes and laughs. She makes me want to be a better photographer.  Excellent blog!

Bower Power

This blog is written by Katie Bower.  She writes about lots of things from photography to home decor ideas to normal life stuff. She has a great sense of humor and it’s always a joy to read.

Confessions of a Young Married Couple

This gal, also named Katie, writes about everyday life. They just moved to Central Florida, so a lot of her posts these days are about adjusting to life in a new town and how that affects her marriage and her 1-year-old son. The blog is broken into three sections, Confessions (written by Katie), the Bean (written by Katie about her son), and the Man Cave (written ever so sparsely by her husband, Chris).She’s a great writer and I always look forward to her posts!

Young House Love

John and Sherry run this home fixer-up blog. They have great style and tips on how to fix up your house on the cheap. Plus, they have some great giveaways every week. Check out the “How To” section of this blog for some great tips!


b*spoke

This one is new to me, but so far, I’ve been really impressed by Bethany. She has the same design style as me, so I am excited to see where she goes with her home and the new ideas she comes across!

Inspiration for Decoration

Now, this is a cool website. There are no words, just pictures of decoration inspirations. It is a great place to get ideas!

Jones Design Company

This woman has impeccable taste. She has some excellent DIY art ideas. One of these I adjusted and am using for dining room art (more on that later). She has some great ideas and a little shop where she sells some of her stuff!

V and Co.

If you like to sew, this is your site. She has some AMAZING sewing tutorials on here. I think that I will be getting out my sewing machine in a few weeks and learning to sew. Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to make some of these things! Check it out!

So, there you have it. A few of my favorites. I have more, so I’ll have to do a part 2 in a few weeks. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

This month marks one year that we’ve owned our home. Like most things, it’s hard to believe a year has past, but it feels like we’ve lived in the house for longer. So, today, I thought I would give a little glance back at our house when we bought it and how it looks now.

Just a note, this post is very photo heavy. So, just don’t get mad halfway through when you are tired of scrolling. I warned you.

As most of you know, our house was absolutely disgusting when we moved in. We immediately redid the pantry. It was nasty.

Before:

After:

Speaking of nasty. I know you’ve been dying for another look at the hairy fan.

Before:

After:

Then the kitchen. The kitchen went through a couple stages of despair. Here is what it looked like when we bought the house. Note the beige color of the tile.

Then we peeled the beige paint off the tile. Behold the pink tile.

Then we redid the entire kitchen with lots of paint and help from Matt’s parents.

Next up, painting the guest bedroom.

The room is actually not as yellow as these pictures make it out to be. It was dreary outside when I took the pictures.

Then I added some wall art.

Somewhere along the way we redid the family room. Here’s what it looked like when we bought the house. Yes, that is a large mirrored image of New York City.  Unfortunately, in our efforts to get it off the wall, a piece of it broke off. So, no, we still don’t have it.

Here’s the after. I think I want to paint the coffee table…what do you think?

And, lastly, the dining room.

All of the rooms still need a few more details to make then complete, but the house is muuuch better now.  We still have lots to do, but it’s starting to feel more like a home!

This weekend we had some people from Matt’s work over for dinner. Since we just met these people a few weeks ago, this was not only an opportunity to show off our place to some new eyes, but it also put me in the spotlight for my cooking abilities. Now, as some of you know, I am a teensy bit picky when it comes to food. And by teensy, I mean that I don’t like a lot of things. Chunks of tomatoes, gross. Mushrooms, disgusting. Cucumbers, forget about it.   So, when people come over, I can’t feed them the normal bland food that we have on a regular basis. I have to pull out the stops. One of our favorite fail-proof guest recipes is Chicken Etouffee.

I found this recipe on  the Food Network’s website a few years ago and we fell in love with it. The only downside is that it requires a long list of ingredients and makes a huge mess. But, my friends, it is totally worth it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here are a few shots from the process:

Browning the chicken.

Making the roux.

Adding the veggies.

I serve it over some Jasmine Rice with some homemade bread! It is fabulous!

My only suggestion is to have everything already chopped, open, and ready to go. When you are making the roux, everything seems to move really fast and can burn really easily. It’s nice to not have to figure out where the heck you put that garlic.

Here’s the recipe again. Enjoy!

Continuation of Part 1 and Part 2.

Well, it’s finished! This has to be one of the fastest projects that we have ever completed.  I still need to finish some of the decorating details, but without further ado, here’s the time line of our dining room.

This is what it looked like the day we moved in. Note the light and the ugly wallpaper.

We removed the wall paper and got a table:

And here’s what it looks like now!

Here’s the info about what we used in case anyone is interested!

We used 1/2″ MDF boards to create the board and batten.

Paint – top: Behr 560E-2 Cumberland Fog,    bottom – Behr W-F-500 Frost

Dimensions:

Baseboard height- 5 1/2″ (based off of the baseboards that we would be matching these up with)

Topboard height: 4 1/2″

Vertical pieces – 49″ (the MDF sheets were 8ft x 49″, so we just used the 49″ to get the most out of the boards)

Shelf width: 2″

Space between vertical pieces – 14 in.

This is what I ended up doing with the shelf.  I think that in the end, there will be very few or no books on this shelf, but I just have to find things that strike my fancy to put on the shelf. There are a few Hobby Lobby items on here!

All in all, I think this project cost us around $125. Pretty darn good for a complete makeover!

Now what? Hmm…who wants to help us with the yard?

They built a Hobby Lobby near me.

That’s all.

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