Snow Day!

It snowed again today!!  The snow started falling at 7:30AM and didn’t stop until another 3-4 inches were heaped atop the snow that we got on Sunday.  Yay snow!  Matt took a “snow day” (aka spent some quality time with his early Christmas present, an Xbox One) and I went into work for a few hours and enjoyed a productive morning in the nearly empty office.  Once the roads were plowed I came home to play with Bailey in the snow.  Did I mentioned that I LOVE snow??!!

Dashing through the snow!

Bailey loves the snow, too.  Here are some photos from this afternoon… see the one where I totally whacked her in the head with a giant snowball?  Oops!!

After playing with Bailey I shoveled the whole driveway… talk about a work out!  Now I just have to find the strength to get up off of this comfy couch and go run my daily mile(s) for the Runner’s World Holiday Streak.  Today will be day 163 of my streak, woohoo!

Did you have a snow day today?  How did you spend your day?

Seeing Double… A GSP House Guest!

Just before Christmas 2012 Matt’s parents rescued a beautiful German Shorthaired Pointer and named her Bella.  Prior to her rescue Bella was discovered by a forest ranger wandering around in a New Jersey state forest (in cold winter weather!!) and she was underfed and seriously in need of a loving family.  Lucky for Bella, Matt’s parents welcomed her into their home and she is now enjoying a comfortable, happy life with her new family!

Bella the GSP

Bailey and Bella are really similar in size and coloring.  We sometimes joke that Bella could be Bailey’s sister… after all, Bailey was the runt of a 10-puppy litter born just 30 minutes from the state forest where Bella was found!  Biological siblings or not, Bella and Bailey are great friends and we take care of Bella when Matt’s parents are out of town.  We have Bella this weekend and I had fun doing a mini photoshoot with the GSP girls.

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As you can see, Bailey and Bella are in a constant competition to steal each other’s toys.  Today they were vying for the same orange squeaky toy.  Aren’t they cute?

We don’t know what Bella’s background is, but she definitely has good hunting instincts.  Today she discovered a monarch butterfly in my flower garden and spent quite a while stalking and pointing at it.  Bailey used to point at butterflies but seems to have lost interest in them… now she focuses on squirrels, groundhogs and birds!

As I write this post we’re watching TV in our home office with the two dogs.  Bailey is snuggled comfortably on Bella’s bed (because Bailey is a HUGE bed hog!) and Bella has generously decided that that’s OK and she is alternating between lying on the floor at Matt’s feet and curling up in an awkwardly tiny ball on Bailey’s very small bed.  What a good pup!  Soon we’ll put both dogs to bed so they can rest up for another fun day in the back yard tomorrow!

371 Bailey and Bella looking different ways

Does your dog have a best friend?  Tell me about them!  🙂

Related Post:  Our Four-Legged House Guest (Hershey the Chocolate Lab)

July Update: A new streak begins and the garden keeps on growing!

Matt and I are home after spending 10 days in beautiful St. Lucia and a few days in Western Maryland for the DockDogs Regional Championships.  I’ll post honeymoon photos and the dockdogs recap soon, but in the meantime I have some updates!

After 205 consecutive days my mile-a-day streak ended the day before our honeymoon began (June 13th).  I initially thought I would keep on streaking while in St. Lucia but for the first week we were staying in the rainforest on top of a mountain at the end of a precariously washed out dirt road so running a mile a day wasn’t really feasible.  Oh well!  🙂 As of July 1st I have started a new streak.  We’ll see if I can beat 205 days… I’ll reach that goal on January 21, 2014.

In other news, we had record rainfall in June and as a result my vegetable garden has been growing like crazy!  Check out this photo that I took today… a comparison shot from my May 10th gardening post is below.

Garden 7-3-13

Garden (5-10-13)

Quite a difference, right?  When we got home from St. Lucia I was shocked to see how much the parsley, thyme and tomatoes had grown and I was overwhelmed by the enormous zucchini plants!!  (I think my basil was overwhelmed too… it’s now living in the shadow of those large-leafed behemoths!)  Here are some other photos of my garden and back yard flowers from today.

While I was wandering around with my camera this afternoon I was surprised to spot a white-tailed deer in the front yard.  It is quite common for us to see deer in our area (usually in other peoples’ yards or dashing across the road!) but it is very, VERY rare to see a deer in our yard because Bailey has made it her life mission to stalk and chase any and all wildlife that comes within her invisible fence boundary.

I guess the neighborhood deer herd realized that Bailey was not at home for most of June and as a result they are now making themselves comfortable in the front yard.  Luckily Bailey was on her game this afternoon and as soon as this deer made a move Bailey (who must have been stalking it from a different angle as I snapped away with the camera) came blasting over, chased it away, and then proceeded to roll and rub in the deer’s scent for a good 30 seconds.  Good dog, Bailey (even if you do smell now…)

Well, that’s it for tonight’s update.  Happy 4th of July and have a great holiday weekend!!

Related Posts:
• Streaking, Reflections, and Other December Challenges (December 3, 2012)
• Streaking, Day 100 (March 1, 2013)
• Let the 2013 Gardening Season Begin! (May 12, 2013)
• Waiting for Red Tomatoes (July 4, 2012)

Let the 2013 Gardening Season Begin!

My mail-ordered tomatoes and pepper plants arrived from Burpee on Thursday afternoon which means that my 2013 vegetable season has officially begun! Matt and I planted everything and, barring any stray digging from Bailey, now we can just sit back and watch our garden grow.

Once again I’m using hanging galvanized steel buckets to house my upside down tomatoes. The tops of each bucket have parsley, thyme and rosemary growing in them. I was really happy with how these dual tomato-herb buckets worked out last year and I can’t wait to see how they do this year!

Garden (5-10-13)

Between the hanging buckets, fenced-in garden, and pots on the patio, I now have Zucchini, Tomatoes, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Strawberries, Garlic, Jalapeno Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Basil, Mint, Oregano and Beans growing in my garden.

We also have several flowers planted in the yard and in pots including Tulips, Zinnias, Canna Lilies, Gladiolus, Painted Daisies, Ranunculus, Dahlias, Gerber Daisies, Superbells, and Marigolds. I love all of the bright reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks of the plants that have flowered so far, don’t you?

Happy Gardening Season!!

Related Posts:

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!  Our yard has made a beautiful transformation from Winter to Spring in just two short weeks.  Our trees are blooming, the tulips are coming up, and the garlic that I planted last Fall is looking great.  Here are some photos from April 19th:

That beautiful spinach patch is actually leftover from spinach that I planted in October.  It never really took off at the time (probably because I planted it too late) but as soon as the weather warmed up in April it started growing like crazy.  I harvested it today and I can’t wait to enjoy with some cucumber, feta, and toasted almonds tonight!

If you’re interested to see how this year’s growth compares to the same time last year, check out my Garden Update from April 17, 2012.  Thanks for stopping by!

DIY “Vintage” Blue Mason Jars

Wedding Bouquet - bring pinks and peaches with blue ribbonI don’t think of myself as a very crafty person but I’ve decided to take on some DIY projects for our wedding. I’m really happy with how my first project is turning out so I thought I would post a little how-to tutorial on my blog!

Update:  Interested to see how my DIY blue mason jars and flowers turned out at my wedding?
Visit my 
Wedding Flowers post to see them!

That’s one of my bridesmaids’ bouquets in a
“vintage” painted blue jar on the right!  —>

Turn clear mason jars into vintage blue ball jars

Perfect Wedding FlowersSeveral months ago I found a beautiful photo on Ella Bella Floral’s web site. I immediately knew that it was exactly what I wanted my wedding flowers to look like, right down to the aqua ribbon and vintage blue Ball mason jar. I started researching jars and was shocked to see that these special blue jars cost $10-15 each! There was no way I could justify spending $15 for a jar so I decided to take a do-it-yourself approach instead.

After a quick google search, I discovered that luckily I am not the first person to want to make my own vintage blue jars. I consulted several blogs but by far found this post from My Greenbrae Cottage to be the most helpful. From that post I learned what type of paint to use and also that wiping the paint onto the jars with a cloth works far better than a paintbrush.

After painting 25+ jars (with 18 or so more to go…) I tweaked the process a little and ended up with the following process:

How to make your own ‘Vintage’ blue Ball jars

You will need…
Rubbing Alcohol
Pebeo Vitrea 160 Turquoise Glass Paint
Pebeo Vitrea 160 Thinner / Dilutant
Small bowl to mix the paint in
Soft cloth to apply the paint (I used a 6″ x 6″ piece of cut up T-shirt)
Several Mason Jars, thoroughly cleaned and all label residue removed
Foil-lined baking sheet
Nitrile or other type of Gloves (optional)

Directions:
To prepare for painting, line a counter top with a towel and/or foil to protect from any spills. Remove the lids from your mason jars and set aside. Don your gloves (if using), and use a paper towel to wipe down the outside of each jar with rubbing alcohol.  This will remove any residue or dust and help the paint stick better.

Mix together 1 part of the glass paint with 5 parts thinner in a small bowl. Dip a corner of the cloth in the paint mixture and start painting the outside of your first jar, beginning at the top around the threads. Move the cloth in the direction of the threads until they are evenly coated.

Painting Mason Jars to create 'Vintage' blue Ball Jars

Next, paint the sides of the jar with a liberal amount of paint, moving the cloth only in up and down motions (from the top of the jar to the bottom; never side-to-side). Coat the jar sides and bottom completely, then reposition your cloth so that a side that doesn’t have much paint on it is facing the jar. Quickly rub the cloth up and down over the sides of the jar to remove the excess paint, leaving just a thin film of blue paint. Don’t stress too much about getting this part perfect (it’s never going to be streak-free!) because luckily the baking step will reduce some of the streaks for you. Place the jar upside down on the baking sheet.

Paint your other jars, then carefully insert the baking sheet into a preheated 350° oven and bake for 45 minutes. Allow the jars to cool completely before handling.

Clear and Blue Mason Jars

Some Helpful Tips:

  • Try practicing on some empty sauce jars first before painting your “real” jars. This will help you get a feel for the painting technique.
  • If you mess up while painting a jar, immediately run it under hot water. The paint will rub off and then you can dry the jar and try again!
  • If you are reusing jars, make sure to clean the outside of the jar very well. If the jar has any residue on it the paint will get gummy. I update this post on 4/30/13 to add in the first step where you wipe the jars with rubbing alcohol.  I’ve been doing this with my latest batches of brand new jars and I think it helps.
  • I’ve read other blogs that say it is critical to allow the painted jars to cure for 24 hours before baking.  I am impatient and I always immediately bake the jars when I’m done painting.  I haven’t noticed any issues so I’ll continue to bake immediately!
  • As I mentioned above, don’t stress about making the jars look perfect. It’s just not going to happen and you can drive yourself crazy. Once you bake the jar and fill it with water and pretty flowers no one is going to notice that streak or smudge!

Daffodils in Blue Mason Jar 2

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

I haven’t been very good about doing the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges every week, but I like this week’s topic so I thought I would jump back in and participate! Here’s my red-hued take on Color:

Looking at all of those beautiful red veggies and flowers is really making me want to plant my vegetable garden! 🙂 Just a few weeks to go…

August Cheer for a Rainy Day

As predicted, Hurricane Sandy is slowly turning into the New Jersey coast and we have already experienced 40 mph wind gusts, almost 2 inches of rain, and a short power outage.  We’ve also found a leaky spot in our roof by the chimney… eek!  Other than that everything is fine so I thought I’d share something completely unrelated to the storm: photos from my garden in August!

This pink zinnia plant was at its peak in early August but, believe it or not, it STILL has a few blooms on it today! We’ll see how they look after the storm…

These Gladioli bloomed in August and did a nice job of covering up the big propane tank that powers a little stove in our living room. That stove might come in handy if the power goes out tonight!

Vine-ripening tomatoes in early August… yum!

These “Dinnerplate” Dahlias bloomed outside of our front door for most of the summer.

I picked all of these vegetables during my lunch break one day in August. Pretty good harvest, right?

And, last but not least, an isolated Orange Cosmo. You might recognize this plant from my August post “The Bee’s Knees.” I’m definitely planting more of these flowers next year!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and good luck to everyone in the storm’s path!

Our Bathroom Makeover!

When Matt and I bought our house in February 2011 we bravely tackled several do-it-yourself projects like removing a laundry chute, replacing a toilet, painting, and creating a vegetable garden.  One project that we did not tackle was our ugly, pink and black master bathroom.  The bathroom – well, the whole master “suite,” to be honest – was really unattractive.  All of the trim was painted gloss black, the walls were purple, the tiles were deep fuschia, and the tub, toilet, and sinks were black.  Oh, and let’s not forget the brassy gold faucets.  Can you tell why I didn’t like this bathroom?!

The master bathroom was SO bad that we decided to bring in professional help.  We made some initial floor plan designs, settled on a rough budget and found a contractor that we liked.  Demolition began in late April (it was great to see that black toilet go!) and the whole project took about 8 weeks.

We chose a fairly contemporary style with a neutral gray color palette, natural stacked stone cladding on one wall, a frameless glass shower, and white vessel sinks with sleek chrome fixtures.  We’re thrilled with how the bathroom turned out so I thought I would share a few photos here on my blog!

My dream bathroom! This is the view from the shower.

Our shower floor is covered in smooth black river rocks. They feel great under tired bare feet!

Our huge shower! The dimmable light in the shower contains a hidden exhaust fan.

For anyone in the Delaware County, PA area looking for bathroom remodeling help, here are the companies that we worked with.  We were very happy with all of them so please feel free to contact me if you want to know more about them!

Contractor:  Gavin Design-Build (Media, PA)
Fixtures / Vanity:  Ferguson (King of Prussia, PA)
Tile / Stone Cladding:  Avalon Carpet, Tile and Flooring (Wilmington, DE)

Volunteer Vegetables!

Guess what?  All of these veggies came from “volunteer plants” in my garden.  Volunteers are plants that grow on their own, either from the wind or a bird dropping a seed or, in my case, from compost.  Seeds aren’t normally supposed to sprout out of your compost so, judging by the huge quantity of volunteers that are growing around my house, I think I must be doing something wrong!  (Or very right, depending on how you feel about volunteer mystery plants!)

The squash and pumpkin plants sprouted by our front door and quickly took over our pink cosmo/dahlia flower bed.  By mid-August the crooked-neck gourd vines were completely out of control and could be clearly seen from the street so we picked the mature squash and ripped out the vines.  The pumpkin vines were growing across our front walk so today I finally decided that the pumpkin looked ripe enough to pick it and pull out the plant.

The tomatoes are the most exciting volunteers because we’re actually getting to eat those.  We have about a dozen volunteer tomato plants and the campari-sized tomatoes are just starting to ripen on their vines.  This is perfect timing because my “planned” tomatoes are pretty much done producing.  Can’t wait to each some of them for dinner tonight!