Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Concrete jungle where dreams are made oh, there's nothing you can't do...

I love my job. I don't discuss it much on this blog, but I have been so blessed thus far in my career. I have met amazing people, been given challenging opportunities and have gotten the chance to visit some amazing places that I never thought I would see. One of the amazing people that I have met through my job is the fabulous Kelsey. Right from the start she and I hit it off. We have many similar interests and personality traits and have established a great friendship since I started work.

So the morning when I received a text from her at about 7:30 a.m. asking me if I would like to go to New York, I answered without question, yes. This is totally out of character for me. Usually I have to sit and think of all the pros and cons of the situation, evaluate the funding risks and discuss with my parents / Clint. Not this time... I had no idea what we were going to do, where we were going to stay or how much everything would cost, but I knew that she had found a deal on plane tickets that I could simply not pass up. I don't think she honestly ever expected that I would say yes either because her response was pure shock. And just like that, we were New York bound.

After a few frustrating hours of determining the best deal on a hotel and nailing down the biggest portions of our trip, we were set to go. Once again, totally out of character for me. No days and days and days of researching, no strict itinerary, just a vague idea of some of the sights we wanted to see and a pair of tickets to see The Lion King on Broadway.

Just arrived at the hotel

Empire State

Times Square

Brooklyn Bridge

Lady Liberty

Lion King!

Central Park
We had an absolutely fabulous trip. We saw everything New York had to offer in just three short days, which is exactly why my feet are twice the size they normally are and covered in blisters. We learned some valuable lessons and know what we would do differently if we ever decide to return. Until then, Kels and I are working on planning our next trip...New Orleans for Halloween? Boston for leaf peeping? We have lots to squeeze in before she moves to Spokane!

If you want to see all of my pictures: New York Photo Album

Fido Scurry - 2011

I was never a runner. In fact, I despised running to the depths of my soul. I did track my Eighth grade year and hated every second of it. I actually only stuck it out through the entire season because my mom told me, "You will never finish the season." So naturally, I did just to prove her wrong. All this background is to say that today, amazingly somehow, I am fond of running....I know, mind blowing.

My running journey begins all the way back in February of this year. My co-worker and close friend, Heather, was planning to run in the Race for the Cure. This is an organization that has a particular spot in my heart since I lost my Aunt to breast cancer. After much encouragement (peer pressure) I gave in and started my couch to 5k training. As the weeks went by, I could run further and further, and I enjoyed running more and more. Three 5ks later, I find myself looking forward to lacing up my shoes and listening to my feet pound against the pavement.

However, my last run was a little bit different then my previous runs. Clint and I decided to participate in the 2011 Fido Scurry held in Decatur, IL to benefit the Macon County Animal Shelter. For those of you who don't know, we adopted Sarabi from a shelter, and both have a passion for animals. We decided this was a great cause for us to support and would be a fun experience because they actually encouraged you to bring your pet along to run with you.

Once we got Sarabi to the park, we started having second thoughts. She was having a melt down. Too many people, too many dogs, too thirsty, too squirmy....too much! She was the only dog making noise during the prayer...embarrassing. But, when we got to the starting line, Sarabi couldn't have been happier. Not only did she trot along happily beside Clint and I as we huffed and puffed through our run, she still had energy left to run around like a crazy dog once we were finished! We managed to place First and Second in the run and Sarabi proudly showed off her prizes. We had such a great time and will defiantly be participating in the Fido Scurry for years to come!

Baby Sarabi - not a baby anymore!

After finishing our run

Our friend from High School was the Radar mascot - had to get a photo!

Posing with all of her awards

Thursday, September 1, 2011

FALL in love

Fall is my favorite season, hands down, no doubts about it. I love the colors, the weather, Friday night high school football, pumpkins, campfires, haunted houses, changing leaves and spending time with family and friends. This fall was a little different for me. I didn't stuff my car to gills with all my belongings and make the two and a half hour drive up to Macomb. It was a truly bittersweet moment to watch my baby sister go off to college and know that I wouldn't be there.

However, the month of August did bring some good changes for me. I got a new roommate! Temporary, of course, but for the next month I have the company of my best friend Maggie everyday when I come home. I loved having Kelsey live with me during the summer and am just as tickled to have Mags. We are having a great time together while I show her around to different parts of her new home in Peoria. It is such a blessing to have good friends here with me on this journey.
Margaret and I

I also got bit by the decorating bug after spending some time in Hobby Lobby and admiring **drooling** over all the beautiful things it had to offer. I finally broke down and went on a shopping excursion with my Mommy and picked up a few new items! When I got home and started getting things set up I realized that it needed a bit more work, so I decided to get crafty! I made a few new things like this frame that I had picked up earlier this year from Goodwill for $3 and a mason jar that I had laying around. A little string, some brick red paint and some stray leaves and I had a beautiful new piece. The mason jar was as simple as hot gluing some raffia around it.
Pretty new things: picture frame and mason jar

I also got really brave and decided to put together my own fall flower arrangement. I had found some inspiration at a little primitive store in Sullivan, Illinois that my Mom had taken me to last weekend. However, everything there seemed a bit out of my price range, so I snapped a quick picture for some inspiration.
Inspiration fall flower arrangement
I picked up all the necessary supplies from Hobby Lobby and wanted to get to work right away. But, I realized that I didn't have a cool little primitive box like this black one above. Fortunately, my Mom being the brilliant woman that she is and my Dad being the farmer that he is, suggested that I do a little bit of shopping in one of my Dad's old farm sheds. So I took Mom and Clint with me and we started doing a little bit of digging and found the most PERFECT old box. It took a lot of cleaning to get the spider webs off, and even though Maggie tells me the box still smells like a dirty old barn, it is now prominently displayed in my living room. What do you think, pretty close to the inspiration piece huh?
That little box makes my heart perfect!

Here are a couple more photos of how my home is shaping up for the fall season. I also included a close up picture of the old book wreath that I FINALLY finished up. For only $2.50 I think that it turned out pretty gooooddddd!

Book Wreath

Grandma and Grandpa :)

OBSESSED with my Country Pumpkin primitive sign

Speaking of FALLing in love, I just can never get enough of Clint. There is no one in the world who makes me laugh or feel the way that he does. He is truly the best part of me. Here are some fun photos of us with the animal that he calls a Yak at this year's State Fair.
Love me some Clinty

Feeding the Yak

True and pure happiness

That's all for now!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

All Dogs Go To Heaven

About eleven years ago a wonderful, fantastic and life-changing male was born into the world. At the time I was 12 years old and had only known one other dog. The first time I laid eyes on Zeus, I knew that he was something special. I know that everyone says that their dog is the best dog in the world, but when I say this about Zeus, it is really the truth. He didn't bite, didn't dig, didn't jump and didn't even bark (only when the cats were in his doghouse). He loved swimming, cuddling, Mexican food, all kinds of kitties and more then anything else, he loved his family and we loved him.

On July 31, 2011 Zeus went to doggy heaven. He didn't suffer and he went on his own terms. We were truly blessed to have him in our lives for as long as we did and his memory will live in my heart furrever. Here are some photos of my favorite man friend and me throughout our journey together

An old man and his dog were walking down this dirt road with fences on both sides, they came to a gate in the fence and looked in, it was nice grassy, woody areas, just what a 'huntin' dog and man would like, but, it had a sign saying 'no trespassing' so they walked on. They came to a beautiful gate with a person in white robes standing there. "Welcome to Heaven" he said. The old man was happy and started in with his dog following him. The gatekeeper stopped him. "Dogs aren't allowed, I'm sorry but he can't come with you."

"What kind of Heaven won't allow dogs? If he can't come in, then I will stay out with him. He's been my faithful companion all his life, I can't desert him now."

"Suit yourself, but I have to warn you, the Devil's on this road and he'll try to sweet talk you into his area, he'll promise you anything, but the dog can't go there either. If you won't leave the dog, you'll spend Eternity on this road." 

So the old man and dog went on. They came to a rundown fence with a gap in it, no gate, just a hole. Another old man was inside. "S'cuse me Sir, my dog and I are getting mighty tired, mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?"

"Of course, there's some cold water under that tree over there. Make yourselves comfortable"

"You're sure my dog can come in? The man down the road said dogs weren't allowed anywhere."

"Would you come in if you had to leave the dog?"

"No sir, that's why I didn't go to Heaven, he said the dog couldn't come in.
We'll be spending Eternity on this road, and a glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now. But, I won't come in if my buddy here can't come too, and that's final."

The man smiled a big smile and said "Welcome to Heaven."

"You mean this is Heaven? Dogs ARE allowed? How come that fellow down the road said they weren't?"

"That was the Devil and he gets all the people who are willing to give up a life long companion for a comfortable place to stay. They soon find out their mistake, but then it's too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. GOD wouldn't allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, HE created them to be man's companions in life, why would he separate them in death?"

Pull up a chair and stay awhile

A few weeks ago I went on an adventure with my parents and Clint. We traveled to Bloomington to visit the third Sunday market. It was the first time that we had been and we were blown away by all the treasures that we found. It took HOURS to walk through all the barns and sheds, and I found sooo many things that I wanted.

Love the eat more chili sign

 But my goal for the day was to find some chairs to go along with the kitchen table that I had recently purchased which I could not be more in love with. It is a farmhouse style table with a wooden top and fold-down leaves with distressed off-white legs...luuurrrrvveee! However, enough about the table and onto the chairs!

The first barn we walked into I discovered some beauties and was hooked. But, Papa Randy was not impressed. I am not sure how you couldn't be impressed with their five dollar price tag! So, like a good daughter, I listened to dad and passed them up. But I just couldn't find anything else throughout the day that made me feel like those chairs. So Clint, being the perfect man that he is, went back to pick them up for me :) (What a keeper) And $20 dollars later I was the proud owner of a set of four matching chairs that look like this baby

How can you not melt at those curves

I knew right away how much potential these had so I went right to work! I got so excited to start working on them that I forgot to take pictures of the process so all I have right now are some after shots. My kitchen is transforming into an Americana country theme, so you can see the red, navy and tan in the fabric that I used to recover the seats. This was also my first experiment with glazing, and I will just say it probablyyyy could have gone better...I didn't realize how quickly the glaze would dry, but nothing a little paint didn't fix! :) I am OBSESSED with my new chairs and can't wait to see them all finished and sitting around my new table. I hope you enjoy my latest creation!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Television Cabinet Redo

This was my first real attempt at what I like to call "up-cycling." I bought this old baker's cabinet from the antique store that I live above for about $100. They were closing, so I was able to squeeze a SUPER good deal out of them :)  I knew that it was just the perfect size for my new television that I had bought and got started working right away. After stripping off all the old yucky brown paint, I gave it a few coats of antique white paint, and then set to work on the distressing. Once I got the look I was going for, I added a yellowish-glaze to give it an old weathered look. I luuurrvvveee how it turned out! What do you think of my first project?! (P.S. pleaseeee don't mind my mess :) )