4th Wedding Anniversary Gifts

If you read yesterday's rambling post about my husband thinking I'm nuts because I re-use Zip-loc bags, you must really be a loyal reader. That ish was long. And pretty boring. But, if you read it, and you read it all the way to the bottom, you knew this post was coming.

Matt and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary yesterday. October 15th. 15 de Octubre. I can honestly say that I truly love him more today than I did four years ago, so I think we're doing something right. I won't get too sappy here, but one day, maybe he'll get his own letter. It's 10pm and I've put down two glasses of wine, so this will be mostly picture oriented. 

The 4th wedding anniversary is categorized by linen or floral. Matt came home on Tuesday* with an incredible floral display of hydrangeas and white roses.

4th Wedding Anniversary

He said, "I thought you'd like this, since you had white roses in your bouquet and your 'maids and centerpieces featured blue hydrangeas." So sweet, right? Men out there... this melts a woman's heart. We plan and plan and plan and think you have no idea what goes into it and then you pop in with a gift that lets us know you know exactly what was going on the whole time... yeah.

I had other ideas in mind since Matt couldn't care less about floral anything. Linen it was.

Linen shirt? Eh, too easy.

Linen pants? Pleeeeaaassse...do you know my husband? He's at his happiest with a power tool and/or a baseball bat in his hand. He's not the linen pant type of guy.

I started thinking about how we totalllllyy don't have enough throw pillows around here and decided to make him a throw pillow with linen fabric. Except, he wouldn't appreciate the throw pillow without something manly associated with it, so I decided to embroider something onto the pillow. No, embroidery doesn't scream masculinity but what I embroidered does. House Tarsi. That's a Game of Thrones reference.

I took embroidery lessons from Matt's grandma (I'm so fancy...) and got to work. I sketched out what I wanted to write and dug in. Spoiler alert: Embroidery/Needlepoint is fun.

Embroidery Virgin

Embroidery Virgin

Embroidery Virgin

Embroidery Virgin

Really fun. 

Embroidery Virgin

I actually don't have the finished product because on my way to Matt's grandma's to sew it up and fit on the pillow insert, we ran into unexpected delays. I'm going to get it done soon and show you the final product at that point. I know you're on the edge of your seat.

*Yes, Matt brought the flowers home on Tuesday instead of Wednesday - our actual anniversary. This is because I always make a big deal about not wanting flowers on "special days." I prefer them early February instead of February 14th. If he's going to get me Christmas roses, I prefer them 12/21 so I can actually enjoy them... it's all about expecting the unexpected. If that makes sense. 

Me and My Initiatives

When it comes to being "green," I have a pretty severe eco-conscience but I'm not an extremist by any means. In general, I believe in less packaging, up-cycling and turning off electric goods when not in use. 

Simple, right?

That being said, I don't not buy a product because it's packaged in too much plastic, I definitely don't up-cycle everything that comes through the door and I'll occasionally leave the kitchen lights on during dinner if we're eating on the couch. 

So when Matt asked me what the Zip-loc bag was doing hanging over the kitchen faucet and I told him I cleaned it to re-use it and now it was drying, he just shook his head and said, "you and your initiatives."

It got me thinking. What other "initiatives" do I have and do I go overboard?!

1. Each week on garbage day, I strive for more recycling than garbage. I actually do fairly well with this. Our community offers single-stream recycling which makes it really easy to toss junk mail, cereal boxes and magazines in the same bag as our OJ containers and milk cartons. Oh, and when the kitchen garbage bag gets full, I pull it out of the bin and leave it in the kitchen to fill to the brim with more garbage before tying it off and bringing it out to the garage. Not only does this save me trips to the garage, but it also reduces the actual number of plastic garbage bags I use in a year. 

2. I donate close to everything. Yup, close to everything. If I'm done using gently used clothes and dishes, they go to Goodwill, of course, but there are places to donate items that Goodwill won't take, too. Example: I recently went through my craft bin and realized I had close to 150 pens, pencils, markers and dry erase markers. Instead of throwing them out, I reached out to a city teacher I know and asked if she could use them in her classroom (I figured budgets are tight and pens and pencils always go missing). I was right. She replied with enthusiasm that she would love to take them off my hands.

3. I put on a sweater before I turn up the heat. This has more to do with saving money than being green, but I'll include it. Our house is old. It has so many cracks and openings that we haven't weather-proofed (and we've weather-proofed a lot!) that it literally bleeds heat and more so, bleeds money. Matt calls me the "Hazi," (the Heat Nazi) but I'm getting better now that we have little toes to keep warm.

4. I up-cycle. If you're unfamiliar with this term, it's basically using used materials to make something else or use somewhere else. Example 1: If I get a package with a pretty satin ribbon, I'll save the ribbon to use on a present I wrap down the line. If something like a ribbon is going to end up in a landfill, I'd rather it be used more than once on its way. Example 2: I'm on the hunt for a few old shutters to use in a headboard project for the guest room bed. This is up-cycling at its finest. Old shutters that would be trash will soon be in my home, cleaned up and given a new lease on life.

5. I try to reduce plastic usage. Zip-loc bags in particular. My mom set this in my brain sooooo long ago. As in, when-I-was-in-elementary-school long ago. Instead of juice boxes or water bottles, she always sent our chocolate milk/water/juice in the original kid's Camelbak: the Tupperware drink cup. She sent snacks in reusable Tupperware instead of Zip-loc bags. It's a little extra trouble but she always said, "that plastic bag is going to sit in the dump forever." It sat in my brain then and it sits in my brain now. If I make Matt lunches for work, I use Tupperware or glass Pyrex-ware instead of Zip-loc bags. When a Zip-loc isn't used to it's full potential, (like holding a bagel to keep it from getting stale in the example that started all this rambling) I'll always rinse it out and reuse it. 

Me and my initiatives, I know. What are yours?

P.S. This is my favorite site to visit a few times a year to see if there is more I can do to help this ol' Earth. 

P.P.S. I have no idea where this post was born. Matt's comment about my initiatives the other night really got me thinking. You'd think it was Earth Day or something. In reality, it's my wedding anniversary, so as soon as Matt gets home from his softball game (he asked if I cared if he played...I said no) it's time to hang with my man. I'll be back with a post about my DIY gift to him (linen themed!) tomorrow and Harrison's 7-month letter on Friday!! Busy lil' week. Happy Wednesday!

Friday Night Bush Slaying

Matt and I have been rocking our Friday nights of late. A few weeks ago, we spent our entire Friday evening organizing the garage and sweeping it out from corner to corner. It was pretty amazing.

What? You don't think that sounds "amazing?" We had our tunes and we had our beers and we had each other, so we were good.

The following Friday evening, we got Harrison to sleep and set our sights on the side of the garage that is not visible from the street.

Curb Appeal

It's a bit of a nightmare over there. You see, we use the space to store ladders, spare pieces of lattice, sand bags and any other remnants of outdoor crap that Matt doesn't want to store in the garage/mancave. We decided to attack two eyesores on the side of the garage. Two giant, evergreen eyesores that were small when we bought the house five years ago and had grown to epic proportions.

You can see them peeking out behind the rocker in this shot...


Curb Appeal

...and they're in this shot with a dusting of snow...


Curb Appeal

They grew so tall and were so completely neglected that they started to shroud the mancave. They blocked so much of the sun that the window sill on that side is rotted out completely. As well as the bottom of the door. Good times. Good projects.

So, armed with tools ranging from a lopper to a saw to a wheelbarrow to carry all of the stuff to the back woods, we got to work. Yeah, you can skip quickly over the picture of my husband's butt. #sorryimnotsorry

Curb Appeal

It took about 150 cuts on Matt's part and a couple dozen trips across the backyard dragging the heavy branches on my part.

I only stopped once to take a picture of this adorable bird's nest nestled among the evergreen needles. 

Curb Appeal

I may or may not have been cracking jokes about Matt calling me Bessie because I was basically his workhorse. A couple hours later just as it started getting really, really dark, we called it quits.

Here are the fairly lackluster before and after shots - they'll be way more dramatic when this space is 100% done, of course.

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Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

So now, all we have to do is actually rip the bushes out of the ground. My brother-in-law came over to help Matt the following Saturday, but those bushes haven't budged. I posted a funny video of them going to town on my Instagram feed. (@SchoolHouseRehab) We're brainstorming how we can get them out (A truck with a rope? Renting a stump grinder? Digging extra deep with sheer manpower?). I'll keep you posted and for now, I'm enjoying the view of a pretty tree I barely noticed before.

The rest of the to-do list for this space looks like this:

  • rip out bushes
  • plant grass seed this Fall or next Spring
  • replace garage window sill 
  • paint garage window sill
  • paint garage side door
  • replace garage side door hardware
  • add flowers and or containers
  • find a new spot for the wheelbarrow and ladder

So that's where we stand. Hopefully by next April or May, this area will be looking waaaay different than it is now. I mean ideally, I hope it looks better by November 1st, but I'm being realistic.

Early Fall Garden Tour

Some of my favorite blog posts to revisit time and time again are the ones where I featured (cell) pictures of my gardens at any given time during the year. I do it mostly in the Spring and Summer (Late Spring 2013 here, Early Summer 2013 here, August 2013 here, April 2014 here, May 2014 here). I had a few minutes during a recent perimeter walk to snap a few Fall bloomers.

I picked up this sun-loving perennial during my trip to Shakespeare's Garden last year.

Fall Color

It's a Gaillardia or "Blanket Flower." I think it's a relative of the Sunflower and Aster. The bees love it and I love that the flowers look like miniature suns.

Here's a shot of some Magnolia buds getting ready for hibernation. Their pink blooms are one of the first to pop in the Spring. Sigh. Spring. Just half a year away.

Fall Magnolia Blossom

My purplish-blue Hydrangea bush is beeeeaaaaauuuuutiful in the Summer but equally as beautiful when Autumn comes around. I love how they look like dried flowers. (I guess they are dried flowers at this point!)

Fall Hydrangea Color

Here's a Black-Eyed Susan bud ready to pop! I should have had more of these but Matt ran 'em over with the mower. Boo. There's always next year.

Black-Eyed Susan Bud

This is my first year having Lamb's Ear in the yard. It takes a year or so to establish, so I didn't expect blooms. I am expecting blooms next year. Regardless, I love the soft, silvery-green foliage.

Lamb's Ear Close-Up

I'm realizing that the last few pictures are lacking color. Only two more left. Stick with me. :)

Here's my "Reblooming Lilac" that has yet to rebloom. Hm. It does have buds so I'm hopeful for something else to pop before the first frost (better hurry)!

Reblooming Lilac

After stalking these grasses all Spring, they finally started to take off mid-late Summer. If you remember, they were a back-breaking transplant from friends that Matt dug up last fall. I transplanted them and I'm excited to watch them grow each year, eventually creating a natural hedge (so I don't have to see my 75-year old neighbor sunbathe...).

Reed Grass Plume

So even though the pictures aren't as traditionally beautiful as those taken during the colorful Spring, I'm still proud of the progress. This Fall I'm not planting much with the exception of purple Alliums if I can find the bulbs for a good price! What are you planting?

My Favorite Things: September 2014

I can't believe it's the end of September already. In my book, October is the real kickoff to Autumn. I'm ready for it. I really am. The heating bills will be back but the bugs will be gone. (We know how I feel about bugs.) The mornings will be cold but the afternoons, although short, will be sunny and warm.

I'm excited to wander the yard holding a cup of steaming tea, listening to the leaves crunch under my riding boots... all while wearing a chunky cable knit sweater, of course. Sigh. Yes, that sounds lovely.

Last month, I compiled a short list of my favorite things from catalogs and magazines. I'm back with things I discovered in September, just in case Matt wants to browse my favorite lists and pick out something for me for Christmas (wink, wink).

I'm digging a new fabric at Ballard Designs: Dover Linen. I love that it's versatile, sophisticated and has some personality yet it's neutral enough to handle a bold pillow or throw. ($39/yard, Ballard Designs) When I learn to reupholster, I'd love to recover something in this.

Ballard Designs Dover Linen

Harrison's nursery is 99% done, but if I had seen this months ago, I would have popped on it for sure. I looooove the red stitching. ($88, Serena & Lily)

Serena & Lily Pouf

These oven-safe pumpkin bakers would be adorable to serve chili or soup in a festive way. ($3.99, World Market)

Pumpkin Bakers

With flavors like Raspberry Mojito, Ginger Bread Cookies and Apple Crisp, is it any wonder I'm craving these teas made in Ohio? ($12, Lulu & Max)

Flavored Tea

The pretty packaging doesn't hurt, either.

Check out this dog collar! ($41, Crew La La)

Crew La Laa

The company has bowtie collars for boy pups and girl pups and I can't. stop. browsing their site. Griff would look so fly in one of their designs. Seersucker prints, happy patterns... even holiday versions. Such a fun, cute gift idea for the dog lover on your gift list! Maybe Santa will bring a bowtie collar with a fun design for Griff's stocking this year.

I love these wire storage baskets modeled after old potato farming baskets. ($48, Minam)

Vintage Potato Baskets

I could go for a couple of the red or yellow ones to keep in our living room to corral toys or shoes or hats/gloves/scarves. Old houses have storage problems. For real. 

I've been toying with the idea of this ladder for a while. ($48, Amazon) I want to put it in the corner of the living room and display throws on it. I have too many throws and not enough space to show 'em off so this may do the trick.


I can hear Matt now... "You want to buy a ladder... for blankets?!" Ha. He'll have to deal. He doesn't complain when people say the house feels cozy so until he does, Imma keep on keepin' on. 

Happy (just about!) October!!