Friday, April 24, 2015

Pardon me While I get Gushy

It’s 7am on a weekday. I woke up later than I should and Ben is only a quarter of the way through his ignoring-the-snooze-button routine. When I come out of the bedrooms on a sunny morning like today it’s easy to think someone left a few lights on overnight. The front rooms are glowing and they fill the edge of the hallway with bright, beautiful light.

Usually I do a quick circle of the kitchen, dining room and living room to make sure that no one I’m thinking of didn’t leave any lights on overnight open the blinds and curtains. It lets even more raw sunlight in and makes me fall even more in love with our modest little house every time I do it.

Everything is painted, everything is put away, wedding planning is in full swing as are our regular day jobs. I don’t always look around and appreciate this place we’re in, but when everything is still—the pipes haven’t started clanking together because the shower isn’t on yet and no new dishes have piled up in the sink—I’m overwhelmed with appreciation.

Streaming sunlight and mountains of wedding planning
Ben very much wanted to buy a house when we did. It was early winter when we started looking and I wasn’t convinced it was possible to squeeze in a move and a mortgage payment while we were getting hammered with snow and I was getting hammered at work and with wedding stuff.

But he did it. The whole process. Learning escrow wasn’t a fancy yet disgusting French dish, meeting with realtors, researching houses and appreciation and neighborhoods. He found our house three days after it went on the market, put an offer in and bought this it in about 12 hours—this house with a mortgage payment that’s lower than our apartment rent, with absolutely everything we need plus and a little room for more.

It’s slowly getting warm enough for me to add a quick moment alone on the deck into my morning, house circling routine. I do this partially because the previous owner left us with gardens worth of green stuff I’m desperate not to kill, but also because I need it. It gives me the physical space for everything I feel on these mornings—gratitude we can afford to have this beautiful house, pride that we’ve made it ours, amazement at Ben for flawlessly handling the whole process and gobs and gobs of love that he wanted to do it to set roots for us and for our family.

Then I take a breath of chilly Spring air, heart the birds chirp, see that the leaves on the trees grew a little larger than they were yesterday and feel ready for the day.

Wow, we did this. And it’s beautiful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Fuss Black Bean Spread Tostadas

I’ve got a little come-home-from-work routine. I get the mail, put my lunch bag in the kitchen, open wedding RSVP’s and immediately add the responses to my spreadsheet and “seat” guests via sticky notes to my seating chart. Then, I go on with my night as usual. As pre-wedding planning usual.

With just over a month until the wedding, it’s little details time. Everything else is pretty much done. The ceremony programs are at the printers, the guitarist knows what songs to play when, the caterer is aligned with what our timing is. What now?

Nothing now—I’m not fussing over it.

I’m spending my nights getting back into running outside (when it’s not SNOWING), taking an extra mid-week yoga class and putting laundry away before it sits in a basket for a week. Ben and I took our waffle maker for a spin the other night. I’m in bed every night by 10pm. We’re exploring our yard in the Spring. We’re relaxed, and it’s lovely.

These black bean spread tostadas I made tonight were just as no-fuss as wedding planning has become. I put them together after a quick snowy run. They came together quickly and were filling without feeling greasy or heavy like Mexican can. Ben ate his when he got home from the gym and even he—the manly meat eater, black bean hater—proclaimed they were good.

Usually when you don’t fuss, the result is just that—good. Oh so good.

Black Bean Spread Tostadas

2 flour tortillas
1 can black beans
1/2 red bell pepper sliced thin
1/4 white onion sliced thin
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp lime juice
Mexican shredded cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Brush both sides of the tortillas with vegetable oil. Cut into fourths.
2. Sprinkle tortilla quarters with salt and transfer to a baking tray. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping half way, until golden brown.
3. In a small saucepan, heat a small amount of vegetable oil. Add peppers and onions and cook over high/medium heat, stirring occasionally until they’ve softened a bit.
4. Drain and rinse black beans, transfer to a small bowl. Add garlic, cumin, lime juice, a little salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or back of a strong spoon until a lumpy paste.
5. Transfer tortillas to a plate. Spread black bean paste on each gently (as to not break the tortilla chip). Top with a little shredded cheese and cooked pepper/onion mixture.
6. Serve. Relax. Enjoy.

The Office

Out of all the rooms in our house, the office has been a real labor of love. When we toured the house I knew exactly how I wanted to set the third bedroom up so we could both work in the space together—bringing that idea to life didn’t happen as quickly.

The room is a little awkward shaped due to a hall closet jutting into the room. The awkward wall looked perfect for a nine foot fake built-in desk. As soon as I had Ben’s buy in, I wanted, no, needed to get to work on it.

I was dead-set on one solid nine foot piece, but after some research we determined the $200 quote from our local lumber yard to custom cut a piece that large was not worth it.

But what if we got two pieces and glued them together to make them look like one piece? Welp, we’re more of assemblers, less builders at this stage in the home ownership game and quickly figured out that would look pretty janky if we tackled it ourselves.

So I gave in to two desks. We could easily find a piece of wood with the length/depth we wanted, but not with a suitable desk thickness. Ben suggested we glue several thick pieces together for each surface but I was wary of our ability to pull that off.

We ended up back at Lowe’s, looking at the same selection of pre-treated, pre-sanded, furniture grade building wood we’ve used for all our other projects. Why stray from success? We landed on gluing two pieces together as a top and bottom—which would reduce the number of seams on the surface while still giving us our desired thickness.

We bought four equal sized pieces to make two desks. Ben glued two pieces to top of each other to get the thickness we wanted—and repeated with the second desk. We bought some simple black metal legs from Ikea for something silly like $3 each.

After some sanding, gluing, filling, sanding, staining, sealing, sealing, sealing and sealing—our surfaces were done. By Sunday night the wood was done and all eight legs were drilled in and the desks were ready to come to life.

The final result is PERFECT. I’M IN LOVE AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT! We both have more than enough room to work, sprawl out, put our make-up on (well, one of us) and create paper piles. And when the other isn’t in the room, there’s even more space free for use. I might be working from home more often!

Monday, April 20, 2015

April Showers

I’m one drenched, soggy, sopping little lady after a lovely wedding shower Saturday afternoon.

Ben’s family threw me a beautiful wedding shower complete with lots of great women, a slice of cake the size of my face and gifts and gifts and gifts and gifts and where in the world are we going to put all this stuff?!

It’s overwhelmingly fantastic (overwhelmtastic?) to be so celebrated, loved and showered. I don’t quite feel that loving Ben, and our commitment to love each other, makes me deserving of a table’s worth of new kitchen/home gadgets but I’m thankful for it none the less.

Actually… knowing how many spoons Ben uses regularly to keep his cereal addiction going, maybe I do need that silverware set. My kitchen cabinets are stocked, my heart is full and my hand is cramped from thank you card writing. It must be nearing time for a wedding.

Friday, April 17, 2015

ID'ing The Yard

We've got a whole lotta mystery around our yard. Thanks to a few hefty April showers and the green thumb of our home's previous owner, there's a lot blooming or near blooming on its own.

Please little plants, just keep doing your thing. I'll try to take care of you, but I don't have a stellar track record.

Last week a couple sprouting green leaves gave way to bright yellow daffodils, our garden has some Swiss chard popping out on its own and a few more buds are threatening to burst. I'm dying to know what's coming next, so I walked around the yard and snapped some photos.

Then I hopped on to The Google and ran an image search of each one. Where that failed, I tried Googling a description of the plant by typing in the most random phrases like... spinach looking leaves with purple buds. So descript!

A few minutes later, I think I have a guess as to what's coming later this summer. I'm expecting a Virginia bluebell bush, some cuckoo flowers, a pineapple plant and heck-if-I-know.

Given the research, I'm pretty sure I still have no earthly clue what's planted around this place. Sigh, nothing forces your patience quite like nature. In the famous words of my middle school math teacher: I'll wait.