Friday, December 10, 2010

Sofas, Computers, and the Battle of the Sexes

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy. 
--Henry Kissinger
It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over. 
--Edna St. Vincent Millay
So, this past Tuesday, December 7, the world changed.   And, sadly, I'm not talking about Pearl Harbor.  No, I'm talking about an online RPG that has sucked millions into its pixelated oblivion.  Yes, ladies and gents, I'm talking about World of Warcraft's newest expansion, Cataclysm. 
  My husband didn't stand a chance. 
So, mom and I were talking about men, how every man has some sort of obsessive hobby: cars, video games, sports, politics, music, technology and the repair/enjoyment thereof . . . and it reminded me of a story my mom once told me.  Once upon a time, when my parents were but wee newlyweds, my father had a couch. And not just any couch. It was large, hand-me-down, L-shaped,covered in a colonial pattern featuring coffee grinders couch. It was, in essence, a "bachelor couch."  Ladies, you know exactly what this means. Men, you're probably not understanding the issue here . . . basically, it was that foul thing tainting an otherwise lovely living room. So my mother goes to my father and says, "Honey, we need a new couch." My father and I have the same views on money: it stays in the bank, so my dad promptly answers with, "Well, we can't afford it right now." Mom digresses, and moves on, casting long, hateful glances at that funiturial blemish. Not long after this, my mother comes home to a huge, brand-new, spankin' set of sound speakers. New couch? Nope . . . just these super expensive pieces of equipment, sitting in her house like it's nothing. Oh no, he didn't!  Now, you have to understand my dad is a techy and sound boards/music are a hobby of his. When my mother approached him, bewildered and outraged that they could afford speakers and not a new couch, Dad simply replied that he needed the speakers for his sound business. So I relate this story to Chris, and Chris replies with a smirk, "Your dad has his priorities in the right place. I mean, aesthetics over new technology? Come on! There's no comparison!" I, on the other hand, was shocked that my father would do such a thing when the living room was in so dire need of a makeover. Men and women will just never see eye to eye on some things. For now, I'm content to simply say that Chris's WoW habit is my father's new speakers . . . or maybe the really ugly couch?
How about you? What's your ugly couch/new speakers?

P.S. To be fair, I do play WoW with Chris now and again . . . it's bonding time . . . ;]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Text Message Mix-Ups

Yesterday, a student came up to me and said, "Mrs. Bocchino, my mom got your text about you and your husband . . . you know . . . " And she gave me that shy smirk we all wear when we've found something naughty.

Now, I don't send those text messages, but, every once in a while, something comes up that's for Chris's eyes only. My phone is a touch screen, and, sometimes scrolling through contacts will accidentally select more than one name so . . . Panic much?

"Honey, what text message?"

"Oh . . . you know . . . "

I'm checking my Sent Text. "No, hon, I never texted your mom." And then a lightbulb. "'Leyna, was it my blog? You know, an online journal with stories about Mr. Bocchino and me?"

She was talking about the banner on here. You know, because there's PDA. And, when your seven, PDA is so scandalous.

May I just say that my relief made the day so much better?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hi-ho! hi-ho! It's off to work I go!

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.
--Jerome K. Jerome
 You know, I could get used to this not-going-to-work thing. My apartment is spotless and has stayed spotless for the first time in ages. I got all caught up on laundry. I tried two new recipes AND kept my kitchen clean. I went to three family events and brought delisciousness to each. I had a friend over and made her lunch . . . then played Donkey Kong Country (the oldschool super NES DK . . . Ooo ho I love it!).  I think all the cleaning even got the cats to stop making messes on the carpet (oh please! oh please! oh please!). I started my Christmas shopping. Golly, if I don't feel like the most efficient housewife since June Cleaver.
And, after this weekend, I'm afraid it all will end.
School starts back up, along with lesson-planning and parent-emails. I checked my in-box today and the stomach knots came back. Any time now, they'll begin again.
School vacation as a teacher is pretty much like school vacation as a student: it's beautiful, relaxing, energizing, and over waaaay too soon. The difference is that as a student, I wasn't worried about the pay-cut.

Today, I'm getting myself ready by updating my gradebook. And doing a self-evaluation survey. Is it just me, or does anyone else just HATE those?
"Tell us about your weakness."
If I do, you're not going to fire me, are you?
"Tell us about your strengths."
If I do . . . are you going to find me an arrogant jerk? Or hopeless?
"What can you do to improve?"
Aw, come on, I'm trying! I'm doing the work, man!
My comfort lies in the fact that my employers are awesome and want me to succeed. They've known me and my family for years and years, so they're cheering for me. I just hope I don't let any one down.
I wonder if I'd do better teaching an older grade--my passions are literature and history, the language arts. The discovery of the secret codes of words, the symbolism, discovering the human character and condition through a story. It's a treasure hunt! And I don't know if kids understand that, or if they can be shown that it's really fun and it's not rocket science. It's a thinking science, learning to look beyond appearance. But, if I am given first grade, I will do my best in first grade. Plus, the kiddos are so stinkin cute! I cannot tell you how many hugs and pictures covered in "I love Mrs. Bocchino" I receive. It's a wonderful thing! :]

Soon, I update on some of the "random" things going on around here . . . the Sushi/Sashimi night . . . the Christmas tree . . . the hair cut fiasco . . . the plague of cat puke . . . . the in-laws' flying squirrel . . . maybe all in one post. I dunno. We'll see if I survive the return to the classroom first. Dun-dun-DA-DUN!!!

Now, the question remains: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or LOTR marathon? I can't do my gradebook in complete silence, you know ;]

What about you? How was your Thanksgiving? Did you go on vacation? OR how about your favorite old school video game?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cream Cheese Rippled Pumpkin Bread

The mellow sweetness of pumpkin pie off a prison spoon is something you will never forget.
--Mitchell Burgess
It's funny . . . you grow up, and the cooking increases. By like a lot. Especially over fabulous family holidays like Thanksgiving. Oh gee and golly.

Before, holiday cooking was just clean-up duty after mom magically whipped up deliciousness with delightful ease.
Then some guy put a ring on my finger, and next thing I know I'm covered in flour, sugar, and unidentifiable stickiness. Oh, and there's no child to do clean-up duty. Instead, all I have are cats who want to get into the butter and a kitchen that looks like it survived a nuclear warhead. Yeah, no. Oh, and the best part? I have no idea what I'm making. Yup. It took me over a week to decide on what to cook for Thanksgiving.
Salad? Hm . . . No,  Mom will be bringing that . . .
Fruit dip?  . . . Nope, Chris's aunt always brings fruit dip . . .
Cupcakes? Julie has that covered . . . crap . . .
Green bean casserole? Aw crud, my aunt brings that . . .
Mashed taters? No . . . Chris's family doesn't usually do mashed taters for Thanksgiving (This was an alien concept to my poor sheltered little brain--I went into mild shock when I heard the news).

So what did I decide on? After all these days of bewilderment and googling?  Pumpkin bread. Yes, I know it doesn't sound exciting, but this not just any pumpkin bread, m'dears, oh no. Cream cheese rippled pumpkin bread. Um. Yum? If there was ever divine culinary matrimony, twas betwixt pumpkin bread and cream cheese, I kid you not.

Yes, I'm proud to say it was a hit. And it's pretty! I hardly ever make "pretty" food, but, golly, this was easy on the eyes and the tastebuds!


Cream Cheese Filling
  • 2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
Pumpkin Bread
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 heaping cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 – 15 oz can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup  water
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. For the Cream Cheese Filling:
    1. Beat the cream cheese just until smooth in a stand mixer or food processor. 
    2. Add the sugar and process just until smooth and creamy. 
    3. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing just until incorporated. Do not over process. 
    4. Stir in the flour. Set aside.
  2. For the Pumpkin Bread:
    1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. 
    2. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs until lightly beaten. Whisk in the sugar and melted butter, then stir in the pumpkin, water, and vanilla extract.
    3. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture, being careful not to overmix. A few streaks of flour are fine. 

    Now at this point, you, my dears, get to make a choice: Do you want LOAVES or do you want MUFFINS? I've made both, and I love both, but I do find muffins much easier and equally as attractive. Plus, let's face it, it's going to taste FANTASTIC either way.

    For loaves, follow these directions:
    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Butter and flour or use nonstick spray in pans so the baked bread doesn't stick.
    3. Divide the batter in half. Take one half and divide it between the two pans. Pour half of the cream cheese filling into each pan, then top with the remaining half of batter. (These were the directions in the original recipe, but I just eyeballed it because I didn't have enough mixing bowls lol--most of my cream cheese filling ended up swirled at the top of the bread, which was fine, but, if you want it in the EXACT middle, follow the listed directions).
    4. Smooth the tops and bake an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    5. Cool pans on a wire rack until room temperature then turn out.  
    • This recipe makes  two 9"x5" loaves 

    muffins, follow these directions:
    1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
      You can probably do it at 350 and cook it for longer, but I was in a hurry . . .
    2. Fill muffin pan with paper liners or use a nonstick spray so the muffins don't stick to the tin 
    3. In each muffin pocket, put a scoop of pumpkin, two scoops cream cheese mixture, and another scoop of pumpkin
      Scoop size to your discretion--I found that, starting with large bottom scoops of pumpkin, I was scraping every morsel of pumpkin from the bowl to properly fill the last tins. There was more than enough cream cheese mixture--I'm pretty sure its baked ratio to baked pumpkin was equal to if not greater than the pumpkin.  Don't skimp on the cream cheese--there' PLENTY.
    4.   Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean OR you begin to notice the tops of your muffins turning a wee bit brown (don't want them burnt!)
    5. Remove muffins from tins and allow to cool before eating 
    • This recipe makes  roughly 24 LARGE muffins

    If you'd like to visit the original recipe, click here! It's a fantastic cooking blog called "17 and Baking." Check her out!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Flew Over the Owl's Nest

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.
--Emily Dickinson

Yesterday, I took my first graders on a field trip to Birds of Prey center. If you're ever in the Orlando area and love nature, you must must MUST visit! Here, they nurture injured birds until they are back in shape to fly free or, if they cannot be healed, care for them until death. Absolutely fascinating and such beautiful creatures. Hawks, falcons, kestrels, and owls have always fascinated me--I still dream of being a falconer, but it's an expensive hobby, and money I do not have . . . or space . . . or a bird, for that matter. Sort of a vital piece of the puzzle, don't you think?

So, on this field trip, I've found my new personal favorite creature.
Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce, the screech owl:
. Yes, I think I need one . . . not want, but need.

Chris says I need multiple owl minions, and I should carry them all on my shoulders. Like this:

I feel a new obsession coming on.

On an unrelated note, as I sit here sipping my new favorite drink, I must add that I love vanilla almond milk.Chris likes it not so much, but I think it's a perfect treat.
And so are screech owls ^_^

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Asiago Sauce

My favorite thing to make is pasta.
No, really.
This isn't an "I love pasta" it's an "Oh, honey, I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE pasta! I don't know where I'd be without pasta! Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! Do not diss the pasta dish!" A good bowl of pasta can make a bad day practically perfect in every way.
"Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a pasta addict . . . "
"Hi, Sarah."

Anywho, last weekend, I was dining with a friend at Mimi's Cafe and stumbled upon their seafood pasta in an asiago sauce.
I went home on a desperate quest to recreate the awesome. Would you believe with all the cooking sites and all the "mimic Mimi's" recipes that this pasta wasn't one of them? I was shocked.

So I made my own. I don't think of recipes as rules . . . they're more like guidelines, if you will. So using these "guidelines" I combined a couple of pasta recipes and came out with deliciousness! Ta-da!

  • 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups Asiago cheese
  • Grated Parmesan to taste (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1-1.5lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or, if you wanted, you could do shrimp like Mimi's, but, as Chris hates seafood pasta and we both love chicken, I used chicken)
  • 1 cup Baby Bella mushrooms (or more if you love them!)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • 5 green onions/scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 box bow-tie pasta . . . or any pasta. I just happened to have bow-tie in the pantry
  • 1 tsp chicken base (or 1 bouillon cube)
1. First, dice up the onions and the garlic. Toss them in a sauce pan with the butter and cook until tender and translucent.
2. Add chicken and oil.
3. When chicken is mostly cooked, add chicken base and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are dark and tender and chicken is no longer pink.
4. Add  wine and allow to evaporate (about 60 seconds)
5. Remove chicken and mushroom mixture and set aside. Do not clean the pan. Removing the chicken and shrooms allows you to concentrate strictly on the sauce, but not cleaning the pan will allow the essence of chicken and shrooms to enrich the sauce.
5. In same pan, add tomato sauce, whipping cream, cheese(s). Cook on medium-low and stir with whisk until cheese has completely dissolved.  I used a mix between shredded and the super grated. If you find the flavor is too strong, add a little bit of milk. This will thin the sauce, but it will also soften the flavor if needed.
6. Add cornstarch. This will thicken the sauce back up if you find it too thin (which can be a struggle--you want it to be a sauce, not a soup :] which is the trickiest thing I've found with pastas)
7. Once you are satisfied with the taste and consistency of your sauce, add the chicken and mushrooms again.
8. Prepare pasta according to the box directions. Once cooked and drained, add to sauce.
9. Open your mouth and take a great big bite ;]

I'm thinking next time I'll make it, I'll add fresh diced tomatoes, as well, just to give it a little extra zing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crazy Critters

You enter into a certain amount of madness when you marry a person with pets.  
--Nora Ephron

 So remember when I said that the cats had stopped leaving messes on the carpet? Guess what they started doing again immediately after I posted?  Oh sweet irony . . . Haha.
In fact, this morning, I woke up to the words, "Sarah, the cats pooped on the carpet again, and it's making me gag."
Nothing smells so strongly of romance as cat dung in the early morning . . .
It's one of the hazards of pet ownership. We love the fur-balls, so we clean the carpet and move on. I mean, seriously, who could stay angry at these sweet little faces?

Apparently, human females aren't the only species who love shopping

Monday, November 8, 2010

Strawberry-Orange Whipped Fruit Dip

Doesn't the title alone make your mouth water?
I brought this to a birthday party this weekend, and people were eating it straight out of the bowl. They put it on fruit, they put it on cake, they even put it on sweet potato bread. And you know what? It tasted AMAZING on anything. It's super easy, makes a ton, and everyone will kiss your feet after one taste.  Seriously, my dears, you will be crowned queen of the party.

  • 8 oz whipped cream (I made my own)
  • 8 oz strawberry-flavored creme cheese
  • 7 oz of marshmallow fluff
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp berry fruit juice (optional)
Mix together until smooth.
If the mixture does not smooth, add a tiny bit more orange juice or the berry juice. I happened to have some V8 fruit juice in the fridge this weekend and tried it, just to give the mixture a tiny bit more color. It tastes FANTASTIC without the berry, and it tastes FANTASTIC with it. Choose your destiny and don't look back :]
Now, dig in and prepare to be worshiped!

P.S. Homemade Whipped Cream
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
Mix with electric mixture, blender, or in food processor (or have your kids shake a tupperware container of the ingredients--they'll love it and the cream will still taste great! Two birds, one stone!). Add more sugar or vanilla as needed. I'm a big sweet tooth, so maybe my recipe is a little too sweet for some. Just play around with it. It's impossible to get wrong! :]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Werewolves, Lovies, and Pumpkins

Oz: [eating Animal Crackers]Oh, look, monkey. And he has a little hat, and little pants. The monkey's the only cookie animal that gets to wear clothes, you know that? . . . So I'm wonderin', do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like is the hippo goin', "Hey man, where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity." And, you know, the monkey's just, "I mock you with my monkey pants!" And then there's a big coup in the zoo.  
Willow: The monkey is French?
Oz: All monkeys are French. You didn't know that?
--Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2 Episode 10

I was bored one afternoon, went to hulu, and discovered Buffy.
I remember the commercials for it when I was a kid, I was totally confused, sort of grossed out. Oh yeah, and there were people in lame costumes.I mean, seriously, blue demons? Come on, who's scared of giant smurfs?
So, started watching the show a couple days ago, it actually wasn't too bad for a teenage vamp show (at lesat the vamps don't sparkle . . . ).
Then Seth Green walked in, and I was hooked . . . at least to the one season hulu possesses.
Is it bizarre that while other girls were drooling over Angel, Spike, and Edward Cullen, a small red-headed nerd gives me the fan-girly giggles? Not a crush, honest . . . it's just adorable. Like kittens . . . but kittens with a taciturn sense of humor.
No, I don't even understand it. Seriously.
Yeah, I'm a sucker for sweet, quirky, nerdy musicians. This is why I married one . . . and at least mine is taller than me. Oh, and Chris is real. That's pretty key.

 In four days, my sis-in-law celebrates her 2nd anniversary. Congrats Julie and Ryan!

It's sort of a weird story, really . . . I'll give you the nutshell-version:
  • 1988 -- I turn 1, and Ryan is born. Our mom's are pals, so they start having baby-play dates. And the playdates continued . . . until we were all too old to have "playdates" and instead we just hung out. Ryan's parents liked to plan our wedding; we just gagged at the thought.. They'd picked out our first dance song to be "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins from Disney's "Tarzan." Yup.
  • 2001 -- Julie and I meet at a high school bowling party. We get put on the same team because everyone else had already paired up . . . and it turned out we both loved Star Wars. Welcome to the beginning of best-friend-dom.  We used to joke about my marrying her cousin, Joe, and my brother, Matt, marrying her younger sister, Mel, so we could all be related.
  •  2002 -- I meet Chris, Julie's older brother, and boy, oh boy, was he a cutie!
  • 2003 -- My parents throw me a surprise LOTR party (yes, I was a super-nerd . . . still am) for my 16th birthday, and Ryan and Julie meet for the first time.
  • 2005 -- Ryan and Julie meet again at a youth group outing to the Wet-n-Wild water park. I leave for college, and, after which, Ryan and Julie start hanging out all the time. A month and a half later, they're going out. 
  • 2006 -- to everyone's shock and awe, including mine, Chris confesses a long-time crush on me, and we start going out. This creates some drama between we two couples, but, in the end, everyone's happy.
  • 2008 -- Ryan and Julie get engaged in February and married the following November.
  • 2009 -- Chris and I get engaged in March and married in October. The impossible happened: Ryan and I were in two weddings together, though no one danced to Tarzan and Ryan and I were not marrying each other . . . but we were officially related, which was bizarre. Oh, and Julie and I were finally sisters, which made us laugh because we never really thought it would happen.
And that's the weird almost cute story about how I became related to people I never expected. It's been an interesting but, in the end, a really fun ride. 

Oh, and, as promised, pics from Julie's and my pumpkin-carving "party."

Everyone (Matt, Lydia, Julie, and Chris) with their finished works of art
Lydia's undead cat pumpkin, dedicated to Julie's old cat, Cuddles, that for really-real looks like a zombie
My brother, Matt's, tribute to a sci-fi epic

Chris's half of our pumpkin: one of his favorite characters, Chewbacca.

My half of the pumpkin. I was going to cover it in cool swirls so it looked like a fun lantern, but Chris surprised us with his presence (we thought he was going to work late that night), and wanted to carve a pumpkin, so I gave me the other half of mine. Ah, the sacrifices of marriage :]

And now it's off to Halloween weekend . . . which means cleaning, washing my car for the first time in ages (hopefully >.<), grading papers, and entering grades . . . whoop-de-do . . . Oh, and we'll go putt-putt golfing with my fam. I AM super excited about that ^_^

What about you? Random fan-girl-ness? Crazy love/friend stories? Plans for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh reality, thou art heartless . . .

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.
--Jane Wagner

I didn't really know what "stuck between a rock and a hard place" meant until I started teaching. Ok, well there was one summer where I totally knew, but that's another story for another time . . . maybe. Maybe I'll keep it to myself.You know, just to watch you twitch with curiosity.
Or not.
Teaching is tricky because you have to keep not only your employers happy, but your students AND their parents. That's the trick, really, the parentals, and parentals, you must understand, are hard to keep completely happy all at once. You grow up, move out, and, in some form or another parenthood follows you around. You can not escape the grown-ups. Not ever. Not even when you are one . . . supposed to be one . . . or something.

All I know is I feel stressed, exhausted, anxious, and unmotivated all the time, now . . . which is probably why blog posts are more frequent. It just ends up feeling like no matter what I do, people aren't happy, so why bother? Why face it? Because it's my job, and life is bigger than stress and unhappy people. I can do this. At least until summer time. First year teaching is hell, anyways, that's what people tell me. You start out at the bottom of the ditch because then there's no where to go but up . . . I'm hoping.

Then there's finances. Money's bothered me from the time I was little.
No really. 
It's not that there are any problems, really, but we're trying to figure out how to pay off my student loans . . . which may put us behind on saving up for a house, and Chris's car is almost 14 years old. No real problems, yet, but that sucker could keel over any minute. I'm trying to find ways to save money, so if any of you have any tips, please let me know. I'm probably just borrowing trouble, but I like being financial prepared for impending doom.
Here are things we've already applied to save a little cash
  • No cable or satellite television . . . or any television, really . . . we haven't bothered buying an antenna/receiver
  • I buy only what I need for recipes that week and minimal snackage. 
  •  Dinners out are a very special and rare event
  • Movies in the theater are an extinct breed of evening
  • The only luxury on our phones is unlimited texting because we realized it would be more expensive to pay the fees for over-texting.
  • We bought used cars and paid for them up front so we don't have car payments.
Chris and I are debating having me quit my summer job . . . but I'm not sure we can. It's at a theme park, horrible hours, horrible drive, and the pay barely pays for the gas trip there and back. Still, it's a nice cushion in case we need summer cash.

Any-who . . . lesson plans, project planning, and paper grading continue. We are soldiers marching on to battle.

At least the cats are no longer relieving themselves on the carpet.  No really, that's a big deal. Cat poo is no fun. Not even a little bit.

Oh and we had a little pumpkin party. Pics soon :)

For now, I relieve stress by watching new online episodes of Futurama (because, ya know, my TV doesn't work, and the internet is my only remaining link to modern society). Oh the hysterical glory!

How about you? What do you do to save cash? Favorite de-stressing TV show?

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Beef Stew with Barley

    The first time I made this, I found myself debating the definition of a "stew." For me, a stew just has more beef and more veggies in a slow cooker. Chris begged to differ, stating that a stew is determined by its consistency, and that my culinary creation was not thick enough to be a true "stew."
    Oh, boy, no, you didn't. Oh no, you did not just diss my cooking. Nuh-uh..
    In the end, someone came to another and said, "I was wrong, you were right." Guess who it was.
    To give you a hint, I did a little victory dance, because I hardly ever hear those words. Oh sweet, sweet victory . . .
    So yes, this is a stew: it's loaded with yummy beef, delicious veggies, and it IS thick, thanks to the barely. Oh, and Chris loves it . . . because it's awesome.

    •  large zip-top bag
    • 2 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast (or beef pre-cut for stew)
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 4–5 petite red potatoes (rinsed)
    • 1 large onion (rinsed)
    • 8 ounces fresh cut carrots
    • 1 (32-ounce) box reduced-sodium beef broth
    • 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup quick-cooking pearled barley
    • Note: The originally recipe called for celery, but, because Chris and I aren't big celery fans, we used peas instead and it's still delish! . . . are you sensing a theme that I don't like to follow original recipes? ;]
    • Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. 
    • Cut beef into 3-inch chunks and place in large zip-top bag, beef, flour, and pepper (wash hands); seal tightly and shake to coat. 
    • Place oil in pan; swirl to coat. Place beef in pan (wash hands); cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until browned.
    • While roast browns, cut potatoes into quarters. Remove ends and peel from onion; cut onion into quarters. 
    • Place roast in slow cooker. 
    • Add remaining ingredients (except barley); cook 4–6 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW.
    • About one hour before serving, stir in barley. Do not replace lid. Cook uncovered 1 hour or until barley and beef are both tender. 

    Side note: When I first made this, I bought a large chuck roast, and it just about killed me to cut that sucker into chunks.  The original recipe says it takes 15 minutes to prepare, but it took me double or triple that. Maybe I have a beef-cutting handicap I wasn't aware of, but this time, I bought beef that was already cut into chunks with stew-making in mind (Publix Grocery, I love you!). Such a time saver!

    Island Getaway

    A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.
    --Dave Meurer
     For our one-year anniversary, Chris and I ran away to Sanibel Island for the weekend. For Chris, it was a return to his childhood summer getaway. It was my first visit, and I cannot wait to make my second :]

    Our cozy little room at the Sanibel Inn
    The beautiful beach, covered in shells. The water was crystal clear and filled with more shells, fish, and dolphins.
    What we did for one evening: Chris studied, and I graded papers
    Our fantastic (and free!) anniversary cake
    Our friend Slappy the Snail. We thought he was an empty shell. Um, yeah, no. He kept viciously hitting us with his snail-foot. We had no idea snails were so feisty!
    On the beach, before our anniversary dinner at The Bubble Room.
    The Sanibel Lighthouse . . . which looked nothing like I expected but it was still a fun trip.
    One last walk down the beach before heading home!

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
    --Oscar Wilde
     I love a good deal. Ok, so who doesn't? But, really I looooooove a good deal. The best deal of all? Pants.
    I can pass up clothes pretty much any day, even sales' rack pieces, but pants for sale? Nope, not ever. I must possess them.

    Allow me to explain: 

    Pay no attention to the cutie I am embracing. No, instead, look below my waistline. 
    To that bubble. 
    Yeah, that one. The BIG one. The one that, in no way, belongs on a Caucasian female physique.
    No one's really sure where it came from, but the moment I hit puberty WHAM-O! J-Lo booty galore!
    It has haunted me ever since -_-. 

    I've tried running, dieting, weight-training, yoga--everything but plastic surgery, and the stinkin thing will not leave. It is permanently attached. Luckily, my husband doesn't mind it, not one little bit. In fact, he sort of likes it . . . a lot, and in the process, I'm beginning to accept it, even like it, myself.
    Anyways, to the point, pants shopping is a NIGHTMARE. If a pair fits my massive rear-end, they're too big on my waist. Then there are the pants that fit my waist . . . and I can barely get over my thighs. Pants shopping is my own personal level of fashion hell.

    Then, I discovered the glories of Ann Taylor Loft. I'll be honest, was not  the first place I'd choose shop. In fact, I almost didn't go in--the prices made my stomach hurt, and I couldn't see myself in those pretty, preppy styles. Then, I found them. My goodness, my gracious, my golly, Sarah-Bubble-Bootie Pants. But they don't call them that.
    My friends, allow me to introduce, the Loft's Julie Pants. 

    A glove, ladies and gents. These pants fit like a glove. I bought my first pair full price three months ago (and nearly cried doing so -- they normally range from $59.99-$69.99 -- I would have never spent that much except I was desperate for new work pants after over a month of searching). Yesterday, I bought two more pairs on clearance. For $25.00 each.
    Now do you see what I mean when I say "I can't resist a good pants sale"? I now own three pairs, each a different color, and love them all! Not too tight, not too loose. The fabric is thick without being too heavy or too clingy. They're the perfect length for a cute pair of flats or small, snappy heels. The waist is low enough to be comfortable and hip but high enough that you don't have to worry about mooning your boss.
    I don't dry my pants because I have a phobia of shrinking any pants that fit, so I can't tell you how they react to the dryer. I can tell you that they don't shrink in the washer, though, and don't wrinkle horribly.
    In a single word: LOVE!

    Just to point out some examples of other fantastic sales . . .
    I also found a fabulous moss-green cardigan for $20 that was normally $60. *sigh* I love a good cardigan.

    Another fun Loft steal? An online exclusive, normally $45 that I found for $15. 

    I have the chest to match the butt, so I need a little more swimsuit to keep the girls from making a surprise guest appearance . . . if you get my drift *wink. This suit was perfect! And the sales price was as much or less than some tops at Target (one of my favorite swimsuit stops) but better quality and better fit . . . and more fabric. Comfortable, modest, supportive, and just plain cute! Again: LOVE!

    Well-made, versatile clothes for every shape and size. Overpriced normally on the rack, but the SUPERB and frequent sales make it worth it.
    So, if you see a sale sign, definitely check it out. You may be surprised :)

    How about you? Favorite sale spot? Sale item you can't resist?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . .

    Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he'll eat for weeks! 
    --Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata

    Wow. My last post was a downer. Sheesh. Sorry about that.
    Oh well. A weekend of being a bum and chilling with still living relatives tends to lift one's spirits. Being with anything alive tends to perk me up  . . . unless it's my in-laws' or parents' dogs, but that's another story entirely.
    That and I have lots of work to catch up on for this week's classes. Ay yi yi.

    The debate I've been having this weekend involves fish. My first graders are beginning a science unit studying fish, so I thought it was only appropriate to bring in Chris's pet beta, Queequeg, for one-time classroom. Ummm . . . yeah, not so much. Chris is adamantly against any excursions for his beloved fish. He suggests I buy a class pet. Um, yeah no, again. You see my classroom is shared space, so after every school day, I have to tear down my classroom, put everything in storage, and then set it up the next day. Poor fish would have absolutely no stability. I could send the fish home with students . . . but what if it dies on one?? Can you imagine being six years old and murdering the class pet?? Oh, foul villain! Oh, cruel fate!

    So maybe we'll make paper fish or clay fish. I'm not sure yet, but fish need to be involved. Somehow . . .

    How about you? Did you ever have a class pet? Or a fish?

    Saturday, October 16, 2010


    I made a sound that was something like crying.
    --Ingrid Michaelson, "Men of Snow"

    It has been one HECK of a week.
    It started Monday, even though I didn't know it until the next morning. Monday, my step-grandfather passed away. Lung Cancer. That's all there is. There isn't any more.
    We weren't close. He was a good, sweet man, but he hadn't spoken to my family in over a year. It's complicated and it's not. There was a disagreement between my mother and her mother, his wife. My grandmother doesn't like being disagreed with, even when there are efforts to reconcile. My step-grandfather didn't like people upsetting his woman. So there you have it. Silence. Then he's dead. Just like that. They found the mass in his lung, and that was it. The end.

    My mom called me Tuesday morning to let me know that Jack was gone.
    Funeral was Wednesday. I didn't cry. I'm not a crier. I stood there sweating at the graveside service, listening to my mother's uncle smack on chewing gum behind me, and not a tear. The minister made jokes, and nobody laughed. I don't know how to express sorrow to people in mourning. I know nothing I say will make it better; I don't know how to react to the outpouring of emotion. I try, I feel for them, but everything I say is so inadequate. So I whisper I'm sorry to all of these people I don't know. I left that morning at 11:00 to meet up with my family for the funeral. I didn't get home until 9:00 PM, with so much to get ready for class the next day.

    Thursday, the principal made trips to new teachers' classes, just observing so she could give them a pre-evaluation evaluation to help them better manage their classrooms. She called me into her office, and I was terrified. I love my boss, and I know she loves me, but golly, terror. She starts talking, and I just lose it. I am sobbing in that leather seat, choking on tissues, and I cannot stop. I haven't cried like that since I was fifteen, when my biggest crush asked out my friend instead of me, then both stopped speaking to me. That's the only other time I remember sobbing. I couldn't pull it together. I am the queen of emotional control and I could not reel myself in. I'm so stressed about pleasing every single parent with my teaching, and that's impossible. Jack was dead, I would never see him again, and I don't know how to ever be normal with my grandmother. I was stressed, I was tired, and, for the first time in my life, I was mourning. And I could not stop.

    I had to stop. Had to try. I still had a phonics lesson and spelling test to get through. I had just managed to pull it together when my kids came darting in from lunch. One little girl looked at me, stopped, frowned and said, "Mrs. Bocchino, why are you crying?"
    The Hoover Dam could not have held my flood back. "My grandpa died." I've never called him grandpa. He was "my step-grandfather" or "Mr. Jack," never grandpa. Not until he was dead and buried. So my students crowded around to give me hugs; some offered, "my grandpa died, too," and one little girl wrote "I love you" on scraps of paper and passed them to me. They were all angels for the rest of the day. I think they were afraid I would break like a china doll.

    That night I had my first Bible study group. I had forgotten about it until I found a piece of mail from our current church on the table. My mother-in-law is attending it with me, and was kind enough to give me a ride.  I went, stressed about everything I have to finish, stressed about Jack and the aftermath, stressed about my job, and I was refreshed, even if it was only for two hours. The women there shared much bigger stories than mine, much harder circumstances, and it made me want to shut up and deal. No matter how small my circumstances are, though, God cares, and God wants to carry me through. I'm not alone.

    Friday came and went. I worked, I ran errands, I cleaned, I cooked. I cleaned cat-poop off of the carpet because the newest fad is to crap not in the litter box but right beside it and try to bury it in the carpet. Cute. I refused to turn on my computer because I couldn't stand to see school emails. I didn't want to deal with it. I bought new litter, and Chris hates because it smells funny, so one of us is going to make a grocery run to replace the new litter. It was one more thing I failed. How silly. I was upset over cat litter choices.Chris even said it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't my fault, but it was one more burden I carried. Cat litter. How ridiculous.

    I am weary. Jack is dead. I don't know how to speak to my grandmother. I am doing my very best at this school, loving their children, and still some parents are unhappy with me. I don't know how to deal with that. I feel like a heartless failure. I don't know what else to do. I'm looking for the confidence I have never possessed. I can't find it.It's out there, God is holding it out to me on a silver platter, but it feels so far away.

    So today, I am purposefully allowing myself a mini vacation. My husband gave me permission, with a smile, to veg a bit. Still, I answer parent emails, my stomach clenching as I open my inbox, and I write lesson plans. I will clean because I hate that I'm a clutterbug.

    I am weary. I think that's the only way to say it. Weary.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Pesto Rice Salad

    Whoot! First recipe post!

    I actually found this recipe at The Nest.  It's a cute extension of The Knot website that soon-to-be-married couples love; The Nest is for newlyweds or any weds, really, filled with pics, tips, and recipes.
    It was one of those nights when there's nothing in the fridge or pantry, grocery runs were not an option, but dinner needed makin'.  Luckily, I had chicken in the freezer and a container of pesto in the fridge dangerously near its due date, so I gave this rice/pasta salad a whirl. Umm . . . . YUM! (Chris thought it was awesome, but wants to try it again with bow-tie pasta as opposed to brown rice--picky, picky ;]).
    It was super easy--just cook the meat and rice/pasta, and throw everything together in a pan! Voila!

    Photo from

    • 2 Chicken Breasts, cubed or shredded
    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 2 T. garlic
    • 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • frozen peas (thawed)
    • cooked brown rice or bow-tie pasta
    • Pesto (I used a 7 oz package from Barilla)
    • Parmesan or mixed Italian cheeses
    • Fresh diced tomato (optional)
    • 12 jumbo shrimp (optional -- I did not use shrimp because Chris isn't a seafood pasta guy; it was still delicious with only chicken!)

    • Cook rice or pasta according to package directions, drain, set aside. 
    •  Heat olive oil in a pan on medium/medium-low heat.
    • Add garlic and onion until translucent; raise heat to medium-high, and add chicken. 
    • Cook chicken until no longer pink
    • Lower the heat back to medium-low, and cook your shrimp until it turns from gray to pink
    • If you like, splash in some white wine. I'm not a wine drinker, but I am a HUGE fan of using it in my kitchen. Not only does it make the entire room smell fantastic, but it gives your chicken a tender little kick. Yum yum. Allow the wine to evaporate for about a minute.
    • Add your rice or pasta to the mix
    • Now, add pesto, peas, and cheese. Keep the stove at low heat so the pesto and peas warm and the cheese melts
    • Add whatever toppings you like -- the original recipe lists only almonds, but I threw in some diced tomato and it was delish! 
    • Maybe sprinkle on a little more cheese. Come on, you know you want to!
    • Dig in! Yummy! (Serves 4)
    Original Recipe from The Nest

    Photo from website  . . . my camera is no where near this nice and my cooking is hardly ever this pretty, haha. :) 

    Enjoy, peeps!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Little Girly Treasures

    "I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."
    --Groucho Marx

    I'm not really someone who tries a lot of beauty products. I'm cheap as all get out and beauty products are not, but I discovered some really fabulous skin care products for under $5.00 that work better than the big brand names.

    After I hit puberty (oh puberty, how I loooooathed thee), I struggled with acne for years. I tried super expensive skin care, but nothing worked. The only thing that helped were oral medications, and those had to be taken under certain times and only after eating certain foods, so, needless to say, teenage me forgot them as often as I took them.
    When I started taking birth control right before my wedding, they told me this would fix acne. It didn't. It made it worse.

    Then, I discovered these gems:

     If you have never tried "Freeman's  Feeling Beautiful" line, you must. Oh, you must. I have used both the Clay Avocado and Oatmeal (above) and Cucumber Facial Peel Mask. I was shocked at the results. After using, my skin feels flawless and soft. It helps minimize pores and exfoliate your skin beautifully. I currently use the clay mask once to twice a week. The best part is, Freeman's products can be  found at any Publix, Wal-Mart, or Walgreens for under $5.00. I didn't think anything so cheap could work so wonderfully, but it does.

    I discovered St. Ives products in college, but never really used them. My fourteen-year-old sister recommended it, and, by golly, if this isn't the best exfoliating scrub I have ever found. I love exfoliates--I've tried several and, if it's a good scrub, it's my favorite part of facial care. St. Ives Apricot Scrub is rich in texture, real grainy so it actually SCRUBS (I've found several more expensive exfoliating washes that were really more like creams), but it is gentle enough that it doesn't over-dry your skin. I have very oily skin, and my sister has dry, sensitive skin--St. Ives has worked beautifully for both of us. I don't know how, but it works. Again, another steal found at any Publix, Wal-Mart, or similar store for under $5.00. I use it during my morning face cleansing routine and sometimes at night. I really, really started to notice a difference in my skin after applying this scrub. Amazing.

    I use a couple of Neutragena products as well, but the difference really began after applying the Apricot scrub. It's been a few months, and I have only had a couple of very minor breakouts.
    Just I thought I'd share the joy. :]

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Home Again, Home Again . . .

    When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.
    Herman Melville

    So we made it back.
    A 4+ hour drive, and we are back, only to find the fridge empty and the once clean apartment a mess again with our luggage occupying the sitting room. Our cats seemed oblivious to our ever being gone . . . except, my sis-in-law tells me, that the first day of our absence they decided to make a mess outside the litter box. -_- 
    So, I started laundry and dinner, Chris started on his "homework" that he didn't complete during the trip . . . and by homework I mean a brief WoW session before academics, haha. I'm preparing for tomorrow's class, planning lunches and dinners for the week, and trying to remember what else I'm supposed to be doing. Yay for the real world, haha. Vacation is just never long enough -.^

    Sanibel Island is perfectly lovely. Because we were there over off-season, the island seemed practically vacant except for the more mature inhabitants. South Florida seems to be the main roosting place for retired folk. The beach was beautiful, covered in shells, with calm crystal waters. Every time we went out to the beach, we saw dolphins playing, found awesome seashells, and had fun swimming with little silver fish. Chris missed his fishing pole; his childhood summers had been spent fishing in Sanibel, and he hadn't realized how much he missed it until our trip. We stayed up late watching movies on cable television and slept in late the next day. We ate out, bummed around, snuggled, laughed, and watched the sunset. No internet, no phone calls, no work. Just us.

    All in all, a great long weekend and an awesome first anniversary! Whoot!

    As soon as we find (or buy) Chris's camera cord, we'll post pictures.


    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Five Hundred Twenty-Fve Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

    How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights? In cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife? ... How do you measure a year in the life? How about love?
    --"Seasons of Love" from Rent 

    It has been a year.
    Exactly to the minute, one year since the pastor said, "I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride." We kissed, and Chris dipped me in epic Hollywood fashion, a perfect moment.
    Chris's boss, Scott, made a point to text Chris right then so that we could remember the clock's proclamation when we were first made man and wife.
    It was 1:35 in the afternoon, October 3, 2009.

    It's a shame that some of the wedding details are a blur . . . but here are just a handful of what I do remember. :) (pics can be found here since they were somehow deleted from this post  . . . poop)
    • Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous, and I absolutely had no nerves whatsoever, not that entire week. I was completely at peace, just excited. I don't know whether it was exhaustion or my ability to stifle emotions . . . or maybe it was just God.
    • Two days before the wedding, my mother, myself sister, awesome pal (and bridesmaid) Martha, godmother, and some other incredible family friends who helped plan the wedding came to the church to decorate for the wedding. It was long, it was hard, and it was so worth it. Everything was beautiful, so much better than I had thought it would be. I had my candlelight, blue accents, and my paper lanterns; Chris had blue beta fish as one of the centerpieces (we had three: little cakes in our colors, white flowers, and the betas). Really could not have done it without all of the awesome women who helped. They were amazing! 
    • On the way to the church to get ready, my sister randomly asked me if I was wearing a thong . . . yeah no.
    • We had chosen to forgo the "first sight down the aisle" to see each other privately before the ceremony.  Chris had  never smiled wider,. I burst out, "TA-DAAA!!!" and then babbled on about pictures because, when I'm emotional, the last thing I'll talk about is emotions. I was so giddy, I couldn't think straight or say anything truly coherent. Chris just smiled and kissed me, whispered in my ear that I was the most beautiful bride ever. We loved our special time and would not have done it any other way
    • Between pre-ceremony pictures, I entertained my baby sisters/flower girls with a "fill in the blank" stories. "Once upon a time, there was a princess named . . . "
      "Ellie!" the littlest shouted. (Her name is Ellie, in case you didn't know, haha).
      Somehow, every time I left a blank in the story it would involve horsies or the color pink.
    •  Shoes were a big deal-- Chris HAD to wear his black converse and I HAD to have blue ballet flats. It was one of the few things we really, REALLY insisted on . . . that and Chris's blue beta centerpieces haha

      • Along with my bouquet, I held my daddy's handkerchief as my "something borrowed." Daddy always had a handkerchief in his pocket "just in case." Tucked inside, I clutched the purity necklace he had given me on my 13th birthday. He passed it on to Chris before presenting me.
      • My brother, Matt, was supposed to unroll the runner before the flower girls' and my grand entrance. He forgot all about it, until Pastor gave him a weird look, which Matt passed on to my bro-in-law, Ryan, in a panic. So the two of them unrolled the runner . . . and it was oh so many feet too short. All that anyone could hear was that odd, hollow "throm thomp" sound empty cardboard rollers make while the guys tried desperately not to laugh. I was completely oblivious until Matt told me the story later. Can you tell it's a little short? haha
      • I nearly tripped on my dress walking up the steps on the stage. Good grief -_- haha 
      • Before sending us down the aisle, Pastor whispered in great concern, "Chris, how DO you say your last name?"
        He promptly turned around and proclaimed loudly, "I present, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Boh-cheeno!"
        Yup. It was awesome X-D 
      • A week before the wedding, Chris and I decided to "practice" our first dance. I had chosen "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Danny Gokey, and, oh gee oh golly, I hadn't seen Chris look that uncomfortable since the night he met my parents and my father "interviewed" him. Fake grin, girtted teeth, hardly moving. The song ended and he barely managed, "I hate this song."
        "Well, you have a week to find something new," I said, laughing.
        Chris immediately turned on his computer and started dissecting playlists. The man was on a mission, Indiana Jones after his Holy Grail. In about fifteen minutes, he found a song by one of our favorite artists: "The Dress Looks Nice on You" by Sufjan Stevens. It was unique, something we adored, and absolutely perfect . . . and yes, so much better than my original choice, haha. Chris wins yet again.
      • Two words: Zelda Cake. . . . yes, it was the groom's cake, and yes, the actual wedding cake was beautiful and delicious . . . but come on! ZELDA!
      • Chris's best man almost wasn't his due to a sudden move overseas. At the last minute, after Chris had promoted groomsman Asher to BM, Joe was able to come home for the wedding. So, ever so kindly, Asher came to Chris and said Joe really should be best man. At the reception, the DJ told the story, introducing Asher, and then introduced Joe as Joe had introduced himself: "the original best man."
      • As a musician, Chris is pretty particular about musical selections. Along with helping me pick out ceremony music, he mixed all of the music for the reception (except for the dance music because he doesn't like dancing, haha). People still ask for copies of that mix because it was so awesome. Yes, Chris is very proud of that fact. :)
      • We surprised Chris's mom with a mother-son dance. The surprise and joy on her face was priceless.
      • Chris's '97 mustang, our getaway car, was covered in nerd and gamer jokes, and, when Chris forgot to open my door, the mothers, without thinking, shouted, "HER DOOR!!! OPEN HER DOOR!" 
       And that was the day I got married. The first day of the rest of my life.

      It has been a year of learning, a year of laughter, a year of struggle, a year of learning to love and how to be loved. Chris lives out loving me how Christ would love His church, and I only hope he feels the same about my love for him. I  married my best friend, my soulmate. I would never ask for another. It's been an epic year, and we have the rest of our lives to go. I can't wait. :)

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Felis Cattus Domesticus

    "I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    --Terry Pratchett
    , Sourcery
    My mother once told me you can always tell when young adults are childless when they start talking about their animals as if they're children. Honey, I am so totally there it's not even funny.  But while I'm here, just indulge me . . . and let me post a picture, slightly blurry as it may be . . . of my "children." 
    I was just so proud that I actually got a picture because cats are less than agreeable models. Every now and again, a lovebug sneaks inside, mesmerizing the cats into a statuesque, inquisitive stupor. Sadly, it hardly lasts long enough for more than one picture, if even that. They may never sit still again . . . unless they're unconscious. The little orange and white one in front is Pipkin, and the gray and black in the back is Navi. And that poor, green plant is my bamboo . . . that they love to chew on . . . and occasionally knock over -_- Oh well. Cats will be cats. 


    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Down on the Street Where You Live . . .

     A good home must be made, not bought.
    -Joyce Maynard

    Apparently, a high-traffic mom blog (Kelly's Korner) started a "Show Us Your Home Friday" where we show a room each Friday . . . considering that my apartment is really only two and a half rooms . . . I thought I might as well do the whole kit and caboodle. :) That and it's not Friday, so I'm going to guess I'm kind of exempt from the rules.

     Living Room:
     The photographs on the wall were taken by Chris's cousin, Amy, of Chris and Joe, Amy's bro and Chris's best bud, being all musical and such. Not only are they awesome pictures, but they definitely help balance out that big empty wall. 
    The painting is one of my originals. I made it before the wedding, and, in the process, got acrylic paint all over my parents' driveway. Oops ;) 
    The awesome paper lantern lamp is from World Market Place, and the couch and coffee table are Ikea. end table and papasan were pieces Chris and I each brought from our old bedrooms, not really sure where either came from. Bird pillows (love them ^_^) are from JCPenny, and the round pillow is a Target piece.

    Just a different view . . . Entertainment set is another Ikea piece. The star above is another one of Chris's from before we were married. The rug is World Market Place. Ottoman is from Target (are you sensing a theme in where we shop? haha), and the gaming chair was a hand-me-down from Chris's aunt. The speakers didn't work, so her boys didn't want it, and we did. Ah-HA! ^_^
    And, yes, Boba Fett is hiding in the corner next to the TV . . .


     There is very little interesting about my kitchen . . . but here it is haha. It's a good place, and it lets me make food. That's the point, right?

     Dining Nook:
     The table and chairs were on sale from World Market Place, which is where we also found the place settings, as well. The wall hanging is an oil piece Chris bought during his trip to Africa, and the little red fish is something we picked up during our honeymoon in the Bahamas. The tea pot and cups are more little nick knacks from Chris's old place -- he has a wonderfully eclectic assortment of odds and ends. 

     Picture wall in the hallway. We found the frames at Old Time Pottery and Walgreens, oddly enough.

    Game Room/Bat Cave . . . and now cat room, as well:

     Chris stained the bookshelf and desk on the right.
    The second desk was a steal from the Salvation army. 
    The massive papasan was a Christmas gift to Chris a couple of years back . . . I think it's a World Marketplace item as well.

     My Gamer ^_^


     Ok, so you have to admit that this IS the most important room anywhere.
    Picture frames were a Christmas gift from Chris's sister, Julie, from Urban Outfitters. Towels are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and the bathroom rugs are from Chris's old place, once again.

     My favorite part of the bathroom: our epic curtain from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

    Master (Only) Bedroom:

    Bed frame, bedside tables, and lamp to the right are from Ikea.
    Bed spread and pillows are a set from JCPenny.
    Curtains are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. 
    The little lamp on the right is one of mine from before we were married--not sure where it came from, but I love it.
    The picture frames were from Michael's, I believe, and were all used on our guestbook table at the wedding featuring some of our favorite engagement pictures. The large picture frame in the center is the actual guestbook. I love that we can use our guestbook as decoration. ^_^
     Oh and the rifle by the bed is something Chris has yet to put away . . . no it's not loaded haha. The man is oh so proud of his gun and knife collection, all safely locked away. 

     Second view. ^_^
    The dresser is from Ikea (again), and the round mirrors (love!) and corner lamp are from Target. The clock was a gift from Chris's friend, Asher, who, I believe, found it at Urban Outfitters. Everything else consist of random odds and ends Chris and I each collected over time.
    The picture frame next to the TV is a collage I made for Chris for our first Christmas as a couple; it's an assortment of random images relating to inside jokes and date nights, scraps of the AIM conversation where Chris asked me out, all centered around our first "couple picture."
    My cat ate the roses hanging on the wall so they no longer exist -_-

    Chris says he's not a talented artist, but I say this sculpture hanging in the bedroom is living proof that he so completely IS. He made this for a sculpting class when he was at the community college roughly seven years ago. I remember coming over to his house for a sleepover with Julie and seeing it set out on his family's dining room table. I was in awe. As if he could not get any cooler, my best friend's super cute, smart, and musically awesome brother was an artist, too. Yep, I'm a lucky woman ^_^

    How about you? What does your favorite space look like? Favorite room? Dream room?