Friday, April 30, 2010

Black and White Giveaway

So I know this is no big surprise...

I am currently obsessed with Black and White. Black and white patterns are awesome. And classy. Black and white patterned anything!

But I have also realized that it isn't a recent thing. When I bought my house 3 1/2 years ago and bought bedding set, I bought a black and white one. My room is decorated in black and white with red walls. When my good friend Bridget got married and I was looking through wedding magazines I fell in love with black and white wedding dresses. When we got engaged, there was no and white it was!

Now black and white is trendy. But I swear, I liked it before it was huge!

We are also doing a couple rooms of our house in black and white. The guest room will be black and white with my current bedding and accessories. We aren't doing black and white in the living room because it doesn't go with my current furniture, but we are in the process of deciding if we can build a wet bar in the living room. I started looking for ideas on home bars on the Internet. Our dining room will be black and white with red accents. And our downstairs powder room will be black and white paisley (LOVE black and white patterns).

In fact our china that we registered for is also black and white (but made sure to pick something timeless that will last beyond my black and white obsession).

Do you love it? I love it!
And I hope we get some of it.
Just don't look at the price tag!

I have been checking out black and white patterns everywhere. I have found several neat serving options over at CSN. Cute dishes like this, this, and this. They also have other neat black and white house items like this and this!

**They obviously have a million things that are not black and white...but that is what I have on the brain!**

But this serving bowl totally caught my attention!

If you aren't familiar with CSN let me give you some info I snagged from their website:
Based in Boston, CSN Stores LLC began in 2002 and has grown rapidly into a Top 3 online U.S. retailer of home and office goods with 400+ employees.

Beyond providing unparalleled customer service, selection, and savings to our U.S. customers, CSN Stores has opened its doors to online shoppers from Canada, the U.K., and Germany. Recently named to the Hot 100 List of online retailers for 2009, CSN Stores continues to grow.

CSN has contacted me and gave me the option to do a review or to do a giveaway. As much as I love free stuff - I decided I'd rather give one of YOU something free. In honor of my upcoming black and white wedding, you can win this black and white serving bowl!

Required Entry: Leave me a comment about what you are currently obsessing over (1 entry).

Each of these below will get you one extra entry into the drawing. Leave separate comments for each one that you do.

*Mention my giveaway in a blog entry and leave me the link in a comment! (1 additional entry).
*Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment about it. (1 additional entry).

This contest is open until Friday, May 7 at 11:59 pm (You have 1 week!!). I will announce the winner on the Monday, May 10th (officially 2 months before my wedding!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Many Positions of Stephanie Doing Homework

I have been in the process of finishing up a teaching certificate in Early Childhood for a while now. I had been putzing along because I was doing it because I wanted to, not because I *had* to. Well suddenly, I *had* to in order to have my job for next year. So since the beginning of March I have been working at turbo speed on it. I talked about the details here.

Shortly after spring break I took my final in the second to last class (I had finished a while back but needed to find a Saturday I could take the final). I got an A! I also took the midterm for my last class (don't know the score yet). A couple weeks ago I took the English CLEP and passed (woo hoo!). And as of 4/21 I finished the LAST lesson for my current/last class. Now...I am just waiting for my final to arrive at the local community college to take it and I will be ALL DONE with classes. I'm not worried about it at all; I just need it to happen.

The FINAL piece to complete this is to take the History CLEP, which I am more than a little nervous about. Memorization has never been my thing. And that is all this is. Names, dates, places, facts. Not understanding or explaining. Just facts. Need an essay about the reason behind the Cold War? I'm your girl. Ask me to answer multiple choice questions about random dates, times, and places? I'm not your girl. I've been reading a CLEP study guide and though I *understand* the material...I'm just not good at memorizing facts. Because I don't see the need for it! I have Google! If I want to know the date or place something happened...I will use my trusty friend Google to help me out!

But I procrastinate finishing reading the study guide tonight...
I thought I would present to you:

The Many Positions of Stephanie Doing Homework

For my classes, they were all distance learning. So they meant reading a whole boatload of material and then writing essays on it. I do my homework in my extra bedroom. I do my reading on the futon (trying to not look at the computer to see if there is new email or anything!). Laying on the futon for hours on end, however, is impossible for me. So...I move...a lot. And change positions. And also I am cold all the time so I use this blanket.

So without further ado:

Me sitting at my computer (please excuse the terrible mess that is my extra bedroom)

My preferred reading spot. I could read and take notes easily. I always begin in this position.

The next position I move to. I can take notes on the side while reading with the book in my lap.

My third position. I am able to sit Indian style or on my knees while taking notes and reading. This is the least preferred position...mostly because I think it is weird. After this, I would cycle back to the laying down position.
And of course in between I always had to stop by my computer and *check* to make sure the Internet is not falling apart without me!
Also required:
2 pieces of gum
How do you do your best work?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flower Girl Dress Shopping

Last week Kristin and I went shopping for flower girl dresses. Kristin is one of my bridesmaids and her daughter Layla is one of my flower girls. We had a great time looking at the adorable little dresses and imagining them on little Layla and my adorable cousin as well. There were two we were deciding between and it was really hard because they were both adorable!

We took a picture of Kristin holding them both up like little girls!

The one on the right is the more traditional one that I originally imagined. But the one on the left I just fell in love with. It is different and adorable and our wedding colors and I just couldn't pass it up. I cannot wait to see these adorable girl in their cute dresses!

Sorry! I just can't bring myself to post the real picture of the dress. I don't know why I am so secretive about this stuff! I just want to keep all my wedding details to myself so people who come are surprised!

But the best part of the whole thing? My aunt in California showed the picture to my cousin, the other flower girl and this was the email response I got:

"I love the dress and I want to hug you and be your best friend ever." Love, Mia

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What about the tile?

Although we have all of the tile for our master bath, the project has been put on hold until the outside of the house is painted. We did, however, have some fun with the tile to check what it is going to look like!

This is what the walls will look like. The 9x12 will be on the walls from the floor until about 5 feet in the shower. Then the accent piece (an awesome 12x12 glass mosaic cut into strips). On top of that will be the matching 6x6 pieces. Now I have to figure out if I can convince Adam to lay the 6x6 tiles on an angle.....?
**Cutting a 12x12 mosaic into strips is quite a bit less expensive than regular accent pieces. I couldn't find any accent pieces that I liked enough and then we came up with this idea!
In the bathroom area (not shower) the 9x12 tiles will come up to about 3 feet with the accent piece and then a bull nose on top.

This is what the floor tile looks like. It is very similar to the 9x12 color, but a slightly different pattern.

I can't wait to see it up on the walls. I hope it looks as good as I am imagining! We knew we had to pick something we would love for a long time because when we have money to do projects, we certainly won't be redoing something that has already been done already!

What do you think? Put the 6x6 tiles straight or on an angle????

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Working on Invitations Again!

Katie and Zander came over on Saturday to help work on our wedding invitations. They were both a great deal of help! I love our wedding invitations...but boy are they a lot of work! Thank goodness for wonderful family and friends who want to help.

Although Katie thought she wasn't as productive with Zander around, I think he was an amazing help!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

House Painting updates

Adam has spent the last week working very hard to get the outside of the house painted (with the help of his awesome dad and brother). Although we would really like to side the house to improve insulation (high need) and looks (low need), it just isn't in the budget anytime soon. Adam found a nice exterior paint that should make this paint job last until we are able to side it. This paint job is never ending!

This week Adam has spent all of his time painting and I have spent mine working on school work. We live exciting lives!

The (worst) side of the house after being primed. Already looks so much better!

Always the adventure....
These little pieces are on most of the corners and are all rusted through. Pulling them off and replacing them seemed like the best option. But pulling out the nails caused the wood to crack. So...they just got painted over. Hopefully this fancy paint lasts!

The side of the house completely primed and painted! Doesn't it look awesome!?

The (scary) back of the house

Adam worked on priming one portion of the back. You can see the before and after!

My awesome hard working fiance who is not enjoying being a painter!

Working on the front! As of today it is completely done (except the peak). Today they are working on the other side!

I am super excited to see how the house looks every day. The overall "curb appeal" is awesome now. But...I'm a little neurotic and don't want to post "full frontal" pictures on the Internet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mrs. H

A very odd thing happened last night at the last "Adam Wants to be Catholic" class. It wasn't so much class, but it was the final gathering potluck. They were passing out registration forms for the newly confirmed adults to become members of the our church. Obviously I am a registered member already, but Adam hasn't been. We asked if Adam should just fill it out by himself and then we could fill out a new one together when we get married, but the answer was to "just fill it out like we are married because it will take a couple months to process it anyway". So I filled out the new registration form and it was super weird to check the "married" box and write my name as Mrs. Stephanie H------. So weird! I leaned over to Adam and said, "Look at this!".

It made everything feel very real! I have been in a bit of a crazy mode anyway with less than 3 months until our wedding. Less than 3 months! Do you have any idea how January, February, March flew by?? And now April is half way over! I keep thinking it will all be better when school is out for the summer and I have all day to work on stuff, but by that point it is just a month away and lots needs to be done already! It is a bit insane to be working full-time, finishing my additional teaching certificate, completely remodeling a house, and planning a wedding at the same time (on top of the 5 million committees I am on at school and church). If I have an evening without plans or a meeting the thought process goes like this, "I should work out. Well clearly there is no time for that. I should work on school work. But first we have to go pick out tile. Then I will work on school work. But, I forgot to research that {insert wedding related item here}. I will do that and then finish school work. And those reports for work tomorrow." Thank goodness for my mom because she is doing so much to help us. We wouldn't be anywhere near having the stuff done that we have without her. She is amazing!

Less than 3 months! Crazy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Updates on the House

I have stories about tile hunting and house painting today!

We spent all last week on the hunt for tile! We had samples from ALL over the place and finally narrowed it down to two options (after having Mom and Dad come over to look at them with the vanity). I brought both options to work on Thursday and had the girls help me talk it through (thanks!). After that, I brought them back to Mom and Dad's and decided that I liked my original choice, but we needed to pick a new accent piece. So we spent Thursday night looking for new accent pieces and then brought them to Mom and Dad's to help decide if the new idea was a "go".

Then Friday night we spent going to buy all of the tile. We thought it would be all easy....until we found out the wall tile we picked out was out of stock. They had a few boxes here and there at different stores. Friday night we ended up going to one Home Depot and 3 Menard's to get tile. Saturday morning Adam went to two more Menard's to get the rest of the tile!

All for the master bathroom!

But I am super excited about what we picked out. It is very "beige" on the floor and the wall, but we got a neat dark mosaic accent piece to go all the way around the shower and wall in the bathroom. I am excited about it.

All the tile in my car Friday night

The boxes that made it upstairs

The rest of the stack downstairs

We have all the tile and everything for the master bathroom now, but the good weather this weekend caused the tile project to be put on hold so the outside of the house could get worked on. One side of the house was in terrible shape, it hadn't been painted in over 30 years. Other sides of the house were painted, but not the one side. Why? Don't ask. It was in bad shape though! The other sides were pretty worn too.
So this weekend Adam and his dad started power washing the outside of the house and scraping the paint. And on Sunday they started priming! Sunday afternoon I worked on homework, but took a break and walked over to see how it was going. Walking up the street it already looked better! Today they continued working on that and they will start painting tomorrow. Painting it white like it is your typical farm house!

Taking a break with Fudgie the cat...haven't decided if my allergies will let us keep her or not

Anyone know a roofer out of work that wants to work on the barn roof for a good deal???? It has to be done this spring...but we just don't have the money to put into a barn roof on top of everything else!

Charcoal, one of the outside cats, following us around outside

The back/side of the house

The first side they started working on...this is the bad one!
Seeing all of this progress on the house is just so neat. Whenever progress is made I feel like one little brick is lifted off the stack on my shoulders. I just want it to be habitable by the time we get married. As long as the bathrooms are finished and the floors are done, we will be in OK shape. Everything else can be done as we go along. After the outside is painted, we can focus on the floors on the inside. But the barn roof...that is another story. It has to be done...but we have no idea how we are going to swing that.....Keep an eye out for out of work roofers!

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Hunt for Tile

Our focus on Operation: Remodel in recent days has been on tile. Now that we (finally) have our vanity and countertop, we need to tile the bathroom! We bought about 20 samples from the Big Box stores and brought them home to compare with the countertop. Because we are in a bit of a financial crisis (and by a bit I mean a huge) we are trying to go with the most inexpensive tile we can. We found several options that we liked/

*Side note: Isn't it crazy that there is still so much dust in the air there? You can see the spots in the picture.

Several of the options lines up under the vanity
We also visited a tile shop last week to get ideas from the professionals. There is nothing there we can really afford at this point (unless we decide to only redo the bathroom and have an empty rest of the house). We got a lot of really neat ideas though. We just need to see if we can implement them with supplies found at the Big Box stores!

A tile for the walls and the floor in complimenting colors but different shapes.

An accent idea for the walls

In other tile news...
Adam and his dad have been working on tiling the hallway bathroom upstairs. We just picked a simple inexpensive tile for the hallway bathroom. It is a teeny tiny bathroom (I have lofty plans to expand it when we have kids) so it has been a fairly easy project (says the girl who just takes pictures!)!

The first day when they did the tub surround

close up of the tile

All of the tile time to grout!
Does anyone have any tile advice? Laying? Picking? Designing? Finding inexpensive options for a girl who has expensive tile taste????

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Happy Easter!

After our late night Saturday night, we were back at Mass Sunday morning. Although Easter Vigil counts and we sang "He is Risen", Adam really wanted to go Sunday morning too. So there we were!

I just love Easter morning music. I love to sing Alleluia loudly and singing the happy praise music of the day!

I couldn't find the versions of most of our songs on YouTube. Most of our versions are very upbeat and most on YouTube are very slow and old school. But I did find one video of "Jesus Christ is Risen Today". The praise music on Easter morning is such an important reminder of what we are celebrating on Easter and throughout the year.

After that we went to Mom and Dad's for Easter baskets and brunch with my family. We had a wonderful morning spent with family.

I really wanted to wear a dress, but being out all day at family parties, I knew I would need some leggings to make myself more comfortable! Also, do you see my adorable headband I got from Target for FREE???

My Easter Bunny still brings baskets for us!

Little Christian running around outside with my dad

We took a family picture with Erin after chatting on Skype quite a while.

After that we headed over to Aaron and Amanda's (Adam's bro and SIL) for Easter dinner with his family. It was fun and of course filled with screaming and yelling about politics. We decided that even if Healthcare Reform causes us to break up before we even get married...we will at least still have the party! Just kidding! Mostly... But we did have a great time with family!

At our Easter gatherings we had two out of our four ring bearers try on their suits. Don't they look adorable????

Christian (my cousin's son) and Chase (Adam's nephew)
(The other two live in CA so we didn't see them today)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter with their family and adopted families celebrating the time together and the importance of the day.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Adam doesn't want to be Catholic anymore...

...because he IS Catholic now!

Saturday night was the Easter Vigil Mass. The Easter Vigil Mass takes place on Holy Saturday and it is the time when all of the new members of the church are welcomed (baptized, communion and confirmation). Adam completed two sacraments: First Eucharist and Confirmation. It was a really really nice Mass (I haven't been in a while) and the two and a half hours went by quite quickly. My parents, his parents, and his brother Andy joined us (even after we told them it was 2.5 hours!).

Getting ready for Mass after a yummy dinner at Mom and Dad's

This is what Adam read with one other guy who was also doing First Eucharist

Adam after Mass

Me (as his sponsor), Adam, and our Pastor and the Deacon who helped with the Mass

Here is a video of the Litany of the Saints (slightly different than our version). It is one of my favorite parts of the Easter Vigil.

Attending all of the Holy Week services/Masses takes up quite a bit of time, but they are so filled with rich tradition and meaning, they are all worthwhile. Holy Thursday at my church is celebrated with tables filling the Worship space and actually breaking bread with everyone at your table during communion. Also, we wash the hands of everyone in attendance. It is so powerful. Good Friday, although much more somber, is also very powerful and an important reminder of what Easter is about. It was really neat to see how many kids and families were at both of those Masses as well. We decided after this week to make it a goal to attend the Holy Week services from now on, regardless of busy schedules. They are such a strong powerful reminder of our faith.

I am so proud of all of the work Adam has put in this year and the dedication that he has shown by going to class every week. I learned so much throughout the process with him as well. I am so glad I went with to most of the classes and that this is something we experienced together.

Now I am getting married to a good Catholic boy!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Invitation Making

One of the fun things I actually did over spring break last week was get together with a couple of my friends/bridesmaids and work on making our wedding invitations. We are making part of them and we ordered part of them.

All you can see here are the various I don't think it is going to give anything away!

We got a lot done that day....but there is also a lot more to do!

We ran into a bit of a snag before invitation making day because the part we ordered from the invitation company came wrong. They arrived and part of a word was cut off. How did they do that??? Didn't anyone look at them? It wasn't like that on the proof we saw! So my mom very nicely took care of it for me because we needed to get them fast so we could work with them on invitation making day. We agreed to move one of the words up a line because they said there were too many words on the line. !?!?! Why didn't they tell us that before?? So they sent the new proof, mom checked it for the wording (I was at work) and sent it off to get reprinted so we could have them in time.

Fast forward to the day before invitation making day and we open the new box and they TOTALLY changed the spacing. They moved the whole thing down about an inch. ?!?!?!? Why???? I did NOT like it. But I also didn't want to start this whole process over again. We called and they were totally rude about it. They said A. We could return the whole thing for a full refund minus shipping (which I didn't want to do because I love the design) B. We could return them and print new ones and pay for them (which I didn't want to do because that would be a waste of money) or C. We could use the messed up ones and they would give us a 25% credit (which we decided to do). But with the option we we had to redesign the invitation. So....we did that.

Yes....we approved the new proof, but we were only checking for the wording (that THEY cut off last time) not realizing they (for some unknown reason) changed the spacing. Until that point, they had been wonderful to work with. I was so angry that they were so unforgiving about this. They are getting a nasty letter.

After freaking out about the whole thing and wanting to scream at them for being so rude about THEIR change to the invitation.....I got over it and realized the new design was cute too.

My current belief are there are much bigger things to worry about than little things like this (like losing my job....trying to finish school....)!

So on invitation making day we had a ton of fun! We worked hard all afternoon and felt very accomplished. Thank goodness for wonderful friends.