Monday, September 28, 2009

Why we can't have house plants...

Mary and her husband, Matt, gave us a very nice house plant as a housewarming gift (thank you Mary and Matt). I thought I had the perfect place for it too... on the kitchen counter! Leela thought it was perfect also. So I moved the plant a little higher, out of her reach. No good. She found it again. I realized the only place where this plant might survive would be outside... away from Leela. Nope. She has since snuck out to the deck a few times and become more stealth in her actions. I'm sorry, Mary, I give up... but Leela thanks you for the treat!She chomps on the leaves while hiding under the window so I can't see her doing it from inside.


She doesn't seem to care that I can see her chew'n

She jumped up onto the table to get a better angle and a bigger bite!

Lickin' her lips.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


We've been wanting to make these for QUITE sometime, and as I have seen more and more versions of our "original brainstorm," I decided we better get started!

What are these delicious looking morsels of yummyness? They are chocolate chip walnut cookie brownie cupcakes! All I did was mix up some brownie batter (from the box), fill the cupcake tins half full-- I used jumbo and regular cupcake sizes. Then I dropped in one mini chocolate chip cookie dough square (Tollhouse pre-made dough) into each reg. size cupcake tin-- push it down a little. I used two dough bites for the jumbo cupcakes. Then bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. After I pulled them out of the oven, I spread Hershey's chocolate fudge sauce over the top (the heat from the brownies helps the sauce spread), then sprinkled chopped walnuts over the top.

Matt didn't have a problem being the test stomach for this experiment! Yummyness!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Worth Every Penny for the Rental!

Matt and I were over at my sister's house last weekend when Lee, my brother in law, told Matt that he had gotten several estimates for repairing their deck. From a distance, the deck looks fine, but up close, it's covered in mold and cracked paint, loose and bowing planks, not to mention the rusted support posts underneath. When Matt heard what the estimates were, he was shocked-- mostly because these were not estimates for a new deck, they were just to patch and repair the deck (and it was still EXPENSIVE)! So the wheels in Matt's head started to turn... he told Lee that the two of them could build a new deck for much cheaper. Lee, eager to learn more about building/fixing things, loved the idea and enlisted the help of his two oldest boys, Jake and Ryan.

Tracy, on the other hand, was hesitant, thinking that Lee had pressured Matt into this "adventure." Though after the husbands convinced her they were equally excited about this, she jumped on board. Of course, both she and Lee were even more on board after Matt had typed up a complete estimate of materials from Home Depot... totaling less than half of the lowest estimate Lee received for repairing the deck.

The plan was for us to come over this weekend and set the footings for the support posts. So that's what we did.. and by "we," I mean Matt. I took pictures.

[bowed planks]
[starting to rot]
[rusted support posts]

[The first hole for the new footing has been drilled]
[Ryan is scooping the extra dirt out of the hole]
[second hole... Lee and Matt rented the hole digger thingy... worth every penny they said]

[angry face]
[angrier face]
[all the way down]
[Jake's helping to hold the rebar so Matt can cut it down to size]

[Matt's brother, Mike, came over to help also...]
[tough guys]
[Even Tracy jumped in to help guide the cement into the hole]
[Ryan got what Tracy couldn't]
[Ryan inserting the rebar]
[job well done]
[Mary Clare trying to lift the cement bag to help out...]
[she couldn't quite lift it]
[Lee's angry face as he dumps cement into the hole]
[Mike is explaining what "cement" is and how it works... Ryan is captivated... no, really, he is]
[Mary Clare enjoyed the rides in the wheel barrow!]

[the view from my chair...]
[Mary Clare adding water to the cement mix]
[Ryan starting the deck demolition]
[Jake's doing his part too]
[Mary Clare wants to know what Uncle Matt is doing]

Just before they got the last batch of cement mixed and poured for the fourth post, it started to rain... so Tracy and I, with Jake and Ryan's help, packed everything else up... Mike, Lee, and Matt finished the last footing, dried off, and came in side. Next weekend... build a deck.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where's the Arc?

It's Friday evening and I haven't seen students in a week. I haven't been sick and it wasn't a predetermined holiday... it was just a whole 'lotta rain! Unless you have been doing your best impression of an ostrich and had your head in the sand for the last week, then you've heard about the massive flooding that struck the metro Atlanta area recently.

I had a doctor's appointment Monday morning and had already planned on taking a half day from work, so when I got the automated call from Paulding County that school was out due to widespread flooding and road closures, I was elated... I didn't have to use my half day! I also didn't realize how bad the flooding was until I was driving home from the doctor's, and what should have been a 20 minute drive turned into over an hour-- it was one of the scariest drives I've ever had to do.

It took Matt over three hours to get to work that morning, we had been chatting all morning while I waited at the doctor's and he sat in traffic....
[picture Matt took on his way to work... this was just one place where he reached a dead end and had to turn around]

His drive home that night was not as long, but for me, it was just as suspenseful. I had several websites opened checking for road closures and paths home he could take. I had even talked to people from work who were more familiar with the area-- trying to get their idea of what might be a clear path home. He eventually made it, but the ONLY way home was closed the next morning. ALL the roads into Douglas County, where Matt works, were closed. Even the traffic guys/gals on all the channels were telling people that they had no alternate routes and people headed into Douglas County should just stay home... so he did. By late morning, the sun began to reappear and we ventured out into the world. It was eerie for us both to be home during the week, but I enjoyed being able to spend the day with Matt.

While we scathed the storm and flooding unharmed... house, yard, and cars included, others in the area were not so lucky.[6 Flags over GA has 20+ new water attractions]
[highway flooded]
[the Chevron had water above the pumps. This is down the road from where Matt works]

Matt has since made it back to work... though his commute is still painfully slow. I, on the other hand, went back to work on Thursday... but it was just a teacher work day, so was today. There are still many schools in our district that have massive flood damage and much of the county is still under a boil water advisory. By early afternoon, many of the teachers, myself included, were looking around for things to do until 4:00-- quit'n time! All of our fingers are crossed that the kids will be able to come back on Monday-- it's hard to teach kids when they're not in school.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Belly Pictures

We are football fans through and through! This week we were lucky enough to get tickets to the GA Tech v. Clemson Thursday night game thanks to Matt's company and we were excited about the Falcons' regular season home opener, for which we have season tickets. Both teams won!
Mom said she wanted to SEE me since it had been soooooo long (not really... just about two weeks, and we had seen them the last 3 weekends in a row)! Either way... here's a compromise... pictures!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Painting Projects... and then some

When we moved in, every wall in the house was stark white-- not even a builder's beige, so painting room by room has been a goal of ours. Matt couldn't wait any longer... so this weekend he painted the the foyer, which was a labor of love due to all the wall space, height, and cutting involved.We had to borrow an extension ladder from some friends to that Matt could cut the vaulted foyer... yep, we chose brown!
Matt cutting around the front door... labor of love, I tell 'ya!
Talk about an extension pole! Matt still had to stand on tippy toes to get to the bottom edge of the cutting he did.
Finished foyer, YAY!!! We absolutely LOVE IT!

While he painted the foyer, I painted two canvases I had bought on sale a few months back (when you see two 16x24 canvases for $9/pair, you have to buy them!). My plan was to hang them above the bed in the large guest room to add some color to the room before we could actually paint it. I have been itching to do something creative since school has started-- when I teach kids all day about art and creating art, but can't create any for myself, it becomes stressful, so yesterday I just had a NEED to paint. I definitely relieved the stress, and really love my paintings, but today, when I hung them, I'm not sure I love them where they are.This was the first one I painted-- I just used the left over paint we had from painting each room.
This is the second one.
Hung together, side by side...I just think they might be too small for the space. Maybe I need to find some frames for them to fill the space better. (They also might be a smidge off center, please don't tell me if you think they are, I already have enough self doubt and I'm stubborn enough not to move them anyway).

... And Then Some... Leela had been following both of us around for the last couple of days, but yesterday she was a little bit more obnoxious. Every time we walked near the stairs, she ran up them...stopped... and looked back, as if to say, "well, are you coming?" If she was upstairs, asleep on the kitty condo and we walked up there, she would immediately jump down and run to the nursery door, sit there, and wait for us. If we didn't walk over there, she would run back to us, rub against our legs and meow (and this cat doesn't meow a lot). She was hot and wanted a hair cut. When Matt was done painting the foyer, he took her into the baby's bathroom and cut her hair. I assisted with the treats... so that she would raise her head enough to let Matt cut around her neck. When we were done, she jumped down from the counter, and out the door. She has been prancing around like a princess ever since. She LOVES getting a hair cut.Before... she waited patiently for Matt to finish painting.
After... so pretty! She gets to keep her fluffy tail, lion's mane, and leg warmers.