Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things I am Going to Miss about Clay Center

As we are moving soon, I must say the nostalgia is kicking in pretty intensely. I see the clocktower in the courtyard and start to tear up! I am excited about the move, but there is so much unknown that I feel more connected to what's comfortable.

So here is a compilation of things (in no particular order) I am going to miss about Clay Center when we leave this summer...
1. Lightning bugs. I had never seen one before! Doesn't every little girl dream of capturing them in Mason jars and letting their glow warm her heart? I know I do, even though I'm not so young anymore. It's just so romantic.
2. The Rex. Another romantic thing about this small town! Who couldn't pass up $5 weekend movies in a gigantic gloomy former theatre? It's gorgeous! The seats are red velvet and the walls are adroned with the original twirly columns. It's truly a treat.
3. Hunting season. I once drove a few blocks behind a truck with approximately 8 deer legs sticking straight up in the air from the bed of the truck, bouncing over speedbumps and swaying in the wind. Ew.
Yes, I took a photo.
4.  The Power Punch Card! I will advertise for this cause without shame-- I love the Power Punch ( I sound like a testimonial!) But there are lots of good deals for food and other such commodities found in Clay Center and we have taken advantage of it, as we are scavengers for good deals!
5.  Our house. Yes, we have updated each room to our exact liking and I am slightly afraid that I have been spoiled-- will our next house be personalized for me? I guess we'll have to change that :)
6. Cardinals. Once, long ago, I desecrated the crimson beauty of one of the first cardinals I had laid eyes on by hitting it with my car. Whoops.
7. The detour to Ray's. Ok, that one I'm not so serious about. Heaven forbid the hurry up construction so it doesn't take me fifty hours to get groceries.
8. The football stadium. I love the KState-looking architecture of the Bengals/Tigers Stadium! And they even allowed me to bring in my little Bambino, who enjoyed the attention from all the middle school girls saying, "Awhhhhhhh!"
8.  The zoo. For such a small zoo in a relatively small town, this zoo is impressive! There are a veriety of monkeys, birds, squirrels, bunnies, deer, wolves, foxes, emus (scary!), a black bear and even a jaguar!
9. Clay Center Covenant Church. What a phenomenal place to plug in. I am sorry we couldn't stay around longer to enjoy it more! The pastor is encouraging, the people are wonderful, and the lessons are honest and Christ- and Bible-centered. Once again, I am truly sorry to be leaving this body of Christ-- God bless our future search as we relocate!
10. The people. The people of Clay Center have made an awesome effort to accept us into their community. Women with older children have really reached out to me, encouraging me and teaching me. What a blessing these people have been! I would not trade having lived here for anything!

Sorry to get all mushy gushy on ya, but it just sometimes happens :)



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

REMODELING SERIES: THE LAUNDRY ROOM

EW!


Nasty little room, but it's nothing a couple coats of paint and some new flooring can't fix!





Nick was so gracious to tile the place a neutral tan. Why neutral, you may ask. Wellllllllll, I have an excellent answer!

PURPLE WALLS!

Magnificent, aren't they? Purple has been my favorite color since I can remember (although I am a huge fan of almost any color done right!)

With some shelving....

and some additional decorating...

 
The laundry room is transformed! Thank goodness too, because that dirty mint green just wasn't doing it for me...


Saturday, June 23, 2012

GINGER PORK LETTUCE WRAPS (like P.F. Changs!)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMm.................. These are savory indeed!

My mom introduced this recipe to me when she came out to Kansas to take care of us after Rylan was born. I hesitated to make such a "gourmet" restaurant knockoff because it seems so complicated!

BUT
             IT
                         IS
                                    EASY
                                                    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gather:
1 head lettuce
1 pound ground pork (chicken works as well, but I would not recommend beef because I feel like that's for tacos)
1/4 cup Thai peanut sauce
3 T (or less) sweet chili sauce
2 T olive oil (other oils may substitute)
1 T minced ginger
1/2 t crushed red pepper (to taste)
1 clove garlic

OK, are you ready for this easiness?
1. Wash lettuce. Peel apart the head so that the leaves function as a tortilla would in a burrito.
2. Olive oil in skillet.
3. Pork in skillet.
4. Rest of ingredients in skillet. Mix thoroughly. Heat medium-high, until pork is cooked through.
5. Simmer on low for a few minutes to get the pork a little crispy and the oil and flavors will sort of seep into the meat.
So basically this is like a glorified stir-fry. And I love it! This batch makes about six lettuce wraps, which may be enough for two people for dinner. We just served with a fruit salad-- what an easy night! (Plus only one skillet to wash!)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our NEW House!

FINALLY,
we found a house we want.
They accepted our offer, and we couldn't be more excited!
Now about selling our house.....
That's the stressful part! But all in God's timing.

Check out our new home here: Sunnybrook Lane


Right now, it's not all that great to look at. In fact, it's sort of the eyesore of the neighborhood. But it's amazing how we can see the potential! Nick and I are just chomping at the bit to get started! I've been spending the last few days absorbed in magazines and internet sites like Better Homes and Gardens and HGTV, scrambling for the best ideas! Oh, so much fun!

Here's a photo of the floor plan I drew from memory. Hopefully it's legible.

 Before house searching, Nick and I decided to make a list of the requirements that we'd like our home to have. We put a star by the ones that we simply cannot compromise on, and a dash by the ones that we might be able to get away without.

THE LIST
*3 bed, 2 bath minimun
*1-2 car garage
*basement with usable space
-privacy fenced yard
-dimensional exterior
*good, safe neighborhood
-low annual taxes
-open layout
-within 15 minutes' drive of Nick's work next year
*currently livable, but updateable, possible to sell for profit
-potential to build/ already possesses front of back porch or deck
* the feeling like we got a good deal

The amazing part about this list is that this home has it ALL, star or dash! And for the right price :) Praise God!

We close July 18, so expect a new series of posts, HOME REMODELING SERIES II. 



Monday, June 18, 2012

REMODELING SERIES: THE DINING ROOM

Soooooo these pictures below show the bland dining room that rested in the center of our home when we moved in; one wall leads to the outside via sliding glass door, while the opposite wall used to be an awkward closet. We are still not sure of the purpose of the location of this closet.





First, we made this closet into the entrance to the room behind it, which is our bedroom. Like I said before, I am not sure why it was a closet in the first place. Then, we tore up that nasty church-basement carpet. Unfortunately, this was the last room finished even though it probably required the least amount of hands-on work.


One day I got motivated and painted the walls a complementary blue and tan pallet, and then it just took one more weekend to refinish the original hardwood flooring. We used a dark stain and I love it!  Though we had to hand-sand everything becuase the wood was so old we were afraid it would fall apart if we used anything more intense, we think it turned out great! See below:

Fuzzy picture, but I hope you can see the difference!
 Nick also wanted me to point out the chandelier-- excellent deal from Menard's!
 



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Just One Year

June 12.
I can't believe it's already been a year, and yet I can't believe it's ONLY been a year. So much has happened, and yet it has gone so quickly! It seems like when you are in a dating relationship making it to a year is such an accomplishment, and yet, making it through a year of marriage is just the beginning. Fine with me!
June 12.
The day I promised to love you, in sickness and health. Those words have never been so valuable to me as they have this year. Being young and generally of good health, I never thought I would experience some of the problems I have this year. And yet, God is faithful, and so is my husband, according to the vows he made a year ago.
I must admit, being married is nothing like what I perceived it to be. I mean, I think being married is so idealized and fantasized, especially at small Christian colleges where there is something really "wrong" with you if you leave college without your perfect match. I love being married, but it is difficult, which is why it is so truly beautiful.
Two people sticking with it through the hard stuff, like having unplanned babies or for that matter not being able to have babies at all or being really sick or really poor.

That is what the vow is all about.

June 12.
My favorite day of the year.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

THREE MONTH PICS

Rylan's three month photos are up!

Check them out here:
Inspiring mommy quote:  
"If you have a mom, 
there is nowhere you are likely to go 
 where a prayer has not already been."
Thanks to the mothers who have gone before me, for God knows I can't do this on my own! I know that my mom set this example for me, and that her mother set the example for her, so I can only pray that I will pray everywhere my children go.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

REMODELING SERIES: THE KITCHEN

The kitchen is one of my favorite rooms of our home. Because I am the primary...or only...chef (if I could call myself that!) of the household, I feel like this is one of my domains. When we first looked at this house last March, we appreciated the layout and size of the kitchen, and yet disdained the farmhouse wallpaper and pink countertops. Sometimes I truly wonder what people are thinking!

Before photo:

Of course, we weren't huge fans of the yellowing appliances either, but this remodel is all about making the best out of what you've got!

First, we tore down that RIDICULOUS wallpaper. It took hours. I mean HOURS. Each peel only took off about a square inch and it was one of the most discouraging parts of the entire remodel. I remember thinking, This was supposed to be a one day thing, and it has turned into a four day job! If this is just supposed to be summer project, when in the world are we going to finish?!?!? If only I could have known how accurate that statement was! I textured over that nasty yellowed wall, and then painted it an enthralling blue, and was amazed at the transformation!

       The next step was to rip up the church-basement-esque carpet and Nick replaced it with porcelain tile from Lowe's. We left the cabinets as they were, and thanked our lucky stars that they had been redone by the previous owner and we didn't have to mess with that expense.

Nick doesn't have an opinion about a lot of things, so when he does, I listen-- and he wanted blue in the kitchen! I think he had seen a spectacular kitchen that was painted blue and wanted to replicate it. I actually really like the country blue that we chose as well, but that made choosing a tile that matched both our cabinets and our walls a little difficult-- UNTIL we stumbled upon some smokey gray blue tile that had some copper streaks through it that matched the cabinets perfectly! Yes, we loaded about 1000 pounds of that tile into my sedan and headed from Hutchinson, KS to Clay Center!

You can't see the copper much in this picture, but we liked how the blue paint brought out the blue in the tile as well.
A couple months later, (maybe like September-ish? See how long we dragged this out?) we painted the countertops black and bronze. That sounds gross right? Hahah it kind of does. It turned out beautifully! People always ask us if it's granite. Sometimes I tell them it is :) I had no idea you could paint laminate, but they make a special paint that you can layer according to your liking and get the granite look that you want!

After replacing the dirty white sink with a pristine black granite one and also replacing the faucet, the kitchen renovation was complete!

Th picture doesn't do it justice, I don't think. Maybe you just have to see it to believe it!
Our most recent project, now that we are moving (we procrastinated!!) was this beautiful leak in the ceiling! In the fall we patched the leak when we re-roofed the whole house and now it's just time to take this nasty sheet rock down and replace it!
YUCK




Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dinner Menu Printable

Sometimes I feel like dinner occurs at the wrong time of day. Nick gets home, it's time to feed Rylan, and all the sudden I have to make dinner! Sometimes it's a scramble, but I think I've come up with a decent system for planning and organizing meals. Below is an image (that you can download, copy and paste into a Word document, and use at your leisure) that has really helped me manage that chaos.

I usually know what's for dinner a week in advance because seeing the layout visually helps me understand what else is going on in the week. For example, I know that Tuesdays are our dinner group with friends from church, but on Monday I sometimes accidentally panic, thinking, What's for dinner tomorrow?!!?!? Maybe that's just me, but this just helps me. Plus, I can plan out what groceries I need to buy in my limited trips to Manhattan by writing down the ingredients I don't yet have in the groceries column.

Maybe this can help others too! Happy cooking!