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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Three may keep a secret, but only if two of them are dead


Drum roll, please.

I'm pregnant. Knocked up. Expecting. In the family way. Up the duff. Bun in the oven.

You read that right (for the few of you to whom I haven't already spilled the beans); Captain Husband and I are expecting a Baby Captain this coming summer--June 18, 2010, to be exact. I hope this announcement explains my reticence in blogging lately. Honestly, I wanted to scream it from the interwebs nearly as soon as we had found out (and the panicked sobbing had subsided for the most part; yay hormones!), but CH and I both wanted to play it safe. As of yesterday, I am now a full twelve weeks (or thirteen depending on which system you use), and on my way into the second trimester. We should get to hear the heartbeat at our next appointment on Tuesday, December 8. Other than the crappy symptoms of heartburn, painfully huge boobs, and a brief spate of nausea, I really haven't had any confirmation that there is in fact another creature living inside of me (military health care is pretty bare bones, so unlike a lot of other first-time moms out there, I was not offered a spate of ultrasounds and blood work to confirm the pregnancy; the doctors simply took my word for it and away we went), so CH and I are both looking forward to it and hopefully finding out the sex of the baby in January or February.

Now onto the second announcement: CH received his orders back to active duty service this Thursday, making his return to the Army officially official. What exactly does this mean? For starters, he's going to be moving out to Oklahoma in January, where he'll be in officer's school until the end of June. Which means I'm going to be by myself for the majority of the second and third trimesters. I am slightly nervous/freaked out about this, but I think we'll be ok. After all, it's not like Oklahoma is Afghanistan or anything; we'll be able to email, talk on the phone, or Skype daily, plus he can get weekend passes to come home for the big doctor appointments, etc. Another bonus is that the Army offers ten days of paternity leave; not a lot, mind you, but way better than they used to. So if everything goes well, CH will be able to attend the birth.

Ok, I'm sure this is a lot of information to process; I know we're still wrapping our collective brain around it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Captain Husband's Kitchen Capers

Photo courtesy Life Photo Archives

In the interest in spending more time together (while spending less money), Captain Husband and I have been trying to cook more meals at home. We've got a pretty good arrangement going so far; we switch off every other night, and whoever didn't make dinner that evening has to do the cleanup. All in all, a pretty fair deal that's been working quite well for us. CH has really gotten into it, actually, and will go online the night before his day to cook to search up new recipes to try. The other day he sent me the following link for pasta fagioli and wanted to know if I'd be up to try it. Though the dish looked to be a little more labor intensive than what CH has previously attempted, I figured if he was up for the challenge then more power to him.

When I came home from work that night, I opened the front door only to be walloped in the face by the overwhelming smell of garlic. As I continued up the two flights of stairs to our main living area, the garlic smell became stronger and stronger; seriously, my eyes were watering before I had even made it into the kitchen. As soon as CH heard me enter, he turned around and said, "I think I bit off more than I could chew with this one." Kitchen gadgets, various vegetables and pasta fragments were strewn across the counter tops. I mentioned something about the overwhelming aroma coming from the stove and asked CH just how much garlic the recipe called for, anyway. "Well, it said three cloves, so I bought one of these," as he gestured to a package that had formerly contained three bulbs of garlic, "and minced two of them, because three seemed like an awful lot of garlic." After hearing this, I doubled over in laughter, realizing his mistake. "I hope you like potent soup, because you were only supposed to use the little parts that composed the whole bulb...those are the cloves that the recipe called for!" CH turned to the bubbling mess on the stove top, and eyed it balefully. In humorous defeat, he turned to me, smiled and said, "So...um, you want to order a pizza?"

We're still working on getting the garlic smell out of the house, but boy, was that pizza tasty.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A quick glance into the future

Somehow a whole month has managed to pass without me making a single update to this little web log of mine; for shame! It's not that I've been terribly busy or out painting the town red, but something about this time of year just feels as though everything is speeding past me at a breakneck pace. Add to that the pressures of actually having a full-time relationship once again, and, well, it's easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life.

Captain Husband and I continue our reintegration process, which, at times, can be pretty darn brutal. We seem to be over the worst of it (it's been at least two weeks since our last argument, and before that they were an almost nightly occurrence), but I'm still having trouble with the realization that even though we've now apparently gotten used to the "new" normal, it's only a matter of time before our world is turned upside down again. For those of you who are unaware of the situation, CH decided while in Afghanistan that he wanted to return to active duty service once he got back from his mission. He's since put in his request and now we're just waiting to hear whether or not the Army will take him back (and we're pretty sure they will), which should happen in the next two weeks or so.

CH and I have had several discussions in which he outlined the various possibilities of what will happen when he receives his orders. The best case scenario would be that CH is sent to officers' school in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he would undergo the necessary training required for him to receive his next promotion, while I would stay behind in Virginia for the six-to-eight months that he's gone. After that, CH would volunteer for a year-long assignment in Korea, where he would hopefully receive a command position and continue on his path to promotion. Depending on the situation, he might extend his stay in Korea to two years, all the while I'm in Virginia, holding down the fort, working at my current job, and (theoretically) paying down my student loans. The best part about him being a geographic bachelor in Korea is that I could go and visit him if we opted, plus he would have regular access to a cell phone and the internet--something he definitely did not have in Afghanistan. Then, once he was through in Korea, he would return to the States with his promotion in hand, and request to go back to school for eighteen months to get his masters degree through the GI bill. This is, of course, the best case scenario, and the Army--albeit in my limited experience--often has an uncanny knack of doing the exact opposite of what you've hoped/planned for, which naturally scares the bejeesus out of me.

I know some people hear military spouses' tales of woe and apprehension and think to themselves,"Well, you knew what you were getting into when you married him/her." However, in my case, that isn't necessarily true. When CH and I met, the Army was a part of his past, not his future. He was still active with the Virginia National Guard, which I respected, but he told me that he had no intentions of going back to the Army life that he had left behind. You can imagine my surprise, then, when he informed me only three and a half months into our relationship that he had made the decision to volunteer for a one-year mission in Afghanistan. Never in a million years, though, did I expect our phone calls and emails while he was gone to turn more and more to the topic of going back to active duty service once he returned from the sandbox. I secretly hoped that CH's experience in Afghanistan would change his mind, but it only seemed to strengthen his resolve. And once he returned to his civilian job this past August, CH's decision to return to the Army was all but cemented by his extreme dissatisfaction with his current work.

So where exactly does this leave me? Well, I'm not sure. I am able to accept the rationalization behind CH's choice--job security, a good paycheck, excellent benefits for both of us--but it is terribly difficult for me to accept the drastic effects that his decision will have on my life. Eventually, I will have to quit my job (which, though I complain about it, is still extremely satisfying to me on an intellectual level) and move to a place that I know nothing about, far from my support network of family and friends that I relied upon while CH was gone. It's a scary prospect, and the feminist in me is having a hard time coming to terms with the reality of my situation, but I am trying. Fortunately, CH realizes this and is understanding when I air my frustrations and fears. If anything, the year apart has taught us to trust each other and support one another no matter what, which has come in very handy while in this stage of unknowing, and for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peachy keen

Thanks to the generosity of one of my boss's clients, I wound up with about three pounds of fresh-from-the-farm peaches today. It's been awhile since I last stretched my culinary muscles, so I decided that tonight I would make a peach cobbler from scratch. I grabbed a recipe from Martha, realized that I had about 99% of the ingredients already, and decided to go for it. I must say, it turned out even better than I had hoped; sweet but not saccharine, with a crumbly topping that melted in your mouth. The only thing that could have made it even better was some vanilla ice cream, so Captain Husband and I could have enjoyed some of the cobbler à la mode. But there's always next time!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Greetings from oh-my-god-it's-so-sunny Tucson, Arizona

This stunning view of the Santa Catalina Mountains is what I get to see first thing every morning from our room at the lodge at Ventana Canyon. Pretty nice, eh? Captain Husband and I flew out here on Thursday for one of his old college buddy's wedding, which is taking place at the lodge today. This is my first time to the southwest, and so far so good. The sun is blazing, but there's no humidity so when the temperature reaches 100 degrees it's still nowhere near as bad as it's been in Virginia this summer. We rented a sweet 2010 Mustang convertible and I got to drive it around Tucson and explore yesterday while CH sweated it out on the golf course with his friends. I did some antiquing in town and stumbled across this gem:

This stunning circa 1870 quilt is completely hand-pieced and hand-stitched and hails from Exeter, Maine. A family history was also attached, detailing who made it and for whom. I still can't get over how rich and vibrant the coloration is after nearly one hundred and forty years of use. I'm thinking about consigning it to my boss to show at the Deerfield/ADA antiques show coming up in October, although it's so gorgeous that it will be hard to see it go!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the economy, stupid

It's more like the stupid economy, but regardless, I just found out that I'm going to be on the receiving end of a rather large, albeit temporary (hopefully), pay cut. Le sigh. Oh, and the icing on the cake? It's not a pay cut in the form of furlough days, it's a flat-out salary slash, which means I'll be working my regular five days a week, but will be getting paid for four. And come September, I'll be working every other Saturday, which means some weeks I'll be working six days and being paid for four. Joy!

Of course I realize things could be worse. I still have a job after all. But it's a bitter pill to swallow. If it were a pay cut via a shortened work schedule, I could make up the difference in pay by picking up an extra day at my part-time job. In the mean time, I'll just keep tracking down that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Apparently, it's somewhere at the bottom of the Potomac River. Looks like the ducks are off to a head start. IT'S ON, DUCKS.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Long time, no blog

So it's been over a week now since Captain Husband made his safe return home last Thursday; I managed to have the house cleaned and decorated for his welcome home (Sandy even "helped") and successfully took care of the couple of surprises that I wanted to greet him with. Surprise number one was an antique pocket watch that I got engraved with a sappy, sentimental message (the jeweler thought I was nuts) that was happily ready the day before CH was due back. Surprise number two was a little more difficult: arranging for a 2010 Mustang in which to pick him up at the airport. Why a Mustang, you might be asking yourself? Well, when CH was home on his leave back in May, he spotted the new 2010s at the dealers and it was love at first sight. He even took one of the information folders on the car back to Afghanistan with him to obsess over. So I thought it would be nice, not to mention completely unexpected, to pick him up in one. Fortunately for me, Hertz rents out the Mustang as part of their "Fun" line, so it was just a matter of making some phone calls and last minute tweaking (CH kept changing the date and time of his arrival on me), but I was able to score one. Check it out:

I have to admit, it was a lot of fun running errands in this car. And I was able to successfully throw CH for a loop when I met him at the airport; it helped that he didn't even realize it was me pulling up in it until I got out and ran over to him. At first, he thought I must have traded in my car for the Mustang...but then I jokingly told him that I had traded in his truck. I'm evil like that. We kept the Mustang for an extra day and CH had a blast driving it around and really getting a feel for it. I realize that I opened up a giant can of worms here by actively feeding into his obsession with the car, but hey, I wanted his welcome home to be special.

We're currently in the process of reintegrating, and I'm not going to lie; it sucks. Once the initial euphoria of having CH back started to wear off (at about day three), I became acutely aware of having to share my space and habits with another person. Neither of us slept well for the first week because we'd gotten used to other sleeping arrangements; there are little arguments here and there about how things are done (or not done)and most of all, I just want things to be "normal" again, even though I have no idea what the new normal is for us. It's definitely a roller coaster, but I'm sure everything will be worth the ups and downs in the end.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Captain Husband is in Maine! He should be home-home on Wednesday! Can you tell I'm excited?!?! Now if you will excuse me, I have to continue running around the house in excitement, periodically interspersed with jumping for joy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel is a train

Photo courtesy the Life Photo Archive

By this point, I was hoping to have learned something about Captain Husband's return trip home.
However it's nearly the end of the first week of August and still nothing. When CH and I last spoke, he told me that he would be leaving the country the first week of August and back home no later than the 12th. As of our last email exchange, which took place on Tuesday (he lost his cell phone last week...awesome), he was still stuck out in the sandbox, which does not bode well for a no-later-than August 12th arrival. Being trapped in stand-by mode is quite possibly the worst thing about CH's deployment. Not knowing anything, not being able to do anything...just having to sit back and wait...and wait. And with the end so near in sight, this is all feeling a bit too much like some twisted sadist's version of candid camera. Ugh.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Kitten Mittens

I can't wait for September.

This one's for JCB

The gallery where I work has acquired a carte de visite album that was presented to a Kentucky women from her intended on the eve of the Civil War in 1862; in the course of going through the album in an attempt to identify the individual sitters, many of whom were Union generals, I pulled each cdv out from its sleeve to look for inscriptions. This handsome young man, identified as "Cousin John Steele" of Dayton, Ohio, in the album, cheekily inscribed his portrait, "Yours Guttaperchally." Hehe!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mad World

For those of you not in the know, the new season of Mad Men premieres on August 16; this is something that Captain Husband and I are looking forward to very much. When he was training in Kansas before heading to the sandbox, and able to make regular phone calls, he would call me every Sunday night at 11 pm and I would give him the play-by-play account of that night's episode. We are nerds. So for those of you who still haven't seen it, you have plenty of time to rent or netflix the first two seasons and get caught up to speed. And for those of you with plenty of free time on your hands, or a raging caffeine addiction like myself, you can then make a Mad Men-style avatar of yourself here. Here's the one I made of CH:

Fun times!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tempis Fugit, or, One year later

Beautiful roses from CH

Yesterday was our one-year wedding anniversary; of the last 365 days, I think I can safely say that Captain Husband and I have spent about 340 days of the past year apart. But the light at the end of the tunnel has been steadily growing brighter and it's now just a matter of about two weeks before CH is home for good (or as good as one can get with the military). Super exciting!

In other news, I spent the weekend in Western Pennsylvania attending the wedding of my cousin, A. J. and his new wife, Amy. How cute were they?!

And check out the awesome covered pool and courtyard at the hotel where they had their reception:
Vintage 60s kitsch/cool! All of the rooms had balconies that looked out over the pool and hot tub areas, and some of the rooms were two levels, with jacuzzi tubs on the second floor. I kind of want to take a trip back there with CH once he's home. The only thing that would make it better would be if some of the rooms were still outfitted with their original furnishings from the 60s. A girl can dream...


My cat-like reflexes with a camera have scored me an internet shout-out. Now I'll just sit back and wait for all of the benefits of interweb celebrity to rain down on me from above.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs

I heard this feature on NPR on the drive home tonight and thought the story was worth pointing out. I really admire what these two young women are attempting to accomplish; while I was never a military kid, I am a relatively recent military spouse with a husband currently in in the sandbox with the National Guard. I don't live on a military base, and most of the members of the unit that my husband is serving with are scattered all over the state, so I empathize with what Moranda and Kaylei went through while their fathers were deployed. I can only imagine what the experience must be like when you're a young adult and to feel completely abandoned by your peers because they don't know how to handle your parent's deployment.

I've been very fortunate in that I have a lot of friends who live in the area that act as my support group, so I've been able to make it through this deployment relatively unscathed; and while I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a part of a close-knit group of other military spouses, I wouldn't trade this past year's experience with anyone. So if I haven't said it recently, I want to send a giant thank you to all of my friends. I couldn't have made it this past year without you all!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun with paint

The other day, while I was browsing Apartment Therapy, I stumbled across these gems that they had pulled from a DC-area Craigslist ad:

Vintage metal kitchen cabinets in my favorite shade of blue! The temptation to contact the seller and make an offer was overwhelming, even though I really have no place to put them (though I did try to rationalize that they could work in the garage until my dream kitchen appears for their installation). So I did the next best thing--I painted the would-be soffit in the kitchen. I had some extra time on my hands and some left-over paint from one of our projects from last year, so what did I have to lose? Nothing--except for my balance at times, especially when I was perched upon the refrigerator, getting to that last pesky corner.

As a refresher, here is the kitchen before. Captain Husband's decorative scheme had consisted of a lot of wine bottles, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I was too lazy to do anything about it:

And here is the kitchen now:

It's really not that noticeable of a change, but I have to say that I feel so much better when I look up and see calming blue rather than a line up of dusty old bottles with god knows what potentially growing inside. Trish was overwhelmed by the change, though, as you can see. Knocked her right over.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend recap

This past weekend flew right on by, but boy, was it fun! Tim's birthday was this weekend, so Julianne threw him a party at their place out in Frederick (it turned into an all-night dance party; I'm still a little sore from dancing around like a three-year-old on speed). I took the back way up and stumbled across this beauty outside of Leesburg, Virginia:

It has such a great, mellow patina--I don't think it's ever been polished, which I totally love. I hope to have it cleaned up (it had been displayed outside for who knows how long) and put together in the guest room some time this week; however, the prospect of having to completely dismantle the bed frame currently in there and move the mattress and box springs out of the way has me less than enthused at the prospect. Carrying the headboard, footboard, and iron side rails up the 3+ flights of stairs by myself was enough of a workout, thank you very much.

On Sunday I had to work at Finials, which was perfect timing because I have two weddings coming up for which I needed to find lovely, preferably vintage, gifts. I think I did pretty well; for my cousin's wedding gift I found a beautiful sterling silver angel food cake cutter from the early 1900s. It's never been monogrammed, so I'm going to take it to the silversmith in Alexandria tomorrow to have the bride and groom's initials put on it (my cousin inherited my grandmother's silver, so I thought it would be nice to add to his collection). For my friends Seth and Amy I bought a sweet pair of crystal salt and pepper shakers with sterling silver and mother of pearl tops (I think I'll write a note about the superstition of mixing salt and pepper together to avoid a quarrel--something every newlywed couple should know--in the card). And on top of all of that fabulous shopping, Barb hooked me up with a little something something for my patio garden:

Oh yeah, Captain Husband is totally going to love this addition. It really classes the place up, don't you think? Speaking of CH, if everything has gone as expected, he's in the process of completing the first step in his long, multi-step journey back to the States. So keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully in a couple of weeks, he'll be back here in Virginia, just in time for Humidity Fest 2009. Sweet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun with flooring

The stark realization that Captain Husband will be home in less than a month has finally hit me. And in that vein, I've been trying to take care of all of the little projects and loose ends that I had mistakenly thought I'd have all of the time in the world for in the year or so that he's been gone. One of the more recent tasks that I wanted to have accomplished was changing out the carpeting on the stair landing with, well, anything. Apparently before Trish was diagnosed as having diabetes, she had taken to peeing in corners...specifically the corners of this particular stair landing. No matter how many times I've employed the SpotBot, scrubbed on my hands and knees, or dumped boxes of baking soda on the offending areas, I could still smell her evil misdeeds and it was driving me crazy. Especially since the last thing I wanted greeting CH when he came home was the scent of urine wafting down the stairs as he opened the door to his house. Gross. So I did some research--and realized there was no way I could pull this little project off by myself-- and called my dad, who is now retired and therefore free to come and spend his time helping me out.

Dad came down on Sunday and the two of us headed out to Lowe's to do some shopping. I spared every expense on my purchases and managed to get out of there with enough "wood" laminate flooring, molding, and padding to do the landing for under $100. With our fates rather up in the air, and having no idea what's going to happen to the house if we are PCS'd (permanent change of station...one of the only military acronyms that I know that doesn't involve swear words), it didn't really make any sense to spend a lot of money on a real hardwood floor. Besides, it's only a landing.

Monday was the grossest part of the entire operation; removing the carpeting and the padding, which had definitely soaked up more than its fair share of cat pee. Normally I take before, during, and after shots of these kind of projects, but I was so embarrassed by the nastiness that I had to abstain this time around. Dad cleaned and prepped the surfaces so that there would be no lingering scent issues.

Tuesday was, as my dad said, "the fun stuff," as in figuring out the flooring configuration and making the proper cuts, etc. When I left for work that morning, he was measuring out the cuts he would have to make, with his trusty helper, Sandy, by his side. Sandy was pretty much my dad's shadow the entire three days he was down here; every time he left a room, she would follow. If he went out to work on something in the garage, she would wait for him by the door. It was pretty cute, especially if you know just how much my dad generally dislikes cats.

Sandy, waiting for my dad to finish up with the tape measure

By the time I got home from work though, he was completely finished and this was what I saw:

A new "wood" floor! And the best part--no cat pee smell! It had been finally banished from the house! To celebrate, I took my dad out for dinner at the local sports bar where we played paper football while waiting for our meals to arrive. He tried the "Pittsburgher," an ode to Primanti's, and thought it was pretty good; after we finished eating, we stayed and talked for a bit. I honestly think it was the first time my dad and I had a for-real adult conversation; we talked about Captain Husband, my brother and his various issues, mom, and so on and so forth. It was really nice and I'm glad that we were able to spend so much time together and hang out, while getting some work done around the house.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Garden salad

Thanks to the obscene amount of rain that Northern Virginia has been hit with in the past week and a half, my little patio container garden has been growing like crazy. Every other day, I'm out there, trying to keep up with all of the dead-heading and pruning. The tiny little tomato plants that CH and I picked up when he was home on R&R are about 3 1/2 feet tall now and require plant stakes for support. At this rate, it won't be too long before the tomatoes are ready to be picked.

At the other end of the patio is my basil and mint, both of which have had explosive growth spurts in the last week or so. If only there was a way to grow mozzarella balls on the patio; I already have two out of the three ingredients required for a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad handy. Yum!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Remembrance

SFC Kevin Dupont passed away today after a courageous three month battle with injuries he received on March 8, 2009 in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). SFC Dupont and Captain Husband met while they were in training at Fort Riley, Kansas, last summer and became friends. If you would like to learn more about this incredibly strong man and his fight, I highly suggest that you visit the Caring Bridge website that was set up for him this spring. My most heartfelt condolences go out to SFC Dupont's wife, Lisa, and their families. I wish I could say more, but there just aren't enough words to express what I'm feeling right now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To Liberia and back, or, the joys of padded spandex

I've been on a bit of a fitness/diet kick lately, most of which resulted from seeing some photographs of myself taken at my 30th birthday party (I swear, I suffer from reverse body dysmorphic disorder in which I am totally convinced that my body is smokin' when indeed it is not). Since the start of this month, I've been monitoring my daily food intake, cutting back on pop and booze, and hitting the free fitness center that comes with our membership in the HOA. I've managed to drop about 8 pounds (which equals 1 Sandy, fyi) in the first two weeks, which has motivated me to stick with the current plan of action. Last week I decided to step things up a notch and break my bike free from the confines of the garage. I'd had it tuned up the week prior, thinking I might take it with me to North Carolina, but the torrential downpours discouraged doing that. Now that the weather has cleared up a bit, it seemed like the perfect thing to do.

I love my bike and it has served me well these past 7 years, but it's not really cut out for the Northern Virginia terrain in that it has no gears. That was all well and good when I lived in Philadelphia, a relatively flat city, but boy oh boy, did that first ride on the Prince William Parkway trail kick my butt. I rode about 12 miles and I felt every single one, but not enough to make me call it quits. I went out for a ride the next day, and the next. It was then that I realized that I could probably commute part of my way to work on my bike, if I drove to Mount Vernon, parked the car, and rode in the rest of the way to Alexandria. But I was going to need some gears. I berated my bike-riding friends for advice and they pointed me to the Specialized Sirrus Sport:
My local bike shop happens to be a Specialized dealer, so I planned my day off today around a trip to the shop to try one on and test ride it. It's amazing the difference some gears can make! It's also a lot lighter and more responsive than my current ride; a couple of loops around the parking lot, and I was hooked! I used part of the tax refund that I'd been hoarding to buy it and the shop threw in a free water bottle and bike computer--sweet! I brought the bike home, put on my trusty padded spandex shorts (which I wear under a pair of normal shorts; I effin' hate spandex) and went for a 16.3 mile spin to Liberia Avenue in Manassas. I'm going to ride it around here for another week or so before I try the commuting idea, but so far so good!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beach bum

Even though I was only able to spend a few short days at the beach this weekend, I can now fully appreciate why so many people go on and on about the Outer Banks and how wonderful it is. My only regret is that I wasn't able to make it down for the full week that the house had been rented, but there's always next year. And rest assured, there will definitely be a next year!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coming and going

This is going to be a short one, since I have to pack and get ready for my trip this weekend down to North Carolina (that's the going part), but I wanted to introduce all of you to the newest addition to my fuzzy family:


Say hello to Sandy! This pretty little gal is two years old and is as good natured and inquisitive as they come. Trish is slowly getting used to having another feline in her space, but Sandy seems to know when Trish wants to be left alone, even though it took her a couple of days to figure it out. Now I need to get used to having a healthy, active cat who thinks nothing of jumping to the top of the cabinets, the mantel, or the bathroom door when the mood strikes her. Just what did I get myself into, anyway?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm not dead yet

Soldier's farewell at Penn Station, 1944 (Courtesy, Life Photo Archive)

Wow; practically a whole month has managed to slip by without a single post. In my defense, May was pretty crazy. I spent the first two weeks spending time with Captain Husband, who arrived home on May 2 after about a week of traveling by helicopter, private plane and then commercial air (all without showering, of course; he kept fresh by stuffing drier sheets in his clothing). Then I've spent the last two weeks recovering from it all. I definitely think mid-tour leave is a bit of a cruel joke when you get right down to it. You have such a short amount of time with the person, and you wind up spending half of that time getting used to sharing your space with another; then, when everything is all peachy-keen, it's time for them to leave again. It was like ripping off a band-aid from my heart and then liberally applying salt to the wound.

All in all, though, CH and I really had a great time, albeit rather short. The first week he was home was miserable in terms of weather and I had to work, so he spend most of that time at home and connecting with friends in the area. He also went off of the deep end and bought me a new (to me) car for my birthday. We had talked about looking at new cars when he returned later this year, but he decided he couldn't wait. Believe me, I'm not complaining in the least!

The second week he was home we decided to take a short trip out to Winchester, Virginia; we booked our stay in a lovely bed and breakfast right in the heart of the historic district and spent our days exploring the area and testing out the new car. We went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, walked through the gardens of Glen Burnie, visited Abram's Delight, the oldest home in Winchester, and made a special trip to see Belle Grove, the home of Isaac Hite, which was built around 1797 with some design assistance from Thomas Jefferson. We really lucked out with the weather and managed to see and do everything that we had wanted, which is always a plus.

We also managed to put a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party together for my 30th (ugh) and got a bunch of our friends together in our house for some food and fun. I had a great time and it was just so nice having CH and my friends all in one place again. CH and I had the weekend to recover together and then he had to leave Monday morning. I got up early and drove him to the airport, where we said our brief goodbyes. The bright spot in all of this is that it's now looking as though CH could be home as early as the end of July/beginning of August, as opposed to October as originally expected. So I've got that going for me. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Turns out Captain Husband may have gotten my hopes up just a little bit when he said he could be home as early as Thursday...as of right now, the earliest he can be home will be Saturday afternoon. He's still stuck over in the sandbox, holed up in a giant tent with about forty other dudes, waiting for a seat to open up on one of the planes. Unfortunately for him, the military assigns seats by rank, working from the lowest to the highest. Oh well, I guess it just gives me a few more days to prepare!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Holy crap

Late last night, Captain Husband called with some awesome and totally unexpected news; it turns out he will be back a bit earlier then he had originally planned and could possibly be here by Thursday afternoon. As in TWO DAYS FROM NOW. Um, can you tell that I'm excited? It's seriously taking all of my will power to sit still and concentrate at work. CH coming home is a bit like Christmas, my birthday, and a 1/2 off everything sale at my favorite bookstore all rolled into one.

Speaking of bookstores, I was killing some time last Friday and stumbled across this book. I devoured it in one evening; I can not stress enough just how much I enjoyed it, especially since the details surrounding my military marriage and the author's are pretty darn similar (ok, I was never a stripper, but my mom once told my grandmother that I was during Thanksgiving dinner a few years back, but that doesn't really count). Also, I have been starving for a book that deals with the various ins and outs of being a modern-day war bride--believe me when I say books like this one are few and far between. Now if I can only figure out how to get Operation Bombshell to Fort Belvoir...

Monday, April 20, 2009

7 out of 9

Shown here modeling the latest in kitty couture.

Apparently in a past life I was a professional kicker of cats or something along those lines, because that's the only explanation I can come up with regarding my spate of terrible cat issues recently. The latest chapter in my book of cat woes is quite the doozy, but fortunately there appears to be a happy ending. Part of my job entails working at the various antique shows that the gallery where I work participates in; now that Tricia is a diabetic, I couldn't just set up her timer feeders and leave her to her own devices like I have in the past when I've gone out of town. So I decided to employ a pet sitter, mostly to keep Trish comfortable and happy in her own home rather than boarding her at the veterinarian's (and believe me, this cat can hold a grudge).

Well, long story short, Trish got a hefty overdose of insulin...twice in as many days. She's supposed to get 1 1/2 units twice a day, but due to confusion on my part and the cat sitter's, Trish wound up on the receiving end of 1 1/2 syringes full of insulin; and fyi, a syringe holds 20 units. Do the math and, well, that's quite the overdose. On Thursday evening, when the sitter went over to check on Trish for the second time that day, she found Trish hiding under the sideboard in the dining room, passed out and twitching, and immediately called me. Once I heard how much insulin Trish had received and her symptoms, I knew at once that she was in hypoglycemic shock and possibly on her way into a coma. I told the pet sitter to rush Trish to my vet's and that they would know what to do. About an hour later, I get another phone call, this time telling me that due to the nature of Trish's situation, she would have to be transferred to a 24 hour emergency animal hospital where they could monitor her blood glucose levels through the night, something that my vet's office is not equipped to do.

Ok, I know I promised to make it short, so I'll sum up: Trish wound up spending two and a half days in the hospital until she stabilized enough to be transferred back to my vet's to be boarded for the remainder of my time out of town. Remarkably, she seems to have made a full recovery and shows no signs of neurological injury, or as my vet put it, no drain bamage at all. Apparently, Dr. Neff was pretty astounded that Trish has survived the ordeal unscathed, as he's seen many other cats receive much smaller overdoses of insulin and not make it. He does feel that she's probably down to seven out of nine lives after this incident, though. I'll take seven over zero any day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I hope your day is filled with fun and chocolate bunnies!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If I were a rich girl, part 4

I apologize for the small size of this week's installment in pipe dreams and wishful thinking, but it's the only image available so bear with me. I am utterly charmed by this oil on board for several reasons: 1. It's an early nineteenth-century landscape; 2. It's a Philadelphia scene, and 3. It includes a depiction of one of my favorite works by the noted Philadelphia sculptor, William Rush (1756-1833). A hat trick, if you will.

Although the auction house identifies the scene as Philadelphia's City Hall, it's actually the Centre Square Waterworks, which was formerly located where the current City Hall now stands. Hidden behind its neoclassical exterior, which had been designed by the renowned architect, Benjamin H. Latrobe, was a steam engine that pumped water from the Schuylkill River into a holding tank, where it was later distributed throughout the city by gravity via wooden pipes. The Centre Square Waterworks supplied Philadelphia with clean drinking water from 1800 until 1829 at which time it was supplanted by the Fairmount Waterworks. The Centre Square Waterworks was a point of pride for many Philadelphians and its picturesque setting made it a favorite subject for many of the city's artists: John Lewis Krimmel, William Birch, and John James Barralet are among those who recorded its features for posterity.

Speaking of Barralet, check this out:
Look familiar? It's the 1815-1825 print source for the oil on board that I'm currently lusting after! (Ok--I admit it. I'm a dork with way too much free time in the evenings.)

So now that that's all cleared up, on to William Rush, the father of American sculpture and how he's tied up in all of this. In 1809, the city of Philadelphia commissioned Rush to create a fountain for Latrobe's building (Latrobe had originally envisioned a fountain on every street corner, but that was deemed a tad much). Working in the prevailing mode of drawing inspiration from classical antiquity, Rush created an allegorical figure of the Schuylkill River that was based on the Venus de Medici and the Venus surtant du bain (or, Venus after the bath). Unfortunately, all that is left of Rush's Water Nymph, as she is also known, is her head and portions of her hand; most of Rush's public works were executed in wood painted to resemble marble, which was not exactly suited to the rigors of unrelenting water exposure. Oops. Fortunately, though, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), the seminal artist and fellow Philadelphian, painted a romanticised, yet painstakingly researched, depiction of the creation of the fountain in the late nineteenth century that makes it possible for us to enjoy Rush's long lost masterwork today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The mystery of the abandoned farm house

Because I don't have to enough to think about right now, I've decided to try and figure out this abandoned stone farm house located about 4 miles from where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. Over the years, I drove past this place every time I went home to visit my family and watched it slowly morph from a charming, albeit a bit tattered, home into the sad state now before you. On my most recent trip home this past weekend, I turned my mom into an accomplice and we went exploring since it was now very obvious that the house had been abandoned. We drove up and poked around for a bit, exploring the now-derelict site. I took a bunch of pictures and then came back home to Virginia and started digging through some books to see if I could identify a bit more about the architecture and time line of the house. What I'd like to do is figure out the family who originally built it and see if I can get it documented for posterity's sake by some sort of Historic Architecture and Building Survey before the whole thing falls prey to the elements. Should be fun!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Table for one, please

I'm trying to get back into the habit of cooking healthy dinners for myself and eating them at the dinner table, rather than inhaling mac-n-cheese while perched precariously over the coffee table in the living room. Tonight I made some sort of baked tilapia dish with spinach, onions, and tomatoes. It was pretty good and I have more than enough leftovers to tide me through lunch the next couple of days. It's been really difficult for me to muster the willpower to actually cook myself dinners these days; lately it just seems like so much effort and expense for one person, but hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of things without too much belly-aching on my part.

In related cooking-type news, I've spotted a glimpse of my dream kitchen thanks to a post today on apartmenttherapy.com (one of my current online obsessions):

Of course, my dream kitchen wouldn't be complete without these retro-inspired appliances from Big Chill:

Now with a set up like that, you'd have to drag me out of that kitchen; my mac-n-cheese nights would definitely be few and far between, I guarantee it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Offbeatbride redux

I just got word that Captain Husband's and my wedding is being re-posted on the awesome website, offbeatbride.com. You can check it out here!

Friday, March 27, 2009

If I were a rich girl, part 3

I simply can't resist the charming illustrations of artist Jesse Wilcox Smith (1863-1935). Best known for her work in magazines and children's books, Smith was a prolific artist; in addition to creating illustrations for books and magazines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she also provided covers for Good Housekeeping from 1917 through 1933. Smith and her friends and fellow artists Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley were known as the "Red Rose Girls" and lived in a picturesque house on Philadelphia's Main Line where they led rather unconventional lives for their time. Alice A. Carter wrote a fabulous book about these incredible women and I highly recommend it, if only to look at the pictures.

This particular work is entitled "Curly Locks" and is a pastel on paper. Executed in January of 1914, it was used as an illustration for Good Housekeeping Magazine's Mother Goose series. There's just something about the way that Smith manages to capture the sweet (but not saccharine) essence of childhood that tugs at my heartstrings...it's a cute overload!

So who wants to lend me a couple grand?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mistaken identity crisis

I've had my rather distinctive email address going on six and a half years now; thanks to my tech-geek friend, I was able to score one of the first gmail addresses out there when it became available to non-tech people like myself. Unfortunately, it seems that a number of people have not gotten the hint that my email address belongs to me, and only me, and I have been receiving over the past few months weird emails from different services that I have supposedly signed up for. As of right now, there are at least three individuals out there who are either incredibly stupid, lazy, or are cursed with the inability to spell simple words repeatedly. And its not as though this is just email newsletters or the like clogging up my inbox; I've received email messages from one individual's mother, another containing rather sensitive material such as the person's mailing address, phone number, and bank information from another woman in Georgia who apparently recently purchased a house, and the most recent has come in from chemistry.com. I've had it about up to here dealing with these morons, so I decided to do something rather passive aggressive about it. I logged into the chemistry profile with the information provided to my email account and updated the profile to this:

Is it mean? Maybe. But I'm hoping that it will get the point across to this person once and for all that they keep entering the incorrect email address over and over and over again. Some people's kids. Sheesh.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good news, bad news

Awhile back I blogged about the barrister bookcase that I scored for a song missing its top and base; well, the new top and base arrived in the mail today (it only took a total of two weeks from start to finish, and a chunk of that was postal time). I excitedly unpacked the giant box to examine my new goodies and realized that one of the legs was damaged and cracked. Now if it had been a bump or a scratch, I wouldn't care at all (I grew up surrounded by a scratch and dent aesthetic), but this is more than just a superficial matter. Crap. So that's the bad news part. (I figure the Antique Repair Guy will fix things, though, so it could be worse). Now on to the good news...

This afternoon I was the successful bidder on this little gem:
I know I'm going to sound like a crazy cat lady, but that's Trish on the left and Josie on the right. Right? Someone please tell me I'm not nuts (ok, you have to imagine the cat on the right with a nubbin' for a tail, but still). The painting, which is an oil on canvas from about the 1850s or 60s, couldn't be more perfect if I had commissioned it myself. What makes it even more fitting is that I found out about the auction the day after deciding that the best thing to do for Josie was to put her to sleep. Seeing this painting lifted my spirits and gave me something to look forward to. And soon it will be gracing my home, so that whenever I look at it I'll think of Josie and Tricia and the short, but sweet, time that we shared together.

Friday, March 20, 2009


"Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die."
Amelia Burr (1878-1968)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The hardest decision

Tonight I took both of the girls to the vet's for their weekly check-in; Trish needed to have her glucose levels monitored and Josie was due for some more fluids. I wish I could say that Josie has been doing well since her visit last Wednesday, but that would be more than simple optimistic embellishment on my part. The fact of the matter is that over the past 2-3 days her condition has worsened to the point where she can no longer control her bladder (in addition to her bowels) and is having trouble with both of her hind legs now and therefore can't move around very much at all. I told Dr. Neff about these recent developments and so he drew some blood for tests and checked her body for any abnormalities. When he was palpating her abdomen, he grew very concerned and ordered an x-ray immediately. What he saw was not good; Josie has fluid leaking internally which has filled most of her abdomen. He can't tell where the fluid is coming from without an ultrasound, but the fact of the matter is this...one or more of Josie's organs are failing and there's no magic pill that I can give to her that will make it all better. At this point it's about making the hard, but right, decision to do what's best for her. So it is with a very heavy heart that I have decided to put Josie to sleep this Friday afternoon. She's been a sweet, brave girl and has fought very hard, but ultimately her body just can't take any more and to prolong her life like this would be very cruel indeed. Nursing Josie through her sickness these past few months has been very difficult for me and I wanted to let you all know that I've truly appreciated all of your kind words and well wishes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A sneak peak

The office is coming together, slowly but surely. It helps that I keep finding awesome and most importantly, affordable, things in antique shops that complement the arts and crafts-style furniture and lime green that I chose as the accent color. For example, today in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I found an arts and crafts oak tea cart that had been marked down; I knew it would make a perfect printer cart, especially since my printer was at the moment resting upon an old nightstand of Captain Husband's that had definitely seen better days. At another shop, I stumbled across a great little green glass and brass accent lamp from the 1920s; it too was on sale and I couldn't pass it up. With these new purchases in tow, I returned home and started working on the office. I also cleaned and "restorafinished" the barrister bookcase and brought it up from the basement hallway and placed it in the room; I can't wait for the new top and base to come in! I need to rearrange some of the stuff hanging on the walls and I have an idea of how to display some of CH's photographs and military paraphernalia; I've ordered the fabric for the curtain and the chair cushion, and that should also be here in the next few weeks. Its so nice seeing a room actually come together in the way that I had envisioned it!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The office project, part deux

Three-section barrister bookcase by Macey

I recently acquired three sections of an oak Macey barrister bookcase, circa 1920, from a good friend for a song due to it missing its top and base. Granted, it needs a little TLC but I'm not worried because I've got connections...and the interwebs, which is how I found this dude. Basically, for less than what it would cost to buy a new/crappy bookcase from any of the big box stores out there, he'll make me a brand new top and base for the bookcase which I'll then get to stain and finish to match the existing barrister sections. I put my order in this morning and am looking forward to the final product gracing the office in a couple of weeks. I love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, March 6, 2009

If I were a rich girl, part 2

Bronko Nagurski vs. Killer Kowalski

I don't know what it is about this painting by Vaughan Bass, but I find it so visually appealing and amusing. Bass was a Chicago artist who specialized in creating pin-ups and his style was often likened to that of Gil Elvgren (1914-1980), who's work I really admire, which may explain a bit of my attraction to Bass's work. Fittingly, Bass was employed in the 30s and 40s as the "paint over" artist for some of Elvgren's pin-ups, re-doing them so that they could be used for other advertisements. Bass is probably best known for his creation of the Wonder Bread Girl in the 1950s, which is about the same time that he began painting a series of works based on wrestlers of the period. This particular work was likely the basis for one of the illustrations that appeared in this 1955 calendar. You can see more of Bass's works here; enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The project pipeline, aka staying busy

In the interest of keeping my mind occupied and doing something other than bathing, injecting or taking the cats to the vet's (I really do think they should hand out VIP cards or something there; if so I'd be more than half-way to earning a new pet), I've made up a list of things I can do around the house. The first thing I'd like to do is finish the office. Now when Captain Husband and I first moved in together, we split the house in half and compromised on the main living areas. Since I actually used the kitchen, I got to decide how it was decorated and organized and the same pretty much went for the dining room (though I did let CH pick the paint for the walls); we split the living room and the master bedroom and bathroom, I got the powder room and the guest room while CH got the guest bathroom and the office. Well, like water gently lapping at the shore, I slowly eroded the invisible barrier that kept me from putting my grubby little influence all over the office and managed to show CH the benefits of good furniture arrangement and, perhaps most importantly, good furniture period (no more Wal-Mart crap, hooray!). But something was still not quite right; the office needed some more polish, something to pull it all together and that's when I realized what was missing: color! At first I thought I should paint the walls, but I knew that wouldn't go over well with CH, as he is apparently allergic to things that exist beyond the "landlord's special" off-white-with-white-trim color range. While browsing my fave discount place, I spotted the fabulous lamp you see above and had a eureka moment. Green would look awesome, especially used as an accent against all of the "golden" oak arts and crafts furnishings that now grace the room. The color is fun and modern and yet not too crazy...apparently it is easy being green. Anywho, I bought the lamp and some magazine butlers in the green and found some fabric samples online for some fun curtains that are supposedly easy to make and am currently scouting options for having my $5 chair reupholstered or slip-covered in something that is complementary. As my dad said, by the time CH is back, he won't recognize the place. Muahahaha!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A rose by any other name...

My family is real big on nicknames and my siblings and I all share a strange habit that we picked up from our mom of naming inanimate objects for no real reason (ask my mom about Steve the Stick one day). Anyway, I was thinking the other day about nicknames and how they come about...my nickname is Lulubell or just plain Lulu (my uncle came up with that one and it stuck), while my middle brother's nickname is Jerk-o (pretty self-explanatory) and my youngest brother's nickname is DPOT, which stands for Diabetic Piece of Trash (also self-explanatory...though I swear we're not horrible people, really). My cats have some interesting nicknames as well; Trish is known as Trishkabibble, Trishkabob, and most recently, the Trish Monster or just Monster (that is Captain Husband's name for her). When I first adopted Josie, I would call her Josie-poo, which is most fitting these days, since Josie has, well, poo issues. I am now an expert at bathing cats, especially since I am now averaging 1-2 baths per day thanks to Josie's little accidents. Sigh. On top of all of this daily excitement, I've just found out that Trish's miracle weight-loss is the result of....drum roll, please....feline diabetes! As such, her new nickname will be DPOT, Jr. (Diabetic Piece of Trish). Good times!

Monday, February 16, 2009

My mother's daughter

Meet my new old Venetian chandelier, installed in the dining room by me...and the house is still standing and no one got electrocuted! After the successful installation of the new old light in the master bathroom, I figured I could kick it up a notch this time around and hook up the fixture and put in a dimmer switch. And I did all of this without having 911 on speed dial (though I did call my dad for some guidance on the dimmer switch and let loose a couple of f-bombs for good measure). My dad, a carpenter, and my mom, an electrician (she taught me how to screw and strip with the best of them), are big do-it-yourselfers, so it makes me feel good to tackle some DIY projects at the house all by myself. As my dad said, this is what happens when Captain Husband goes away and leaves me to my own devices for more than a year. By the time he gets back, the whole place will be painted and wallpapered to the nth degree, with a vintage light fixture in every room. That'll teach him!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weekend Update

Vintage Valentine's Day card from my collection of old stuff

Last night I got creative and bought a can of tuna, liquified it, and fed it to Josie with a syringe.  At first she was a little skeptical, but soon came to the realization that tuna is awesome and she would like some more, please.  She wound up eating a bit of the liquid grossness herself and then proceeded to eat from her dry food bowl throughout the night.  I was amazed.  So this morning when I took her to the vet's for her bi-weekly injection and fluids, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had gained four ounces since her last weigh-in on Tuesday.  The vet seems to think that I found a way to trigger Josie's appetite with the tuna and told me to keep it up.  We also had a very heart-to-heart talk about her condition and what would be best for her.  Basically, we've decided to continue in this course of action and do some blood work next week to see what her liver is up to and continue from there.  He also told me, very nicely I might add, that he'll let me know when he thinks its her time to go, and that he thinks she still has a lot of fight left in her, especially if I can keep her eating.  This is why I love Dr. Neff.  The other vet that was treating her (I won't name names) did not impress me with his bedside manner, and basically told me the first time I brought Josie in that I should consider putting her down.  He also referred to her as "him" and "it," never once calling her by her name.  I'm pretty much done with that guy.  Dr. Neff, however, approaches Josie's care in the same manner that I do; any improvement, no matter how slight, is significant and  cause for celebration.  I know she has a long way to go, and its uphill and snowing most of the way, too, but I'm hopeful and sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
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