Backsplash options (because I can’t think of a more interesting title right now…)

So FINALLY a post that is actually about our house. I guess I took quite a bit of a vacation from really thinking about decorating. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t want to do it, I think I just got lazy.

Then one day I was browsing pinterest, and I came across this.

(source)

I have a deep love for that moroccan shape, and I’ve been talking about doing a tile backsplash in our kitchen since the day we signed papers on our house… an obsession was born. At first, I simply loved this tile and I was ready to buy. B liked it, and as a last step I sent it to my mom and dad for their opinion.

Well… my mom thought it looked like bathroom tile, and my dad thought it would be challenging to hang.

Deflated.

I wasn’t ready to discount this tile, but I admitted that perhaps I should at least put a bit more thought into it. My mom suggested this tile.


(source)

I kind of wanted to not like it, pretty much because my feelings were a tiny bit hurt that my mom didn’t like my choice and I wanted to dislike anything she suggested. I am a pinnacle of maturity. But after about ten minutes I realized that my mom’s house is gorgeous and her decorating always looks awesome whereas mine flops half the time– and thus maybe I should give her opinion some thought. And my thought was… I was actually kind of digging this tile!

I had always said I wanted to do a 1×1 inch glass mosaic backsplash. Somewhat like this one:

(source)

Ignore the colors, but that was the style I had in mind. The more I thought about it though, I just wasn’t really feeling the 1×1 squares anymore. It’s begun to feel a bit dated to me (for no particular reason, just my personal feeling), and so I kind of liked that the one my mom sent was the same idea of a mosaic but in a different shape.

I also liked that the tile was light because I feel like we need something like to pop against our dark dark cabinets. And I loved that the materials were mixed because it made the monotone color scheme seem a bit more interesting.

But buying online is SCARY. I was worried it would get here and I wouldn’t like it, and then I’d be stuck paying for shipping 100 pounds of tile. (Literally. Tile is HEAVY).

So this weekend we went out to a few different tile stores and I rounded up three options. The first store was Lowes. I found this glass mosaic that looked mostly grey with some undertones of brown and green in the store.


But when I got it home, it seemed plain tan/brown. It is amazing how much difference lighting makes! It definitely GOES in our kitchen– the colors match our cabinets and countertops perfectly. But it seems maybe too matchy matchy to me.

Next up I hit The Tile Shop with a friend, and found two marble options I liked. A white/grey/green one:

And also a white/grey one.

What I love about these tiles is how much depth they have, and that they really look expensive. But, are we marble-tile kind of people? My style is generally so colorful/modern and marble seems very traditional.

I also went back online to see if I could find anything else that I loved, and I came across one these, which are very similar to the ones my mom found but are simply a bit more varied in size.

(source)

Again, this seems like it is perhaps a good compromise of what I want and what I like about the other tiles. It is the fun mosaic shape, a light color to contrast with the cabinets, and a mix of glass of stone which should make it really beautiful.

Best of all, these are sold also at homedepot.com for the same price as overstock.com, which means that if we didn’t like these tile we could return them to the store with no shipping fees.

The down side of these is that I don’t believe they are real marble (they say “stone” not “marble”) so I worry that they won’t be as high quality as the marble tiles I have at home. Also, they’re slightly more expensive than the all-marble tiles.

Obviously, I’m torn! And really, B does not care. He has given me full reign over this because he says he has a hard time visualizing what projects will look like completed and he trusts my judgment. My top two contenders right now are the very last tiles shown, with varied materials and sizes, and the greenish all-marble tiles.

If anyone managed to make it alllll the way through this monster of a post, I’d love thoughts and opinions!

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Why my husband is awesome, bad week ed.

I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon (again) with that whole “posting 3 times/week” new years resolution eh? Oh well, fall down 1000 times, get up 1001, right? I think I read that on a fortune cookie somewhere.

This week I have a decent(ish) excuse at least. Work sucked. I just had a really bad week. Which I won’t get into here because 1) bitching about your job in the internet gets you fired (see: dooce) and 2) you might die of boredom.

In addition to my really bad no good terrible week at work, I also had a bit of a traumatic experience last night. It involved cleaning out our fridge. I seriously debated including these photos, but since my mom doesn’t read my blog I guess I’ll go ahead and do it (she would scold me both for the situation, and also for showing the world, or um, like the 40 people subscribed to my blog, what a bad housekeeper I am).

The problem is… we suck at throwing things out. Which means every few months we find ourselves with a ridiculous pile of half-used jars of sauce and whatnot. And every few months my parents come to visit (like um, this saturday), and I realize my mom will scold me for my fridge being gross and then I decide to clean it. Promise not to judge me… but this is the pile of stuff that got thrown out:

And here is what was left in my fridge when I was done:

Yes. The sum total of the items in our fridge does amount to: water, Baileys, coke, sour cream, chip dip, jam, blueberries, chives, bacon, eggs, yogurt, assorted cheese, celery and lettuce. I am a bad wife in addition to a bad housekeeper. Moving on.

The problem is, I’m dumb. I know that my mom always dumps everything out down the disposal and rinses jars before throwing them away, but that seemed like kind of a lot of work and like it might make my kitchen smell. And since I knew the trash was going out last night anyways, I figured I’d just toss everything in as-is.

Dumb.

I hadn’t made it to the garage door before milk started leaking out the bottom of the trash bag. By the time I got it to the trash bin in our garage (dragging it, of course, because it was 4,000 pounds), I made it within about 3 feet and the bottom split wide open. Spilling all that lovely nastiness PLUS shattering a glass jar of caesar dressing. FML.

And in case you didn’t know this about me, I’m kind of a germaphobe. I won’t touch raw meat or even a trash can (B does all our trash-handling). I wash my hands every time I enter my house. So the idea of picking up all this gross slimly stuff from the floor (bc several things had opened) made me sick… and yet B would not be home for HOURS and I didn’t want everything leaking all over the garage. So I sucked it up, picked up everything as best as I could, then washed my hands five times, took the longest hot shower ever, and informed B I was never cleaning the refrigerator again.

Which brings me to why he’s awesome. Apparently I didn’t clean up the caesar dressing mess well enough bc this morning when he left for work, he just about got knocked over by the smell. But rather than getting annoyed at me (which I probably would’ve done) he got out a bucket and soap and mop and totally cleaned up the mess I’d left behind. In his work clothes. Without complaining.

And when he knew I had a really bad day at work today, he brought me home a strawberry milkshake (my fav). Oh, and he didn’t get home until 8:45… because he was volunteering as a blackjack dealer for a nursing home vegas night.

Seriously.

I’m not much for gushy but some days I’m so grateful I chose well. And because I have (and will continue to) share the goofy things he sometimes does– it is only fair I share the awesome too.

Honeymoon in Kauai Part 3 (the finale)

Part 2 here.

On our last full day on Kauai, we drove to the West Shore to see Waimea Canyon, “the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.” We had planned for this to be a full day trip because we knew that the drive to the Canyon could take a while. There is basically one main road that circles almost the entire island of Kauai, except for a short bit connecting the north and west shores. Which means to get from our hotel (on the north) to the canyon (west) we had to go all the way around the east and south parts of the island first. Normally we hate driving, but there are really worse ways to spend a morning than lazily driving through the amazing landscape of Kauai.

Once you get to the base of the canyon, there is a long, windy, and poorly paved road that will take you about an hour up to the crest (is that the right word?) of the canyon. Words cannot describe.



The best part was that because we had a small car, we could continue all the way up to the top look-out. (Note: If you go to Kauai– rent a SMALL car. The roads are really narrow and you can’t go on a lot of them if you are on a tour bus or in a bigger car).



So incredibly beautiful. We made our way back down through the canyon and began our drive back around the island. First, we stopped for some famous Hawaiian Shave Ice. I’d not heard of it before we got there, but it is everyyyywhere. It is kind of like a snow cone, except a hundred times better. The ice is super fine, and there are endless combinations of flavors. They also usually start each cup with a scoop of either vanilla or macadamia ice cream, and top the ice with flavored cream. B got something tropical (I think it was orange and strawberry on top of macadamia ice cream), mine was blueberry and raspberry on top of vanilla. So ridiculously good.

We then headed to Po’ipu on the South Shore. We went to Spouting Horn Beach Park and Po’ipu Beach Park.

The beaches on the South Shore were completely different than those on the North Shore. Way more crowded (probably because the water is a lot less choppy!) and commercialized. Lots of beach shops and places to walk around, whereas the resorts on the North Shore were much more isolated and self-contained. Both pretty awesome, but in very different ways.

On the way back to the hotel, we got to drive through the amazing Tree Tunnel. One of the most incredible things about Kauai is the variety of beauty. It isn’t just beaches, just mountains, just forests, it’s everything beautiful all in one place.

On our last morning, we woke up, checked out, and headed to Kalihiwai Beach. We’d actually found it the day we went horseback riding when we missed our turn and had to find somewhere to turn around. The really cool thing about this beach was that it was completely isolated both days we were there. There aren’t even any signs, we only knew its name because we looked it up on the map– and there was not a single soul there. It just seemed like the perfect place to say goodbye to Kauai’s beaches, all alone.

When we were done at the beach, we went to explore the East Shore (completing our goal of seeing all four sides of the island!). The East Shore is all about the waterfalls. ‘Opaeka’a Falls and Wailua Falls

After the falls, we still had a little time to kill before we had to return the car and get to the airport. We headed to a beach close to the airport, Kalapaki Beach, and got to watch a bunch of people…. paddle boarding? We never did figure out exactly what this was called.

And thus ended our amazing Hawaiian honeymoon. It was definitely unforgettable. Beautiful. Exciting. A little scary at times even… but better than I ever imagined.

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

I found another new recipe I love! Better yet, this one meets the qualifications of being vegetarian (we try to eat meat-free a few times per week) and mostly healthy.

I seriously apologize for the photo. Maybe my new years resolution should be to take more photos with my real camera and less with my iPhone. The original recipe is the creation of Honey and you can find it here. She also does really great step-by-step photos so head over there if you have any questions! I didn’t realize how much we would like this, so I didn’t think to take pictures as I made it. Oops!

I made a few changes to her recipe right off (less onion, less cheese, more cilantro), just because I knew our tastes. After our first-run with this (doubtlessly new in-the-rotation) meal I have a few more things I know I’ll change for next time. For example, B loved this (ate 4 pieces!) but thought there was still a bit too much onion and thought it was too “bean”-y. I decided that I’ll probably cut more onion, leave the black beans whole to make it seem less “bean”y, add more tomato (just because we like it), and I’ll add corn because everything good is better with corn, right?!

So without further ado, my slightly-tweaked version of Honey’s Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna:

    Ingredients

Multigrain tortillas- 6
Refried Beans with Green Chilies – 1 can
Black beans – 1 can
Taco seasoning – 2 tbspn
Onion – 1/2 diced
Tomatoes- 4
Corn – 1 cup
Jalapeño – 1 (seeded and diced)
Enchilada Sauce – 1 can (19 oz can)
Mexican Blend Cheese – 1-2 bags (I think Honey used about 2, I used 1 to make it healthier)
Fresh Cilantro – 1/2 bunch

    Directions

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

1. Finely chop 1/2 onion and 1 jalapeño pepper (seed it first!). Dice 4 tomatoes. Throw together in a bowl, and mix with 2 tbpsn taco seasoning.

2. Rinse black beans and add to tomato mixture. Add corn to tomato mixture. Cut 6 tortillas in half and set aside.

3. Spray a 9×13 pan. Pour just enough enchilada sauce in bottom of pan to lightly coat it. Layer 4 tortilla halves on bottom of pan.

4. Add 1/3 can of refried beans and spread on top of tortilla, then add 1/3 of the veggie mix, then drizzle enchilada sauce over the top. Top with 1/3 bag of cheese (or more, to your preference).

5. Repeat step 4 twice (so that you have 3 total layers).

6. After third layer, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top.

7. Put in oven for 25 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.

8. Chop cilantro, and sprinkle on top when it comes out of the oven. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

And that is it! It is SO good! The only tip I’d add is that if you don’t enjoy a little crunch in your onion, sauté them first. Because this is only in the oven 25 minutes, the onions get warm but not cooked through. We really liked that about it because it actually made it feel like there was pico mixed in, but if I were ever to make this for a group I would probably sauté them first because I know some people are iffy on crunchy onions.

Also– I think this is a great recipe to really get creative with. I’d never made a mexican lasagna before so it was totally new to me, but the possibilities seem endless. I could see maybe sautéing some peppers to throw in there, or really any veggie you enjoy. Plus you could try it with a different mexican sauce and completely change the whole dish. Yum!

On expectations and self-imposed deadlines…

I try not to bitch (too much) here.. but sometimes I just can’t help it.

I am unhappy with our vet. But I can’t decide if I’m unhappy ENOUGH to switch.

The thing is… I think she is a good vet. When we meet with her she is patient and kind. She definitely seems knowledgeable and caring. But she SUCKS about calling.

****And of course I JUST this second as I was typing that sentence got a call from her.****

But the fact that she has now called (yay!) does not eliminate the fact that she sucks about it. As I mentioned before, we had a really big scare with Milo when we got home from Christmas. He was in the hospital for 2 nights and he’s still being closely monitored and is on lots of meds with weekly blood work. And through all of this, there has been exactly one time when the doc called when she said she would!

The usual cycle goes something like this:

Her: I’ll call you this afternoon with the results of Milo’s blood work

Hours pass and as it reaches 6 or 7pm I finally give in and call the office for an update, I’m handed to a tech who tells me the vet will call “soon” and then an hour later I get a call. Finally.

Repeat x 10

The thing is, SHE keeps telling me when she will call. And then she keeps not calling when she says she will. Which makes me feel like she has simply forgotten about me/Milo and only calls after I call her office to check in. So far I think we have only 1 time that she called me without my having to call first to check in because she missed her self-imposed deadline. And it pisses me off. I shouldn’t have to feel like I’m trying to track her down all the time. If she’s going to be too busy to call in the afternoon, just SAY that I’ll call “today or tomorrow.” But giving me a guideline like that sets up an expectation which, when not met, leaves me bitterly blog-post-writing.

I just can’t decide if her clear lack of ability to make a freaking phone call when she says she will is reason enough to find a new vet. On one hand, I do really like her when we’re in an appointment and she saved my cat’s life (super bonus points). On the other hand, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be pleasant to her when she does (finally) call because I’m so annoyed that it took as long as it did.

Thoughts?

p.s. my next blog post will be the finale to my honeymoon recap and will be far less annoying than my whining in this post, promise!

2011, MOH ed.

Last year my awesome MOH/BFF decided to join me in doing the yearly superlative meme and it was so much fun to read her answers! This year she decided to do the same, so without further ado, here are her 2011 answers!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Went on a cruise (honeymoon)!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I think my resolution was to get our family finances in order since we combined everything at the start of 2011. If so, mostly a success, although it is a work in progress.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister (2/11), and two of my close friends (Alex and Julie).

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My great aunt (who was like a grandmother to me).

5. What countries did you visit?
Thanks to our honeymoon, we visited Italy, Greece, Monaco and Croatia.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
I saw my family a lot in 2011 (due to weddings and babies), but I’d love to see them even more this year. We are doing a family vacation beach week, so hopefully that will help.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
2/11 – Nephew was born!
2/26 – MOH in bff’s awesome wedding!
5/13 – Wedding
Memorial Day Weekend – left for honeymoon (best two weeks of my life).
8/1 – Had four closings in as many days. No bueno.
12/24 – Husband made first trip to my hometown.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Escaping my blackberry for two straight weeks! In all seriousness, I think planning our wedding and closing those four deals in four days.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Managing work stress.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In January, I slipped on the wet marble floor of my office building’s lobby and had to go to the ER. In December, I ran into the wall full speed swimming and had to go to the ER. I’m accident prone!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our honeymoon. It was way more than we had originally planned to spend, but it was the most awesome two weeks of my life, and it was SO NICE to be out of touch with my blackberry, iphone, computer, email, etc. for two full weeks!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Where didn’t it go? Wedding, honeymoon, mortgage refi were the biggies.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Wedding and honeymoon (I sound like a broken record) and getting to see my long-distance BFF 5 times (twice in Atlanta, twice in Columbus and once in Cleveland)!

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Keep Me Comin’ (my fantasy fooball team name) and You’re the Best Thing (from our wedding photo slideshow http://www.aleamoore.com/shellymark/).

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Undoubtedly happier.
– thinner or fatter? Exactly the same.
– richer or poorer? Touch question. Probably a little poorer due to wedding, honeymoon and mortgage refi. But we are DINKs now, so replenishing is going pretty quickly.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Seen my family.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stress about work.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
At my parents’ house in Cleveland!

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad (close runners up: College Gameday, Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, SVU)

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I hate to admit it, but all the Emily Griffin books. If I had to pick one, I’d pick Heart of the Matter or Love the One You’re With.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Linkin’ Park, KISS and RHCP

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
X-men First Class and The Help.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
27 – Don’t remember what I did at all, since I’ve never been a big birthday celebrator. We always go to Vegas to celebrate our birthdays (which are a day apart), but this year we took the trip a month early.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More even workflow.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Classic conservative with a splash of southern and a splash of trendy.

26. What kept you sane?
Mark, BFF (daily chats as well as immeasurable help with my wedding planning) and MIL’s help with wedding plans. Also the fact that no one outside of me and my husband had an opinion on what we should do about our wedding plans:).

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you, but rather a projection of their own reality.

2011 Recap

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Got married!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t think I made any last year, I was in a bit of pre-wedding madness around the holidays I think. I already talked about my resolutions for next year, which are basically to eat more veggies, work out more, and post here three times per week.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, *knock on wood*

5. What countries did you visit?
None! My passport expired before I got married and I wanted to wait until after I changed my name to renew it. But then I didn’t. I should get on that. (But we did go to Hawaii, Vegas, and Atlanta x 2)

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Some idea of what I want to be when I grow up.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Feb 26- got married!
March 11- tsunami hit our honeymoon
May 13- my bestie got married on Friday the 13th (how cool is that)
August 26- celebrated 6 months with B in Vegas

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The amount of time it took me to think of something here probably means I should add “achieving something” to my new years resolution list…

I’ll say keeping our house pretty clean and being less lazy than usual about doing “the little stuff” like keeping things picked up, laundry, and cleaning closets, etc.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Falling off of/staying off of the healthy eating/exercise wagon

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Got the worst flu ever in May, but otherwise I’ve been lucky.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our wedding! For all the worry about the cost of it, it was really completely worth it.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Wedding and honeymoon. Runner up was house stuff and student loans.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Hawaii! Also having a lot of “chill” time with B.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Anything Adele. Also anything from our wedding playlist.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? Fatter (regrettably)
– richer or poorer? Richer (marginally and fleetingly if B goes back to school for his MBA!)

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

work out. consider alternative careers.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

sleep in.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
At my parents’ house.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Oh man, B and I watched some great tv this year. True Blood, Dexter, Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy… so good.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
The Hunger Games series and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Our wedding playlists.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Hmm… we don’t really go to the movies all that much. I really enjoyed Paranormal Activity 3 and Scream 4. Also Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 27. It was a week day and I didn’t feel like going out so we just ordered in Jimmy Johns and watched Sons of Anarchy on blu ray. The next weekend we went to see Paranormal Activity 3 and went to my fav local restaurant of late (Molly Woos).

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t know… my year was pretty satisfying as it was.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Yoga pants-tastic? I don’t know. I work from home. I wear real pants like twice/week and makeup like once/week. I have no fashion concept.

26. What kept you sane?
B. And gchat. And my pets. It takes a lot to keep me sane.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Sometimes things DO live up to the hype.