Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back-to-School Shopping

There is a lot to love about working in education: I love working with my high school kids. I love working with my colleagues. I love being a school psychologist. I love summer break. I love spring break. I love winter break. I also love back-to-school shopping. I know it's still July, and I certainly am not wishing away my summer, but I am loving the fall previews from soon-to-be-released lines. Crisp colors, fun stripes,and  polka dots, oh my!

1. Dooney & Bourke Blair Bag
2. J. Crew Factory Popover Blouse
3. Gap Herringbone Loafers
4. J. Crew City Mini
5. J. Crew Matchstick Cord
6. Gap Cherry Print Dress
7. Gap Suede Loafers
8. J. Crew Factory Popover Blouse-Striped
9. J. Crew Factory V-Neck
10. Gap Western Shirt

What are you loving for fall?

Monday, July 23, 2012

House Tour: Balcony

Maybe the balcony isn't so much "House Tour" as it is an item from the Summer Wish List. Our balcony, hidden by orange-striped curtains, was a mess. I had flower pots that only contained dirt, I had flower pots with a few weeds, and I had flower pots with cracked mason jars inside. Our table had no umbrella. The balcony was just not a welcoming area.

I really wanted to buy an umbrella, but Brad asked me to hold off until I got rid of the old flower pots and cleaned it up a little. I'm a fan of the Premack principle, so I agreed. However, I was at Ikea with my mom and sister when an umbrella was found. We were near the checkouts when my sister spotted the bin of $10 umbrellas. Yes, you read that right--$10. I was originally looking for a neutral, tan umbrella, but couldn't pass up a savings of $50-$60 over other umbrellas. I took home a striped umbrella that doesn't match anything. :) Our base, which isn't pictured, came from Target.

Once I got home, I immediately started in on the cleaning portion and was pleased with how quickly it went. I'm sure it's against the rules, but I dumped old dirt off the side of my balcony.  Whoops. I threw away the mason jar pieces and, once cleaned, the old pots went into storage. That left us with three actively growing plants. One, not pictured, sits in the far right corner where we get the most shade. One is attached to the balcony rail and the last is sitting on a little table. You can see in the above picture that my terrariums were also hanging out on the balcony soaking up some sunshine. 

I love that an easy twenty minutes or so was all that stood between me and a balcony I wanted to hang out on. I have been enjoying my breakfast outside on most days and, when the weather isn't unbearable, Brad and I have our lunch or dinner outside, too. The fit is a little tight, but we do have a fourth chair for the balcony that we can bring out if needed. For the future, I'd love to have more plants, but I have to do some research about what to grow, I think. I don't have a very green thumb.

Do you live in an apartment? What does your balcony look like? What do you grow?

Friday, July 20, 2012


Brad and I have been trying to get pregnant since the beginning of the year. Instead of this being a post about how happy we are about an upcoming arrival, I am writing to let you know that we are feeling anything but happy right now. However, I feel like we are supposed to share this journey, so please bear with me.

 After six months of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, my doctor asked us to go through some routine testing. I simply had to have my blood drawn on day 21 of my (irregular) cycle while Brad had to undergo a semen analysis. My results came back first and my doctor informed me that my progesterone levels were so low that he didn't believe that I was ovulating. He recommended Clomid, but wanted to have Brad's results before we moved forward. We were disheartened by this, but not too badly. My sister had been through the same sort of thing and now has two beautiful girls. I half expected that I might need a little extra help. Brad's results came around a week later. I was putting away dishes when he came to me and said that the doctor called. The sadness filling his eyes told me a lot, but I needed to know what the doctor said. We were both crying as he told me that there were no sperm in his sample. The doctor also noted that he couldn't feel the tubes designed to carry sperm. He recommended that Brad make an appointment with a specialist.

 Brad and I have a lot of questions about what will happen. We are sad, distraught, angry, and hopeful. As we cried over the news, we both talked about the unfairness of the situation and how much we wanted to be parents. I cried over the possibility of never being pregnant. Brad cried over feelings of blame. We've been a wreck all week, really. We talked about adopting, which is something we've talked about before. We never thought adoption might be our only option, though, and that is a hard pill to swallow. We started talking about options we know are out there (sperm bank, in vitro fertilization, etc.) and what lines we might not want to cross. We talked to our parents and siblings. We talked and prayed with our pastors. Limbo is the worst spot to be in. Brad and I are trying really hard to hold off on discussing options until we know what the options really are.

 I want to type more about how this feels, but I don't know how. Also, it just hurts. It hurts when people have been telling us for six months to do it on such-and-such days or assume that they got pregnant first try and we would, too. It hurts when we're asked when we'll be having kids. It hurts to see friends and family share their pregnant news or photos of their babies. It doesn't mean that we're angry with those who ask about expanding our little family. We know they mean well. It also doesn't mean that we're not happy for those expecting babies or cuddling their new babies. We love babies and are so happy for the joy they bring. We are just in a state of questioning. I no longer assume I'll be pregnant, but I do believe that Brad and I will have kids one day. If you have a story of your own to share, please do. Brad and I figure that we're not alone in this, but we've never heard of a story quite like ours. Please feel free to comment or to email me at melaniemcb at gmail dot com.

 P.S. If you are family/close friend and are learning about this through the blog, please understand that it is very hard to rehash again and again. We love you and wanted you to know what we're going through, but it is so hard to talk about over and over. Thank you for understanding.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

House Tour: Dining Room

Welcome to the dining room! As you may recall, this area opens up into the living room.  Maybe one day I'll make up a floor plan in Paint or something for you. Anyway, how about more pictures less talking?

This is the view as you enter from the hallway or as you turn around on the couch. Our table usually isn't pushed against the wall, but is helpful when vacuuming. We have two additional chairs--wooden and fold-up-- that we break out for company. Buying a new table and chairs is on my wish list, but I have expensive taste and I think we'll be waiting awhile.  Ugh.

Here's a closer look at our artwork. All except the right-most poster were purchased from Powerhouse Factories, a local company. The poster on the right is from a CD release party for our friend's band.

This little guy was printed by an art teacher within my district. It hangs to the left of the kitchen entry. This was one of the first songs that my niece, Macey, learned to sing and I still hear her little voice when I see the print.

The green shelf (sorry about the quality of the photo) is from Brad's sister. We use it to house cookbooks, bobble heads, serving dishes, and larger items like the crockpot.

Here are some of my favorite serving dishes. The tiny birds are actually salt and pepper shakers.

Our cake topper has been snuck in here for safe keeping, too.

Brad's DeLorean and Reds bobblehead collection have a shelf all to themselves.

I'll try and get some pictures of the kitchen soon, but it's really nothing to write home about.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pinteresting--DIY Drink Coasters

Do you have a board of crafts or DIY projects on your Pinterest account? How many of those have you actually attempted?  I definitely haven't tried enough of what I've got pinned, so my friend Ellen and I got together Friday afternoon to reminisce about her recent wedding (yay, professional pictures!) and tackle a small project.

We made drink coasters. Yes, it is as ridiculously easy as it sounds. The pin (which links to a now-defunct blog) said that we just needed the sixteen-cent tiles from Lowe's, 4x4 squares of scrapbook paper, and Modge Podge. You can also get some felt circles for the bottoms of your coasters.  We gathered all of our supplies for around $8-$9. We had to buy tiles, felt circles, and Modge Podge.

Once we got back to Ellen's, we cut out our 4x4 squares of paper. We put down an initial coat of Modge Podge on the tile, stuck the paper on, and then put down two coats of Modge Podge on top (with some drying time). Like I said, easiest project ever. We were so thrilled with the results that we are trying to carve out another day to make more.  :)

 Ellen preparing to cut out her squares.

 Lining the square on my tile.

Plain bisque tile transforms into super-cute coaster.

My collection of coasters.

Ellen's collection of coasters.

Friday, July 13, 2012

House Tour: Living Room

I figure it's about time I posted some images of our apartment, especially since so much of it is looking pretty good. Also, I went on a cleaning rampage recently and felt the need to take pictures in case it's not that clean again for awhile.  Honesty, right?

Anyway, here's the living room. If you remember, we enlisted the help of our friend, Emily, to help us design the space incorporate elements that Brad and I both love. Please click over to her blog and see the amazing things she does to her own home.

When entering our apartment, you walk in the front door and turn left. From there you have the dining room/kitchen area to the left and the living room to the right. It's a pretty big space and we're usually amazed at how many people we can squeeze in there.

This is the view as soon as you face the living room. I feel like the back wall still needs something else, but I'm not sure what. Brad and I have debated getting another set of the round mirrors ($25 from Target) to help elongate, but we're not sure.  Thoughts?

 Here's another view of the living room. That hallway off to the right takes you to the front door and bedrooms. This view is also a shameless plug regarding my lovingly-constructed gallery wall. We're still waiting on two photos to be printed (hence the post-its that I'm sure only I notice), but here it is.  I talked about it before, but this wall contains images from our engagement shoot and wedding. The tree was our guest book and the circular cross-stitch was our ring pillow.

Again, another view of the living room. That little orange table is from Crate and Barrel (sadly, it's no longer available). I love the pops of orange in our space and Brad loves all the neutrals. Also, I have permanently claimed the corner-spot of our sectional and it. is. fabulous. Seriously. How was I ever comfortable before?

It sounds so weird to say, but I love this little lamp. You can click here to see it in its original state, but it was just a $3 brown lamp from Goodwill when we started this journey. A little bit of sanding and some spray paint and we were in business. The tree wedge is a gift from Brad's parents to commemorate our wedding day. 

We've been moving counter-clockwise around the living room and have now reached the reading nook. It's pretty sad looking out-of-context, but I do enjoy this corner. The print is a series of Picasso sketches from Ikea, but I don't think it's available anymore. Also featured is the Poang chair and footrest from Ikea. We have a couple of "couch blankets" stacked on top of the footrest and a basket underneath for storing magazines and crochet projects.

Finally, we reach the curtains. These beasts, comprised of six panels of Ikea curtains, are hung to cover our patio doors. They were hand-painted over Christmas and I will never undertake this project again. First, we used the green painter's tape to mark off the to-be-orange areas. The green tape is fantastic and I continue to talk about it amazing abilities to this day. After marking off the areas, we mixed fabric medium in with orange acrylic paint from Michael's and commenced painting. We just did one coat and let it dry.  Then, I tried ironing to "set" the paint, but that got boring really quickly and I decided to take a chance and wash them. Big mistake. After one time through the washer, I had dark orange and light orange striped curtains. After a few choice words and tears, I hauled the curtains (six wet panels at least six-feet-long each) to the laundromat near my mom's. She had quarters. We ran the curtains through the wash two more times before we were happy with the outcome and then dried those suckers on high to fully set the remaining paint. Sure, Brad and I got an orange spot here or there and if you get really close you can see some spots where the orange bled into the white, but they look fantastic hanging in the living room. When it's dark, the stripes look completely solid. When they're back-lit, the stripes take on the distressed vibe you see in the above picture. It is more evenly distressed, though, when you see it in person.

So, that's it. That's our gorgeous living room.