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Yes, my husband is officially back from 44 long days in Germany! I cannot put into words how good it is to have him back. And to top it all off, he brought me a German Football Club jersey. If that’s not the best gift ever, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of which, we’re about to go get ready to watch Germany beat Uruguay for 3rd Place in the World Cup. But before we do, I want to share a few photos of our “new” living room. I couldn’t post these until Peter got back, because it was a surprise for him.

My new and super talented friend, Eliza, sold me a few pieces of wonderful furniture for my living room. Peter and I have had a black leather couch for a while, and I’ve been wanting to find another piece or two to match it. Well… when I saw this chair, I couldn’t wait to get it in my living room.

It’s sooo comfortable and so ME. I can’t wait to find a little ottoman to go with it.

Eliza also had this incredible 1960′s vintage couch. Isn’t it spectacular??

It folds out into a bed… and it’s pretty much the heaviest couch I’ve ever moved. Shout out to my parents for helping me get it to my house and into my living room.

Last but not least, Eliza had this coffee table. I’ve been looking for one for a while because the one that’s been in our house for the past couple of years has just been on loan from Peter’s brother and our sister-in-law. I LOVED the long, thin shape of this one and the floral detailing on the sides, but I’m just not a fan of how the color of the wood looked in my living room:

See? It just didn’t look right.

Solution? I sanded it, sprayed it with a primer, and then sprayed it this fun glossy blue color:

I think it definitely looks at home in front of our old couch and beneath my old table runner. When old meets new, magic happens.

Now if I could only trade our carpet for some wood floors….

When Aimee Grover posted some DIY fabric embroidery hoops on her blog, I wanted some for my living room immediately. They’re so easy to make and inexpensive. When it comes to home decor, I love cheap. I love versatile. I love fabric hoops.

When Peter and I bought our house a couple of summers ago, we bought this modern five-panel painting from local artist Robert R. I love the painting, but I’ve been ready for something different. I just enjoy changing things around as often as possible; I usually reorganize the mantel above my fireplace every few months with different frames, photos and/or thrifted trinkets.

So I went to a local fabric store and bought some fun fabric and several wooden embroidery hoops in all different sizes. I followed Aimee’s easy how-to guide and then hung the rings on the wall above my couch with a bunch of old frames that I thrifted from Savers.

The result?

The cost of the rings and fabric was about 30 bucks, and I bought the frames at Saver’s for a dollar or two each. Not bad for such versatile decor! My favorite part is that when I get tired of the current fabric, I can easily swap it out for a new color or pattern.

Close-ups:

You can see I really, really like things that don’t match.

The big picture:

I’m really happy with the way it turned out. These are also a fun and personal gift you can make for someone. I made a set of three for my sister’s graduation gift to take with her to Phoenix when she moves next week. (Photos of those are on the Macbook in Germany so they will not be seen for another few weeks.)

Here are a couple more things in our living room that Peter and/or I’ve recently changed…

This little table belonged to my grandparents and was kept in their storage shed. I was planning on using it on our back porch, but Peter brought it inside and we loved the way it filled in this awkward gap next to our dog’s crate. It’s also a perfect out-of-the-way place to burn candles, which I pretty much do on a daily basis.

I gave our mantle a face lift a couple of weekends ago. I framed two of our engagement photos that my incredibly talented friend, Lissa Anglin, took of us at a county fair in West Texas. Then I added a few little vintage cups that my aunt gave me along with an old book and mirror I got at Savers. It’s fun to change things up a bit, especially when it only costs a few dollars.

Close-ups:

The vase was part of a centerpiece at a friend’s wedding that guests were able to take home, and the sticks were from my backyard. Yay free!

This book looks identical to the one Marshall is looking for in the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted throws three parties in hopes of Robin coming. I just discovered this last weekend and got very excited.

The candle holder was also thrifted from Savers. Embrace other people’s junk. guys. It’s a beautiful and inexpensive activity.

Well that’s all for now. I’m six days away from the beach in Mexico and exactly three weeks away from picking up Peter at the airport.

Things are definitely starting to look up…

I was at a party earlier this year, and my friend made this stuff he called Cowboy Caviar. I wanted to eat the whole bowl. It was a light and chunky mixture of all things good in this world, perfect for snacking on with some tortilla chips or even just a fork.

I made him give me the recipe immediately. And since I’ve made it, I’ve also been asked for the recipe multiple times.

So please make this soon–maybe for Father’s Day (which I plan to do). You won’t regret it. It’s such a perfect and delicious summer snack. Whether you eat it with some chips or all by itself, I know you’ll love it. If you don’t, we probably can’t be friends anymore.

Ladies and gentlemen. may I present a life-changing recipe.

Cowboy Caviar

  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2  to 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I use habenero because I’m hardcore)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8  teaspoon pepper
  • 1  firm-ripe avocado (about 10 oz.)
  • 1  can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas
  • 1  can (11 oz.) corn kernels
  • 2/3  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 2/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2  pound  Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • Salt

For the “dressing” mix together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, hot sauce, minced garlic, and salt & pepper.

SIDEBAR: I actually add the salt at the very end of the recipe so that I can better gauge how much I need.

Chop up the avocados and add them to the dressing mixture.

Rinse the cans of corn and peas and add to the bowl.

SIDEBAR: I’ve also used frozen corn and peas, which work great. Just make sure you allow time for them to cool completely after you cook them.

OTHER SIDEBAR: I’ve also used black beans instead of black-eyed peas. Delicious, but I do prefer the peas.

Mix gently so you don’t smash those beautiful bits of avocado.

Add the green onions…

Chop up and add the cilantro. Oh, cilantro. I love you. More than cinnamon… more than sunscreen. To me, you are the greatest smell of all.

SIDEBAR: I used to individually tear off the cilantro leaves and then chop them, which took a ridiculous amount of time. Then my friend, Monique (who is a wonderful Mexican food cook that taught me how to make mole) told me to just roll up the bunch of cilantro and chop–stems and all. I love Monique. She probably gave me back a week of my life that I would’ve spent tearing leaves off of stems.

Chop up and add the tomatoes.

Gently stir it all up and add any extra salt or hot sauce or whatever until the flavor is just right.

Then eat it all. Ta-Da!

I can’t wait to make more of this on Sunday. Mmm.. cilantro…

Speaking of cilantro, Peter is HALFWAY through his trip to Germany! In three weeks and one day I can be normal again and abandon my sad, lonely lifestyle. But for now, I finished my homework and have been doing laundry like a good girl, so I get to wallow with a couple of episodes of FNL and a bowl of Cheerios.

Goodbye, Ross. Forever… (please know what that’s from.)

Welcome, Summer.

The first day of summer is next Monday, June 21st. Even though here in AZ it has already felt like summer for many weeks, there’s still something fun about it officially being summer.

I’d take 100 degrees over snow and ice any day, so in honor of my favorite time of year, may I present…

MY FAVORITE SUMMER STUFF

1) Sunscreen!

I just love love love sunscreen simply for that beachy coconut-y smell (oh, and all of those sun-protecting benefits of course). I could swim in it and pour it on my Cheerios and wash my hair with it. Yes, it’s that good to me. SPF4 or SPF 40… I love it as long it screens the sun and smells like summer.

2) Summer Vay-Cay!

I’m a big fan of the beach. Normally I get to spend a week each summer in California with the high school youth group at our church, but I didn’t have enough vacation time at work this year to be able to go. I’m devastated. My heart will be repaired next weekend, though. I will be spending four days in a house on the beach in Mexico with some of my closest friends. (The above photo was taken from the house.)

I can’t wait for this trip.

3) WORLD CUP 2010!!

This doesn’t occur every summer… but so far summer 2010 has been all about watching the World Cup for me. I played soccer my whole life and love it more than any other sport in the world. One of my life goals is to go to a World Cup game someday. In the meantime, I have a schedule hanging up at my desk and I’m streaming the games on my computer at work (God bless ESPN3.com). As per tradition, I cheer for Team USA until they’re out (hey, I’m a realist) and then Germany gets my full support.

4) Iced Coffee!

Most people who work for Starbucks at some point in their lives become coffee snobs. I am one of those people. I don’t want your Folgers. I don’t want your sugar or your cream tainting my coffee. Give it to me strong and black, please. And in the summer, I looove it poured over ice. Sometimes I go a little crazy and get an iced latte or even an iced chai or iced tea… but there’s something so calm and refreshing about plain ol’ iced coffee.

5) Monsoon season!

Tucson is not known for rainfall, but every summer the monsoon season rolls in with its dark clouds, thunder and lightning, and massive amounts of rain. I love it. Playing in the monsoons with my sister is one of my favorite childhood memories… and the smell of dessert rain is better than most things on this earth.

5) Otter Pops!

Last Saturday I had a few Otter Pops during the USA vs England game and they were perfect. I used to spend my summers eating dozens of these things, and I think I’m going to have to buy a big box of them immediately.

Hope everyone has a wonderful last week of spring. I’m off to watch Brazil beat Korea while I get some “work” done. It’ll be nice to watch a game that doesn’t end in a tie.

I really wish I had more exciting news to report, but alas, I’m still wallowing. Hopefully I’ll feel like starting some of my projects soon, specifically cleaning out our garage and planting some flowers.

My Weekend of Wallowing began Friday night when my friend, Emily, spent the night and we ate like kings. We started off with spinach and strawberry salad with toasted almonds and raspberry vinaigrette. Next was this very rich and creamy pasta from The Pioneer Woman. For dessert, we had chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas and angel food cake cubes for dipping. I should be gaining many pounds in the midst of my wallowing, but I’ve actually lost a few since Peter left. Apparently sadness conquers fat. I think I’ll start a new diet fad.

On Saturday I watched the USA vs ENG World Cup game and was grateful for the tie. Then I spent the evening assisting Travis Williams at a wedding. I don’t know how photographers do it. I feel exhausted at the end of the night and all I do is carry equipment and hold flashes and fix dresses. They must have ridiculous amounts of energy to survive days like that over and over again. I had planned on wallowing when I got home from the wedding, but I got as far as watching the first 30 minutes of An Education before I fell asleep on the couch. I randomly woke up at 4am and finished watching it, though. Even in wallowing, I’m making sure to see through what I start.

Sunday morning was spent at church with my mom. Then I went home and did yard work in the 90-degree weather, which was a pleasant change from the 108-degree weather we had a week or two ago. The yard work also made me feel like I did something productive around my house this weekend.

Afterwards I went to my parents’ house where my mom, sister and I had a girls night in. Mom barbecued some chicken breasts and we watched Sense & Sensibility. I had never seen it before. (I know. I’m sorry.)

I cried the whole way back to my house because I miss my husband more than words can say, so I decided to enjoy a glass of wine, a bowl of fresh raspberries, and the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice.

Wallowing is my life and it is kind of sad. But that’s alright. I’m almost to the halfway point of Peter’s absence, so maybe once we start heading downhill, I’ll feel better and have the motivation to do more exciting and productive things with my time.

In the meantime, bring on the treats and the Jane Austen.

Wallowing

I haven’t watched much Gilmore Girls in my time, but I remember an episode where Rory breaks up with a boy and then acts like she’s fine but eventually realizes she’s not fine so Lorelai introduces Rory to the idea of “wallowing” to comfort her. (My friend, Tosha, is the biggest Gilmore’s Girls fan I’ve ever seen, so even if she’s the only one who knows what I’m talking about, that is enough for me. Because I know she will get it.)

I have recently entered the wallowing stage…

“Wallow” has two definitions on the dictionary.com application on my blackberry. The first is “to roll around, as in mud” and this is not the definition to which I am referring. The definition of my form of wallowing is the second one: “to indulge oneself.”

The first two weeks of Peter’s absence weren’t too bad (mainly because the first week consisted of the aforementioned Tosha visiting me from Texas). But now I’m missing him very much and can’t imagine another month without him.

So yesterday when I got home from work, I watched the five hour-long 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice in my underwear with a margarita in hand.

I cried through the whole thing and had a bowl of cereal for dinner. It was a beautiful sight. I had no motivation

to empty my dishwasher

or vacuum

or work on summer school homework

or cook

or water the foliage in my yard

or do laundry

or update my blog with the three entires waiting in limbo. I indulged in my couch and my TV and Jane Austen for five hours, feeling sorry for myself and basking in my tears and loneliness.

I’m pretty sure I just needed that one day of wallowing and that I’ll return to normalcy and productivitiy this afternoon.

I’ll let you know.

P.S. Don’t judge me. You would do the same. And at least it wasn’t Sleepless in Seattle. I’m not that cliche.

P.P.S. Thanks for letting me borrow your DVD, Kelly.

Busy Bee

My apologies for my lack of presence here during the last few weeks. I know there’s probably several thousand people out there who have missed my awkward crafts and inaccurate recipe posts.

Life has been busy. After work I have been spending my evenings doing homework for my summer school class, and there hasn’t been much free time outside of that. I’m hoping to get a post or two in this weekend between the end of my first summer school class and the beginning of my next one.

Stay tuned for:

  • What I did to my living room wall

and 

  • The recipe for the perfect summer appetizer-slash-side dish.

Don’t give up on me…

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