Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apartment Woes

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I feel I must apologize for not doing any Fall or Halloween crafts this season... it's just that with this move coming on, I don't have the time or money to rationalize spending on something seasonal that I don't really need right now. Believe me, it's killed me to not buy a pumpkin this year. I get so excited every Fall when I see the stores start to roll out the pumpkins and it's been so hard to resist buying one. I almost, ALMOST cracked and bought a craft pumpkin, rationalizing that I could use it next year because it's not going to rot... But alas, I couldn't pull the trigger. 

And I'll also apologize in advance that the posts in November and December are going to be cah-razy sporadic. I'm going to try and schedule them to go up ahead of time so we'll see how it goes. I count on at least maintaining three posts a week if I can schedule them. 

I feel extra-anxious because yesterday we told the rental office that we'd be out in 30 days or so. They didn't like the "or so" but they wanted it set in stone that we'd be out the 30th... (as if there are millions of people clamoring to move into this hole). I was feeling defiant at the office lady's insistence and said coldly, "Fine, we'll be out the 30th." Probably just shot myself in the foot because Russ' last day of school IS the 30th. So... yikes. The 30th is when we'll have our move out inspection at noon and then Russ will have to leave the cats and me at a hotel and rush over for his graduation ceremony (or maybe I'll be able to come?).

But yeah... freaking out.

And you know what's weird? On Friday of this week we have a "Pre-Move Out Inspection." Uh, what? Our last place, which was infinitely nicer than this one didn't make us do that so I don't even know why it's required. It kind of makes me annoyed. It feels like we haven't even packed a box yet and the next renter is elbowing her way in to measure for curtains. Or... we're still eating at a restaurant and the server comes over and says we need to scoot over for the next customers. 

We also received this paper for "Resident Move Out Instructions." The joke is that when we moved in, the place was filthy.

The stove was dirty and also didn't work.
The lint trap in the washer was dirty and filled with foul-smelling lavender lint. Awful.
The a/c was busted on our first day of living here.
There have been a consistent amount of nails that we find hidden in the carpet (yet they were supposedly "professionally cleaned" before we moved in.
The outlet in the living room was missing a cover, exposing wires. 
The tub was dirty. 
The blinds were dirty. 
The butcher block counter would have been cleaner had I used to surface to prepare mud pies. 

I'm sure there's other things I'm forgetting as well. 

One thing on the instruction sheet that makes me want to giggle is, "Please do not attempt to patch the nail holes unless you are a professional plasterer. A poor patch will result in a higher charge than a normal hole repair."

Strange, considering these "professional plasterers" they employ leave their patch jobs worse than they stumbled upon. And since our rental agreement states that over three nail holes in the wall is considered excessive, I'm totally going to patch those beasts. 

That being said. I can't wait to be out of Virginia and out of these apartments. 

No more bad parking jobs by neighbors. 
No more overhearing arguments outside my window. 
No more creepy homeless men hanging out behind the church near our windows. 
No more dumpster fires.
No more door dings.
No more balloons hung by the office to advertise the apartments getting caught on the car as we leave...

It'll be nice. 

Sorry if I sound all complain-y but I guess I'm just anxious and I need to vent. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pinterest Challenge: DIY Quote Wall Art

Two of my absolute favorite home blogs, Young House Love and Bower Power, are hosting a Pinterest Challenge today! I love when they do Pinterest Challenges because it really encourages all their readers to stop pinning and start doing. Though... I usually don't need that extra push but I love the opportunity to see what other people are busy creating.

My project was really cheap and really simple. I found it pinned from a blog called A Beautiful Mess. She took adhesive letters and adhered them onto an old paint-by-numbers canvas, painted over the canvas and peeled the letters off.

My first order of business was to find a piece of thrift store art that would be perfect for painting over. And then, I saw this cheap picture that cost me a whopping $5.24.

I found the Helvetica word stickers at Michael's for $5.99 a pack AND they didn't have all the letters I'd need in one pack so I would have had spend $12 for all my letters! I'm a cheapskate and I'd rather spend my time than money so... I decided to make my own letter stencils out of cardstock and printed letters.

I toyed around with the idea of just painting the quote over the painting, like Young House Love did here. But... I didn't care for the border of the picture.

So, I made up my mind that I would print out the letters, trace them and then carefully paint around them. I just played around with the font sizes until I found the size that would fit my artwork the best.

I tediously cut out the letters...

Spaced them out on my art...

And carefully traced.

I then just took some acrylic white paint and painted around the letters. I didn't want it to be completely white though. The original inspiration picture had some peeks of the original artwork showing through and I wanted that look too.

It's hard to photograph but it really turned out well!

I was going to wrap the white around the edges but I loved the contrast of the dark edge so I gave it a fresh coat of brown paint.

I'm so glad I finally got to use this quote/lyric somewhere in my home. Ever since I heard it, I thought it was a perfect saying for our family and other military families as well. Because... it's definitely true. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pinterest Recipe: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Hurricane Sandy is raging outside and we're doing good so far. There's some minor flooding in the parking lot behind our apartment and while I was out earlier mailing our rental application overnight for a house in Washington (yay!), there weren't that many people out on the road. There was some flooding, but not seriously bad. Just enough to coat the lanes closest to the sidewalk. 

It's not up to the car tire (which happened during Hurricane Irene last year... yes, that car is always parked there). And even now, the water has receded even further which is odd because it's raining and blowing more today than it was yesterday. Strange. 

Either way, I'll be glad when this hurricane is gone. I feel like a prisoner in my own apartment with the howling wind outside!

So... this storm kinda screws up any plans I had of getting over to the Virginia Beach pumpkin patch. :( Oh well. There will be other pumpkin patches, right?

At least I've got another pumpkin cookie recipe as a pumpkin patch stand-in. 

1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
6 tbsp canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice and cinnamon. In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, followed by the pumpkin and vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the pecans.

Drop 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.

Cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To everyone in the path of Sandy: stay warm and bake some cookies and good luck riding out the storm! Hope everyone stays safe. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Muggy Thoughts

I'm usually against collections. I guess it's the clutter that freaks me out or perhaps "Hoarders" has done me in against collections ever since their many featured hoarding cases call their messes "collections." 

But, before I really noticed it I acquired a collection of coffee mugs. I love coffee and I guess that's why I think it's really fun to pick up a mug every once and a while... but I've got to stop before it gets out of control!

Anyways, today I'm going to share my little mug collection!

Now the first set is really "Russ' mugs." The Doctor Who Van Gogh one is mine, however, and I love it! When Russ drinks creamer with a spot of coffee coffee, he sports one of these comic book/video game mugs.

Now I've got the Merlotte's mug (from True Blood), a Jane Austen mug, a red and purple Target mug (because I thought the shape of them was cute), and my little 'LOVE' mug. 

I got this mug while I was on my High School Senior trip to Disneyland. It was a great trip! We got to leave school at lunchtime, sit with our friends on the bus ride up there, share snacks and laughs, and from 6pm-6am, we, along with Seniors from other schools, had the run of the park. It was amazing! I don't remember the trip home, however, because everyone passed out. It was a super fun trip and I bought this $12 mug to remember it. I thought it would be something I used more than like a keychain or a shirt. I thought the illustration on it was interesting.

It's actually too big to be used as a coffee mug but it works great as an ice cream bowl!

I got the spotted Navy mug in Waukegan, Illinois on the Great Lakes Naval Base when I went up there in December 2009 for Russ' boot camp graduation. 

The plastic Navy mug brings back memories...

Russ got some goodies from the recruiter when he enlisted and he gave me this mug. I only drank out of this coffee mug for the entire two months that he was away. Sometimes I even used it when I was writing my nightly letter to him (I wanted to make sure he got a letter every day). Is it weird that a mug brings back memories? Because... this one totally does. That was a rough two months. If it hadn't been for me discovering from Netflix how awesome "The Office" was, I don't know how I would have made it. 

My Norfolk mug I bought while I was visiting the Nauticus and Naval History Museum with my two friends from out of town. Such a fun day and now I'll have a little piece from Norfolk to take with me when I leave. 

And just a side note: I hate living in a swing state! I'm being driven insane by election ads!! Anyone else suffering with me? (No joke, there's been four in a row right as I type this...)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Out and About Browsing!

Want to come shopping with me? Well... technically browsing since I'm saving my pennies for our move in a couple weeks (which is between 36-43 days, gotta love the military and their wacky and incoherent timeframes). 

But, if everything goes smoothly with this move and we end up saving as much as I hope we will there will be lots and lots of shopping posts!

Oh, remember when I said the housing situation was finally figured out? Yeah, well everything has been tossed back up into the air! Oh well, I'm sure everything will work out fine and I'm totally excited to decorate a new place, wherever that place may be. (Especially when the Young House Love book is coming out in November!)

Anyways, I feel bad that this post has taken so long to come up because some of these pretty things at Target have already hit the clearance rack! 

Here's some cute stuff I've seen popping up there recently:

Look at this sweet, little rooster. He perfectly matches my cow creamer dish I bought!

This cute candelabra was $14.99 but I recently saw it marked down to $7.48... I really like it but didn't want to spend the money. 

These brightly colored box lids would be totally easy to DIY and would definitely cost less than $15.

There were lots of equestrian-themed decor items for Fall (there were shadowboxes with ribbons in them also) and I'm kinda digging it. 

This box is totally DIY-able too! I might have to file this away for later...

I'm keeping my eyes peeled for some new bedding because we'll definitely be needing it. Oh, and I'm kinda picky (and so is Russ...) so it might take a while! But, I thought this was kinda cute.

Ahh and these cake stands were so adorable that if they had cheeks, I would have pinched them! (But that would have been weird... a cake stand with cheeks would be actually very terrifying.) 

They came in an assortment of colors: yellow, blue, red, and grey. So, so cute. 

Now let's head over to Steinmart (which Russ absolutely hates this store, no clue why) but they had a few nice things. They had a great assortment of Christmas things that I had to force myself not to look at because the holidays are going to be totally crazy for us this year.

I'm loving everything about this lamp... but then again, I am a freak for chevron pattern.

When I saw these I though of my Mom. She would definitely dig these cute little old timey containers. 

Then onto Homegoods/TJ Maxx!

I loved this bold, red cake plate.

This chair, that someone has abandoned their clothes shopping on, has some awesomely chunky legs.

And these are totally unrelated to decor shopping but I think they're so fun... and I want them. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Decor Idea

Last weekend Russ and I went into a board game store that had a huge assortment of calendars. Ever since I came across the idea to frame calendars for a cheap art alternative, that's almost all I see when I think of calendars!

That being said... wouldn't this be awesome in a frame in a grouping?! Same type of frame, same sizes... I think it would look incredibly cool and for a whopping $12.99, you have some wonderfully interesting art.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stockley Gardens Fall Art Festival

Today we tackled two things off of our Virginia Bucket List: the Stockley Garden Art Festival and to eat at Dog-n-Burger in Norfolk. I'm feeling accomplished!

It was a beautiful afternoon and the perfect temperature! There were lots and lots of... dogs. And... what they leave behind, which was pleasant to almost step in... 

There were a ton of tents set up that weaved around the garden and the scent of delicious food filled the air. Though... I didn't buy any food (actually, I don't think I've ever eaten anything from a booth at a fair or festival...?). 

Though a lot of the artist's booths said "no photos," I had to sneak a picture of a couple that I thought were really beautiful. I hate that I can't afford original art. I mean, I'd love to and I totally understand why it is so expensive, but... because I can't afford it, I can only enjoy prints. 

I searched SO HARD for an 8 X 10 print of the cat watercolor because I thought it was so adorable and reminded me of Ian. I even tried to find one of her cat portraits that reminded me of Zelda. Unfortunately there were none but I would have loved to have snagged this picture.

The rest of her watercolors were stunningly beautiful as well. She had florals, seascapes and other animals and all of her work was gorgeous. 

And one booth was selling jars of honey and had some real bees on display!

Because I dragged Russ to an art festival, I decided we should knock another spot off our Virginia Bucket List and go to Dog-n-Burger.

I wish I would have taken my own photo of the place but I'm always afraid of looking 'touristy' or like a weirdo. I need to work on not caring. Oh well.

Image via here
It was a great choice! It was also fun to eat outside in the cool, sunny weather! Oh, and look at the chili cheese fries! You know you want some...

So after the tasty, delicious cheeseburger (whose onions are still on my breath... very strong...) I think Russ forgave me for taking him to an art festival. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Offbeat Home Guest Post!

I'm so happy to announce that today my Offbeat Home guest post on cat car travel is being featured on the site today! Ian also makes an appearance as the cat carrier model, being his adorable self.

So head on over and check it out! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Baking Fail: Mug Cake

You know when you get a craving in the evening a few hours after dinner and you want a treat but you don't really have anything? Yeah, I turn to Pinterest which is a wonderful resource for anything you need... especially when it's food related!  So, I didn't want to make cookies because that would take too long and I didn't want leftovers so I stumbled upon two delicious-looking mug cake recipes and decided to try them out for Russ and me. 

Chocolate Mug Cake

2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons Splenda Granular or Whey Low powdered
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon  instant coffee crystals – optional, but brings out the chocolaty YUM!
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon oil
Drop of vanilla extract
Spray a coffee cup or ramekin with vegetable cooking spray.  In the cup combine the flour, Splenda, cocoa powder, baking powder, coffee crystals and salt until no lumps remain.  Stir in the milk, olive oil, and vanilla until smooth.
Bake in the microwave on high for 35 seconds.  You may need to add 5 more seconds (maybe 5 more after that, depending on your microwave)… but don’t be tempted to overcook or it will be rubbery!  It should be moist on the bottom and will continue cooking as it sets.
Serve with chocolate sauce…a sprinkle of powdered sugar…whipped cream or eat plain as a brownie.
And... um. Yuck. :( I guess I shouldn't have expected much from a 30 second cake, right?

Then I decided to try Russ' mug cake choice, which was like a cinnamon-type mug cake. Unfortunately, I didn't save the recipe... 

It tasted like someone's old, discarded cinnamon toast after it started to cool off. Pretty awful.

So yeah... the beautiful pictures on Pinterest are sometimes deceiving...