Patio furniture

The New Patio Set


I have been struggling with my small patio area, and large patio furniture for two years.  Spring and fall afford the most time for comfortable outdoor living, so the past few trips to Target and Lowes have had me searching for a new set of patio furniture.

My old set is great, it’s in good shape, large enough to entertain a few friends – but it’s size is an issue.  It barely fits on our small cement slab.  The other big issue is that when my aunt gave me the set, she had thrown away the old cushions because they weren’t in good condition.  So I had a great set with no cushions, and I was really picky about a new set. The right sized cushions were either ugly or very expensive.

Old Patio Set

The old patio set.

My next plan was to make a set of cushions.  However this task seemed daunting – getting it just perfect would require a lot of time and ripping out.  A project of this magnitude would require someone with slightly greater sewing skills than mine.

So last week when I was at Target I decided to take a gander at the outdoor patio cushions.  And I found some!  I asked a store employee if they could find some from more from the back for me and low and behold they were only sold with the patio set.  REALLY?!

The patio set that my beloved cushions were on were very similar to my current set – large, very nice, and expensive.  So I searched around a little more looking at the other cushions.  And didn’t find any others that I liked (as I said I’m kind of picky).  On my last round about – because there are lots of cute outdoor decorations that kept me distracted – I found a really pretty patio set that was sort of tucked away.

It was ultimately more money than I had planned to spend that day so I walked away …. slowly …. but I did walk away.  And resolved to sell my set and then come back for the new one.  Well over the weekend I listed my set and within minutes I had people messaging me to come see it.  I sold it the next day and returned to Target and picked up my new set.  Only to get it set up and then realize that it would be raining the next three days…SAD!

Patio furniture

New patio set!

It’s so pretty!  And I did take a few minutes between rain showers to sit and enjoy it.  It’s the right size for my small patio, and incredibly comfortable.  And if I ever have to replace the cushions I at least only have to buy the bottom ones, as opposed to the old set which needed backs and bottoms.   It will be cheaper.

This morning we experienced our final rain storm of the week (fingers crossed!) and I am chomping at the bit to enjoy my new purchase during the next few days of nice spring weather.  Here’s to nice spring weather!

Pink buds and white flowers

Spring Has Sprung!

It seems to be a late spring all around the U.S. this year – we are really happy to finally see signs of spring here, and consistent warm weather.  Every time I see a Bradford Pear Tree I pull over to the side of the road and snap a picture.  It makes my commutes a little longer but I just love these trees.

Bradford Pear

Bradford Pears are extremely popular and do well in many areas – not just NC!  Last spring I convinced Michael that we HAD to have one.  So we planted it in April…well April of 2013 was warm, May of 2013 was even warmer and June, July and August were pretty hot.  So I watered that tree almost every day, turning on the hose just enough that water would slowly run out, for several hours.  It was a pain.

Bradford Pears

So I promised myself I would never again plant a tree in the spring, late summer would do the trick since we generally don’t see our first deep freeze until late November or even December.  But, alas, pretty pink, white and magenta colored trees are flowering all over the place.  And now I have a list of several more trees that I HAVE to have.  My list also includes a few shrubs but here you go:



Redbud Tree


Pink and White Dogwoods

Azaleas (lots and lots of azeleas!)



Camelia Shrub

However; I live on a 1/3 acre lot, so where I would put all these trees…is an excellent question!

Cleveland Pear Tree

My little tree is a late bloomer, but finally it’s starting to flower!  I was concerned that the buds were looking a very pretty pink, and not white, but now that they have started opening up the white flowers are finally showing!  It’s currently in a rather confused state about what color it wants to be.  I think both look amazing and it would be really interesting to have both colors permanently.  I should admit that this isn’t a Bradford Pear, it’s actually a Cleveland Pear tree which a friend recommended to be.  The Cleveland Pears are a hybrid – maybe the cause of the white/pink conundrum – and are hardier and stronger than Bradford Pears which have a tendency so large that they can’t support the weight of their own branches which will snap off during strong winds.

Pink buds and white flowers

While researching this post I realized that I already had one of the trees on my list, so I took it off the list – but the fact is mine barely blooms and was planted crookedly by the builders so it’s really not my favorite.

My Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

Doesn’t it just look pathetic.  It wasn’t very attended to during its first few months before we moved into the house and ended up slanted from the wind.  Now the debate is: dig it up and set it straight OR stake it to try and straighten?

I’ve never dug up a tree before but I’m sure I would again have to worry about watering quite a bit as the root system would be disrupted quite a bit during the process.

Have any advice for me?


Addie and Bella chill on the couch

A Playful Pup!

BellaDogs in the sunBella is now five years old – eek!  Where has the time gone?  Addie does her best to keep Bella feeling like a young pup with lots of wrestling in the house (even though it’s against the rules!), biting, dragging each other around by the neck (always fun to watch…) and rolling around on the ground in hopes of becoming their dirtiest selves possible (which is great for my beige carpet!)

Dogs wrestle

However, I’ve noticed a big difference in Bella’s playfulness since we adopted Moxie.  Our cat is always bouncing off the walls, scaling the door trim, sprinting down the hallway and around the couch, and batting the white tip on Bella’s tail.  If you didn’t catch the videos I posted of this behavior, you can check them out here!

Addie and Bella chill on the couch

Moxie keeps Bella on her toes and I love watching them play together.  The best part is that after all the playing, they will cuddle or Bella will give Moxie a bath.

Check out the fun that they were having together!

Addie and Moxie also play together but they quickly get out of hand with the end result being Addie chasing Moxie down the hallway.

Moxie and Addie

Addie and Moxie play

It’s all fun and games until someone gets really annoyed by being bitten and swatted at!

I’m so lucky to have this bunch in my house, they make me laugh constantly and are always brightening my day!  I hope it had the same effect on you!

Tia and the fly mask

Tia’s Favorite New Thing

Is her Cashel fly mask!

Tia and the fly maskThat may be a bit of an overstatement.

She more or less tries to peel it off of her face every chance she gets.

It’s unfortunate that she does this because it’s meant to protect her face and nose from sun burn.  Tia has pink skin on her nose that is easily burned, over time horses can develop skin cancer just as we do.

I used to keep sunscreen at the barn for her, but that protection only lasts a few hours.  The mask should protect her from the sun and bugs all day long, IF she doesn’t destroy it first!

It may not be Tia’s favorite thing, but I love the way it fits – she hasn’t been able to rub it off yet, and the quality seems really nice.

The mask also protects her eyes and ears from pesky bugs, while that hasn’t been too much of a problem yet, I’m certain that they flies will be among us soon!

Here’s to a  sun burn free summer for Tia!

building at ECU

Big News (About Grad School)!

No I’m not pregnant – I swear, once you’re married and you spit out the words big news, the first thing people will think is that you are pregnant.  Not yet my friends…

I have been accepted to grad school at East Carolina University, for marriage and family therapy!!!!!!!!  I am out of this world excited about being a part of this program with amazing faculty, a fun, close-knit cohort of students that support each other through the entire experience, and of course working towards a career that will be flexible as Michael and I move during his Marine Corps career.

building at ECU

Rivers Building at ECU where I will have a few classes.

I’ve also started working a second (actually third or maybe even fourth) job, I have a lot of very part-time jobs.  Now that Michael is sailing the ocean blue, I have a lot less going on, and don’t have to worry as much about missing out on fun weekend activities.  I would definitely say that staying busy has helped keep my spirits up.

Speaking of busy, Tia and I have started showing again.  We’ve been improving greatly during our weekly lessons.  My position is much more solid than it was 6 months ago, and Tia’s walk and trot are getting killer.  We’ve got balance, power, and lightness – FINALLY!  Now our big focus is on the canter.  You see, I’m just getting a little tired of the into level tests.  BUT – you need a decent canter to move up to training level.

In our first and only show this spring, we had to ride in a covered arena.  Tia’s been in plenty of indoors – no big deal, but covered arenas offer a bit more excitement with large variances in light, and the distraction of seeing horses and people walking by.  It’s a challenging situation.  Tia was very tense.  There was a lot of balance  and power in our tests, but very little softness.  We scored very well on our walks – 7s and 8s.  8s in our halt which is a miracle since we hadn’t practiced those very much at home.  Our trot’s got a lot of 5s and 6s with the phrases “tense” and “getting better” haha.  It was overall a great learning experience and the judge commented that Tia seemed like an athletic horse – we knew that – but it’s still nice to be appreciated.

Unfortunately the videos that were taken, came out terribly.  Blurry to the point that you cannot even make out the horse at times.  Next time I promise I will have really awesome videos!

So between filling out forms for grad school, showing and working I’ve had far less time to just sit around the house.  Now when I have the chance to relax in gorgeous 75 degree weather I take full advantage!  It’s all about smelling the roses :)

That’s all I have for now folks!



The Finished Kitchen

An Awkward Kitchen Space

When my mom arrived late last week we did some shopping.  The one place that we wanted to “finish” was between the kitchen cabinets and the back door.

Awkward Kitchen Space


Addie the photo-bomber!


We drove to Wilmington, in a very round a bout way (which I blame on my new self-diagnosed disease that I will explain soon) to get to HomeGoods.  It took us a while to find this wicker piece but once we did we knew it was perfect.  There were quite a few more expensive free standing cabinets but I was in search of a deal.
The Finished KitchenI decided to make it animal friendly, so we placed Moxies food dish on top (away from the dogs) and put her scratch pad in the bottom since she was already keen on kneading into the wicker.  The top drawer holds the dogs collars and I’m sure I’ll find a few more things to stuff in there.   The fake plant also came from HomeGoods and was a nice touch.  Then we searched for some sort of small fake tree to place next to it.  Towards the end of our searching I found an entire row of branches and scratched the tree for the branches instead.  The vase was probably my best find at only $10!

It’s working great in the house and I love the way it looks; however, there has been one problem.  Moxie thinks that the branches are the best thing ever and she likes to chew them and knock the entire thing over.  The excitement is starting to wear off but the branches have already taken a hard hit.  I’d like to get some different ones for summer but I’ll have to see how long these last.

I have other exciting updates to show you.  More to follow soon!



Michael and Tia

Grad School Application Finished

It’s official, on the second to last day before the application was due, I turned in the final piece of the puzzle: the statement of purpose.

I’m really nervous and excited about this, and very hopeful that I will be invited to interview at the end of February.  I actually had a dream about my ECU interview last night.  It went really well, and at the end they said “thank you for coming, we’ll be in touch.”  What a realistic dream…lame.

In the meantime I can now devote all of my academic energy to my general psychology class which I find really interesting.  Our professor was a substance abuse counselor so he has a lot of interesting stories that relate to the information in our book.  We were supposed to have our first test at the beginning of this week, but since classes have been cancelled, it will be pushed back.

I have to say that I am extremely grateful for the time that Michael and I have had together this week.   He only worked Monday, and the base has been closed every day since due to the storm and unsafe driving conditions.  We have had a lot of time to relax and hang out right before his deployment, which is basically unheard of.   Normally he would be staying late at work every night dealing with last minute issues and making sure all the Marines in his platoon are ready to go.

On Sunday morning Michael and I went to the barn to hook up the trailer and bring Tia to our trainer’s barn for a lesson.  Since we were running slightly ahead of schedule I suggested that Michael hop on Tia while I finished packing the trailer.

Michael and Tia

I’m not sure that he had the most enjoyable bareback ride since Tia isn’t a particularly easy going horse but she kept all four hooves planted on the ground and walked around a bit.

My lesson went really well, each week we seem to make enough progress to work on new more difficult exercises.   We worked on leg yielding, developing a stable connection in the walk, and trot to walk on the centerline.   I have to say, centerlines are the bane of my existence.  We can now travel fairly straightly at the trot, but forget about it at the walk.  It’s like riding a bike, the slower you go the more wobbly you get…and Tia and are sure are wobbly.

Show season is approaching quickly and I still have to get Tia’s blood drawn for her coggins which I will need for our first show in March… eek!  Time to get going!


Guest Bedroom Paint

Guest Room Complete


Since North Carolina had some crazy weather, and my classes were cancelled on Tuesday (also on Thursday) I was able to spend the morning completing the second coat of paint in the guest bedroom.

I’m in love.

And I lucked out.

Since I live on the edge – I didn’t buy a sample to see how the color would look in the room.

But it’s perfect.

Guest Bedroom Paint


The grey is not too dark, or too light.

Now I am ready for Colleen’s arrival.  Everything is out of the room.  The paint supplies are put away.  And I can finally stop breathing in paint fumes.  Guest Bedroom Paint

Now it’s time to start thinking about my next room.  What color, which room?  I think I might like to do the hallway or guest bathroom next.  The hallway is probably the dingiest from handprints and such, but that’s not really a fun project because it needs to be a very light color (ie. white)  and there are a lot of doorways that I will have to tape so prep work/time will be significant.

I’m open to suggestions!


Snowy front porch

The Snow Storm of 2014

Eastern North Carolina was hit by a snow and ice storm Tuesday night.  On my way to feed horses Tuesday afternoon freezing rain started coming down.  By the time I was getting ready for bed we had about a half inch of ice pellets on the ground.  Wednesday morning I woke up to an ice covered vehicle and a few inches of snow on the roads.  I slowly made my way to the barn and snapped some pictures throughout the morning until my phone died at the barn.  Luckily the towns have been closed down for the past few days so there aren’t many vehicles on the road.

It has been below freezing since the storm passed so the roads are still covered in our area.  Tomorrow we should see 50 degrees and the sun might actually make an appearance, so I am hopeful that this mess will be behind us quickly.

I have been very lucky because Michael hasn’t had to go to work since Monday.  The base is closed and he doesn’t have to work tomorrow either but he has decided to go in because he has some pre-deployment things that have to be taken care of.

The horses are all doing well and have had lots of hay to eat which keeps them warm.  Tia has had the past few days off but I’m hoping to ride tomorrow afternoon if the ice and snow melts significantly.  The ground never fully freezes in this area because we only get a few cold days at a time and then we see 60 degrees, so a little sun will go a long way in removing the snow and ice that has become packed down on the roads.

I am finally setting my sights on our first dressage show of the year.  We have 5 weeks to prepare, but I we will be showing in the lowest division possible (intro) to make sure that our basics are up to snuff before attempting training level.  Tia and I have finally begun to make a lot of progression between our lessons and we are finally working on some more advanced concepts (advanced beyond I said go forward not sideways and leaping through the air).  At the end of our last few lessons my trainer always applauds us on NOT having completed any “airs above the ground” (look mom none of my feet are touching the ground!)

My body is incredibly thankful for this progression as I was straining muscles and tendons in my body to stay in the saddle each week.  Thank god for large knee rolls that effectively anchor my butt in the saddle!  I have another lesson this Sunday and I will try and convince Michael to take some video to share.

Happy Almost Friday :)




Guest Bedroom Paint

T-Minus 2 Weeks

We’re now within (roughly) the last two weeks before Michael deploys.  I’m cheerfully pretending that it’s not happening.  Best to ignore and be happy than start being sad now…

Thankfully I only have to make it a week on my own before my fabulous roommate from college will be moving in!  I’ve finally began painting the guest bedroom where she will live.  I had Michael move all the furniture out – we only have a few things left in there (free weights, my dress from the ball which still needs to go to the dry cleaner, some pillows that I bought to make pillow covers for…yah that probably won’t happen anytime soon) and a few more things in the closet.


The carpet is not actually brown as the photo shows it, it’s actually much more pale and neutral.

I moved all the stuff that was still in their to the middle of the room and began taping yesterday afternoon.  An hour later I finished the prep work and brought out the beautiful grey paint.  I also brought my computer in the room so I could watch some Scandal episodes on Netflix as I worked, I’ve only watched 30 episodes in the past week… this was a necessity.  I started roller painting the walls up as high as I could reach.  I made it more than halfway around the room before realizing that I hadn’t opened the window.  Eeek!  My poor dying brain cells!

I made it all the way around and then brought in the ladder and began the painstaking process of roller painting the tops of the wall that I couldn’t reach.  I realized that the gallon of paint might not quite going to do the entire room.  It was close, but I was able to do the paint brushing at the ceiling, baseboards, light switches and window with what was left inside the gallon container.  Phew!  I was able to finish the first coat completely!

Guest Bedroom Paint

I was losing the afternoon light so I snapped this before I was finished.

I still have to do another coat and I was planning on picking up another gallon after my class tomorrow morning; however, we are possibly going to get between 4 and 10 inches of snow!  Oh my lord, this is serious for North Carolina.  They have delayed county schools twice now due to cold weather (below 20) and another time because there was a chance of snow up to 1 inch.  No news yet on whether or not I will have class tomorrow but I’m thinking most likely…NOT.  Soooo, Michael is going to pick up more paint tonight on his way home.  He’s so helpful!

Actually he hates everything to do with painting.  Probably because I made him paint our entire family room/kitchen area while I was gone last spring.  He’s all painted out for another few years.  He’s been complaining about me, myself, and only me, talking about doing the painting in the guest room because he thought he would be dragged into doing it.  I think he’s finally figured out that he doesn’t actually have to lift a finger (except for carrying the gallon of paint from the store to the truck and into our house).

I’m crossing my fingers for snow so that I can spend tomorrow painting and finalizing my statement of purpose.  I had a wonderful experience at the graduated program’s open house on friday.  I was able to speak with several students and professors about the program and I received very positive feedback about my status as a perspective student.  I’m feeling very hopeful about being accepted.

Keep all the North Carolinians in your prayers that they are able to survive the winter storm!  I’m praying for the max snow fall, but I know the towns aren’t prepared to handle it, so maybe something in the middle would be acceptable!

a journey into the post-college life of a curly-haired, horse back riding, photography loving gal!