Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Day We First Met

When I first moved to Texas, I knew I wanted a dog to keep me company - coming home to an empty apartment was just sad! I knew, however, that I wanted to give myself a semester to get settled, figured out where I was financially (grad school loans kicked in!) and let myself adjust before I brought a dog into my life. All my residents knew I was planning for January, and were, to say the least, disappointed when I didn't have a puppy in my arms when they got back from Winter Break.

I had a few requirements for the dog that I would eventually get to call mine:
  • Dog had to be a breed, or young enough, that I could convince to like water (San Marcos, Texas, is the home to the most amazing rivers and water spots you'd ever find!)
  • I kind of preferred a puppy, but didn't get set on it having to be a young pup.
  • Shelter dog - no breeders, no buying designer dogs - I would only rescue one.
The week after break, I spent a (lot) of time looking online, going to local shelters and keeping my eyes and ears out for pups that needed a home. The first Saturday school was back in session, I made a random trip to the (saddest-looking) Humane Society shelter in Lockhart. This shelter broke my heart - it was January, mind you, and really cold. The "kennels" were chain-link fence, with nothing but a gazebo for a roof. I wanted to scoop them all up and take them home right then and there. Kittens were in a trailer inside, and puppies were outside, but in a more wind-proof corner. I walked around for awhile, saw lots of big dogs, but having some size restrictions made that a little difficult.

And then I saw them: five wriggly, black/tan/white/blonde puppies, all scrambling to the fence for my attention. The lady working opened the gate to let me see them all. Four were climbing all over each other, wanting to be the first to get my attention. Not one looked like the other - one fluffy like a husky puppy, one with long ears like a beagle, one that was blonde with spots on her skin... and one in the back, not really giving me the time day, who was black with some white and tan speckles. Eventually, this little girl turned her head and looked at me and I melted - those freckles! I grabbed her to pick her up and knew, right then and there, she was my girl. The woman said that the owner of the pup's mother said "mom was a golden retriever"; well, I tell ya what, not one ounce of these girls is a golden retriever! Or dog-mom got around and these pups had more than one dad, if you know what I mean!

I was in love. I went back on Sunday and claimed her as mine. She sat in my lap as I was filling out the paperwork and the lady was asking me some questions. "Do you have a name in mind for her?" I said that I wanted to test-run a few names, to see what fit, but that I liked the ideas of Riley, Molly, and a few others. She started laughing - was it weird to test-run dog names? I asked her why she was laughing: "Well, you know we give dogs names when they get brought here to give them an identity and something to go by. Those five girls were named yesterday when they were dropped off. Since they are all girls, we made it easy: Holly, Jolly, Lolly, Molly and Olly. That's technically Holly sitting in your lap!" Molly was meant to be, though I kind of test-ran it for the week. Molly stuck.

Meet my girl today!  She is anything but the shy dog who sits in back - if you aren't paying attention to her, she'll make sure you know she's not okay with it. Lover of peanut butter, all things water-related (yep, met that requirement!), and squeaky toys. And, thankfully, one of the things that makes moving easy to deal with: she adjusts so I know I have to, too.

(Writing prompt from Mama's Losing It)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Weekend 2011

One of the hardest parts of moving far, far away is always the fear of not having anywhere to go for the holidays. Though I've been lucky enough to have been "adopted" or find friends to make arrangements with (family friends in Texas, other holiday-homeless coworkers), it's always a little fear in the back of my mind. This year, having just moved to Georgia, I'm lucky enough to say that one of my sorority sisters from my pledge class lives in southern Georgia - a good 4 hours away, but so worth that trip and having a home to go! 

Monica had baby Jace in May and I hadn't gotten to meet him yet, so this was also the best opportunity to get to meet the little one, Jace. I left work a little early on Wednesday to get the drive over with. MapQuest said it was a 4.5 hour drive, I did it in almost 4 hours on the dot to Valdosta. I haven't seen Monica since before she was even pregnant (June 2010), so it's kinda weird she already has a 6-month old! Wednesday I got in so late, we just had dinner, ran to see a friend of hers, last-minute food shopped at Walmart, and called it a day.

Thanksgiving was a great day in and of itself. I woke up early to go to do a 5K (I know, who am I?) in downtown - mind you, I was still getting over being sick, had run once in the last two weeks, and probably should have not chugged along as well as I did. Oh well? I finished 5th in my age group, but did it under 31 minutes, so I'm still pretty okay with that given the last two weeks' worth of coughing and blahness. After that, it was back to the house for food prep fun! I was in charge of dessert - right up my alley, you know! Many thanks to Pinterest, we ended up with a pumpkin layer cake and the awesome, adorable pilgrim hat cookies that were apparently quite the hit! A few friends of Monica's and Todd's came, where thankfully I was not the only one who didn't know anyone else! It was great meeting new folks and having an amazing deep-fried turkey, complete with all the sides you'd ever want. Delicious. The end day ended gloriously with a few glass of wine and good long talks with an old friend. I miss that!

Friday was a little more relaxing, after staying up too late with that bottle of wine! We decided there were a few stores we wanted to venture to, but only when (and if) we woke up. Well, eventually, we did and headed out around noon with Jace in tow to Target, Kohl's, Petsmart, Toys 'R Us, and Children's Place. I got boots for New York (next this week!) with a 15% off coupon AND a $5 off coupon, so success! Also got a few extra things that I didn't really need anyway but got on a good deal (Molly's Christmas presents, for one). After we were shopped out, I packed up and headed to Atlanta for...

CLEAN OLD FASHIONED HATE. Yep, the annual UGA/Georgia Tech game. I was lucky enough to get a ticket thanks to Heather, so made my way to Heather's Friday night; since the game was at noon on Saturday, we were planning to be on campus BY 7 am for tailgating fun. So, believe it or not, I was up at 5:45 am... to go tailgating. Whoulda thought? Good times. I tailgated with them back in September for a GT game, so I knew a few of the folks that were there, and some new faces. It was a great time, once it warmed  up a little! Made our way into the stadium, befriended (if you want to call it that) a few GT fans around me, but was happy that the entire stadium was a happy mix of red and gold, so I wasn't too out of place. Overall, it was actually quite a boring game, with a few stints of excitement, but nothing to write home about (and here I am, blogging about it). In the end, all that matters of course, is that UGA won 31-17. Happy times.

To round out the day, Heather and I raced to Atlantic Station to use our Old Navy GroupOns ($10 for $20 of merchandise) and since we both also had Rewards to use, why not? And, of course, in true Megan style, had to stop for a photo with the tree, always my favorite part of the holidays! Made my way back to Athens, picked up the pup (who was really excited to see me!) and headed home and managed to pass out on the couch at 9 pm. Glorious.

Many thanks to Moni (and Todd!), Heather, and all the other random folks I got to hang out with this weekend for making it a great first Turkey Weekend in Georgia. Much love to you all. Hope all my readers had a great holiday as well!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Musings

Thanksgiving Day, two days from now, marks three months at my new position at a new school (and today is three months in Athens!). So many Facebook statuses and Twitter posts have been the Daily Thankful For posts and while I haven't participated each day, it's made me think and consider what I am truly thankful for this year.
  • My family: without whom I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything. Especially this year, with a very tumultuous job search, my parents welcomed me back (maybe not with open arms, but comforting arms nonetheless), helped me move across the country, and have continued to be my biggest fans. I can only hope that in all I do, I've returned the favor and shown them how much I appreciate them all. And to my little sister, who I hope has embraced her New York adventure, and known that moving far away from home can be all that it's cracked up to be!
  • My health: I feel so fortunate to be able to run like I do (when I get motivated!). After two knee surgeries, I probably shouldn't be doing the road damage that I do, but knowing that I can do it, I can handle it, and for the  most part, my body accepts the challenge. There are others who are not as fortunate to physically be able to accomplish the same things, and I feel so grateful that I do... and I try. Additionally, after a very trying year with some other health issues (sleeping-related, semi-apparently thyroid related) I feel pretty good -- definitely not where I used to be, but definitely not where I was in the middle of that year of exams, medication, and endless appointments. I am glad to be able to get up after 6 hours of sleep some nights and be able to function normally again!
  • A job!: after a very difficult decision in leaving the last one that I loved, I knew it was time to move on. And after a very up-and-down, stressful and exhausting search, I was blessed enough to find one... all in good time, right? Right. I'm learning and still taking it all in, but so far, so good, and more adventures to come! 
More to come... I have lots to be thankful for. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

'Tis the Season

I'm pretty sure we've all seen these ornament wreaths (example post here, but also seen on Martha Stewart and BH&G, and who knows, everywhere else!). So knowing that I wanted to make one of these guys, I actually bought two boxes of ornaments on clearance last year (hooray Target after Christmas sale!) and yes, have lugged them all over the country. Good thing they were $4 for a box of 41 (I got two) and totally worth that extra 3 pounds of stuff!

I also heard of a little secret that instead of paying $5 for a foam ring (I know, $5 is $5.. but when you're on a budget, you're on a budget), you can go to your local hardware store (Lowe's is less than a mile from me) and get pipe insulation foam for as cheap as 97 CENTS. Win? I think so! So that's what I did on my way home from work last night, as all of a sudden, I was set on making this wreath so I could hang it as soon as Thanksgiving was over! So here's mine, with a few technical difficulties thrown in - enjoy! Show me your wreath too, I love seeing all the different ones people come up with!

1 foam wreath (insulation or otherwise)
Different-size ornaments (I used about 80 in total)
Hot glue
Ribbon (if desired)
Thinnest piece of foam is 97 cents.
Duct tape it together, and voila! Cheap-o wreath that still serves the same purpose!
Insulation? Cheap foam wreath? Yes please! Then start by laying out your ornaments. I didn't realize I had two sizes of ornaments - larger ones (maybe 4" in diameter) and medium ones (probably 3" in diameter). After some online research and chatting with Kim, realized that I would need some  much smaller ones to fit in the gaps and awkward holes inbetween these larger ones! Off to Dollar Tree (only gold which clearly doesn't fit my color scheme) and then Walmart (success!) for some late-night ornament hunting.
Aren't they fun colors?!

Once you've finally got your ornament collection in place, lay the larger ones in an even pattern around the ring. These will form as the base and will pretty much be the only ones that you actually glue to the base, so make them steady!
After you've done the largest, you can start arranging all your medium/middle-sized ones around them. Most of my medium ones were glued to the large ones, and to each other, though a few to the ring itself.
Use the medium ones to fill in the large open spaces on the wreath, so you can cover the majority of the visible foam.
Small silver ornaments to the rescue! 

And, finally, when the middle-sized ones have filled in the majority of the open space, you can add all the little ones to fill in the open gaps and holes in the pattern.
Pre-silver ornaments.
After the little ones! Doesn't it look so much better? And of course, I got ribbon to match the silver. But I figure given that it's almost Christmastime, when won't I want fun, silver glittery ribbon?
I'm thinking of adding a fun ribbon bow on the bottom, but I'll let you know later. I think this would also be super pretty with all white and light blue ornaments with snowflakes or something for a very wintery wreath. What do you think?

In total, this pretty little thing cost me:
$8 (for 82 ornaments; Target Christmas clearance)
$0.97 (insulation)
$3 (small ornaments)
$4.50 (glitter ribbon that I know I'll use all over the place)

A whole $16! Victory!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sickness & Running

You know, it's funny -- last Tuesday (just over a week ago), I started sliding off the wagon that I felt like I was finally making progress on. Regular runs, regularly pushed myself to run out the door when I really didn't want to. Finally, progress!

And then I fell off the wagon on Tuesday. And Thursday. And Friday. And then sickness hit. Related? Maybe. I was supposed to be doing a 15K this Saturday, that I had actually felt semi-ready for. And now all I can think is "There's no way I can do that!" Good thing I hadn't registered.

And now that I'm a little better, though not feeling 100%, all I want to do is run. What a mind game!

In brighter news, I'm looking forward to registering for this race on pay day!


Monday, November 14, 2011

A Pretty Headboard

Being home sick today allows me to catch up on projects that I've completed. So you finally get to see! So with many thanks to my sorority sister, Heather, for the graciously free pillowtop mattress, and the $20 bedrails and te $40 boxspring (thanks, CraigsList!), I was set out to finish putting my bed together and give it a little flair. I found another blog (yes, via Pinterest) and kind of adapted their pattern to fit the little money I had and the supplies I had in comparison! Always adapt your plan, right? You can follow their plan... or mine. Take your pick! :)


So, going along with the black and white that I have all over my room, I wanted a fabric simple enough but still had the floral-y, damask-y print that you all know I love so much! And then I found this:

I knew it was just the piece! So then I got to work. Molly decided to help, so you'll see her featured a few times... "helping." First up, getting the wood! Thank god for Lowe's and their free wood cutting (up to so many pieces, of course). The blog I used as my guide cut a piece of plywood 39"x59"; I (brilliantly) didn't actually measure the width of my bed, but knowing it was pillowtop, added  an inch on each side, just in case. So, in my case, my plyboard sheet is 40"x60". Thankfully, going up to 60" was a smart call - it perfectly matches the width of my bed. Whew, close call! Secondly, take your massive trip to Hobby Lobby and get your batting, foam and fabric of choice. Foam is a little more expensive than I thought, but HL carries big, pre-cut sheets. Always remember, too, that if you have a smart phone, HL will allow you to pull up their coupons on your phone and they'll take it! Helloooo 40% off expensive foam! And then home, and to work!

Again, as I (for this time being) refuse to buy a staple gun, this is all hot glue. A little tricky at times, but overall works quite well and I am proud to say that this was all constructed with hot glue... and it stays! Success! First up, foam on the board. If you check out the blog that I followed, they did theirs with wood as a frame, because they were setting up to use a nailhead trim to set up a fancy-schmancy headboard (see the end of their blog for details). I, however, decided that with such a patterned fabric, nailhead trim was not for me, and that I wanted it to be padded all over. So, I pulled the foam to be just over the edges of the wood so there were no rough edges.

After, the batting. Easy enough!

And lastly, fabric fun!

Molly... helping.
Voila! That's it! You've got an easy-peasy pretty headboard (stupid things are darn expensive from furniture stores) that matches your room, your style... or just gives your room a little extra flair!

Yep, right at home.

The only thing I need to do is figure out how high I want it to be. Right now, I'm okay with where it's at but at some point, may decide to install it higher. Because it's so tall, right now it's just sitting on the floor! More to come, stay tuned! :)

When Nothing Else Will Do

The last piece of furniture I actually needed was a TV stand. There's one at Target I'm lusting over that matches the only piece of furniture I've purchased new so far (the black bookshelf; this is the TV stand). But when a $20 crosses my path on CraigsList, who am I to turn it down for a temporary solution?

This is not the best thing I've done (Tina says it's not her favorite either!) but it'll solve the TV-sitting-on-a-plastic-storage-bin problem until then. Right? Right. Here you have it:

Not that it was ugly... but it was ugly.

Yep. Gray's got to go.
I've learned a lot about the wonders of spray paint and that you can actually do some pretty good things with it. Especially since I didn't particularly care how this guy turned out, I figured why not spend $4 on a can of black spray paint and just see what I can do? Awesome. Found a primer/base paint in black (this stand was a slightly glossy laminate, so I'd need the primer regardless; thank you combo cans!). I also ran out of the primer/base, but thankfully I had leftover satin black to finish the bottom of it. Well, then I ran out again... thankfully, on the back of the stand. Again, thanks to Pinterest, I knew of the perfect alternative. Check it out!

Leftover black and white fabric as the cover-up for running out of paint? Perfect!

So while no, it's not the best thing ever, it at least fits the style of my apartment for now! TV dilemma - solved.

At least it's semi-pretty now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Final Touch

Alright, so the time has finally come (and I'm avoiding unpacking some more) to introduce the other art project I took on -- this was the little table I showed you a few weeks ago that I picked up with the grandma stool at the Salvation Army. Remember?

 So in combination of the weekend where I spent the entire weekend on my patio working on the stool, the nightstand and being sincerely intimidated by the dresser, I worked on this guy. In my head, I already a plan for it! I wanted it to be a little vanity table in the corner of my room. So, you guessed it: I painted it black. But wait! I needed to add some fun element to it, to make it more than just another piece in my room. Learning a little something on Pinterest comes in handy, yes? Yes!

I had already lined the bottom of the drawer (it was pretty grungy looking) when I figured out what I wanted to do -- also inspired by a piece of art I found online (man I love Pinterest and these blogs!). I also ended up adding a piece of bright teal-blue ribbon so I could finally start some sort of color accent to my room. It needed it! But anyway, more damask love. Many thanks to the tools I have access to at work, I found this pattern online, blew it up, traced it, and then planned on transferring it to the top of the table. Well, originally I had the horrendous idea of cutting out every piece of the stencil (I know, I know) but then found this genius idea on Pinterest! Saved again. And it works! Quite brilliantly!
Pattern I love oh so much!

Thank goodness for projectors & work!

The trick I learned: put newspaper on the table, put your stencil on top. Trace hard with a pencil and the newsprint rubs off on the table! Genius!
And there you have it!
And then, the tedious task of painting it all -- took about three layers but I am happy with how it turned out. A layer of polyacrylic coating on the top and drawer, and voila!
First layer of white in progress.

Don't you just love the knobs that match? I was lucky enough to catch them on sale 50% at Hobby Lobby! They're just perfect for the final touch on the whole thing! 
Final piece!
I just need to finish unpacking my room so there's room to actually put it to use. I'm also on the hunt for a pretty mirror to put above it to fulfill its vanity table purpose. Stay tuned for its final home in my room... once I find a mirror and some decor!

Friday, November 11, 2011

CraigsList Joy, continued

As of this weekend, this guy will be mine! And only $20. :)

As some of my family may know, I have always always always wanted a Cracker Barrel rocking chair. But who in their right mind wants to pay $150 for a rocking chair? Not I.

And since my patio needs a little attention now that (most of) my house is put together, I figure why not? I'm really excited to get this guy on Sunday, give it a little TLC and some really fun, bright paint. My current plan is turquoise/teal of some shade, but other thoughts?

CraigsList, I love you.

Friday Linky Fun

Little Big House On The Prairie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thrift Shop Finds

So, in addition that wonderful little stool I re-covered, and the table (yet to be revealed), part of my thrift shop weekend was finally finding a dresser. Yes, since the end of August I have literally been living out of suitcases, save for the things that did fit in the tiny two closets. So finding a dresser (and being on my furniture makeover kick) that was cheap and re-doable was just my thing. America's Thrift Stores, $42.19 later, I owned this guy!

Not bad for $42!
Sorry for the poor quality photo, camera phones only do so well. So, for those of you that know  me well enough, you know I drive a Civic. So, how on earth praytell did I get this thing home without knowing too many folks in Athens? I did what any normal person would, of course! I set off to the nearest U-Haul, rented a cargo van for two hours, got a friend of mine to come help, drove all over town in a too-large van, and go this baby home! Resourceful, I know.

All this newspaper lined the drawers. Yes, it says 1978. Kind of cool! There was also an old manila folder addressed to someone in Masnfield, Ohio, from the University of Dayton. Note the Mansfield newspaper. This guy's travelled!

This was after about two seconds of sanding. They originally looked like water ring stains, then I realized they were stickers stuck to the top!  Boo. They were a pain to sand down.

Sanding drawers. Fun times.
I learned my lesson with the nighstand - these handles also happened to be 3 1/8". Because the silver didn't do it for me, I used the simple makeover way! Spray paint! They're black now. And pretty. I just bought four knew pulls for the top drawers, that match the nighstand knobs.
Getting blacker! I think this was only the first coat of paint!

Talk about WORK to sand down. Note to self: when I have a real house and lots of furniture that I want to makeover, just invest and buy a belt sander. It'll make your life easier. Though I did get some good arm work outs in!

Two coats of paint (paint, sand, paint) and polyacrylic coating (paint, sand, paint) this sucker is usable! You have no idea how excited I was to be able to put clothes away!
So as you can see, the silver handles and knobs are a little 70s art deco for me, not quite my style. This dresser actually came with a huge mirror attached that was actually quite heinous, so I convinced the thrift shop guys to remove it for me and told them they could keep the mirror and sell it again separately. Whatever! So this baby took quite a few steps. After starting the work on the nightstand and the table, I knew I was in for a LOT of work with this guy. And after a few days, I was ready for it. Maybe I was just ready to finally be able to unpack more of my life. Yep, that's it.

The photos don't really explain the whole process, but you can get the jist of the work at least. She's pretty now. Room photos to come, it's lookin' good!