December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

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December has been a crazy, busy month for The Blands!!

I'll be back in January to update on all the wonderful things we have done, including but not limited to:
  • Disney trip
  • 31 Acts of Kindness (Dave,  Ash and I have been doing 31 Acts, one for every day in December, and have been halfway successful in doing them - its a challenge to do it everyday but it's been helpful in making me think about kindness more than I ever have! Then, after the CT tragedy and the new 26 Acts thing going on, we have new motivation and ideas)
  • Christmas traditions
  • Elf on the Shelf mischievousness - how to make this fun for adults and a teen
  • New resolutions that probs won't be successful but we'll try anyways
 I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and get to spend lots of time with the people you love.  Cherish every moment!  This month has taught us that we never know how much or little time we have.  Also, remember that Jesus is the Reason!


November 18, 2012

Sunday catch up

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Life is busy again!  I've been fighting a cold for the past week, but I've been trying to power through.  This week has been an upper and a downer.   I played "Wedding Planner" last weekend for two of my grown-up kids from my youth leader days - Jon & Rebekah - they shared a beautiful wedding with all of us and it was fun to see some faces I really miss from those days! 

Work was rough last week - one of the hardest weeks I've had as a school counselor, but I survived and lived through it;)  Nothing major happened, it was just a bad week.  I've never had a "bad" week until now, but I hear it happens!  I guess I was due;) 

Breaking Dawn Part 2 came out on Thursday and I went to the 10pm showing (genius on the theater's part) with Dave, Heather and Katie.  We love us some Twilight stuff!  Dave & I actually went and saw it again on Friday.  He really is a keeper!  He deals with my insane obsessions with books and musicals and movies...he really does love me.

I had a great weekend to make up for my bad week.  Yesterday I spent the day with mom, we shopped and had lunch at Liberatore's (we met dad there, he always has to be involved when we go to Libs) Today, I made a huge Thanksgiving Feast and had my BFF Heather & Marcus & the girls over to eat with us.  It was good to hang out with another couple, we rarely get to do that because our schedules are so opposite.  Now we are relaxing and watching the Ravens.  Life is good.  I love Thanksgiving week, its my favorite time of year.  Plus, we have Disney coming up in 24 days - it'll be here before we know it:)  I don't have any pictures to share, but I didn't want that to keep me from updating!  I haven't done much in the house lately, so I have have nothing to show!  I have been reading a lot - reading the Twilight series over again.  I'm almost done, when I finish it I'll have a huge list to get through!  I'll post those books in a few days.  I get excited when I have new GOOD books to read!!

P.S.  I have always wanted to write a book.  I secretly want to be an author.  Well, I guess it's not so secret anymore, since I just told you;)  It's one of those things that I always say I want to do, but never do it.  I am happy to report that I have started writing one.  Who knows if I'll finish it, or how long it will take, or if it's going to be any good, but the point is I started.  I'm excited to see how it goes!  Wish me luck!

Tah-tah for now!

October 31, 2012

Saving a little at a time!

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I've reorganized my coupon binder, so it's all pretty.  It only took about 3 hours, and lots of mess...good thing we had an extra day off a few weeks ago for me to spend doing this...

 My new binder is a pretty pink zip up binder which has great pockets in it, where I keep all the coupons I get in the mail or coupons that I print!  I'm still using a lot of the same coupon sites, like,, Safeways justforU, and Coupon Chief

I'm not as extreme as some, but I do like to save money when I can and when it's easy.  It really does pay off to coupon, because even if I am saving a little bit at a time, it adds up!!  In fact, last year in October I stockpiled SO much...things like non-perishables and personal hygiene stuff, that we are just now having to re-stock.  Can you believe that?  I bought a year's worth of that stuff, and saved so much by not having to buy more over the past 12 months.  Ash & I still have a few body washes and shampoos/conditioners too.

I love to save here and there on shopping and eating out.  We bought a few of those entertainment books last year, and are still using those coupons for family nights out, or friend lunch dates.  Like today, Katie and I are going out to eat and probably going to use one of those coupons, it feels good to save on something we love to do!!

I've definitely cut down on shopping a lot in the past few years, but I do love to go out every other month or so and have a good retail therapy day.  With Target coupons, I can save on things like clothes, shoes, home goods and food.  I love finding retail coupons online too, I just found this awesome Old Navish coupon on Coupon Chief, and I love me some Old Navy so you can bet I'll be using this soon!  This one is great because you can print it out and use it in the store (print and use by 11/7).  With Christmas coming up, I'm trying to gather as many coupons as possible to save on all those gifts!

I'm still learning lots, but love what I am saving so far.  We've been able to save money, pay bills, and go on fun trips with our extra money.  I'd love to be "extreme" with it but I just don't have the time.  Plus, I hear that the show, Extreme Couponing, is just not typical which is kind of sad.  I'm always watching and wondering, "how in the world do they save so much?"  I try not to get caught up in it though, it can be overwhelming and I just remember that saving ANY amount of money is saving, right?  Right!!

I saved about $10 with coupons at Wal-Mart last week buying Halloween candy.  I have SO much Halloween candy!  I'm so glad Trick-or-Treating is actually happening tonight so I can get the candy OUT of my house!  I hope everyone is doing well and recovering from Sandy OK!!  We are doing just fine and never even lost power.  Schools are still closed but I think Maryland is starting to bounce back:)

Happy Halloween!  Safe travels tonight!!

October 29, 2012

My Harry Potter Pumpkin Pinterest Challenge!

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So we did do some decorating for Halloween, although now everything has been bring in and put away because Sandy is paying us a visit.  FYI we are OK for now and still have power, but it's only 2:15pm and they don't expect it to get too crazy until after 4pm.  Praying hard for everyone's safety and that our power doesn't go out!  FINGERS CROSSED!

Anyways, my pumpkin this year was inspired by Pinterest!  I'm joining up in a...

Hosted by Sherry, Katie, Carmel, and Sarah.  Here is my finished product...

 It's a Harry Potter pumpkin!!!  Isn't he SO cute???  For those of you who know me at all, you know I am obsessed with HP, to a fault I think.  I just love the books!!   Here is the inspiration picture, found from here...

Totes my pumpkin this year!!! Harry-Potter pumpkin...OMG LOVE!

I tried to copy him exactly, but I didn't make the scarf extend out because...well I didn't know HOW to do that, so I didn't.  I think he still looks pretty adorbs though, right?  Here Harry is sitting with Dave's (right, with RAVENS carved into it) and Ashley's (above, a scary face) and our pretty mums from Home Depot.

Oh and in other decor news, here is the BOO I made last year to hang on the door.  I bought the letters from JoAnn's with a coupon and then bought fall-ish scrap paper and decoupaged in on the letters.  They are really cute and our hanging on our deck door (the one we use as a front door).

I also have my coffee filter wreath from last year hung up on our front red door.  Heather and I made a few of these last year, you can read about that here.

So anyways, this HP pumpkin thing was so easy.  First I traced the scar and the eye balls right on the pumpkin.  Then carved them out and tweaked it as necessary.

I can see Harry in his eyes! LOL.

Then after the carving, I got out some craft paint that I had on hand and painted his hair and eyes and glasses on.  Then I used a gold and red paint to finish up the Gryffindor scarf.

He looks really sweet at night all lit up!

I added a mischievous smile to him because...just because:)

A picture with the flash and a picture without. 

Isn't he so sweet?  Such an easy pumpkin to carve and decorate too!  Maybe he will be an annual addition to our Halloween decor!  Before we carved our pumpkins we put up our fun Hallow decor...

...with purple and orange lights and the creepy tombstones with spotlights on them.  It looks better in person, but it's really fun!  On Halloween night we planned to play scary music for all the trick or treaters...but with Sandy visiting we think that Halloween won't happen this year.  Sad!

The end result with the pumpkins made the house look great.  But, sadly, all has been brought in to safety.  So to all of you who will have a Halloween, stay safe and don't go into a sugar coma!!!

Happy Halloween!!  Happy Hurricane Survival Week!!

Check out the links up there to the other blogs, they rock my world like crazy!

October 28, 2012

Things are getting Sandy around here...

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In true form of a NotsoBlandLife, we are in the path of one of the biggest hurricanes to ever hit the US.  In MARYLAND.  Yes, that is weird.  We hardly ever are hit by hurricanes, yet this is the 2nd one a little over a year.

This image was found here.

 [Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

As you can see, the whole state of Maryland is under the "cone" of Hurricane Sandy.  There is a little "S" right over our state?  Yes, our home is close to that S and that symbolizes wear the NOAA thinks the center of the storm will pass.  Fantabulous!

I love a good storm.  I love the hype and all the prep, it's excited.  I wanted to be a weather girl way back in the day.  So I love storms.  This storm though, this is going to be a big deal.  Last year, when Irene hit us, we lost power for 3 full days.  That was not fun.  Well, it was a first, but then it got old fast.  Plus, we didn't prepare enough.  Yes, we cleaned off our deck and brought in loose items and got gas, but as far as food and water and all that, we didn't prep very well.  We didn't starve either, but we lost a LOT of food because I went grocery shopping and bought all perishable items that we ended up having to eat fast or throw away.

We never lose power in storms, so we figured even if we did lose it during Irene, we'd get it back fast.  No.  Not how life works!  So this time, we've really prepared.  I didn't spend any money on perishable stuff.  I've frozen lots of water and baked some goods.  Last time we didn't bother with batteries, this time we've stocked up!

This is a satellite pic from Foots Forecast  from yesterday.  Look at how big that momma is!!!  Foot's Forecast is a great team of meteorologists that give us awesome updates around the Mid-Atlantic region.  We heart them!

We have done some prep but still need to tape down our table tiles and tie up that last chair so it doesn't blow away.

You can see the low, dark clouds are already starting to roll in.  The wind is starting to pick up too.

Flashlights, lanterns, batteries, candles, lighters...all ready.  The weatherman strongly oppose the use of candles so it's a decision you have to make for yourselves.  We usually light a candle, with a safe jar around it, in the bathroom on our main floor so we don't stumble around in there in the dark.  Plus, it smells nice, because...well, it's the bathroom;)

I've made cookies, and banana bread, and I am still planning on making some blueberry muffins and a small ham that will last well in a semi-cold fridge or cooler.  Good for sammies and general merriment;)

We are in the middle of cleaning out the fridge and freezer of things we don't need and filling it up with bags of ice (props to our awesome freezer ice maker that cranks ice out like a pro, we've been bagging it up for days) and bottles of water.  The milk jug is full of tap water and will serve to help keep the freezer or the cooler nice and cold.

Other things we are doing to prepare is pile up some blankets and pillows on our first floor so we can camp out there if needed, we want to stay off our top floor when it's bad because of the big trees behind our townhouse.  Also, we are making sure we bring Frodo's litter down from the guest room so he has a safe place to use the "facilities" (Lord help us all recover from the smell, he is a STINKY kitty) and also making sure he has enough food. 

Our games and books and important meds are going to hang out on the table for easy access.  We are also making sure our laundry is all caught up and put away, except I am pulling out a few full outfits and laying them out on the floor in our room so I don't have to stumble around looking for this or that.  We have our Fondue Pot and Sterno (Thanks Blythe, for the idea) all ready to heat up soups if needed. 

We also have 2 shop vacs ready to go in the basement, just in case water starts pouring in there.  We think the flooding problem is fixed since the buried drain next to our foundation has been disconnected.  We haven't had any problems since September when we asked our neighbors if we could PLEASE disconnect it during a rainstorm.  The drain is still buried there...but it's covered up so water can't get into it.  You never know though, with all the rain coming our way the basement may flood for other reasons.  We are ready to sop it up if that happens, as long as there is electricity.  Thank goodness we haven't fixed the mess down there yet...I'd be heart broken if we paid tons of money to fix it and it flooded again. 

Well, I think we are ready for this.  I'm wondering how much school we will miss, and if we will have to make it up again like last year (most counties applied for a waiver so they didn't have to, Harford County wasn't so nice!)  I hope everyone in the MD area and surrounding states is taking the precautions that the news is suggesting, when it comes to safety you can't ever be TOO prepared.  I pray you are all safe and sound at the end of Sandy's tantrum!  Hunker down!!

Any other things you are doing to prepare for the storm? 

October 19, 2012

It's about time!

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Over the past 2 months, our stairwell has looked like this...

It was still that brown-ish tan color, which did NOT match with the new gray...

I had to leave all the paint stuff out because eventually I WAS going to paint the stairwell.  It is a complicated process, so I put it off.

Dave thought it would be a great idea to take Ashley's first day of public school picture with this background.  Mostly gray walls, bad brown stair well, and tons of painting supplies in the background.  Good thing Ash is so cute, because the rest of the pic is YUCK!  

It took 2 months of living with it, and being so busy I could hardly stay awake at night, to get the motivation to finish!!  Finally, two weekends ago, I knew I had to finish!  Please excuse the pics, I took them at night.

Ahhhh, the cooling and lovely gray!  Now we just need new carpet.  If it's not one thing, it's another!

It so easy on the eyes, unlike that ugly brown.

Our house is a mess in this picture, but at least all the walls are gray now!  I love how the gray looks with the nice, white trim.  

My next project for this space is installing a chair rail up the stairs, and doing a huge gallery wall on the top.  It's going to be a big project, but so cool in the end.  I need to start getting my frames, pictures, and DIY art started.  I'm trying to figure out if I want all black frames, or all white frames, or a smattering of both.  I think both black and white look good with the color, but I hate all our dark furniture now so I am thinking I may like white better?  I have to think long on these things.  

Decorating a home is such a journey.  I decide on one thing, and let the idea cook for a while and then it morphs into something else, and then I get a new idea or learn of something new, and then I think outside the box and the idea changes again!  That's why I give myself some time, instead of jumping right in.  Even then, it's not fool proof.  Take the kitchen, for example.  I thought I wanted it yellow, and I agonized over colors of 6 months!!  Now, that I have gray walls, I know I want to change the color.  At first, I wanted a lighter, greenish yellow color, now I am re-thinking that all together.  Maybe another gray?  Maybe a mocha?  Maybe yellow, but another version?  I need to get more swatches up in here and think long and hard...

I guess the point is, there is some trial and error to jazzing up a home.  It may change and ebb and flow, but hopefully the end result is a beautiful space to live in.  I am loving the journey!!

October 16, 2012

A bit of Harford County, MD

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Havre de Grace, MD is a little town that is about 20 minutes away from our house.  It's located on the Susquehanna River, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.  It's a sweet little town.  Dave & I were married on the water at a farm named Swan Harbor...

There are tons of quaint streets to walk along with beautiful old houses and quirky antique stores.  Throughout the year, HDG hosts a lot of events.  This past weekend, they had their Graw Festival which was a good time!  The festival was themed around the Graw Horse Races of the 1920s and there were people all dressed up as if they walked out of a 1920s speakeasy.  So fun.

Dave and I went down to HDG to check it all out.  We walked around, people watched, and stopped into a few places for some refreshments.  The weather was awesome for strolling around!

See how sweet this town is?  You can see the water in the distance.  This is one of the main streets in HDG.  The festival had called for vendors and shops to spill out on the streets.  It was a good time to look at everything, but we didn't end up spending any money.  Free fun!!!

Here we are, having a good time!  Apparently that lady back there is have a good time too;)

We stopped into one of my fave restaurants down there, Laurrapin, and had some spring rolls and drinks.  YUMMO!  I definitely recommend the spring rolls.  Delish, delish...and we love the atmosphere in Laurrapin.  Very swanky.

This place is way cute on the outside, it's interior is a bit more...hearty.  This is where the locals go.  It's not as fancy inside as Laurrapin, but we loved the exterior and had to check it out.  It's called the Rodgers House Tavern.  This building has been around since before the war 1812! That's an old building!

Besides the main streets and shops, there is a promenade down by the water, complete with a little rocky beach, a grille for snacks, and a huge park and playground for the kiddos to walk around.  They have a lot of concerts around this area in the summer.

This is us last year (2011) for the annual 3rd of July can see the lighthouse back there.

Here is a view of the river, and the little rocky beach.  No swimming here!!

 This pic was taken last month when we had a family day in HDG...

Isn't it lovely here?

There is a nice little grill down by the marina where you can get burgers and sammies and ice cream and all sorts of unhealthy things;)

This is a house I'd love to live in!!  Overlooking the water...yes, please!  It's a museum.

We love bringing visitors here, can't you see why?

I love it so because it feels like a mini vacation when we are down here.  When I was younger and life was a little more...dramatic...I'd come down here and walk around if I needed to clear my head.  There is something about being near the water that is so calming to me. 

So that is Havre de Grace, MD.  My first little slice of our area, just for you!  Enjoy!