Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Luckiest.

A few words about my husband:

Funny. Loyal. Smart. Hot. Thoughtful. Resourceful. Silly. Devoted. Playful. Cute. Talented. Sweet. Kind.

Nate is the best husband a girl could ask for. He cooks. He takes out the garbage. He hauls stuff to the basement. He unloads the dishwasher. He cleans out my car. He gets up at 5am (and sometimes earlier) to take Mattie out. He finds ways to keep busy while I watch Gossip Girl. He leaves me notes on the counter and buys me flowers. He always has a glass of wine ready for me at the end of a hard day. He makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. He puts up with my mood swings, which can be severe. He always tells me I'm a good cook, even though we both know I'm not. He is supportive and loving and good to me always.

I am so thankful to be his wife.

A look back at our wedding day — April 30, 2005. It was a beautiful day, in every way possible.

Happy anniversary, Nate. I love you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring OCD.

Things have been busy at the Breyer household. I got a bee in my bonnet a few weeks ago and announced to Nate that it was officially TIME TO GET STUFF DONE. There isn't a lot to do — our house is pretty charming on its own and doesn't really require much decoration. But prior to last weekend, we only had three things hanging on the entire first floor: a mirror in the dining room, a magnet board in the kitchen, and a print in the entryway. Plus, we have no window treatments. (Well, that's not entirely true, if you count paper construction blinds held up with binder clips.) I felt like it might be time to start decorating.

Around this time, I also experienced an overwhelming need to clean and organize. (Spring, I have found, makes people do things they would never ordinarily do.)

As a result, I have adopted a slightly crazed, get-it-done mentality. And Nate has been swell about helping me make it happen. First we bought a new dresser and reorganized all of our closets. We found a weird poster of botanical prints at Ikea, cut them out, framed them ourselves, and hung them in our living room. We took two prints we had at home (one that Nate got at the Louvre when traveling across Europe, and one I bought from a very talented artist in Chicago) and had them professionally framed. We cleaned out our basement and added to the huge pile of crap we plan to sell at our garage sale next month. I finally started making curtains for the hallway and kitchen (using fabric I bought over a year ago). I framed and arranged family pictures. We picked out fabric swatches for dining room curtains and decided on wood blinds for the living room. We hung cute plates up in the kitchen. I reorganized all of the kitchen cabinets, and sorted through the buffet in our dining room. I pulled our throw pillows out of storage and put them on the couch. I bought a new shower curtain and liner. I reorganized our office bookshelves, finally put all of my pictures into photo storage boxes, and neatly stacked all of my craft and sewing supplies.

It's been an exhausting couple of weeks, but we are pleased with the results. Our house doesn't look that different, but it's clean and organized and finally has some stuff on the walls.

Now we can start thinking about the yard...

Monday, April 28, 2008

A slight problem.

Why can't I go to the mall and walk past Banana Republic without buying something?

I went to the mall today with a clear mission: buy a gift for someone else. Not for me. I DON'T NEED ANYTHING. I repeated this a few times in my head prior to entering the mall.

Unfortunately, I am a bad listener.

I got the gift. While she was ringing me up, the sales girl asked "are you going to stop anywhere else while you're here?" and I said "Nope! I have to get back to work." I didn't really, but you know - that's what you say when you're trying to convince yourself not to shop. But of course Banana was on my way out, and there is no harm in looking. Right?

I walked out 10 minutes later with three shirts.

It's just one of those stores that always works for me. For example - they have an awesome pair of jeans right now. And they are super long. It's not easy to find jeans that fit my extensive criteria:

1) Fitted at the top, comfortable through the thigh and knee, and flared at the bottom.
2) Dark, but not too dark.
3) Stretchy, but not so stretchy that the butt sags after wearing them for an hour.
4) Long enough to wear with heels, but not so long I can't wear them with flats.*
5) Well positioned back pockets. Can't be too high or too far apart. Or too close together, for that matter.
6) Dressy enough for work.

*Number four on this list is actually impossible, which is why I bought two pairs — I had one pair hemmed for heels, and one for flats. I am contemplating a third and fourth, just as back up. What if I am wearing heels and my longer pair is dirty? What if I'm wearing flats and I spill something all over my lap on my way out the door? None of my other jeans measure up.

Anyway, these are awesome jeans. My coworkers are probably sick of seeing me wear them. Or they are wondering if I have any other pants. I do, but whatever. If you had these jeans you'd wear them everyday, too.

Banana Republic Classic Indigo Wash Flap Pocket Wide Leg Jean

Monday, April 21, 2008

Southern comfort.

I forget how much I love the south — and Alabama in particular. It has a lot going for it: warm weather, beautiful scenery, lovely people, delightful accents, fried food, and my dear, sweet grandparents.

My family (minus Jill, who was closing on her new house) spent the past four days visiting my grandparents (Nana and Papa Staggs, my mom's parents) in Alabama. Nana and Papa knew my mom was coming — she's been making the trip more regularly now that they are getting a bit older and need more help around the house — but had no idea my dad, Jordan and I were coming, too. Jordan and I flew into Nashville, where we met my mom and rented a car. My grandparents were shocked to see us (it had been a few years) and even more shocked the next day when my dad appeared (he drove down after traveling to Ohio for work). But they were absolutely thrilled.

We had a great time. Most of the trip was spent eating (Jordan estimated that he ate 14 biscuits per day), but we did what we could to help them while we were there. Jordan and my dad got Papa's riding lawn mower fixed, added locks to their windows on the porch, chopped down large tree branches, pulled weeds and hauled things around my grandpa's store (he owns "Simmons Fasteners and Supply" so there are nuts and bolts galore around there). My mom and I moved boxes, dusted, ironed, mopped and set up shelves for my grandma's store — "Jean's Past and Presents." (How cute is she?) She makes purses and all kinds of crafts, and is also going to sell all the stuff she's collected in her house over the years. They thought we did too much work while we were there, and we felt like we barely made a dent. But I know our efforts meant a lot to them. The rest of the time was spent chatting, reminiscing and laughing. I felt like a kid again, watching the cows out back, exploring Nana's sewing room and eating chocolate gravy for breakfast each day.

I left yesterday with a heavy heart. I miss my grandparents already, and worry that I won't get to spend nearly enough time with them in the future. But I have already decided to go back this fall, and Nate is planning to come along, too.

I can't wait to introduce him to the place and people I love so much.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tuff plush?

There's no such thing, as far as I'm concerned.

Our puppy is what we like to call an "aggressive chewer." This is the affectionate term used for dogs like ours by pet owners like us. It means "Our dog is crazy and rips everything apart. But oh - isn't she cute? We love her so much."

Mattie loves to put things in her mouth. Anything, really. But she is partial to a few items in particular: underwear, paper towels, ponytail holders, small pieces of plastic and paper, grass, leaves and plants, and anything that squeaks loudly. But socks are the real issue - we are constantly chasing her around the house trying to salvage our footwear. She snatches our socks and takes off running before we even know she has them, which usually means what we get back is nothing more than a limp piece of fabric with holes in both ends. (We're glad it's getting warmer, because sandal season should be a bit easier.)

While I'm sure there's nothing tastier than our smelly old socks, I think Mattie is really just trying to recapture the joy she felt when she was allowed to have plush toys.

When she was a baby, we had all kinds of squeaky stuffed animals laying around. She loved them. Particularly the ones twice as big as her head - she'd prance around with them, holding her head back like a seal balancing a ball on its nose. But soon we began noticing these animals were missing fringe, tails, limbs, etc. And every time she pulled off an appendage, we'd have to throw it away (lest she eat all of the stuffing). Nate quickly realized that soft toys were not the way to go, so he began purchasing tennis balls and rubber squeaky toys. Most of which are still around today.

I, however, always felt like there had to be a soft toy that could withstand our dog's exuberant chomping. And I tried. I bought different shapes and textures, but she tore each one apart with glee. The time it took for her to destroy these toys became less and less. So I gave up, even though I knew how much she loved having a big, fluffy toy in her mouth. We resorted back to rubber.

Until yesterday. I decided to hit up Petco for a new rawhide, and wandered past a display with "Tuff Plush" toys (which are THREE TIMES stronger than regular toys). I picked out the toy with the least amount of stuff to pull off and inspected every inch. It looked pretty durable. I pulled on it, checked the seams, made sure there weren't any red flags...and bought it.

The minute I came through the door, Mattie started dancing around. (She totally knew.) So I pulled it out of the package, cut off the tags, and handed it over. And she pranced right past me, happy as can be. She happily began squeaking it -- and everything looked secure -- so I went to check my email.

Two minutes later a leg was missing and there was a pile of stuffing on the floor.

Never one to give up easily, I remembered a trick my friend Nikki taught me: take out the stuffing and leave the carcass. So I got out a pair of kitchen tongs and pulled all the stuffing out until it was just a tube with a head. Then I cut the other legs off so she wouldn't eat them.

Less than two minutes later, she'd eaten half the body. I buried it in the trash under a bag filled with its own innards and gave her the rawhide instead.

Lesson learned. We'll stick with socks.

Mattie with a few of her plush toys (may they rest in peace):

Monday, April 7, 2008

Get me out of here.

Now that I'm past the stress of the ever-important first post, I can talk about something fun. Namely my recent trip to California.

Minnesota is gross right now. And confusing. A week ago it was in the 50s and sunny. The next day it snowed eight inches. Saturday it was 60 and sunny. Yesterday it was 45 and rained. Now it's just sloppy and wet and kind of cold. Ish. I am going to block all of that out by remembering how beautiful California was.

I want to quit my job and move there.

Nate and I spent two days in San Francisco and three days in wine country last month. A few highlights from each locale:

San Francisco:

1) Riding the BART. I love mass transportation. It's way easier than hailing a cab. At least for us...we don't hail cabs in Minnesota. I think it's an acquired skill.

2) Being near the ocean. I know we have 10,000 lakes, but it's just not the same.

3) The shopping! We stayed in Union Square, right by Barney's, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and a million other places that make me happy.

4) The food was good everywhere we went. We ate at Delfina, A16 and Canteen. They were all yummy. Delfina has a really fun atmosphere and excellent food. The sommalier at A16 was really helpful, and the pizza was to die for. Canteen was great, even though I got really crabby after spilling a big blob of cranberries down the front of my yellow shirt.

5) Everyone is super nice in CA. I would be too, if I lived somewhere that pretty.

Napa Valley:

1) Sterling Vineyards. The gondola ride up the hill was beautiful. And the views from the top were incredible.

2) Plumpjack. One of our favorite stops of the trip. Very laid back, really good wine, and a cat to snuggle.

3) Woodhouse Chocolate. The most incredible chocolatier I've been to. The chocolate was awesome, and the boxes were adorable.

4) Yountville. So quaint. I want to live in this town.

5) Ad Hoc. My favorite meal of the trip. I love Thomas Keller so much.

Sonoma Valley:

1) Our cottage. Super cute.

2) Matanzas Creek. One of our favorite wineries. Great wine, beautiful lavender fields.

3) Bella. Our other favorite vineyard in Sonoma. They had tastings in a cave!

4) Cyrus. We had a lovely meal here our last night. It was impeccable in every way.

5) Kendall Jackson's garden. They have a sensory garden, which is really neat. We got to eat asparagus right out of the ground. And they had a cat, too.

6) The scenery. Incredible. Of the two valleys, Sonoma was my favorite. I can't describe how breathtaking it was. I loved the mustard fields.

I will post some pictures now, because a trip somewhere this beautiful requires visual aids.

First post.

I've been at a loss about what to say in my inaugural post. Which is why I've had this blog set up for a good ten months without any entries. So I'm not going to say anything except hello, welcome, and check back occasionally. At some point this might get interesting.

No promises, though.
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