Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Another Couple of Reasons...

...Why I love my husband. 

When it came time to register for lil' Baby S, he wanted to come.  Not just a "Sure, I'll come because I have nothing better to do", but a "I want to come and be involved".  My heart melts.

For a while before we actually did the deed - that is, register - I had stalked constantly been on Babies R Us, Target, and Walmart's websites comparing, reading reviews, and price checking.  I had an idea of what I thought we would want/need as far as the big stuff goes. While we were at Babies R Us, we stopped at strollers and car seats.  I already had one in mind from another store, but Chris was very interested in this particular combo set.  He was looking it over like he would a car motor, reading the little description sheet, etc.  I told him about the other one I found, and in true non-chalant Chris form, he said "Okay, whatever".  Fast forward three hours later... We're home and the task of registering is finally over... I pull up a picture of the stroller I had been looking at and show it to him.  He then opens another web page with the stroller from BRU, and compares the two.  "I think this one is the sturdiest. The frame on this one is metal, as opposed to plastic on this other one... I also like that the baby can be completely enclosed under the canvas cover on this one..."  Looking out for Baby already.  I'm a puddle. 

During the registering process, Chris would randomly take the gun and go scan Heaven-knows-what...  One occasion that he did this, he came back and showed me that he scanned a "Color-Changing Thermometer".  Our house is old, and in the winter, it definitely has "cold spots".  One of those cold spots is the back bedroom, a.k.a. the kid's room.  This thermometer has three different colors for when the room is an okay temperature, or if the room gets too hot or cold.  I died. Got back up. And died again.  I'm in love with this man. 
{image courtesy of}

So as macho as he tries to appear on the outside, I know it's all just an act.  I can't wait for this never-changed-a-diaper, avoided-all-babies-up-to-this-point man to hold our kid for the first time.  I think I'll melt a few hundred times more.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You Say Tomato, I Say Bruschetta!

Does anything say "summer" like fresh garden ingredients and a little splash of oil and vinegar?  I didn't think so either.

Got a tomato in your kitchen?  I had three of them two days ago.  Now I have none. Thanks to a little French bread, feta, and herbs.  I'm grateful for my father-in-law, who keeps our cucumber, onion, and tomato supply freshly stocked, thanks to his great work in his garden.

This is a great little brunch finger food, or if you just have a hankering for something fresh and light. Like I did the other day.

Start with 3 medium sized tomatoes.  Cut tomatoes in half.  Squeeze the juice and seeds out and discard.  Chop in small pieces.

Add approximately 1t. Italian seasoning, 1t. dried basil (fresh herbs are even better though if you have them!), 2T. olive oil, and 2T. balsamic vinegar.  These are all to taste though, add more or less to your liking... I tend to lean towards the "more"side, so I would probably add more than the above measurements.

Mix equal parts cream cheese and feta cheese.  I used 6oz. of each because that's what I had.  I like the "flavored" fetas for this recipe...

I used a tomato and basil this time. I've also used a garlic herb that was just as amazing.

Your local grocery store should have long loaf of fresh french bread for about a buck and a half.  Can't beat that.  Of course you can make your own. I didn't this time.  I was hungry and needed food asap.
Slice bread in pieces about one inch thick.  Keep in mind that you have to take a bite after the cream cheese and tomatoes are on it... Bake bread in oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or broil or toast it.  Just until it gets a little crunch to it.

Spread feta/cream cheese mixture on, then top with tomatoes. 

And enjoy every bite :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dad Would Be Proud

Today I started making my baby linens.  I don't have a fancy - or even decent - sewing set-up, so I have to improvise.  I don't have a yard stick, or anything that would help me cut straight edges or 90 degree angles, so I went to the next best thing. A contractor's square and triangle.  I doubt this is what my dad had in mind when he taught us kids how to use tools, but it works like a charm.

Then I realized that I hadn't pre-washed the fabric.  So I'm at a stand-still at the moment.  But it gives me time to let you have a peek at what the color theme is going to be.

The background green is the wall color, and the fabrics will be made into a quilt, bumper, crib skirt, fitted sheet, and curtains.  The colors aren't exact in this picture, but it gives an idea.  I'm going for neutral, and I didn't want anything that was too cute-sy or baby-ish.  Depending on how well everything holds up, I hope to be able to use this for all of our kids to come :)

All fabrics will be in the quilt
#1 will be the crib sheet
#2 and #4 will be the bumper (one fabric per side)
#5 will be the crib skirt and part of the curtains

Master Bedroom Semi-Final Reveal

Well here it is!  Finally!!  There are a few finishing touches that will have to wait until either I win the lottery, or my husband gets a job.  

One of those touches will be wall art.  My walls are bare, but I'm okay with that.  Part of the reason is because of our limited finances, but the other part is I haven't found exactly what I want. And I'm not willing to settle.  I'm thinking along the lines of vintage/antique botanical prints, but that could change. What I've found is either too small or costs a fortune.

Yes, I know this before picture is as bad as it gets... Kind of like those before and after acne commercials. The before picture is no makeup, probably-just-used-steel-wool-to-wash-their-face, and after is brushed up, makeup on, great lighting... I tend to forget the "before" picture until I'm already starting the project, hence this pic, but you get the idea.



{the floral pillows are huge and square, and match the wall beautifully, and were a great price from TJ Maxx, and I love them}

Another great perk is that 2 out of the 3 sets of bed sheets I have go great with the new decor. Not that I don't love any opportunity to get fun new bed sheets, but remember we're on a budget here.

{new bedspread was also a great deal from TJ Maxx.  In love with that store}
I'll probably keep my eye open for a couple more throw pillows.  Maybe some fun contrasting colors.

{for the front throw pillow I recovered an existing pillow with an old pillow case I had. Totally free.}
Another project for installment two of the redo will be making a headboard...  I think it will set the bed apart and really make it stand out.

On to the curtains.  I decided to raise them to 92" to make the room feel bigger and the ceilings feel taller.  My mom just happened to have this great material that she was going to use in her living room, but decided not to.  And it just happened to match perfect with the room.  What a beautiful coincidence :)
I actually used the back side of the material.  It had kind of a gold-ish, shiny look to it, but the back side was a muted version.
{sorry about the camera lighting being so bi-polar}

I only had enough material for three panels, which it totally okay with me (corner windows are such a pain... four panels is too much material, and one panel on each end looks odd).  Figuring out how this would work with my two separate curtain rods took a bit of thought..

... So my DIY fix was a little bit of electrical tape.  I positioned the rod brackets a little off center to compensate (you can easily see this in all of the pictures).  This was all a guessing game.  Trial and error.  I wasn't sure that it would hold... Would it sag?  But amazingly, the rod brackets (which allow you to screw the rod onto the bracket to keep it secure) did great.  
I lined the curtains with blackout material.  It just so happened to be 60% off when I was at the fabric store, and I just couldn't pass up $2.40/yard!  I bought enough to do Baby's curtains as well.  Lemme tell you though, 18 yards of anything is a little intimidating :)  But I couldn't be happier with them.

I love our house.  I really do.  I think the crooked walls and floors give it character. But they also make hanging doors (and crown moulding) a headache.  Aside from that, a door is just another expense I didn't want to deal with at the time, so I bought a $5 sheer panel, and hung it with a rod I already had.  Honestly, I love it.  I grew up with a curtain as a closet door.  You can kind of see through it, but not details.

Another project that will happen after I strike it rich or husband is working again will be getting thin trim pieces to make 2x3 "boxes" that will go around the bottom half of the wall, giving it the appearance of colonial paneling.  I priced the trim, and it was going to be over $100.  Ick.  But this classy masking tape gives you the idea.  (It didn't show up great in the picture, just dig deep and put your imagination in over-drive)

Alright, I need your opinion.  Chris and I both have this black lamp base (his shade is lighter).  I bought some shiny silver spray paint that I thought I wanted to use on the lamps to help brighten everything up.  I'm just not sure though.  I kind of just want to go for it.  But will I regret it?  I also thought about doing something fun with my night stand.  Painting the baskets maybe?  I'd love any ideas you have!

And just because I love to look back and forth from before and after pictures, I'll leave you with one more...

{my oasis}

The estimated breakdown of everything so far:
- crown moulding & chair railing (with the help of a small gift card) - $120
- paint - $50
- bedspread - $50
- two ginormous pillows - $40
- curtain - $18
- closet "door" - $5

Total - $283

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A small vent... and not the floor kind

As I thought about whether or not to write this post, I realized that I started this blog as an outlet.  An outlet for anything and everything...  Recording memories, sharing my love for the kitchen, an online journal of sorts, and every once in a while, an outlet to vent.  I hope to not do that often on here.  My husband and mother are two wonderful people who allow me to verbally vomit on them when need be.  But am I being real if I only blog about happy rainbows and smiley faces?  I desire to be a translucent person.  I don't want to not blog about something just because it might not make someone smile.  
So here is some real-ness.  Take it or leave it.

*On a side note, I'm so excited that you're here reading my blog! It really does means a lot to me.  Please respect that these are my hormonal, pregnancy emotions and thoughts.  Please keep the nay-saying to yourself.  Everyone has opinions, I know.  But express them to your significant other, your mama, or your dog. Please don't rake me over the coals by means of a comment.  Thanks :)

3 Things People Say That Have Really, Really Irked Me During This Whole Pregnancy Thing:

1.  We have decided not to find out the sex of our baby.  When we tell people this, the most common reaction is a combination of the following: "Wow! I could never do that" "I'm such a planner, I have to know" "How could you not find out? That would drive me crazy"

Okay people.  I am a self diagnosed OCD.  I add completed tasks to my To-Do lists just to mark them off.  Organizing and planning things makes me feel complete.  It's pathetic. It's sad, really.  When it comes to this baby, I want to know what we are having.  But we chose not to.  Not for lack of wanting to.  It would be so much easier to figure out this whole nursery thing, and pick up little pink ruffled bloomers or baby overalls (is there anything cuter?). But we also think it's like opening your Christmas gift before Christmas.  There are few good surprises in life.  You gotta take them when they come. In my opinion.

2.  People with ill-behaved children that say "See what you have to look forward?"

Umm, sorry, but no, I don't.  My child will behave.  My child will not scream in public, because at home he/she will learn that screaming (whether in public or at home) is not acceptable.  Thankyouverymuch.

3.  This is probably the most frustrating one of all.  When people find out that I'm staying at home with my kids and won't be returning to work.  "That must be nice.  I wish I could do that, but we can't afford to".

Alright.  Disclaimer: I know that there are very few circumstances when this is truly impossible.  But you also don't need weekly manicures, name brand clothing, a big screen television, or a fancy car.  There's this foreign word that most people of my generation have never heard of.  The word is frugal.  Look it up.  I'm guessing that most people think "Her husband must make good enough money that they don't have to worry about only having one income."  Nothing could be further from truth.  We're gonna be scraping by - especially since we have no idea what job God will be giving Chris here in the future.  But we're not stressing about it.  I know that God has placed this desire in my heart, and I know that He is going to provide in several "fish-and-bread" kind of miracles (see Matthew 14:13 and following).  He's not setting us up for failure.  So all of that to say No! We don't have Franklins coming out of our noses. We don't have an abundance of cash-flow.  But it's not our money anyway.  We remain grateful for what He has given us and how He continues to provide.  Amen. The end.

If you're still reading, I'm shocked.  But thank you.  It sure feels good to get that off my chest.  

Coming very soon... Master bedroom re-do final pics and a teaser of the Baby room colors and inspiration!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Christmas In July Letter 2010

To those of you who have received our previous CIJ letters in the mail, and to those who have never heard of such thing, welcome to the last two years of our lives.

We have sent one out ever since we've been married (can you believe it's been four years??) with the exception of last year.

I'll be brutally honest.  Last year is one I am glad to have under our belts... 

2009 was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions... Waiting, closed doors, waiting more, a glimpse of hope, hope deferred... And waiting.  I'm sure you can imagine that our marriage was put through the ringer along with everything else.  God is so incredibly good, and He continues to mend, heal, and make new every aspect of our lives, individually and together as one.  Coming out of the valley, heading upwards is always a rejoiced time to be in.

Since April of 2009, Chris has been applying, taking tests, having interviews, and taking more tests to get hired onto the Wichita Police Department.  He didn't make it into the academy that started beginning of this year, so he has started the process over again (unfortunately they only keep files open for a year).   The word on the street - that changes like the setting sun - is that another academy will start beginning of 2011.  As his wife, I have never seen Chris so dedicated and enthusiastic about a career.  He has done several ride-alongs with my brother Bryan (who is on the WPD), and every time Chris gets back, he's just more excited about it.  I know his heart is in this one hundred percent, so we will persue (and wait) until God's timing is revealed to us.

Last April ('09) we lost our first baby due to miscarriage.  When the time came around to write our CIJ letter, I felt like there was nothing "good" to write...  Or anything hopeful for that matter.  I didn't want a letter full of optimism, because honestly, I didn't have much.  And I'm not one for lying :)

Almost a year after the miscarriage, we were ecstatic - and nervous - to find out we were expecting again.  As I write today, Baby Bean Shields is 26 weeks.  We'll find out around October 13th whether we're blessed with a boy or girl when he/she makes their appearance :)  When Baby gets here, I'll be staying home from work indefinitely.  Ever since I was young, the one thing my heart desired was to have a husband and family, and stay at home with my (12) kiddos.  Okay, okay, we've agreed on 4... For now :)  Will things be tight? Counting on it. Will we wonder sometimes how God is going to keep the lights on? Most definitely.  But, do we know that He is faithful to provide as we follow the road He has put before us?  Absolutely. No question. Case closed.

As of June 8th, Chris is officially unemployed.  The only thing we can do is laugh at God's timing.  Baby on the way, and daddy out of a job :)  Alright God, what do You have up Your sleeve for us?

Chris continues with sports.  Hockey began in October and ended in March.  Church league softball started in May.  I'm sure he would have been first in line to sign up for summer hockey league, but he probably tries to avoid the stink-eye from his wife as much as possible.

Chris has also taken up the hobby of smoking meat.  If you ask me, I think he likes the process.  Put the meat in the smoker, pull up a chair - or hammock - get a cold drink, and do absolutely nothing (except look at it check it every once in a while) until it's time to take the meat off.  But no one asked me.
{case in point}

I finished my Associates degree August '09.  Apparently I was only one class away, so Music Appreciation was taken, passed, and now the piece of paper is displayed proudly in the basement, in a folder... Somewhere.

For more specific events of the past year, feel free to peruse the blog.  I've tried to keep it updated as best I can...  And for future information, this is where you will find our Christmas In July letters.
{Marley - 2 1/2 & Chelsea 8 1/2}

Speaking of blogging, it has become one of my favorite things to do.  Although my consistency is not hinged on that fact ;)  I have started to post recipes with how-to pictures and easy-read instructions, and hope to start a DIY section in the future.

There's always a house project to be done, and we're slowly chugging through that "to do" list.  Right now I'm in the middle of freshening up our master bedroom (we're gonna need an oasis pretty soon, right?) then it will be time to paint Baby's room and get it all ready for the lil' tot :)

Thanks for stopping in for a peek into our lives the last couple of years.  We hope you come back and "visit" often, and let us know what you've been up to as well!

Chris and Ginny (and Baby)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Four Years

July 1, 2006.  A day that changed both of our lives.  Forever.  For the better.

I can't believe everything that we have gone through in the mere four years that we have been together as husband and wife.

Four years ago I didn't think I could love you more.  Oh, how wrong I was.

Four years ago I had a picture in my head about what happily ever after was.  I now know that happily ever after is for the novels and movies.

Happy is a fleeting emotion.  Dedication is not.  Commitment is not.

Don't get me wrong, we've had a blast.  I love the inside jokes we have together.  I chest hair you.  I love that we both love road trips.  I love discovering new places with you, and only you.  I love turning off on country roads with you.  Remember Nebraska?  And I love traveling those familiar roads with you listening to Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me".

I love that you know when I'm cranky and need time to myself.  I love that I know you hardly ever need time alone and I can always count on you for shoulder time. I love that you don't hold grudges.  May I learn from you how not to. 

Thank you for loving me and all my awful quirks.  Thank you for loving me with morning breath, smeared makeup, and rat's nest hair.

I wish I could say that it has all been wonderful and blissful.  Or maybe I don't.  Maybe it's the tough times that you push through together that makes your vows even more powerful and resilient.  No, resilient isn't the correct word. Resilient means returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.  No, we have not returned to where we were four years ago. Yes, we have been bent. We have most definitely been stretched.  And we've come out on the other side of the fire.  


Yes, refined is a more fitting word.  It is taking out the impurities to makes something perfect.  No, we are not perfect.  But together on this journey, we are constantly being refined by the One who brought us together.  

So here's to the four years we have under our belt.  And the countless ones before us.  May we remember what got us here. The good. The bad. And the ugly.  May we continue to explore and experience more love than we though possible. And may we continue to be refined. Together. For life.

{ and they lived... ever after }