Friday, October 30, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!







Well, I've never been THAT into Halloween, but now that I'm a mommy, I guess I need to start getting into the spirit. :) Obviously, this year, we're not going to be taking Patrick trick or treating or anything like that... He wouldn't get it and we certainly don't want to present him with candy right now. We've found that lately, when he's interested in something and we take it away, he cries, which breaks mommy's heart. So we're just avoiding the candy thing until he's ready to eat it!

Meanwhile, Patrick's "school" had a little Halloween party yesterday, so we put the little guy in a simple costume and sent him off to celebrate with his little buddies. We took these photos of him in his costume (check out the last one - he's showing his new chompers). That's a cute kid, if I do say so!!

Sheridan and I are supposed to attend a Halloween party tomorrow night, but given that I'm laid up on the couch today with a stupid cold, we'll see if we actually make it. I was planning to recycle a costume from a couple of years ago, but I'd DIE to wear one of these!!!! See below:


Can you imagine? That would be such a riot - wearing this wig, rotten behavior would be part of the persona... It could be hilarious!

Can't wait to see pics of all your little ones in their costumes - email photos and post on Facebook, por favor!

Love, Mer

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visiting the Darbys



We were recently in Houston and dropped by the Darbys' house to meet the brand new Griffin and see Finn, Shannon and Petri AS WELL AS see Gina, Caroline from London, Maria AND Philip (we gave and received lots of hugs). As you'll see, we had Baci with us, who behaved quite badly at their house; he ate one of Finn's Halloween toys - a pumpkin shaped ball - barked at the cat, and insisted on being in most of the photos taken. Stupid dog - just can't reason with him! haha

Anyway, I'm sure we'll have a million more chances to take pictures with our babies, but here's our first attempt. At least Shannon and I are looking at the camera!! hehehe

Love, Mer

Monday, October 26, 2009

STUPID *(^&^%$@ EASEL!

OK, so some of you might know this, but it might be news to others of you. After daydreaming for months about decorating my house, I have decided that I want very colorful, abstract, original artwork for my new house and am teaching myself to paint so that I can create it myself!

I plan to decorate our family room and dining room in mid-century modern/ eclectic/ eco-friendly styling. What does that mean? I can't explain it, but I have a picture of it in my head and it's super cool! I have been inspired by the mid-century modern chairs that were passed along to me by my late grandmother, and am soon recovering for our family room. They are cube-shaped club chairs (2 of them), with very straight lines, and I'm having them reupholstered in cream and white houndstooth fabric. I can't WAIT to get that project going!

But anyway, I want cool, abstract artwork for these rooms with lots of gorgeous colors... All the furniture will be chocolate and cream, so the accents (pillows, vases, flowers, artwork) will provide pops of color in the rooms. I have an idea in my head of what I want, but A) probably can't afford custom, original artwork and B) probably wouldn't be able to find it anyway... so I'm painting it myself!

My mother in law is a very talented artist - she has painted all the watercolor prints of animals in Patrick's nursery and bathroom, a few pictures for our guest suite, and the most GORGEOUS portrait of my crazy Maltipoo, Baci. I'm so honored that she took the time to paint this fabulous future heirloom for our family. Words really can't describe how cute this portrait is, so here it is for your viewing pleasure:


Anyway, I continue to digress. Back on point - MIL took me to Hobby Lobby to show me what supplies I need, how to use the brushes, and given me tips on how to achieve what I'm hoping to do. I have been messing around with some practice canvases, brushes, colors, etc. and have an idea of what I want to do now. I started the big painting for my dining room (36"x 48", I'm not messing around!) and it's coming along nicely. I'll post pictures of my handiwork when it's done. :)

Meanwhile, I bought a painting easel at Hobby Lobby, and this STUPID easel did not come with directions! I'm usually pretty handy with assembling things, but I tinkered and tinkered with this thing for about 40 minutes until I finally had to consult the hubby, and then the internet. I found one single blog post of another woman who also had the same problem with this easel (Hobby Lobby Fine Art Traditional Easel - A13114) and it saved the day. (Thank you Dixie Belle: http://dixiebelle.blogspot.com/2007/07/easel.html) I thought I'd pass along the same advice just in case any other individuals needing help with directions aren't able to find the Confessions of a Bargain Hunter blog.

OK, the secret to this stupid *$@&^& easel is that the two pieces that form the shelf are meant to be on opposite sides of the stand; the long screw with the loop attaches both pieces together and the tension from this screw holds all of the pieces together. See pictures below:


Anyway, that's too much info for the average Mer Show reader, but for any of you that have found me by googling "how the *^%$##^& do you assemble the Hobby Lobby A13114 easel?", I hope that helps!!

For my regular readers, I hope you have a great week and thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts today.

Love, Mer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Last Vegan Post

And then I'm done - seriously. I recommend this book highly to anyone that's interested in learning more about how to eat more healthfully and look gorgeous as a result!! (Not that I follow it religiously, but I do feel guilty when I *don't* follow the principles... does that count?)

There are tons of great veg recipes in there and lots of great information about how to use nutrition to your full advantage. And it's just entertaining - the writers are also funny bitches, in addition to being skinny bitches.

Love, Mer

Vegan Chili

OK, so my friend Roni passed me a chili recipe a long time ago that rocks my world. I make it about once a week and have been missing it over the last 10 days of my vegan cleanse... So Sheridan and I got creative and tried it a couple of nights ago, using tofu instead of turkey meat. And you know what? It was REALLY GOOD!!! I recommend this very highly, as it's really tasty, filling, and animal product free!





MER'S VEGAN CHILI

1 package firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 small onion, chopped
minced garlic - 2 or 3 gloves
4 T chili powder (I use the HEB San Antonio chili powder for those of you in TX)
half a bottle of Shiner Bock or whatever beer you have handy :)

Brown tofu and onions in a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan. When onions are soft and browned, add cans of tomatoes, beans, garlic, beer, and chili powder, stir and simmer for about 30 minutes. I served it with shredded soy cheese on top (see picture of the brand above, although we used the pepper jack flavor; this stuff is SO GOOD) and crackers. YUM!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Get Green!

As you guys know, I'm a hippie dressed in suburban mom's clothing. A friend of mine, Angie B., works for the City of Austin as a Waste Diversion Planner, which means that she's a part of the crew that oversees the recycling efforts for the city. So I asked her to inform us on some good recycling practices and an idea of what else we can do to help out the city's efforts to reduce, recycle, and reuse. Even if you don't reside in Austin, there is some really helpful info here, especially about how to recycle different materials, composting, etc. so please take a minute to read this post.

Be the change!!! Mer

---------

A call to Austin citizens -


This is a letter to inform you of how the City of Austin practices their public recycling efforts as well as some further information you may find useful. Written in full via a city employee who cares and believes that we should all do what we can to make a difference. As cliché as it may sound…what each of us does, indeed has an impact!


The city offers many programs to help its citizens dispose of household waste as well as programs that will assist neighborhoods in beautifying streets and parks.


To begin, let’s visit the garbage collection. If you have city collection service (you pay the fee in your monthly utility bill) the city offer’s a Pay-As-you-Throw program which allows customers to choose between three sizes of carts – 130, 60, and 90 gallon – to meet their household needs. Garbage is collected once a week. (ps, there is no fee if you want to decrease the size of your can, but there is a fee if you choose to increase the size)


Next, we have Single Stream Recycling. In October of 2009, the city implemented a program that allows citizens to put all recyclable materials into the same blue, 90 gallon cart and the city will collect your cart bi-monthly. Items that are accepted are mix paper, cardboard, plastics (#1 -7), metal, glass, and box board (soda boxes, cereal boxes). The following items are not recyclable…window glass, broken glass, Styrofoam, yard trimmings, food items, metal hangers, garbage, and plastic grocery bags. The city will pick up your yard trimmings on your garbage day, but please do not put them into your garbage or recycling containers. You can take your plastic grocery bags where to the grocery store you frequent and they should be able to recycle them for you. The city is unable to recycle plastic bags because they are not heavy enough to weigh in the material recovery machinery and they end up clogging all the vacuum seals!


Yard Trimmings such as grass clippings, leaves, small branches can be tied and set out next to your garbage containers on garbage day and the city will collect them and take them to a facility in which they are turned into Dillo Dirt, which is a product that is sold in local hardware stores to be used as fertilizer and soil conditioner!


At this time, the city does not have the resources to offer a curb-side composting program, but we do urge you to create your own compost pile in your backyard with some chicken wire and stakes. Even if you don’t use the compost in your garden, you are still saving the air quality as 20% of our landfills are food scraps which decompose among garbage to create lethal levels of methane and CO2.


The city also offers the following services, and should you have any questions, please have a look at the following link, Austinrecycles.com.


**Large Brush Collection (2x/yr)

**Large Bulk Collection (2x/yr)

**Street Sweeping

**Dead Animal Control

**Litter Control

**Household Hazardous Waste Facility (open to the public 2 days/wk)


●ps, the public can also get FREEEEE paint and other chemicals at this facility’s Re-store!●


We also offer special services for the physically disadvantaged and elderly. For example, our collections staff will come up to your house to get your garbage and recycling containers should you be unable to get them to the curb!


Another program that the city offers is the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) which assists residents and neighborhood groups with neighborhood cleanups! With this program, neighbors can work together to help clean up their neighborhoods and rid alleys and vacant lots of litter and debris. Neighborhoods are limited to one cleanup per year. For more information, please call 974-4352.


We are here to help and educate, please feel free to call with any further questions or concerns…


Alas…REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

House for Sale or Rent

Hi guys! So the house that we're currently renting is now on the market or available for rental, as well. This is a GREAT house in a great location in Northwest Austin/ Anderson Mill area and we're going to be out at the end of November, so rental can begin as early as December 1st. OR you could possibly take advantage of that $8000 tax credit and buy this great property for a steal of a price. For more information and photos, check out this site: http://vt.realtour.biz/?P=36380

Actually, this property is a condo which means that it's governed by an HOA that takes care of the yards and the neighborhood; that means there is little maintenance required by the homeowner and home insurance is covered by the HOA fees. However, please note that this is a free-standing structure with no attached neighbors. The best of both worlds!

Love, Mer

YUM

OK, so this rocks too! I'm serious, you really need to try one of these (find them in the frozen aisle in the grocery store):

Monday, October 12, 2009

House Stuff

OK, peeps, it's just about go time! We're going to be closing on the house in about 6 weeks!! Wow! That means two things - packing and decorating are top priorities these days.

My friend Anna sent me pictures of her absolutely adorable house in Columbia, South Carolina and it was really inspiring. Per normal, Anna, your eye for design is super stylish yet comfortable, and totally YOU. It made me think - maybe if some of my friends sent me some pictures of some of the work you've done in your house, it'll inspire me with some new ideas for my house! So friends... help a sista out. Please send me photos of your beautiful homes or any projects that you've done that you're particularly proud of - I'd love to get some inspiration from friends and family!

And second, although I AM the queen of moving and packing, this move is a little bit more intimidating than the rest. I'm used to packing up apartments where only *I* lived - not organizing a move for 3 people and a high maintenance dog while keeping up with high energy baby. The last time I moved from a house, the Navy paid for the movers to come and do it for me - I didn't lift a finger (ahhh, that was NICE)! So in an effort to organize my thoughts and help out Mrs. Darby, who is planning a big ole move of her own, I'm going to list out my game plan, as it stands now. I have 6 weekends left before the big move, and 2 of those are shot because I'm heading to Houston this weekend and we have visitors from San Diego the first weekend in November. So that gives us 4 weekends left before the close date.

1st weekend:
*Gather boxes, newspaper, storage boxes for packing, store in garage
(Purchase flat boxes (small, medium, and large), heavy duty packing tape, tape dispenser at Home Depot - they sell awesome flat moving boxes that you assemble for pennies; banana boxes from the grocery store are free, heavy-duty, and have handy handles - I always use these to move)
*Clean out linen closets, junk drawers, file cabinets, bookshelves, pantry, etc. - get rid of stuff that needs to go and doesn't need to get moved
*Pack up serving platters, china, and stuff in kitchen that doesn't get used often as well as DVDs (cuz what new parent has time to watch movies?), store in garage
*Start lining up childcare for the day of the move
*Figure out what local mover we're going to use to pack the truck, drive it to the new house, and unload it (Sheridan and I have figured out that this is the most worthy money that could ever be spent!)
*Get all the stuff that Patrick's outgrown organized and put in storage boxes

OK, that's all I can muster for now. I'll try to get my gameplan up an running here pretty soon, but that's a good start, right?

Have a great week and please send me pics of your houses!!

Love, Mer

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vegan Delights

OK, FYI, these are awesome!!!!


Friday, October 09, 2009

Latest Picture of the House


Closing date - November 24th. Just in time for the first time homebuyers' tax credit!! Wooo hoooooo!!! That's gonna help us buy some furniture for this monstrosity. :)

Review of Neat Loaf

Well, I thought the mixture looked a little dry, so I added a can of tomato soup to moisten it up a little... I don't recommend this - it made it too gooey. SORRY SHERIDAN!! I promise tonight's vegan delight will be tastier (hopefully, I really need to do some good research before serving up tonight's dish...)!

For dinner tonight, I'm either going to try coconut curry tofu, like PF Chang's dish - it's lots of delicious veggies and tofu in a yellow coconut curry - or maybe vegan burritos. Mmmm, I'm getting hungry.

Gotta go have breakfast! Love, Mer

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cleaning House

Nope, not literally - my bag is still packed from our trip to San Jose last weekend and I don't really see a light at the end of the tunnel there - but figuratively. I measured my waistline yesterday and truly wanted to cry. I was thinner 2 weeks after having Patrick than I am right now. I know that part of it has to do with my birth control method (TMI, sorry), but given that said birth control is a way of life, I need to figure out how to slim down and feel healthier. My skin has been looking tired lately, and I'm sluggish and not terribly energetic... I think it's time for a cleanse!

Now, with all the madness in my life right now, I don't really think I'm capable of The Master Cleanse again - feeding a husband and baby would just be too hard. I think that's a single girls' cleanse... So I'm just going to follow my instincts and eat vegan for the next couple of weeks and see if that helps. Adding lots of water (with lemon to cleanse my insides), fresh fruit and veggies, milk thistle (cleans the liver) and limiting caffeine and alcohol as much as possible, I think I'll feel better in couple of weeks. We'll see!

So I went through my vegan cookbook today and found some awesome ideas for dinner the next few nights. Given that I'm the primary cook for the house, I need to make stuff that Sheridan will eat too... I think he'll be a good sport, because he takes what he puts in his body pretty seriously (and with great results, honey, MEOW!) and has always been open to my veggie dishes.

I think I'm going to start with this one tonight. I think some of the strong flavors (barbecue sauce, soy sauce, mustard, etc.) will make up for the blandness of the tofu and I'm guessing it's going to be pretty tasty! Perhaps I'll get Sheridan to write a review tomorrow... but don't hold your breath. ;0

"Neat Loaf"

1 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 pound firm tofu
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
3 T reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
barbecue sauce for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine brown rice, bread crumbs, walnuts, onion, celery, and carrot.

Puree the tofu in a food processor or mash by hand until very smooth. Add to the rice mixture along with the BBQ sauce, soy sauce, mustard and black pepper.

Stir with a large spoon or knead mixture by hand until it's well mixed and holds together, about 1 minute.

Transfer to an oil-sprayed loaf pan and distribute evenly using a spoon or spatula. Top with BBQ sauce and bake 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

_____________

Let's see how it turns out!

Love, Mer

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monster Baby!

Um excuse me, but does my baby look like a giant in his little umbrella stroller, or is it just me? He's 8.5 months old and quickly pushing 21 pounds (and after his trip to Grandma's house this weekend, I'm sure he hit that number) and is getting SO LONG!! I am scared to think of how much this kid is going to eat as a teenager... God help me.

Pictures and stories from our trip back out to Northern Cal coming soon! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these shots of P at the Austin airport... people watching, of course... his favorite thing to do!

Love, Mer