Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm a Winner......

Earlier this week I entered a give-away online at This Young House (one of my fave blogs that I blogged about 2 weeks ago) and out of 718 entries, you guessed it, I was the big winner! I was so excited when I found out last night and my hubby was laughing as I danced around the house acting like I had won the lottery. Hey, it doesn't take much to make me dance and when you see the prize you'll see why. I got to select from the following corset pillow sets from Fresh Leaf Design and I love the bold rose colored set below. I had to resist the green set but that would have been too typical for me and I think this set will make our new couch really pop with some bold color.

On the website today they announced the big winner and there's nothing like seeing your name as the winner on a post on This Young House's website. Hubby knows how much I gush about John and Sherry and you would think I know them the way I talk about them. Their website is wonderful and full of great advice especially for those looking to spruce up their home DIY style. Stop by and tell them I said hello. The link announcing the big winner (me-yeah!!!) is below:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

crazy eights

I've been tagged - so I'm playing along. Rules are simple: Mention the person that tagged you. Tara from What She Really Wants tagged me! Complete the lists of 8's. Tag 8 blogger friends, go tell them you tagged them.

8 Things I Am Looking Forward To:
1. The upcoming arrival of my latest niece or nephew - due May 13th
2. Taking some time off from work in May
3. Warm weather and the ability to open up the windows
4. Taking long walks with my hubby and pup Tanner
5. Planting my first veggie garden
6. Getting the front yard landscaped
7. Visiting my dear friend Paige in Idaho
8. Lounging around at the beach all summer long

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1. Cleaned out my closet and packed my winter clothes away
2. Finished the book "Gardens of Water" by Alan Drew
3. Saw the movie "State of Play" with my hubby
4. Woke up late
5. Went out to dinner
6. Ate steel cut oats for breakfast
7. Took some pictures for future blog posts
8. Caught up on my email

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1. Run farther than around the block without feeling like I'm going to die
2. Stay motivated to exercise and eat healthy so I can lose and keep off this weight
3. Landscape the front yard without having to hire someone
4. Find more time in the day to just enjoy life
5. Be a meal planner and organized grocery shopper
6. Learn Photoshop
7. Take awesome pictures
8. Wave my magic wand and make everything better

8 Shows I Watch:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Private Practice
3. Oprah
4. The Hills (my guilty pleasure)
5. Dateline
6. America's Most Wanted
7. Law & Order SVU
8. HGTV, DIY, Fine Living Network (sorry I had to stick those all in too)

8 Favorite Fruits:
1. Raspberries
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Mango
5. Pineapple
6. Apples
7. Oranges
8. Bananas

8 Places I'd Like to Travel:
1. Turks & Caicos
2. Hawaii
3. Alaska
4. Australia
5. London (again)
6. NYC
7. Bali
8. Mediterranean

8 Places I've Lived:
1. Freeport, IL
2. Rock Island, IL
3. Palatine, IL
4. Waukegan, IL
5. Wauconda, IL
6. London
7. Work (does that count?)
8. My scrapbooking room (it's a stretch I know)

People I'm Tagging:
1. Brooke at Secondtime Mommy
2. Terri at Life Chapter by Chapter
3. Dee at Team Ripka
4. If you want to be tagged please let me know.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Road Trip - We'll Be Wright On Our Way (Soon)

Hubby and I love architecture and after reading Loving Frank for book club last year I've been an admirer of all things Frank Lloyd Wright. I've been begging hubby for almost a year to head to Oak Park to go on the tour and he finally said yes honey but it's suppose to rain. I am so disappointed but we will be there sometime soon Frank just leave the door open for us. Looking at these beautiful homes has me wondering - how much do you think they cost? Hmmm..... (sorry about that I was daydreaming for moment).

Blogs I Adore - Be Different Act Normal

It's Friday and that means besides enjoying this beautiful weather, it's time for me to share with you another one of my blogs that I adore and visit everyday. Be Different Act Normal (don't you love that title?) is a blog that you must check out for it's short, sweet, and to the point ideas. She is like a much cooler Martha Stewart that has great ideas to share especially if your looking to host a party anytime soon. She is a regular blogger and you gotta love them especially since I need to get my daily dose of inspiration from all of my fellow bloggers. Visit her blog and let her know how you found her blog (i.e. give a shout out to Melissa at Enjoy All Life Has to Offer).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrate Earth Day

When you think of the Pacific Ocean - do you picture swirling with garbage? Scientists estimate that the ocean between the coast of California and Japan is the location of the largest garbage dump in the world! They estimate that it's twice the size of Texas and in some parts of the ocean is more then 90 feet deep. What's floating in this garbage dump you ask, well 90% of it is plastic (i.e. those super annoying plastic water bottles and bags) and as you can imagine this is affecting the sea life and the ecosystem in a negative way. About 80% of the garbage comes from litter on land that is either dumped in waterways or is blown across land into the ocean. Biologists have begun to find that Beluga whales have breast cancer because of the toxins in the plastic that they are ingesting, now if that doesn't catch your attention I don't know what will.

What are you changing in your life on this Earth Day? My 3 big things are growing a vegetable garden, start composting, and building a rain barrel (yes we are making it out of recycled materials instead of buying one thanks to my grandpa and dad). Now I recognize these are not little things but if everyone did 1 thing different it would make a huge difference. So if you don't know what to do take this suggestion - stop using plastic grocery bags and get the reusable kind and also stop using plastic water bottles. Did you know that only 1% of plastic bags are recycled? I stopped using those over a year ago and I rarely purchase plastic water bottles because it seems like such a waste.

Here's to cherishing Mother Earth today and every day and doing at least one thing differently in honor of her. Make every day Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The "Explore" Room Redesign

I was getting my daily dose of inspiration by reading all of my favorite blogs and of course my first stop (besides my friends blogs of course) and went to This Young House and came across a post on a great bonus room that Kate put together for her family. The theme of this bonus room is "explore" and is a place for her children to play and eventually will be the homework room when they get older. When I saw the large map of the world on the wall, I knew I had to share this with others because it's a brilliant and inexpensive way to decorate a play room or bonus room. If I had an extra room I would definitely consider using a map as artwork and making it a room based on my travels. For more information and photos on Kate's bonus room transformation, stop by her Centsational Girl blog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

White Chicken Chili Recipe

Last week I went to a program at the library and the topic was "How to make 5 dinners with 1 bag of groceries" and I knew this was a must attend program for me. We have a joke in the house that when I go grocery shopping, I come home with 5 bags of groceries and still don't have a meal to make out of them. Meal planning and grocery shopping just requires way too much work and organization. I always say that I would rather get a root canal then go grocery shopping and that's no joke. Maybe Peapod would be a good idea - they deliver right to your door and you order online - I might be able to do that.

After attending that program all I can say is watch out Rachel Ray, I now have cooking skills and if I may so myself, this meal looks and tastes delicious. The recipe is very easy but is packed with a punch. I learned how to properly "poach" chicken and also how to "soak" navy beans. This was quite interesting but hubby loved it and already has it packed in his lunch bag for work tomorrow.

By the way, did you notice the cilantro garnish? Maybe I should plant some cilantro in my garden that I'm planting in May. I'm still just hoping that what I planted survives - baby steps Melissa, baby steps.

It's Earth Month and Time to get Dirty

I've always wanted an herb garden and when I saw these adorable planters from Crate & Barrel, I knew it was time for this project. I got my hands dirty and planted some parsley, basil, and oregano. It'll be a mystery if this actually works but I'm "hopeful" that with some TLC and reading lots about how to make things grow that maybe this might work. These were planted a week ago Saturday and thus far I know that one of them is growing - the other two - well we still have another 7 days or so before we call them duds.
This is the newest addition to the backyard and we really had to get down and dirty putting this lovely shrub in the ground. When we moved into the house there was a nice row of 10 of these bushes and hubby got a little over-ambitious and was trimming them and chopped the tops off and one of them didn't make it after that. We have drug our feet on planting a new one for a year but a trip the Home Depot ended that - we now don't have a gap in the nice row of 9 and we now have a perfect 10. We followed all of the instructions and gave it some Miracle-Gro so now we need to sit back and hope that this one lasts longer than the last one.

As you can see, the others are quite a bit wider but at least there are 10 of them and not 9. I think it looks like a little Christmas tree and I guess if it doesn't grow too much we could make it our Christmas tree this year and decorate it with some lights.

All of this planting really has us going and we have begun getting quotes for our front yard that looks just awful. Have of the yard doesn't grow grass because it's so shady and the drainage issues don't help either. So far we have gotten some very good ideas but also pricey. Stay tuned for our front yard make-over; we are desperate for some curb appeal!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do you want to "tweet" with me?

It's official, I've joined the latest phenomenon and I'm an official "Twitterer" at This is very surprising for many people since I've adamantly refused to join the facebook world that so many of you belong to. I decided to join twitter after watching the Oprah show on Friday and learning more about it. Plus what's great about it is that you have a very limited number of words (characters) that you can post at anytime. I like this because it forces me to cut right to the chase and say what I want to say. If you want to "follow me" on twitter, just click on the link on the side of the blog and you find me. I'm "Ms_Melissa_Sue" on twitter.

P.S. I just tried going to and I got a message that said there were too many "tweets" on the website and that I should check back. How hilarious is that? The picture above is the picture that appeared with the come back soon message. Wow Oprah, you're show on Friday caused the website to become flooded.

Wanna win a Green Home from HGTV?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogs I Adore - This Young House

I read a lot of blogs and the list grows a little each day of my faves so I thought I would begin to share some of them with all of you. The blogs I read are typically based on decorating, scrapbooking, or other thirty-something bloggers just blogging about loving life. As this blogs continues to evolve and struggles to find it's identity, I've decided to feature one of my favorite blogs each week. I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do. Also if you have faves - please share with all of us in the comment section.

This Young House is the website that literally makes me wrestle David for the laptop when I get home from work so I can read what Sherry and John have done to their home and posted that day. I absolutely adore this couple and they are quite the celebrities in the world of remodeling an older home as a young newlywed couple. Their style is right up my alley and I love that they are very price conscious. I highly recommend that you check out their site and did I mention that because of their popularity, companies are constantly giving them product to give-away? I enter all of the give-away's and one of these days I'm bound to win one.

Picture courtesy of This Young House -

Happy 5th Birthday Tanner!

Our baby Tanner is really growing up and turned 5 years old today! His special day started at about 4:30 am with one of our smoke detectors was going off because of a low battery - did that ever scare him to death. Luckily the day got better, specially since I worked from home today and he got to take a walk at lunchtime in this gorgeous weather. As you can see he is having a ball today and wants to tear his cake apart because it plays "happy birthday". The day will finish off with some meat off the grill for dinner - what the life our little Tanner has.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

We hope you had a fantastic Easter. David and I had a great weekend and a delicious Easter dinner thanks to my Aunt Deb. She made it so easy and I didn't even have to stress about finding the perfect dish to make and bring with me. We also got to catch up with our family and I got to spend some time with my niece Katie who has lots to say these days and is very verbal. I decided to use that to my advantage and I said "Katie is Mommy having a baby?" and her response was "in a couple of weeks." I then said "Is Mommy having a boy or a girl?" and her response was "a boy." Whoops - I think the cat is out of the bag!!! I still think it's a girl but I guess I'll have to wait a couple of weeks based on Katie's prediction and see if I am the lucky auntie of another girl or a boy.

P.S. I didn't make the cupcakes but I wish I did. Images are courtesy of flickr.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Opinions Needed - Accent Chairs

Yeah, I sold our old couch and it's going to it's new home tomorrow. I sold it through Craigslist which was a first for me but it's got me browsing around and I found these gorgeous accent chairs today. I've been emailing the seller and hey are only 2 months old and she is selling them because she's moving to a smaller home. I'm LOVING them and think they would go really well with the new couch and we'd have plenty of room when we get rid of the recliner. They are priced to sell and I'd love your opinions.

How do you think they would look with this couch? Also I should mention that I changed out the pillows because this looks too much like fall decor and the pillows have blues, browns, ivory, green, and gray in them.

A Green Thumb - Maybe?

I have 3 ambitious projects planned for this spring/summer. They are completely things you would never guess for those that know me because frankly - I don't like getting my hands dirty and covered in dirt. Oh and not to mention that bugs freak me out! I am trying to put that out of my mind and do some things that I have wanted to explore and/or try for quite some time.

The picture above is my first project - begin to compost. I know you thought it was an alien spaceship but it's not. It's a round composter that makes it easy to turn your "stuff" to help with the process. You just roll it on the group and place it back up on the stand. I've done a ton of research on how to do this and there are a million different ways and I'm going to start out on the easier route. David made it clear that "he's not going to have anything to do with this" so I need to be able to do this on my own. I wish I already had it because today I threw away 4 eggshells and 5 banana peels - I really didn't like that because I know what happens now when it ends up in the landfill.

The second project is to begin conserving water especially since in the summer we are constantly filling our pond with water. Our water bill gets higher and higher in the summer and we might as well collect that good old rain water from the gutters. I was super excited to see that our village is selling them for only $79 which is about the cheapest you can find them for. Check out the Village website if you live in my area if you are interested in buying a rain barrel or a composter even.

Last but not least, I am planning on building a raised vegetable garden with David's help and actually planting a vegetable garden. This is a HUGE step for me because I can't plant anything that lives longer than a couple of weeks. My track record speaks for itself but I really think I am going to attempt a very small garden. I am planting some easy stuff such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, and maybe zucchini, squash, or beans. Just a couple of plants (seedlings are out this year - let's start off small) that I want to grow along the fence where Tanner loves to jump on to say hi to the neighbor dog. I will defiantly keep you up to date on these projects because it out to be interesting to say the least! Please tell me what projects you have planned for this spring/summer?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Another Thing I Aspire to Learn

I started with this picture above

and 1 1/2 hours later I got this picture above!

I was going for the "old fashioned" or sephia look and it took me forever. I just don't understand this photoshop thing and don't know if I ever will. I even followed the tutorials and then after failing with the layers/filter thing, I tried the guided edit and was able to get it done. Can someone help me with this? Where can I go to learn how to do this? Should I go to the library and get the "Photoshop for Dummies" book? Seriously - how do people use this? I have learned that all of the fabulous pictures I see on all of these blogs aren't just fabulous photos but fabulous photos that have been spruced up with Photoshop - another thing to add to my list of things I aspire to do or learn someday!

I aspire to:
  • learn to take awesome photos
  • learn to use photoshop
  • plant a garden and turn my brown thumb into a green thumb
  • submit some scrapbook layouts for submission
  • increase the # of people that follow my blog :)
  • improve upon my creative writing skills
  • learn to have a keen eye for design
  • learn to sew (again)
  • learn to love what I'm already good at and not focus on what I can't do.

What do you aspire to do but are struggling with these days?

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Trip to San Antonio

This week I took a business trip to San Antonio and due to the limited flights, we had to fly in on Sunday. We made the most of it and spent the day strolling along the riverwalk and visiting the Alamo. As you can see I was in awe over the large trees that are in this area. We went on a boat tour and they said that some of the trees were over 300 years old.

While I was away hard at work conducting training, I decided to buy my hubby a little gift and bought him a "cool guy" t-shirt from the Hard Rock. Knowing how much he loves guitar hero, I knew that he would appreciate the shirt featuring two cool guitars. Well little did I know that when I got home I would see that he bought the drum set to add to our Guitar Hero/Rock Band collection.
What does your loved one do when you are away? At least I know he's staying out of trouble!