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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Business in the front...

I don’t really wear makeup. I don’t really know how… For some reason, I didn’t learn in middle or high school like everyone else did. I was too busy with my nose in a book, or playing sports.

Even through college, mascara and a little bit of blush was the extent of my makeup wearing. A pretty serious bout with acne, which I still struggle with, didn’t help matters. It seemed like if I layered the cover-up on, I broke out more. So I stuck to the basics, and never left the house without chapstick. Seriously, the best present I’ve ever received (ok, I’m being dramatic) was a year’s supply of all different types of chapstick.

Anyway, in terms of wedding day makeup, Harrison doesn’t have a lot of doesn’t have a single makeup artist that I’d trust. Seriously, I had my hair cut in Harrison once, right before Mark and Jos’ wedding, and she cut my bangs so short that Erin and I kept joking that I deserved a shirt saying “I’ve been banged in Harrison”.

My facial expression indicates how thrilled I am about the length of my bangs.

(DJ: I’m about to talk about wedding day hair and makeup. I don’t care if you know what I want to look like, really, I don’t. I promise the goal is to look like myself, only better. And not have a mullet.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Farming, 2010 Style

Remember how I was a farmer last summer?

Sadly, we never had a chance to eat any of the produce I grew.
Earlier in the summer on the left, later in the summer on the right.

Between moving, vacationing, and moving, the plants were shuttled to Shawna’s for babysitting, and I never had a chance to get them back.

And I had such nice peppers and tomatoes to look forward to!

MMMMMM.... such fresh veggies!
Anyway, I’m determined to be a farmer this summer. I even laid out a gardening area in the back of our house, with drip lines to make sure farming is as painless as possible.
It is incomplete right now, but in the works! The blue lines are the drip system, which is better for preventing diseased plants as well as water evaporation.
And I started buying seeds in January, pretty much as soon as they came out. I also bought starter flats, starting peat/ dirt, and this tray with a clear plastic lid to keep them warm. Can you say spring fever?
In addition to not harvesting the veggies, I also failed to clean out the pots before we moved, twice. So a nice sunny Sunday in February is a good time to clean out pots, right?
Seed starters and snow.
So far, I’ve got sweet corn, sweet peas, zucchini (yikes), summer squash, winter squash, pumpkin, onions, and a bunch of herbs. And I’ve been working on a garden layout for the garden.

Now, I know that it’s WAY too early to start plants inside right now for transplant later. The last average frost in Bozeman is in late May, which means that I’ve still got three long months to go before real gardening.

But I couldn’t help myself on Valentine’s Day. I planted rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives and cilantro because I’m desperate to see something green grow. I justified planting the herbs by reasoning that my plan is to plant them into pots to grow indoors year round, so even if the seeds germinated, they’d be bound for indoor growing anyway.

South facing window. Maybe?
Well, you can imagine my surprise on Saturday when I lifted the lid and realized that I HAVE SPROUTS!!! Really tiny ones, but SPROUTS.


A single cilantro, reaching for the sun (aren't we all?)

Soon friends, soon it will be warm out.
I’m a FARMER!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Setting Up House: The Office, Part III

After our massive Christmas Roadtrip, DJ and I have spent the past two months pretty much hibernating at home. Nesting. Settling in. Decorating; kinda.
I've mentioned that the office was a priority, and you’ve seen the chair I recovered. Let me show you another fun project I worked on for “Little Courtee’s Workshop” this spring:

I have this little white dresser. It traveled with me to Lexington; fitting neatly in the trunk of my car.

Oh my little Lexington apartment. More expensive than I could afford, but worth every penny to live by myself for two yars.  

And although it’s not a super nice piece of furniture, it’s still something I have. And something I have is usually cheaper than something I have to buy.

 Dinged a little, missing a little facing, and in need of fresh paint.

We also had a need for storage of random stuff. Let’s put it this way; I had a four drawer dresser, and who doesn’t need four junk drawers?

Four junk drawers. Don't tell me you're not jealous.

So I repainted it. A Columbia Paint color that matches the chair.

 Oh my... color?

Have I ever mentioned that I suck at picking paint colors. I tend to stick with neutrals in order to not make a mistake. But I went bold; and I like it.
Coat one. At this point I was freaking out. Is it too dark?

Should I leave it cottage chic, with only one layer of paint?

Nope, I'm a all or nothing girl.

The dresser is now in the office, with fabric storage in the bottom drawer, measuring tape and nails in the third drawer, gardening seeds in cold storage in the second drawer, and DJ’s guitar stuff in the top drawer. My grandma would be jealous!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yard Prepartations

Have I mentioned my parent’s lake place on Coeur d’Alene yet? Oh, I guess I covered how much we all love it.

Getting married there is pretty so incredibly unbelievably awesome really hard for me to put into words. It means so much for me.

The lake place is, however, a second home. And as such, delayed maintenance between the house and the yard often adds up. We’ve painted the house and done a major water project, but we’ve really just maintained the yard.

The yard where we’re having the cocktail hour for the wedding.

Mom and dad went up to the lake last weekend to start working on the yard and formulate a plan for rehabbing the yard through the spring. The first thing to go is the pond that a previous owner put in. Too high maintenance; and a great breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The hole will be filled in by rocks and dirt, and be a home for native grasses, and other perennials that are low maintenance.

I’m sorry, I just caught on that the grass in Harrison is GREEN. So jealous!

Mom, Dad, thanks for putting some sweat equity into my cocktail hour location. I wish I could have helped (if only for the sunshine and the green grass!). I promise to put my back into it in April!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Malaise

It was a kind of weird weekend. After Friday night’s dinner and retail therapy, Saturday dawned promising. I worked on wedding stuff (mainly the budget) all morning, DJ had coffee with friends. DJ came home, we chatted in the office, I went to the gym, showered and we went to Costco to price out wine and beer for the cocktail hour portion of our wedding.

Saturday night I had dinner with Kelly, Marisa and Joslyn (all AOII’s) at the Rib and Chop House in Livingston, before heading down the Paradise Valley to Chico Hot Springs. The four of us soaked for three hours, drinking margaritas, catching up, discussing everything from weddings to finances. My, how our conversations have evolved since the AOII Multi days! It was great to have girlfriend time though. I seriously needed it!

I spent Sunday at AOII from pretty much 10am until 4pm. Holy moly. Corporation Board meeting (uncomfortable news), ritual (secret squirrel stuff), Founder’s Day brunch (I was starving- apparently I didn' tget the memo that food wasn't until 1pm), and Alumnae Advisory Committee meeting. Yowzer. Good to give back, but I think was either hung over (from two margaritas and a glass of wine? Weak sauce Kramer!), or just plain exhausted. I came home and took a nap.

Which prevented me from falling asleep early, when we got in bed at 8:40 pm to read and sleep. And I about lost my shit at 11:10pm when our neighbor’s “friend”* came rolling in with a diesel pickup, which he idled in the driveway for two hours! I have a weird sound sensitivity. Seriously, I can’t handle needless noise. I like quiet. And I was irate last night; tossing and turning and watching them through the bedroom window and just generally being pissed. Yeah, 6:41 am seemed early today.

DJ spent Saturday night eating Papa Murphy’s, finishing off the whiskey and playing Play Station Baseball. Total dude time! Sunday was more hanging out. Suffice to say, we’re both pretty unimpressed and a little grumpy about our weekend, especially DJ. We’re too cheap right now to spend money for something to do on the weekends. We’re not broke, just waiting for a tax return to come in and generally hesitant to spend lumps of money we can put to better uses, like wedding stuff.

Speaking of, should I be worried that I still can’t get a hold of anyone at the restaurant where we are having our wedding reception? They’re closed for the winter for a major remodel… and I’m getting nervous. I just keep telling myself it’ll work out.

I met with the lady doing the design for our wedding invites this morning. Surprisingly “cheap”! (Meaning, I’m over it. I’m out of creative juice for them).

I guess the only upbeat thing I have to say (geeze! Pick it up Court!) is that Sunday always means new puppy pictures!
I've always teased my sister about being a golden retriever. Gretchen is big (tall), blonde, sheds a lot and falls asleep easily. I told Gretchen that while Harlow would be my puppy, she would always be my first golden retriever. Gretch laughed when I sent her this picture; when Gretch was a kid her observational face was to stare at something with her mouth slighly ajar and her tounge hanging out.
Look at all the wrinkles on her face!

Facial expressions from Zoolander? Model pose?
*We think our neighbors to the west are drug dealers are involved in illicit activities. This is after a friend of theirs tried to credit card his way into our house before Thanksgiving. They have cars coming and going at all times of the day, and people will park a block away and walk over to their house. It’s suspicious. Well, at least they have a source of income and their house won’t go into foreclosure, right?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Retail Therapy

I have two interns right now. Both are kickass, and both are mid-20’s women who in a normal world would have really successful positions. But instead they’re working whatever jobs they can find and volunteering their time at a no-income position which they’re extensively overqualified for.

Talking to them scares the hell out of me. It makes me so grateful that both DJ and I have government jobs, with excellent benefits. That our version of the recession has been relatively insulated. Grateful that both of us are generally pretty conservative personally. That we’re in positions to help our community move forward once this recession is over. That we have regular, predictable incomes, however small it sometimes feels.

In many ways, it feels like seeing your neighbor widowed, only to go home and hug your significant other and be thankful its not you they’re pitying. It sucks. I feel guilty. It’s a downer; especially if you listen to NPR on the way home about young 23 year old soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

It can be so easy to slip into a serious case of depression and “where in the hell is our world headed”. Our answer? Dinner at Ale Works, and retail therapy. Check out how small that collar is!

And so it begins. It seems amazing that such a small pup will grow into a 65-80 lb dog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Outfitting a pup

So now that we’re getting a dog, you’re only going to cruise by this website for cute puppy photos, huh? I knew it. You’re only here for the cute puppy now. No more interest in me, my life, my house or my wedding. You’re all “OMG-when-is-the-puppy-coming!!!???”

Okay, maybe I am too.

Let me back up first, and tell you that we’ve named her Harlow. First for the nerdy-historical reference for the guy who built the Jawbone Railroad in Montana, and Harlowtown. Both eventually became part of the Milwaukee Line. And DJ is obsessed with the Milwaukee line. Remember this:

The Harlowtown electric engine.

I’ll also think of her name as a reference to another famous blonde, Jean Harlow.

We browsed Petsmart on Sunday to get an idea of the gear we want to purchase. We’re decided on crate training. From what I’ve read and heard from other people, it’s a great way to give the puppy some space of their own (crate=’s den to them), a safe place to put her while she sleeps, helpful to potty train with, and good to utilize when you travel with a dog. For more information on crate training, and so you don't think we're terrible people, read the Humane Society's opinion here.

DJ found this one online, and will purchase it shortly. It collapses to fold easily for transport, has doors out an end and a side, and is the same one Shawna has for Ava. It works well. Harlow will sleep in it, and be housed in it while we’re at work for the first two years or so.

We’ll also get a dog bed quickly. Our friend Joe used to be a carpet cleaner, and apparently golden’s hair and skin is oily enough to stain a carpet over time. All of our downstairs spaces are hardwood floors or tile, but we want her to be comfortable with a place to hangout while we’re sitting on the couch. We will try to keep her off of the couches, and I am absolutely anti-sleeping with the dog.

Kelly recommended these dog bed setups to me. The outside is a duvet cover, the inside is a nylon sack that you stuff with old t-shirts or blankets. And believe me, we have a shit-ton of old, random grandma afghans and blankets. Once Harlow soils it (inevitable), the whole thing, duvet, sack and inside stuffing can go into the washing machine. My plan is to buy one of the stuff sacks for $15, and then buy the fabric and sew a duvet cover myself instead of spending $50 on one.
Kelly also has a few puppy collars we can borrow. I’m also borrowing dog-training books and long lines and training leashes from our friend Brian, who has two of the best behaved Labrador Retrievers I know. The first “Water Dogs” and the second “Retrievers” look like page turners!

That’s about as far as we’ve gotten with puppy planning so far. Oh, and I have new photos:

Totally giving the camera a what the F*ck look. I think she just woke up!

See, I put the cute puppy photos at the bottom so that you had to scroll through the whole thing. Sneaky, huh?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cocktail Hour Decorations and Logistics

Did you know that Wednesday was February 10th? And that’s one two three four five months from our wedding. Which means we’ve now got less than five months until our wedding. Did you just laugh in an erratic, crazy-eyed way too? No? Just me then?

I’m starting to think about logistics and decorations. Since we’re starting the wedding evening with a 5:00 pm cocktail party at my parent’s house, let’s talk cocktail hour logistics and decorations…

Here's a photo of the lake house.

You’ll notice a few things. The site isn’t level. The house has been painted since this photo was taken. The giant juniper bush has also been removed. Let’s also keep in mind that our guest list is now 300 people, and probably 200 will come. And that the lake house faces west and south, which means in early July, it could be pretty hot on the site at 5pm.

Thus the need for ample cocktails.

And you can’t serve booze without food; that’s a recipe for disaster!

So I’ve got a working layout for how this whole thing will function. We’ll tuck a few tables and chairs onto the gravel driveway. The foot band drink station will be under the deck, in the shade. We’ll sprinkle chairs throughout the lawn, in case people wanted to sit. Music will be pumped through the speakers in the house and an iPod docking station (we do this frequently in the summer, so I know it works).

As for decorations, I’m aware that it’s pretty hard to compete with nature. She’s got it down pat. But we could enhance the scenery through some (hopefully) relatively cheap landscaping installations. Petunias are a favorite family perennial; if only because we have a hard time killing them! So decorations will be simple, and easy to put up and take down.

I’m thinking white petunias along the edges of the terraces, which will hopefully help people be aware that hey! There’s a four foot drop there! Maybe also some white dangly ball things in the tree, like these:

In addition to the flowers, we do need to find some way to stake off the terrace edges so no one eats shit off of them. That’d be awful. Any suggestions for cheap, but not terrible ways to stake them off? I don’t want to prevent someone in case of fall; just let them know that the edge is there.

The grassy area will be for congregation, standing around with a plate of food and chatting. I’m sure people will lean up against the rock walls and use them as tables to put plates down on. We’ll have to be sure to spray for bees, and try to level out the grass as much as possible.

Since we’re going a little un-traditional by doing the cocktail hour first, and then the ceremony and reception, DJ and I thought it was important to tell people what was going on. The invitation will only say something like “invites you to join them at five o’clock”, without detailing that cocktails are at 5pm, ceremony at 6:30 pm and the reception at 7pm. We don’t want people to get confused, so DJ’s mom is making signs to stake around the property. Something like this:

In addition to staking some signs into the ground around the property, we’ll be able to pop them into 5 gallon buckets to cordon off parking directly in front of the house. I don’t want to clutter up the awesome view, or the expensive photography, with photos of someone’s Chevy in the background. We’ll to the same mobile 5 gallon bucket idea to put up signs on the bike trail.

I’m thinking we’ll keep decorations pretty low key. Some white flowers, and the iris bulbs might be blooming. Some white dangly things in the trees, signs to tell people what the plan is (and where the bathroom is), and some kind of roping off of the terraces. Am I missing something important?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good thing I have a ShopVac...

I didn’t grow up with a pet. We joke in my family that dad was the dog; you’d come and he’d be all excited and wiggly, saying “hi-howareyou-wannaplay-what’sfordinner-howwasyourday-wannaplay-whatsfordinner-dinner?”

Until two years ago I viewed dogs as such young-adult things. And then, I don’t know, something shifted, and I wanted a dog. Someone to pet, and go for late night walks with me. Someone to make me giggle, and run and play with.

DJ is a good substitute, and he does shed less. But he’s not always willing to go for late night walks with me.

After dog-sitting for Ava, the Bernese Mountain Dog (a breed forever known as the Ava-Dog), I wanted a BMD, BAD. But the research proved Berners to be A) expensive as pups, and B) sadly short lived. These two factors pretty much rule out the Ava-Dog for us; I’m too big of a softie to handle a short-lived dog.

Then last summer we were out at Jeff and Suzy’s, and this little girl stole my heart.

She was sweet tempered. Good with a lot of people. Playful, and beautiful. And I wanted a golden retriever from that point forward. They’re good family dogs, they’re gorgeous, active, trainable, great therapy dogs (stress relief?) and generally mild mannered. And oh my god, can we talk about puppy cuteness?

Especially at this age, when they're still fuzzy furry.

But I'd resigned myself to not getting a dog until next fall, after El Weddingo. But I kept wanting one. Pestering Harassing DJ about getting one. Then last week something serendipitous happened; there was an ad in the classifieds for American Kennel Club registered golden retriever puppies.

I called. DJ and I had an actually discussion about it. I bought A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers. And we called around; vets, other breeders, friends. Are we insane for getting a puppy five months before El Weddingo?

And in the end, I think tonight DJ agreed to get one, saying that one thing he loved about me was that I pushed him to take a step he wanted to take, but hesitated on. We’re not 100% there yet, buuuuttt… aren’t they cute?

Ours is the girl on the left. : )

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cerebral Exercise

I wish you could see the thought process that goes through my head every day when I prepare to work out. It would look something like this:
Procrastinate, procrastinate, okay dude you better go, or you'll skip out. Millions of excuses; I should get to work early, I could sleep in, I'll go to a power pump or pilates class later today. Yeah later.

Later rolls around and I'm all: oooh, there's the calendar reminder for the class... Hmm, I'm in such a good rhythm at work though. I can't stop now. And I'm hungry. I will have lunch instead, the go do cardio later this afternoon. Yeah, I can't stop working on this project now.

Then the afternoon rolls around, and I drag my feet more: gaahhh I guess I HAVE to go now. Where are my snow boots to put on? Where are my socks? Did I forget athletic socks, because that'd be a great excuse to skip the gym. Oh shit, there's my socks.

Grab the gym bag, out the door, walk two blocks to the gym and into the locker room. Change into athletic gear, reach for my lock to secure my stuff. Oh shit, did I forget my lock? Because that'd be a legit excuse... Oh, there it is.

And yet, once I get on an elliptical, a bike or a treadmill, this whole exercise thing isn't so bad. Its me, music or trash tv, and a magazine I'd never pay for, for about an hour. I leave feeling slightly slimmer, and surprisingly recharged. Its my little space of time just for myself, and I often don't carve out that kind of time.

But every day its the same struggle to make myself exercise. But I keep showing up, driven by the specter of genetic propensity towards heart disease and diabetes. And pride that I'm not spilling out of my jeans. And fear that there is a morbidly obese person inside of me who wants to use chocolate covered cinnamon bears to get out.

So I go, six days out of seven, I go. And maybe more than my muscles, I'm exercising my self will to make myself do something that I don't want to.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Invitation Intimidation

One reason I set up the Wedding Digest newsletters to go out on the 10th of the month is because I do well with deadlines. I’m a procrastinator. A specific date to take care of something by is good for me, it motivates me, stresses me out, and generally makes me get shit done.

So how much wedding stuff have I done since January 8th? Not much… at all.

And you know what happens after the 31st? A new month begins. A new month with a 10th of the month. Which is one more month closer to our wedding. February 10th leaves us with just five months left to pull this together.

Yep, I just took a big slurp of wine.

On my mind right now is wedding invitations. You’ve seen our Save the Date Pamphlets, and we’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback about them. I don’t want to let our guest list down on round two of paper stuff!

Our invitation mailer needs to include a lot of information. The actual invitation (duh), a map of Harrison talking about where to park, a RSVP postcard (maybe with Mad-Libs on it?), an invitation to our second reception in September (?), and maybe an invite/ RSVP for the Friday BBQ/ welcome party.

That is a lot of pieces of paper. And I’m struggling with how to keep them organized. And how to make or have them made. And a design set up. I mean… our Save the Dates were so awesome… but how do I carry “National Park Service” across into a suite of all of these things?

And then where do I print them? Or have them printed?

Would it be cheaper and easier, in the end, to outsource this?

And the best part? I’m making Gretchen address these, so we’ve got to at least have the envelopes here by March 14th, when GK and my mom are coming to visit.

Hell. More wine please.