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Category: Life

My Mosaic Garden Urn

I love mosaic garden art.  For several years, I have wanted to mosaic an urn and use it for a fountain in a pond.  I finally had an opportunity to fulfill this dream when the “Tin Can,” also known as our pond, was installed.

Step 1

I drove out to Frazier’s Concrete. Looking through the huge selection of urns took some time, but finally I found the one that was just right for my project.

Step 2

Gathering all the supplies. This is the FUN part. Of course a trip to Hobby Lobby to search for glass beads in all the best colors and shapes. Next, a visit to Lowe’s for additional supplies.  There I purchased Mortar, plus an additive for freeze and thaw conditions, grout and sealer. Then the search is on for tile to smash.  What Fun!

Step 3

Set up a work space in a sheltered area.  I used my garage.  I did make a stretch of how I wanted it to look when finished, however once I started this project it developed a life all its’ own.  This urn took me about two weeks to mosaic. I needed somewhere to actually do the work so I sourced a portable workbench from here.

Step 4

My muscle man and I had to lift the urn into the pond.  It looked beautiful.  Happy Me!  Unfortunately, the urn developed a bad case of “Pond Patina”.  In the end you could no longer see the mosaics.  What to do?

Step 5

The little light bulb went on above my head.  I’ll turn it into an outside table.  Another trip to Hobby Lobby for the glass top and presto chango I have a table.  Oh, but now that I have a table, it must have side chairs.  Lowe’s came through with these adorable retro chairs in a coordinating color.  Truly Happy Me! 

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Our New Pond

I am so excited to show you our new stock tank pond. Both hubby and I have been working really hard on it over the last few months and we have finally got it to a condition that I want to show you. 

This is a photo of how this section of the garden looked in July of 2015.

April 2017
May 2017

Work began on this project in April of 2017. Below are photos of the area cleared and ready to begin the transformation. It was really hard work and we needed to buy a lot of new equipment. We found hometoolhelper.com to be an invaluable source of info.

This next group of photos was taken a few weeks into the project. The crescent moon shaped bed is complete. The main plants in this bed include: two boxwoods, two Rise N Shine roses and a Lindee rose. My muscle man has begun work on the patio. The mosaic pavers were created by my daughters and me. 

In the next photos, the pathway around the pond is complete. The new patio is installed and ready for furniture. What a feeling of a accomplishment we all shared. 

Finally, the pond is ready for water and plants. The mosaic urn is installed and the pump is working. Selecting aquatic plants and fish was so much fun. 

To see the steps in making this urn follow this link:  My Mosaic Garden Urn

This next series of photos was taken in early March of 2018. The plants in the pond have covered the surface of the water. The fish grew so fast, we could hardly believe it! The plants in the crescent moon shaped bed filled in and looked great. 

Below is a photo taken a year after the pond project began, April of 2011. 

In late April, a mirror was hung on the fence near the pond and a grazing ball was added to the crescent moon bed. 

These toadstools make a delightful place to view the pond. The duck spewing water from his beak makes a lovely sound. I have added more potted plants to the back patio. 

March 2018
April 2018

This next photo was taken after the lights were added to the outdoor dining room and the bottle tree was planted. 

Here are few shots of the pond in early November of 2017. 

April 2018
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My Dream Job List

An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.
~Honore de Balzac, “Scenes de la vie Parisienne,” La Maison Nucingen, 1838

My level of stress about leaving my job has now begun manifesting itself in snappish remarks to anyone who dares speak to me and a constant eyelid twitch.  I’m like Popeye with severe rage issues.  Additionally, according to WebMD, I’m going blind from staring at the computer 24/7. 

Many years ago, when I was a charming young naif, I dreamed of the day that I would be sitting behind a computer, muttering sarcastic comments under my breath while my eyelid fluttered uncontrollably.  And just look at me today!  Living the dream, people!  Living the dream.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood dreams lately, and just how far short of the mark I’m hitting on a daily basis.  In all fairness to myself, the vast majority of my childhood dreams were ridiculous.  And so, to make myself feel better about continuously failing meet my own expectations, I’ll share those more far fetched dreams with you today.

Ballerina

Oh, how I wanted to be a ballerina.  I began taking ballet classes long before I can even remember, and I so loved the beautiful costumes and ballet slippers that the older girls wore.  I can remember sitting, hunched against the wall, watching the girls practicing en pointe, dreaming of the day that I would be just like them.  When I was in 5th grade, our wonderful teacher left our school, and she was replaced by a woman who would sit on our backs to “help” us with our splits.  It was around this time that I began to realize that becoming a ballerina would take a great deal of practice and require eating far fewer Cheetos than I would have liked.  At nine years old, I hung up my ballet shoes for good.

Psychiatrist

I’m honestly not sure what sparked my obsession with psychiatry, but this dream lasted from 7th grade through early 9th.  At some point along the way I discovered that if I really wanted to become a psychiatrist, I would have to go to medical school, and that didn’t seem like so much fun.  Then I found out that a psychology degree required a statistics course.  NEXT!

FBI Agent

Mostly I just wanted to marry David Duchovny.  Once I started to figure out that television shows are not real, and I would never be able to help Mulder track down creepy aliens, I kicked this idea to the curb.  But not before I read up a great deal on FBI application procedures.  Did you know you have to learn how to fire an actual weapon?  Scary!  So, you know, then I joined the Air Force.  No guns there, thank goodness!

Cupcake Shop Owner

This one still sounds kind of fun sometimes for two reasons.  1) Cupcakes are delicious.  2) Frosting is delicious.  But then I remember that I would have to make the cupcakes every day, probably quite early in the morning.  Also, it would be beneficial to me to work rather long hours with the end goal of not going out of business.  Neither one of those things sound very enjoyable, so instead I just frequent other people’s cupcake shops.  It’s win-win I think.

Astronaut

I went through a period of intense obsession with all things NASA related in elementary school.  It was sparked by a classroom exercise of writing a letter to an astronaut to tell them about ourselves.  I wrote my letter to Bonnie Dunbar, and was thrilled when I received a letter back from her (read: NASA’s PR department) along with some glossy 8x10s of her headshot and their crew group photo.  I was entranced and spent the next year begging my parents to buy a telescope (which I seem to remember they did do, but it disappeared shortly thereafter) and reading books and magazines about the stars.  Then I saw Apollo 13.  Dude, nobody told me you could get STUCK out there in space.  Screw that.

So please, make me feel better about myself.  Are you living your childhood dreams, or would your nine-year-old self arch an eyebrow, curl their lip and swear they’d never turn out like you?

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Failing Pretty Much Everyone Around Me

Coworkers

Never before have so many people at work commented on projects that they’ll need my help with “soon” or “in the future”.  Never in my time here have people made me feel like a such a necessary cog to this operation.  Never have I felt so incredibly guilty about something that hasn’t even happened yet.  I’m struggling mightily with the decision to wait another week and a half before giving my notice, because I feel like such a horrible person each time I nod and smile as someone commits me to a project down the road.  But Hubby and I still have to sit down and examine our finances more closely, and he doesn’t get home for another week.  I know I need to wait, but every day I feel a little bit worse.

Fellow bloggers

I’m supposed to be guest posting for Bre today while she’s in London, but I can’t figure out her instructions for logging into her blog.  It seems like such a simple task, no?  Yes, that’s what I thought too, so I didn’t test it out before she left.  Now I’m sitting with a drafted entry and lacking the brain cells that are necessary to understanding how to post it.  I know I’m not really all that important, and her blog will probably survive without me, but I hate to promise something and then not follow through.

Friends

I owe phone calls to pretty much every single friend in my address book, but each evening, I sit down on the train and opt to fall asleep rather than dialing the phone.  Seriously, what the heck is wrong with me that I HATE talking on the phone so much?  Why can’t we all just correspond by email, text messages, and smoke signals?  I miss my friends, and love them, and would so much rather just hang out than come up with riveting phone conversation for 30 minutes.  Why do they have to live so far away?

The Kids

You want to go for a walk?  You want to play after dinner?  You want to lay on the floor and get your bellies rubbed?  Well, how about you just sit here next to the couch so that I can half-heartedly scratch your head while zoning out to the Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious.  Well, okay, I guess I’ll feed you your dinner.  To everyone out there who seems to think I’m ready for kids?  The kids would like to voice their vehement disagreement.

My Eye

I seem to have gotten some tiny grain of something stuck between my eye and my eyelid, and no amount of blinking, flushing with cool water, or forced tears will do anything about evacuating it from the premises.  It huuuuuuuurts!

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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Sixteen days.

That is all that stands between today and the day that I have to make my final decision about my job.  I’m violating an age old blogger rule by talking about work, but the thing is, I don’t hate my job.  I’m not bashing on my office, and over all, I really do quite like my job, despite the events of last week.  The benefits are good, the pay is more than I would make closer to where we live, the people are friendly.  The pro list far exceeds the cons.

The problem is that the con is such a big con.  The commute is killer.  Every day when I wake up, I dread walking in the cold wind and rain.  Every time someone gets off of the train on a stop before mine I hate them a little bit, because they’ll get home before me.  I look forward to getting off work at 4:50, and then every day as I leave work I remember that even though I’m not at my desk, it will be at least another hour and a half before I’m really “off” and curled up on the couch.  I hate being at the mercy of the train schedule, and as bad as it is for the environment, I really miss driving to work, listening to the radio and not having to deal with some big, sweaty man swiping my armrest or trying to read while some shrill voiced woman cackles into her phone for an hour.  I want to have the time to take a class after work, or to meet a friend for happy hour without having to leave to catch the last train at six o’clock or figure out the byzantine bus schedule that will tack on another hour to my commute.

Honestly, I know what my decision is.  I want to give my two weeks notice and search for a position closer to home.  There.  I’ve put it in writing and admitted it to myself.  I am not cut out for this kind of commute.  I really want to leave my house at eight in the morning and be home by five-thirty.  But every time I make up my mind that this is it, it’s time to move on, I am immediately accosted with my fears that I won’t find anything better than this, that I’ll regret my decision.  A voice keeps whispering in my ear that I’ll be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  But it’s like having that boyfriend who is GREAT on paper, but it’s just not working out in real life.  I know I need to move on, but why does it have to be so haaaaaard!

I’ve never just outright quit a job in this way.  I left my high school job because I was going to college, I left my college job because I was moving to Arkansas for the Air Force, and I left the Air Force because I hated it from day one.  Those were all such easy decisions, and I never for a second doubted my choices.  I wish I could have that feeling of certainty and clarity with my decision now.

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Sunshine in January

We have been fortunate here in the Pacific NW to have unseasonably sunny weather this January, note I did not say warm weather as the temperatures have still been chilly and windy, but to not have a series of dreary, gray, wet days is unusual. Even though the temperatures have remained cool there is something about the warm rays of the sun (and a serious need for some vitamin D) that beckons me to get outside and soak it in. So this past weekend we took the dogs on a couple of outdoor excursions to enjoy the sunshine in January, we had to bundle up in layers of coats and gloves but the pups were in outdoor heaven.

It looks like this weekend should be dry again, at least for our part of the country, I know that there are plenty of places living in snow and ice, but I hope whatever the weather brings, you get a chance to get out and soak it all in.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Maybe Baby, Maybe Not

When I was single, everyone was asking me if there was “anyone special” in my life.  When I was dating, everyone was asking about “the big question”.  When I was engaged, everyone was asking about wedding plans and where our honeymoon would be.  Now that I’m married, I’m somewhat shocked to find that all of those cliches about baby pressure are surprisingly true.

It’s only been two months since the wedding, and I’ve already had multiple people ask me if I am pregnant (because I was home sick with a stomach bug), whether I wanted to have kids soon, and when Colby and I were planning to start a family.  It seems as though everywhere I turn people are pregnant, having babies, or trying to get pregnant.  If one day could go by that I didn’t have to think about BABIES, I would be a blissfully happy girl.

And a lot of the conflict I’m feeling stems from the fact that I do want babies.  If I woke up tomorrow and found out that I was pregnant, it wouldn’t be the devastating discovery that it would have been five years ago.  I do want a family and I do want to eventually be a stay at home mom.  But while there are some days that I feel like, “Hey, babies sure are super cute, maybe that would be fun!” those days are by far outweighed by the days that I feel like, “Hey, babies sure are super cute, thank God I don’t have one of those to deal with right now!”

I don’t know why I’m feeling so overwhelmingly pressured about this.  It isn’t as though my mom or hubby’s mom is calling multiple times a week asking whether they’ll get to meet their grandchildren before they die. Hubby seems perfectly happy with our mutual decision to wait until at least our next assignment before introducing miniature people into the world.  And for chrissake, did I mention yet that we’ve only been married for two months??

The only conclusion I can reach is that this pressure is spawned by my ridiculously competitive nature, which OH MY GOD, is not a reason to have kids.  I don’t feel like I need to compete with other people specifically, but with Mother Nature and convention.  It’s like the mentality of an 19th century Jane Austen heroine has been embedded in my brain.  I have my education, I’ve dabbled in the world outside of my parents’ house, I’ve found my Captain Wentworth, and now it’s time to start popping out babies.  I want to be the best at what I do, and if that means having babies is the customary next step after getting married, my brain is screaming at me to get busy woman, we don’t have all day here!

On top of that, I have this horrible and unfounded fear that when we do decide to start trying for a baby, we’ll find out that one or the other of us is not so well equipped in the fertilization department.  And what if it’s too late at that point to do anything about it?  And then I spend the rest of my days wondering why I spent so much of my life trying SO HARD not to get pregnant when I could have been more effectively using my time.

(Right now, Hubby is screaming into his pillow in terror.)

But the thing is, I want to be able to decide at the drop of the hat that I want to see the Vegas strip.  I want to be able to spend my money on frivolous shoes that I really, REALLY don’t need and a new party dress that I’m sure to find an occasion to wear.  I want to be able to go out and get deliciously drunk and not worry about finding a babysitter.  I want to use our spare room as the exercise room, or guest room, or office, not as the nursery.  I don’t want to spend my days listening to a screaming baby, disciplining a mischievous toddler, or grounding a rebellious teenager.  I don’t want to get fat.

I know that I’m not ready for babies, so why is it that they invade my every thought?  Please tell me that this is perfectly normal and this too shall pass.  And how do I know when I really am ready to have a baby or when it’s just a passing fancy that I will totally be over in a matter of days?

I swear.  If there is absolutely nothing going on in my life to angst over, I will turn anything into a total drama fest, won’t I?

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A Hero Amongst Puppies

This weekend, my friend made the comment that out of the four of us growing up (Me, her, my sister and her sister were pretty inseparable between my ages of 9 and 16 and are still wonderfully great friends.) she never would have expected that I would turn out to be the crazy dog lady of the bunch.  I’ve always liked animals, but I think if you would have asked us 10 years ago which of us would own two dogs and be begging for a third, I would not have been the obvious choice.

And yet here I am, completely, hopelessly addicted to furry, adorable animals–particularly those without a home.  I rescued both Jack and Ellie from shelters in Arkansas and instead of having favors at my reception that would just get left behind or lost or tossed after the wedding, we made a donation to the Louisiana SPCA.  When we were in New York in August, a woman was set up on the sidewalk with homeless kittens and it was all I could do to resist stuffing one in my purse as a souvenir.  Instead I just emptied out my wallet and kept my fingers crossed that someone would come along and take them all home.

But what always breaks my heart more than anything in the world, is when I see an animal on the side of the road–either running along the highway, or already hit by a car, and being unable to stop and help.  I usually end up with tears in my eyes as I drive away, just hoping against hope that my own little dogs won’t ever run away from home and find themselves in that situation.  It’s such an awful feeling to not be able to do anything for that helpless creature, confused by the speeding cars and bright lights, and yet I’ve never stopped to do anything.  Until last night.

It was around 6:30, pitch black outside, the narrow back road very dimly lit by tall glowing lamp posts.  I turned onto the street that leads into our neighborhood, and saw something moving on the side of the road.  Suddenly, a big yellow dog came loping out of the bushes, tail wagging and tongue hanging out as he headed directly for my car.  I slowed down to a snail’s pace seeing that there were cars coming up behind me who probably hadn’t seen the dog who was now wandering aimlessly down the middle of the road.  I came to a full stop, causing the cars behind me to slow down and hopefully see the dog, and then I pulled over to the side of the road to slowly open my front door, praying that the dog was as friendly as he looked.

The other cars drove around us, giving a wide berth as the big yellow dog came toward me, 70 pounds of wagging tail and smiling eyes as he nuzzled my hand in greeting.  I saw that he had a name tag on, so I stepped down from the car and, taking him by the collar, hoisted him into the back seat.

He had big, beautiful eyes that looked at me gratefully as he curled up on my back seat, tail thumping against the car door.  He was completely quiet, aside from the swish of his tail, and he tentatively licked my arm as I fumbled with his collar, in search of a phone number.  I saw that his name was Oliver and introduced myself to him, scratching the top of his head and the back of his ears as I dialed the number that would hopefully connect me to his owner.

After a bit of difficulty understanding the man who eventually answered the phone, I determined that he did indeed have a dog named Oliver, and that he would have his wife meet me by the gate at the foot of their driveway.  Oliver seemed perfectly content, stretched out on the backseat, probably thrilled to be inside where it was warm after his big adventure outdoors in the below freezing temperatures.

I found his house, and together we sat in the car, waiting for his people to arrive.  Eventually a woman came down the drive with another dog by her side, and I got out of the car to help Oliver down.  When I opened the door, he stood staring at me, hesitant, unsure of what was going on, afraid to go back outside.  I coaxed him down from the backseat and walked him toward the gate.  I was a little concerned that he didn’t seem more excited to be home, but then it suddenly seemed to occur to him where he was, and when he saw the woman waiting for him, his tail began beating rapidly again and he tried to lunge toward her with all of his adolescent puppy strength.

He dragged me toward the gate, and I made sure that he was safely behind the iron bars before leaving as the woman thanked me.  I can’t tell you how happy it made me to do that little thing.  To reunite a family with their dog.  I’m sure the scenario could have gone a number of different ways–Oliver could have been unfriendly, his tag could have been illegible, his owners may not have been home–but the way that it did turn out was perfect.  Oliver got to go back home, and when I got home I hugged my own puppies extra tightly for as long as they would let me.

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Guilty Pleasures – Halloween Candy

As a kid we would always trick or treat with all of our cousins or groups of friends and my favorite part of the night was when we got home and emptied the bags of goodies on the floor – after a quick sort through by our parents (at which time they took a few treats for themselves) the trading began.  I have never been much of a candy person, even as a kid, but I have always had a few favorites, so as we would sit there and sort the goods I was always on the lookout for Hot Tamales & M&M’s. Even today there are times when I break down and as I’m leaving the grocery store or when we go to the movies I have to go for those king size bags of peanut M&M’s or big boxes of spicy Hot Tamales.

So this week when I went to pick up a few bags of candy to hand out to our trick-or-treaters I made sure to include a few of my Guilty Pleasures as well.

Hope everyone has a fantastically sweet weekend!

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Dreaming the Hours Away

When it comes up in conversation that I am currently unemployed, so many people make the typical envious comments, but then quickly add the fact that they couldn’t handle the boredom, that it would drive them crazy.  I’ve got to be honest with you–I could happily spend the rest of my life just like this!

I’ve managed to keep myself busy with a number of projects and still find myself wishing for more time in the day.  Friday and Saturday I spent most of the day organizing various storage spaces in the house–my recent favorite online store is Stacks and Stacks. I have fallen madly in love with their wide array of organizing supplies–for the first time in my life all of my jewelry is well organized, the bathroom is (fairly) decluttered, and all gloves, hats, and umbrellas are stored neatly in the downstairs coat closet.  I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me!

Many hours of my day are spent on TripAdvisor researching and filing away all of the useful information I can find on Italy.  The Word document I started months ago with a briefly sketched out itinerary has grown to 9 pages chock full of travel tips, restaurant recommendations, and train schedules and I have become utterly obsessed with traveling.   I think a lot of that obsession stems from the fact that Colby is gone so often traveling to places like Germany and Iceland along with the less desirable missions, while I sit at home watering the grass and feeding the dogs.  I’m not that I’m bitter but his sporadic phone calls back home and never fully unpacked bags highlight just how little traveling abroad I’ve done in the past few years.

When I joined the Air Force, I was under the terribly misguided impression that I would be traveling the world and seeing exciting locales that I might not have the opportunity to see as a civilian.  During my tenure in the Air Force I moved from Louisiana to Arkansas and then had one trip to Alabama and one trip to Mississippi.  Not exactly the exciting world travel I had anticipated.  In contrast to that, between my 17 and 19 birthdays I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in England, Scotland, and Wales and to study abroad for 6 weeks in Ireland, traveling around the coast on my own for a week and a half following the classroom portion of the trip.  I was bitten by the travel bug and it pains me that it has been almost six years since I’ve been out of the country, with the exception of a day trip to Canada.

One of the things that terrifies me about settling back into a standard 9-5 job is that I won’t have the chance to have all of the big travel adventures that I really want to squeeze into the next 4 or 5 years, before we start thinking about adding kids to our little menagerie.  I’ll sit down to check my email and before I realize it, three hours have passed during which I’ve been researching Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Greece, Paris, Australia–I devour travel blogs and am already counting down the days until 2018 when we will finally be headed off on our honeymoon.  I love my own country, and appreciate all of the beauty and history that it has to offer and I’ve been lucky enough to experience, but there’s something so incredible and indescribable about immersing yourself into the beauty and history of another culture.  I proposed to Hubby that starting with our 2018 Italy adventure, we make a real and concerted effort to take a trip out of the country each year, and always to somewhere different.

I know that my ability to travel won’t come to a grinding halt when we have children, but I do understand that the experiences will be different.  Honestly, I would absolutely love to be stationed in another country for a couple of years when I do have children.  I think it would be such a great experience for them to have country boundaries blurred a bit, to know that just because you live one place doesn’t mean that you can’t branch out and appreciate others.  I want them to be bitten by the same bug that bit me, to always want to experience new places and adventures, not to feel tied to one specific place.

What I love about travel was said, better than all the words I’ve written could ever say,

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” 

by St. Augustine.
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