The Great Plant Experiment of 2012

For once, this was not my idea.  It was Brad's idea.  I take no blame for the outcome of whatever happens to these poor, helpless beings. Since 4th of July was on a Wednesday this year, it seemed as though no one really had plans.  Even as I'm back at work today, asking everyone what they did on their 4th of July has seemed pretty lackluster.  It was almost like having an additional Sunday in the middle of the week.  (Are you guys finding this as well?)  Not that I'm complaining, I love Sundays in the middle of the week.  And, you know what I like to do on Sundays?  Home improvement things!  Yay! We have a tiny area in our atrium that's a mound of dirt right now, but I have big plans for it.  The first part of the plan is to put some sod in the mound of dirt so that Piper can come in and out and use it as a restroom if we're gone for the day.  She's so little that she can sneak under both of our side gates, so we can't put in a doggie door to the outside.  Plus, I just don't feel good about having a doggie door.  Too many people can get in through them.  It freaks me out. Anyway, we went to Lowes to buy sod, and they didn't have any.  Apparently their shipment comes in on Fridays.  Lame sauce.  But, we're standing in the garden department.  With all of the pretty, green, easily killable things around us.  And then we had a conversation that kind of sounded like this: Brad: We should get some plants for the side yard. Me: No. No plants. You remember what happened last time. (Reference to the Daisy Incident of 2011 where they lived for less than 5 days after planting.) Brad: But, we can get different plants. Desert plants. Me: We're going to kill them. Brad: But, look at this one.  Isn't it nice? Me: Ooh, I like that one... And that's how I got shanghaied into buying more plants that we will probably kill.  And, in no time, our cart looked like this: I can just see them quivering with fear. We made sure that the plants were "tolerant", which I took to mean "tolerant of our negligence", so we shall see what happens.  But, anything is an improvement to our current side yard.  When people come over, I hope they don't look out our living room windows and see it.  It is an abyss of dead weeds and home to the ugliest retaining wall ever. Believe it or not, this is after we "cleaned out" the side yard.  We had some 6 foot weeds in there.  (At least we can keep those alive easily!)  The other problem is that we previously threw a ton of wildflower seeds back there hoping they would grow.  It looked like a flowery mess for about a month, but then they all died, leaving us with a hoard of dead plants.  We filled up our green trash can with weeds and dead plants no problem last Sunday.  This is the only (half) living plant left from that endeavor about a year ago: So, in went the Kangaroo Paw (our personal favorite and the one with the most chance for survival due to its desert, low maintenance nature).  We also put in some "ground cover", hoping that it will slowly take over.  Once again, not sure if that'll work or not, but, hey, worth a try. We also planted a Dwarf Lime Tree.  (Skinny Margaritas at my place in a few summers?) And this fancy tropical plant that was a total impulse buy.  It was 50% off and just looked sad.  So, I decided to take it home.  It is probably the most likely to die first. And, here's what they all looked like planted so far: Still looks pretty terrible, I'm not going to lie.  But, this is more of an experiment than anything.  We've vowed that if they stay alive for 2-3 weeks we can buy a few more and slowly fill up the space.  We also have to put rocks down on the ground to get rid of that miserable space below the retaining wall.  I also have thoughts of painting the shorter retaining wall.  Maybe something fun and colorful and crazy.  Red?  Yellow?  Grellow?  Thoughts are happening. In the meantime, I woke up this morning and they were all still alive.  They have survived the first 24 hours, so that's a good sign. How did you guys spend your 4th?  Any BBQs?  Poolside lounging?  Or, is anyone else crazy like us and took on an unexpected project?

Happy Birthday, Husband

A special Happy Birthday to my husband today.   The one who digs holes for me in the back yard.

And helps me install new windows.

And helps me clean up old bathtubs when he's probably rather be doing ANYTHING else.

Thank you for everything you do... and thank you for going along with all of my crazy ideas.  I love you so much.  Happy Birthday.

PS - I promise we won't do anything that requires work gloves or old pants today.  I will wait until tomorrow.

The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Hope you all are having a great day today!  Happy holidays, for whatever you are celebrating. I just wanted to hop on for a minute and not only wish you a very happy holiday, but also to share with you my most exciting gift of the day.  We haven't opened everything yet, but I highly doubt anything will surpass it.  My grandfather sent me an old carpenter's square that was owned by my great grandfather, and it's gorgeous.  It has an old wooden handle that looks like it's hand carved with brass details.  I cannot get home to put it into a shadow box fast enough.  I guess a love for tools runs in the family!  It is just such an amazing heirloom and I am so lucky and thankful to have it that I had to share it with all of you.  (I figured if anyone you guys would appreciate it!) Hope you have a great day celebrating with all of your families! xoxo- Shane

A Very DIY Chrismukkah

So... for the last week or so, my house has looked like the holidays threw up all over it.  And not in a good way.  This time of year is always a bit nutty for us... there are always giant deadlines to meet in our business.  (Brad has a music video due to the label this Tuesday and I have 2  big movies I'm working on.)  It's not unusual for us to be at the office on Christmas Eve.  And, of course, there's always the general holiday stress.  Both of our families are from Arizona, so we have to travel every year for Christmas and Hanukkah.  And there's all of the holiday parties.  And then there's the gifting.  Which I always try to outdo myself from the previous year.  And I end up exhausted.  (Why do I do this to myself?  I must be insane.)  So, we have no tree, no holiday lights outside of our house, no menorah... we look like the grinches of our neighborhood.  And there is mess all over the place, between the wrapping, cooking, gifting, and building.  But, I did do quite a bit of DIY for Hanukkah this year, and since my husband's family is celebrating it today, I figure I can finally share it with you :-). My husband's family is pretty big, so I always try to do one little thing for each family to kind of bulk out the gift-giving.  This year, I found this amazing peppermint bark recipe on Pinterest and decided it would be perfect as a small extra gift for everyone.  (For those of you who follow me on Pinterest, it's in my "Yum Yum" category.)  It was seriously the easiest thing I've ever "baked".  Limited ingredients and super fast... my kind of cooking.  I got this little candy silicon mold from Amazon that looks like a present and got cooking.  Here they are about halfway done with the chocolate and peppermint layer completed: And after the milk chocolate was in the mold and refrigerated for 20 minutes, I put the white chocolate layer on top of it and chilled it for another 30 minutes.  As a side note, I just used milk chocolate and white chocolate chips, melted with 1 TB of vegetable oil per cup of chips.  I also poured a little bit of peppermint extract in with the vegetable oil so it could melt into the chips.  BTW, no double boiler for this girl.  I put the ingredients into a measuring cup and threw it into the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it was melted.  That's how we roll here at Casa Strickman.  We are rebels.  There were also some broken up peppermint candies mixed in to the chocolate mixtures and also added to the bottom of the candies for some extra crunch.  And, I must say, my little bite-sized barks turned out super cute and amazing. Another fun project for me was creating custom name tags for all of the gifts this year using my Silhouette SD.  I got it as a gift for myself a few months ago, and I absolutely love it.  (I do wish the software was a bit more user friendly, but I'm getting to know it more and more every day.  Maybe it's just my ignorance of the new program, but I really wish it worked more like Photoshop!) Anyway, back to the custom labels.  I wanted something fun and colorful that could jazz up the brown paper wrapping we used on everyone's presents this year.  I got a pack of  scrapbooking paper from JoAnns (50% off to begin with, then with an additional 40% off coupon - score!)  and designed a template for my gift tags in Silhouette Studio.  Once they were printed out, I attached them to our gifts with some colorful ribbon and voila... cute little somethin' somethin's to add to our gifts.  (I've made the silhouette template available for download to anyone who wants it.  All you have to do is change out the initials and print.  Click OPD Custom Gift Tags for Silhouette SD (818) to download.) I also added the name tags to the jars of bark bites that I made.  (The jars are from Ikea, $3 each.  Love!) And, of course, I couldn't go an entire holiday season without building something.  That would be so unlike me.  Believe it or not, I've actually been building up a storm lately.  It's just been a lot of larger, more complicated projects, which is why I haven't posted any of them yet.  So, it was so nice when Ana posted her thumb chairs last week.  Easiest build ever.  Took me about 2 hours per chair that I made after work, and I made them entirely out of scrap wood.  (The only thing I bought was the green spray paint.  Awesome gifts for 2 boys for under $5?  Sweet!)  BTW, I can't believe that Ana's chairs are the exact same color.  I checked out her post again after I painted and was shocked.  I guess blue/green is a popular color combo! That about wraps up the DIY for me this season... what have you guys been up to?  Any holiday cooking?  Building?  Fun DIY projects?  I must say, it's so fun to DIY for someone you know will love and appreciate it.  Even more fun than DIYing for yourself!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you all have had a fantastic day with your friends and family.  I'm thankful for so many things this year: my wonderful husband and family, a job that I love, and, of course, the opportunity to build with all of you. Sorry I've been a bit MIA this week... I've been out of the country enjoying my family's Thanksgiving tradition.  While most of you are probably enjoying turkey and cranberry sauce today, I scarfed down a quesadilla by the pool in Cabo San Lucas.  (Don't tell my trainer - full fat cheese is not exactly on my diet list.  But, not going to lie, it was delicious.)  We've been coming to Cabo for Thanksgiving every year since I was 10 years old, and now I'm happy to be sharing the tradition with my husband as he has joined us for the past few years.  To give you an idea of why we love it here so much, here's the view from the balcony in our room where I ate my breakfast: Ahhh paradise.  We spend our days laying by the pool and our nights watching my mom's favorite movie of all time: Christmas Vacation.  (I know, total cornfest, but it's fun to listen to her laugh.  Every single time we watch it.  Over every single joke.  It never gets old.) Anyway, what are your Thanksgivng traditions?  Turkey?  Football?  Chinese take-out?  Whatever you decided to do, I hope it was everything you could have hoped for and more.  xoxo- Shane

Halloween at Casa Strickman

Happy Halloween, everyone!  We were getting a bit festive over the weekend in preparation for the holiday, so I thought I'd share what we were up to. Usually Brad and I aren't really that into holidays.  Maybe it's because we don't have kids yet - I know we'll enjoy them more when that happens.  (A long time from now.  Far, far in the distant future.)  But, the one holiday we always enjoy is Halloween.  It's sandwiched into a pretty busy time for us: the week before is our anniversary and the week after is my birthday, but it's especially fun now that we have our house to get into the decorations and the trick-or-treaters.  (Last year on Halloween we were on our honeymoon, so we missed out on all the local fun.)  It's very strange, though... we're the only crazy people in our entire neighborhood that decorated our front yard with Halloween decorations.  Maybe we missed the memo? Continue reading "Halloween at Casa Strickman"