Eleven Years

S on SnowdoniaWe take a quick break from our new house decoration posts to note that the Architect and I started dating ELEVEN years ago today. It’s insane to me how long that is. I’ve recently been going through old family photos, and it’s like I’m a child and then BAM! There he is with me.

He said we weren’t going to celebrate, since last year we went on vacation to Vermont and called it our “tenth anniversary goodbye vacation” since after that we were going to celebrate our wedding anniversary. But, he came home from work with some beautiful flowers for me. What a sweetheart.

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So I thought I would post some factoids about our eleven years together and some photos from throughout.

Together, we have lived in seven places–an apartment in his college town for one winter break, DC where we met the Artist, three different places in our last home city, and now two here.

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We traveled to three countries together on our honeymoon: England, France, and Wales. I’ve stayed at home while he’s gone to France, England, Switzerland, and Italy twice.

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We got married when we had already been together for nine years.

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We were in a long distance relationship for five years, during which we went to college. That was when I learned how to have friends and be in a relationship, and I’m very grateful for that time, even though it was difficult.

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When we first got together in high school, we agreed that we would break up if we were still together come graduation. That obviously didn’t pan out, which is wonderful.

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The Architect briefly dated K in 9th grade. It lasted about three weeks, which is 1/190th of the time the Architect and I have been together.

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However, he’s lived with her all but five months of the time he’s lived with me, which means he’s lived with her 93% of the time he’s lived with me.

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I’m sorta running out of number facts, so I’m just going to talk about how cool he is. He designs lots of buildings for lots of architecture firms, and when people come over to visit, I just walk them around and point out all the cool things he’s made.

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He has a really cute giggle and he’s an excellent listener. He always does whatever he can think of to make someone’s day a little better, like bringing me home those flowers even though we said we weren’t celebrating. And he really loves dogs.

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And….one time in high school for twin day he dressed up as me. Doesn’t he look way different now?

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If you thought last week’s bathroom was cool, just wait

K on treeSo, along the lines of S’ post last week about our move, I’ll be giving you more information about the bathrooms in our house, specifically, how awesome mine is.

The Artist and I somehow managed to end up with the master bedroom, which of course means the best bathroom. Of course we’ll let everyone use it because it would be unfair otherwise, but we’re totally stoked about the new space. Not only does it have a pair of sinks, but it also has a standing shower and a jacuzzi tub.

Not only a jacuzzi tub, but one set into an amazing platform with luxurious space around it.

Eh, voila, the photo:

Yep, you're jealous

 

Dick is quite happy with the standing shower as well.

The only thing we aren’t happy about so far is this bizarre electricity thing that’s happening. We had to buy a washer & dryer, but then the dryer stopped working. We figured we got a bad used one, so we called an appliance repair guy, who said we had too much power coming out of our walls which (possibly) had fried the computer in our dryer. So we had our landlord call the power company, who said it wasn’t their problem, that we had to call an electrician. So the landlord called an electrician, who said there was no problem with our electricity in the house. I guess the new theory is that the electric company is causing power surges in the house, but we don’t know yet, so we’re without a way to was our clothes at this apartment for the time being, which is annoying. Also, hopefully the computer on our dryer isn’t broken because then we’ll just have to buy another one because the cost to fix the computer will be three times what we paid for the used machine.

In happier news, the Teacher is all moved in! Here’s a pretty picture of her new room!!!

Pretty in Purple

Family is Awesome

S on SnowdoniaAfter last Tuesday’s awesome news, we got some more great news on Friday–the Artist got a short-term job at a firm that’s pretty darn awesome. And then later on Friday, some rednecks came to town! It’s Ole Redneck and Young Redneck, my brother and nephew. It’s really great to have them coming to visit, since my brother has never been to our house before and my nephew only had once. Usually we visit them when we go back home for Christmas. But my brother had some extra time off work for vacation, so they came on over for the week. We live so much closer to back home since the big move, so we’ve been able to see so very much more of our family.

They had just gotten finished with a quick camping vacation to meet the Duck Dynasty guys and go to a few sites in Louisiana from the show. My nephew got Si’s autograph, which he just loves because Si is basically his hero.

So they came to visit us, and we went blueberry picking, which we do every year around the summer solstice. And then the two rednecks, the Architect, and I went to a dance show that some of my friends were in. Old Redneck had a good time and enjoyed having an experience different from what he usually does.

When we came home, K and the Artist had made some blueberry ketchup (did you know you can make ketchup out of any fruit?) and they made some yummy ham sandwiches with it. Old Redneck dribbled some on his chin, so K helped.

blueberry ketchupYoung Redneck loves video games, so he’s spent a fair amount of time playing them since he’s gotten here. He likes to play games where he can drive cars around. The Artist shows him how it’s done.

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On Sunday we had a nice relaxing day and went out and grilled. It was nice. Then yesterday, since everyone but me was at work, the Rednecks and I took a nice, long walk around town for several hours. We stopped off to take a picture with Young Redneck and a sculpture called “Captain Jack.”

Captain JackIt’s been so nice having them in town and getting to spend so much more time with them that we usually get to. Even just a few weeks ago, we went back home for the weekend to visit Mom and Dad for Dad’s 60th birthday. We went for the weekend, which was something we never could have done before, when there were 800 miles between our home and our parents. Dad’s cake had so many candles.

so many candles unlit

It took us a long, long time to light them all.

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candles being lit

As we finally got all the candles lit, we got this picture with my dad and all his kids and grandkids. Did I mention there were a lot of candles?

so many candles all the kids

When Dad blew them out, it was a smokesplosion!

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Our Little Family FAQ: Dating

K on treeI’m going to follow up on S’s post last week about our little family to discuss another part of our lives that people often ask about: dating.

People frequently wonder if we get enough time alone with our significant other to have a quality relationship. Then I hear people giving relationship advice saying “remember to date your spouse. Keep the romance alive.”

One of the great benefits of our living situation is the almost necessity to have dates. You want some time just the two of you–you have to plan it. This weekend was a good example. S and the Architect went off to visit his family for the weekend, so the Artist and I were left alone. That of course meant that we had to have an epic date day! Time alone is special!

There are major benefits to believing that time alone with each other is special, which means you appreciate it so much more when it happens. If you’re just alone all the time, you don’t have a reason to take advantage of the time.

So what did the Artist and I do on our epic date? We biked down to a park, had an awesome picnic, went to a hardware store and got some flowers, then rode back, went to the pool, went out for dinner, and played videogames. That’s what I call a day appreciating each other and your relationship.

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Our little family FAQ: Privacy

S on SnowdoniaIt’s been a while since I made a post about life with my little family of four. Back in October, I wrote a post about marriage and sisterhood, and why we all choose to live together. Today, I thought I would answer a frequently asked question that I get about our lifestyle.

We are two couples who live together, and when I tell people that I live with my husband, my twin sister, and her boyfriend, there are a few stock responses I get. (That happens so much in life. I get the same joke every time I tell someone my name, too. And I often get stripper jokes when I tell people I’m a dancer. But that’s beside the point.) One of the responses is “Oh, I’ve always wished I had a twin. That must be so nice.” Which is great. It is so nice. Another one is “I would never want to live with my sister. Don’t you need to have your own identity?” People ask us when we’re going to grow up and form our own households, or how that will never work once my husband and I “start a family.” Which is funny, I think, because the four of us together already HAVE started a family with each other.

Anyway, none of those are the questions which I intend to address today. The real question I get is only asked by people I know a little bit. It’s not asked by the dentist or the business contact, but by people who may someday turn into friends. And that is the question of privacy.

We somehow have this idea in our society that if you are a single twenty-something and have a roommate, privacy isn’t a real problem. If you are a couple living together, it’s not a problem. If you’re a couple with kids, the kids probably get in the way of privacy, but of course they do. But why on Earth would a couple want to live with other adults? It’s the same question that couples with another roommate get a lot, I think.

And I’ll be honest, privacy has been a problem for us sometimes. In our last apartment, which was a big factory-conversion loft where the Architect and I lived with K throughout our engagement and first year of marriage, the walls to our bedroom did not go all the way to the ceiling. We had many whispered conversations in those days, since our bedroom was in the living room, acoustically speaking. K’s bedroom walls did go all the way to the ceiling, so at least there was some ability to have walls block sounds in the apartment. Our current apartment is so small that there is nowhere good for the Artist to put his computer, so his desktop screens face the couch and we can all see what he’s doing all the time.

We can’t walk around the house in our underwear. We can’t assume we can’t be heard. But we’re all adults. When the Artist and I are home alone all day, I often pretend I can’t see what’s on his computer screen and purposefully keep my eyes away in the interest of maintaining some privacy. We do sometimes have to build privacy. The Architect sometimes watches sports and the Artist plays videogames while K and I have girl time with our friends who come over. We snuggle in separate parts of the house at the same time, each couple in their own world. We steal kisses around the corner in the kitchen.

But maintaining that privacy isn’t the real issue of privacy when living together in a group. The real issue is realizing that in the grand scheme of things, privacy isn’t that important. Historically speaking, Americans have an insane amount of privacy these days. A hundred years ago it was normal for a family with many children to share a one-room house, and even all share a bed. And it was fine. And we’re so much happier having this big family we see every day and share meals and difficulties with that it doesn’t even matter that we have to sacrifice a small amount of privacy. We still have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We can get away from each other if we need to. But I would much, much rather have less privacy around the Artist, the Architect, and K than to be lonely.

And then there’s the question of the larger privacy issues in the world these days. Google knows more about me than many of my friends do. And there’s nothing that can be done about that, really. So what does privacy even mean? Who knows. All I know is that having two other adults in my house with my husband doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have privacy in the grand scheme of things.

Epic Friday!

S on SnowdoniaEveryone in the house had the day off today for Good Friday. We don’t much celebrate Good Friday, so we decided to have Epic Friday instead.

We went on a nice long bike ride and had a picnic by a lake in a park. And then we’re going to go out for drinks with friends and then play board games tonight.

(Refashioning is not a part of Epic Friday, so there will be no refashion this week).

K and the Artist don’t have bikes yet, though they will in a few months, so they rented bikes with the local bikeshare. It was very fun. The bikeshare bikes are big and heavy, and you have to check them in every half hour, which gets annoying, but it was really fun to have the whole family on a ride together. I can’t wait until everyone gets their bikes!

I will write more about Epic Friday and Easter on Tuesday with the week’s regular post, but here’s a teaser of K and the Artist having a great time on the greenway:

K and the Artist

Bikes! Bikes! Bikes!

S on SnowdoniaAs I mentioned a couple weeks ago,  the Architect and I made a big purchase that we were super excited about.

Well, we picked them up this weekend and it’s just the most wonderful thing. They’re bikes!

Now, before I get to the big reveal of how incredibly pretty they are (since I know you’ve been waiting in suspense since I mentioned a mysterious new purchase), here is a history of why we bought them.

My Bike History

I was one of the kids who rode bikes to school and friends’ houses back in elementary school. That stopped when we moved for middle school  because we lived in a suburb that was simply not suited to life in anything but a car (or a motorcycle, which is what my mom uses and loves). I had a bike in college, but I only used it for a little while because it go so darn cold in New York State, and then it was all rusty come spring.

The city we used to live in actually had a lot of bicyclists. Between the few small businesses I worked at, I had at least five coworkers who biked to work at least some of the time, and at least one who used his bike as his sole mode of transport. And he loved it. The distances were relatively short, so I decided I, too, could bike to work. But I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to, so we went to Target to buy me a cheap bike I could use while I decided if  I really did like biking. That was Leggy:

Leggy with date

I liked riding Leggy to work, but I only did it three or four times. There were just too many things making it slightly too difficult to bike to work.

  • Number one–my commute was already so short that biking didn’t really help that much–it was only a 10 minute walk.
  • Number two–the streets in my neighborhood were so narrow that cars had no ability to pass me whatsoever, so I felt like I was in the way all the time.
  • Number three– we didn’t have a good way to store her at home other than just leaving her in the living room, where she took up way too much space.
  • And finally, number four– she weighed about 50 pounds, which I had to carry up three or four steps to get into our house. It was way too difficult to lift her comfortably, so I just didn’t do it. And so Leggy lived in our basement for the next two and a half years. She didn’t come with us on this move.

What We Wanted and Why

Before we moved here, we knew it was a really car-focused city, and we wanted to find a way not to have to buy another car. Note that we currently have three cars between the four adults living in our apartment, and it was important to us not to have a fourth.

Since we moved here, I noticed that aside from the 30 mile drive I have once a week to teach my ballet class, almost everywhere I go is less than 2 miles from my house. The 19 hours or so of dance rehearsals I have every week are all within that radius, the Architect’s office is within that radius, and most of the fun places we go are, too. I’ve found myself over and over actively wishing I had a bike when checking google maps for directions. Most of them are a 30-40 minute walk and a 6 minute drive. I feel really lame getting in the car to go what really amounts to a few blocks when I think about the poor atmosphere and everyone’s lungs, but that long of a walk just isn’t always feasible. But then we’re talking a 15 minute bike ride, which is absolutely a reasonable distance.  Plus, the Architect is always wanting to find ways to be more active but never really having the time. Bikes were a perfect solution.

The failure that was Leggy gave us all kinds of information we needed when choosing bikes this time in a way that means we really would ride.

We knew the bikes had to be much lighter than Leggy so I could lift mine if necessary. Also Leggy was a one speed, which was fine with the flat terrain where I rode her, but it’s hillier here (not super hilly, just not a pancake). So we wanted more than one speed. I knew I needed a step-through frame with the swooshy lady bar so I could ride in my skirts. And finally, they needed to look good. Now, not everyone is this way, but with me being super girly and the Architect, well, being an architect, aesthetics are very important to us. I wouldn’t get that excited riding a bike that I just didn’t think was pretty. We wanted to invest in quality bikes that have quality components rather than going with the cheapest thing possible we end up not wanting to ride, since we’re very serious about using them as commuting vehicles.

What We Got

So we told all that to the sales guy at our local bike shop, and he suggested Linus Bikes. They are just beautiful bikes inspired by 50’s and 60’s French films with some really useful parts that come with — a leather seat, a handlebar bell, a back rack, leather handle grips. And oh, so pretty.

Mine is the Dutchi 3 in Marine. Ever since my mom had a blue bike with a brown leather seat when I was a kid, I’ve secretly dreamed of having my own. And now I do! I named her Bluebird. Here she is!

BluebirdThe Architect’s bike is the Roadster Sport in black. Of course it’s black. He’s an architect. I think he actually wanted a really cool bright color, but men’s bikes tend not to come in them. Anyway, his bike is named Nevermore. (Get it, since black birds are Ravens?)

Nevermore

After we picked them up, we took some pictures riding around the parking lot to show you guys. And I’m sure to have a bunch more bike-related posts coming up as I solve a few of my bike problems–which currently have everything to do with how to carry my things easily.

Architect Riding S riding

Riding around town here, we discovered that it’s actually very bike-friendly, even though you wouldn’t think so given how many cars there are. But the city is really making an effort to encourage other modes of transport–it’s one of the few cities in my knowledge actually building public transit infrastructure. There are a lot of bike lanes and signs reminding drivers to share the road. And, the roads are wide enough that cars can easily pass at a safe distance without having to wait for me to wave them by at all the stop signs.

So far, we rode home from the bike shop, and I went on a couple errands by bike. The Architect has now commuted to work by bike twice, and he really likes it. Here’s to our whole new life, freely flying through the streets without being stuck looking for parking spots. I am hoping to work my way up to using the car only for that 30 mile drive to teach my class and travel long distances.

I know my mom rides a motorcycle for fun and to save gas. Anybody else reading use modes of transportation other than cars?

See you next time!

S riding away

Ti Amo: Pictures of a Love Story

S on SnowdoniaIn honor of Valentine’s this Friday, I thought I would tell a little love story about a piece of art in our house.

The Architect and I were in a long distance relationship for a very long time. Five years to be precise. One semester, he went to Rome, and it was awful and we were both sad and lonely. But that sadness and loneliness gave us some art that has traveled to every place we’ve lived together. The Ti Amos.

When he was in Rome, the city’s romance made him feel very lonely and left out. (Or antsy to be with me? Maybe it was the Rome Ants?) It seemed that every where he went, the walls and streets were covered in the words “Ti Amo,” which is Italian for “I love you.” The sidewalks filled with couples in love. And in the midst of all that love, he was without me, his love. So he started a photograph project to document the city and its love-filled walls and streets. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Florence 017

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And, as the culmination of that project, he made these two pieces to hang in our home:

Ti Amos

Here they are in our last apartment:

loft ti amosHe made them by putting masking tape down on the paper on the black one, coloring it in with pastels, and then peeling the tape off and rebuilding the drawing on the white one.  He used the same technique to make art as a souvenir for his brother and his parents. Here’s a closeup of the one for his parents that gives a hint about the technique:

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And finally, here are the full pieces he gave his parents and his brother. The one for his brother is a picture of Mario because that was his brother’s nickname in high school:

Final until broken 088And his parents is a picture of the Colosseum after dark.

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Anyway, have I mentioned I have a talented husband? The art he makes fills me with such joy, and the Ti Amos remind me of the very tough, lonely times we got through together. And then how wonderful it is now that we can be together every day as we had always dreamed.

Couch pillows, part 2

S on SnowdoniaBefore I get to the couch pillows, I feel like I should take a moment and say something sad about my mom (and the Architect’s mom). Our parents live in Alabama, a part of the South that is getting the crazy snowstorm, and our mothers can’t get home tonight. The Architect’s mom is stuck spending the night at her office. My mom spent four hours to go less than five miles trying to come home, and is ending up spending the night at the Botanical Gardens. It’s pretty scary how something as little as 1″ of snow can completely dismantle everything down there, and the fact that people are practically refugees over something so small. But the streets were not salted or sanded because the South isn’t used to preparing for something like this.

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So keep our mothers and everyone else down there in your thoughts tonight. One of my dad’s coworker’s has spent the last four hours trying to get to pick up his kids from school. It’s nuts.

Okay, so back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I finished the second set of pillows, which were formerly these ugly brown ones that came with the couches.

CAM00049

So, when we went and bought the purple shirt that I used to make the other couch pillow, we also bought this cool teal and purple silk shirt that i wanted to use for the two brown pillows. But I decided not to just cover them, but to cover only the brown side, leaving the side that matches the couch so that they would still look like they came with the couch and like we bought the coolest couch ever.

CAM00075So the first thing I did was to separate the front of the shirt from the back, so I could use each side for a pillow. I also took the pillows apart. This was easy. First I found the side of the pillow that was top-stitched (all pillows have a top-stitched side, that’s how they get the stuffing in.)

CAM00073I unpicked that seam, then I pulled out the filling, which turned out to be green!

CAM00074Then, I flipped the pillows inside out and went over the seams with some pink chalk so I wouldn’t loose track of where the seams go.

CAM00076After that, I took out the rest of the seams around the pillows. It was pretty easy since the upholstery thread was pretty thick and the stitches were pretty long. I did it by hand.

CAM00077After that, I pinned the new shirt pieces to the front of the brown fabric. I used the brown fabric as a backing on the silk. Since the silk is such a thin fabric, the pillow would have come out lumpy feeling if I hadn’t backed it with the thicker brown fabric.

CAM00080I cut the excess off, and then I pinned the brown/silk combo to the other side, right sides facing. I also made sure that the decorative piping was on the right side of my seams (in this case since it was inside-out, the piping went inside of my seams). I stitched all the way around the three sides that weren’t top-stitched before. I did it by hand because I don’t have a big industrial machine and I couldn’t fit the piping under my machine’s foot. If you did this with a pillow that didn’t have piping, this would be quick and easy on a machine. As it was, I just stitched while we watched The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t get a picture of this part because it wasn’t easy to photograph. Then I flipped the pillow right side out again, put the stuffing back in, and pinned it like so:

CAM00081The pillow didn’t have piping on this fourth side, so I made sure when I pinned it that the beige side folded higher than the silk to give the appearance of piping. Then, I sewed this side with my sewing machine. I had to get the Architect’s help to smush the filling a bit while I sewed.

sewing machineThen, I hand stitched the last two corners, and voila! The view from our couch area is much less brown!

after verticalAnd here’s the view that includes our art:

after overallAnd then, the Artist and I just happened to find another pillow in our house that just pulled the color scheme together, don’t you think?

tostitosHah. Anyway, that’s it for the couch pillows. I wish I could send them and the throw blankets to my mom at the Botanical Gardens, but alas, she is hundreds of miles from me.

(P.S. There won’t be a refashion Friday this week because I will be getting a root canal instead. Apparently it’s a bad luck kinda week around here.)

On Work/Life Balance, as well as tasty cocktails

K on treeI’m sure the part of this post about work/life balance will be nothing that no one has said before, but the biggest issue in my life the last few weeks has been my work/life balance, which is really a shame.

At the end of the year, two of my co-workers quit. Both of them had job responsibilities that I am ultimately responsible for, and which I am the only other person in the company who knows how to do them. And both of them worked in another location that’s a 3 and a half hour drive from where I live. So for the last two weeks, I have been traveling out to the country where that location is to fill in for their work. In order to be able to complete the bare necessities of their responsibilities, I was still working over 12 hours daily, and not even touching many of the projects I have been working on. Which is obviously stressful. Luckily they have convinced one of them to come back, but now I have to work extra to catch up on my responsibilities. I am traveling this week for a training session, and again next week to help a coworker gain new skills. Which means that I’m traveling four work weeks in a row, which is unusual for me.

Last weekend the Artist and I had to take a trip back to the city he used to live in for a wedding shower party. At least that was fun, but it was a 7 hour drive round trip that we did Saturday and Sunday.

The point is, that I feel much like I haven’t seen S since she moved in with me, which is of course sad because I miss. She is also sad because she feels like I’m not around enough. This is really a shame, because on the one hand I feel like I’m not getting enough done at work, and on the other, I feel like I’m not spending enough time with my family. I know that that is a pretty regular feeling for most people, but it’s really what has been weighing on me lately. I have not been working on any of my projects because I’ve been traveling so much, so there’s really very little for me to share with you.

The one bright spot these last few weeks has been an event that we discovered in town. It’s called Iron Bartender, and every week this bar brings in two bartenders each week who compete in three rounds of cocktail making. The audience gets to try the cocktails, and you can purchase them if you so desire. It’s fun to watch, and it’s like research to determine where the best places in town are to go for cocktails. It has really given me something to do on a weeknight to relax a little.

Here’s a picture of me drinking one of the winning cocktails from last time. It was a pear vodka cocktail that had cardamom bitters, Grand Marnier, champagne, and fresh ginger garnished with a pear and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Salud!

Iron bartender

 

Oh, and that lady in the background is the talented bartender who created the drink. Yum! It was delicious and almost like a lighter version of the Eenie Beanie Peartini.