Creeeeepy Crawlers

Does anyone else remember that easy bake oven for plastic bugs from the ‘90s? They’re squirmy, and wormy and purple and green….yes, it’s pathetic that I actually remember the song from the commercial.

Anyway, since it’s October (I can’t believe the whole summer is gone!), AND it’s Halloween, I thought a creepy post was in order to get into the fall spirit. This isn’t going to be about tablescapes or decorating, or what you should eat to get in the fall spirit, although I do recommend Honeycrisp apples. They are delicious.


My husband has Crohn’s disease and he hasn’t been feeling well lately. And by lately, I mean since about the middle of April/beginning of May. It’s horrible. Some days are better than others, of course, but it doesn’t make it any easier when the good days (like when he feels like he can leave the house to watch a game, or go to the grocery store) are followed by not so good days (when he can’t get out of bed).


So, we’ve been trying a lot of things to try to control the disease; since it’s not curable, all the docs can do is try to control the symptoms. The medicines don’t always work. And they can be scary- they suppress your immune system by lowering your white blood cell count, or go after inflammatory markers in your blood and eliminate them (kinda like chemo), or you could be on a round of steroids that you can’t stop.  In other words, NOT GOOD, but better than the alternative of vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, fatigue, bloody stool and loss of appetite that you can have without them.


Sometimes, you just have to try things that may be a bit unconventional. I read A LOT about Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD is the umbrella term that includes Crohn’s disease, but also colitis) and I try to do as much as I can to spread awareness (our local chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is fantastic!), but there is STILL no cure.


One of the ideas that’s gaining a lot of ground is the “old friends” or “hygiene” hypothesis- basically, since we’ve become cleaner over the past 100 years and started wearing shoes and living in cities with indoor plumbing, we have inadvertently eliminated some symbiotic microorganisms that are beneficial to us, causing a bunch of bad stuff to happen like MS, autism, IBD, allergies and asthma. Of course, this is only a theory, but it’s one that makes sense to a lot of people, including us and to many physicians.


What did we do with this information? Wellllllllllllllllll, Dan is now the proud host of 100 hookworm- and we’re supposed to add 50 more for a grand total of 150 microscopic bloodsuckers that hopefully help. Don’t worry, you can’t catch them. Unless you decide to jump into a pile of infected poop.  Ew.

[Image Credit Jay Reimer ]


I told you they looked creepy! Check out those fangs!


So far, the little draculas have helped a bit. Dan has had some improvements, but nothing like what needs to happen to put him in a remissive state. Hopefully the little guys will do their job, suck some of Dan’s blood and make him better.


Happy Halloween, Everyone!



A Chilling Halloween Tale, Or DIY Disaster: How we bought Blinds for One Room Three Times

About 2 weeks ago, Andrew and I were working on something in our yard over the weekend when one of neighbors stopped by and said he came home from work late one night and saw someone or someones creeping around our sunroom windows. Thankfully, we haven’t been broken into, it’s probably because we don’t keep anything that is stealable in that room. I mean, it’s our office, so Andrew’s computer is in there, but it isn’t portable. Unless someone wanted a 50+ pound computer or my sewing machine, they probably aren’t going to find anything good by looking through those windows. I realize that just because a burglar doesn’t see anything they can shove in a backpack doesn’t mean that you won’t get broken into, but it helps. It also helps that our house generally looks like it’s already been ransacked… Anyway, we replaced the windows about a month after we moved in to the house. The original windows… well originally, this room was a porch, but the windows that were installed to make it a sunroom were the old louvre windows that are super inefficient and not practical at all for a Cincinnati summer or winter (or spring, or fall for that matter).


So we replaced them to these:


Oh look, one of the blinds is finally up. 

With these shiny, pretty, very clear windows, we knew that some sort of curtains or window covering was in our future. For one, you can definitely see in them, even if I’m in the back of the house; and two, if this room is eventually going to be a 3rd bedroom (according to THE PLAN), there needs to be some amount of privacy. We just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. In addition, it wasn’t currently on the giant list of shit we had to do. Finding out we had nighttime creepers pushed up the necessity. I knew I wanted something that was light filtering and without a lot of cords and pulleys. Because nothing is ever easy, these windows were different sizes (from one wall to the next) in addition to being custom sized.


So Andrew stopped at the store and bought some blinds that were customizable, meaning Lowe’s or Home Depot cuts them for you (this was the easy part). He brought them home, but they were the wrong color. Back to the store they went. The next set was the correct color, but was cut incorrectly so they were too small for our windows. Feeling a little like Goldilocks, the third set fit just right.  


…Se what I mean by ransacked?
To deter creepers even more, we also upgraded our motion detecting lights outside. Previously they were a little spotty with their motion detecting. Now they work, and the one by our sunroom (i.e. the darkest spot of our house) is like a bright alien ship is landing.





Bean’s Book Club

So, this really isn’t a club, persay, but I feel like I have read a lot of really good books lately. I mentioned The Cuckoo’s Calling in this post. It was awesome. Loved it. I totally guessed wrong on who the killer was. I hope that it becomes a regular mystery series. Nancy Drew was my homegirl growing up.

Here are a few books that I’ve read lately that I recommend:

1. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

I was OBSESSED with this story when it began appearing on MSN back in 2009. The book is fantastic. I still can’t stop thinking about it.

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My good friends Sarah & Erin said that I had to read this and I have to tell you, I ended up reading all of the published books in the series. A new one comes out early next year. WOOT! Gotta love a good Scottish romance. These books are seriously addicting.

3. A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals) by Michelle Cooper

I love teen fiction. This is a 3 part series that reminded me of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. I love the Brits.

3. Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

I liked this because it filled the void that Downton Abbey has left in my life until January 5th. I liked the upstairs/downstairs contrast and the different perspectives that came from the characters in different countries. I have the second book on hold at the library.

6. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

Full disclosure- I read this a few years ago, but it’s so good. Those Brits again. I should have been born a British aristocrat. Even better, I should just be Kate Middleton.

7. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

This was great because it was written in journal form, which I love, but also because it was a unique story. You don’t often read books with this kind of perspective into a Native American tribe.

8. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I love a good mystery. Not to mention the suspense- I was literally on the edge of my seat. This was SO GOOD- the writing, the story itself, the gothic backdrop. Awesome.


9. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Should I be living in the UK? The Scottish and Icelandic settings for this book were amazing and I just loved the story. Also, I had to read Jane Eyre after I read this, since all the reviews said what an homage it was to Charlotte Bronte’s classic. It totally is.

10. The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion by Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

I am not a self help reader. I like fiction, however, this book caught my eye. AND it was really helpful. AND it made sense. It’s kind of a no-nonsense kind of thing. What this reinforced for me, more than anything, is that you have to play an active, positive role in your own life or things just aren’t going to happen. And sometimes you just need a little push from a tool to get you over what seems like the mountain in front of you. Or, as my mom would say, it helps you get a grip.

Get out there and read, people!

An “It’s FINE” disclaimer/follow up

1. My mom wants everyone to know that she is NOT a hoarder (but I believe the evidence points to a different conclusion).

2. She also had to ask who MacGyver was. BTW, did you know that his first name is actually Angus? Neither did I.

3. She also doesn’t know who Tom Petty is. Just sayin.

4. Andrew said the only reason he ate that caramel walnut bar was because he was drunk.

5. I am STILL waiting for Ryan Seacrest’s phone call. The Kardashians are falling apart; it’s time for a new reality family.  

6. Love you, Mom! And thanks for always reading our blog. $10 says you still have this outfit.


It’s FINE!

My mom is kind of a hoarder. You wouldn’t really know it by looking at her, or being in my parent’s house- there aren’t mazes of old newspapers, or crap everywhere, but beware if you decide to open a drawer…

You may find an Rx label from 2001:




Or, a mini plastic plate that apparently came from an airplane (Why, oh WHY would you keep such a thing?!?!)


Once, if you can even believe it, we were cleaning out a closet and found an old skirt that ought to be given away. For fun, Julie tried it on (well, not really for fun. More because my mom did not want to get rid of it since it was made from “good wool!”) While modeling  said skirt, she stuck her hands in the pockets and brought out….A PACIFIER. Fo’ realz, people. I cannot make this stuff up.

She knows where everything is, and always has a gizmo to MacGyver something if necessary. Like, if you need a gigantic industrial twist tie, or one of those plastic straw things that comes in new shoes or a drop cloth. She will have it.

Unfortunately, she also kind of does this with food. Sometimes, the leftovers just aren’t going to get eaten. One time, she cleaned and cooked some broccoli that was INFESTED with bugs. Seriously, I am not kidding. “It’s fine girls, really. I cleaned it up!”  

So, last week when she and I were at the farmer’s market and she wanted to buy one of these Chicken of the Woods mushrooms, I became slightly concerned that the hoarding was actually just a good way for her to hide the fact that she was trying to poison all of us.


Turns out, they are legit and actually pretty tasty. We sauteed ours with onions, garlic & olive oil. They would be good over rice, pasta, on a crostini, or just as a side .  


They were fine, since I am still alive, as is Andrew, who ate a 2 week old caramel walnut bar from the BonBonerie that my mom couldn’t throw away. The cycle continues.



DIY Disaster: Garage Part Deux

We are so close to finishing the garage, yet so, so far away. Here is what happened since the last photos were taken:


All particle board was installed to give our new siding a smooth base to sit on.


Corners and trim started going up.


Siding has begun! It’s crazy how quickly the long pieces go up. It’s the cutting and the short sides that make this take so long. I came home early on Friday to the photo above. I started trying to be useful by cutting pieces to fit between the garage doors, Then this happened:


I was blistered after cutting two or three pieces, my middle finger looked like this. It hurt, but I powered through for several (read 30) more boards before I called it quits (to cutting) for the day. Then we ran into this problem:


We decided to just have what we were calling an “accent row.”  Since our garage is so old and crooked, it was impossible to make  the siding around the doors straight. So we didn’t and called it good and moved on to other things.


At the end of the day, the garage looked like this:



We still have to put the last piece up under the eaves, and do some painting (not to mention the gutters), but we are so, so, so, so, close!!

Also, here is a bunch of shit that is in my back yard.


Here’s what’s left:

1) Add last pieces of siding

2) Remove old gutters

3) Paint eaves (white)

4) Re-do gutters

5) Paint garage doors and people doors (dark grey)

P.S. We decided on grey siding because I eventually want to paint the house grey. I’ll leave the brick, but do dark grey on the trim and the stucco part at the top.

DIY Disaster: Or Why My Father-In-Law is the Coolest

Reason #1: This photo happened. Andrew’s dad is learning photoshop, which is pretty cool by itself. But he’s basically learning photoshop so he can do ridiculous shit like this, and it’s totally on the level.


Reason #2: If you read this post, you know all about the outlandish number of home improvement projects we have going on right now. The one that actually has an expiration date is the garage, and its desperate need for re-siding…and gutters, which needs to be complete before winter sets in (winter is coming). A couple of weeks ago, Andrew and I decided we were finally going to do a garage make-over. We were super confident that the pressure washer that we borrowed would get all the cracked and damaged paint off of the siding and we’d be able to re-prime and paint everything without issue. We were wrong (who’s surprised?). The pressure washer we borrowed did NOT work.


Still overly confident, we borrowed a different pressure washer from a different friend which basically ruined everything. It fluctuated between not working at all and really effing everything up. We had it start to damage the wood siding because it was too much pressure. Bonus: it did happen to remove paint. Damn you, Bob Vila and your You Tube videos that make everything look so easy.


Once the pressure washing idea was abandoned, Andrew and I went to Lowe’s to see what our other options were. We discovered chemicals. Those didn’t really work either. I spent 3 sweaty hours one day making my garage uglier and huffing chemicals.


After that failure, we decided that our last option was to re-side the garage. We were trying to avoid this because it’s more expensive than painting and neither one of us has ever sided anything. That’s where the FIL comes in. Andrew has the week off before he starts a new job(!!!!), and his dad offered to fly in from Seattle to help with the garage. He brought his own hammer, some Knotts Berry Jam, the above photoshop glory, and some knowledge (also based on You Tube videos). I’m so excited to come home everyday to see the progress. This is what happened today:


More to come!