Monday, September 15, 2014

I can't come out to play, I've got chores to do

(A note about the title: a friend of ours used this excuse for not going rock climbing with Jordan and I two weeks ago.  I thought it was funny that an almost-30 year old was still using chores as an excuse!)

Two weekends ago, Jordan made us all the meals from Friday to Sunday.  This was an unexpected event, especially since I do 99% of the cooking in our house.  I actually found it hard to relax and have someone else serve me in this way.  Tasks I feel I need to compete, such as the dishes, and cooking, I find hard to ask for help.  I take them in as my responsibility, and I feel like I'm slacking, or being lazy, or something is wrong, if Jordan takes care of them for me.  I know it's an area I need to relax control in, but actually, this isn't the direction I was intending this point to go in...

Lately, I've been thinking of task division in the house.  I haven't given it much thought, since Jordan and I chose household responsibilities a long time ago with minimal muss & fuss.  Generally, it falls as such...

Char:  cooking, laundry, sweeping/mopping, dusting, organizing, doing the dishes

Jordan:  making the beds, cleaning the bathroom, yard work/mowing the lawn

Both:  hoovering, taking out the trash/recyclables

Our chores fall along fairly typical gender roles, but we didn't design it as such.  I enjoy cooking and doing the laundry.  It's not that Jordan can't sweep or mop; I feel a need to keep the floors cleaner than he does.  Jordan likes to have the bathroom spic & span, so he takes on that role.

I know task division in the household can be a source of tension for couples, and I'm grateful it's rarely been contentious for Jordan and I.  How do you split up chores in your family?


I have another Skirtember post - check it out!

Monday, September 08, 2014

What's the most awkward way to return from an unplanned, late-summer* blogging break?

By posting on your even-more-abandoned fashion blog, of course!

+1 awkward point for me!

Anyway, I'm doing my own little Skirtember challenge... check it out here, or play along!

*Can I talk for a moment about the rush into fall?  I don't like it.  Lemme quote Joy the Baker for a moment: Everyone insists on talking about the end of Summer and I say no!  I’m still wearing white shorts and sunglasses despite the September calendar.  No ‘Welcome back from Summer’ emails for me, please.
I like fall, don't get me wrong.  But it will come in its own time.  There are still plenty of summer temperatures, summer activities and lazy summer-y weekends to be had!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Putting up fences

Second summer goal, crossed off the list!  And boy howdy, was it a doozy.

We bought our house (three years ago!) knowing that the fences needed to be replaced.  We tossed the idea around last year, but never got to it.  This year, we're putting our foot - and our money - down and making the needed house improvements.  (See also: spending almost $300 on curtains, blinds, and a rug.  Again though, needed improvements.  If we balk at the price of things, we never go through with it.  And we're replacing the blinds/curtains in our bedroom, upstairs hallway, kitchen and living room, so it evens out to a pretty good deal.  But enough about that.)

We set aside a weekend specifically for the fences.  We invited Jordan's family and friends over, promising them food in exchange for labor.  Jordan's family was especially gracious, and put in a lot of time, along with our friend, Herb.

All in all, we spent about 27 hours, over 3 days, working.  I definitely hit a point, around the 19th hour, on Sunday night, where I just couldn't do it anymore.  I just stared as the boys kept on keepin' on.

Look at everything we did!  We...
 - tore down the old fences
- cleared away the old dirt/grass/weeds
- dug new post holes (BY HAND.  Well, I didn't do this part - the post hole diggers were too heavy - but the guys did. I did help shovel some of them out though.)
- put the posts, sealed with concrete and dirt
- put up the rails
- measured, leveled and measured again
- sawed the pickets to the correct lengths
- nailed up the pickets
- repeated, since we put up two fences
- cleaned up

I've never completed a project on such a grand scale before.  I'm definitely proud of what we did.  The new fences are beautiful, still smelling good (mmm, cedar!) and lined up so neatly you could use them as a ruler (thanks to the ever-meticulous Jordan and his dad).

What's the biggest project you've completed?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Custard Battle 3: Golden Gyros vs. Kopp's

I've heard some people mention "the end of summer" approaching.  Some schools in Tennessee have already started their regular year.  What kind of malarky is this?!  My school hasn't even finished summer school yet!  We're done next week, and then two weeks off - my longest break of the year - so I especially feel like there's still a lot of summer lovin' to be had.  Also, it feels like summer well into September anyway, so the fun doesn't need to stop, even if the calendar technically says it should.

As I said before, let this be the summer of ice cream!  Or, more accurately, custard, since I've only visited one ice cream place as of yet.  So far, our winners have been Gilles and Oscar's... how do today's challengers stack up?

Competitor 1:  Golden Gyros on Lincoln Ave.

What?  A gyros place in a custard battle?  Indeed.

I was at my in-law's, and my brother-in-law, Garrett, and I decided to visit my other brother-in-law, Preston, pictured above, who works at Golden Gyros.  Most of my in-law's are lactose-intolerant, so custard isn't a popular item in their house.  But Garrett and I aren't, and dang it, we wanted some dessert.  So off we went, on a lovely walk.  We got to gently harass Preston at his place of work and got some cones to boot.

We both got double-dip cones of French Silk.  Or, excuse me, we got double-dip cones of Magic.  I don't know what Golden Gyros puts in their custard, but it is the most delicate, satisfying, mouth-watering custard I've had yet.  I wasn't really hungry for dessert, but I put that cone away like nobody's business.

Competitor 2:  Kopp's on Layton Ave.

Ah, Kopp's.  Often held as the pinnacle of custard goodness.  High school date hot spot.  (Look at the pretty waterfalls!)  Their interiors are stainless steel, open, almost warehouse-esque.  My hometown rivals were Oscar's and Kopp's, yet I haven't been to Kopp's in years, and I had never been to this location.

Sidebar:  look at my outfit.
Flannel, and jeans.
Nothing keeps me from custard; not wind, nor rain, nor cold Wisconsin summers!

I got a waffle cone of... something.  I don't remember what, but it was just okay.  Whatever flavor was supposed to be the base wasn't strong enough.  I also finished my friend's s'mores sundae, which was a big disappointment.  They didn't even put graham crackers in it!  The chocolate was all off too.  Also, Kopp's was the most expensive location I've been to so far.

Final verdict:  The hole-in-the-wall Golden Gyros takes down the behemoth Kopp's handily!

I hope you still have fun summer adventures planned; what are they?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Zion lived up to its name

The summer of 2007 was pretty spectacular.  I don't think I've made the connection until now, but I crossed the country during that summer.  With Jordan and two of our friends, we road-tripped to New York City, visiting a few Midwest and East Coast cities during the drive there, and driving home through Canada.  With my family, we road-tripped to Nevada, stopping at several national parks there and back.  Like lots of things in life, I took it for granted at the time.  Took for granted that I had the freedom and the funds to just get up and go.  Took for granted the safety we had on the trips, especially during the trip out East.  (It was slightly under-planned, and by God's grace we made it home without issues!)  Took for granted the gorgeous sights.  Took for granted I took the time to scan in all my film shots - no digital photography for me back then!

The family was more than ready to stop in Zion National Park.  It was so hot, pushing over 100 degrees, and we had enough of being cooped in the R.V. trailer.  We were hot, and crabby.  Zion proved to be the oasis it's always been.  We could see why the westward travelers named it as such - it felt like a blessing in the desert.  As shown above, we immediately jumped into the river!

During one of the afternoons we spent in Zion, my dad and I hiked up a large bluff, just the two of us.  I didn't bring my camera, since I didn't want to break it accidentally.  It was probably for the best though, as I never could have capture the way the park spread out before us.  When we reached the top, we sat for a long time, as twilight began to fall.

I felt like I was in The Land Before Time, with the Great Valley spread before me.
I felt like I could see out to the ocean.
I felt like I was seeing the beginning of Narnia.
I felt the wonder of God's creation.
I wanted to be an eagle, so I could soar over everything I saw.

I've written about some of the most beautiful places I've been before.  I'm so grateful for traveling I've gotten to do, and the wonders I've gotten to see.  But as I was reading The Merrythought's post about Zion, I was taken back to my experiences in Zion, I had to share.

What beautiful places have you been to?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Toss it or keep it?

Woo hoo!  First summer goal, done and done!

Jordan and I were very successful in cleaning the basement.  We actually cleaned the whole basement, not just the storage area!  It took several hours, spread across three days, but it was nice to have the project broken into manageable pieces.

As promised, I hosted a "Clothing & Stuff Swap" after the basement was clean.  However, like the doofus I am, I didn't photograph any of the event.  Whoops.  (Can I blame the heat?  It was all kinds of hot & sticky that day.)  You'll have to take my word that everyone had fun, and came away with at least a few items.  I also had almost five large garbage bags full of items to donate to Easter Seals.  My friends and I talked about making a Swap an annual event, which would be great!

As I've been cleaning, I've thought about cleaning preferences.  Are you a tosser or a keeper?

For shared spaces in our house, I need my husband to clean with me because I'm a tosser.  I want to get rid of anything that looks like clutter.  I'm not terribly sentimental, so I can be pretty quick to chuck something.  Haven't looked at this since college?  Buh-bye.  Might use it in the future?  Might not, let's get rid of it.  My husband is a keeper (in more ways than one!), so what looks like mess to me might be essential to him.  Luckily, I'm pretty good at categorizing messes in my head; meaning, I can mentally "look past" his cluttered desk or shop space.  It doesn't stress me out that those places are messy because they're not my space, or shared space.  And Jordan's pretty good about keeping his items contained.  So it works out!

As for summer projects, we are well on our way into project 2: replacing our fences.  Stay tuned...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Custard Battle 2: Leon's vs. Gilles

As a celebration of summer in Milwaukee, I've decided to taste-test as many independent ice cream and custard places as I can.  Hey, it's a hard task, but somebody's got to do it! ;)  You can read about the first competition here.  For our second battle, we pitted two of Milwaukee's oldest custard stands against each other...

Competitor #1:  Leon's on 27th St.

I've been to Leon's plenty of times.  It's always a fun stop.  It was originally a drive-through, so there isn't any seating, indoors or out.  In fact, you can't go inside it at all; there's only enough room for the workers and equipment inside the building.  It's fun to watch everyone mill around the parking lot, lounging by their cars or trying to find a spot on the pavement.  It's located in a fairly diverse part of the city, so you often hear a smattering of languages being spoken as everyone licks their cones.

I got the a double scoop of raspberry in a regular cone.  Leon's always serves vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan and one rotating flavor.  I've had the raspberry before, and like it, but it's pretty intensely sweet.  I usually try to get one scoop of raspberry and one of vanilla or chocolate to offset the sweetness.

Competitor #2:  Gilles on Bluemound Road

I remember going to Gilles when I was little.  My dad played on a softball league and we'd stop at Gilles after his games.  They had an old-school popcorn wagon set up in the parking lot that sold the most delicious, buttery popcorn... I miss that wagon.  I haven't seen it for years.  My dad stopped playing in the league when I was around 8 years old, so until Jordan and I moved into Milwaukee 5 years ago, I hadn't been to Gilles since my youth.  Since moving back, we've been plenty of times.  It never disappoints.

I got a double scoop of the flavor of the day - banana fudge - in a regular cone.  I wasn't expecting much from the banana fudge - banana flavored things can be nasty, like banana Runts - but I shouldn't have doubted.  It tasted like a banana split!  I was very, very happy with my choice.

Final verdict:  Gilles is the winner!  I love variety, and Leon's limited menu choices just doesn't do it for me.