Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween...

I hope you're having a fun Halloween! Eat lots of candy for me!
...from Smokey the psycho tiger!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Bottles

We're having a lazy Friday night of some drinks on the couch while watching a Walking Dead marathon on Netflix. Watching all those zombies got me inspired to make some quick, easy, & practically free creepy bottles to use for Halloween decor - using these great labels from the Ellinée blog.

I first got the idea to do this when I saw these bottles at World Market. I really liked them, but I'm way too cheap to pay $30 for empty bottles - and they looked so simple to make (minus the snazzy colors and stoppers, of course). I actually started making my own labels but then got sidetracked and never finished - and when I stumbled across the free printable labels from Ellinée today through the Creativity Exchange's post on favorite Halloween ideas, I decided to just use those instead since I liked them more than the ones I had started!

  • Empty glass bottles (I used a wine bottle, 2 beer bottles, and a hot sauce bottle)
  • Printed labels (you can download the ones I used here)
  • Scissors & glue (if you printed on regular paper rather than label paper)
  • Corks or other stoppers (optional)
  • Twine (optional)
Cost: Basically free!

The first (and worst) step of the process is to get the old labels off your bottles. I started by soaking mine in very hot soapy water for about ten minutes...

This method worked like magic for the beer bottles. I was all excited and did a little happy dance for my new found trick. But I danced too soon - for my other bottles, especially the wine bottle, the labels were a lot trickier to remove. Those took some scraping and I ended up busting out the Goo Gone. Once you give your bottles a good rinsing and dry them off.

Next, cut out your labels. These were designed for wine bottles and will fit those perfectly. For my smaller bottles, I just cut the borders off rather than resizing, although I do think they look nicer with the full label.

Then glue on your labels. I used an Elmer's glue stick (don't judge - I couldn't find anything around the house that would work better!).

For the stoppers, I put a full cork in the wine bottle (duh), cut one in half for the two beer bottles, and cut out a small piece of cork for the skinny hot sauce bottle opening. I had some twine lying around and decided to wrap up the top of one of the beer bottles to make it look a little different than the other. Then I decided to wrap the clear one up a bit too to make it look a little more interesting.

Here are a couple of pics of the final product. I like them even better in the candlelight

Thanks so much to Ellinée for designing and sharing these labels! And to Cyndy at the Creativity Exchange for highlighting the labels in her Friday Favorites!

Home Stories A2Z

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Perfect fall day for a hike (at our future park!)

One of the best things about the location of our new house is the fact that it's walking distance to a park - and not just any ol' park, but Lake Accotink Park - which is almost 500 acres including a 55 acre lake! And one of the trails through it is the Cross County Trail, which (you're going to be shocked at this) is a trail that spans across the whole county. For my marathon runner hubby, it'll be great to have access to miles and miles of trails that he can run to straight from the front door. I don't need quite so many miles, but I'm super excited to have a such a close place to go for a hike, take out the kayaks, go for a (slow & short) run, or just generally escape to nature.

It was a beautiful fall day today, so we thought we'd go for a little hike in 'our' future park. Here are a few of the pics. (Sidenote - I can go a little overboard with pictures. I always take too many, and I always have a hard time weeding them down. This is a lot of photos for one blog post, but I had almost 50, so be proud of me for reducing them this much at least! )
Welcome to the lake!

Lake Accotink dam

The lake in all its fall loveliness

This is the entrance close to our new house
Yellow trees + blue skies
Smokey is an excellent hiker (except when there are squirrels - he almost ripped my arm out...)

He looks a little worried (maybe because he knows he almost ripped my arm out?)

Heron! Somehow Smokey didn't notice him, even though the bird was taller than he is
What are these berries?? I don't know, but they're pretty!

Getting close to dusk
Smokey was going nuts at the little beach area. Wouldn't sit still for a sec!
One of the trails goes across this cute little bridge

The marina area

Doesn't it look like a great park? Definitely a perk of our location!

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to feel less guilty for being a tree killer

Ahh.... look at our lovely land... 

Our beautiful forest (and awkwardly posing pup who loves it)...

Too bad we'll be tearing a lot of it down... :/

Environmental conservation is an important issue to us, and the fact that we are building a house on this lovely, raw, wooded land makes us feel pretty awful. We recently drove by a construction site where they had just cleared out the land, and this was our conversation:

B: Look at all those trees they knocked down. That's just sickening.
J: ...Umm... well... you do realize we're about to do that too, right?
B: Yeah, I know. I hate it. 

And that pretty much sums up our feelings. We're keeping the trees in the backyard and will replant some trees in the front, but still, we feel kind of evil.  To help make up for our destruction, we're planning to give a donation to help with forest restoration. 

If you'd like to help offset your new construction, or better yet, if you just want to spread the tree-love, here are some relevant charities along with their mission statements and Charity Navigator ratings (which have a 4 star max):

  • The American Forest Foundation - AFF's mission is to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations. Charity Navigator rating: 4 stars
  • Forest Trends - Forest Trends' mission is to expand the value of forests to society; to promote sustainable forest management and conservation by creating and capturing market values for ecosystem services; to support innovative projects and companies that are developing these markets; and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests. Charity Navigator rating: 4 stars
  • ForestEthics - ForestEthics' mission is to protect Endangered Forests, wildlife, and human well-being. Their campaigns consider all of the issues that affect wild places and the wildlife and people that depend on them—from biodiversity to air and water quality to climate change. Charity Navigator rating: 4 stars
  • American Forests - American Forests' mission is to protect and restore forests, helping to preserve the health of our planet for the benefit of its inhabitants. If you choose to plant trees, every dollar you give plants a tree. Charity Navigator rating: 3 stars
  • National Forest Foundation - NFF engages Americans in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. Charity Navigator rating: 3 stars
  • The Wilderness Society - The Wilderness Society's mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Charity Navigator rating: 3 stars
  • Plant a Billion Trees by The Nature Conservancy - The Plant a Billion Trees campaign is an unprecedented major restoration initiative launched by The Nature Conservancy in 2008 to restore Brazil's Atlantic Forest. Every dollar plants a tree. The Nature Conservancy's Charity Navigator rating is 3 stars.
  • Trees for the Future - Trees for the Future doesn’t just plant trees for their ecological benefits, but to benefit people in need. As an agroforestry charity, they combine agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Charity Navigator rating: 3 stars
  • Arbor Day Foundation - The Arbor Day Foundation's mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Charity Navigator rating: 2 stars

Do you support any of these charities? Or do you know of any others I should add? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A momentous day!!

Today was a momentous day in our home building process!!

So, you may ask, what happened? Is the home complete? Did you break ground? What huge and exciting event occurred?!

Well... our plans were officially approved by the county!!! Huzzah!! 

Ok, that may not sound too exciting to you. And truthfully, I don't think it would be that exciting to us either - if it had happened a month or two ago. But holy moly has this taken longer than expected! We closed on our land at the end of July, and the plans were submitted in early August. We waited... and waited... got rejected... waited for the engineer and county to go back and forth... and back and forth again... heard we should be approved.... waited a little bit more... then finally today, October 10, we got this email: 

SUCCESS!!! After all that waiting, it's made this approval seem like a pretty big deal! 

Bryan called me from Disney World once we heard. That's right, he's in Disney World for work this week. Tonight he has a beer & wine event at Epcot, then they get extra hours at the park after it closes. Sounds a little more exciting than my night of Trader Joe's sushi and tv with the critters on the couch, but hey, I'm not complaining! Plus look how cute these guys are watching tv together (apologies for the ugly low light phone pic... and all the shoes in the background-that part's all Smokey's doing):