Italy on the brain

*Edited to update as of a few minutes ago: Tickets are purchased–Italy 2013 or bust!!

Andrew has decided we’re going to Italy this summer. (We haven’t done a real vacation–just the two of us–since our fall 2010 trip to Montreal and Quebec City, so I guess he’s entitled to something big. And BIG it will be.)


Between the Rick Steves’ Italy 2013 travel book and the complete Rick Steves DVD set (a Christmas gift from Carolyn), I feel like I’m married to two men at once! (Not really, but lately I can’t have one without the other close by…) The excel spreadsheet you see above is our itinerary. The first draft.

It’s alright with me; this girl isn’t complaining. “Why yes, honey, I’d love to go to Italy with you for 17 days just hours after my last final presentation.” (Because according to the syllabus I got today, that’s pretty much what’s gonna happen.)

For real though–I’m a lucky girl.

P.S. He’s already scheduled multi-hour dinners and dessert. EVERY DAY. I am in love with this man.

a list

1. WOW I’ve been quiet. (Well, at least on the blog.) It’s been busy, but I’m feeling a bit of a ‘lull’ coming on, if only for a week or two. My two big tests are over (can’t say I’m super impressed with either; still waiting on a grade for one of them) as well as my interviews for the coordinated program. Just trying to stay on top of all the studying before the next round of tests.

2. I painted my nails GREEN this afternoon (while studying, of course). St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, and while I’m not Irish, I always get super excited. I’m not sure what we’re doing this year, but I’m ready with painted nails, an ‘I’m not Irish but kiss me anyway’ t-shirt and I make a mean Irish Soda Bread. Invite me to your party today!

3. Mini-Lent Update: I’ve lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks! Hurray! I realize this isn’t what Lent is about, but I was pretty happy this morning when I hopped on the scale, and am even wearing my skinny jeans in celebration. On a more spiritual note, God has really been revealing to me just how much I was letting food control me. When I did this same study with Emily a couple years ago, I refused (and I mean REFUSED) to give up sweets, extolling an ‘everything in moderation’ approach. Well. If Lent has taught me anything, it’s that I have been using that cookie here and those M&Ms there (not to mention the giant bowl of ice cream at night) as sources of comfort and plain indulging my taste buds for TOO LONG. It’s my prayer that one day soon I won’t even really crave these treats, and that I would come to crave God with the fervor (thanks for the word, Regina!) with which I crave sweets.

4. We’re getting away! It’s a bit spur of the moment (points for me!), but Andrew and I have decided we need a weekend AWAY. Away from house-cleaning, projects, school and these animals! I announced it a couple nights ago and Andrew jumped right into planning. We’re headed to New York City. Now, if I can only limit the amount of ‘dessert’ stops Andrew plans in the city… (Trust me, I’m already in prayer!)

5. We got more snow this morning. It’s absolutely frigid here. I just cannot keep the house warm enough. I’m even planning to DRIVE the mile to Taste (our local coffee shop, where you can find me studying each Friday afternoon), which irks me to no end. Although, I did just see someone walking past our house just now. If she can do it, so can I! (But don’t hold me to it…)

6. I haven’t cooked in what feels like forever. We’ve been busy and in an effort to spend less at the grocery store, I’ve been trying to use things we already have. This resulted in Andrew’s less-than-enthusiastic response to some frozen tamales one night and his favorite nutty sweet potato soup another night, which I paired with homemade cinnamon raisin bread. YUM.

7. The savings at the grocery store has gone directly to wine purchases. $100 in a span of four days. Hey, it was the $1 sale at Premier and then I went to a wine and cheese pairing class at our local store… I think 11 bottles for less than $100 is pretty good, don’t you??? (At the very least, we are good for AWHILE.)

8. Anyone in need of a very large composter? (Or know of someone who may be?) Long story short: Andrew was awesome and got me a composter a couple years ago, except he thought bigger was better. (Of course.) Well, it’s too big for us and after two failed attempts to make compost, I admitted to him it’s a giant source of stress and guilt for me. I had no idea when he gave me the bigger one what a challenge it would be to fill it. So, if I can find a home for the big one, I’d very much like to get the one I WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE. (Bonus: the smaller one allows you to compost in the winter, too, which is how all this has come up just now. It pains me–physically–to throw away all the compostable material I use in the kitchen all winter!)

9. I have a surprise for Andrew tomorrow. It involves our Saturday morning breakfast. And that’s all I’m saying!

10. Pantry project/kitchen lighting has not been touched in days. You better believe that’s on the agenda this weekend…

and the pantry was no more

So, Andrew has continued with the kitchen lighting project this weekend, but to do that, had to take the ceiling out of our pantry to run the wiring.  And that, of course, calls for a complete pantry re-do.  Obviously.



The bright blob in the upper left is the light.  We’re going to be doing recessed lighting–that’s Andrew’s specialty–and attempting to get a little more space by taking the room down to the studs (hmm…sounds like the laundry room, huh?) and reconfiguring the shelving.  He’ll also be bringing the existing kitchen tile into the pantry, like it should have already.

I’ll admit, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the pantry; in fact, I’m lucky to even have one in an older home.  But, in true Andrew fashion, shortly after moving in he was peering into the space with that ‘how can I improve this’ look on his face.

So, I schlepped all the stuff out of the pantry and dumped it in our dining room before heading off to study for the GIANT TEST I HAVE TOMORROW.  (Why am I blogging?  I should be studying.  I will right after I finished this.  I promise.  Seriously.)



We’ve both been google-ing “small pantry organization” and looking at tons of pictures for ideas.  Here are some we’re toying with:

-a deep cabinet on the bottom, on top of which I can put the mixer (trying to gain more kitchen counter space) and inside of which I can store the breadmaker, miscellaneous food and tools

-less-deep shelves above, measured to fit my Modular Mates

-perhaps some narrow shelves to make use of some deep but not very wide space from floor to ceiling on the left (there were existing shelves there, but pretty shoddy)

-frosted-glass french doors to get into the pantry, and change it and the molding to white (currently black)

Key goals:

-create more ‘free’ space, so it doesn’t feel so cramped and claustrophobic

-maintain as much storage as possible

-better lighting

-some enclosed storage (like a cabinet) in which to keep certain items dust-free

Of course, I’m already thinking of paint colors (I am SO ahead of myself) and wish I could throw myself into this project.  Alas, school just keeps getting in the way 😦

And, my husband was kind enough to bring up and assemble one of the chrome shelves we’d had sitting in the basement.  Organization has now returned to my life.