Each time we take a big trip — France/Jordan, Costa Rica, Norway/Iceland, and now Turkey/Greece — we design and print a photo book that includes a handful of the thousands of pictures my hubby took during our adventure. I love the books because it means our photos will last as opposed to tons of 4×6 prints floating around. But since I am not scrapbooking the images myself, we have never had a place to keep the little things we picked up along the way — things like entrance tickets for museums and other sites, museum pamphlets, city maps, or business cards from restaurants we really enjoyed.
We’ve been hard at work on our Turkey/Greece book and it’s almost finished, but for the first time I thought, “Why not capture the tickets and other tidbits and include a picture of them in the book?” So above are samples of my attempt to incorporate many of the random pieces into one collage shot per country. Now we will be able to look back and see how beautiful the entrance tickets to sites in Istanbul and Ephesus were as well as what our favorite restaurant in Rhodes was called and where we stayed in Samos. By including these pieces in two photos within the book it means we can keep the memories, but minimize the clutter because who really needs a road map of Samos laying around? Probably not us anymore.
Whenever we travel we try to bring something home from our adventure that will remind us of our time away. When we visited Jordan, it was a few mosaics that we could hang in the living room, some salt scrubs and a mud mask from the Dead Sea, and Za’atar and Sumac — two super tasty spices that we fell in love with. From Norway it was reindeer sausage (that was confiscated at customs upon our return, sad) and wool socks. And from Iceland it was a tiny handmade wool sweater for a wine bottle which, I admit, sounds bizarre but is totally adorable! Plus every time I grab a glass or a bottle from the wine rack, I am reminded of our whirlwind trip around Southwestern Iceland.
As we started our travels in Turkey we kept our eyes open to see what might be a wonderful reminder of our trip once we were back in DC. We avoided going the traditional Turkish rug route (which was easy to do since we already have rugs from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the house) and opted for hand-painted tiles (small, as pictured above, and large) that we can use as part of a back splash in our kitchen (whenever we remodel it) as well as a variety of spices and teas. We enjoyed our dining experiences throughout Turkey so much and bringing a few Turkish flavors home will allow us to relive the memories.
Each of the items we purchased were sealed in air tight pouches, but when I got home I found some empty containers around the house that would allow me to show off our Istanbul treats before we partake. The teas include “relax” tea (it looks so pretty with its rose buds), mint-lemon tea, and Ottoman apple which smells heavenly thanks to its blend of cinnamon, cloves and allspice. For the spices we picked up a “salad” blend to use on cucumbers and tomatoes this summer and a BBQ spice blend. I’m looking forward to giving each of these items a try, but for now whenever I walk by the containers on the shelf they remind me of special time spent with my husband and that makes me smile.
A few days ago I suddenly realized that the second anniversary of the day we bought our house was nearly upon us. Here’s what’s been accomplished around the house since March 12, 2010:
• We started hanging things up. It is true that there was a little art here and there during the first year we lived here, but we have recently gone on a hanging spree, finally adding art to our dining room, bedroom, hallway, stairwell and, most recently, our living room where I love how the addition of three ceramic plates we picked up in Jordan add character to the space.
• I spent a lot of mornings at the garden. We also tried to grow a few things on the front porch, but didn’t have nearly as much success with that as the first summer we lived here. This year we will be back at the garden plot, but we are hoping that during year three we can finally work on our backyard and have our garden here during summer 2012.
• With the help of my mother-in-law, we planted some daffodil and tulip bulbs in the front yard alongside the hyacinth and mini daffodil bulbs that we had planted when we first moved in. The new bulbs are just starting to come up and I can’t wait to see the flowers for the first time.
• Our bathroom skylight got a face lift, thanks to the hard work of my in-laws who cleaned up the window and the skylight space which look so much cleaner without the snowmageddon water damage. Speaking of the bathroom, my father-in-law also installed a vent in our basement bathroom, which has been a great addition since you can’t open the window to get any fresh air in there.
• We finally tackled our “little room” — clearing out all the storage, painting it and setting it up as a craft room. We have yet to actually craft in there, but I have high hopes that this year we will make that happen.
• My husband and father-in-law repaired a water damaged area on our lower back porch wall. It looks much cleaner, but despite being enclosed it is still freezing out there in the winter. They also installed a ceiling fan in our living room, providing some much-needed air movement during the sticky summer months.
• My husband put together a storage area in the basement and it seems we are kind of heading in the direction of making the room a more appealing space for guests. We’ll see!
There is a lot on our agenda for the next year — new windows for the front of the house, possibly a new boiler, replacing the futon in the basement with an actual bed and the large, boxy television with a flat screen, the list goes on and on. There are bigger items — air conditioning, solar panels, refinishing the back porches and knocking out the wall between our kitchen and dining room — on the list for a few years down the road. Despite the never-ending list of things to do, I am so grateful we have this beautiful place to live. And all quirks that come along with it.
As I sit at my desk contemplating what kind of deep insight I can share in my 100th post, I am drawing a blank. I find myself distracted by a plethora of things: the fact that I want to eat lunch (mind you, it’s only 10:30 am), that my husband is home sick, that my living room looks like a postal truck and a newspaper delivery van exploded in it and that I still have a basket of clean—but not folded—laundry in the bedroom that I washed days ago.
But despite all the daily distractions, here I am. It has been 99 posts since I launched The Housewife Challenge on January 25, 2010. In that initial blog I shared some “useful” tips on How to be a Good Housewife. I followed that post up with a look at how I did or (in most cases) did not manage to fulfill my wifely duty based on those guidelines and then posted about whatever struck my fancy—projects, amazing coupon savings, snowmageddon, house guests.
In the past year I have seen my business grow, which has been amazing, but kept me from blogging as much as I wanted to. I have traveled with my husband to Hawaii, California, France and Jordan. I have also done approximately 96 loads of laundry, been the primary gardener for our plot at the community garden and cooked dinner all by myself at least seven times.The past 365 days have really been something!
Now that 2011 is in full swing I hope I can continue to write about my household (mis)adventures in a way that readers will find engaging. Here’s to another 100 posts!
I had reservations about starting this blog (mostly whether I would ever have anything to talk about), but I’ve enjoyed my first year in the blogosphere. After looking back at the 85+ posts from 2010, I tried to pick out my favorite 5. Sadly for you, it was impossible for me to narrow it to less than 10.
Without further ado, my top 10 posts of 2010.
January 25: How to be a Good Housewife
The post that started it all!
March 23: Attack of the Killer Ants!
We were so lucky to have these special guests come and go throughout the year … Here’s hoping that they will not make a repeat appearance in 2011!
March 30: Coupon Clipper Extraordinaire
My ability to save more than I spend thanks to super double coupon days definitely had to make it on the top 10!
April 6: The Visitors
I am cheating a little bit with this one since it ended up being a 3-part series — first my college friends visited, then we had Norwegian/English guests who were stranded thanks to the Icelandic Volcano and they were followed by my in-laws.
July 15: A New Routine
Summer 2010 brought ridiculous heat and an altered work schedule that I think made everyone think I might be losing it.
July 20: The Seven Year Itch
After a lengthy hiatus from singing, I took to the stage and had my first recital since I was 18!
August 3: The Life of a Freelancer
With the first half of the year behind me, I examined the ups and downs of life as a freelancer.
September 9: Happy Wednesday!
A wedding anniversary shouldn’t be the only special day for a married couple.
November 22: Conversations in Amman
Traveling is always a wonderful experience and our trip to Jordan left us with some particularly entertaining stories…
After reviewing my adventures from the past 12 months, I anxiously anticipate what will come my way in 2011. Hopefully I will find the time in the new year to write about more quirky household experiences and you will continue to enjoy reading about them.
Happy (early) New Year!
During our time in Amman, we experienced a very different culture than life in the United States. I did my best to fit in by wearing very modest clothing, keeping my arms and legs covered most of the time, and having a scarf available to hide my hair if necessary. In public, I let my husband negotiate prices, order at restaurants and talk to taxi drivers. It was during a taxi ride that the most humorous (and disturbing) conversation of our trip occurred.
One evening our taxi driver spoke good English and was excited to talk to my husband. I sat silently in the back seat listening and hoping that we didn’t die since Jordanian drivers do not believe in the lines on the road or indicator signals.
Taxi Driver: How long have you been married?
Husband: Three years.
Taxi Driver: And how many children do you have?
Taxi Driver: No children? I have four children, I love children, why don’t you have children?!
Husband: Insha’Allah. (This translates to mean “If it’s God’s will” and was what our travel books instructed we answer if anyone asked about children.)
Taxi Driver: Oh, children are wonderful, here, this is my baby daughter, eight months old. (The driver pulls out his cell phone and shows my husband a picture of the baby…and yes, he’s still driving...) You should have children! You’re Christian right?
Taxi Driver: Here’s what you do, convert to Islam and then you can take a second wife.
And there I was, a whole foot away, listening to what a terrible wife I am for not having had any children yet. Despite the advice the driver had just given my husband, I continued to masquerade as a well-behaved wife and didn’t jump into the conversation. Thankfully my husband managed to end that part of their talk by telling the driver, “I think one wife is all I can handle.”
We had quite a wonderful holiday and I am not anxious to get back in the swing of things. I again find myself very grateful to work from home since it means I can adapt a bit more slowly to reality.
There is much to report about how many incredible things we ate (pain au suisse anyone?), drank (French cider and Jordanian wine) and saw (Petra) as well as the limited amount of housewife-related tasks that occurred during our time away. I have to admit, I never knew I would be so excited to do laundry, but after spending about two weeks away it was a real treat yesterday. And having more than four shirts to choose from when getting dressed in the morning was pretty exciting too. Ah, life at home. Not as glamorous as Paris or adventurous as Jordan, but comforting none the less.
There are many stories to tell and images to share, but for now here is sunrise in Amman.