Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I heart books!

I love to read. Absolutely love it! One of my favorite things ever. I would rather have a good book than a television any day! This weekend I read "Everyone Worth Knowing" by Lauren Weisberger ("The Devil Wears Prada). It was a decent quick read...kind of fun.

Some good books I've read recently:
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith
"Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell (fav book of all time)
"Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner
"Where the Heart is" Billie Letts
"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards
"Baby Proof" by Emily Giffin
"Shoot the Moon" by Billie Letts
"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer
"New Moon" by Stephenie Meyer

Beauty Tip

I thought I would share this tip I read (somewhere??) that I just love. If you are impatient like I am and want to be moving on to other things shortly after painting your nails, spray them with cooking oil right after you paint them. Yep...good old Pam spray that you use to grease your baking sheets. I don't know how or why it works...but I'm glad it does. It makes them dry in a jiffy!

Merkley Family Vacation

This weekend was packed with all sorts of events! Brendon and I drove up to Suffern, NY on Thursday night to meet up with all the Merkley fam for Brendon's brother Clayton's West Point graduation. Friday morning we all woke up bright and early and went to West Point campus for the parade. It was really amazing to watch all the thousands of Cadets march in such unison, but I think our favorite part was watching the one cadet in front topple over and faint from the heat...twice. Poor guy! After the parade we toured the campus a little. Clayton showed us the Mess, and was incorrectly informed that we could eat in there, which we were very excited about. It wasn't until thousands of other cadets poured in around us that we realized we were the only civilians there and most certainly out of place. Oops. But it was great food! Clay was awarded a Superintendents award for excellence in Russian, so we went to that award ceremony. We spent most of the rest of the day touring campus and checking out the sites and logging 10 miles on my pedometer! That night Clayton, Brett, Rissa, Brendon and I got to attend a formal dinner at the Mess Hall. It was really a neat experience. We toasted the President, the Army, and West Point, and had a wonderful dinner with the best cheesecake ever for dessert, and General George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, spoke to us after dinner. After that was dancing at the Hop, and by the end of the day we thought we'd all die of exhaustion. Saturday morning we went to the graduation ceremony in our matching "Merk The Great" yellow shirts courtesy of Jeri, and cheered our loudest for Clay. Vice President Cheney was the commencement speaker at the graduation, so that was kind of neat for Brendon because he had a little insight/input on the speech working with the V.P.'s speechwriter. The V.P.'s speechwriter actually talked to Brendon for a while at graduation, and then when he returned to his seat by Cheney and his wife he pointed out our family to them and told him our story and how Clayton was a graduating cadet. It's kind of fun to think that for a few minutes we were the topic of conversation of the Vice President of the United States and his wife. He he. After graduation Clay was commissioned an officer in the Army at the rank of Second Lieutenant. By this time in the weekend we were all totally exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel for a major nap! Sunday we headed to Central Park for a wedding - Clayton had become an Reverend via the internet and was performing a wedding ceremony for his two friends and fellow cadets. He did a great job. After the reception we conspired to get Rissa to Tiffany's on 5th Avenue, where Jared (Rissa's boyfriend) dropped down to one knee and asked her to marry him. It was so fun to be there when they got engaged! We all celebrated with some sparkling apple cider at Kate and Carrie's house later. Then, as is tradition for NYC trips, we went into the Chinatown and did some purse shopping on Canal Street. Great times! It was fun to have Rissa there for that and get a girl's opinion...although Brendon does have great designer fashion taste. After shopping we did a few touristy things...Times Square and Ground Zero (which ALWAYS makes me cry). We ate at the most amazing Greek restaurant ever Sunday night! So amazing! Monday morning we dined on an amazing spread of breakfast foods courtesy of Carrie, then our weekend was over and we all went our separate ways. It was such a great weekend, but I think we all need a vacation to recover from our vacation!

The Merkley siblings

Clayton and Rissa...nice hat Riss

Brendon, Dad, and Brett posing with the big guns

You probably can't tell...but all the cadets throw their hats up at graduation...then all the little kids rush the fields and grab a hat and they get to keep it. I was wishing I was a little kid.

The proud Merkley family

Reverend Merkley

The happy engaged couple

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One Whole Year!

Our one year anniversary was last week - May 12th. Brendon surprised me with a fun-filled trip to Boston, MA. Neither of us had ever been, and we absolutely loved it there! Our first day we had a guided tour of a large part of the Freedom Trail, and we took a break in the North End to enjoy delicious pastries. Mine was a chocolate chip cannoli...I don't know what Brendon's was called but it was as big as his head almost. Ha ha. At the end of the Freedom Trail we boarded the U.S.S. Constitution a.k.a. "Old Ironsides" for a tour that was very wonderful. We took the harbor cruise back to our hotel on the wharf, then we explored Harvard Yard and had enormous, delicious hamburgers and fries at Mr. Bartley's. After all the pastries and hamburgers and french fries we had to be rolled back to our hotel. Sunday morning we had breakfast at Faneuil Hall and watched some amazing street performers. This man was an Aussie Tom Cruise look-alike that fit his entire body through a toilet seat, tennis raquet, and squash racket (those things are small!) simultaneously. It was pretty impressive. There were lots of places we wanted to eat and a limited time in which to do so, so only an hour after breakfast we went to Durgin Park for lunch to get an authentic Boston meal of baked beans, clam chowder, and corn bread. Yummy. After lunch we rented a car with "Miss Garmin" (we named our GPS navigational system) and drove to Plymouth Rock. While munching on the salt water taffy we bought we saw the rock and toured the Mayflower. We went to Plymouth Plantation next and it was such a neat set up. I loved talking to actors and pretending like I believed their stories that they lived in the 1600's. For dinner it was back to the North End for some of the best Italian food we have ever tasted at Giaccomo's. Monday we took the car to Concord and saw the old North Bridge where the "shot heard round the world" was fired. It is such a beautiful park! We quickly visited the home of Louisa May Alcott (setting for the novel "Little Women") and the graves of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. After that it was off to the airport and goodbye to New England. It was such a great trip, and we both developed a desire to learn more about the Revolutionary war and the brave heroes involved.

These are our tasty Italian treats from the North End. Yum!

We didn't get a chance to ride the Swan Boats in Public Garden - but a picture by them is the next best thing right?

The famous ducks of "Make Way for Ducklings". It was too dark to get a real good shot.

Our delicious lunch at Durgin Park

Cheers to Plymouth Plantation!

No, this is not Taryn trying to dress up as a Pilgrim - this is Plymouth Plantation

We forgot our Pilgrim outfits!

The gravesites were so neat - they all had these cryptic, broken, crooked tombstones

All aboard Old Ironsides

Brendon could totally be a "Little Woman"

Old North Bridge

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

God Save the Queen

On May 7th, Brendon and I were able to attend the arrival ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II at the White House. It was such a neat event - all kinds of music, marching, and pomp and circumstance. And the Queen was absolutely adorable in her little hat! This will definitely be one of the highlights of my year!

Kayla and Taryn huddling for warmth

What a great view from the WH South Lawn

Brendon posing in front of his office (the EOB)


These are some of the knobs I am trying to choose between for my vintage sewing machine desk makeover. How do you choose between knobs this cute?

Worth Fighting For

As Brendon and I were driving home from Costco we spotted a desk with a "Free - Take Me" sign on it. I knew Melanie was looking for a sewing desk, so I hopped out of the car to check out the find. Brendon was in a hurry so he drove the rest of the way home (but not before strongly warning me NOT to even THINK about keeping the desk for myself - we have no room in our tiny apartment) and I called Melanie and told her to hurry up and come see this desk! While I waited for her, I opened up drawers and realized it was a vintage sewing machine from the 1920's - the kind that flip down to close. Inside the drawers were old wooden spools of thread with bright colored threads, and vintage pattern books, all kinds of crazy sewing foot attachments...so neat! I wanted it so much, but I told myself I would be responsible and give it to Mel - since she needed a desk as well as had room for a desk - both of which I did not. Melanie showed up and immediately became giddy with me over this neat desk, but she admitted that it was more my style than hers. I tried really, really hard to walk away from it knowing Brendon would be thoroughly angry with me - but I just couldn't do it. The owner had come out while I was looking at it and said it still worked. This amazing piece of furniture was heavy, but only a block and a half from my house, so Melanie and I (extremely awkwardly) shimmied and shoved it down the street to my place. Needless to say, I was in big trouble when Brendon got home. But being the great guy that he is, even though he was mad at me, took me to Home Depot anyway to buy all the things that I need to refinish this desk and restore it to its original glory. Now I am trying to decide what fun vintage fabric to use to cover the seat cushion, and what adorable knobs to choose from Anthropologie.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm Back!

I had a long hiatus from blogging...but I decided it's time to get back into the game. I would like to take this moment to officially welcome myself back to blogging.