2012 in 12 Photos

In the spirit of being nostalgic on the first day of a new year, I wanted to take a step back and look at 12 photos that sum up 2012 for me. Many bloggers are already sharing their goals for the year ahead, but I’m a bit behind around these parts. As always, expect a great deal of dog photos.

JANUARY: Although I’m the first to admit that our guest bedroom is pretty hideous (stupid impulsive HomeGoods purchases), we painted the room and got a guest bed like grown-ups. Baby steps.

FEBRUARY: We fostered Donald Sutherland, who we affectionally referred to as “wart” since he was full of them. I still miss the little emo bugger.

MARCH: Wedding crafting went into high gear as Pete encouraged my need to attack Pinterest-inspired projects head on. They usually didn’t come out very well, but at least we were occupied during the cold months.

APRIL: My parents and grandma visited for Easter. My brother and sister-in-law hid in our sunroom while I distracted my parents with an egg hunt outside. My parents’ blubbery, surprised reactions when they opened the sunroom door to find my brother and his wife were pretty priceless.

MAY: I volunteered more than ever this year and enjoyed every second of it. The shot above was taken as part of the Schuylkill Banks’ annual “Art in the Open” event.

JUNE: I was lucky enough to capture a lot of beautiful weddings this year, making friends along the way. It looks like 2013 will be my busiest year yet, and I’m lucky to have my husband by my side as second shooter.

JULY: We said goodbye to our social lives this summer and said hello to endless yardwork to get ready for our backyard wedding. This included removing old fencing in preparation for a new fence install. Thank god for Twisted Tea.

AUGUST: Most of this month was spent pulling together last-minute wedding projects. Having our family over to help us make our backyard wedding a reality up until the wee hours of August 31st (the day before) meant a lot to us. Thanks to Morrissey Photo, we can relive the good times for many more years.

SEPTEMBER: After getting hitched, we went on our first overseas trip together to Italy. Hiking the six hour trek through the five towns of Cinque Terre was the highlight of our honeymoon, despite tonsillitis making the journey a bit difficult.

OCTOBER: We jumped back into fostering after returning from our honeymoon, which brought Dexter into our lives. He was rescued from a kill-shelter in Baltimore, where he would’ve been euthanized if a kind man hadn’t taken him to a local dachshund rescue. We fell hard for the little guy, who quickly became our first (and last) foster fail.

NOVEMBER: It’d be hard not to include Edgar (“the bean”) on this list. He’s our last foster dog, since we quickly discovered two dogs is our limit. He came into our home weighing 22 lbs, but is down to a much happier and healthier 16 lbs.

DECEMBER: Generocity’s office moved into Center City, where I can sneak peeks of the Dilworth Plaza construction from my desk. The hour-long commute by train has given me much-needed time to unwind and catch up on reading. Spending the past month in close proximity to my co-workers has been awesome, and I’m excited for what 2013 will bring for our team.

Thanks for reading, here’s hoping 2013 will be even more fantastic.

In Memory of Cadbury: A TMI Packed Tribute

This morning I had to take one of our pet rabbits (one of three) to be euthanized. Cadbury was no doubt the bitchiest of all of our bunnies, but we went through a lot together, so I was smitten with the old bat despite her faults (e.g. grunting and trying to smack the shit out of you when you feed her food).

A little over two weeks ago, Pete and I noticed Cadbury wasn’t eating as much food as usual. I took her to the vet and after a few xrays, they told me she had gastrointestinal status, which is the worst news for a bunny owner. This is definitely TMI, but basically it slows down intestinal movement until the critter can’t eat or drink anymore since everything is lodged up with…well, poop.

She went from five pounds to under three pounds during this time, so the hardest part was having to syringe-feed her food, water, and antibiotics every 12 hours in an attempt to treat her back to health. Pete was a huge help when we were told to try needle injections (ack) to help get things moving again.

At this point you must think I’m totally a crazy pet fanatic. Watching her turn pale this morning (it still astounds me that bunnies can turn pale) was all I needed this morning to take her to the vet to make sure she wasn’t suffering during her final hours. Although it was awkward when the nurse at the vet had her pre-teen daughter with her for “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” (which was totally yesterday!). Trying not to turn into a blubbery mess in front of an 11-year-old when the vet is starting to cry-talk while talking about the process of euthanasia is not an easy feat. I totally blubbered three tissues worth of tears, but I assured the pre-teen girl that I would not ugly cry in front of her.

In less morose ramblings, we wouldn’t have our bunny Applesauce without Cadbury. When I adopted Cadbury from the PSPCA, the shelter told me she was a male rabbit. I didn’t see any male bits, so I took her to a vet (that apparently wasn’t well-versed in exotic pet knowledge), and they confirmed that she was male. I questioned her manhood a bit during that car ride home, but I figured vets are paid to be smarter than me.

A few weeks later, I woke up in the early hours to the sight of five moving turds on my kitchen floor. Or what I thought were Betty White poops (lord knows she was always pooping inside then since I had recently adopted her from the shelter). Turns out they were baby bunnies, which confirmed that my intuition was correct. Cadbury did, in fact, have a vagina.

Unfortunately she was the worst. mom. ever. and tried to kill the babies, which is also not uncommon for traumatized rabbits that have been bunny-raped at the shelter. She quickly succeeded in injuring one of the five, and the little guy/girl ended up passing away soon after. I was at work during this time and didn’t realize rabbits could become aggressive with their kits due to nerves, so when I came home I put the four remaining babies in their own box and nursed them individually with her from then on. It was an incredibly stressful situation, and my new vet was telling me not to expect the kit to survive since I was handling them so much (not recommended). Luckily, all four grew up to be completely adorable little fluff balls and I ended up keeping the runt of the litter (Applesauce) and finding the rest of them homes.

Cadbury had a lot of health issues over the past year and successfully defeated the onset of head tilt (don’t Google that, I repeat, do not Google that) since she was a pro at taking injectable antibiotics. She also had this neurological thing where her eye wouldn’t close for like a week, but she survived that as well, which is why I thought this would just be another medical condition to add to her growing list.

Alas, it was not, but she lived to be at least 7-years-old (I don’t know how old she was when I adopted her) and she had an enjoyable life filled with lots of veggie treats and hump-filled evenings with her stuffed candy corn toy. I’ll miss you Cadbury, you were the sweetest, most bitchiest bunny ever.

Remember That Time Easter Happened?

I know Easter was forever ago, but I wanted to share some photos, just in case you didn’t get your fill of pastels and candy.

One of my favorite holiday memories is drawing white crayon designs on eggs and dyeing them as obnoxiously bright as possible. Pete and I still keep the tradition alive, taking turns using the bendy wire egg holder to decorate a half dozen each.

This Easter was a special one for me, since my parents and Grandma (and their dog Whiskey) decided to visit us from Delaware. My family is big on surprises, so when my parents asked if they thought my brother (Ken) and his wife (Stacey) could also visit from NYC, I said they were busy that weekend (lies!). Ken and I knew we wanted to surprise them with their visit, so we planned a big scheme upon our parents’ arrival.

We hid 50 plastic eggs all around the house in preparation of their visit. The plan was for us to welcome my parents and Grandma inside, while Ken and Stacey hid upstairs. Pete and I planned to distract my parents with an outdoor Easter egg hunt, while Ken and Stacey would sneak back downstairs to hide in the sunroom. This plan also involved them wrapping pink lights around each other, to make it extra festive. Because Ken just happens to own pink Easter lights.

There were a few kinks in our plan, one of them being my family arriving with a car sick dog that needed a bath immediately. We also didn’t fully consider the fact that Ken and Stacey would have to haul ass past a very startled Grandma, who was watching our parents search for eggs outside through the kitchen window. Needless to say, she didn’t have a heart attack, but she was very, very surprised/terrified to see Ken and Stacey stampeding through the kitchen to head for the front sunroom.

Little did Ken realize that they didn’t have to rush, since Pete and I led my parents on a search for plastic eggs outside for a good 10 minutes. When my parents finally opened the front door to search for more eggs inside, they were completely shocked and turned into blubbery messes. It was awesome.

Of course it wouldn’t be Easter without my dad insting on having an Easter egg hunt of his own, so he had all of us kids search for metallic, money-filled eggs in the backyard. Stacey was a total champ and knew all of the typical hiding spots, like under the grill cover.

Ken decided to take it upon himself to climb the tree and do his best impression of a demented Easter bunny. Yet another shining example of how I just might be the normal one in my family.

Lets pretend like this family photo isn’t totally awful (it was taken under our green patio umbrella, so everyone looks slightly seasick, and by everyone I mean me).

There were an abundance of unfortunate bunny face photos taken that day, all of which will hopefully be framed at my parents’ house in the near future.

In non-bunny news, our foster dog Donald Sutherland has been happy in his new home for a couple of weeks now. I’ll admit, I miss the little wart-butt a ton. He’s been visiting fellow seniors like himself during the day since his new mom is an activities director in a nursing home.

I’m going to attempt to be a bit more timely about my upcoming posts, since this one was uber belated. I’ve just been swamped between work, weekend shoots, wedding planning, yard work and nursing a very sick bunny. What’s new with you guys?

Happy Birthday, Pete: Our 2011 Year in Review!

Happy birthday, poops. Hope your 25th is just as good, if not better than your 24th. I still feel like a cougar, irregardless.

I know how much you love those “year in review” posts, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of my favorite “before and after” projects we tackled together around the house in 2011. Can’t wait to see what we’ll be saying this time next year about our DIY accomplishments. Also can’t wait to be your Mrs. (Just sayin’.)

Let’s start with the outside, where two huge trees and endless hedges were blocking the view of our house, making us drive past it nearly every time (not that I don’t still do that). I think it looks a lot prettier now that you can actually see our front yard, where we hope to have raised beds once Spring rolls around.

Then there’s this situation, which I still have to resolve by laying my bricks straighter since I was rushing (Pete did a good job with his).

Tada! The brick paths looking a lot less sad

Our sunroom was looking a little unfortunate when we first moved in, since we used it mostly to store lawn equipment and trash bags. I think it’s looking a lot cozier these days:

The Rocking chair revamp might be one of my favorite furniture makeovers from this past year…I love seeing it so bright and cheerful on our sunroom porch.

Here’s a look at our living room when had our first walk-through of the house. I instantly wanted to paint the fireplace white, and although most of my family thought I was crazy for it, I think it turned out pretty nice:

I still can’t believe how much painting we tackled the month before moving in, I wish I still had that kind of energy now.

The dining room used to be a bit of a downer, but with a little love from the wallpaper steamer and a fresh coat of paint, it’s looking better already:

Mmm, yellow.

Remember how smoke-stained our kitchen looked when we had our first walk-through? It looks so much better now without that bunny wallpaper, the new checkered floors we installed, and the white painted cabinets, all of which we did on our own within the first few months of moving in.

This one is lacking a “before” photo, but here’s a glimpse at the chalkboard door in our kitchen, which we try to always update with a weekly menu to avoid endless “what do YOU want for dinner?” ramblings.

This is what our office/critter room looked like when we first moved in. Eek. It’s still a work in progress, and I keep forgetting to take a photo since we’ve added a desk and organized things, but here’s a look at the lack of wallpaper and avocado paint job:

That’s Willie Nelson, our pet bunny. You can’t tell from this photo, but there’s also two other bunnies (Applesauce and Cadbury) and a chinchilla (Maude) nearby.

Here’s our bedroom when we first moved in…we even inherited these curtains from the previous owner. We haven’t taken a recent photo of our bedroom with our new curtains and artwork, but here’s a look at the freshly-painted walls:

Yay, mustard and grey accents galore!

The upstairs bathroom before & after is a pretty simple one as of right now, but it still makes me happy not to see those butterflies when I shower.

These are just some of my favorite before & after photos from the past six months of living in our first house together. I can’t wait to spruce up the yard to make it nice for our wedding and to see how we change the upstairs, since we’ve barely touched it. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing 25th birthday and consider myself the luckiest for being able to share it with you.

A Belated Christmas Roundup!

My very first Schuster family Christmas was filled with all sorts of goodies, including the famous monkey bread, which makes Pete and the rest of his siblings make this face:

I tried to get him to take a normal photo with the two of us, but he insisted on making a crazy weird expression. I still love him, anyway.

I love these Vaillancourt Folk Art decorations…how fabulous is that super proud polar bear?

I could definitely get used to the delicious Mimosas, quiche and frittata yums every other year (we swap between our families for the holidays).

To give you a speedy summary of some of our gifts, I’d like to start with Betty White’s new chair pillow, which she is currently sleeping on.  Another favorite is the vintage map Pete got me for above our couch…I am a lucky lady.

Stocking stuffers are usually my favorite part, and I lucked out with new tights, slippers, and socks (is it sad I get excited over new socks?).

This fellow was a gift from my parents, who even drove the 2+ hours to drop it off the week before Christmas. When he’s not busy haunting the visions of passersby, he’s petting his dog, who I’ve named Norman (almost every stuffed animal in our house has this same name).

Pete got me this canning kit and book, and we can’t wait to get started on making jams and pickled foods. We’re going to can our own homemade jam for our wedding, so we’re looking forward to testing it out. I also got Pete some much-needed homebrewing supplies, so we’re also going to be making our own beer for the big day.

Pete’s parents gifted us with a handmade tray/bowl from Italy, where they vacationed this summer…it makes me excited for when we’ll honeymoon there in 2013. The flowers on the right are from the ginger for our anniversary…n’aw.

We also got this adorable welcome mat from Pete’s parents, which goes with our house’s bright & cheerful color scheme really well. I gave Pete these Northern & Southern Hemisphere prints by Brainstorm Print & Design, which he had been crushing on at the Holiday Art Star Craft Bazaar.

I treated myself to this vintage picture frame to showcase the boy’s proposal in our bedroom. It makes me smile lots.

That just about sums up our Christmas adventures and some of our presents…how was everyone else’s holiday?

{65 Years of Memories…}

This year, for my dad’s 65th birthday, I wanted to do something special. His birthday was in late October, but I wanted to give him a handmade gift from everyone on Thanksgiving since I knew our whole family would be together. In mid-October, shortly after seeing this post on Pinterest, I was inspired to reach out to friends and family from his past and present. My mom helped me gather email and mailing addresses (for those without computers) of people who might be interested in participating. I sent out a massive email, as well as a handful of snail mail letters, and waited. I had only received one or two responses within the first week, but I crossed my fingers for the best. Within the next few weeks, our mailman had his hands full.

Piles of emails, handwritten letters, and nostalgic photos came streaming in. I found myself laughing out loud while reading stories about my father’s antics, whether he was dressing up as Santa to entertain decades of little kids, or helping his work buddies learn the in’s and out’s of deer hunting. I found out a lot of things I didn’t know about my dad, like how my mom and grandma won’t let him live down the fact that he totally denied them when they first asked him to go out for pizza (my mom’s parents and my dad’s parents were friends growing up, so that’s how my parents met).

After dinner on Thanksgiving, my dad did something very “dad”-like and handed out some early Christmas gifts he had wrapped with chocolate foil coins taped to the outside (and real money tucked behind them). This is typical dad behavior, he is always anxious to share gifts with loved ones on holidays, whether he’s giving us reindeer Pez dispensers or decorations for our mantle. Once everyone had unwrapped their presents, I told him we had a gift for him to open as well. He looked both confused and surprised by the pile of 65 envelopes, each one filled with a different memory from his past.

He started opening the hand-stamped envelopes one-by-one (thanks to Pete for tackling a majority of the stamping duties) and revealed memories from life-long friends, co-workers from his federal marshall days, old neighbors, new neighbors, some of my childhood pals, and last but not least, our family.

I listened as my dad, brother, and mom took turns reading the longer letters.

I laughed at the story about how my dad accidentally swallowed a giant-sized moth that flew in the car window when he was out driving with my mom and friends. It came as no surprise to me since I’m well aware that his mouth is open 99% of the time (he’s a rambler, in case you couldn’t tell).

I learned that he was a Coca Cola aficionado, which surprised me–I don’t recall much soda being in the house when I was growing up. He was also well remembered for his Halloween decorations and how he would swap out a life-size Jason dummy that had been on display and stand quietly in his Jason costume on trick or treat night to then terrify the neighborhood teens (and adults) by slowly chasing them. It’s no why I’m such a horror movie fanatic. As a side note, I love how bored my parents’ dog Whiskey looks in this photo.

My dad didn’t quite understand the concept until after opening the first dozen or so envelopes…he kept asking, “Wait, I have to open all of these!?” My grandma even made a funny comment about how she was in her late 80s and she understood the concept (it was funny because it involved much more expletives, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination). Once we took a break for pie, my dad was finally in the mood to start making headway.

He breezed through almost all of the letters without shedding a tear, but once he got to the end with memories from my brother, sister-in-law, mom, grandma, Pete and I, he had to take frequent breaks to go blow his nose in the bathroom. It was pretty darn precious.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed memories to help make this happen. My hopes are that if my dad is ever having a downer of a day, he can open up some of the envelopes again and remember that he is loved by many. Thankfully I still have a few more years until my mom turns 65 45 (see what I did there, mom?), so I can take a bit of a breather until then.

Happy belated 65th birthday, dad. I look forward to many more memories with our fabulous (albeit slightly dysfunctional) family.

Our First Year Hosting Thanksgiving: A Recap

Thanksgiving has come and gone since my last post, but I wanted to share a recap of our festivities, since it was our first year hosting Thanksgiving with my family. As you might recall, my family of seven requested a 24 lb turkey, so my sister-in-law, Pete, and I woke up early and prepped the turkey while watching the Macy’s parade. My sis-in-law and Pete did most of the dirty work (aka rubbing herb butter under the skin) since I was on a hunt for sage in the supermarkets (we just used rubbed sage since I wasn’t able to find any fresh sage all week long). I included this gross photo so you could see the unfortunate “before.” Sorry if I’ve scarred you for life!

Thank goodness for Pete, who did all of the heavy lifting. He was a total godsend when it came time to basting, flipping, and cutting the bird.

You’ll see our menu on the left, which consisted of the following:

While our table might have been a bit mismatched, everything was delicious and that’s all that counts.

My mom wore sunglasses like a domestic rockstar while helping Pete serve the turkey since our bay windows let in a ton of light and we don’t have curtains. Thanks to everyone for your help, we had a blast hosting for our first time ever and hope to do it again! Special thanks to the best sister-in-law ever for helping Pete and I out all day long and easing my stress while I burned walnuts and caught bread cubes on fire (not sure if anyone saw that).

Hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving with lots of leftovers!