Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tulip Survival

The tulips around the mailbox survived the cold snap of the past few days - hooray!
Big thanks to Mama Bobbie Sue for reminding me to cover them with plastic bags before the cold arrived.
They're going to be so pretty - white with red stripes!
Tulips are one of my favorite flowers - next in line after white daisies and pink peonies.
Did your plants survive the cold too?

Growing Up

This is my nephew Cameron at his school dance last week. He's 11 and in the 5th grade. In just a few short months, he'll be a middle schooler. Where has the time gone? I remember the day he was born. He was such a sweet baby and is still the most wonderful little boy I know. I am so proud of him and who he's becoming - just wish I could stop him and the rest of them from growing up!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Re-cap

There's really not much fun stuff to tell you about our weekend - it was just a regular weekend!

As you know, I had Friday off work, so I got up at 7:30 and was at Lowe's by 8:15. I purchased what I thought I needed for our lawn and headed to Wendell to pick up the spreader from my parents' house. When I called Dad on the way and then showed Mom what I bought, they both told me I shouldn't have bought it and sent me back to Lowe's where I found Marie who showed me just what to buy. A $60 trip turned into a $20 trip - hurray! I went back to the house where I spread a post-emergent on the lawn to kill off all the weeds. Collins (my 15 year old niece) showed up at 10:30 to help me clean inside. With her help, I was able to:
  • dust all baseboards
  • Clorox wipe off counter tops in kitchen
  • Windex glass doors
  • vacuum
  • mop
  • clean bathrooms
  • wash/dry one load of towels
She was a big help! Mom treated us to lunch, and I paid Collins $20 for cleaning on her day off school. I was able to take a little nap after Daddy came to pick up the spreader and take Collins home. By the time John got home from work around 5, I was clean and ready for our date to Ruby Tuesday (thank you 2 for $20 coupon), Wal-Mart for a rake and pointed shovel and the gas station. Such a glamorous life we live!

We got up Saturday and decided to drive down to the outlets in Smithfield to look around. We didn't have anything in mind to buy, but we ended up with some great deals:
  • $70 dress at LOFT for $40
  • $125 Nike shoes for $54
  • $60 Nautica cologne for $23
  • $50 shirt at GAP for $10
  • $12 Clinique for $10.50
We went to the grocery after getting back to town and ran into my parents, of course. We always seem to be there at the same time - we even parked beside each other! Does anyone else LOVE the new layout of the Lowe's Foods in Knightdale?? Saturday night, we watched the basketball games at Chili's and The Bucket List at home after dinner.

We both served at church on Sunday morning; John on the sound board, me as a greeter. We just laid around Sunday afternoon with the gas logs on (brr - it's so cold!) before John headed back to church to serve again for Sunday night service.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Nothing out of the ordinary, and we weren't really able to work in the yard (boo), but a good weekend nonetheless. Milo decided yesterday that he would only poop if his Daddy took him outside. I learned this after he stood at the door THREE different times - I took him out, stood in the cold for 15 minutes each time only to watch him sniff the ground. When John got home, they went out and were back in within 5 minutes! What a little booger Milo is! I told John I would make sure our babies save their blowouts for when he gets home!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top Ten Thursday

My Daddy sent me a link to the most interesting article about common plants that most people don't know are poisonous. Pulling my information from this article, and in no particular order, here's a quick summary of some plants to stay away from this spring and summer.

Aloe Vera
While the gel within the aloe is helpful in easing the sunburn summertime often brings, its thin leaves eaten in large quantities can cause abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and red urine, though not due to blood.

These beautiful plants can be found throughout the Southeast, in fact, there is an entire festival in honor of them in Wilmington, NC in April. While pretty, these plants' toxicity, if consumed, can cause over-salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs and coma, usually leading to death if.

Datura Stramonium
This plant is also known as Devil’s trumpet, Devil’s weed, Devil’s cucumber, Hell’s Bells, locoweed, stinkweed, pricklyburr, thornapple, Jamestown weed, Jimson weed, tolguacha and Moonflower. It is a member of the deadly Nightshade family. If ingested, this plant is fatal to humans and animals. Other symptoms of poisoning include complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy, hyperthermia, tachycardia, bizarre and possibly violent behavior and amnesia.

Dumb Cane
This plant is a common house plant - you may have one in your home and not even know it. If ingested, it can cause an extreme burning sensation in the mouth, throat and tongue. It is also known to cause temporary vocal cord paralysis. Other symptoms include excessive drooling, localized swelling, and difficulty in speaking and swallowing. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea is also reported to occur. While not always fatal, symptoms can be excruciatingly painful and debilitating.

Easter Lily
Sad, but true. The Easter Lily is especially poisonous to cats, but is also poisonous to human. If consumed, symptoms include abdominal pain, salivation, shivering, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

English Ivy
I think most people know that ivy is poisonous, but in case you're unaware, consuming this beautiful vine can cause delirium, stupor, convulsions, hallucinations and fever. Simple contact with its leaves can cause skin irritation, itching, rash and blisters.

I'm not totally familiar with this pretty little poisonous flower, but just a taste of this plant has the potential of causing death. Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, wild hallucinations, delirium and severe headache. Depending on how much is consumed, other symptoms can include irregular and slowed pulse, tremors, cerebral disturbances, convulsions and deadly disturbances of the heart.

Larkspur is often found in higher elevations and is a member of the buttercup family. If you take a bite of this beauty, symptoms include burning of the lips and mouth, numbness of throat, vomiting and diarrhea, muscular weakness and spasms, weak pules, paralysis of the respiratory system and convulsions, which usually leads to death.

Oleander is not only a street name in Wilmington, NC, it contains toxic leaves that cause nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, drowsiness, poor circulation to extremities, seizures, tremors, collapse, slowed pulse, irregular heartbeat, pupil dilation, bloody diarrhea, coma, death and suicidal depression. Ingestion of this plant is often fatal.

Pretty to look at during Christmas time, this native Mexican plant (29 days) is not as toxic as most think. While consuming can cause vomiting and diarrhea, exposure can cause temporary skin eczema and contact with the eyes can cause temporary blindness, but this is not always the case.

So, be careful as you're out and about this spring and summer. I think it's safe to say that as long as you don't try to ingest this beautiful plants, you'll be A-okay!

Decorating Help Update

Hi again. After much deliberation and review of the pictures below, we have decided to move everything back where it was. We both really like the original set-up. If you were giving this thought and planned to comment, thanks! I'll let you know if we ever need some decorating tips again!!

Decorating Help!!

Last night, John and I got this idea that we should play around with the furniture arrangement in our very large living room. I'll be honest, I don't LOVE it right now. It's not that I don't think I will or can love it, I'm just not sure how to decorate and fill in to make the space seem less empty. I took some before and after pictures...

Before - Loveseat and couch positioned in an L with end table in between.
After - Couch alone with ottoman and two side tables. Picture will be centered over couch.
Corner before - Entertainment center turned into hutch in corner.
After - Entertainment center gone. Loveseat and side table moved over.
Full room view from foyer - Loveseat more centered in room.
After - Loveseat moved back. Walkway and room opened up a LOT! From this angle, I love the room. From the other two angles above, not so much. I love that the room is open now. We have so much space, but I think that's my problem - I feel like it's TOO open.

Anyone out there have some decorating or furniture arrangement ideas? PLEASE send them my way!!! I really want to love this arrangement, and I know it's new and will take getting used to, but I want to love it now, ha.

Funny story about last night - we finished moving stuff around at 8:00, so we left for Target to pick up another side table since they were carrying ours again. After picking it up and walking around a bit, we came out to rain starting to fall and wind blowing like mad! As we drove home and turned onto our street (with only three houses), I noticed that our outside lights were off. I KNEW I had turned them on before we left. It was then that I realized we had no power. We couldn't get in the garage or the front door because the glass door was locked. We had to go in the very back door, which meant we had to go around the very dark house to get in. We got inside, turned the alarm off and comforted a very confused Milo. We were able to manually pull up the garage door so we could get the new table inside. I ran around lighting candles (of which we had many - we ARE newlyweds!!) and calling Progress Energy's outage line. We were so sad that we couldn't come home and have fun with our new stuff because the power was out! the power came back on around 10, so we took Milo out to potty when we realized the grill cover was nowhere to be found. We searched and searched until John finally found it one block away! The wind was something fierce last night!!

Ok, back to the decorating. Please help!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Miscellaneous Wednesday

There is so much to talk about today! First, on a sad note, Elizabeth Taylor, 79, passed away today. She was a famous actress well before I was born, and I'm sure she will remain an icon even after her death. She was well known for her many marriages and love of diamonds. She died of congestive heart failure.
What a beautiful woman.

On another note, Prince is in town today performing at the RBC Center tonight! I have always been a closet Prince fan, but I really do LOVE his music! Whenever I hear one of his songs come on the radio, I have to turn it up and sing! If tickets weren't so expensive and he weren't performing on a Wednesday night, I'd be there!!

I'm taking Friday off this week. I have 4 weeks, 2 floating holidays and 9 regular holidays generous amounts of vacation time at work this year, so I've planned to take at least one day off each month. I'll take a week off in April (Cancun), June (EI) and December (Christmas). How do I plan to spend my day off this month?
I'm planning to borrow my parents' spreader to put down fertilizer and weed killer on our lawn. This is something that John would normally do, but he doesn't have Friday off and we have a VERY busy Sunday, so I'm going to take care of it so he can relax on Saturday.
I'm also planning to start cleaning the baseboards in the house. We're quickly approaching our one year anniversary in the house, and I've never dusted the baseboards, so it's time they had a little bath. It's unlikely that I'll get the entire house done in one day, but I've bribed offered my niece $20 to come help me, so we'll see what she says and maybe we CAN get it all done!!
Last but not least, I'm planning to mop the floors in the kitchen and bathrooms. While I definitely don't look like Rolling Stones' idea of "Wife of the Year," I do plan to use the handy-dandy Swiffer Wet-Jet to mop my floors. That thing is awesome!

Other than doing stuff around the house, I'm also planning to hit up Petsmart for some dog food and maybe meet my Mama for lunch - she has the day off too (I promise I didn't plan my days off around Wake County Public School's calendar!!).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Product Endorsement

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before, but after doing laundry this weekend, I had to share. The showers in our house require shower curtains and curtain liners (we don't have those fancy stand up showers with a door). When we moved in, I decided to buy FABRIC shower curtain liners. The plastic liners get mildew-y and yucky so quickly. The fabric liners get yucky too, but not as fast. When it gets dirty, all you have to do is take it off the hooks and toss it in with your load of whites for that weekend. Super easy, super reusable, super money saver.
We love our fabric shower curtain liners.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Jackson!

Saturday was our nephew, Jackson's, first birthday! We went to Red Oak to celebrate with our sweet boy. It was the most beautiful day for an outdoor party!
So smiley!
Loving on his Uncle John.
"I'm a big girl" Hannah!
Oh yes, the cake WAS delicious!
I finally got my hands on the birthday boy for some snuggle time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard!!!

Thanks for being a great model so I could figure out how to do great things with my camera.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Dear Faithful Readers-

After almost eight months of marriage and the "House of Sykes" blog, it's time to go private again! If you read "I Carried a Watermelon," you know that it too was a private blog. The blog will be private effective Friday, March 18.


If you'd like to keep reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment on this post with your email address (if you haven't already) so I can add you to the list of approved readers. I hope that you'll all stay with me after this transition.

Have a great day!!

Carolina Dreamin'

All this excitement leading up to our trips this Spring and Summer got me dreamin' about one day living at the beach. How fun would it be to live at your favorite beach year-round?

My favorite beach area is Morehead City/Bogue Banks:
It's where my family (and John's family too!) vacationed during the years we didn't visit another state like Florida, Virginia or Washington, District ofC. Making the three hour drive is so easy, as you pass through cute little town and cities like Goldsboro, Kinston, New Bern and Havelock. While there's not a lot at the beach or Eastern NC where one can make a ton of money, who needs money when you have the beach so close by!?
How neat would it be to have dinner out on the weekends, and on your after dinner stroll, you are able to walk along the sound, checking out people's boats and enjoying the salt air? Now I realize that it can get very cold at our beaches in the winter, but lately, the beaches have seen snow too, so we wouldn't miss out on that!
Just look at this picture. It doesn't get any better than this. Who can have a bad day when watching a sunset over the water? I think it would be so nice to get away - but not too far. We'd be somewhat close to our families, and they'd always have a place to stay at the beach.

Ahh, maybe one day. Or maybe only in my dreams.

EI in 100 days.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Let's Get Together and Feel Alright"

Today, we pay the balance of our trip. Today, we are 38 days from being on a plane heading for Cancun, Mexico. Today, we are dreaming of our flights: we'll leave RDU at 7:15am, arrive in Charlotte at 8:19am. At 9:40am, we leave for Cancun and should arrive by 11:50am Mexico time, 12:50pm NC time. To say we're excited doesn't begin to describe it.

We can not wait to lay in one of these cabanas drinking margaritas provided by a cabana boy all day long. No Gmail. No blog. No Facebook. No internet. Just us and the beauty surrounding us. Relaxing. No worries. No cares. No problems. And most importantly, no kids.
Not that there's anything wrong with kids, but we were surrounded by them on our honeymoon, so we're looking forward to having some peace and quiet on this little "second honeymoon". We plan to enjoy this vacation to the absolute fullest, as it will probably be our last indulgent vacation alone for many, many years.

In searching around to find something I don't already know about where we're going, I found this funny little map of restaurants in Cancun. It's so cute to me that there are three McDonald's!
Being at an all-inclusive resort, we probably won't eat anywhere but the hotel, but I think this map is fun to look at.

A few things we need to do before we leave:
  • Buy sunscreen and lots of it!
  • Get a pedicure and haircut
  • Pick up luggage from John's parents
  • Decide between parking at airport or Fast Park and Relax
  • Upgrade to first class for Charlotte to Cancun leg the day before flight (Did you know that airlines will upgrade you to first class the day before or the day of for pretty cheap if they have availability? We did this once before for $40/person!)
  • Check in at hotel two days before trip
  • Check in at airport one day before trip
  • Pull out bathing suits and other summer clothes to decide what to pack
  • Get Milo's hair cut and deliver him to Grammy and Pa
Obviously, there are a lot of other things that need to be done too. The time has flown by, and we know that the next 38 days will go by just as quickly. We'll be in Cancun before we know it!! I'm planning to take the "fancy camera" so I can practice my photography skills and share them with you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reminder: "Private Eyes are Watching You"

Dear Faithful Readers-

After almost eight months of marriage and the "House of Sykes" blog, it's time to go private again! If you read "I Carried a Watermelon," you know that it too was a private blog. The blog will be private effective Friday, March 18.


If you'd like to keep reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment on this post with your email address (if you haven't already) so I can add you to the list of approved readers. I hope that you'll all stay with me after this transition.

Have a great day!!

Tag, You're It!

Katie over at Oui, Bien Sur! tagged me in a 20 questions thing, how fun!

Rule #1: The tagged person must write their answers on their blog and replace any question they dislike with a new question formulated by themselves.

Rule #2: Tag 4 people to do this quiz. The tag-ee must state who tagged them.

1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals or are they members of your family?

If you’re reading this, then you know that Milo is absolutely a member of our family. He is our fur-son and we couldn’t imagine life without him.

2. If you could have a dream come true, what would it be?

Today, I’d love to see LWFC’s South Campus grow and have larger numbers on a regular basis. Now that we're both serving, we're quickly falling in love with this little church. The people are precious, and we'd love to see even more!

3. What would you do with a billion dollars?

As per #2, we'd give a large sum of it to church. After that, I think we'd buy a house in Knightdale and on Bogue Banks (Atlantic Beach, EI, etc.) and pay cash for them. We'd probably both quit our jobs, invest a lot of it, and live comfortably for the rest of our lives. We'd give more to charities we support and bless our families abundantly.

4. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?

Praise and worship music. Milo. Cleaning and organizing. Gardening, when the season is right. John making jokes - such a comic is he.

5. What is your bedtime routine?

Around 9:30, I take Milo out to potty one last time. From there, I set the house alarm and we go to the bedroom where I put him up on the bed so he can have his eyes cleaned out and mustache/beard brushed (don't judge - he's spoiled). I hop in my PJs, brush my teeth and wash my face. John brushes his teeth and takes out his contacts. We join Milo in bed and watch a little TV and talk. Milo also gets to enjoy what we call "Mommy-Daddy Time" - this is a time where we lay on our sides facing each other with Milo in the middle on his back. He lets us rub his belly and talk sweet to him. After thirty a few minutes of this, we turn the TV off and everyone finds their cozy place to go to sleep.

6. What activities did you do in High School? If you could go back, would you do the same stuff or something different?

Activities in high school? Well, I danced 10-12 hours a week, so between that, school and church, I was very busy. During my sophomore and junior years, I partied way more than a 15/16 year old should on the weekends. By my senior year, I had a serious boyfriend and was consumed with that instead of being a carefree student on her way to college!

7. What kind of books do you read?

I mainly read things that other people have suggested. I used to read a lot of Christian self-improvement books, but I started to feel inadequate all the time, so I stopped those. I also used to read a lot of Nicholas Spark-ish love stories, but now that I have my own love story, I don't feel the need to read about someone else's (mushy, I know, but it's true!).

8. How do you see yourself in 10 years?

Approaching 40 - OMG! I hope to be a SAHM with a child or two and still have sweet Milo in our lives. We plan to stay in Knightdale, but may or may not still be in the same house. I see us living debt free, with the exception of the mortgage, while saving for college education(s) for the kids. In a dream world, and possibly reality, we'd like to own beach property in 10 years - somewhere at Bogue Banks.

9. What’s your fear?

One of my fears is someone breaking into our house while we're not there, trashing the place and harming/terrifying Milo. Sometimes I drive home at lunch just to make sure he's okay. We have a monitored security system that would call us if anything happened, but I just don't think I could handle it if something happened to him. He is our world.

10. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to see outer space?

No, but not because I love junk food. It's more because I could care less to see outer space. I can see outer space when I look into the sky at night. That's all I need to see.

11. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

This is like the opposite of #5! Call me a dork, but now that we have a weather station, the first thing I do when I wake up at 7:15 is turn off the alarm clock and see what the conditions are outside on the weather station on my nightstand. By then, Milo has usually made his way to my side for a good morning stretch and belly rub. I crawl out of bed, turn off the house alarm and take him out for his morning potty. On our way back in, I pour him a bowl of food so he can eat breakfast. I brush my teeth and hop in the shower. I get John up after I get out. We finish getting ready for the day, and it's out the door by 8:10!

12. If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be?

Love you honey, but I wish he liked to do yard work like I do. I love being outside, picking weeds from the grass, planting flowers or doing other improvement projects. I think he's learned to like it, but he certainly doesn't love it. And that's okay! I appreciate him helping me when I need him and not complaining - XOXO!!

13. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?

I don't know what I'd choose if I could pick another name for myself. I know plenty of female names I like for a dog or baby, but not for myself. And no, I won't share them!

14. If you had to choose between six months of sun or six months of rain, what would you choose?

Sun. Duh.

15. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

McDonald's french fries with ranch dressing. Steak with Adobo. Golden Grahams. Clausen dill pickles.

16. What is the thing you enjoy about blogging the most?

I'm really not sure anymore. It used to be that it was my way to keeping people aware of what was going on in our lives, since they were so busy with the wedding and house building. Now, life has slowed down and isn't as interesting. Sometimes I have a hard time finding topics...

17. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods?

Salty all the way! Give me a bag of potato chips and dip, or tostitos and salsa over cookies any day!

18. What items are in your purse right now?

Wallet. Keys. Pens. Personal care products. Book. Grocery list. Coupon organizer. Sunglasses. Reusable shopping bag. Cell phone. Chapstick. Kleenex. Purell.

ADD: #19. (Thanks, Dad!) One week, anywhere in the world, all expenses paid – where do you go?

One week, anywhere in the world, all expenses paid would probably be...a week at Atlantic Beach or Emerald Isle in the nicest oceanfront house they have! I know this sounds silly, but neither of us like to be far away from home and Milo for a long time. This way, we'd be close to home and have him with us!!

20. What do you watch on television that you know you shouldn’t?

Keeping Up With the Kardashians? I'm addicted.






Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food for Thought

We had some delicious food on Saturday! After some shopping at Sam's and Lowe's Food, I whipped up...
Fruit salad with fresh pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe and grapes.
After John's workout, I made him a pineapple strawberry smoothie with strawberry yogurt, ice, strawberries and pineapple. Thank you, immersion blender for making this a super easy drink!
We bought two rib-eye steaks and smothered them in Adobo. We also had twice baked potatoes, but I wasn't able to take a picture of them before they were devoured.
Finally, I made these super easy blondies for dessert. Yes, I know there's a piece cut out - they were so good! Here's the recipe:

3 eggs
1 stick butter/margarine - melted
1 box (16oz) light brown sugar
2 cups self rising flour

Beat eggs with a mixer. Add butter and sugar. Mix well. Slowly add flour. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

My parents joined us for dinner Saturday night, and we had such a good time eating good food and watching the basketball games. I am so thankful to have them in our lives. Hope you had a good weekend as well!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Keep on the Sunny Side of Life

Look at these gorgeous fresh flowers from our yard!
In an effort to be creative, I put them in a glass pitcher with river rocks and put them on the kitchen table.
On another note, check out this awesome deal I got at Target last week.
This is the shower curtain in our bathroom. I found it on clearance.
It was $29.99 and I got it for $12!! I'm so glad to finally have some color in our bathroom.


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