Since Madison was born 9 1/2 months ago, Bryan and I have gone out without her 8 times that I can think of, and only 3 of those times have been just the two of us!  Last night was #3, and so that was exciting.  Here’s a list.  The bold ones are the times when it was just the two of us:

  1. We went out for dinner (sushi) and saw a movie (James Bond) back in November when my mom was visiting.
  2. We went out to a hockey game with Bryan’s family when we were in San Antonio visiting for Thanksgiving, and Bryan’s mom and cousin stayed home with Madison.
  3. We went to Bryan’s work Christmas party at the Angus Barn, and my mom and Tom watched Madison for us.
  4. My mom was visiting (in March or April I think?) and Bryan and I went out for drinks in town at the Aviator bar.
  5. We were in Chicago in May, and a babysitter watched Madison while we went out with Bryan’s parents and their friend Chip to dinner and a play (first non-family babysitter!)
  6. We went out to celebrate our 2 year anniversary while we were in Blacksburg at the end of May.  We ate dinner at Cabo Fish Taco and then played darts at Champs while Madison stayed with my dad and Ivy.
  7. We paid a babysitter a few weeks ago (daughter of Bryan’s co-worker) to watch Madison while we went to a crawfish boil party.
  8. Last night Bryan’s mom stayed home with Madison, and Bryan and I went out for dinner and a movie!

It’s getting easier now that Madison’s getting older, and her bedtime routine is a bit more predictable, so hopefully we’ll be able to get out more regularly.

We left home around 6:15 last night, and I took a picture of Bryan in the car as we drove out of the neighborhood:

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We had made reservations to go to Bida Manda in downtown Raleigh.  It’s a restaurant that I went to last week to celebrate Amanda’s Birthday.  I loved it and wanted to go back.  Our reservations were for 7:45 pm, so we went next door to Tir Na Nog for a couple of drinks first.

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Dinner was wonderful.  It inspired me to try making some Thai food for dinners at home this week, so pad Thai, chicken curry, and salad with peanut vinaigrette are all on the menu for our upcoming meals…

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We decided to go to the 3D IMAX theater downtown after dinner to see Man of Steel, the new Superman movie.  The movie didn’t start until 9:55 pm, so we walked over to the theater and bought our tickets, and then walked back to Tir Na Nog to have some dessert while we waited until it was time to go back to the theater.

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We had a Guinness float for dessert, which was interesting.  It was Guinness with chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream, caramel, and hot fudge.  It was a unique thing to try, and I’m glad we tried it, but I wouldn’t order it again.

The 3D glasses are kind of funny looking!
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Man of Steel was really good for about the first hour, and then it dissolved into a bunch of unnecessary fighting scenes, and really went down hill fast.  Too bad.

It was a fun night out though!  We got home around 12:45 am.  Late night out :-)  Madison did really well with her Nana.  They enjoyed dinner and play time together, and then at bedtime Nana read stories and gave her a bottle.  She went to bed at 8:20 pm, and only cried a nano-second before falling asleep.  Good girl :-)

This is a continuation of this afternoon’s post… :-)

Ok, so I realized I needed to go ahead and show some pictures of the other set-up.  This is what I had in mind from the beginning.  I borrowed the coffee table from Bryan’s office just to get an idea of what this set-up would look like.  My plan is to find a cheap coffee table on Craigslist and paint it.

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I do like how it looks, and it’s functional having the bench looking out towards the street as well as having a table in front of it to put drinks on or put your feet up.

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My issue with this set-up is the space at the front of the porch though.  Right now I have the planters and the black shelves sitting towards the front, but I kind of feel like they aren’t the best fit up there.

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It’s a tricky space because it would be nice to have a chair in the corner in front of the stone column to add seating and make it more conversational with anyone sitting on the bench, but I just don’t think that a chair would really work well right there.  But what would work there?  I don’t think the shelves look right.

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Also, there’s very little space on either side of the bench, and not enough room for having little side tables next to it.  I took a picture of the little tables I do have in front of either side so you can see how they wouldn’t fit next to it.

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So the only option really is to have a coffee table in front.

Maybe I should put a chair out in that front corner just as a test to see if that might actually be an option…

So anyway, here’s a direct comparison now between the two possible layouts:

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Ok, things are looking much more decorated on our front porch now!  Here’s a reminder of where we started:

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But now I’m having a really hard time figuring out the best arrangement to make the most of our space out there.  It’s a really odd shaped porch that we have.  L shaped with no railings along the edges, and the part where the furniture goes is pretty long and narrow.

So here’s where I originally planned to put the glider bench, along the back (and I still think that this is probably the best location for it):

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But then the rest of the space feels like it’s missing something to me, so I moved the glider to the side:

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And I kind of like it, but I’m not sure.  Because now it seems weird to sit on the glider and just stare at the side of the house.

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So any ideas?  I also brought around a couple of side tables from our back patio.  I’m not sure how well they work.  They both have glass tops, but I can repaint the edges and legs any other color to make them fit in better… like white, black, oil rubbed bronze, green… I have two of the square one so I could bring both of those instead of the round table.

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I also have a black metal table/shelves – it’s kind of like a plant stand, black square with 3 shelves.  Here it is next to the glider:

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I was thinking I might use it but couldn’t figure out anywhere that it looked right.  Here’s a shot of all three tables:

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Madison and I went for a walk today, and I realized that I’d never taken a shot of our house from up the street before, so here’s that view:

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Anyway, let me know what ideas or suggestions you have!  I thought about maybe adding a little bistro table and chairs to the front corner where the watering can is, and moving the glider back to the back where it started out.  I like having the glider along the back so it faces out towards the street because I feel like when you sit on a front porch you’re supposed to face the street.

The patio is coming together!  I’m excited.  I ended up ordering an outdoor rug from amazon – it’s made of plastic, so it’s completely outdoor safe.  I also got a couple of outdoor pillows to go on the glider.  We need to get some kind of storage/hanging system for our hose because it doesn’t really look great behind the glider.

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One added bonus of having an outdoor rug on the patio that I hadn’t even thought about until it arrived today is that now it’s much more Madison friendly out there!  I didn’t want her sitting on the hard scratchy concrete, but now there’s a more comfortable, more clean, a bit softer surface for her to sit on out there.  Love it!

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I also had a mint plant that has been sitting on our kitchen counter for about a month now, and it was starting to look unhappy.

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The cilantro seeds I’d planted outside have never done much more than sprout, so I decided I might as well transplant the mint plant into that pot, and hopefully it’ll be happier in there.

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Here’s the sad looking cilantro.

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I didn’t take out the little cilantro sprouts, so just in case they decide to eventually grow, they can live in there alongside the mint.

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Now hopefully the mint will grow happily ever after.

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More porch updates coming soon!

This past week Bryan, Madison, and I spent a few days in Asheville at the Grove Park Inn.  Bryan had to work at the Annual Meeting from Wednesday through Saturday, so Madison and I went along.  It was a nice little trip, although it would have been nicer for Bryan (and for all of us) if he hadn’t been busy working the whole time :-)

When we got back into town I discovered that two of my sunflowers had bloomed, and there were raspberries on the raspberry bush!

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I planted two different kinds of sunflowers, one tall kind and one short kind.  I alternated types in the hopes that the back of our yard would be lined with alternating tall and short yellow sunflowers.

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So far only these two are blooming, but there’s several other tall plants that should start blooming soon!  I can’t wait.

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It makes me so happy to look out of the windows of our sun room to see two happy sunflowers out there!

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I took Madison outside on Sunday and tasted some of the raspberries with her.  She seemed to enjoy it.  They are sweet and juicy!

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So far the animals haven’t eaten up all the berries, so I’m hoping we’ll continue to get to enjoy them ourselves.

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Today I started cleaning off the columns and trim around our front porch and front door.  You couldn’t really tell from pictures, but everything was really dirty!

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I also wiped down the bench and front door because both were still coated in yellow pollen.

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I sprayed Clorox cleaner all over the white surround around the front door, and then scrubbed it all with rags soaked in hot soapy water.  Even so, it’s still really dirty if you look close.  I think it probably will need to just be repainted.  But it’s an improvement for now anyway.

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I used the same method on the white columns – sprayed with Clorox cleaning spray, and then wiped down with wet soapy rags.  They were covered in dirt, grime, and what I think is mildew.  This is a close-up of a column AFTER I cleaned it!  Unfortunately my scrubbing was not enough to get the stain off, so they’ll either need to be power washed or just repainted.

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I also wiped off the white trim along the bottom of the roof over our porch.  Here’s a picture where you can see the dirty part on the left that hasn’t been wiped off yet, and the clean part on the right that I’ve already wiped clean.  BIG difference!

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Here’s another comparison where you can see the lower trim is the part that I’ve cleaned (so it now looks white) and the upper trim still needs to be cleaned.  It’s so dirty!

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Luckily this part came clean really easily, unlike the columns and siding around the door.  It’s made of some other material that wipes clean a lot easier than painted wood.  Aluminum maybe?  Vinyl?  I don’t know.

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There’s still a lot more that needs to be cleaned, but now that I’ve started, I’m excited to get the rest of it done.

Madison took a nap for most of the time that I was working outside.  She just came outside at the very end after her nap.

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