Monday, March 23, 2015

Our Weekend in Photos // Monocacy Battlefield

On Friday, winter dealt a final sucker-punch: four slushy inches of snow. (Final? It better be the final one, let's just say.) I awoke to yet another weather delay and moaned Not again. But on Saturday and Sunday, spring responded with sunshine and birdsong. The broad blue sky and tee-shirt weather begged us to spend some time outdoors, baring our winter-white arms. Sun-thirsty, we hiked not just once, but twice this weekend. 

Sunday, we explored one of the nearest historical parks Monocacy Battlefield. Plugging it into our GPS, we were startled to realize the battlefield was only seven minutes away from our house. We were even more startled when we realized it was practically right behind our local Target. Who knew that while I was buying Method dishsoap and Threshold throw pillows, there was a field of forgotten memories and buried musket shells only a few feet away?

We spent the day exploring the park's various sections. Split by the timeless Monocacy River and  the new Interstate 270, the battlefield consists of six regions: Monocacy Junction, Gambrill Mill, Best Farm, Thomas Farm, and Worthington Farm.

When reading about Civil War battlefields as a kid, I tended to visualize a wide, open field with grey-suited soldiers on one side and blue-suited soldiers on the other. As if the country had designated war-sites. Okay, here you go, this is a good spot to fight. Instead, the Civil War happened in people's backyards, across their farm fields, and literally on their front porches. The owners of the three farms barricaded themselves in their cellars with buckets of drinking water, hid, under blankets, and prayed that their homes didn't collapse under artillery fire. In fact, the first full account of the Monocacy Battle was written by a young man who, at the age of six, watched the battle unfurl from the slats of his cellar window.

As we walked between the farm houses, outbuildings, and slave quarters, I tried to imagine what it looked like then. Tried to imagine the smoke and the explosions and the yelling. It was so quiet and still while we walked across the barely-green grass. The only sound the winter-tinged wind and the distant rush of cars. Something tumultuous and life-changing and loud happened here hundreds of years ago, yet now it was so serene, Empty yet not empty. Like a graveyard, the battlefield seemed full of whispers and memories.

We laughed and walked in the sunshine. But every now and then, the portent of the place would settle over us, bidding us to just take a moment, listen to the wind, and consider what happened here.

Living in Maryland does have its perks. Like having historical landmarks only five minutes away. Have you ever visited a Civil War battlefield? If so, where? Did it make you a little goose-pimply or were you totally bored?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bully: Owning a Pitbull

  • Man, watch out. You might wake up one day without a face.
  • Aww what a cute puppy! What breed is he? Wait. What? He's a pit? Oh my god.
  • That one looks like a fighter!
  • The trouble with those dogs is their jaw pressure-- so strong they can do some damage even if they don't mean to.
  • Aren't those thug dogs? 
  • Pitbulls are great dogs. As long as you keep them firmly in hand and control their nature. 
  • Aw I like pits. Just wouldn't have one myself. Too risky, really. 

These are just a few of the casual comments dropped when we tell people Solo's breed.  Other reactions include the minimal: such as raised eyebrow or a startled "oh!" Or, the more extreme: peopel circumnavigating us entirely by crossing the street to avoid walking past Solo. Or, if they do choose to risk walking by us, they may draw their arm up to their chest in fear that Solo may take a casual bite out of their hand as he pads past. My personal favorite pit-phobia came from a kennel owner who learned Solo's breed and proceeded to raise the cost of boarding him, explaining the increase as "insurance against the strong likelihood that he would tear down her fences."

Mmhmm. All right lady. Whatever you say. How's bout I just take my business elsewhere? 

It's the rare individual who actually pauses and pats Solo's head without commenting on his breed, the size of his head, or other "notorious' characteristics. It's the rare person who doesn't make a joking, fearful, or patronizing comment. It's the rare person who treats Solo simply as what he is: a pet dog.

At first, this treatment of our little pup bothered me. With a huff, I thought: Who are you to comment on my life choices? If I want to own a pitbull, I'll own a pitbull. Go educate yourself! And while you're at it, mind your own business, you bossy-butt.  Then, slowly over time, I grew accustomed to the comments and remarks. Now, when someone shies away from Solo, I do one of two things: I either make him sit and let his sweet face and waggy tail do the talking, or I simply ignore their over-reaction, striding past with my pup, on or way to toss his frisbee or his favorite little ball.

Yet let's be real and face it: a notorious stigma--largely overblown thanks to the media--does surround the breed. Making the decision to own a pit was a definite choice to put up with prejudice and ignorance. And this on top of the typical responsibility of owning a puppy.  So what has owning a pitbull taught me?

  • Mind your manners. Train your dog.Teach him to sit, stay, heel, and walk without pulling. It's amazing what can be accomplished if you just mind your manners, act courteously, and be considerate. How does the saying go? You get more with sugar than you do with vinegar. 
  • Hold your tongue. Don't snap or scoff at people who express an uninformed opinion. Demonstrate your pitbull's sweet personality by having him lay down or sit. A submitted, well-trained pooch is much less intimidating. Then, share a happy pitbull fact. "Did you know that pitbulls were once trained as nursery dogs because they're so good with children?" "Did you know that pitbulls actually have some of the best temperaments of all dog breeds? "Remember Petey from Little Rascals?" A difference of opinion may simply exist because the other person doesn't know the simple facts. 
  • Wag your tail and move on. Some people--no matter what you say or do--are going to be negative, rude, and cause trouble. You can either whine about it or, like Solo, just wag your tail and move on. It pays to know when it's time to just walk away and brush it off. 

Surprisingly, I think that having a pit has taught me more about people than it has about dogs. Do any of you own a pitbull or another of the "bully" breeds? I'd love to hear about your dog and any anecdotes/lessons you may have from owning a pitbull. Share in the comments below!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dill House Diary // Living Room Tour

In case you're wondering, last week's snow days gave me some much-needed time to tidy the house and perform a little "photo shoot" of some rooms in our house. I know that ya'll have seen the living room before--when we entered the Apartment Therapy Room for Color contest. However, we've since add new details to the room and plus I just had so much fun taking photos that I thought, hey,why not a living room reveal?

Mark  and I are certainly not afraid of color or pattern. To be honest, I may go a little overboard with it, but who cares! Someone once asked: How would you define your style? Eclectic may be the best descriptor, but I also feel that our style does't really fit any one label  My approach to decorating isn't really formulaic or purposeful. I buy things that I catch my eye: whether its the color, the pattern, the shape, or the texture. When they're all put together, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. I strive to surround myself with things that I find beautiful, whether or not they're in vogue.

Lately, I'm really into these blue willow china patterns. They're somehow country-homey and Southern-classy all at the same time. My sweet parents bought me this lamp for Christmas a few year ago. It was at a thrift shop; why anyone would have tossed it away is beyond me!

So that's our living room! Thanks for taking a peek!
If you have a living room or house tour of your own, share it in the comments below!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Living Small // Tips for a Pleasant Evening after Work

Recently, Apartment Therapy shared this post, which inspired me to think about the things I like to do as soon as I get home from work.

Too often, it's easy to stomp in from the cold, toss my coat onto the coach, and grumble about the day's tribulations. In my current line of work (assistant director at a college's financial aid office), there is a lot of number-crunching and telephone-talking that results in a grumpy headache once the workday finally ends. However, I'm learning to drop those troubles at the door, shrugged from my shoulders like an over-weight backpack. After all, who wants to greet a grouchy bear walking into their home?

As a new workweek begins, I want to focus more on improving and valuing my evenings at home so that I'm not just living for the weekends. Maybe you can benefit from these tips as well!

Put away my work and cold-weather gear.
Winter comes with so much gear: gloves, scarves, salt-spattered boots, a hat. Sometimes I'm so tired after a long workday that I just want to toss everything on the dining room table and forget it, too lazy to walk up a flight of stairs to tuck everything away. But I've realized that staring at my winter-work gear--tote bag, boots, purse--just makes me dread the brief hours until I have to don it all again. Taking a few minutes to put things away not only helps deactivate "work mode" but also keeps our home looking fresh, clean, and tidy.

Connect with my little family.
Of course, our bouncy pitbull pup tends to greet us right at the door, all tail-wag and slobbery-grin. His cheerful, energetic welcome helps dispel any lingering workday gloom. In addition to patting your pooch, I feel its important to take a moment to connect with your family. I love falling to Mark's hug, but often find myself complaining about the not-so-great moments of my day rather than asking how his day went. In the coming workweeks, I want to make more of an effort to ask about his day and to not dwell on the hard parts of the workweek but rather focus on the happier moments at the office. Even if the only happy moment was my caramel macchiato.

Take time for the gym.
As hard as it is to drag myself to the gym after a long day, I always feel better once I do. Mark and I love working out together, It not only keeps us in shape (duh) but is an activity we can enjoy together. Sometimes we talk back and forth between sets; other times, we both choose to be quiet, needing a few minutes to defrag and expend some energy. Either way, working out always puts me in a better mood and helps me get a better night's sleep. If hitting the gym isn't your thing, just take a quick stroll around the block.

Do one load of laundry.
I know. I know. This tip is so boring. However, doing one load of laundry a couple nights a week keeps Mt.St.Smelly-Clothes from building up in our bedroom. Plus. it prevents my Saturday morning from turning into one, great laundry chore. Usually, I toss the load in before running to the gym, run the dryer during supper, and then fold the clothes while watching Netflix before bed.

Spend a little me-time on a hobby, habit, or goal.
Now, this "tip" isn't something I currently do. However, after reading this suggestion in AT's post, I want to make a personal effort to take even just 20 minutes in the evening and devote it to writing. Most likely with pen and paper since the thought of looking at another computer screen makes my eyes want to cross. Carving out some me-time during the week nights will probably do wonders to elevate the post-work mood.

Prepare for the next day.
Every night, right before bed, I prep the next evening's supper and set out the next day's clothes. Taking just a few moments to prepare for tomorrow makes the next day run smoothly and sets me up for another pleasant evening at home.

What are your favorite things to do after a long workday?
Any suggestions or tips? Share in the comments below!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dill House Diary // Dining Room Tour

Although we've owned our house for nearly two years, we're just beginning to add the details that make our house feel like a home. It seemed that for so long we had random, disparate items on the walls. One painting, hung in an awkward location, with blank space to the right. Or a wobbly out-dated ceiling fan casting a yellow light over the room. Yet over time, we've replaced the outdated (bye-bye ceiling fan), polished the classic (hello original hardwood), and managed to create a space that feels curated and homey. Now, it's a space that feels lived in, That feels like ours

Recently, I stumbled upon Sweet Clover Barn, a vintage home decor and handmade marketplace housed in an old dairy barn here in Frederick, Maryland. Let's just say, I experienced sensory overload when I walked through its rusty sliding doors. Seriously. Check out their Facebook page, and you will understand. I bought this hand-printed table cloth there and am in love with it. The marketplace is only open once a month, but I'm already dying to go back!

I love being able to create my own artwork for our home. Every piece, excluding one large painting in our bedroom, is one of my original acrylic paintings. If you look what you see in these pictures, check out my Etsy or contact me to discuss creating an original piece of art for your home! 

When we bought our home, I walked into the dining room, noticed this quirky wall beside the stairwell and thought "I want to make that a chalkboard wall." Now, we love writing whimsical and seasonal messages on it. It's a cheap decorative accent to add to your room--and every time you change the message, you give the room a new air. 

What do you guys think? Thanks for taking a look into our living room! 
Now we just need to have you over for a meal! 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Like a Lion

With March's arrival, I naively thought: Hey, spring is on its way! Then Monday came with freezing rain that left a glittering sheen on every surface, turning us into impromptu ice dancers. Or perhaps more like break-dancers. Emphasis on break.

Next, today bestowed us with a downpour of snow that lasted from sunup to sundown. While I certainly enjoyed the snow-day, I couldn't help but tap my fingers against my coffee mug. Cabin fever won't be bested yet, it seems. Although I've seen several robins flitting from the tree limbs and the swooping V's of geese seem to be headed north... winter has not yet bowed out. We will be waiting a little longer for spring's buds and blooms.

So, for now, I''l continue to bundle myself in scarves and gloves, dreaming still of yellow-green grass and warm sunshine. Pray I don't have to drive to work on this mess tomorrow! Stay safe and warm, friends.

Book Club: March Read

Thanks to all those who joined in our first Book Club discussion last week! We'll now move onto one of Whitney's picks: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler. I've been wanting to read this novel for awhile, but somehow never got around to it. So, I was excited when Whitney suggested it for our Book Club series! Head out to your local bookstore and snatch up a copy. We look forward to discussing it with you!

The next book club discussion will be on March 25th. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Coffee Dates: February/March

Welcome to March's Coffee Date. I totally missed February's date. Somehow, every year, it surprises me when February is a short month. I find myself blinking in shock at the truncated calendar thinking "Wait, what?" I've been on this earth 24 years; you'd think my brain would adapt to the fact that February is short. But no. Every year the sudden end sneaks up on me, and I find myself hurriedly writing those end-of-month checks and missing blog posts.

So. Let's talk about this weather. Do we all just agree that this sucks? I stepped outside this morning into a gust of wind that I'm quite certain was attempting to perform some type of insta-freeze. Either that, or Frozen's Elsa  was around the corner singing a power ballad. Either way, I did not appreciate the harsh chilling slap to my cheeks and nose.  Needless to say, coffee is much needed today!

Obsessing over...
Cookbooks and cookware. I recently bought this classic and this newbie for half-price on Amazon. The blustery weather prompts me to do one of two things: snuggle with a soft blanket and a good book or don apron and begin baking. The past few weekends have found me in the kitchen, bustling back-and-forth between sink, counter, and oven creating desserts, casseroles, stews, and pastas. In short, a variety of dishes determined to pack some winter fluff on my hips. To avoid that scenario, I force sweets on my friends and then hit the gym in earnest.

What are some of your favorite winter recipes?

A life update...
As some of you may know, this past week was particularly difficult for Mark and me. Last Saturday, I stumbled, half-asleep, to the bathroom only to turn on the faucet and hear a dreaded sputter-sputter-pffft that instantly jolted me awake. "Maaaaark!" I yelled.

We had no water. A dilemma that lasted nearly five days and resulted in a mountain of laundry, no heating, dirty floors, a torn-up basement, and a gaping hole in the street outside our house. Finally, the city of Frederick installed a new pipe from the main to our house. I can't tell you how much you enjoy flushing toilets, washing clothes, and brushing your teeth until you've been robbed of those under-appreciated luxuries.

Now that the No-Water Fiasco is resolved, we've moved onto happier things: namely, beginning our kitchen renovation. Over the next few weeks, I hope to share some fun DIY projects and their (hopefully successful) results. Stay tuned for updates!

Check this out...
1. The Oysterman. One of my professors said that a life which to us may seem simple, common, mundane may to others be exotic, if it's something that they don't know. I feel that Amy Evans does a good job capturing the uniqueness of one of my favorite places in the South: Apalachicola.
2. DIY blanket scarves.  I'm dying to try this!
3 .this Instagram feed  I love her recent photos of Scotland and its wild green.

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